Employing value streams in Enterprise Service Management


Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is the technical extension of pre-existing Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) to other areas of an enterprise (e.g. Corporate or Shared Services). Successful ESM balances efficiencies gained from employing standardised process management, tooling and reporting with the nuances of organisational capabilities such as Finance, HR, Facilities and so forth. ESM leverages the industry proven service management concepts from ITSM that have been available for more than 20 years. Further to this, ESM operations implement similar concepts as ITSM including a service desk for 1st level support, end to end process management, request/issue management software, self-service knowledge bases and more recently chatbots and AI.

Value streams are born from Lean manufacturing and comprise of a series of steps an organisation undertakes to create and deliver value to customers, typically in the forms of products and services. In the IT context, examples of value steams include developing a new application, making changes to existing application, and fixing an issue with a live application. These IT value streams are delivered by specific activities from the organisation’s IT value chain. The IT value chain activities may include plan, define, design, build, deploy, support and improve. 

Value steams are similar to processes in that they are typically linear in sequence, incorporate feedback loops to fuel improvement and should be simple to understand. Value streams though tend to be more abstract than processes and when employed in ESM, value streams need to accommodate a wider array of considerations including regulations related to safety, privacy and, legal protections. Value streams start and end with the customer.

Corporate/Shared service organisations are adopting the value streams with ESM to be agile, more responsive and foster an anticipatory mindset to mitigate risks and take advantage of future opportunities.

Typical examples of value streams in ESM include:

Customer services – managing high volume of requests, some are standard while others requires case management and may require input from various enterprise functions. This may include submitting quotes and contracts, sending invoices, tracking payments, delivery of goods and managing returns.

Onboarding staff – conducting employment and background checks, managing personnel information, allocating position information, assigning remuneration, providing workplace technology, providing physical and IT access and workspace allocation.

Establishing project teams – onboarding contractors, appointing new project roles, managing secondments, allocating office space, moving IT and office equipment, updating internal directory records, change access to locations and applications.

Conducting financial month end – issuing month end calendar, reviewing and approving journal requests, comparison of budget to actual results, update predictive forecast models, preparation review and approval of reports, provision of month end dashboards, responding to queries.

Timekeeping – issuing reminders, collating timesheets, reviewing supervisor approvals, validating exceptions, processing pay, issuing pay slips and other records.

Managing corporate credit cards – onboarding new card holders, assigning delegation of authority and credit limits, ordering cards, managing the acquittal process, responding to queries, approval of reimbursements, auditing acquittals, processing payments.

Employing value streams in ESM provides a series of compelling benefits

ESM drives benefits like agility, value transparency, business continuity, cost control, and staff productivity throughout a business. ESM coupled with value streams identified across the enterprise functions provide the following benefits:

Responsiveness - Increased responsiveness to market and business changes through a single approach and underpinning platform enabling modern request channels, workflows and metrics across multiple business units.

Customer satisfaction - Increased customer satisfaction through a highly accessible “one-stop-shop” for all requests supported by automated workflows, which significantly improve turnaround times. This may include the ability of customer to self-manage their requests from one location with a consistent corporate look-and-feel rather than navigating the various functional silos.

Employee engagement – Improved employee retention, productivity, and profit as organisational services are designed in a deliberate approach to constructing the elements that truly matter to employees. This in turn reflects an employee’s desire to put forth discretionary effort as attempts to engage employees beyond the easy wins is clear as employees’ needs, wants, priorities, and evolving sentiments are deeply understood.

Employer brand – Improved employee performance at an individual level with a more holistic focus of employee experience which cumulatively strengthens the employer brand in a tight job market.

Cost - Reduced overheads commonly associated with department to department interactions through standardisation, streamlined processes and automation. Ongoing value stream management with continual improvement will continue to identify optimisation and automation opportunities.

Control - Improved operational control through standardised request types and channels as well as structured queue / ticket management processes which enable requests to be effectively prioritised across the various enterprise functions.

Risk management - Continuous monitoring, reporting, prioritisation and automation of risk and security controls which ensures the rapid identification and reporting of risks. Ability to analyse the impacts of changes in regulations and legal obligations on service delivery across an array of enterprise functions.

Demand management – The ability to identify the sources and types of demand across the various business units/customer segments, supported by a standardised taxonomy to support value stream review while accommodating the department-specific data requirements.

Technology investment optimisation – The opportunity to consolidate various request management tools into one, increasing the ROI on tooling investments and reducing overheads.

What are the considerations for the design, implementation, and ongoing maintenance of value streams in ESM?

While ESM is a technical extension of pre-existing ITSM, the design, implementation and ongoing maintenance of value streams in ESM requires some specific considerations since the value streams span a variety of functions and different disciplines. In particular:

Considering the nuances in the enterprise functions - These nuances can be in their culture, roles and responsibilities, approval delegations, service levels and industry rules and regulations.

Designing/Mapping value streams in ESM is more than just mapping a process – While value stream mapping can be perceived as being closely related to process mapping, there are other elements that should be documented and managed as they underpin the quality of service delivery. These other key elements include process activities, skills and competence of personnel and suppliers, data and information, tools and automation, supplier contracts and relationships and finally metrics and reporting.

Managing the priority for overall ESM success compared to local functional success – The enterprise functions may feel pressured to prioritise their local silo-specific targets rather than supporting the ESM value streams. This lack of buy-in will complicate the design, implementation and on-going support of the end-to-end value streams.

Radically reframe the employee-employer relationship – a fundamental shift is required to move away from controlling/influencing employees (typically through the HR function) based on organisational needs to sustaining a strong employer brand each and every day.

Scaling organisational change management – Treating the ESM value streams implementation as another IT project will not consider the significant increase in stakeholder management that will be required. This narrowly focused scope will lead to inadequate stakeholder management especially for business units who are dependent on various internal corporate functions to deliver services to their external customers.

Developing a complex implementation business case - The return on investment analysis is complicated by the need to consider the various cost elements and cost categories across the numerous enterprise functions that underpin the value streams. With the complexity in the cost calculations (e.g. labour, technology, suppliers, etc.) across these functions, the requirement to present the ROI in clear business terms remains challenging.

Establishing new capabilities – The establishment of ESM value streams may require new capabilities to ensure consistent end-to-end management. These capabilities will typically manage the following ESM components:

Integration layer for connecting data from the various sources
Deploy design thinking to address employee concerns and re-engineer core practices to better serve them
Visual workflow & process automation including ticketing, intelligent routing and case and major issue management
Performance analytics to support real time analytics and decision making
Omni-channel customer engagement to support a consistent user experience across mobile and desktop devices
Enhanced level 0 customer support including virtual agents, chatbots and self-service knowledge management.
To support the management of these ESM components, I recommend focusing on the following service management practices:

Business relationship management to develop a strong understanding of business demand
Service portfolio management to clearly articulate the key services and functions that deliver the value 
Service catalogue management to shape and clearly articulate the consumable services available to a much wider population of end users
Release organisational change management to anticipate the organisation change impacts on changes to value streams across the ESM functions (e.g. HR, IT, Finance, Facilities, etc.)
Workforce intelligence to find opportunities to differentiate employee choices and empower individuals and teams
Employee engagement management to establish transparency and develop employees and their managers, in an inclusive work environment which demonstrates the organisation’s concern for employees in the context of their work.
Once established, maintenance of the ESM value streams will require a collaborative effort from the enterprise functions to embed and improve the value streams across the various customer segments. The key elements that should be established for on-going value stream management include:

Value Stream Leads – The appointment of Value Stream Leads (VSL) should be clear to all in the organisation and they should be appointed with the appropriate authority to implement changes to their appointed value streams. VSLs are encouraged to form a cohort and share successes, lessons learnt and blockers to support implementation and on-going management of their value streams.

Standardised work and authority – Value stream steps and guidelines should be documented with a standard taxonomy and consistent look and feel. These guidelines should be known to staff and will require an ongoing education and awareness program as value streams evolve through continual improvement.

Persistent multi-disciplinary teams - True cross functional, persistent, feature based scrum teams aligned to value streams with a shared focus on outcomes (vs activities) enabled by investments in innovative, contemporary delivery practices (e.g. Robotic Process Automation).

Quality management – Plans should be established to regularly review the value streams, using cross-functional teams. The teams should be provided with consistent control tools like checklists or tables that detail what should be monitored, the metrics used, targets to be achieved, how performance should be measured and the frequency of measurement.

Process metrics and KPIs – Used to underpinning the above control plans, the metrics/KPIs should be transparent, traceable to all business objectives and supported by leadership. The reporting of results should also be transparent, holistic and in a timing manner.

What does this approach to ESM mean to leadership roles in enterprise functions (e.g. IT, HR, Legal, Facilities and Finance)?

With the introduction of ESM value streams, an organisational restructure is not mandatory however, I am seeing interest from some leading organisations transforming from functional departments into value streams. As shown in Figure 1 below, staff working in the value stream squads report to the respective Value Stream Lead while at the same time, they are supported by a technical coach (or Guild Lead). Existing functional leadership roles are taking on these key responsibilities:

a.   Retaining accountability for the organisation to be operating within the organisational and industry specific regulations and policies,

b.   Enabling that accountability by acting as Guild Leads (or technical coaches) to the value stream personnel on their specific discipline (e.g. Legal lead providing advice on contractual matters for the value stream), and

c.   Retaining operational leadership of the retained, centralised function as I am observing that not all internal functions are being moved into value streams. In this scenario, the retained functions could be consolidated into a shared services team.

Figure 1: Example of value stream organisation

Value Stream Leads should also look to form collaborative relationships with Enterprise Architecture who should be chartered to oversee business and process architecture and therefore have oversight of the ESM value streams to ensure consistency and ease of integration.


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