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Choosing the right ingredients to create the perfect dish

A topic of discussion

The recently launched VeriSM™ model has provoked much interest and discussion in service management circles and many organizations will currently be considering and evaluating the approach.

At the core of VeriSM there are a number of key ideas:

  • In a world of digital services*, the governance of services through Service Management becomes an issue for the whole enterprise – not just IT
  • The “IT department” is simply an organisational capability like any other (eg. HR, Sales, Marketing) and needs to work shoulder to shoulder with all of the other capabilities in the design, build and management of digital services
  • All organisations should develop an awareness of their environment and the resources and capabilities available to them (both internally and externally), when designing, developing and delivering digital services (the management mesh concept)
  • Clearly defined service management principles should act as the guardrails for any new service to ensure that the right mesh “muscles” are flexed as the service is developed through the lifecycle.

VeriSM is not, in itself a framework or methodology. It champions the evaluation and flexible use of management practices, as seen in the elements of the management mesh.

COBIT®5 is one such best practice framework. It is highly synergistic with VeriSM and will be helpful to organisations in adopting a VeriSM approach and in the establishment and effective operation of a management mesh.



Management Mesh


The VeriSM model depends upon the establishment of effective enterprise governance of IT services and service delivery.

COBIT®5 is a governance framework. It defines a governance model which seamlessly covers the whole enterprise both holistically and end-to-end – two of the five COBIT key principles.

The VeriSM™ service management principles, mentioned above, are a key element of the governance framework and need to reflect the needs and drivers of the organisation and its stakeholders guiding all service development with a clear line of sight all the way back to the achievement of enterprise goals and objectives.

COBIT Principles

COBIT 5 Matrix Mapping

In the model, below the analysis of stakeholder needs and drivers enables them to be mapped to the achievement of high level enterprise goals. COBIT 5 provides a matrix mapping of a set of stakeholder needs to 17 generic enterprise goals.

These enterprise goals, for example “Financial Transparency”, can then be mapped, via another matrix, to 17 high-level IT related goals, for example, “Transparency of IT costs, benefits and risk”.  In turn, another matrix allows these high-level IT goals to be mapped to specific process goals (processes are a category of enabler, more below). It’s not a one-for-one.  Low level processes may support the achievement of many enterprise goals, but the primary process sets for each enterprise goal are identified through this cascade. The matrices are provided as examples and can be tailored to any environment but the clarity provided by the approach is extremely powerful.

Cobit Goals Cascade

The Management Mesh

Organisations will define their management mesh in different ways and, as shown above, the elements of the mesh are many and varied. COBIT 5 also encourages a holistic approach to understanding and marshalling the various Service Management resources and capabilities. COBIT 5 groups these under 7 categories of enablers:

COBIT Enterprise Enablers

Currently, detailed reference guides have only been created for both the Processes and Information enablers but these provide significant guidance on documenting and classifying what would be key components of any management mesh.


Implementing VeriSM™

There is an element of which dish should be prepared first here. Organisations who adopt a VeriSM approach would, in all probability consider / evaluate COBIT 5 as an approach that would add significant value to the management mesh; while organisations who already apply COBIT 5 would find it a significant advantage when adopting a VeriSM approach. Whichever is served first, the COBIT 5 implementation lifecycle is an excellent model to address the complexity and challenges typically encountered during any transformation project.

The seven phases of the implementation lifecycle

The diagram above conveys so much in such a neat way, it is possibly my favourite, all-time, service management diagram (surely, I can’t be the only person to have one of those?). Fully explained in the ISACA COBIT 5 Implementation Guide, and supported by a professional qualification, the lifecycle model details an holistic 7 step approach to achieving lasting change by focusing on three fronts:

  • Programme Management – applying formal programme and project management techniques (formal business case, properly scoped, well defined objectives,  executive sponsorship) to ensure that benefits are realised
  • The programme is designed to start an ongoing programme of continual improvement, with change delivered in prioritised, manageable iterations ensuring that benefits are delivered at a pace of change that the organisation can cope with
  • Enabling and supporting organisational change to deliver lasting benefits by ensuring that the improvements become woven into the fabric of the organisation

It has been estimated that up to 70% of transformation projects fail. There are many reasons but chief amongst them are the people issues – specifically resistance to change.

Kotter recognised this in his 8-step change model, the first and critical step of which is to create a sense of urgency. This is reflected in the step 1 in the change enablement ring. In plain English that means being able to answer the question:

           "There are a million and one things we could be doing,

                  Why does this need to happen and why does it need to happen now?"

If this cannot be clearly articulated, in a way that is meaningful and compelling to the whole organisation, the answer is probably, “it doesn’t!”. Again, the goals cascade is helpful here. There should be a clear upward cascade from the goals of the project to the achievement of enterprise goals. True, the achievement of high level enterprise goals, while clearly relevant to all employees, may not be the thing that gets us out of bed in the morning. However, it is the language that excites the top levels of organisational management and governance and will ensure the executive sponsorship that is so crucial to the success of the programme.


* There are many different definitions of the term Digital Service. Here’s mine: a digital service is one that allows consumers to transact with the business electronically at a time and place convenient to them, without the requirement for human interaction.  Amazon, Uber, Airbnb are all prime examples of digital service providers.

About the author:

Mark Flynn, Director of Felix Maldo Ltd, is a contributing author of VeriSM A Service Management approach for the digital age.

He gained the ITIL Manager’s certificate in 1993 and has over 25 years’ experience in the IT Service Management industry as a practitioner, trainer and consultant. He was on the review panel for the 2011 ITIL V3 refresh project and has contributed to the following publications : 

  • The ITIL practitioner guide
  • The OBASHI Methodology
  • Passing your ITIL Foundation exam

Mark has headed APMG International’s accreditation team of Service Management assessors since 2007, and is a Subject Matter Expert for VeriSM™ 


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