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ROI for ITSM - Only Gods Need Apply

     At times my morning thought processes require some level of suspension of disbelief. This morning I had to pretend that someone was brave enough to give me a CIO position – and I was foolhardy enough to accept it. My day started out with the following thought in the shower:
     “If I were a CIO and heard someone ask what the ROI of the IT Service Management initiative is, that person would be immediately stripped of any leadership responsibilities – if not outright fired.”

     Sure, I’ll admit that this is a bit extreme, but this was just where I started – I can’t be held accountable for what the voices in my head say – only for what I do with their words…

     Putting aside, for the time being, the notion that Customer Satisfaction – not profit margin – should be the bottom line, the fact remains that Return on Investment simply cannot be viewed in a vacuum. The practice of enabling Business Information & Knowledge Management needs to be addressed holistically and treated as the synergistic system that it is.

     Consideration of the value of any project, program or initiative must take into account the impacts it will have across the organization. When you are adopting ITSM, you’re adopting an entirely new perspective for service delivery – a new lens for your organization to view the entirety of your infrastructure & operations through. There is no feasible way to calculate ROI for an objective with such a vast breadth and depth of impact. Those who attach a monetary value to it are deluded or lying.

     In my experience, ROI is largely window-dressing. There is certainly value in it, if it’s applied appropriately and practiced correctly – but more often than not, it simply isn’t.
     ROI is an essential tool for quantification and qualification – it’s a dangerous tool for justification. It’s utilized as a tool to justify decisions that have already been made… It’s utilized as a tool to justify actions that have already been taken… It’s utilized as a tool to ostensibly justify expenditures to regulators & other governance bodies. Using ROI as a justification tool in any sense wastes valuable resources, engenders poor decision making and creates a culture dependent upon ROI – a culture that would ask for the ROI of ITSM (or even require it).

     What do you get in return for successful adoption of an effective, comprehensive IT Service Management perspective in your organization?

Greater agility
Functional efficiency
Improved service reliability
Enhanced business knowledge
Greater control over costs across the business
Increased employee morale and performance
Increased customer satisfaction
The list goes on and on…

     If you can put a dollar amount on that, you’re incredibly foolish, falsely justifying or godlike. Unless you can prove your divinity to me, I don’t want you working for me.

December 15, 2010, 11:40:07 am

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Out of curiosity, what are the requirements for proof of divinity?

Craig Wilkey

I haven't a clue, but a god would know, so I'm not concerned about missing one.


stay tuned, the same folks that ask IT for these kinds of business cases may have their head in the clouds soon.... it'll be interesting to see how 'free subscriptions' morph into linked-in (er, locked-in) supplier relationships.

perhaps they'll find the value of IT the hard way....

Craig Wilkey

I'll ask the same thing I asked on the LinkedIn discussion...
What is a good approach to take with the business when they expect ROI to qualify the ITSM expediture?

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