How the ITIL framework leads to greater customer satisfaction
At the latest with the pandemic-induced switch to remote working, companies were held up a mirror to see how their own digitalization was doing. Even if this forced change was perceived as energy-sapping in large parts, its impact triggered a new era of digitalization. This exceptional situation highlighted the relevance of IT departments, because important threads come together in IT, as IT teams must support all service processes in the best possible way—this applies regardless of company size and industry.
The ITIL® service management framework was developed precisely for this purpose. In the latest version, ITIL® 4, the focus is on the concept of value, i.e., the added value that arises in the delivery of services and should be the primary objective of all activities and planning. To succeed in the market, service providers and service consumers should work hand in hand: Value co-creation is the buzzword of the day here.
The best practice catalog of ITIL®
ITIL® 4 gets a bird’s eye view of services and IT landscapes and, with the Service Value System, offers a panoramic look at procedures, activities, framework conditions as well as process cycles that are relevant for generating value from services. The best practice catalog is designed to make service processes more streamlined and thus more efficient in order to save resources, as well as to increase quality and customer satisfaction.
Embedded in the Service Value System lies the Service Value Chain, which contains the key activities required to respond to a demand or service request (see graphic). Put simply, the value approach is concerned on the one hand with standards, guidelines and other factors relevant to planning. On the other hand, the aim is to achieve improvements in efficiency as well as greater transparency in communication and better development processes and provision of products or services with regard to time, costs and risk factors.
Even if value streams always look individual: The ITIL® recommendations and models make it easier for organizations to ask the right questions and to think about as many (quality-)relevant factors as possible, and thus to develop continuously and in a controlled manner.
The role of IT departments in service delivery
When delivering digital services within a service ecosystem, small and medium-sized enterprises face the challenge of ensuring smooth processes with tightly limited resources. Large organizations, on the other hand, have to contend with increasingly complex communication structures where both sustained high performance must be ensured and technical flexibility must be provided. All companies are somewhere on this spectrum and have to strike a balance between a high-performance solution and the use of resources.
In the company-wide process structure, IT acts as a kind of “glue” that connects all departments and covers both internal and external requirements. As the overarching connecting element, the IT department also helps to break down process silos as well as to view the enterprise-wide service map from above and thus creates transparency.
First and foremost, IT’s top priority is to ensure that all the services offered in the service catalog run smoothly. This task for itself is enough to push many a company to its limits. External, highly specialized service providers remedy this situation by assuming risks and costs.
Value co-creation: the essence of sustainable value creation
Central to ITIL® is the objective of joint value creation between service consumer and service provider. In this context, (IT) service providers take over service delivery on the basis of their expertise as well as more efficient processing, and—according to the ideal—develop into strategic partners. When expanding the portfolio, aligning the market and setting long-term goals, the other party’s wealth of experience (market knowledge, product know-how, etc.) flows into the company’s own decisions. The result is a value network that spans all stakeholders across departments and companies.
To ensure that actual activities can be derived from the theoretical concept of value co-creation, the term “value” needs to get defined. All activities, process steps and components that are involved in service provision must add value. A particular challenge here is also to find measurable and meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) that accurately assess the actual (added) value of services. One possibility would be to track the number of service requests that are resolved within a defined period of time using comparable resources, e.g., at government agencies or in a service center. But the consistent availability of a service can also be taken into account, for example in the area of critical infrastructures. Non-value-adding activities, on the other hand, must be replaced or modified in such a way that they contribute to value enhancement within the process chain.
Remaining flexible and continuously evolving
The concrete recommendations for action (called practices in ITIL®) help to achieve the overriding goals in practice. The focus is not on finding solutions on a one-off basis, but on a cyclical approach that allows flexible responses to market trends and environmental influences in terms of service design. In the case of the predecessor version ITIL® v3, which was superseded in 2019, criticism arose that a product lifecycle that was too rigid hardly allowed any necessary room for maneuver. In order to become more practicable, ITIL® 4 now advocates more agile approaches, in which, for example, the development of a quickly deployable MVP (“Minimum Viable Product”, i.e. a kind of basic version with fundamental functions) is aimed for, which is then continuously optimized in small, controlled steps. This is supported by the ITIL® practice of change enablement, which makes changes plannable and traceable so that errors can be localized more easily after system updates and corrected via rollbacks. This ensures that the overall system remains functional.
Another feature of the agile, holistic idea can be seen in the fact that incident management is not only used during ongoing operations, but also in the conceptual planning, implementation and, of course, to making ongoing improvements to the service management system. This approach is a key quality feature of a sustainable ESM solution.
In practice, ITIL®-compliant service management platforms with low-code elements have established themselves, in which adaptations are not achieved through classic programming, but through the configuration of combinable modules, forms and workflow modules. The higher-level platform ensures compatibility and thus serves as the foundation of the entire IT service landscape.
Value co-creation as a win-win concept
In times of uncertain market, economic and competitive situations, service value streams must be regularly analyzed and specified—also due to stricter requirements in the areas of governance, risk management and compliance. This requires flexible (IT) service management software. The more streamlined the standard (usually immediately applicable) processes are, the faster innovative, customer-oriented service solutions can be developed and continuously improved.
This creates an upward spiral of feedback loops and continuous development phases from which all parties benefit. A smooth service delivery process improves customer satisfaction and strengthens the partnership between service provider and service consumer. The value of all services is successively increased by optimizing quality and the use of resources—resulting in market advantages for all parties involved.
Are you interested in an ITIL®-compliant service management platform to improve your customer satisfaction and make your service management more efficient?
This article has already been published by the service association KVD in the professional magazine SERVICETODAY.
About the magazine SERVICETODAY
The magazine SERVICETODAY is published by the service association Service-Verband KVD e.V., based in Dorsten, Germany, and published by ISB-Verlag, Waltrop, Germany. The magazine for decision-makers in service, marketing, logistics and technology has been on the market for over 30 years and provides information on management, organization and practice in service, on technical trends, their economic and organizational impact, on continual development and personnel management, on people, products and companies in the service sector.
About the service association Service-Verband KVD
The service association Service-Verband KVD supports its members by using its expertise and experience to identify and explain relevant service trends and developments in the areas of people, technology, processes and the environment, as well as translating them into recommendations for action. With various formats, the KVD offers its members access to knowledge, networks and interaction from practice, business and science, with which they can shape and achieve their personal and corporate success for the future.
About the Author
In his position as Head of Application Development at OMNINET, Oliver Routschka is responsible for the conceptual work and product development of OMNITRACKER applications. In addition, he implemented ITSM customer projects throughout the DACH region for over 10 years. He has been monitoring the recommendations of the ITIL® framework for years and uses its potentials for improvement for the continuous enhancement of the OMNITRACKER IT Service Management Center.