Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is the practice of applying IT service management concepts and practices to other areas of an enterprise or organization with the purpose of improving performance, efficiency, and service delivery.
ESM has its roots in Information Technology Service Management (ITSM), which was first popularized in the early 1980s (Read more about it in our Service Management origins blog). ITSM emerged as the application of best practices to help technology providers and businesses manage their IT assets (e.g. computers, printers, servers) for optimal value. ITSM offered a service management wrapper — which provided practical benefits in terms of deployment, usage and upkeep, and planning and expansion. From the outset, ITSM represented a beneficial blending of the best ideas from business operations and the engineer’s mindset prevalent in IT.
Later that decade ITIL, The Information Technology Infrastructure Library, emerged to advance service management by providing precise, shared definitions for ITSM terminology, and by gathering best practices in a single authoritative reference.
With ITIL, a set of common practices for ITSM began to take shape, including:
By the mid-1990s, ITSM software solutions had arrived on the market. Business leaders quickly understood the benefit of abandoning general-use process tools like spreadsheets and service-desk-ticketing, and they turned to specialized solutions to help manage expensive, high-demand IT assets.
The era of “modern” ITSM, began in the early 2000s with the birth of the cloud and software as a service (SaaS). Today, there are many different types of ITSM software, ranging from standalone applications to large-platform service interfaces, with variations for different types of businesses and functional domains.
ESM was first formalized in 2017. However, it wasn’t until the arrival of innovative technologies within SaaS 3.0 a few fears later that the potential of ESM was finally unlocked. To learn more about SaaS 3.0, you can read the Evolution of SaaS white paper.
Today, service management is a steadily growing industry and business practice. According to Fortune, in 2019, the size of the market stood at 4.15B, and it’s expected to have reached 15.65B by 20201. Between 2020 and 2027, the projected growth rate for the service management solutions and services sector is a robust 18.2%.
Fueling this growth are a number of factors, including: the high volume of startups using cloud-based applications; increased investment from key market players (Atlassian, ServiceNow, PLC, BMC Software, IBM Corporation, etc.); and the rising adoption of related core technologies such as big data, AI, and cloud computing.
Navigate common challenges and discover new best practices to realize the full benefits of ESM.
• Automated business rules with predictable workflows
• Real-time progress-tracking of service-requests
• Single source of truth for all requests and responses
• Analytics drive continuous improvements
At its current phase of maturation, ITSM has moved beyond its origins as resource management capability, and it has become a much more comprehensive and influential model for the everyday conduct of business. These are the kinds of benefits that users should be able to realize from implementing modern solutions:
While Service Management has proven itself a core component of any high performing business, the reality is that today’s Service Management solutions are dated, having been built 20+ years ago. The earliest and intermediate SaaS models were just not fully evolved enough to help enterprises actually achieve ESM — and the Enterprise “E” has proven particularly elusive. Some of these limitations were built-in: aspects of SaaS’s technical legacy; others are self-imposed constraints created by outmoded business models. For companies looking to maximize the return on their operations, ESM should be their solution of choice.
• Multi-enterprise collaboration to connect all teams and partners
• Cross-enterprise automation with real-time process sharing
• No-code admin that the businesses can control
• User friendly interface with full mobile parity
• Consumption pricing to align costs with value
As ITSM matured and became nearly ubiquitous, the ESM concept began to take shape organically, as more and more business domains began applying ITSM principles.
From the early 2000s to mid 2010s, businesses and solution providers coalesced around the service management concept — but the domain-specific solutions implemented left many companies with environments as siloed and separate as they’d ever been. In an effort to break these silos, companies turned to ESM and its purpose-built solutions for enable cross-functional service management
It’s worth noting that while ESM was first introduced in 2017, it’s only recently that technical innovations and the emergence of SaaS 3.0 have really allowed true ESM.
Today, Forrester specifies that competitive ESM solutions should minimally offer:
Forrester’s insistence on an architecture that supports a low-code, fast-adaptation approach is a by-product of the broader, “true” enterprise focus they (and we) urge for ESM planning. While the idea of ESM may have emerged from the organic evolution of several process-specific solutions using ITSM principles, modern day ESM stands apart and above: it requires the broadest possible enterprise perspective of business functioning; a common platform, portal, vocabulary, and metrics; and a logical and operational vision for cooperative capability, designed from inception to serve the whole enterprise.
When compared to traditional service management, ESM raises the bar with deeper (and absolutely essential) solution requirements:
Let’s discuss some of the (compounding) benefits of Enterprise Service Management and its more comprehensive vision:
Service Delivery Improvement
ESM encourages us to view the enterprise as multiple, overlapping sets of providers and customers — including both entities within the enterprise, and external parties such as outside service partners and customers. ESM’s explicit goal is to enable improved services, service-delivery, and customer-support; all while making the provisioning of these services by providers easier to accomplish.
Cross Functional / Integrative Value
The idea of “synergy” has become a kind of office water-cooler punchline, but in the world of ESM, these benefits are very much part of the plan. The formal and transparent connection of providers, process, customers and metrics — all integrated via an enterprise platform — kicks in a virtuous cycle of benefit that includes:
Whether you’re an Executive looking to transform your company or a Manager looking to jumpstart your team, you’ll find that ESM adapts well to almost any challenge of any size. The key is that you’re seeking a solution that goes beyond the short-term fixes and ad hoc practices that—unfortunately—tend to define industry these days.
To be confident that ESM is right for you, here are some common signs that your company, department, or team will be a good fit for ESM:
Meetings Are a Never-Ending Necessity:
The de facto practice for sharing information in your organization is through meetings. This system has proved to be inefficient, since there’s always information you need to hear. The result is seemingly endless meetings that take up invaluable time to prepare for and attend.
Excel is the Go-To Source of Truth (But it’s an Inadequate Solution):
Excel acts as the main source of truth for your team, meaning that essential information is siloed between multiple files and stored in different locations. This system makes finding answers feel like doing a jigsaw puzzle, with no guarantee that you’ll get the full picture.
Email Chains are Ubiquitous and Unclear:
Your inbox overflows with email chains that seem to include your entire organization, except for the person responsible for taking action. The lack of clear accountability results in issues staying unresolved for far too long.
Anecdotal Decision Making is Standard Practice:
Without clear data on what causes exception, many important decisions are made based on anecdotes or even hunches. Because it’s impossible to accurately identify trends, the same issues tend to repeat themselves without a clear path forward for resolution.
Enterprise-Wide Visibility and Collaboration are Practically Impossible:
The lack of clear visibility into operations, coupled with no real-time communication between teams, makes collaboration cumbersome, if not altogether impossible. Too much time is spent talking past each other instead of working together to solve real problems.
Your Customers (and Not Your Team) Tell You About Problems:
You’ve heard of companies that can anticipate problems before they reach their customers. That’s not true of your organization. Customers (and not employees) often bring problems to your attention, frequently at the cost of losing business.
Problems Repeat Themselves Over, and Over, and Over Again:
Not only do the problems never seem to end, but the same ones repeat themselves ad nauseam. Resolving issues in your company, therefore, feels like playing a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.
System Recommendations Abound, But It’s Unclear How They’ll Help:
You’ve been told that the next ERP, TMS, WMS (insert three-letter system acronym here) will make things better, but it’s unclear how. None of those options come out-of-the-box ready for your company, and field advice is spotty at best on how to adapt a system towards your needs.
Your Team is Struggling to Get By:
Everyone knows that business is tough right now, but you lack the proper resources to meet the constant demands that are thrown at you. The result is a disempowered and constantly frustrated team, which sours everyone’s on-the-job experience and makes the workday exponentially more difficult.
As ITSM matured and became nearly ubiquitous, the ESM concept began to take shape organically, as more and more business domains began applying ITSM principles.
Of course, Customer Service was one of the first logical points of connection. Sales & Marketing and Finance followed on quickly, due to the significant financial benefits derived from driving efficiencies in these areas. Procurement and HR also quickly fell into the line of sight, as both were process-intensive — these departments were also quite familiar with the broader concept of “services.”
We should also note that Supply Chain Management — much discussed of late — also emerged as a business discipline with a high potential benefit from ESM. Supply Chain’s global reach, necessary inclusion of partners outside of the enterprise, and inherent dynamism and complexity made it a perfect candidate for transformation. Supply Chain Service Management (SCSM) has become its own unique breed of Enterprise Service Management. Read more about it in the Beginner’s Guide to Supply Chain Service Management.
Most implementations move iteratively from department to department, but some ESM sponsor teams have realized benefits by working with closely related departments: “dyads” who frequently interact: such as Sales & Marketing, or Human Resources & Corporate.
As the mindset for ESM takes hold, both sponsors and users will begin to see how the ESM discipline can accrue benefits for an ever-wider variety of functional areas: Legal, Risk Management, Facilities, and R&D all come to mind.
Identifying good candidates for Enterprise Service Management adoption is a critical part of planning, and a wide variety of factors can apply — including the leader and their team’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the work. But plan sponsors should always engage in mutual (IT & Business) analysis to identify the best candidates for leading ESM adoption. A few common traits for good lead candidates include areas that have:
Today Enterprise Service Management is most often sponsored by the IT department, but it’s not unheard of for Business sponsors to take the lead. From either side, the process generally follows the same path:
Once the project has been engaged, best practices for ESM implementation include these crucial steps:
Extending The Footprint
As enterprises gain success, two paths of progress open up. First: continued process iteration, measurement, and improvement in the departments where ESM is already being adopted. This advancement can take many forms, and your roadmap will likely have you working through the full slate of services any department must provide in an iterative fashion.
The second path is expansion into neighboring departments or functional areas. This is also something your roadmap should contemplate — and as you plan, you can look for adjacencies in terms of cross-functional processes, shared resources, similarity of process, or all three.
Note that the original roadmap is often iterated too: as companies cover new ground and develop new insights from training and implementation. Transparency for both results and roadmap updates help build ever-broader support for the ESM vision.
The ESM Maturity Curve
As ESM programs move from vision, to planning, production, and extension across the enterprise, most companies trace a maturity curve that can be broken out into five distinct phases.
Stage 1 — Initiation: This is where the organization is in the inception stage of the service management journey. Leadership may be unaware of the enterprise service management concept; or have a limited understanding —and ESM has not yet been prioritized or understood in terms of its total scope and impact. Many processes will be captured in spreadsheets, google docs, wikis, or in Sharepoint. There’s generally no centralized process repository, and many “best practices” will be siloed and idiosyncratic.
Stage 2 — Uptake: Enterprise service management begins rolling out and gains acknowledgment as a significant improvement over the status quo. It begins to enroll champions more broadly throughout the organization, and discrete functions begin implementing service management within their teams. However, many processes are still siloed, and collaboration is limited, which limits the total benefits.
Stage 3 — Connection: Good news! Enterprise service management has now become an organizational priority. There’s broad acceptance within leadership, and within the rank and file, that ESM actually makes work easier, and can radically improve productivity and business performance. Multiple functions begin adopting service management and sharing best practices. ESM terminology becomes more familiar; becomes SOP in more and more areas; and starts to redefine success criteria. The organization begins to comprehend the even-more significant potential of a common technology platform uniting the enterprise with a common purpose, vocabulary, and source of insight.
Stage 4 — Integration: Processes flow across functional boundaries to achieve cross-functional service management and the “E” in ESM begins to be truly earned. Interdepartmental handoffs are eliminated, and end-to-end service delivery is achieved. Enterprise-wide processes can be mapped and measured from start to finish, which enables continuous (and recursive) optimization, opening up the path to maximum efficiency. Analytical thinking levels up to creative thinking about how the ESM platform can deliver even greater benefit.
Level 5 – Extension: At this phase, processes extend to create vital connections with partner organizations. Collaboration now occurs in real-time beyond the enterprise, with workflows that extend between partners, vendors, and customers.
Legacy technology, and business models built on legacy-tech requirements and profit models, have hampered real world progress toward full ESM capability. This assessment is backed up by real-world results. Few companies have successfully extended service management beyond IT’s familiar reach. Fewer still have effectively woven together cross-functional processes or reached beyond the walls of their own enterprises via legacy service management solutions.
End-to-end service management creating dynamic connections within and beyond the organization had been more of a vision than reality — fortunately, things have changed.
Did you know most service management solutions have been around for decades? See how SaaS has changed and why your business’ Help Desk benefit from SaaS 3.0
Many of the legacy barriers are structural: which is to say, the technology itself reinforces the previous approach and standards. In simple terms, it’s a centrally controlled and IT-dependent capability set. But the cloud-native architecture of SaaS 3.0 elevates the key capabilities of not only ESM functioning, but also ESM administration and integration, to the top of the abstraction-layer. This makes a world of difference — let’s examine a few of the key reasons why:
Admin Gets Lean
One of the notable positive outcomes is administrative functions becoming fully enabled within the UI itself. Processes can be added or modified without coding, and the UX is intuitive enough that IT’s oversight is nice to have but it isn’t a requirement. The same holds true for adding users and even user types (new permissioning). This means that business units can administer themselves, and tackle their various use cases iteratively. IT no longer plays a gatekeeping or limiting function, and instead plays a supportive, facilitative role.
Modern, Familiar UX
Today, intuitive and easy-to-use applications are everywhere: your phone probably has a dozen or more you regularly use without even thinking about it. SaaS 3.0 emerged in this era of consumer-dominated design and simplicity — an environment with widely accepted UX standards and methods.
SaaS 3.0 Enables ESM’s Multi-Enterprise Future
With SaaS 3.0, we can now envision and model the modern business enterprise as it really is: an entity fully and freely interacting with other organizations throughout the world. Suppliers, vendors, carriers, manufacturers, distributors, and customers can all participate within the same workflows. Information is shared. Assignments and work requests can flow in both directions. Due dates can be proposed, agreed-to, and kept. Risks and remediations can be identified and escalated, and decisions can be made involving multiple perspectives, all interested parties, and multiple data inputs.
The only service management solution built on SaaS 3.0
• Cloud-native architecture
• Multi-cloud / cloud-agnostic
• Mobile parity
The fastest to deploy and the easiest to adopt
• No-code deployments
• Out-of-the-box apps
• Intuitive user experience
• Multi-party collaboration
Frictionless administration and scaling
• User friendly admin
• Automatic upgrades
• Real-time data sharing
• In-app permissions for process sharing
Save 4 – 10x versus the leading service management solutions
• Consumption pricing
• No external resourcing required
• No maintenance fees
• All functionality fully included
Elementum’s unique origins, timing, and perspective led us to adopt the latest and greatest of SaaS 3.0 technologies. Our mission and competitive strategy made it clear we would pursue a pricing philosophy that put customers first. As a result, despite the crowded universe of service management providers, Elementum has been able to stand-out already, in several key areas:
Speed: Customers with Elementum are able to move faster
Pre-Configured: As we’ve just discussed, customers can choose from a suite of out-of-the-box applications that can be configured to specific business needs — and they don’t require expensive integrations. Users can simply point-and-click to get started with apps that solve their specific business needs.
Real-time Data: Elementum’s cloud-native architecture also enables real-time data sharing. This means instantaneous go-lives, with real-time visibility to the business elements that impact your business: orders, issues, shipments, audits, and more.
Partner Integration: Owing to its roots in supply chain management, Elementum enables seamless collaboration and process-sharing with end-to-end partners, including customers, vendors, and carriers. Customers can put all of their partners on the same platform — again, with no integrations required
Implementation Speed: with Elementum, functional leaders aren’t dependent on IT for support. Admin responsibilities can be decentralized to business analysts, since no coding is required. Functional leaders can then change processes, update users, or set SLAs in real-time based on changing business conditions. Similarly, upgrades are pushed through seamlessly and instantaneously without any business disruption.
Simplicity: Adoption is higher with Elementum because it’s intuitive and easy to use.
Simple UX: Another benefit from origins with supply chain personnel, Elementum’s user experience is designed for the non-technical worker in mind. User flows are intuitive. Clicks are minimized. Security checks are baked in. Third-party collaboration is seamless.
Analytics: Measurement is also very much part of the plan. Full-power analytics are available within the platform. Users can manipulate and cut data any way they prefer. There’s no need to integrate with separate BI tools or export big data dumps. Users can access metrics how, when and where they need them.
Mobile Parity: Increasingly essential in today’s distributed work environments: users can do everything from the phone or iPad that they can do from a desktop. Whether accessed by an exec, power user, or admin, Elementum provides complete mobile parity.
Cloud-Agnostic: Finally, a bonus for architects and expense / procurement teams: Elementum is built to be cloud-agnostic. Whether you prefer AWS, Azure, GCP, Elementum can support your business needs. You won’t get locked in by your ESM solution.
Price: Elementum’s total cost of ownership is 10x less than the legacy providers
Simple Pricing: The bottom line is a good one: most companies can cut license fees by 4-6x with active user pricing. No more paying for the whole restaurant when all you need is the front booth. And packaging is 100% non-mysterious: all features and future enhancements are fully included. By eliminating integration fees, support fees, maintenance fees, and administration fees, you’re financial budget will look a lot skinnier, and your team capacity will bulk up, considerably.
Is Elementum Right for Your Business?
First, it’s important to acknowledge that despite all of these significant advantages, Elementum isn’t right (yet) for every business. Elementum’s super power is its SaaS 3.0 technology — but SaaS 3.0 has only been around for a few years. This means that Elementum’s full library of features is lighter than that of a service management stalwart like ServiceNow or Atlassian.
So…if your business requires all the ITSM bells and whistles that legacy service management providers have to offer — or if your business is so unique or complicated that it requires highly specialized solutions, then Elementum probably isn’t right for you — not today, at least.
But, we look forward to speaking with you in the future, because we’re going to keep building out our capabilities — fast, and flexibly.
The Right Fit
However, if one or more of the following conditions are true for your organization, then you may well benefit from taking a close look at what Elementum can offer as your Enterprise Service Management partner:
You can learn more about Supply Chain Service Management in The Beginner’s Guide to Supply Chain Service Management.