Many IT managers work under strained relations with their businesses. Many IT managers blame the business for lack of direction and shifting requirements but I believe the real reason we in IT are failing is simply because we do not:
Understand the expectations consumers have for the services we provide. Accurately capture these expectations and analyze them. Manage our resources in ways to match changing expectations. Deliver services that meet consumers’ needs and expectations.
Many so-called “customer satisfaction surveys” are used in an effort to determine IT service quality. These surveys are definitely a start in the right direction, indicating that the survey author understands that he or she needs to take into account the consumer of the service when measuring quality. Unfortunately, many of these customer satisfaction surveys are simply not effective and are soon discarded. The good news is that over the last 25 years the science of marketing has advanced dramatically. There are now statistically valid frameworks for measuring quality and ways to generate reliable and repeatable results. SERVQUAL and SERVPERF are excellent examples and well proven.
For perhaps the first time in the history of IT management we have at our disposal the tools and techniques to truly understand the quality of the IT services we provide. We can measure them, and perhaps more importantly, we can analyze them to understand specifically which characteristics of a service are meeting or not meeting consumer expectations and requirements.
Practitioners and managers often ask similar questions regarding the measurement of IT services. Many practitioners assume that, by examining the warranty surrounding the IT components that create a service, they can measure IT service quality. This does not work. Measuring warranty of individual components is at best predictive, and has been proven to be woefully inadequate in many instances.
Many common questions arise with regard to measuring services: What is customer delight? How do we exceed customer expectation? How do we under-promise and over-deliver? But these are not the right questions to ask. To measure service quality is to measure the expectation of the service user, and then position the IT organization within that expectation. It is not feasible to attempt to delight all customers or exceed customer expectations. In fact, attempting to do these things, more often than not, results in spectacular failures. This is why BSM is all about understanding what is needed and then meeting that need―no more, no less.
Hank Marquis is practice leader for Business Service Management at Global Knowledge. You can reach Hank at [email protected].