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Explaining VeriSM and what it means for your org
In an industry with numerous service-management frameworks and standards, yet another service-management approach may simply add to the confusion, but not if that approach provides a method to integrate all of the frameworks. This is just what VeriSM seeks to accomplish. VeriSM was developed as a new approach to service management, suited for the digital age and enabling practitioners to gather appropriate resources to achieve an intended outcome.
It is a softer approach, focused on the relationship between service providers and service consumers, with a strong emphasis on governance. It is also appropriate for all types of providers to use it, enabling true enterprise service management in virtually any type of organization. VeriSM’s capability to support a diverse set of providers, both internal and external to an organization, and with its capability to pull best-of-breed strategies from multiple frameworks give it a decided advantage over many other service-management approaches.
VeriSM provides an agile, adaptable approach that can be customized for any organization and any type of initiative or service delivery. This flexibility enables organizations to craft an operating model that is both distinct and customized for their unique needs.
VeriSM is based on the premise we all consume services and products which providers enable (as it says in the book, “consumers consume, and providers provide”); thus, there is a strong emphasis on services and their value. VeriSM enables providers to respond to the demand for services by:
Helping them define and develop useful solutions based on consumer needs and value. These solutions can be technology- or people-driven services and can provide assistance and support as well as technology solutions or digital services.
Transforming service management from IT’s use to all enterprise providers. In an increasingly digital world, this is certainly recognized in the relationships of commercial-service providers and how their customer service, technical support, accounting, legal and other personnel deliver and support the final product. All of these providers need service management to attract and retain consumers and they must all operate together, rather than in their individual silos, to be successful.
Bridges the gap between technology-focused service-management frameworks and the need for a business-focused approach.
Focusing on governance and its purpose to establish providers’ values, principles and goals as the foundation for building an operating model that supports an organization. Governance sets the guardrails, within which a group of providers can establish joint operations. It’s the creation of a governance-based operating model that makes VeriSM so flexible and responsive.
Providing a mechanism, the “management mesh,” for developing an operating model that combines an organization’s environment, resources and management practices with the emerging technologies available to it. The mesh enables people engaged in an initiative to set their own framework from which they will operate together, establishing processes, communications and other operational standards to which they’ll all adhere. This clarifies roles and expectations across multiple teams involved in the initiative, enabling their success. Each area within the management mesh is comprised of multiple factors.
- Environment includes an organization’s value, culture, legislation and compliance that affect it, competition and the general marketplace.
- Management practices enable organizations to select the process and governance frameworks to be used, drawing on ISO 20000 and 27000, DevOps, Agile, Lean, Six Sigma, SIAM and other industry best-practice frameworks.
- Resources include people, funding, physical assets, time, knowledge and capabilities.
- Emerging technologies, which will be continually changing as new technologies are introduced to the marketplace.
It is the management mesh that enables oraganizations to leverage as many service-management disciplines as needed to achieve successfully an outcome, making sense of how they all fit together, rather than them being at odds with each other.
Organizations adopt their management practices based on how they are integrated, using service stabilizers, such as process, tools and measurement, with them. To build the mesh, organizations will start with their governance foundation and service-management principles and build the mesh on top of these.
Ultimately, VeriSM ensures solutions are based on need, using the provider-consumer loop below, which shows that consumers invest in solutions to achieve value through enhanced productivity or by enabling them to provide revenue-producing services that ultimately provide a return on the initial investment.
VeriSM approaches the provider-consumer relationship with a focus on working together to create services of value to the consumer:
It works equally well when used internally or externally, as the principles are the same: An investment in a jointly developed service yields a return on that investment that provides value to an organization in terms of revenues generated or efficiencies gained.
It leverages an organization’s capabilities, or resources, which are gathered as needed to create the practices that will be used to create the service. By placing all providers into a service-management role, it also ensures the customer is front and center in all transactions and everyone engaged in an initiative sees themselves in a service role.
The focus on the customer changes the way people work:
A deadline doesn’t drive a developer seeking to promote code to a production environment, rather it is driven from the need to deliver a stable, working product from which a company’s customers derive value.
This drives a different outcome: The need to develop, test and review the work being performed to ensure it delivers the value proposition and it can be delivered into the operational environment without unintended consequence.
As a service provider in a service-management role, their focus is on the outcome of the service not the output of code deployed to production. This creates a very different outcome within IT.
Governance and organizational culture are at the source of this approach:
Executives or leadership establish the values and culture of an organization and define the initiatives. Then, the providers and people with required abilities are gathered.
The team then uses the management mesh to build an operating model that supports the initiative. This operating model can pull the best aspects from all service management and process frameworks and standards for delivery of the new service or initiative.
To support this capability, the VeriSM foundational text includes descriptions of a number of modern frameworks and how they can be used in the management mesh to achieve a particular outcome, but it also focuses on developing the individual knowledge and abilities of all team members. Placing a value on lifelong learning demonstrates how gaining knowledge about a variety of approaches can help an individual leverage these approaches when an organization needs it.
In the development experience mentioned above, for example, concepts from DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering can be merged with ITIL’s Change-Management process to ensure developers can operate autonomously, in service to the consumer while changes are properly recorded in case there are future issues in the production environment.
A key component of VeriSM that distinguishes it from other operating models and frameworks is its focus on everyone understanding their responsibility to deliver service management; the concept that everyone is involved.
Adopting VeriSM requires everyone to realize service management is at the heart of all they do, and service management touches every role in an organization. One can say VeriSM is the first service-management approach that truly reaches the entire enterprise, rather than attempting to expand an IT service management approach to other providers.
VeriSM focuses heavily on providers and abilities outside an IT organization. This expansion can yield tremendous benefits when applied to organization-wide initiatives. After chartering an initiative, leadership can assemble members with the required abilities (think departments or groups of people with specific abilities that match the initiative) and build an operating model that suits the specific initiative using the management mesh. Adding the governance and metrics needed to evaluate progress then ensures departments or groups of people have everything needed for success.
It is this flexibility that makes this operating model so powerful and different from other models and frameworks. While ITIL and other IT frameworks have components that can be used in a similar manner, convincing business executives to buy into an IT framework is more difficult than gaining adoption for an operating model that emphasizes providers and consumers, rather than IT alignment with the business. Additionally, VeriSM focuses on service management in the digital age, an important distinction given that business is now almost wholly reliant on technology. By crafting an operating model that supports multiple providers and the gathering of organizational capabilities, it gives organizations the capability to drive consistent values and practices throughout the organization. In short, VeriSM can be brought directly to business executives for adoption. Ultimately, VeriSM is a service-management mindset, rather than a set of processes that comprise a framework or standard.
At the foundational level, VeriSM focuses on several constants:
The focus on organization and governance lays the groundwork. Understanding everyone’s role in an organization leads towards its success, and how their unique abilities can be leveraged is one of the basics of the model.
Instead of focusing on the activities to be performed, the focus is on providing business value for both internal and external consumers, developing solutions they need to be successful.
People with distinct competencies and abilities are grouped according to the functions they perform: human resources, accounting, information technology, customer service and others. By thinking of these not as departments, but rather abilities, it’s easy to address situations where an organization has several groups with customer service or technology roles and then gathers them when all are involved in a particular initiative. It also makes it easy to engage and organize the needed resources to achieve the intended outcome.
Understanding the difference between outcomes and outputs is another basis of the model. While an output is a tactical result of an activity, such as printing invoices, outcomes are more strategic, the result of the use of a product. Rather than printing invoices, an outcome may be the ability to produce invoices quicker as a result of better technology, making it possible to support additional customers without needing more staff to achieve this outcome. Of more importance, VeriSM helps to determine which capabilities must be integrated to produce that outcome: IT, accounting, customer service and legal capabilities might need to review all aspects of invoice production to determine the product features needed to produce more invoices within a set period of time. These providers can review both the entire process of creating, approving and printing an invoice and with the technology, using techniques, such as value-stream mapping, to find and resolve bottlenecks or opportunities to improve technology.
Integrating all of this, the VeriSM model focuses on enabling a provider to gather capabilities from across an organization to work on initiatives that create the products and services its customers need to achieve their intended outcomes.
Individual growth and the value of a culture that encourages a lifetime of learning is important to sustaining success. Focusing on developing abilities enables people to expand their expertise continually, thus strengthening an organization’s capability to find the abilities it needs for specific initiatives. This shifts the focus from earning certifications towards increasing one’s understanding of management frameworks and standards, and with their industry’s specific technical/operational knowledge to continue to increase expertise and competence.
People who have both depth in their specialty as well as broad knowledge across a number of capabilities or technologies, known as T-Shaped individuals, are highly sought as a result of their competencies. This results in placing a high value on lifetime learning, which benefits both the individual and his or her organization in return and many organizations favor this learning direction.
Ultimately, the biggest difference between VeriSM and ITIL is that ITIL is a set of best practices that enable IT to work effectively with the business and align its activities to those of the business. Conversely, VeriSM seeks to support an enterprise service-management approach, one where the business drives the values, initiatives and operating model used to provide them.
This doesn’t mean VeriSM leaves IT outside the picture, but rather brings IT into the circle of capabilities that will deliver solutions, engaging IT within initiatives, rather than leaving it to support initiatives from within the IT silo. This shift makes it easier for organizations to adopt VeriSM enterprise-wide, as it doesn’t rely on IT pushing a framework towards the business, but rather focuses on enterprise-level adoption from the start.
VeriSM is intentionally designed to enable support organizations to provide digital solutions that offer value to their consumers. The acronym can be explained based on the definition of VeriSM as follows:
There are a number of key benefits to this approach:
The ability to see the bigger picture, uniting different practices and service-management frameworks and standards. This enables organizations to continue to leverage existing practices while integrating them with new ones. As VeriSM starts with an organization’s vision and objectives, it provides the tools organizations need to achieve them. As such, it is very results-driven.
VeriSM eliminates the “flavor-of-the-month” approach as different practices gain popularity. Service-management practices will vary based on the initiative and need, rather than popularity.
It takes a holistic view, combined with a focus on digital transformation that enables organizations to leverage emerging technologies at any time rather than viewing such technologies as being solely disruptive.
It enables organizations to evaluate the potential of emerging technologies continually and find ways of integrating innovation into daily operations. This is unlikely to happen when operating models are focused on operations rather than transformation.
Companies, such as Toyota, gained success by adopting the use of technology earlier than others to improve manufacturing flow, or Uber capitalized on the Internet of Things and mobile apps to create a new, yet disruptive business model. Digital transformation has a large, positive impact on the competitiveness of any organization and VeriSM’s unique approach assists organizations in achieving this transformation. When digital transformation is part of an organization’s strategic direction, VeriSM enables that organization to execute successfully on its vision by giving the staff involved clarity, direction and a set of practices on which its members can agree, and then execute.
The focus on service also provides benefits for commercial service providers, ensuring customer satisfaction as a result of improved service-management and operational models. Even within organizations, lesser benefits will include more satisfied employees due to improved communications and training and resulting from the improved service they receive internally. The table below shows just a few of the benefits of VeriSM within a single organization, both internally and externally facing:
The VeriSM model starts with governance and basic service-management principles, centered on the management mesh at the core, focused on delivering and supporting services conceived with the consumer in mind and then validated by the consumer at delivery.
The diagram that follows demonstrates the model and adds four key principles that overlay the management mesh, activities that leverage the defined operating model using the management mesh that help execute and achieve the desired results. Think of these as stages within the model:
Define: design the service to be provided, based on the consumer’s requirements
Produce: create the solution/service, including its build, test and deployment
Provide: enable consumers to access and use the service
Respond: support and improve the service during its lifecycle
The model supports these activities based on:
Governance: an organization’s culture, values and policies that direct and control activities within that organization
Service-Management Principles: based on an organization’s governance, these are the practices that define how activities will be executed, also known as the “guard-rails”
Management Mesh: defines how an organization will combine resources, capabilities, its environment and technology (including emerging technology) when creating and providing services
This unique combination of factors creates the operating model an organization will use to deliver services related to a particular initiative. The value comes from the flexibility of how these are integrated for each initiative. The governance and principles are somewhat static, as leadership drives them, but the structure of the management mesh, for example, which resources and technology are used, will vary from project to project. This enables an organization to create a variety of operating models, each specific to the needs of the organization at the given time a project is being executed.
If not already apparent, then VeriSM is relevant to all; we are all service providers at one time or another.
While many frameworks and standards are industry-specific, VeriSM cuts across an organization and provides a common language that an organization can use, removing silos and making it easier for people to create a way of collaborating that works, regardless of whether they are IT, HR, Legal, Accounting or Office Services professionals. VeriSM doesn’t replace any certifications or educational programs within their specific industry, rather it leverages any and all practices a particular industry might contribute to achieving the desired result.
It can be said that VeriSM has no defined scope or that the scope is very fluid. As an operating model that is easily adjusted and adapted, any organization can use it at any time to achieve any particular result. The scope originates with the initiative itself: VeriSM recommends setting the scope of the initiative or project as one of the areas to be considered when chartering or beginning the initiative. Not only can the organization use VeriSM across providers, but also providers can use the concepts within their organizations for internal projects.
Within VeriSM, the scope is also part of the governance structure, as it sets the limits and boundaries of what is included in a given project. By setting the scope in this manner, the project team is clear about the scope of what is and is not included.
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