One of the main challenges facing businesses of all sizes is how best to manage the number of processes and services they operate. Whether the problems take the shape of out-of-date procedures holding up or silos that have developed across the company that is breaking down communication and collaboration, the negative impacts of failing to properly manage processes can be devastating. But then the question arises of which approach to take and it comes down to service management vs process management.
Deciding on the right approach for your business is an important step in the right direction, which makes it all the more crucial that you take the time to consider all the factors and make the correct decision.
Service Management vs Process Management: What Are They?
The first step is understanding what they both are and what the benefits of each approach are, so here are the basics to help you understand service management vs process management:
Also known as IT Service Management (ITSM), it is a process approach to managing enterprise IT services by aligning them with the ultimate goal of providing the best possible services to the end user. This process-based approach (and the focus on the customer’s needs) is what makes it distinct from various other IT management approaches, which are more based on the technological side of things.
Amongst the most famous frameworks of service management is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which was initially created by the UK Government in the late 1980s and now owned by AXELOS. Its processes, procedures, tasks, and checklists can be applied by a business for aligning IT services with corporate strategy and to measure compliance with the ISO/IEC 20000 standard and also measuring improvement.
That international standard mentioned above, ISO/IEC 20000 is aimed at ensuring that businesses are using IT service management in a way that aligns with their needs, as well as international best practice. One key aspect of the standard and ITSM, in general, is the use of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to agree on levels of service between the provider and customer, whether internal or external.
Business Process Management
Business Process Management (BPM) is a tool aimed at helping businesses keep their operations running smoothly, providing a way to analyzing the processes to find potential improvements. It also helps with implementing these improvements and continuing to monitor their effectiveness. With most businesses suffering from either too many or too few processes, tools and activities that make them more efficient are crucial.
BPM takes a systematic approach to making a company’s processes more effective and more responsive to changes. The approach dates back to the early 20th Century and Frederick Winslow Taylor’s The Principles Of Scientific Management, which encouraged businesses to use a more scientific method to how they operated.
Since then, there have been various approaches that share the same goals as business process management, including Six Sigma, Total Productive Maintenance, Lean and, indeed IT service management. They’re all aimed at improving the way businesses operate by optimizing their processes, the differences just come in how they go about this, and each company will be different in its needs and goals.
Service Management vs Process Management: The Benefits
Both come with distinct benefits, and these may help you decide which is right out of service management vs process management:
Service Management Benefits
- Saving money – Using an approach based on ITSM will make your business more efficient by standardizing your service processes and this almost always results in financial savings because money isn’t being spent on duplicating processes and procedures. Taking this strategic approach to your technological resources means getting the most out of what you’ve got, minimising wastage in both money and time (which is, of course, also money).
- Saving time – This isn’t just about money though. If your IT services are operating in a way that is best practice, with standard processes, you’ll speed up what your staff is doing, increasing their productivity. This is efficient in terms of costs but also has the benefits of allowing them more time to work on other things, offering up the potential to achieve so much more than they are already doing.
- More accountability – Standardizing your service management processes eliminates any ad hoc measures being taken, which could be potentially covering bigger unresolved issues. If every member of staff is following the same procedures, there’s less margin for error and it’s easier to see where things are going wrong, especially with effective monitoring processes in place.
- Putting IT at the heart of your workflows – Technology is already a key player in the way every business works, but when it comes to IT, it can often be in a reactive way, responding to problems rather than offering process improvements. Using IT service management approaches means that the software tools involved are key to the way all the business units operate and will be involved in any decisions in the future.
- Managing change– Change at business level can be a potentially risky process, especially when there isn’t standardization across the board, so using service management approaches makes everything repeatable and accountable. Thus, any problems encountered during changes can be identified, fixed and avoided in the future.
Business Process Management Benefits
- Better agility – A company that uses business process management approaches will have processes that are much agiler and adaptable when it comes to change. Decisions can be made more quickly because management can have confidence in the existing processes and the ease with which they can be changed.
- More income – Business with poor process management can find themselves struggling to resolve complex issues, which can often impact on the whole business. With process management in place, these can be avoided. The resultant savings in time mean that there are fewer blocks to the income flow and the business can keep working in a slick and productive manner.
- Better employee satisfaction – Workers who don’t understand the processes that they are having to work with are often frustrated and disenchanted employees. Cutting the red tape and duplication of tasks makes them happier, as does bringing in automation to save them time on repetitive chores. And happy workers are productive workers.
- More measurability – Business process management makes measuring the results of processes and decisions a lot easier, allowing future decisions to be made with full knowledge of the potential impacts and benefits. The reporting tools you can implement with BPM can change the whole way your business operates.
- Fewer risks – With standardized processes that are created with more thought and research behind them, there’s fewer risks of human errors or fraud affecting your business without being quickly spotted.
When it comes to the ultimate decision of service management vs process management, there are clear benefits to both approaches and which one is right for your business will depend on the nature and structure of it as well as what your goals are. The benefits listed above are representative of what you can expect from each, so it’s time to do your own internal research to see what is most important to you.