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Demonstrating Value

Service Management business value

Demonstrating value is a commonly used phrase in service management, but what does it entail and how can we effectively achieve it? There are various methods to exhibit the value of any endeavour in life, which also holds for service management. We encounter both implied and substantiated information and data.

Regrettably, in the service management sphere, implied or unsubstantiated information is often relayed to the business. While this might be accepted if presented convincingly by a trusted individual, it doesn't hold the same weight as substantiated information. The likelihood of your unsubstantiated data being accepted decreases with the cost and frequency of failures or for requests for funding more resources from the business.

So, how do we effectively demonstrate value in service management? Fortunately, we have a robust standard (ISO20000) and framework (ITIL®) to guide us.

Service Catalogue

Why is the catalogue crucial in showcasing value, even after 20 years of ITIL implementation? It’s often because we rarely have a complete and accurate service catalogue. I can recall my early consulting days when I spent months crafting a service catalogue, only for it to end up gathering dust in a drawer until someone inquired about its existence!

However, those days focused on the Business Catalogue, whereas today, we emphasise the Actionable Service Catalogue or the Self-Service Portal. While this addition is important, it's equally crucial to have and maintain a properly configured Business Catalogue and Service Portfolio.


The ability to document incidents, problems, changes, and requests against a business service is vital in demonstrating value. When armed with data reflecting the true cost of a service, it becomes easier to secure funding for replacements or upgrades. Likewise, when tasked with cost reductions, it's simpler to identify which services to discontinue when armed with data on resource consumption and costs. Now, we are effectively showcasing the value of our IT and its associated costs.


Most organisations have a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) or Asset Management system in place today, but is it being utilised correctly? Let's not delve into the intricacies of the CMDB (that warrants its own discussion), but rather focus on its usage.

A well-maintained CMDB offers benefits beyond Asset Management; it provides insights into various ITIL processes and costs. Hence, it's crucial to leverage the CMDB as intended, not merely as an Asset Database.

How many organisations have processes that mandate relating a Configuration Item (CI) to an Incident, Problem, or Change? While several obstacles might hinder this practice, the benefits of doing so are why we have a CMDB. By establishing these relationships, you can identify the costs associated with maintaining your CIs, down to specific models and makes.

Increasing Operational Efficiency and Demonstrating Value

It's easier to secure funding for updating your PC fleet when armed with validated data from your CMDB. If your CMDB only includes PCs, consider mandating the linking of CIs for any ticket related to the Desktop Service. This approach allows you to demonstrate value in project and tool costs while facilitating the update of outdated PC fleets.

These benefits extend across all ITIL processes, including Incident, Problem, and Change Management. The ability to relate Services and CIs to Changes, coupled with the insights provided by a properly configured CMDB, is invaluable to both Change Management and technical teams. Relating Problem, Incident, or Change tickets to a specific CI or Service allows us to understand the actual impact on that CI or Service. This is often ignored but provides valuable insights within the ITIL framework.

Problem Management

Problem Management is one process that seems always to be put into the too-hard basket, yet it is the simplest of processes to achieve the most value out of the ITIL framework.

When I used to teach ITIL I remember the look on people’s faces when the penny dropped with Problem Management and the realisation of the impact you could have by simply resolving those high-volume incidents permanently could have on your service desk. It was always the thing that got people excited.

Why is this so difficult to achieve in practice?

Firstly, you need to ensure that you are doing Incident Management correctly and properly categorising your Incidents, then you need the right tools to enable you to quickly match your incident against other Incidents and Problems.

It is also necessary to establish the correct process to ensure that incidents are either linked to existing problems or that a new problem is identified if one doesn't already exist. Once these steps are taken, demonstrating value becomes straightforward. Begin by tackling the easiest and most impactful problems first. This approach leads to a significant reduction in incidents, phone calls, ticket management, and costs. Consequently, you'll have a clear means of demonstrating the value that IT and ITSM provide to the business.


It's imperative not to overlook these crucial processes if you aim to showcase and realise value for your business. While perfection isn't necessary, continuous process improvements are vital.

Similar to Deming's improvement cycle of 'Plan, Do, Check, Act!', imagine only executing the 'plan' and 'check' steps—your process wouldn't be successful. Hence, invest the extra time and effort into your process improvement journey.

When considering tool upgrades, ensure they encompass these processes and functionalities, and verify that the product is licensed for all your processes. Avoid deferring hard decisions due to cost constraints; compromising on functionality now will hinder your ability to demonstrate value in the future.

Many organisations purchase expensive products with only basic functionality licenced to cut costs, only to realise that going back to the business for more funding when all you have done is count incidents and service requests doesn’t stack up and that the return on investment doesn't justify the expenditure. Explore alternative tools that offer all the necessary processes without the need for additional licensed modules or include those modules in your project costing.