Sunday, December 4

How to automate business tasks (ESM)

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One of the main factors that have contributed to the success of DeVOps practices has been the automation of most of the tedious tasks that were done in IT departments. The automation of these tasks (integration of team work, software packaging, version management, automatic tests, deployments, etc.) has managed to drastically reduce the time of IT projects while improving quality and reducing the number of errors, practices that seemed incompatible.

This automation is based on the use of tools and the use of a set of standardized practices that are usually called ISTM (IT Service Management).

The obvious question is: Given the success of IT service automation, couldn’t these practices be extended to other business services? The answer is yes, and there is also already a set of standardized practices to help accomplish these tasks. They are called ESM (Enterprise Service Management).

The goal of ESM is to help improve the services of departments such as HR, Legal, Facilities or Finance, relying on the same tools that have helped improve IT services. ESM is based on defining demand flows and automating them with tools so that they can be measured, managed and optimised.

The term ESM was initially used by Forrester and defines ESM as “extending service management capabilities beyond technology services to address business-centric use cases, managing supply and demand for services through a platform, a common portal and catalog of services, and accelerate innovation and workflow automation through low-code development tools, or PaaS.” The concept is clear: Extend use cases outside of IT and use ITSM tools and practices for other Enterprise services.

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An important part of the success of ISTM and now ESM implementations is based on the use of tools that allow adaptations to be made, new flows to be configured or user portals to be generated in very short periods of time. These tools are called “Low code” because they do not require traditional programming but are based on configurations or developments supported by graphical tools that allow very fast developments. Some tools like Atlassian’s Jira have already spread outside of IT in many organizations because users in other departments have seen the ease of automating their flows and created solutions to meet these needs.

ESM is based on defining demand flows and automating them with tools so that they can be measured, managed and optimized

ESM has adapted ITSM practices to other areas of the company. Some practices require little adaptation. For example, ITSM equipment management is true of any other equipment and can help improve and measure performance, effectiveness, and responsiveness. Another practice that fits right in is knowledge management, where different teams, or the entire organization, can access information in a self-service fashion. Having a single portal helps the entire company get support and direct requests to the right team.

The organization of services helps visibility and improves their quality. In large organizations there are usually multiple channels to contact a given department, and depending on the type of query, mail, phone calls or messages can be used. It is not always obvious to the rest of the company’s employees to identify the person who can respond to your request and the appropriate channel for a quick response. ESM’s recommendation to install a single, unified Portal for the entire company, with 24-hour service and help, can structure the services, offer them in a coherent way, facilitating user searches while measuring the response of the different departments of the requests they receive.

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ESM also facilitates collaboration between different departments. In the Company there are multiple flows in which different departments intervene and collaborate. As an example, we could think of the registration of an employee where HR usually intervenes to register the employee in their systems, security to give the necessary access permissions, IT to provide the computer and mobile phones, etc. When all the steps of these flows are automated, errors are avoided. Automating these flows is very simple by choosing the right tools. Automating and unifying them allows for greater control of access to the different systems.

Everything that is automated can be measured and allows control of the quality with which each department responds to the requests of its users. Also many manual tasks, difficult to control but important for the company (for example control of access cards) when automated, control of them is facilitated and improved.

Guillermo Montoya, Executive President DEISER

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