The Internal Customer

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

This month, gantthead is looking at ITIL and CRM, and that got me thinking (which I guess it was supposed to do!). For many organizations, ITIL is simply an inward-facing concept--they use it to manage the relationship with internal business units and departments but they rely on formal contracts and service level agreements to manage the relationship with clients. In contrast, customer relationship management--whether we refer to the process or the software tool--tends to be an externally facing concept. It’s something we apply to those outside of the organization that buy products and services from us (or whom we have identified as potentially buying from us).
It made me think that maybe we should consider our internal customers as just that--customers. I don’t mean that we stop using ITIL and start entering them into our CRM system, but we should provide them with the same standard of service--and expect the same level of commitment from them.
The problem of internal customers
If we consider IT as a service provider to the rest of the organization, then we are effectively a vendor. We may not get paid directly for the products and services we deliver, but we are a cost that has to be borne by the revenue-generating areas of the business--and that makes us subject to certain expectations from the business units that we serve.
ITIL can help us to manage those …

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