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AXELOS report highlights key ITSM role in managing digital transformation risk

David Bicknell Published 11 February 2018

Although 70% of ITSM professionals say they understand their organisation’s strategy, fewer than half (41%) see a clear alignment between their current goals and the overall direction of the business


IT service management (ITSM) and executive leadership in organisations, including government and the wider public sector, needs stronger strategic alignment to make digital transformation a success, according to a study by best practice group AXELOS.

The findings of the AXELOS  IT Service Management Benchmarking Report 2017 reflect a need for ITSM practitioners to revisit their adoption and adaption of ITIL principles and processes to support successful digital transformation. 

The report has also revealed the challenges facing the ITSM function and the wider organisations it supports.

Although 70% of ITSM professionals say they understand their organisation’s strategy, fewer than half (41%) see a clear alignment between their current goals and the overall direction of the business. This disconnect presents a serious risk, as more than 60% claim ITSM is instrumental to achieving business objectives in the next five years.

The challenges affect both larger and smaller organisations. Larger organisations tend to recognise lack of visibility as a problem, while smaller organisations struggle more with inefficient processes and understanding customer needs.

Both issues demonstrate a misconception around ITIL adoption. On the one hand, the report says, the focus on service adoption dictates that ITSM teams are not privy to complete information regarding the organisation’s projects.

On the other hand, smaller businesses are struggling to adopt suitable processes that will help them to be efficient. That reinforces the need for ITSM professionals to be holistic in their approach to service management, adopting the appropriate processes for their organisation’s level of maturity.

Margo Leach, chief product officer of AXELOS, argues that as digital transformation introduces new types and levels of risk into organisations, effective ITSM is essential to managing that risk.

“Using evidence to support improvement and innovation will help ITSM teams demonstrate their understanding of an organisation’s goals as it undergoes digital change to deliver value for end customers,” she says.

“This requires more than reporting just process-based statistics, such as service desk traffic, without providing any business insight into the significance of the data. Our benchmarking study suggests that, currently, ITSM teams are too focused on operational processes and are not doing enough to use evaluation tools, metrics and measurement as part of their working practices in delivering value to the wider business.

“While it’s encouraging that our research shows 40% of ITSM functions in organisations achieving the right level of ITIL maturity – with monitoring and evaluation used to improve established processes and innovate – 60% of ITSM functions within organisations have no monitoring or evaluation in place.”

Leach argues that striving to demonstrate value to the business in a language executive leadership teams can understand will encourage greater collaboration between ITSM and the wider organisation.

“Gone are the days when ITSM was about infrastructure and service desks alone; now, it is capable of a holistic approach that combines delivering value with necessary controls such as risk and finance management,” Leach concludes.

When asked in the benchmarking study to prioritise their most pressing challenges, ITSM professionals highlighted:

  • Inefficient processes, services, actions or metrics
  • Lack of visibility on projects and workloads
  • Design decisions based on assumptions
  • Siloed working
  • Lack of focus on/understanding of customer needs
  • Lack of collaboration between or inside teams 

In a foreword to the report, Leach says, “Over the last 18 months, in preparation for the launch of updated ITIL guidance, we have also conducted extensive research with hundreds of ITSM professionals. The findings confirm that the core principles of ITIL are as relevant as they ever were.

“But it has also become more important than ever for professionals to know how best to integrate these principles with other professional practices and new technologies. This will be reflected in the updated ITIL guidance, which will take shape during 2018.”

Meanwhile, a blog on the AXELOS website has argued that everyone working in IT – project managers, technicians, IT managers, service managers – need to be more business-focused. That means listening to the business, understanding what it values and aligning IT. This will for example involve asking the right questions so projects get the right input. 

The piece suggested that project managers need to be relationship builders and excellent communicators for the organisation both internally and externally. It said technicians who have a crash course in project management and are then thrown in to run projects from a technical point of view will enjoy less success and projects will potentially fail. It added that the ability to create relationships and connect to people will be critical skills in 2018.




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