How To Start Using Your ITSM Tools Outside Of IT

ITSM tools have grown up! As service request catalog features of ITSM tools have grown, the ability to roll out a “single pane of glass” that enables employees to make requests of providers across the enterprise has become a vision in many organizations. This has given rise to enterprise service management, or the concept of applying service management concepts and tools outside of IT. While enterprise service management is a great goal for mature organizations, it can start simply, by bringing providers outside of the IT organization into the service catalog and ITSM platform, making it possible to provide a consistent support experience across all of the organization’s service providers.

The Basics: Why IT Tools Are Good Throughout the Enterprise

ITSM platforms offer a number of capabilities that are useful to service providers, regardless of the department they represent:

  • Self-service request catalog
  • Availability of knowledge bases
  • Web-based content capabilities
  • Ability to log issues and requests separately
  • Service level management
  • Reporting
  • Surveys

Taken as a whole, these capabilities enable any service provider to offer a catalog of services to their customers, track any costs/charge-backs needed, then manage the fulfillment of these requests within established service levels. Reporting and survey capabilities enable them to know how well they are meeting service levels and customer satisfaction levels. This information can then be used to manage improvement programs, ensuring that support continues to meet the needs of the business.

If these capabilities are good for IT, they are certainly good for other providers. In enterprise service management adoptions, IT will work with other providers to standardize support, negotiating enterprise-level service agreements and using a single service management tool across providers to offer a centralized support experience, whether the provider’s organization is centralized or distributed. Shared services organizations will centralize this support via a shared support center and staff, operating across the organization. Even if the only centralization achieved is the use of a shared service management tool, there are still benefits to the organization.

IT is not the Only Enterprise Provider

The expansion being addressed here considers all of the providers within an organization. When thinking about providers, think about the departments that provide services internally, either to individuals or other departments, in a similar fashion as IT:

  • Human resources 
  • Payroll
  • Facilities management or office services
  • Legal
  • Mailroom/printing services
  • Purchasing/procurement
  • Accounting
  • Marketing and Communication

Even if some of these groups have external revenue-driving activities, they provide services that lead to employee requests that need to be managed. In many cases these services are provided in an ad hoc manner, leading to frustration on their consumers’ part when things fall through the cracks. Without the use of a ticketing tool of some type, their volume and turnaround times cannot be measured, and they cannot operate effectively.

As a result, many of these organizations will invest in tools designed to support their function leading to a situation where a single enterprise has multiple on-line service catalogs (most commonly IT, Facilities Management and HR), causing confusion among their consumers and added cost for the enterprise.

The Business Value of Expansion

When considering expansion beyond IT, the business value must be considered and there are several reasons to use a single ITSM tool for enterprise-level benefits:

  • Ability to provide a “one-stop-shop” for all employee needs, making them more productive
  • Productivity leads to job satisfaction and increases employee retention
  • Customer satisfaction increases across providers as a result of consistency
  • Consolidation of ticketing/case management tools can lower licensing/maintenance costs
  • Fewer tools to support means lowered administration costs

These represent two general areas many businesses consider when reviewing the business case for an initiative:

  • Increased employee satisfaction
  • Lowered operating costs

These benefits may not all come at once, but they can begin incrementally as providers are brought into a consolidated service catalog and ticketing tool, and then are able to decommission their old one. 

Another benefit that should be considered is that there may also be providers who are not yet using tools to manage employee requests, but rather are still operating in a manual world of email, sticky notes, and notepads, capturing calls and requests on paper and fulfilling them haphazardly. There is a significant benefit to offering them access to a product designed to manage support, enabling them to quantify and streamline the work they are doing, providing them with a tool that others are already using successfully. This is also a win, especially as they will eventually come to realize the need and begin to look at purchasing their own solution. By bringing them into an existing platform before they do so, this need is fulfilled without the expense of adding one.

Center Efforts on the Service Catalog

The service portal is the aspect of the service management platform that can have the most immediate impact upon employees by providing them with a single channel through which they can submit requests to all providers within the organization. For this reason, it should be the central focus of rolling ITSM tools to providers outside of IT. Starting here has two primary benefits:

  • Catalog consolidation has an immediate and positive impact on employees
  • Catalogs can start as a bolt-on product, bypassing the requests back to an existing tool

This approach provides a win-win for both enterprise employees and the providers who support them: you deliver the ease of the “single pane of glass” approach (a single request catalog) and everyone who is using a specialized management platform can continue to do so. While this won’t drive the cost reductions mentioned, it is a great proof of concept for the single portal approach and that the organization can either sustain through integrations between the catalog and back end platforms or begin to consolidate over time.

Since many service catalogs now live inside of a larger service portal, there’s also an opportunity to convert an organization’s existing “Intranet” site into the service portal that hosts the service catalogs. Service portals in today’s ITSM tools are able to be branded and graphically robust, enabling the organization to manage a single website that delivers news and announcements, even calendars and other information, as well as access to the enterprise service catalog. These are often easier to maintain than older CMS-based web sites (Content Management System), easier to update and manage.

Achieving Expansion

Like many initiatives that seem overwhelming, expansion of the use of ITSM beyond IT can start as an enterprise-wide effort, and then be broken into a phased project plan that simplifies the execution. Organization change management and adoption programs will be critical to success. There are really three simple steps to consider:


Step 1: Identify the groups within the organization that provide internal services to employees or to other departments. Ensure each provider organization is invited to participate by gaining executive buy-in for the initiative.

Step 2: Gather this stakeholder group together to create the vision for effort, the service portal and catalog in particular. This is where it’s great that Marketing and Communication is involved, because not only will they have requests in the catalog, they can also be key to the design and branding efforts later on.

Step 3: Plan the phases of the project. This is where OCM and adoption activities may become necessary as providers may not want to give up existing portals and/or tools. Since the entire effort won’t be accomplished in a single phase, this is where there are several opportunities to start with the easiest providers to win over:

  • Providers who currently don’t have access to a service/case management application or service catalog product
  • Providers who have a service/case management tool with no catalog
  • Providers who are not happy with their current tool, particularly if it’s a SaaS model coming up for renewal

These are the providers that are ripe for inclusion in the early phases of the project. Once they are integrated into the enterprise service management tool, the use of success stories among them, along with employee interviews about the direction and ease they achieve from it can be compiled into an awareness campaign and used to help drive adoption by more resistant providers.

While the true cost-savings come from consolidation and shut-down of other specialized tools, this part of the initiative should start as voluntary until the catalog is complete and in ongoing maintenance mode. Then the organization can start looking at the other tools that cost the most to operate and start working with providers to move off of them into the enterprise service management platform. This is the most sensitive part of the initiative, so again starting with the oldest, most expensive tools first may help gain adoption.

To be successful at this, IT needs to remember two things: the effort is an enterprise-portal, which may look and feel different from a technical catalog and other providers also have service management best practices or processes specific to their industry. Learn and listen from them and success is just a matter of time.

Blog cover by Banu