BSM: Getting Beyond the Alphabet Soup
Sharon Beebe, Principal Consultant & Transformation Service Line Manager, Stonebridge BSM Practice
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
It is a common discussion topic I have had for years with colleagues, customers, and even family members. That is, how to describe IT Service Management so that a layperson can understand the concept.
The first and most obvious stumbling block is all of the acronyms associated with the topic. The main culprits—ITSM, ITBM, and ITIL—share the abbreviation for Information Technology (IT). And that is where the general confusion about IT Service Management originates. People see IT and immediately think of it as a purely technical discipline. Not so.
Some time ago, I began dropping the “IT” and simply referred to the concept as Service Management. To my thinking, it is a given that IT organizations are most effective when they are integrated with the business or businesses they serve. IT is no longer a support or back-office function, and quite frankly hasn’t been for most of this decade. IT is a core business function on the same level as finance, HR, business development, and so on.
Most businesses today are so dependent on IT that if an IT organization does not understand how the business depends on its services, or does not manage those services with a business/customer perspective in mind, they are dooming the business to slow, steady death.
That is why I have come to believe that the term Business Service Management (BSM) carries the most accurate connotation of what the Service Management domain is all about. BSM rightly puts the initial emphasis on the business. And in this case, business is synonymous with customer. More importantly, business modifies the term service, which means that service is expressed in non-IT terms so that the focus is on what’s really important to the business customer and in the business customer’s terms.
In short, BSM is a better, more accessible way to understand how IT impacts the business and how business impacts IT. It’s about the underlying relationships and dependencies between IT and the business, and how either one may affect the other.
For example, BSM focuses on how IT best practices, processes and activities, such as change and release management, have a direct impact on a business entity, transaction, process or activity—on what value, revenue, cost, churn, ROI, etc., can be associated with the IT services, applications, processes, transactions, etc. being delivered and supported by your IT organization—on how IT enables the business to meet its goals and objectives.
As an overarching business management concept, BSM is the realization that an IT organization is at heart a service provider, whose outcomes and impacts are measured, monitored and managed in business terms. As with any business entity, IT delivers products and services according to a lifecycle and requires processes that relate to strategy, design, build, transition and ongoing operations. Taking this business approach, instead of a pure technology perspective, helps you establish appropriate objectives for managing business services. Dynamic mapping of IT assets to business services lets you shift your view of the IT infrastructure from a topological architectural map to a model that identifies the asset-to-Service linkages. Consequently, you can tie infrastructure events to business outcomes.
If we can see BSM as an approach that always puts what we in IT do, and how we do it, in a business context, then I believe we are getting closer to the original spirit of Service Management. And that’s the reason I prefer the term Business Service Management as a better way to describe what we do as opposed to the ITSM/ITBM/ITIL alphabet soup!
About the blogger: Sharon Beebe is Principal Consultant and Service Line Manager of Stonebridge BSM Transformation. A certified ITIL Foundation/Practitioner, ISO/IEC20000 Foundation, MOF, Six Sigma Green Belt, Sharon resides in Frisco, Texas.