Laying the Foundation for Enterprise Service Management

It’s not uncommon for organizations with successfully implemented IT Service Management (ITSM) strategies to explore expanding service management outside of just IT. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common. According to a recent market study, 38 percent of respondents said expanding their service delivery to encompass Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is one of the most critical trends for the next 12-24 months.

While the study shows that currently, only about three in ten organizations have a formal ESM program to leverage ITSM principles outside of IT, work on this front is clearly underway. Even though many respondents said they don’t practice ESM now, half the organizations have extended their ITSM or ticketing platform for use in managing work in other departments and approximately a quarter of organizations say they’ve deployed ESM in more than two departments outside of IT.

What is Enterprise Service Management? ESM is a fancy term for working better together – that’s all. In any organization, there are many moving parts – all of which need to fit together and many of which are disjointed. Getting help in this environment can be daunting. For example, what if you need to change your name, request a parking permit, ask for a new monitor, or tell someone that all the lights in your office are blinking on and off every time you sit down? 

A Centralized Service Hub for All

To envision what ESM can do for your organization, first close your eyes and imagine a central hub – like an Intranet. You go there and there are big buttons for things you want to request – like “Request IT Service” or “Request a Parking Permit.” There could even be a library of information so that you can read about how to potentially purchase your own monitor and chargeback, or you can read about how to fix your blinking voicemail light. This central hub is your company’s core brain – it’s a library or knowledge base of critical information with embedded “HELP ME” buttons that will automatically route your service request to the right place.

Human Resources Use Case

A study from InformationWeek and TeamDynamix found that 33 percent of companies using ESM have an ESM tool being used by HR – this is one of the most common use cases.

According to the report, “HR offers some of the most obvious use cases for ESM and ITSM crossover, as many of the most used ITSM use cases often revolve around HR processes—namely around the onboarding and offboarding of employees.”

The report goes on, “These incoming and outgoing employees need to have accounts and permissions provisioned or de-provisioned for them on the IT side, but from an HR perspective, employees must have significant amounts of paperwork processed on their behalf and with their collaboration. ESM can help with that workflow. Similarly, ESM can simplify case management and HIPAA-compliant processes for HR. It can also offer a convenient single portal for all employees into HR, which is a department that collaborates heavily with stakeholders in every corner of an organization. When done right, ESM for HR can reduce inbound inquiries and improve employee response times by integrating workflows with HR systems.”

Human Resources often serves as a great use case example because literally, everyone in the company relies on HR for both information and service delivery.

Services could be a request to change a name, to add a dependent, to change an address or even to report a compliance issue. If you were to go to the hub and enter the HR hub area, there could be a combination of indexed articles that will inform, as well as hot buttons. On the other end, HR can easily configure the hot buttons to route information or even trigger workflow actions.

You can read about more HR use cases here.

Once ESM is implemented you will be able to offer your internal and external customers the nirvana of going to one place for all their service needs.

Marketing Use Case

In marketing, an ESM platform can be used to save time and stay organized. Anyone in marketing knows requests are always coming in from multiple departments. Those requests can range from mass emails to events, to communications, and more. The sheer volume of activity can be daunting – especially in larger organizations and businesses. And without formal a intake process and project planning/tracking – things can get lost.

Using an ESM platform, marketing can create a portal and have anyone with a request fill out a project form. This form can be routed to the appropriate person within marketing and they can create a ticket, or even a project, and track progress within the platform.

In addition, the portal can work as a central repository for all marketing collateral. Anyone needing a brochure, video, presentation or other marketing materials can come to the portal and find it themselves instead of sending an email request. And if that marketing material doesn’t exist, they can fill out a form on the portal to request its creation.

You can read about more marketing use cases here.


For years organizations tried to take ITSM platforms and turn them into ESM platforms. Not surprisingly this would fail, with the biggest pushback coming from the various departments outside of IT being forced to use the ITSM platform. Why? Usually, these departments felt they were being forced into using a tool that didn’t fit their needs and had terminology and functionality that didn’t translate and apply to their department’s specific processes, tasks and requests. Since then, much has been learned and many ITSM platforms have extended and expanded their ESM capabilities. When selecting an ITSM platform for your organization – with ESM on your roadmap – you should consider the following in order to be successful:

  • IT still needs a true ITSM platform: For the IT group, you need a full-blown ITSM platform that can support ITIL with change management, asset management, a service portal, knowledge base and much more. These boxes need to be checked before extending across the enterprise.
  • Easy and Fast to Spin Up New Applications: Gaining traction across the enterprise means that the platform needs to be easy to use, own and operate. What does this mean? To start, spinning up a new area for Marketing or HR for example cannot take highly technical resources – it should be easy to quickly spin up a new app.
  • No Coding / No Scripting: Configuration should be done via screens. Nobody in HR or Marketing wants to be heavily reliant on IT, nor does IT want to take on yet another project. So, the configuration of the new app needs to be something that can be done on the screen.
  • Click and Drag Portal Design: If you want to make a new form that is “Request Name Change” and add specific fields to this form, give it a nice name, hook it up to the central portal with a nice big orange button – these are all things that the HR team should be able to do themselves, without the need for IT support.

Enterprise Service Management needs to be easy and sustainable to take off.  Once it does, it will offer your internal and external customers the nirvana of going to “one place to get everything I need.”

How to Successfully Adopt ESM

While ESM is growing in popularity, it can still be hard to get buy-in for a new tool. For departments outside of IT, implementing ESM can seem like a daunting change. However, there are a few things you can do to help ease the transition:

  • Don’t just take an IT Service Management platform being used within your IT department and try to scale it across each group. It won’t work.
  • Do meet with each department or group prior to implementing an ESM solution and settle on the processes and functionalities they need.
  • Don’t assume that each department has the same language as IT for each process. Marketing might not use the terminology “submit a ticket” for example.
  • Do ask each group or department for a list of their commonly used terms and how they correspond to the actions they’ll be taking when using the ESM platform.
  • Don’t overcomplicate or try to over-process the ESM platform.
  • Do make your ESM accessible and easy to use. For an ESM implementation to be successful, you’ll want departments and groups to be able to fully utilize the platform WITHOUT reliance on IT for support. Implementing a codeless ESM platform can be a great way to free up IT resources and empower departments to manage their own portals.

Selecting the right ESM tool for your business is vital. With the right tools, you can improve your service delivery outcomes, optimize resource allocation, and decrease your administrative burden. Remember, the most expensive tool isn’t necessarily the best one for your business. The right ESM tool is the one that meets your unique requirements and helps you achieve your business goals.

ESM in Action

At Pima County, there are plans to use automation (with iPaaS) both in IT and outside of IT to gain better efficiencies and reduce toil for employees.

Mark Hayes, information technology leader at Pima County, said “[Automation] is something the organization is really just starting to comprehend as a vision that we want to get to overall. My goal and hope is to make sure people understand the possibilities of workflow beyond just getting approvals routed because that’s all that we really do today.”

The county has started by automating user group management and the onboarding/offboarding of employees – a task that involves several departments.

“As a government organization we get audited by the state every year and they want to know what these stale accounts are doing sitting here,” Hayes said. “Offboarding is currently a very manual process – having to review the list from HR of people who are no longer employed with us and manually revoking their privileges from all the different systems and software and disabling their accounts. There’s absolutely no reason for that to not be automated.”

And all of the automation is going to save time and resources across the entire organization.

“The drudgery of working through mundane, repetitive tasks doesn’t exist just in IT,” Hayes said. “I think the more we can reduce toil within the departments that we support, the more people are going to buy in and understand the value of what we’re trying to achieve. There’s nothing like success to breed more success, and once other departments see the benefits they’re going to want these tools too.”

Better Together: Why Service Management Should Include Project Management

When implementing Enterprise Service Management (ESM) or IT Service Management (ITSM), it’s important to consider your project management tools and processes – especially if you’re working with limited resources. By bringing ESM/ITSM and Project Portfolio Management (PPM) together – you can gain a 360 view of your entire organization. Every project, problem, service request– it’s all at your fingertips.

With ITSM/ESM and PPM together on a single platform, you can better understand your resource capabilities and engage in true resource capacity planning. This approach is especially useful when you have limited resources, but an increase in demand for the support of remote learning and remote workforces.

What does resource capacity planning look like when using ESM and PPM together? In marketing, for example, they can leverage ESM to manage requests for event support, while using PPM to manage the actual event itself. By combining ESM and PPM, the marketing team can see all their work and available resources within a single tool.

The same can be applied across your organization to IT, finance, HR, etc.

If you to learn more about ESM and get tips on successfully implementing ESM throughout your organization check out: The Dos and Don’ts of Enterprise Service Management Implementation.

This article was originally published in February 2021 and has been updated with new information.

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