ITSM can work at your company too

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As I’m sure many of you do, I often encounter misconceptions about ITSM.

Only the “big companies” do ITSM.

First question: Does your company rely on, utilize, or consume IT services? If the answer is “yes”, then how do you demonstrate that your company is getting value from IT? How do you define what that value is, much less measure and report on that value?

Startups/ Entrepreneurial companies don’t need ITSM.

The top goal of every startup or entrepreneurial company is to grow. But if processes and procedures aren’t documented and followed, these companies will inevitably run into issues when trying to grow. What are some common inhibitors that prevent companies (especially startups) from growing?

  • Can’t scale – because processes aren’t defined and documented; then invariably a key person (or two) leave the startup ….to startup something else.
  • Don’t know who does what / everybody does everything – because roles and responsibilities aren’t defined and documented; then invariably a key person (or two) leave the startup ….to startup something else.
  • Knowledge doesn’t get captured – because no one takes the time to document it and then knowledge walks out the door when a key person (or two) leave the startup….you know the rest.

ITSM is too hard to do.

  • So you *like* a reactionary, always-running-around-with-your-hair-on-fire work environment?
  • So it’s okay that you never have (take) the time to do it right the first time, but always find (steal) time to fix (and fix and fix) later….and put off those things that you should have been doing today for the tomorrow that seemingly never seems to get here.
  • Are you too busy to improve?

It is hard to work to a plan when you’ve not planned your work. Fundamentally, good ITSM is about “planning your work, then working your plan”.

Here’s reality – ITSM is for any company.  Really.

Regardless of the size of your company, doesn’t your company want (need) the following from IT?

  • Good teamwork
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Run efficiently
  • Minimize or avoid outages
  • Implement changes with confidence and success
  • Ability to apply (not just observe) lessons learned
  • Consistent and repeatable execution
  • Be a strategic asset of the organization

The above attributes are all benefits and outcomes from a good ITSM implementation. I’m sure you may have other outcomes that should be on the above list. So why are there so many misconceptions about ITSM implementations? Good ITSM is really based on a few simple, fundamental concepts.

Concept What we in IT should do
  • Understand business needs and improvement opportunities
  • Discuss and agree what we will do
  • Say what we are going to do
  • Plan it, document it, communicate it
  • Do what we said we were going to do
  • Do it, measure it
  • Tell everyone what we did
  • Report it
  • Look for opportunities to improve
  • Review it, discuss it, identify what could be better
  • Repeat
  • Repeat

By the way, don’t forget these basic “rules of the road”:

  • Do IT for the sake of the business. Everything we do in IT should be in support of a business need or outcome.
  • Do IT the right way. Focus on delivering good customer service and enabling business value and outcomes. Take a balanced approach. Enable and use fact-based decision making based on defined and agreed metrics and measures.
  • Decide what you’re going to do before deciding with what you’re going to do it with. While it’s very tempting to “buy the toys” first, design your processes before buying the technology you need to support and deliver those processes.

Lastly, to help clear up those misconceptions, here are some “ITSM truths from the world according to Doug”.

  • ITIL® (or COBIT® or Lean IT or DevOps or whatever ITSM framework)[i] is guidance, not gospel. Make no mistake – all of these frameworks have great concepts that do work. None of these frameworks should be considered “absolute”. Your task is to make them work for you based on the needs of your specific business.
  • There’s more than one way to do ITSM. The trick is that whatever way(s) you decide to do it, decide it, document it, train everyone on it, then do it that way consistently. Good ITSM won’t happen if it’s done only when it’s convenient.
  • ITSM is about people first, then process and technology. Quite frankly, the process and technology are the easiest aspects of an ITSM implementation. Focus on people and address attitudes and behaviors; people must be part of the solution and take ownership for ITSM success. As this happens, the process and technology will fall into place.
  • ITSM is about continual improvement (think “progress”, not “perfection”). It really doesn’t matter where you start, so long as you do start. The goal is to establish and enable continual improvement and let continual improvement lead you to ITSM success.

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[i] ITIL® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited. COBIT® is a registered trademark of ISACA.

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