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Introduction What is distinctive about IT Service Management The role of the Centre for IT Service Management Research Priority Themes Research Approach Research Output Teaching Mission Aims and Objectives

The advent of e-commerce has given IT departments a high profile within organisations and involved them in increasingly complex and mission critical service delivery. However, many IT departments are more familiar with a manufacturing-oriented approach to hardware and software development than a service oriented approach.

IT departments find it difficult to change from a culture that is focussed on the technology and the production of technological artifacts. An outward focus on the internal customer has been difficult to achieve. IT - business culture gaps are all too prominent in human resource issues, attitudes to users, and delivery of services. It is no wonder that so many information systems have failed when there is a lack of recognition of the service nature of IT. The development of networks and applications are really a means to an end and not an end themselves.

Attitudes of IT departments have led to a general perception of intransigence, leading to unproductive outsourcing. Help desks are seen as unhelpful, IT technologists patronise users, technology change is used as a barrier to exclude the user, IT becomes a cost sink and is treated as an organisational parasite rather than a key business driver.

There is a general lack of recognition that IT involves the delivery of business services, not computer systems. Business benefits are obtained from the service delivered, not from the hardware installed.

There is a need for IT and IS departments to shift to a service culture and mindset. This involves a shift from product to service, from user to customer, from technology to business, from projects to people and from discrete projects to continuous services. The days when IT departments built computer systems, put them on "user's" desks and went on to build the next system are over. IT departments need to recognise that they are service organisation with a service-orientation. Linear technology-focussed projects may be inappropriate. Until recently, there has been a reliance on the orthodoxy of systems development methods and systems development lifecycles that are out of tune with the continuous evolution of systems and the move toward componentisation.

A service-oriented approach involves: involving the user as a participant in IT delivery, cultivating a service culture, integrating back office and front office and taking a customer-oriented attitude to users.

The Centre for IT Service Management exists to address this problem. By applying service management research and ideas, and developing new service management research and ideas specific to IT functions in organisation, the Centre will contribute towards the development of IT departments for the 21st Century;. These will be oriented towards service design, implementation and evaluation in a networked business world where the boundaries between internal and external information systems are increasingly blurred and global information system penetrate every aspect of business.


What is Distinctive about IT Service Management

Most organisations have an IT department of some kind. This may vary from over a thousand employees in a bank to one or two in a SME. The IT department supports all information requirements for the organisation.

While the focus of most IT departments may be on the technology, the technology itself is only the tool for the delivery of a service to the organisation. This service involves managing information flow, delivering business benefits and enabling business process. IT departments need to develop a deep understanding of service management and to apply service management concepts to the delivery of IT within the organisation.

IT departments face a number of issues in service delivery which need to be addressed in service management research:

There is often a cultural gap between the IT professionals and the business professionals within the organisation which the IT department serves. This results in communication barriers, misunderstandings and the sidelining of the IT from the strategic aspects of the business. The concept of internal customers may be a foreign concept in the IT department.

The IT service is inherently unstable in terms of both technology and business processes.

Rapid technology change brings about instability, difficulty in developing services and barriers due to the complexity of the service being delivered. Constant changes require particular attention to service development and design.

Any business change can have a major impact on the nature of an IT service, its content and process. A constant need for changes in process and data put significant strain on service delivery.

The services are particularly critical to the organisation, requiring 7x24 availability.

The large variety of services within an IT department and the range of customer involvement increases the complexity of service management. Many IT services require a high level of customer participation.

Since no one user's requirements, no one information system development project and no one service request is the same, consistency of service is hard to achieve.

The variety of customers for IT services is wide, including internal users, external users over the Internet and suppliers. Within the organisation the customer profiles are heterogeneous in terms of previous IT skills, education, level of seniority and IT usage.

The benefits of IT services are difficult to isolate in return on investment (ROI) terms and may be widely distributed throughout the organisation. This makes it difficult to justify the services and obtain financial support.


The Role of the Centre for IT service Management Research

The Centre for IT Service Management Research is committed to developing strategies to enable both internal IT departments and external IT companies to recognise the service nature of their business and develop a service-oriented mindset.

The Centre develops research projects centred on practical change within organisations to enable effective and responsive IT services to be developed.

The Centre for IT Service Management Research exists to apply the concepts which have developed in service management research over the last 10-15 years to the complex area of IT service management. It is committed to close integration between the industrial community and the research community and to the development of ideas which have practical application in IT service management.

Priority Themes
  • IT service strategy
  • End user computing
  • IT Service evaluation
  • Technology Adoption
  • Service delivery
  • Delivery of IT support.
  • Development of E-commerce services
  • Public Information Systems


  Research Approach

The Centre takes an interpretive view of technology and organisations. Research is primarily qualitative, using surveys to obtain initial data, and case studies to develop themes and understand the complexities of service organisation. Theoretical frameworks are created as required. Theories are drawn from organisational studies, sociology and social psychology, among other areas. Past work has involved structuration theory, chaos theory and actor-network theory. Consultancy work involves surveys, interview and participant observation in order to understand the problems associated with IT service management and develop solutions.


Research Output

Staff at the Centre for IT Service Management have published in a wide selection of information system journals and conferences.

See Publication List

The Centre is involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Staff deliver modules on various topics including information services management and strategic information systems planning.


To promote the delivery of IT services within organisations and to the public which are adaptable, efficient and empathic through research which applies concepts of service industry management..

Aims and Objectives

Aim: Industrial promotion

To promote the delivery of IT services within organisations and to the

public which are adaptable, efficient and empathic.


To develop promotional material which highlighting service management concepts

To develop articles and notes for trade journals, which highlight service concepts

  Aim: Teaching - Undergraduate and Post-Graduate Awareness

To promote the teaching of IT service concepts and the awareness of IT as a service industry across computer science courses.


To extend and develop the IT service management option for final year undergraduate computing students.

To develop and deliver specialist IT service management modules for masters programmes.


Aim: Consultancy Services

To provide IT service management consultancy services


To develop a consultancy package which enables companies to review their IT service provision in the light of service management principles

To liase with complementary consultancy services to provide comprehensive IT services analysis for organisations.

To develop a strategic approach to IT services delivery.

To develop training for improving the quality of IT service delivery.


Aim: Academic Research

To research practice and theory in IT service management.


To develop industry based research projects that extend understanding of IT service management issues and are beneficial to industry.


Aim: Industrial Sponsorship

To develop industry links in IT service management research.


To develop of links with professional societies.

To obtain industrial funding.

Aim: Application of research

To apply concepts from service industry management to IT service management.


To appointment of a visiting academic from the field of service industry management to address the problems of IT service management.

To development of a taxonomy of service industry management concepts which addresses their application to IT service management.

To identify and classify IT service management delivery problems and seek solutions in service industry management literature. 

Aim: Theory Development

To develop strategic, operational and technical concepts in IT service management.


To identify concepts from sociology, psychology and organisational studies which can be applied to IT service management.

To develop frameworks for their application.

To illustrate their application through case studies.


Last updated: 18/09/00 by CSE Webmaster