Q&A with Doug McClure: Is BSM Lite the Answer?

Michelle DeFiore

We had the opportunity to chat with Doug McClure, who is currently the Senior Managing Consultant for Business Service Management (BSM) and IT Service Management (ITSM) for the IBM Software Services for Tivoli (ISST) team at IBM Tivoli (part of Software Group (SWG)). He currently leads the Virtual BSM Practice within IBM Software Services for Tivoli.

ScienceLogic: What is “BSM Lite” and how is it different from “heavy” BSM?
Doug McClure: I think the concepts that Peter Sevcik from Net Forecast initially outlined in his blog post sum up what “BSM Lite” is all about: a simpler, less expensive, more responsive way of achieving the goals and objectives of Business Service Management (BSM).  He’s contrasted this nicely against what he termed “BSM Heavy” being the larger investments in time and resources to deploy domain specific tools and solutions each providing a view into the business service delivery with some aggregation and consolidation to tie up all of the disparate tool’s information into a concise end-to-end business service management story. I’m pleased that he leveraged some of my thinking around a better working definition of what BSM really is from the BSM Defined page on my blog. Of course, these definitions are going to vary depending on whom you talk with and how they see the overall BSM Maturity Model. 

I’ve created a BSM Maturity Model that aligns with the famous Gartner IT maturity model.  I’d like to think that a “BSM Lite” solution is one attacking the low hanging fruit, enabling one to achieve value quicker, and in a more tactical manner.  The “BSM Heavy” solutions are capable of the same, but span all along the BSM Maturity Model by adding additional point solutions, products and technologies from their broader portfolio. 

ScienceLogic: Does “BSM Lite” just refer to the tools, or can it refer to the process and methodology as well?
Doug McClure: I think that BSM is as much a philosophy as it is technology, process, people and methodology.  If we can get people to think, operate and respond differently than they do today with a focus on the business, customers, quality, revenue, or whatever else is most important to their business goals and objectives, than that is Business Service Management and could be “BSM Lite” if you will.  Being that I work for IBM Tivoli, one of my personal objectives is to identify ways to use our key BSM enabling products in a more efficient, effective and BSM centric way. This was a huge driver for trying to hold DevCampTivoli focused on “Collaborative Development of End-to-End BSM Solutions”. 

In my opinion, we don’t make things very easy for our clients and the answer can’t be to “buy this product, module or widget” to fill in the gaps.  In my opinion, we must establish a BSM overlay within IBM Tivoli’s development and product management organization that ensures that we have clearly thought about how to enable BSM with the hundreds or products that we sell.  In my opinion, every product release must incorporate the fundamentals of enabling BSM in addition to the core domain specific functionality intended. I hope to keep this spirit alive and get our smartest IBMers and clients thinking about the best way to take a “BSM Heavy” solution and make it “lighter”. I hope to share more about my plans here and guidance for the industry in general soon.

That said, I am always interested in consulting with clients and collaborate with peers in the industry to figure out how to get the focus on the people, process and technology as key components of their BSM strategies.  I am absolutely convinced that without a documented BSM strategy, roadmap and top level sponsorship within the business and IT, the chances of BSM success greatly diminish.

ScienceLogic: Given the complexities involved in implementing a BSM strategy and dealing with the people and processes components of any business, how does “BSM Lite” really work? Should the expectations and outcomes be “lite” as well?
Doug McClure: Time will tell if “BSM Lite” will work.  I’m seeing emerging companies that are already breaking down some of the barriers to BSM success.  I do not expect that those choosing to begin with a “BSM Lite” approach should expect “lite” outcomes.  The outcomes are the same regardless of the approach IF you’ve got a documented BSM strategy, roadmap and top level sponsorship in place before you begin. New features, capabilities and technologies will be needed as the needs of the business change and companies mature in BSM and fundamental IT management.

This will likely force companies to move in more “BSM Heavy” directions to fill those gaps.  In my opinion, this is the ideal scenario now as it gives “BSM Lite” vendors opportunities to grow their products and solutions. It also GREATLY improves the chances for success with a “BSM Heavy” solution because the organization would have already had matured enough to approach a “BSM Heavy” solution than if they hadn’t done a “BSM Lite” solution in the past.

ScienceLogic: Is “BSM Lite” more appropriate for a small or midsized organization, or does it apply equally to large companies? Is there an ideal profile for a company that can successfully implement a BSM strategy? Is there a different profile for “BSM Lite”?
Doug McClure: From an economic perspective, the concepts of “BSM Lite” are appropriate for all companies.  Remember, with “BSM Lite” we’re focused on identifying ways to make the goals and objectives of BSM easier to implement and in a more cost effective way.  Any company concerned about their IT cost overhead should care about this, especially when the risks of starting out with a “BSM Heavy” type deployment are much greater and the time to value generally much longer.

The “ideal” profile for any company is one where the BSM initiative begins by establishing top level buy in through creation of a formal BSM strategy for the company. This BSM strategy personalizes how the company defines what BSM is, what value the company expects from it, and how it will use BSM as a competitive differentiator for delivery of its business and IT services, products, etc. The organizational “profile” I’ve seen most successful is when implementing a BSM strategy originates from within or actively includes a group that many companies have now that serves as a liaison or relationship management role between the various lines of business and IT.

Sometimes this group is often seen as the gatekeeper to filter (and hinder) business driven requirements into the IT organization. In the ideal scenario, this group works very closely with the business and IT (usually staffed by business people and not IT people) to understand both the business side and IT side of complex business services and applications.  Apart from the traditional IT components, what this group can do is help IT really understand the business perspective.  Analysis of the impact on the business in business terms is only possible by collaborating with a group such as this.  True value oriented BSM becomes attainable when we get to this level of IT and business alignment, cooperation, collaboration and communication.

If BSM is an IT only initiative, this will likely result in an IT centric perspective severely lacking in the necessary business perspective.  In these cases where IT doesn’t invest their BSM efforts with the business as an equal partner, the implementation ultimately becomes a “CYA” tool for IT and not achieve the desired value oriented expected. To some degree “BSM Lite” may have an entirely different profile. If we see the price points, complexity and time to value change significantly we may see these types of deployments originate exclusively within the Line of Business.

The possibility may exist where large enterprises operating in a shared IT services or IT outsourcing type model that the Line of Business brings in a “BSM Lite” solution to gain the visibility, checks and balances needed to ensure that the LoB’s needs are being met from the internal/external provider. I’d envision that “BSM Lite” may even be capable of operating within a “SaaS” model or other managed service type offering where the price points are below the signing levels triggering broader IT involvement and review. To Be Continued…

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