[2] The Origin of Service Management Methods

The Dutch Experience
-Part 2 in the series on SMMs – read part 1 here.

In the 1990s, in the Netherlands (as well as in other countries), many projects for improving IT service organizations, using ITIL best practices, had not delivered the expected results, time upon time. Too late, too expensive, out of scope, and falling back to the old situation within two years. Sounds familiar? Even now, in 2016, the situation hasn't changed in most countries.

This resulted in a study into service management knowledge in other disciplines than IT, in the early 2000’s. The study revealed many useful approaches that somehow had been overseen or had not been fully fledged within IT, due to the popular best practice approach of the 1990s. As I’ve discussed before in another blog, a best practice approach for improvement a service organization ‘starts at the wrong end of the stick’.

The basic elements of all these findings were used to develop a systematic approach that would have to guarantee successful outcomes of organizational improvement projects in service organizations: a Service Management Method, in short: an SMM.

The first result of this study was the ISM Method, an IT specific application of a generic SMM. This ISM Method was first used in 2005, and developed into the Dutch national standard for IT service organizations within a decade. Hundreds of Dutch organizations have applied it in their practices, in any line of business, and in any size organization. A new market developed around it, providing books in Dutch and in English, training programs, exams, standardized tools, management games, etc. Organizations in other countries have adopted it since then, but without the local support that was only available in the Netherlands.

Soon after the start of the ISM Method in IT delivery organizations, the generic underlying method was also applied to organizations in the IT demand management domain, aka Business Information Management – a field of practice that was highly developed in the Netherlands (unlike most other countries). Without any problems the generic method was applied to this second domain, generating an additional market, with a dedicated book, training programs, exams, management games, and re-using the same standardized tools.

The method was then tested in other domains than IT or information management, and it soon became clear that it would also fit these other domains. Of course the terminology would have to be adapted at some points, and the technology that was used in examples would have to fit the targeted domain, but the methodical approach was proven to be valid in other service domains. Deployments were managed in fields including education, software products, medical technology, and they all used the same management system.

This resulted in a project for the development of a Unified Service Management method (USM), launched in January 2015 by the USM Foundation. The results of this projects are expected to become available to the market by mid-2016, and they should make an SMM the preferred approach for any service organization, opening a huge knowledge base of proven and applicable SMM patterns.

In my next blog, I'll discuss the context and mission of a method.

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