10 Secrets for Taming IT Service Management
It’s not hard to fathom the excellence you could achieve through IT service management. Getting your arms around it all is the hard part.
We’re not just talking about your organization as in IT, we’re talking about your customer looking to be a high performing business organization. Most people view high performance in two metrics: Quality and Quantity. The reality is each of these organizations recognized both by their customers and competitors as having a business that is high performing because they have a culture and systems to support a particular level of delivery. The mis-expectation of this is that McDondalds is actually a high performing organization, they deliver on a business model that gives a specific level of quality every day across 30,000 restaurants and they make a lot of money doing it. We need to think about: what does high performing mean within the context of my organization and within the context of my customer? What do they need out of me being high performing?
High performing organizations don’t become high performing by accident. They actually decide not to me mediocre. The very first thing you have to do is come to a decision that it is going to be required for us to be better. We need to decide who we are, what it’s going to take to become who we want to be, then decide if we’re willing to live through that pain and suffering to be able to actually get there.
Winning is not the kind of delusional winning we may have seen in the press. You want to identify your competitors, identify your marketplace/space, compare your performance to their performance. How do I take my organization ahead of all of those competitors? Winning requirements: right people with the right skill set, right process or activities, right technology in order to get a result that is predefined and controlled. Supported by high performing technology. Each organization is only high performing because they have applied technology to the solution of business problems.
What causes outsourcing and offshoring? Cost centered organizations are busy delivering technology and as technologists we often find ourselves in a position where we see our job as the delivery of technology. We have to change the perception because value-centered organizations are busy delivering business solutions using technology. I talk to organizations all the time where jobs are being lost to outsourcing or offshoring. This tends to happen much much less if you have changed the conversation and you’ve changed the attitude within IT, where we recognize our value is only as much as we are able to bring business solutions and solve business problems.
High performance is going to require systems. Businesses don’t care how you manage IT, they care about the output of your work product and how the output affects their business success. We need to create systems that allow for consistent delivery, repeatability, delegation of tasks, and defining what success looks like.
Basic core of ITIL is based upon lifecycle stages. There are 5 lifecycle stages, each of them has a defined set of processes to be performed inside of that lifecycle stage. Each lifecycle stage has a defined goal that are trying to achieve and each process has a process that are trying to achieve. The goals or outputs of strategy become inputs to every lifecycle stage downstream.
Service Design: Focuses on nothing but designing, how do I perform activities that are put in place in a way that our design is effective and efficient.
Service Transition: How do I move this from a design phase out into a live service that has been fully tested, that we understand it’s performance, that we have prepared the environment to be ready to support it to whatever level of expectation we have already set with the customer.
Service Operation: How do I just keep stuff running?
CSI: The ability to provide feedback, identify where any underperformance occurred, and help that process get better so that the outputs become more consistent and more valuable to the customer.
ITSM adoption is a journey not just a project. Doing too much too fast tends to get rejected by the culture of people who do not like change. We have to think about that culture and think about what it’s going to take to successfully have this integrated into your environment. Look for ways to rethink the conversation both with your customer and internal IT deliverers.
A project has an end date, this has no end date. Within an ITSM adoption you will have multiple projects that are defined and have an end date and a measurement of if they were successful.
Suck less everyday. If you can become better a little bit at a time eventually you get to be really good. You don’t have to be perfect. Saying you’re going to be an ITIL organization will not make things better on day one, that decision is a step in right direction. We need to be realistic of where we are now and how we can suck less everyday.
Keep it simple. As technologists we love hard, but the customer doesn’t, they love simple. Resist that temptation to over complicate things. If you are spending a significant portion of your time implementing technology then you may have the wrong technology. You should be spending more of your time on how I can deliver value, what does my customer want, what are they trying to achieve, what’s my part in that. Remember that the customer that actually has to use this service you’re providing, how simple something is and how easy it is use will often define the perceived success of how good that solution is.
Where do I start? Reality is you only have one place where you can start….where you are. Recognize where you are, what works and what doesn’t work, what the perception of you as an organization is from your customer and that’s where you’re going to start.
- What does customer perceive about your work product?
- What already works?
- What pain points are evident?
Know your customer…
- Needs in relation to being able to succeed in business?
Poor IT controls lead to poor work product, which leads to poor work results. The business if they get poor results is looking for a place to lay that blame. Everybody in IT, every person who contributes to this output work product, has some level of responsibility for being able to create work product that is productive and beneficial to the business. By having effective and efficient specific controls within IT that we can measure and document are successful, we will provide services that will allow the business to be responsible for achieving business results without have to worry about overseeing IT and our abilities.
The business wants three things:
- Achieve whatever their objective
- Manage risk of that achievement
- Fully utilized resources
Businesses don’t want to waste money or pay for something that they don’t have to. Everything in ITIL has to be based on value. The business will value whatever makes it successful. Value is based on circumstances, needs, wants, and perceptions. Think about diamonds. When it comes to diamonds, everyone would say, “Hey, that’s really valuable.” Unless you are in the desert and have nothing to drink, then I don’t care about the diamonds, I want the water. But, if I have plenty to drink, diamonds look pretty good. It’s all about your circumstances and the perception of what you need at a particular point in time. If you don’t understand your customer and their actual business, its not just what they want, it’s what will make them successful and productive.
Once you’ve made the decision to know yourself and know your customer, you decide you are going to go down this path of service management implementation. Then you need to know about reasons why adoptions fail:
- Lack of planning for preparing the organization accept change.
- Lack of resources – not enough budget or people
- Lack of senior support – Do we have budget? Do we have active participation promoting this as the new way of doing things?
- Wrong technology decisions
- Setting incorrect expectations can cause the business to no longer support something they initially supported
- Cultural acceptance
Secret #6 Time To Value
If you go into this and you choose something that is really big, long, and drawn out, before you ever see any return. You’ll end up with a business that tends to rebel. They are looking for as fast a payback as possible. You need to identify quick wins and determine how big the implementation effort is. Focus efforts on not the implementation of technology, but on the right technology that gives you the right support for the business, company, customer to win.
You want to choose the right solution and it must be an integrated solution, where the data that is collected by one area can then be used by other areas of the organization. The speed of resolution is directly correlated to your understanding and visualization ability of the people, assets, the services and history that is involved. Problem management is set up to fail unless you have good incident management first. So, doing it in a step-by-step manner, defining and understanding these interrelationships, you’re going to build that over time and learn things you didn’t know about your organization.
A lot of organizations are moving to cloud based in the delivery of their solution. The reason for that is you can focus your staff on processes and culture, and not worry about the technology as much. I’ve seen enterprise solutions take years to implement just getting the technology working and getting the technology working was such a bear that they failed to concentrate on the important parts which was the process, the people and the culture. Ultimately they failed even though they purchased a well rounded, very complete tool. It just took them too long to implement, set up, and make it work.
Secret #9 Culture First
Culture is the biggest impediment to success in implementing or adopting an ITIL or ITSM framework. We should understand that our commitment as an IT organization has to change. We can’t just say “we deliver servers,” you have to communicate whatever the business value is of your product. Now this requires an attitude change, but it can be very specific in the results you’ll see. Analyze your culture, analyze the people involved. Identify those people who will be problem children, who will not accept this, who will pretend to be onboard until you leave the room and then they are firing people up against the deal. Make sure you understand this is not one conversation. One of the things about us as technologists is we have the tendency to believe that we can send out an email and things happen, people read the email and they will follow what it says and we’re done. Reality is this takes an internal marketing campaign, both to the IT organization and the customer, to explain that we are changing our attitudes from we deliver technology to we want to become your partner, the business partner, in providing technology specifically for the reason of solving business problems.
- When you’re doing that cultural assessment in communication make sure it’s clear and ongoing: What’s in it for me? Why does this change benefit me as an employee? You’ll get a better solution that matched your actual need.
- Setting clear customer expectations
- Be a trusted advisor. You’ll get comments like you spend more on IT than any other area of the business, what this mean is they look at you like a cost center and we don’t understand the value that you deliver.
- Take control of that conversation and perception.
- Understand and deliver business value.
Perceived as a deliverer of technology with no correlation to what the business did and the business understanding the importance of IT. A way to try and combat this, the CIO ordered dashboards to go outside the offices of every senior executive. Moving number of units sold, customizations done, insurance contracts. This translated directly to the business that they were able to sell cars because of the ITIL infrastructure and our ability to maintain that infrastructure. Totally changed the conversation. No longer did we have something fail, we got the understanding of the importance of our work by relating it to metrics that specifically defined what was important to the business. Metrics are not meant to make you look good. Metrics are specifically meant to tell you have well you are or aren’t doing and to help you identify improvement areas and help you work on those improvement areas.
Secret #10 Promote the Small Successes