Who is Stealing Your BSM Thunder?

By Paul Burns

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While CIOs may driving the decision to define and implement business service management (BSM), several other roles—including IT Director, IT manager, CEO, COO, and business line manager—may be the actual catalyst for BSM adoption.


As a CIO, are you missing out on the opportunity to lead your organization’s BSM adoption?


Leaders of BSM initiatives have achieved a variety of benefits for their organizations including cost reduction, improved service quality and greater agility. With the increasing reliance of businesses on IT, BSM has the potential to deliver competitive differentiation and increased profits. In many cases, BSM has fundamentally transformed IT organizations from technology focused cost centers to value added business partners.


Some of the most common benefits of BSM include:


·      Improved service quality

·      Business and IT alignment

·      Reduced IT operations costs

·      Greater cross-silo collaboration

·      Improved compliance with regulations and company policies

·      Greater ability to support new business initiatives


This all means that leading the charge for BSM adoption makes good sense for the business, for IT, and for those individuals savvy enough to be in the BSM driver’s seat.


As part of a larger research study on BSM, we asked 91 companies that are using or planning to use BSM technologies: “Who in your organization drove or is driving the decision to define and implement BSM?” The top six roles (in order) driving BSM were: CIO, IT director, IT manager, CEO, COO and line of business managers. The role of CIO has a slight lead over IT Director, a role which commonly reports to the CIO. However, there are a number of other roles that also compete for BSM leadership.


Note that three of these roles—CIO, IT director and IT manager—clearly reside in the IT organization. Together they comprise 58% of the roles driving BSM. Other C-level roles, specifically the CEO and COO, together comprise 24% or about 1/4 of the roles responsible for initiating BSM. Interestingly, business line managers are also a notable catalyst, launching BSM about eight percent of the time. Clustering the data as described provides three separate groups from which BSM leadership may emerge: the IT organization, C-level managers and business line managers.


Each of these three groups appears to have some unique motivation for driving BSM. The largest group, the IT department, has responsibility for delivering IT services. And BSM is, of course, a leading service management methodology used to deliver those services.


The C-level group has primary strategic responsibility for their organizations, and BSM, in support of strategy, is known to align IT with business needs as well as support new business initiatives.


Finally, business line managers are accountable for profit and loss within their business lines and often have critical dependencies on IT to meet their financial objectives.


While each of the groups has clear and legitimate motivation to push for BSM adoption, the IT organization ultimately must implement the majority of a BSM projects. However, CIOs are not taking advantage of many of the available opportunities to lead BSM adoption for their companies. This is not meant to imply that every BSM initiative should start with the CIO. On the other hand, CIOs need to consider the position they could be placed in by not leading the initiative. The CIO may be seen as lacking strategic focus or not supporting business needs.

CIOs must involve IT directors and IT managers in BSM strategy and implementation. But delegating BSM to an IT Director is rarely the best approach. BSM cuts across all groups within IT and also links with the business. This calls for CIO leadership. CIOs must also recognize that the CEO, COO and business line managers are key stakeholders for BSM and work closely with them. If the CIO wants to earn and retain a seat at the executive table, he or she must provide clear value to the business through programs such as BSM.


IT leaders today are not only responsible for delivering technology but delivering technology based services that support the most critical business needs. CIOs in particular can be left behind if they are not driving initiatives to support improved business performance.


To establish or maintain leadership, CIOs need to think and act ahead of others that have a stake in BSM. The idea is not to create an internal political competition for BSM ownership but to establish leadership where it most belongs. BSM adoption is best initiated by the CIO. However, the CIO alone (or even the IT organization alone) cannot drive BSM without broader support. CIOs need to stay involved in BSM adoption and make sure the right people and job functions are included. Otherwise someone else may steal their BSM thunder – and perhaps their job.


Paul Burns is a senior analyst with Boulder, Colorado-based Enterprise Management Associates (www.emausa.com), an industry research firm focused on IT management. Paul can be reached at pburns@enterprisemanagement.com