The Business as “A Customer” – a Challenge for the Future

Service management best practice positions “the business” to which services are provided as “the customer”. This is a point of view that is particularly emphasised when attempting to instil a service culture into IT technical teams. We all know that IT technical staff will tend to focus on their technical specialism and believe, for the most part, that this can continue no matter what the business need is or the activities are.

We overcome this by describing our business users as customers. We talk about providing service. We remind our technical teams that without the business operating effectively, making profit, the demand for IT services, and their job, might be abruptly curtailed.

Our strategy works. Once the service culture becomes the norm: IT services improve; effectiveness increases; costs reduce; and the virtuous circle of continual service improvement becomes well established. Job done – we may think; but hold on!
Why have we created “a Them” and “Us”? Why do other specialist groups within the organisation see themselves as part of the business – not some-how external to it? We don’t hear of HR specialists or facilities management staff talking about customer service and “the business” as some discrete entity.

This conundrum highlights where IT service management has to go next. The” business as a customer” analogy works well in the initial stages of IT service management implementation but we must recognise it as flawed. Our IT Director will not see him/herself as just a service provider. Indeed IT Directors need to and do provide valuable input to the corporate decision making process. They take responsibility for the advice they give and accept their share of the corporate objectives.

The challenge, in years to come, will be to complete the integration of the entire IT specialism -encouraging them to continue to pride best of breed service but from within not as a semi-detached group somehow grafted onto the side of the business operation.
Your comments on how this might be achieved are awaited with interest.

Stuart Sawle

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