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The importance of Service Management in the Cloud

In achieving digital transformation or higher business value, more and more companies are looking to migrate their businesses into the cloud. The selection of and migration towards a cloud platform is often regarded as a silver bullet to overcome most IT issues that have been experienced in the past. Unfortunately, the platform as such is a means rather than an end in the journey towards value. In addition, some roadblocks on the cloud journey aren’t apparent until the transformation is ongoing. That’s why we should address some concerns regarding cloud transformation. In earlier blogs, we’ve turned to concepts such as A cloud center of excellence or FinOps to help you with your cloud business. Today we introduce the notion and importance of Service Management in the cloud. 

Roadblocks in a Cloud journey

The transition towards a cloud-based organization is often more complex than anticipated. The reasons behind this can be obvious (e.g., low-hanging fruits), but these could be more fundamental (technical debt, skills shortage, cultural behaviors…) as well. When dealing with such roadblocks, in some cases, companies end up replicating existing team structures and established processes, which make it almost impossible to capture the full benefits that cloud offers.

To handle  these problems a multi-faceted but holistic approach is recommended to anticipate and resolve any potential challenge which gets along the way, while remaining locked-in to the creation of value for the whole organization. This approach consists of:

  • The creation of a cloud center of excellence (CCoE): The purpose is to get a good understanding on the current state-of-affairs and to create the operating model for the future cloud organization. The target operating model will provide an answer on how the technical (architectures, security, operations) and non-technical functions (governance, strategy and business alignment, PMO) of the to-be organization will perform and this will serve as the input for the future IT organization’s design.
  • Establishment of a FinOps practice: As cloud computing introduces a fundamentally different financial and delivery model to what most organizations are accustomed to, a culture needs to be established where cloud spend can be easily identified, planned, and optimized while enabling teams to do their work in this new constellation without the burden of red tape.
  • The evolution and establishment of IT Service Management (ITSM) Best Practices: As accountabilities will be fundamentally shifting, depending on which cloud and delivery models have been chosen, implicit and explicit arrangements need to be made which cover the fashion on how value is generated in the organization. This includes processes and responsibilities.

Introducing IT Service Management

IT Service Management, which is usually mentioned in the same breath as ITIL (the famous framework which provides best practices in this domain, ed.) should be regarded as the glue which holds the entire (Cloud) IT organization together. Pragmatically looking at which guardrails, guidelines, roles and responsibilities, (sub)processes are needed so that each member of the organization knows how to play his part in any circumstance.

It’s important to stress that with regard to ITSM there is no one-size-fits all, each of the Service Management practices need to be tailored to the exact needs of the organization while keeping everything simple and practical. When making decisions and actions with regard to the services portfolio 7 simple but effective guiding principles should be applied:

  • Focus on value – Focus on the desired outcomes
  • Start where you are – Use what you have, do what you can
  • Progress iteratively with feedback – Apply agile thinking
  • Collaborate and promote visibility – Don’t work isolated
  • Think and work holistically – Keep the bigger picture in mind
  • Keep it simple and practical – Don’t over engineer, be pragmatic
  • Optimize and automate – Look for inefficiencies, then look for automation opportunities

ITSM Toolbox

To facilitate the implementation of these practices, a toolbox of templates (processes,RACI, guidelines,…) has been made available to help support the necessary engagements and decision making. The decision-making process is similar to the CCoE and FinOps principles. ITSM is an ideal means to rectify any inherent operational shortcomings or inefficiencies of the past while establishing and maintaining the IT value drivers. It should be regarded as full-fledged component of any cloud transition which operationalizes the decisions made in the CCoE and FinOps streams. When looking at the ITSM principles, and the ones forming part of the FinOps and CCoE frameworks , a high degree of commonality in approach with a shared focus on value and agility can be found.

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