An Introduction to Enterprise Service Management

4 min read
11-Feb-2019 17:44:06


We often struggle in life because someone assumes that we know more than we do. Or because we’re “late to the party,” when we have to join in with everyone else, but we don’t totally know what we’re doing (and perhaps the “why” too).

It’s similar to joining a beginners’ Zumba exercise class a couple of sessions late and everyone there already knows the moves – with it often impossible to play catch-up on the fly, and too much to learn while everyone else is advancing further (so much for it being a beginners’ class). The same can also be true in IT and IT service management (ITSM) – where there’s an assumption that we already know enough to understand, and then to benefit from, what we’re being told.

Enterprise Service Management (ESM) has been around for over a decade, it’s had a multitude of names, its Wikipedia entry is now hidden away in the “Service Governance” page (and not terribly helpful anyway), and yet it’s increasingly popular as an ITSM hot topic. But what can you do to find out more about ESM to better understand what it is, how it can help your organization, and how to adopt it? You probably need an ESM 101 – something that can quickly get you up to speed and able to “move in time” with everyone else.


101s Per Se

A 101 (educational) course is an introduction to a given topic (sorry to all of you that already know this, but as with my blog’s opening gambit I didn’t want to assume that it’s something 100% of readers know).

101s really are intended to give people an overall appreciation of a given topic, with a focus on the things that are most important for them to understand.

An Enterprise Service Management 101 Agenda

An ESM 101 would thus include content such as:

  • An introduction as to what ESM is – “The use of ITSM principles and capabilities in other business areas to improve performance and service”
  • A brief history of its evolution – from the single business function ITSM tool use case to the adoption of modern ESM strategies
  • What’s driving its adoption – from consumerization to the successes of others
  • The current state of ESM adoption – including what ESM means in reality.

Plus, linkages to other potential areas of interest – for instance, ITSM and digital transformation.

Example 101 Content: What Enterprise Service Management Means in Reality

It’s easy to take the term “Enterprise Service Management” and the aforementioned definition of “The use of ITSM principles and capabilities in other business areas to improve performance and service” and then assume that this is a singular thing – with only one way of “doing it.”

However, as with the adoption of ITIL ITSM best practice, there can be different approaches to, and levels of, ESM adoption.

So which parts of ITSM best practice could, and do, IT organizations commonly share with other business functions such as human resources (HR) and facilities?

An obvious place to start is with support services/capabilities and the fact that most business functions mirror IT in dealing with requests for:

  • Help
  • Access to services
  • Information
  • Making changes to existing services

With this very similar to IT service desk operations and the related ITSM best practice.

Then, as these other business functions will likely provide services to employees and possibly even external customers (or partners), these services could be best managed – from cradle to grave – using a set of service strategy, design, transition, operation, and improvement practices (sound familiar?).

And here’s where we see the similarity with ITIL adoption – where there’s circa ten, at most, of ITIL’s 26 best practice processes that are commonly adopted by organizations (and for some organizations this might be okay based on ITIL’s mantra of “adopt and adapt”).

This selective adoption of best practice processes (or capabilities) is also seen with ESM.

The chart below is taken from HDI’s 2018 “State of Enterprise Service Management” report and it shows the commonly-adopted ITSM processes in ESM scenarios.

Which ITSM processes and practices are being applied outside of IT?

HDI the state of ESM 2018
Source: HDI, “The State of Enterprise Service Management” (2018)

It’s perhaps unsurprising given the current (limited) scope of ITSM best practice adoption within IT, and simple logic implies that an IT organization cannot sensibly share something, with other business functions, that it hasn’t already adopted itself.

Thus, for many organizations, ESM equates to the extension of IT support, or IT service desk, best practices and technology into other business functions; rather than being something that also shares ITIL’s – or another IT approach’s – service design and delivery best practices.

Want More Enterprise Service Management 101 Help?

If this is helpful, and you want to find out more about what ESM is and how it’s being used within organizations, then why not join the upcoming Axios Systems ESM webinar, hosted by ITSM.Tools’ Stephen Mann.

Discover the opportunity of ESM in our webinar. Watch now!

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