ITSM is like a jigsaw puzzle

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At some time or another, most of us have sat down and put together a jigsaw puzzle.

Regardless if there are only a handful or hundreds of pieces, there are some constants that apply to solving any jigsaw puzzle.

  • All pieces must be used.
  • All pieces fit with one another.
  • It doesn’t really matter where you start, but in order to solve the puzzle, you must start – somewhere.
  • Having the big picture in mind is helpful for solving the puzzle.
  • Having a strategy for solving the puzzle is helpful.
  • The puzzle is never solved in a single move.

It has often occurred to me that an ITSM implementation is much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  Think about it—with any ITSM implementation, doesn’t the same constants that apply to solving a jigsaw puzzle apply to an ITSM implementation?

Every ITSM implementation involves three major puzzle pieces: people, process, and technology.  All three of these pieces must be used.

In addition, these three puzzle pieces – people, process, and technology – must fit with one another.  Too much focus on the technology, and you may wind up with processes that don’t work within your organization (because the out-of-the-box processes found within the technology were designed with sales, not your organization, in mind).  Too much focus on the process, and you may find that months have gone by and the same issues that existed when you started process design are still present.  And by the way, the business didn’t wait on you and has changed since you started the process design activity.  Without enough focus on people – the most critical aspect of ITSM implementation –  the human resources involved may not be able to able to adequately perform their roles and responsibilities, because there’s been a lack of training, communication, inclusion, marketing, and so on.   A successful ITSM implementation finds the right balance – or fit – between people, process, and technology.

There are a lot of opinions regarding where to start an ITSM implementation.  Go have a look – you’ll find as many opinions as you’d like.  From my perspective, there are a few things that are simply table stakes for any IT organization – how to effectively handle service interruptions, how to effectively handle changes, and how to effectively handle requests for IT services.  Any IT organization must do those three things well or frankly, they will cease to exist.   So if you’re not doing those three ITSM things effectively, get to work on them now.  There’s one place to start.  If you are doing those things, are there opportunities for improvement?  Start there.   Another idea is to start with a new IT-enabled business initiative and introduce ITSM as part of that initiative.  Or maybe there are some recurring issues that the Service Desk is constantly dealing with – that might be a good place to start.  Strictly speaking, it really doesn’t matter where you start – just start.   One thing I can say for sure – if you don’t start, your IT organization may never improve.

Just like with solving a jigsaw puzzle, having the big picture in mind and a plan for achieving that big picture are vital for an ITSM implementation.   There’s a saying that inevitably comes up in regards to ITSM implementation – “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do”.    This is absolutely true – if you don’t know where you’re going with your ITSM implementation, you will fail.  Seeing the big picture, having a plan for achieving that big picture, and continually making measurable progress toward achieving that big picture will serve any ITSM implementation well.

There are other pieces to the ITSM “jigsaw puzzle” that are often overlooked:

  • Developing the business case for ITSM, to gain senior management support. (For more about a business case, have a look at my previous blog article, “The Case of the Missing Business Case”.)
  • Defining and documenting your ITSM Plan, outlining the scope, time horizon, process interfaces, success criteria, and other pertinent information.
  • Developing and executing a marketing and communications plan, not only within IT, but also with those that IT serves, to ensure everyone is aware of what you’re doing and how things are going.
  • Learning from others, through user groups, conferences, webinars, and blogs (pardon the shameless plug!). You’re not the first nor the last to work on the ITSM puzzle, and there is much to be learned from others.
  • Develop and report business-relevant, meaningful metrics, to ensure you keep the support you earned with that business case.
  • Incorporate continual improvement into your ITSM implementation from the beginning. Having a continual improvement approach will help you “course correct” and identify further efficiencies as your implementation proceeds.

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