The relationship between a business and the traditional IT service provider has sometimes been fraught with conflict born from a lack of mutual understanding and, as a consequence, poor delivery of IT services. This leads to blame and mistrust from both parties and can seriously affect the business’s outcomes.
For IT to become a more effective service delivery unit, there are a few fundamental changes that need to be made:
- Align with the business’s objectives
It sounds obvious, but is so easily forgotten! It’s the ‘why are we all here?’ question. Nowadays, it is not possible for many business outcomes to be realised without IT service being one of the enablers; so the objectives of the IT service delivery unit must, therefore, support the business’s strategic objectives and understand where IT helps – or hinders – the business in achieving these goals.
- Speak the language of the business
Communicate with the business using business language rather than technical terms. The stakeholders will be more engaged in dialogue that talks about whether a service has the capacity required and is available enough, rather than processing power or network traffic.
- Gain the trust of the business
Agree some service levels with the business; understand – and agree – what the business expects of IT and what is possible for IT to deliver within the budget allowed. IT is always a significant cost to the organisation, which means that it is essential for costs to be transparent: the business needs to know how the money is being spent.
- Demonstrate value
This is the most challenging of all. Value is defined by the customer, is changeable and is not easily measured. It is therefore imperative for the IT service provider to fully understand the goals and requirements of the business (customer) in order to show that IT is contributing to the business’s overall success, rather than being viewed as a necessary overhead. Provide measurements of end-to-end services instead of technology metrics; key performance indicators matched to business objectives will demonstrate more alignment with the business and therefore demonstrate IT’s contribution to the overall business goals.
The move from traditional IT to an effective IT service delivery unit is not easy, and sometimes a little daunting, but it is nonetheless essential for the long term benefit of the overall business and for the unit’s survival.