BSM Defined: What It Is and Should Never Be

Note the absence of mumbo-jumbo about products, software, automated dashboards, configuration management databases and all the rest. BSM is not a software product, it is indeed a mindset. It is a way of thinking about IT resource allocations. BSM is a strategy described by the ITIL as an exercise in strategic thinking. So, how do you attain the enlightenment that is BSM if it is an intangible? As with many skills, BSM must be learned before it may be practiced.

Why BSM Matters to You

The reasons for BSM are many but the primary driver is IT commoditization. IT commoditization refers to the fact that businesses today are more and more dependent upon IT services. As the cost for hardware and software falls, the ease with which it may be inter-connected is increasing dramatically. This presents business with many alternatives to the traditional IT organization, because many businesses can simply acquire and install systems on their own that were traditionally the purview of an IT organization. In many organizations, such ad hoc business IT systems are then connected to traditional business IT systems. The result is an incredibly complicated environment that shows no signs of decreasing in complexity.

While the business not only assumes the mantle of IT provider in many cases, the requirements that businesses place upon their IT organization and technology, in general, are also increasing. Referred to as variability, the issue is that as a business becomes more entwined with information technology services, it can sustain less and less variation in the quality and delivery of those services.

For the IT organization, this combination of factors represents an “IT perfect storm.” Simply put, today’s IT organization faces ever-growing complexity with diminishing tolerance for poor quality. This, combined with economic realities such as decreasing IT budgets and head counts, represent a no-win situation—not just for the business but also for the IT organization.

From this vantage point, BSM is used to steer IT service management (ITSM), application and technology management and operations within IT. BSM describes how the well-functioning IT service provider aligns with its business, understands its marketplace, and balances its resources in ways to best benefit the business.

BSM provides the guidance an IT executive requires to align with business, control the costs of IT, improve IT service quality, and balance resource allocations. Since the business does not operate independently of the IT systems or organization, it is equally important for technical and non-technical executives to understand how they must work together. BSM provides such a roadmap.

From Good to Great

BSM is the highest point on the continuum ranging from managing IT resources, through managing applications, to managing work flow to managing towards business outcomes. IT organizations pass through each of the following points as they mature:

Technology Management – Technology management is usually the first phase of a maturing IT organization. Managing technology typically involves technology silos and organizational autonomy and bias based around the resources required to manage a particular type of technology (for example, networking or software development).