Tag Archives: Good ITSM

How to Defeat Silo Mentality

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There’s a beast lurking in many organizations. It can tear an organization to shreds from the inside out, quietly and quickly.

No, I’m not talking about some horror movie. I’m referring to silo mentality. It’s a growing problem for many organizations. A recent study of senior executives showed that “only 25% of respondents described their organizations as ‘effective’ at sharing knowledge across boundaries.”

While silo mentality may be common, it’s not healthy. It’s a problem that could drastically slow business growth in the digital age.

But there is a solution to silo mentality that is accessible to every organization and leaders across the globe. Before we get to the solution, let’s discuss the problem.

What is Silo Mentality?

Silo mentality is the mindset present when certain departments or sectors do not want to share information with others in the same organization.

Just like at a farm, silos in organizations hold resources that are separated by types. In the farming community, it’s important to protect resources from the outside elements but in business, silos end up causing delayed projects, low morale and increased costs.

Most leaders want to blame silo mentality on the employees themselves. But silo mentality is often to the result of poor leadership, communication and management.

Most silos form when employees develop a greater sense of loyalty to their individual team or department than loyalty to the organization. While team loyalty is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be disruptive when the needs of the company as a whole become secondary to the needs of the closest team members.

Managers and leaders must encourage a culture of collaboration, communication and ownership. If managers and leaders spend their time pointing fingers, hiding information or not taking ownership of their mistakes, then that mentality will trickle down into their teams, as well!

Silo mentality has many disruptive side effects. It can cause groupthink, stereotyping, redundancies and duplicative efforts between departments, and a misunderstanding of strategy. These effects can cause increased project costs, missed deadlines and low morale.

But the most damaging side effect is that the customer suffers when silo mentality exists in an organization. Most jobs within organizations have specific roles and responsibilities. When a task or issue occurs that “doesn’t fit the job description” in a siloed workforce, the task is usually tossed to the next person. This can occur several times over and the person who suffers the most is the person who had the issue in the first place: the customer.

Companies that suffer from silo mentality will lose customers and therefore profits due to the inefficiencies caused by it. Organizations have started trying to eliminate silo mentality by encouraging a service-oriented approach and cross-functional collaboration. And luckily, there is a more formal method to these tactics that leaders can take. It’s called Enterprise Service Management and it might sound a little bit familiar to you.

What is Enterprise Service Management?

Enterprise service management (ESM) describes the application of service management principles and technologies beyond just IT and across an organization. ESM applies service management principles to other areas of an organization to improve performance, measurability, effectiveness, responsiveness, and efficiency.

Does this sound familiar to you? Well, it should if you’ve been around this blog before! ESM mirrors what good ITSM practices accomplish, except on a larger scale.

Of course, you may be thinking that you can just take your existing ITSM processes and systems and simply apply them across the organization. It doesn’t exactly work like that.
ESM is much more than applying IT processes and principles outside of IT. It’s a holistic way of including and blending individual departmental approaches into common and shared processes, systems and technology across the organization.

It requires organizational change just as much as a technological change. It requires strong leadership, clearly articulated vision and business goals, and clear communication and collaboration between departments.

With ESM, the organization develops a holistic approach to integrate, connect and work together to leverage technology by creating processes, systems and workflows that benefit both the company and the customer.

How Can ESM Defeat Silo Mentality?

This is where silo mentality will begin to break down through ESM. By implementing ESM, the organization doesn’t need to just adapt to IT processes and systems. It’s not about IT (or any part of an organization for that matter) having its own set of processes and systems and expecting the rest of the organization to align to those processes. Rather, it’s about getting all parts of the organization having a shared understanding of business value and how the parts of the business interact to deliver value to the customer.

With ESM, every department must be represented in the development of more efficient workflows and processes that better enable the use of technology and eliminate any obstacles that exist between departments. Including each department in these activities develops buy-in to what will work best for the organization. This buy-in makes it easier for ESM implementation and it also correctly positions IT to understand how each department uses technology, how they view it, what they need from it, and align those needs to organizational goals.

For any of this to work, one of the first things the organization needs to do is to speak the same language. The problem many departments run into is that they don’t understand the specific terminology used within each department. For example, an “incident” for IT is very different than an “incident” for facilities.

Leaders need to work with their managers and teams to integrate their teams so they can begin to understand one another. One way is by incorporating job shadowing days where team members can spend time learning about another department. Another way may be to host knowledge sharing meetings where departments share their current projects and its impact on the business and effect on customers. Increasing communication and transparency between departments helps everyone begins to understand how each team contributes to the organization.

Once your team speaks the same language and you being to implement shared practices, processes, and technology across the organization, silo mentality will begin to fade. After all, the barriers that resulted from having separate practices, processes and technologies will be blended into a shared approach, which is how the organization should interact anyway.

How To Implement ESM into Your Organization?

One of the best ways is to start small with a single workflow that involves different departments.

For example, the workflow that supports onboarding a new employee involves the human resources, IT, corporate security, and facilities departments. Pull together representatives from each of these departments and agree on the critical success factors for onboarding a new employee. Map the work that is done by each department when a new employee is hired. Review what information is needed by each department as they do that work. This will begin to identify the dependencies and sequences of work between these departments. Map the flow of work among these departments that would result in the best result for both the new employee and the impacted departments. Identify and define measures that indicate that the workflow will meet the agreed critical success factors. Now map how and where technology supports this workflow. Small projects like these can create an environment that is open to organization wide enterprise service management roll outs.

Remember ESM won’t be rolled out overnight and it may not be met with open arms by everyone in the organization. Continue to identify supporters who are open to new projects, learn to speak the language of the business and keep your ears open for feedback and ideas from other departments. Remember, ending silo mentality starts from the top!

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Why Your Process Isn’t Working “As Designed”

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Almost everything in an organization is a sequence of tasks. In fact, many people describe a business as the “sum of all its processes.” This is why many IT leaders and consultants focus on process design.

However, many IT organizations find that their processes rarely work “as designed.” No matter how flawless the design or how much time they spent designing the process, many IT leaders find that their processes just aren’t delivering the expected results.

When addressing why your processes are working “as is” instead of “as designed”, there are some red flags that might appear. Avoiding these could save your process.

1. No ownership

Ownership and accountability may be the most important piece of process design. IT leaders need to not only own the process but require their teams to own their roles in the process as well.
Without clear ownership and defined roles, your team will find it easy to blame others or blame the process itself. Lack of ownership creates a blame culture where team members are too busy pointing fingers than actually dealing with the issues that need to be addressed.

2. No documentation

Clearly defined processes may seem like they hinder productivity but they can actually help improve productivity. Documenting a process offers several benefits. It solves the above problem of no ownership and gets everyone on the “same page.” Documenting your process also lays the basis for cost-justifiable and continual improvement.

In addition to have a thoroughly detailed process, it should be easy for anyone in the organization to locate this documented process. It should be stored in an easy to access place and easy to read through so that everyone can learn the process and utilize it.

3. No communication

It is not enough to have defined processes, processes must be communicated consistently inside and outside of IT. IT leaders can easily communicate processes through having clear documentation..

The C-suite and rest of the organization should understand each process but also, why each process is important to the overall effectiveness of the organization. If other departments understand how a process makes their jobs easier, they will be more likely to adopt the process and incorporate it in their workflows.

4. Silo mentality

Proper communication should reduce the silo mentality but it’s essential that leaders work to eliminate silo mentality in the organization. When departments are out of the loop on what each other is working on, the entire company fails.

IT leaders need to work with other leaders to share data and information and encourage teams to work together.

Incentives must be aligned when it comes to processes. For example, why does it pay for the sales team to pay attention and integrate with the IT team’s processes? How does the entire organization improve because of a process? When other departments are clear on the benefits and incentives of their processes, they will be more willing to adapt to that process.

5. Complacency

Processes have a lifespan and cannot be designed to last forever. Your business is constantly evolving and changing, and your process designs must change and evolve as well. If you and your team simply accept a process or worse, begin to ignore it, then the process will no longer deliver the results that it was initially designed to do.

Teams should adopt a continual improvement attitude and regularly ask “Is this process still working?” Teams should identify which parts aren’t working and play a role in improving and adjusting the process so it works “as designed.”

As an added bonus, including teams in continual process improvement, empowers them to create processes that they will want to implement and use.

What can IT organizations do to ensure that processes work “as designed”?

For a process to work as designed, it should be part of the culture. Just like anything else in business, the process should fit the culture.

If your culture is broken, no process will fix it. Your organizational culture must encourage communication and collaboration for any process to work correctly. By working with other leaders to encourage interdepartmental collaboration and empowering teams to take control of their processes, you can begin to improve the culture so that every process works as designed.

If you are truly not sure if your processes are working as designed, then a process audit will show you how to evaluate your processes. This is the first step to addressing your processes “as is” state and identifying gaps in your process or your culture.

Start improving your team’s effectiveness – download our free Process Rescue Kit to start improving your process designs with your team.

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Why ITIL Doesn’t Work For Your Business

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There are two camps of people in the IT world: those that will explain the benefits of ITIL all day long and those that find ITIL doesn’t work and think it’s a bureaucratic waste of time.

But upon further investigation, we’ve realized something. It’s possible so many people dislike ITIL because organizations aren’t really implementing ITIL.

Or excuse me, they’re not implementing “IT Service Management based on ITIL.” Whatever you want to call it, people approach the use of this framework wrong and it costs them a lot.

Let’s talk about why ITIL won’t work for your business.

When ITIL Doesn’t Work

1. You treat ITIL as gospel.

ITIL isn’t a cookbook. It’s not the gospel. It’s guidance and a framework of best practices. But what happens in certain organizations is that some manager on some level gets really excited about the idea of ITIL and then tries to implement every guideline in the book. This approach will never work!

ITIL was originally created by the British government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications agency in the 1980s. It was never meant to become a proprietary product that would be commercialized and sold. The original project was supposed to gather best practices to assist with what the government saw as increasing dependence on IT combined with a lack of standard practices that resulted in increased costs and errors.

ITIL spread to private corporations because it works. But not in the way many organizations think it does.

ITIL works because it includes best practices but it’s just a framework. It doesn’t have to be followed step by step.

The best way to get ITIL to work in your business is to adopt the guidelines and practices that make sense for your business and forget the rest.

2. You ignore the business case or business inclusion.

ITIL and ITSM have “IT” in their titles but that does not mean they are purely “IT initiatives.”

IT can’t work in a silo anymore and implementing ITSM based on ITIL without getting buy-in from anyone in executive management or anyone outside of the IT is a recipe for disaster. You have to understand how IT interacts with the rest of the business. Consider what the business needs from IT to be successful and IT’s capability for delivering on those needs, and how ITSM can help

If you want to utilize ITIL successfully, learn how to explain it in a way that senior leaders understand. They won’t speak in ITIL jargon, so you have to recognize how it can benefit the business and be able to articulate that – in business terms. If you are able to do so successfully, you will get support and investment from senior leaders.

Including business objectives and understanding the business value of IT will help your team and your organization to adopt ITIL so that it helps to facilitate business outcomes, which is the goal!

3. You don’t create a roadmap for adopting and adapting ITIL.

ITSM and ITIL are not about implementing processes for process sake. Too many organizations get so focused on implementing processes that they ignore the overall goal for why they needed those processes.

The goal is to deliver services that provide value for the business.

Creating a roadmap and connecting it to business value will help you adopt the right ITIL practices so that it supports the services and doesn’t just implement processes for the sake of implementing processes.

If you’re too rigid and you try to implement everything all at once for no real reason other than you think you should, your team will resist. That’s why so many IT professionals think ITIL is too bureaucratic.

But if you haphazardly throw certain approaches into certain projects, then no one will be able to recognize how ITIL is improving your workflow.

A step by step roadmap gives you something to measure against as you move forward with adapting ITIL.

4. You don’t invest in training or consulting

There are many ITIL Foundation training classes and many IT professionals receive their ITIL certification. But those classes often fail their students –  many students become ITIL certified professionals but have absolutely no idea how to apply any ITIL concepts.

The truth is, anyone can read a student guide and learn ITIL concepts but that isn’t going to get them or their organization very far. Like we’ve said, ITIL is guidance not gospel. You need to understand how it can impact and fit into your organization. The only way to do that is to invest in ITIL foundation class with an experienced instructor who can show students how to apply ITIL to their organization.

Similarly, many organizations make the mistake of adapting ITIL without any qualified, expert guidance. This can work for a little while but undoubtedly, whoever is leading the charge is going to become distracted with day-to-day operations. A qualified consultant acts a guide to plot a course to ITIL adoption. They can help avoid common mistakes and increase adoption speed.

5. Trying to find a short cut with a tool

If there are many training classes, there are even more tools designed to help adopt ITIL and ITSM into organizations.

But a tool isn’t going to understand the value of IT or how IT contributes to business outcomes. A tool is not going to be able to understand the needs of the business.

A tool is just what it’s described as, a device used to carry out a particular function. Tools can help you adopt ITIL but it certainly is not going to do all the work for you.

When Will ITIL Work For A Business?

There’s no really no such thing as ITIL implementation. You can only adopt and adapt ITIL to your organization. You can do this with a clear implementation roadmap, a well-formed business case for ITSM , and getting training from a good instructor.

If you want to adopt ITIL the right way and avoid wasting time, money and energy, then learn more about ITIL at our upcoming ITIL Foundation Class this October. Or contact us to learn about ITSM adoption and roadmap planning services.

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Nine signs that it’s time to expand ITSM into the Enterprise

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I read a lot about how organizations have stood up a centralized service desk, a self-service portal, and called that “enterprise service management”.

While these two deliverables may be good things to do, I don’t think that these two deliverables in and of themselves represent “enterprise service management”.  Such an approach only perpetuates what many organizations have done with ITSM – just address the (relatively easy) operational aspects of service management, without doing any of the needed work to identify and underpin the end-to-end flow of value within IT.

What expanding ITSM could do for the enterprise

Having said that, I do think that expanding ITSM into the enterprise could have a significant and positive impact on the organization.

Expanding good ITSM into the organization would standardize how work gets done.  Standardized work improves both the productivity and the throughput of work through the organization.

ITSM would bring clarity and transparency into how value flows through the organization.  Good ITSM would result in the identification and definition of services and processes that underpin the organizational value streams of a business.

Good ITSM across the enterprise would bring repeatability, reliability, and measurability to all aspects of the organization.

All of the above are good things that expanding ITSM could do for the enterprise.

But how do you know its time to expand ITSM into the enterprise?

Nine signs that it may be time to expand ITSM beyond IT

Here are my top nine signs (in no particular order) that it may be time to expand ITSM beyond IT.

  1. Published IT performance reports depict business measures or results, not IT or technology metrics. Published reports reflect success measures that are outcome-based and relevant and meaningful to the business.
  2. Business colleagues outside of IT take an active, engaged role in service management activities. Business colleagues actively participate in CAB meetings; the ITSM steering committee has significant participation from business colleagues, and some (most) services have a service owner that does not work within IT.
  3. IT is a valued contributor and partner in business strategy development. The IT service portfolio is regularly reviewed by key business decision-makers and is a critical input to technology investment decisions, work prioritization, and managing demand.    IT personnel – at all levels of the organization – participate in business strategy and planning meetings.
  4. The IT-Business relationship is one of being “colleagues”, not “service provider and customer”.  With IT and business colleagues working as an integrated entity, efforts are focused on the true customer – the person or business that ultimately buys a company’s products and services.
  5. Business colleagues have a consistently good experience in their interactions with the IT organization. Performance is predictable and consistent. Communications are appropriate, relevant, and timely.  Issues are addressed and managed in a professional manner.  There are active, positive business – IT relationships.
  6. The IT organization is working as an integrated team. There are no “Dev vs. Ops vs. QA vs. Security” attitudes within IT, but rather a culture of collaboration. The IT organization has recognized that there is no “one size fits all approach” and has learned how to effectively incorporate and leverage the strengths of different methodologies to deliver business value.
  7. ITSM processes are lean, effective, and provide “just enough” control. Processes are as simple as possible, friction-free, and have little, if any, waste.  Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, understood, and embraced.  Processes facilitate getting work done, rather than act as a barrier to getting work done.
  8. The IT organization acts and communicates in business terms. The service catalog articulates what IT does in terms of business value and outcomes. IT consistently demonstrates good business acumen. The business relationship management function is established and proactively ensures that the business realizes value from its investments in IT.
  9. IT promotes and communicates how ITSM is benefitting the organization. ITSM successes (and learnings) are regularly publicized – and the business is feeling the positive impact from ITSM implementation and use.

But even if all nine (or most) of these signs are present, it still may not make sense to expand ITSM into the enterprise.

The ultimate sign that it’s time to expand ITSM into the enterprise

What is the ultimate sign that it’s time to expand ITSM into the enterprise?

Your business colleagues ask for it.

Just because IT thinks this is a good idea isn’t sufficient justification for expanding ITSM across the enterprise.  Expanding ITSM into the enterprise must be a business initiative, not an IT initiative forced upon the business. Why?

Business colleagues may not know anything about ITSM.  They may not even be aware that the IT organization is doing service management.  But, business colleagues feel that they have consistent, good experiences in their interactions with IT.  They get real business value from services delivered from IT. They see how wider use of the concepts being used by IT can benefit the organization.  And, most importantly, they want to expand those concepts across the enterprise.

But to have success with expanding ITSM concepts into the enterprise, Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is not as simple as dropping the ‘IT’ and adding an ‘E’. The business must own ESM.   The business must dedicate and invest resources to ESM.  There must be commitment to ESM being successful.  There must be a willingness to do the required “care-and-feeding” across the organization, not just within a department or two.  The enterprise must adopt an attitude of continual improvement.

Getting ready to expand ITSM into the enterprise

While there is much that can be leveraged from a good ITSM implementation to jumpstart an ESM implementation, here are six steps that will ensure that ESM will be successful.

  • Build the compelling business caseBusiness value consists of five factors – increased revenue, decreased cost, improved productivity, competitive differentiation, and improved customer satisfaction. The business case for ESM must address at least one of these five factors; doing so will help you get the support and funding needed for ESM.
  • Form a cross-functional team – Again, ESM has to be a business initiative. This means that a cross-functional team consisting of both business colleagues and IT staff are required for ESM success.
  • Identify enterprise-level services – An IT service only depicts the “middle part” of an enterprise-level service. There are business activities that occur both before and after the IT service is consumed. What are those activities? Who is accountable for the quality and results of those activities?  Identifying and defining enterprise-level services is critical for ESM success.
  • Identify organizational value streamsHow does work get done across the enterprise? Just like an IT service often involves multiple parts of the IT organization, the same can be said for enterprise services.  Rarely (if ever) does an outcome or result delivered to the customer only involve a single department or work group within an organization. ESM must underpin an organization’s delivery of value.
  • Define good processes – IT’s expertise in defining good ITSM processes can be leveraged to help the enterprise identify and document its processes. But processes must facilitate, not control, getting work done. This may represent a mind shift change for those new to service management.
  • Take an iterative approach – As with ITSM implementation, ESM implementation must be an iterative activity. Start with a smaller enterprise value stream.  Define and apply service management concepts, learn what worked well, identify improvements, then repeat the cycle with the next enterprise value stream. There is no need to “boil the ocean” – make steady, incremental progress toward ESM goals.  Adoption and success will be much greater.

The digital consumer is demanding that businesses act as unified entities, rather than collections of parts.  This means that all parts of an organization must collaborate to deliver the value and results that the digital consumer wants.  Expanding good ITSM into the enterprise is a way to meet the demands of both the digital consumer and the digital economy.

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The Importance of Good ITSM in the Digital Economy

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The digital economy is upon us.

Regardless of industry, businesses are experiencing the impact of the digital economy.  In the digital economy, the “store” is always open and customers expect that systems are “always on”.  Customers can (and will) do business whenever and from wherever they want – using any internet-accessible device.   Customers expect a differentiated, frictionless experience that provides value.  Encountering system downtime or unavailability simply is out of the question.

What does this mean for IT?  Simple – in the digital economy, the role of IT within an organization is more critical than ever.

The critical role of IT

IT has a critical role as an organization prepares for the digital economy. In the digital economy, the technology managed and delivered by IT is the crucial connector between a business and its customers.

But is the business ready to effectively leverage that technology and enter the digital economy?  Is your IT organization ready? Maybe not.

One of the significant challenges presented by the onset of the digital economy is that many businesses don’t understand their processes.  As a result, the details of how work flows within an organization is unclear.  Critical systems are disjointed, resulting in bottlenecks and needless delay. IT finds itself trying to glue these poorly designed (or non-existent!) business processes together by throwing technology at the issue.   Compounding the situation is that IT processes are often no better – IT processes are poorly designed, poorly documented, or even worse – non-existent. IT itself works as a collection of disjointed parts, with no clarity how work flows through the IT organization.

Yet, IT – good IT – is critical for the digital economy.

Can the IT organization move beyond acting as an ‘order taker’ and become the innovator, leader, and partner that businesses need in the digital economy? Can IT help business understand how work flows through an organization?  How can IT proactively work within the business to eliminate bottlenecks?  How can IT help the business deliver better business?

Good ITSM can help.

Hallmarks of Good ITSM

What does good ITSM look like?   Here are some attributes of good ITSM:

  • Reliability, consistency, repeatability – Businesses and their customers can depend on the services delivered by the IT organization.
  • Measurable contribution to business value – The contribution from the IT organization delivers agreed business value quantified by relevant, meaningful measures.
  • Defined and documented services that underpin how value flows through the organization, and enables businesses to make informed decisions about investments in IT.
  • Data-driven, efficient processes – Data, not human intervention, drives process execution and improvements.

Where many of today’s ITSM implementations frequently fall short

Unfortunately, many of today’s ITSM implementations have fallen short for a myriad of reasons:

  • ITSM was driven as an “IT initiative” and not a “business initiative”. To the rest of the business, ITSM investments were monies thrown into a black hole, with little to no identifiable business value in return.
  • ITSM implementation was driven from a “tool first” approach, rather than from a business value and outcomes approach. Tools were purchased and implemented in the hopes of a “quick fix” for IT delivery issues, without first understanding the business challenges.
  • The myth that ITSM is an “IT Operations only” or “Service Desk” thing and not part of business strategy or service and product design. What part of today’s business doesn’t have at least some reliance on the use of technology?  None.  Technology use is a critical factor in the realization of business strategy as products and services are delivered.  Then how could ITSM ever have been approached as an “IT operations only” initiative?
  • IT Services – how IT supports business value chains – were not identified or defined. Rather, “IT Services” were published as a list of things that IT does, like reset passwords or setup new PCs, reinforcing the notion of “IT as order taker”.

Such ITSM implementations are not ready to take on the demands of the digital economy.  Because of this, internal IT organizations are at risk of being “left out” as business is forced to move ahead with other technology providers.

How service management must evolve to meet the demands of the digital economy

Good ITSM, however, isn’t quite enough to meet the demands of the digital economy.  ITSM implementations have typically been inwardly focused.  In the digital economy, good service management principles still apply, but the focus of ITSM must shift to an external, “outside in” approach – looking at customer experience.  How should service management evolve?

  • IT must shift from a “department” to a “capability”. IT must take on a leadership role and help business successfully exploit its technology capabilities. This means that IT must improve its business acumen and lead business process designs and improvements, leveraging ITSM principles.
  • Service management must shift from being an “IT thing” to the way that business fully utilizes all parts of the organization. ITSM principles can help by helping business understand the complete value stream – how work moves through the entire organization to deliver value both to the customer and for the business.

Get Service Management Ready for the Digital Economy

The digital economy requires a holistic and collaborative effort from all parts of the organization.  No single department alone can experience success without support and interaction from the other parts of the organization.  Looking at a business from an “outside in” perspective, the customer does business with the business – not an individual part of the business.  Effective service management will help a business act and present itself as a holistic entity and not a collection of parts.    Here are four things to do to get service management ready for the digital economy:

  • Identify and map value streams. Don’t just look at the IT contribution, but the complete value stream – how value flows through the organization.  Identify what parts of the organization – sales, manufacturing, distribution, IT – are involved in delivering value. Mapping value streams helps identify services, and also helps align the organization along common goals.
  • Identify and eliminate waste in current processes. Any waste – bottlenecks, variability, delay – will inhibit automation of processes and negatively impact the customer experience.  Needless manual intervention is typically indicative of a lack of defined processes and not a need for human judgement.
  • Identify and collect comprehensive service measures. Many current service management implementations only measure and report technology-centric measures. Service measures must quantify and report on the business value and outcomes delivered by the service – not just some of the components of a service.  Relating measures to the organization’s mission, vision, and goals is a good way to ensure measures are business-relevant.
  • Understand the customer experience. One way to do this is to develop customer experience journey maps. These maps describe how a customer interacts with a business, emphasizing the intersections between customer expectation, business requirements, and supporting technology. Looking at interactions from the customer perspective helps the business identify and implement improvements to both its services and processes.

The digital economy is the next evolution for business, regardless of industry.  A strong service management approach will help ensure success.

Need to raise your service management game?  Tedder Consulting can help you get ready for the demands of the digital economy – contact us today!

For more pragmatic advice and service management insight, click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

Photo credit:  Pexels

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Are your processes in the way of ITSM?

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What is IT Service Management (ITSM)?

Some will say that ITSM is ITIL®[1]. Not true – while ITIL is the basis for many ITSM implementations, ITSM doesn’t have to be just ITIL.

Some will say that ITSM is something that is just for IT operations. Also, not true. However, because many ITSM implementations stop after addressing only the operational aspects of IT, this is a common misperception.

Some will say that ITSM is the design and implementation of processes. Well, not quite.

ITSM is about how organizations make the best use of their IT capabilities to provide value by enabling or delivering outcomes needed by the organization. This value is determined by the organization; that is, just because IT thinks what it does is valuable doesn’t make it so. ITSM is about effectiveness, efficiency, repeatability, reliability, responsiveness, and continual improvement. ITSM (done well) gives an organization a way to ensure a good customer experience with every interaction with IT. ITSM is about safeguarding while exploiting an organization’s most valuable assets –its data, its expertise, its services. ITSM is about optimizing the know-how and skills of people through the use of process and technology for the benefit of an organization.

Yes, ITSM does define, implement, and leverage processes. But those ITSM processes should be the means to an end – delivering value – and not the goal.

Yet many IT organizations become so focused on processes, that they lose sight of the goal – provide services based on the use of information technology that deliver value for money by facilitating needed business outcomes.

ITSM is not about process for process sake. It’s not a competition about how many processes can an organization define and implement. It’s not about this framework versus that methodology, but how to leverage these frameworks and methodologies in such a way that produces and ensures value.

So why have so many IT organizations become obsessed with process? Perhaps it’s because those organizations didn’t identify the business drivers for ITSM. Or they took a ‘process cookbook’ approach to implementing ITSM. Maybe it’s because they didn’t approach ITSM as a collaborative effort between IT and its stakeholders. Or they don’t understand or can’t articulate how IT delivers value.

So, they implemented process for process sake, and hoped for the best. But because they looked at process implementation, rather than value enablement, as the goal, ITSM processes became bottlenecks rather than facilitators.

Enable your processes to become enablers

If the above sounds like your ITSM implementation, don’t despair. And don’t throw all that work away and start over. Rather, take a few tools from the ITSM toolbox and enable your processes to become enablers. Here are six easy steps to make it happen:

  1. Map the current process flow from beginning to end. What are activities of the process? Who is involved? Make this mapping very visual – that is, literally draw it out on a big whiteboard or a wall-sized piece of paper.
  2. Next, measure process throughput – how long does it take, from beginning to end, to turn a defined input into a defined output?  You now have a simple “value stream map” (VSM) in Lean terms.
  3. Recall those people you identified as being involved in the first step? Invite them all to come over to have a look at your VSM and discuss what is needed, what works, and what could be done differently.   Write it down on a flipchart next to your VSM. Sounds like what Agile would call a “story board”.
  4. Prioritize the identified needs and ideas of what could be done differently. Agile would call this a “product backlog”, Lean would call this an “improvement board”.
  5. Break down improvement efforts into small incremental improvements – or Kaizens. Involve the stakeholders in the development and implementation of these improvements, whether that be through communication or having them contribute effort. Measure process throughput before and after each Kaizen. Display the results and outcomes of those improvements on another flipchart. Repeat this step until all items listed in the product backlog or improvement board have been addressed.
  6. Now map the new process flow from beginning to end. Measure the process throughput. Compare that process flow to the one from step 1. Compare your throughput measures to the measures from step 2.

See the improvement? Congratulations! You have enabled your process to be an enabler.

Need to change your processes from being ‘barriers’ to ‘enablers’?  Then our ‘ A Better Process-In 5 days!’ workshop is for you!  Don’t wait – contact Tedder Consulting today and  get started!  

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[1] ITIL® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.

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ITSM is not just IT Operations

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I recently viewed a webinar from a tool vendor regarding Agile, DevOps, and Lean IT transformation. The vendor was hawking their product that helped IT organizations get code from development through build and deployment, describing this as the software lifecycle. The “Help Desk” and IT operations, found after this lifecycle, uses ITSM to “log incidents”. Strategy, planning, and requirements gathering (however those things happen) were found before this lifecycle.

So let me get this straight. Within IT, we have a “lifecycle”, but it only deals with software development. All the other parts of IT that help deliver and support the value being created by that “lifecycle” are not part of the lifecycle?

Yet another candidate for the “we-help-IT-work-in-silos” hall of fame.

Why do so many think that ITSM is just about IT operations? What is ITSM?

IT Service Management (ITSM) is the management of all processes that cooperate to ensure that the quality of live IT services, according to the level of service agreed with the customer. ITSM addresses the initiation, design, organization, control, provision, support and improvement of IT services.[1]

In other words, ITSM encompasses all of the processes that plan, budget, design, build, test, implement, run, support, and improve IT services.

Is there any part of IT that isn’t represented in that list? Didn’t think so. So why do so many think that ITSM is just about IT operations?

Maybe the confusion is around IT services

One way to define an IT service is as a value chain – the combination of people, processes, technology, and suppliers that work together to deliver outcomes required by the business. What makes up the IT value chain?

Certainly there’s the application code and software. But without infrastructure, such as servers, storage, and networks – whether that infrastructure is on premise or in the cloud – there’s not much that the application code and software will be able to do. There’s also the documentation, such as standard operating procedures for supporting the service and job aids to help the consumer use this software and infrastructure.

Before any of this can become reality, a strategy must be developed, supported by a plan for how all of this is going to be used, how much infrastructure and what kind of software is needed, and by whom this will be used. This strategy must also ensure that there is adequate funding to make sure that the application code, software, infrastructure, and documentation can be developed, deployed, and used by the business.

This means that people, with defined roles and responsibilities, have to be engaged to do the work and ensure that the business realizes value from its investment in application code, documentation, infrastructure, and people. To be the most effective and create the greatest opportunity for value realization, policies must be developed that govern not only the use of the application code and infrastructure, but also provide overarching guidance for the people and processes interacting with and managing that application code and infrastructure.

As the value chain is being used, the people that use it will need assistance from time to time – and occasionally, things will go wrong or not work as expected. Or the needs of the business will (do) change over time. This means that feedback loops must be established, not only to correct issues as they occur or are discovered, but also for identifying and considering areas for change and improvement.

In other words, there must be an approach – a comprehensive approach – to manage every aspect of the IT value chain – from conception to use. That approach is called ITSM.

Perhaps it’s because they don’t understand what ITSM is about

A good ITSM implementation provides a comprehensive approach that develops, implements, monitors, and continually improves processes that make the IT value chain reality. A good ITSM implementation breaks down siloes and ensures that processes seamlessly interface with each other. A good ITSM implementation ensures that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and how those roles interact with one another. A good ITSM implementation cares for the entire lifecycle of each IT value chain, not just a single link in a chain.

ITSM isn’t about just tools, although having a good set of tools is important for automating and facilitating ITSM. ITSM isn’t just about this framework or that methodology, although frameworks and methodologies provide great guidance for how to make ITSM work for your company.

Lastly, ITSM isn’t just about IT operations, although IT operations is important for good ITSM. The IT application development team is also important for good ITSM. So is the QA team, the system architects, the security admins, the budgeters and accountants, the service desk, the senior managers, and everyone else in IT.

Most importantly, good ITSM is about the business.   It is the business and only the business that determines if what IT is doing provides value. ITSM gives IT a measurable way to demonstrate how business value can be achieved through the use of IT – all of IT.

ITSM is not just IT operations.

Is your ITSM implementation “stuck” in IT operations?  ITSM should and can be so much more for your company.  Contact Tedder Consulting today for a free, no obligation 30-minute consulting session to discuss how to break through the IT Operations “glass ceiling”. 

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[1] Polter, Selma et al. ISO/IEC 20000- An Introduction. Edited by Jan van Bon, et al., Van Haren Publishing, 2008.

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