After the Party is Over – 7 Things to Sustain your ITSM Implementation

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The party was a raging success. The CIO talked about the significance of the implementation and the great teamwork that went into this transformational milestone within the IT organization. The CEO thanked the team for their efforts, then stepped over to the side of the room with the CIO for a more private conversation. The consultants and account executives from the software vendors milled through the room, offering congratulations to members of the team. Everyone enjoyed the festive atmosphere while sharing stories about the behind-the-scenes close calls, conflicts, late nights, and seemingly herculean efforts that resulted in the successful ITSM implementation.

As the evening wore on, the party began to wind-down as people left. The crowd soon dwindled to a few people, who decided to continue the celebration down at the bar. Soon, associates from the facility came and tidied-up the room, turned out the lights, and closed the door. The party was over.

And the consultants went home.

The account executives moved on to the next customer.

Company management turn its focus to the “next big thing”.

And six months later, the excitement from the ITSM implementation party had become a distant memory.

It’s easy to lose momentum

A gentleman from a client I had worked with a few years ago recently gave me a call, to chat with me about their ITSM implementation. It was great to catch up – I hadn’t spoken with anyone from this client in a couple of years or so. He shared the great strides they had made, going from that ad-hoc environment I had found to having formally defined processes, process owners, new ITSM tools…. the whole bit. They truly had had success.

But he was noticing a loss of momentum within their ITSM program. Tell me more, I said.

They were about to take the next steps in expanding and improving their ITSM implementation, but were being met with some resistance. Senior leaders were questioning the investment of time and resources. IT associates were questioning why they had to do this or that when it came to following processes. No one, other than the core ITSM team, was excited about taking those next steps. What should they do? They didn’t want to start all over, but in some ways, it felt like that’s where they were.

As I spoke further with him, some of the reasons why ITSM had lost momentum became apparent.

In the two years since their initial implementation,

  • Five of the 10 people that had completed advanced ITSM training had left the company.
  • The metrics that were being reported from their ITSM tools were all IT-related metrics.
  • There had been no formal, ongoing communications about ITSM.
  • There had been no investment in on-going training or skills retention.

The ITSM implementation had become a one-time event.

Seven things that sustain ITSM implementation

Don’t let your ITSM implementation lose that momentum from the initial implementation. Here are seven things that will help sustain your ITSM implementation:

  • Formalize Knowledge Management – Knowledge Management is a way to empower consumers of IT to be more effective and efficient by making relevant, accurate information available as needed, when needed. But good knowledge management isn’t just for the consumer of IT services, but also for the IT organization. By making knowledge available throughout the IT organization, IT can focus efforts on innovation rather than rediscovering things that it already knows. Good knowledge management also reduces the risk of knowledge loss when personnel changes occur.
  • “Sell, sell, sell” – I’ve often said that if IT doesn’t tell its story, someone else will – and IT may not like what is being said. The same goes for the ITSM implementation. Tell the ITSM story at every opportunity – both within and external to the IT organization. This means being prepared with timely elevator pitches, delivering business-relevant dashboards, and making ITSM presentations at staff meetings and town halls. Most importantly, be sure to tell the whole story. Don’t just talk about the successes, but also discuss the challenges, and how ITSM was used to overcome those challenges. Not only will telling the whole story build credibility, but it will also build demand for more of the good things that ITSM is doing for your business.
  • Measure everything, but report the right things – For example, while measuring the number of calls to the service desk is important for IT, your business associates do not care. From their perspective, the service desk is supposed to accept calls – who cares about the volume of calls? So, measure everything, but report the right things; that is, report on those measures that make sense to the intended audience. Rather than report the number of service desk calls (from the above example), report on things like cost per incident (resolving an incident quickly is cheaper), or impact to business productivity (resolving an incident quickly means the consumer can get back to doing her job).
  • Measure with purpose – As you’re designing and implementing ITSM processes, define and establish performance goals that are aligned with business goals and objectives. For example, “99% availability” is meaningless when an individual cannot access a service. But restating and measuring that availability goal as “Provide sufficient service availability such that the company can ship a minimum of 10,000 widgets per week” not only provides a purpose to the availability measure, but is much more relevant and meaningful to the business.
  • Training cannot be “one-and-done” – Ongoing training is a critical element of a sustainable ITSM implementation. Ongoing training helps the ITSM team keep up with changes in industry, identify both the good and bad in current ITSM processes, and retain good employees.
  • Clearly link ITSM to business value – Simply put, define IT services in terms of business value and outcomes, not as a list of things that IT does. The latter commoditizes and diminishes IT in the eyes of the rest of the business. Relating how IT contributes to and enables business value chains in the form of IT services establishes the business value of ITSM.
  • Get real about continual improvement – The business that IT supports is continually evolving and reacting to market pressures and trends. Formalizing continual improvement enables IT to be more responsive to changes within the business. But don’t just stop at being responsive – if you’ve done a good job of relating how ITSM provides real business value and established purposeful measures, you will be able to apply continual improvement to proactively identifying business opportunities as well.

Keeping and nurturing that momentum from the initial implementation is critical for the ongoing success of ITSM. These seven things will help prevent your ITSM implementation from becoming a one-time event.

Do you have other ideas to keep the momentum going?  I’d enjoy getting your feedback – so post a comment below!  Or for more pragmatic advice and service management insight, click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

Photo credit:  Pixabay


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4 thoughts on “After the Party is Over – 7 Things to Sustain your ITSM Implementation”

  1. Effective governance of process compliance and effectiveness would fuel ITSM momentum. Do SIPs actually improve service? How do we know? Do RCAs actually uncover design weaknesses in sufficient detail to define corrective actions? If budget holders doubt such outcomes, where’s the business case to sink more resources in ITSM?

    1. Thanks Nigel for your comments. I agree that effective governance would help maintain momentum. I think that SIPs and RCAs are great ways to further engage the business through a relevant and meaningful demonstration of how ITSM enables and delivers business value. I’ve not found an ITSM implementation yet that is perfect, or addresses all issues in the first iteration. But what a good ITSM implementation should provide is a way to continually improve in a justifiable and measureable way. SIPs and RCAs are just two ways to identify improvement opportunities and engage key stakeholders regarding improvement – a great way to maintain (or even improve) momentum and build good business relationships in my opinion.

    1. Hello David – Thanks for reading the post and for your question. I have two answers to your question: 1) The key business-oriented metrics for Change Management are whatever the business says they are. This means that IT must invite and drive the conversation with its business colleagues to determine what metrics are most important to them. (Always the first question I ask when I help organizations with any process design (not just Change Management)). 2) Often times, business colleagues may not know how to identify or articulate such metrics. In that case, I have some metrics that I like to suggest as places to start: a) Number/percentage Changes implemented as planned (including quality, target date, and cost)- this metric helps us understand both how well we are planning and delivering, with the right level of quality; b) Number/percentage Changes achieving planned objective – this metric answers the question “did we do what we set out to do?”; and c) Number/percentage of implemented Changes achieving desired business value – this metric captures the true impact on a change on business value (means that IT must talk with business colleagues following the change to understand impact on business value – but IT should be doing that anyway).

      Too many IT organizations simply report measures of activitives (e.g. number of changes, number of failed changes, etc.) – which, while important to IT, have no meaning to the business. Ultimately, the businesses in which IT works have to define their own key metrics for Change Management. I think the three metrics I suggest are a good place to start.

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