There was a wonderful commercial a few years back where small business leaders were in a meeting to determine how best to cut costs. The collective group provides typical suggestions that are quickly shot down, until one member asks, “How much does all this cost,” gesturing toward the presentation equipment used to conduct the very meeting in which they are trying to save money.

Ultimately, IT financial leaders must answer a similar set of questions:

  • How much does it cost to do what we do?
  • Does what we do ensure the outcomes the business wants?
  • In what ways can we increase and demonstrate the value we provide to the business?

Finding answers to these questions can be a daunting task for IT service management (ITSM) leaders who have focused most of their efforts on establishing the policies, processes, and procedures to support and deliver IT services to the business. While many IT organizations emphasize meeting the needs of the business, very few act as service providers to the business, whereby they define services, understand costs, and guarantee service level agreements. In a competitive IT landscape, organizations must be cognizant of performance optimization, specifically the need to identify and manage costs. ITSM tools play a key role in providing this visibility, which is why all of us at Cherwell Software are excited to expand our partnership with Apptio. 

One key area in which IT financial leaders can help IT leaders identify and manage costs is with their IT service management (ITSM) solution. The key question for IT leaders is this: what level of value is the business getting for the services IT provides? The IT service desk, which is the intersection of the business and the IT organization, is uniquely positioned and qualified to answer that question. In addition to manual approaches such as surveys and incident trend analysis, IT can see which support issues cause the business the most pain, proactively take steps to resolve issues and, ultimately, prevent problems from occurring in the first place. ITSM tools provide basic reporting at the component and infrastructure levels, but these tools cannot by themselves improve cost efficiencies, resource utilization, or demonstrate business value. The Technology Business Management (TBM) framework aligns well with the goals of ITSM and IT asset management. This connection works to improve cost-for-performance, and help the business meet SLAs and improve customer satisfaction.

ITSM tools also play a role in demonstrating the business value of IT through the IT service catalog. The service catalog provides the business a tool to simplify the IT service request process, while also providing an overview of the value-added activities that go into fulfilling common IT requests. The most notable example might be found when a business stakeholder perceives the process of acquiring a new PC for work use to be cumbersome, when compared to getting it from a local retailer. To provision the device with the required image, business applications, and security profiles comes at a cost to the business – and the retailer simply cannot provide those services. To automate the delivery of these services in a standard, efficient, and effective way adds value to the IT organization in the form of reduced overhead—while also showcasing the value of IT to the business. 

Lastly, ITSM tools can work to automate a wider range of processes outside of IT, often working well enough to replace legacy or homegrown ITSM tools that require high levels of maintenance and administration. While using ITSM tools as workflow automation solutions for the business is not a new concept, when IT organizations have a flexible and powerful service management solution that can meet requirements without costly customization, more value comes from a single solution, as opposed to managing and supporting several piecemeal solutions. A single solution also permits the reallocation of resources previously dedicated to “keeping the lights on,” allowing them to focus on ways to grow and transform the business. For example, over the next 30 days, would you prefer your JavaScript programmer work on applications and solutions that help create a sustainable competitive advantage for your business? Or would you prefer her to be stuck supporting, fixing, and upgrading multiple disparate tools?

In alignment with the TBM framework, as IT leaders look to make investments in new ITSM solutions, they need to understand how those investments impact the ongoing cost of operations, the current portfolio strategy, and their levels of enterprise agility.

To learn what to look for in an ITSM solution, and read Gartner’s evaluation of the market-leading vendors in the space, view Gartner’s recently released 2016 Magic Quadrant for IT Service Support Management Tools.

About the author: Jarod Greene is the Vice President of Product Marketing for Cherwell Software, a leader in IT service management (ITSM) and business enablement solutions. As a former Gartner® analyst, Jarod spent ten years covering the ITSM industry, with a focus on processes, organizational structure. and enabling technologies.


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