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5 ESM pitfalls that erode business value

And strategies to overcome them

In today's economic climate, businesses set to thrive must do more with less—which is easier said than done.

A fundamental tool to help your organization achieve this is your Enterprise Service Management (ESM) strategy. At its full maturity, an ESM strategy centralizes and integrates every part of the business, uniting technology and teams across IT, financial, operational, HR, and supply chain service management. ESM drives value by:

  • Eliminating redundancies 
  • Improving operational efficiency 
  • Enhancing employee experience 
  • Optimizing cross-organizational capabilities 

Done well, the result is an overarching, seamless system that leaves no part of a business unreachable or siloed. But because so many varied service experiences occur across applications and teams, creating a successful ESM strategy is inherently challenging. Three factors further pressurize the process:

  1. Expectations: Stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and shareholders, have increased expectations.
  2. Budgets: Budgets and capital allocation are often functionally siloed. In other words, funding is optimized to work for individual departments, but not cross-organizational teams or overall company objectives.
  3. Technology: The right set of tech—ideally connected across a single platform like ServiceNow—needs to coalesce to deliver services seamlessly. Rather than using a different tool for every task, tech should enable your workforce to work efficiently and intuitively.

A strong ESM strategy considers and solves for these concerns—and thoughtful planning and a keen eye on addressing common pain points are at the crux of success.

How to avoid 5 common pitfalls in your ESM strategy

ESM strategies can make companies or break them. Here are the five mistakes that erode value—and the fixes you can implement to drive value instead.

Pitfall: Trying to be all things to all people. 

Successful ESM is not a catchall. You'll quickly find that advancement in one area may necessitate concessions in another; cost may come at the price of customer experience, for instance.

Plan: Define what “good” looks like for your organization now—and focus accordingly.

Consider what the company most needs to optimize now to concretize that vision, then focus there. Along the way, expect and accept tradeoffs by being nimble and agile, and remember that you must prioritize before you can truly optimize. 

Pitfall: Expecting ESM to fall into place without a documented plan. 

Documenting strategy and objectives is essential. Without doing so, your organization is set up to make decisions without benchmarked metrics, which can result in miscommunication and strain. 

Plan: Put pen to paper. 

Of course, leaders need room to adjust course and adapt. However, a written plan lets teams make decisions aligned to the objective and retack as needed. A well-documented plan accounts for both past and future—offering a brief history of desired outcomes, metrics, and tactics, while also equipping you and your team to surf the tidal changes on the horizon.

Pitfall: Tracking metrics without setting targets. 

A proper strategy requires thoughtful checkpoints and benchmarks. Without determining which outcomes should be measured, metrics lack meaning. Meanwhile, if a company has no governance model in place, its leaders cannot answer value-based questions. For instance, if a company has a high CSTAT score in IT but a low score in HR, is the employee experience positive?

Plan: Set clear, value-oriented milestones. 

Once you have determined your North Star, you can navigate toward the desired destination knowingly. Along the way, rather than championing any one metric, focus on use cases to determine the right markers and cross-sections that can show whether your business is actually moving the needle.

Case study: Simplifying a corporate strategy to a 3-by-3 approach.

Using these best practices, a large retail client successfully united tech and the team to serve organizational purpose:

  • First, they defined “good” for their organization in three categories: customer experience, employee experience, and financial goals.
  • Focused on these values, they worked backwards to find the series of metrics that would best indicate success.
  • To communicate strategy at every level, at the front of the call center, the company projected three massive circles labeled Customer, Employee, and Finance. Each dot changed between red, yellow, and green as a real-time marker of alignment to business objectives for over a thousand employee

In short: The retailer managed to bundle an entire ESM strategy into three pillars with three indicators and keep them top of mind for the team. 

Pitfall: Diluting purpose and objectives down the org chart. 

Often, executives align on objectives, but never loop in operational teams where the work actually happens. Despite good intentions, multiple teams collaborating without a cohesive strategy dilutes the outcome. 

Plan: Communicate and reiterate goals throughout the organization. 

Clarity at the top loses value when it is not cascaded clearly or continually enough to reinforce. Share your goals across your organization. Regular reminders of purpose aligned objectives and mission—at every level—are critical for productivity and progress enterprise-wide.

Pitfall: Treating change management as a box to check for each project. 

Many companies invest in ESM as incremental steps, typically in a per-project basis. But what happens when that project ends? When the change management driven from ESM modernization is relegated to a perfunctory exercise with an investment that stops at launch, its value stops there, too.

Plan: Ensure your ESM strategy has longevity. 

ESM must be an ongoing organizational capability. When organizations invest appropriately in change management, go-live is just the beginning of its value for big initiatives. The real payoff comes after launch. 

Integration leads to transformation

When the economy, and indeed the world, are changing as fast as they are this decade, a strong ESM strategy maximizes value while an ill-considered one shrinks it.

Managing change well requires a thoughtful, adaptable ESM strategy with foresight and flexibility. Sluggish systems siloed by team, budget, or functionality cap how quickly and how well your organization can respond. Platforms with a single interface, such as ServiceNow, provide the framework and capability to deliver end-to-end services for your customers and employees.

Simply put, ServiceNow is the best platform to enact meaningful ESM today.

The opportunity for organizational transformation and efficacious, cost-effective service delivery will come from a handful of well-invested, well-curated platforms, not a hodgepodge of unlinked systems—which is why investing in an ESM platform is not a nice-to-do, but a must-do.

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