Tag Archives: ITIL

Don’t Believe These 6 Service Management Myths

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I have said before that service management has gotten a bad reputation. But that bad reputation is somewhat deserved because the service management of the past failed a lot of companies. I’ve heard from many IT professionals that they have tried service management and it just didn’t work or worse, they have current service management initiatives but they’re not sure if it’s working.

Service management has evolved over the years and many of the beliefs out there are just plain wrong. What if I told you that service management is a secret weapon that can solve many of the challenges facing a modern organization – if only more professionals understood the true power of service management?

It’s time to bust some service management myths.

Service management means fitting into a strict framework

This idea of adhering to an inflexible, strict framework is one of the biggest service management misconceptions. Many people view service management as being overly restrictive and that in order for it to work, you have to fit your organization and workstreams into exact, inflexible parameters. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Good service management is first understanding how the organization wants to derive value and outcomes from its use of technology, then applying the right methodologies to enable the realization of that value and outcomes.

This means that you should first identify your organization’s specific challenges and goals, then adopt and adapt approaches that best leverage people, capabilities, and technology in such a way that will address those challenges. You can drop in different aspects of service management best practices without forcing your team to adopt every single best practice. Good service management is customized to meet the needs of the organization, not the other way around.

Implementing service management requires a new tool

Another common myth of service management is that it’s all about the tool. Often, when I ask a prospect about their service management environment, they’ll start talking about the tools they are using, and not the business challenge they’re trying to address. This tool-first mentality around service management is problematic – it means many organizations go straight to investing in a tool before understanding what they are trying to achieve with service management. And because tools are never “magic bullets”, implementations of tools without understanding the why behind adoption of service management rarely delivers the outcomes that the organization needs.

Good service management isn’t an out-of-the-box solution. You can’t just fire up a new tool and expect everything to magically start working correctly. Instead, you need to start with the groundwork of mapping where you are currently. Map value streams, get clear on who is responsible for what and identify where you’re experiencing gaps in service. You need to get a clear picture of how your organization is currently delivering services before you can even start to think about a tool.

If you skip this step and go straight to investing in a tool, you’ll end up with an expensive tool that still doesn’t solve your problems. Or you’ll have a tool that is fully featured but your team can’t even use half of the features.

The bottom line is, if you want to properly implement service management, don’t start the conversation by discussing tools.

SM is only for large enterprises

To some, service management is a bureaucratic mess of processes that is only necessary in a company of thousands of people. But small and mid-sized companies need service management just as much as the bigger guys.

Good service management means:

  • Reliable, consistent, and relatable services
  • A measurable contribution to business value
  • Efficient, data-driven, defined, and documented processes

If you’ll notice, there’s nothing that says that good service management requires a big team. Service management is simply about delivering great service as efficiently and effectively as possible. This is so important in small and mid-sized companies! You’re getting just as much accomplished with smaller teams so everyone needs to work smart and find the workflows that will keep the team operating as efficiently as possible!

There’s no “minimum employee count” for organizations wanting to implement service management. It can make a positive difference in any size organization.

Service management is just about the Service Desk

Many people think service management is just something that the service desk does. Sure, the service desk is important and it will benefit from service management initiatives. But the goal of the service desk is to deliver a smooth experience for users. It doesn’t represent a holistic view of how value and services flow through the organization. And the service desk by itself cannot deliver good service management; rather, it relies on being integrated with all other parts of the organization to deliver good service management.

Service management is about providing and managing the right combination of people, processes and technology to enable a business to meet its objectives and deliver measurable value. The service desk is part of this but it’s just one piece of the overall puzzle. True service management extends far beyond the service desk.

Service management is just ITIL

I’ve noticed many people use “service management” and ITIL®1 interchangeably which contributes to much of the confusion around service management.

Service management is about the holistic view of a business and its IT capabilities. It can act like an operating model for the business of IT. It’s an overarching view of how IT operates within the context of the business and how IT helps the overall business achieve its goals.

On the other hand, ITIL is a collection of guidance and advice for implementing service management practices. Using a sports analogy, service management is the playbook for the season while ITIL may be a specific play executed on gameday.

Service management is only about IT

Finally, we have one of the most pervasive myths about service management: that it’s only about IT. Of course, for a long time it was known as “IT Service Management”, so it’s no wonder that this is a belief.

For service management to be truly effective, it must reflect and support entire organizational value streams, not just the IT portions. Technology is no longer department-specific. Technology connects entire value streams in nearly all organizations. If you don’t have enterprise-wide workflows that support value all the way to the customer, you likely have a bunch of disjointed pieces that result in a poor customer experience.

This idea of service management being used across the business is more commonly referred to as “Enterprise Service Management” and it’s becoming more prevalent. Limiting service management practices and views to only IT is severely limiting the organization’s ability to grow, scale, and meet the ever-evolving expectations of their customers.

Service Management: A Secret Weapon

Service management is often viewed as being old-school, restrictive, and too basic. However, if you look at service management with fresh eyes and recognize the difference between quality service management versus the myths of service management, you may end up seeing that it is the solution you’ve been trying to find all along.

Interested in learning how service management can improve your organization? Has your organization fallen victim to one or more of these service management myths? Let’s talk – book a free 30-minute consultation here.

*ITIL is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.
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Alexa Is NOT the Service Management Star You’ve Been Searching For

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Have you been hearing the news?

There’s a brand new rising star in the Service Management world.

She’s tech-savvy, has fantastic people skills and is extraordinarily productive.

Her name is Alexa. But I hate to break it to you- I don’t think she’s going to be as revolutionary as everyone says.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m not talking about a “real” person. I’m referring to Alexa, Amazon’s much-loved voice assistant. While Alexa has been in the consumer market for years, she’s now making the move into service management. There have been many signs that Alexa is about to become the hot new tool in service management.

  • Amazon has already outlined Alexa for enterprise and business solutions
  • ServiceNow is showing partners how to build and integrate Alexa Skills with the ServiceNow platform
  • FreshService is already outlining ways Alexa can assist ITSM

There’s no question that AI, machine learning and digital assistants, including Alexa, will play a role in the future of service management. I’m not here to argue that. However, I will argue that we shouldn’t be focusing on the technology but the environment where the technology will play a role. If you put Alexa in the right environment, she can thrive (and so can your organization) but if you implement Alexa with the hope that she’ll make the environment a better one, then you’re going to have useless technology on your hands and you’ll still have a long line of tickets, frustrated users and stressed out service desk technicians.

So let’s discuss how you can put Alexa (or any voice assistant) in the right environment.

What Role Will Alexa Play?

Let me start by saying that the idea of AI in ITSM is a fantastic concept. Natural language processing (NLP) can make it easier for users to find the content they need to fix their problems. Machine learning looks at data, identifies patterns or conditions, and develops new actions in response. Virtual assistants combine the two to automate tasks for technicians, providing faster solutions for end users. This allows service desk technicians to have more time and energy to focus on bigger, more complex issues.

It’s exciting to think we can live in a world that could nearly eliminate the need for manual opening, closing, and management of support tickets. It’s thrilling to someday see a sales rep saying “Alexa, open a support ticket for a broken printer,” and then Alexa quickly assigns the ticket in the correct way to the correct person. And in the not far off future, Alexa may be able to provide context for possible solutions for more complex problems using past cases, making it even easier for technicians to troubleshoot. Just imagine how remarkable that would be!

And while all of this is exciting, there’s something to remember: Alexa doesn’t come “out of the box” with this capability. She’ll never replace the humans who currently work on the service desk because she can’t gain any knowledge or accomplish any process without guidance from them.

Who is The Future Star of SM?

Like any new service desk technician, Alexa won’t be ready or able to do any of those things without the proper training, frameworks and an accurate and relevant knowledge base. She’s not the rising star of Service Management. In fact, the star of Service Management is something you already have: the foundations provided by your service management implementation.

I know what you’re thinking. Knowledge management, frameworks, and communication aren’t as exciting as AI. Who wants to pay attention to that when you can say “Alexa, tell me how many tickets are open”?

But, Alexa won’t know how many tickets are open unless she can access that information. She can’t access that data if it is not set up for her. Simply put, without the foundations of Service Management. AI won’t work in your organization. You must have proper frameworks, the right data, and inter-department communication in order to enable Alexa (or any voice assistant) to work properly.

If you’re not sure if your foundations can be put to the AI test, check on these three things.

1. Knowledge Management
AI can’t work well without good data. You need to document, gather, record and store all your knowledge into an easy-to-read knowledge base. According to Gartner, “Through 2020, 99% of AI initiatives will fail due to a lack of established knowledge management foundation.”

It takes time to optimize a knowledge base system that is all-encompassing and easy-to-access. You already have a great knowledge base: it’s your team. Use this as an opportunity to engage your team and begin preparing them for AI. No one understands what needs to be in a knowledge base quite like the people who field tickets and solve issues every day.

2. Create flexible frameworks
There’s no space for rigid approaches to the use of frameworks. Flexibility is key to success with AI. Are your frameworks and methodologies capable of adjusting to keep up with evolving projects and services? Luckily, in recent years there have been updates to traditional ITSM frameworks, such as ITIL® that allow for such flexibility. There have also been new approaches introduced, such as VeriSM™, which allows for flexibility in delivering service management. If you haven’t updated your approach to using frameworks or offered your team the opportunity to achieve new certifications in these frameworks, now is the time to do so!

3. Extend Service Management outside of IT
The success of Alexa and other voice assistants doesn’t just depend on IT. It depends on an organization of self-service, shared processes and communication. Alexa won’t have the capability to change her process depending on the context who is requesting support – unless the entire enterprise works together to manage data, share information and create effective processes that work for everyone.

Enterprise Service Management is now gaining steam. As more of these technologies are introduced, I predict ESM will become more and more commonplace. Innovative leaders are jumping on the bandwagon now and you should too.

I am just as excited about the possibilities that Alexa and other digital assistants can bring to service management as everyone else. I share these thoughts because I want a world where AI plays a major role in delivering good service management. That’s why I want every IT leader to know and master these foundational pieces for AI enablement. Because they will pave the way for massive success with Alexa or any other voice assistant or AI technology that comes your way.

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What IT Organizations Can Learn From the Indy 500

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If you live or work in Indianapolis, then you know that May is all about the Indy 500.

Known as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indy 500 features 33 of the top racecar drivers racing for 200 laps to complete 500 miles at the fastest time.

It’s a fun event for everyone to witness. But for CIOs and IT leaders, it can also be a learning lesson in speed, agility, and teamwork.

How do race cars racing in a loop at speeds over 200 mph relate to IT organizations? While on the surface, it seems as though IT organizations and the Indy 500 have nothing in common. But, there are actually quite a few similarities between winning the Indy 500 and leading a highly efficient IT organization.

For most drivers, winning the Indy 500 will come down to the pit crew. The pit crew is a team of mechanics who work on the racecars during the “pit stops” of a race. Pit crews perform the work of refueling, changing tires, or any mechanical adjustments needed during the race.

The pit crew is a lot like the IT organization of a business. They might not be the face of the race team, but they do the heavy lifting that helps the driver win the race. Much like the IT team who implements and manages the technology that keeps businesses growing, winning customers, and enabling value.

Let’s look at some of the hallmarks of a great pit crew and how that compares to a great IT team.

A Great Pit Crew Will:

1. Work together to accomplish their goals
Everyone has a defined role on a pit team, and there is no room for a single superstar. No matter how fast one person is at completing their job, the driver can’t leave the pit until everyone has done their job. As Derrell Edwards, a jackman for NASCAR’s No. 27 Richard Childress Racing crew once said, “Pit crewing is like a symphony. Everything has to be in sync for it to sound good.”

A great IT organization must also put the goals of the business above any individual needs or preferences. They must abandon any silo mentality they may have and focus on the success of the team – the business – ahead of the success of individuals.

2. Have defined roles and processes
Speed is essential in a great pit crew, however, it’s just as essential for everyone to stay out of everyone else’s way. Imagine the pit crew member who is in charge of changing the tire somehow cutting off the one in charge of refueling. It would be pure chaos. Fantastic pit crews are a little like a ballet. Every member has their own timing and their own movements and they must understand how that timing and movement work around one another to create a masterpiece. They’re expected to perform their roles perfectly without getting in the way of anyone else who is doing their role.

Great IT organizations also have well-defined roles and clear processes. Everyone understands who is doing what, when, and how it contributes to the overall goals of the company. Members of excellent IT organizations also have a clear understanding of how every role works together in a process. As a result, everyone is empowered to complete their part of the process to the best of their ability.

3. Identify bottlenecks and weaknesses
Racing at the Indy 500 level isn’t about driving as fast as you can. It’s about eliminating as many mistakes as possible to shave off as many seconds as possible. Minor mistakes or bottlenecks can ruin races and pit crews are trained to continually identify and eliminate any bottlenecks.

IT organizations also have to be continually identifying areas for improvement and creating solutions that won’t slow down business growth. When IT organizations prioritize identifying and eliminating bottlenecks, no matter how small, they are able to optimize their speed and success in the long run.

4. They play by the rules
In elite racing, every pit stop is recorded and 8 officials review this footage to determine that everything was performed correctly and within race regulations. If the pit crew’s timing is even one second too early, their driver could be penalized. Pit crews are trained to understand the specific regulations that are in place and learn how to excel within those parameters.

Likewise, excellent IT organizations understand they must work inside business policies. To a certain degree, they must play “office politics”, as well as adhere to procedures that exist outside of the IT organization. They must do this in order to garner support from the other parts of the organization as well as the C-suite. If IT doesn’t understand or follow the rules of the business, they could be penalized by being excluded from strategy discussions or business projects.

5. They use data to drive decisions and create processes so they can stay consistent
This last point is something that many casual racing fans don’t understand about pit crews. It’s also an area where many IT organizations struggle.

In the heat of the race, pit crews don’t have the luxury of being able to figure out what actions to take when something goes wrong. In a sport where there are millions of “worst-case” scenarios, they must plan ahead and create processes for everything. Race crews are constantly monitoring everything about their cars, their drivers and race conditions. They have data on everything and they prepare their pit crews accordingly for various scenarios so that if for whatever reason, an unexpected pit stop occurs, the pit crew doesn’t have to stop to think about what needs to be done. They simply follow the protocol that’s already been set.

Smart IT organizations also use data to drive decisions and leverage defined processes. By doing this, these IT organizations are able to address problems quickly and efficiently, with minimum impact to the business.

How can you apply lessons of a great pit crew?

It’s important to note that no matter how fast race cars become or what technological advancements occur in the sport, winning races will still heavily rely on the success of a pit crew.

The same can be said for IT and the business. Technology will advance and more tools and trends will be introduced to the business. But much of the success of an IT organization will remain on these core tenants as exemplified by pit crews: the ability to work as a team, having well-defined roles, continual improvement, and leveraging data-driven, consistent processes.

This is why good ITSM still matters – and will always matter – for your business.

1.Map value streams
Understand who and what drives value within your business. Map how IT contributes to that value. Remember, each member of the pit crew understands how they contribute to winning a race. Your IT team should also feel the same way!

2. Identify services and define the service portfolio
Mapping value streams will allow you to start to identify services that enable the business to meet its goals. Define your services and include the cost of ownership, needed resources, and the business value of what IT accomplishes. This will help you understand the business of the business and how IT contributes so you can play within the defined rules of the organization.

3. Review current processes
Look for waste in your processes, such as bottlenecks or delays. Eliminate or improve any parts of processes that contribute to these delays. Also, review where a lack of defined processes is holding you back. Identify issues where ownership or roles were unclear and address why that situation occurred.

There is no single “race day” for IT teams, but IT has to always be race-ready. Take the steps now to start getting race-ready. Follow the lead of great pit teams and soon, you’ll be seeing the results of that effort as your business zooms ahead of the competition!

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You Earned Your ITIL 4 Foundation Certification… Now What?!

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I recently polled my Twitter community on whether or not they are interested in receiving their ITIL4 Foundation certification. I was surprised to learn that the majority either did not have immediate plans or did not plan on ITIL4 Foundation certification at all.

I can understand the hesitancy of rushing into getting a certification. Some IT pros believe that certifications do not bring any benefits to an organization or to an individual and that they simply are a waste of resources. And since ITIL 4 is relatively untested, who can say whether or not it will have an impact on the way we work?

So, I wanted to address what one can immediately do after earning their ITIL 4 Foundation certification.  I also wanted to discuss what CIOs and IT leaders can do to maximize the return on their investment on certification and guarantee that they’ll see results from their team after ITIL 4 certification.

For Practitioners

If you are one of the excited early adopters of ITIL 4, congratulations! Passing your foundation certification is a huge accomplishment! But before you shove your ITIL4 Foundation book into a drawer, let’s discuss what you can do once you return to your organization newly certified.

The first action you will want to take is having a de-brief with key stakeholders on what you’ve learned in your certification and how it applies to your business. ITIL4 provides a holistic approach to applying practices and processes across the business. In order to properly do that, you must achieve buy-in from every stakeholder.

Luckily, ITIL 4 will offer you insights on how you can speak the “business language” and obtain buy-in from everyone else in the organization. Applying the ITIL 4 Service Value System concept will help align the organization’s capabilities with business needs is one of your first steps for successfully utilizing your new-found knowledge.

After you’ve communicated how ITIL 4 can work to strengthen the business and the bottom line, it’s time to start applying ITIL 4’s practices to elevate the delivery of products and services. One of the biggest benefits of ITIL 4 is that it emphasizes value co-creation by leveraging systems thinking. How can systems thinking be applied within your organization?  How can you drive value co-creation by leveraging systems thinking? You don’t have to wait to start leveraging this kind of thinking.

ITIL 4 also emphasizes what is known as “guiding principles”, a collection of overarching guidance that can apply to any situation within any organization.  One of the guiding principles of ITIL 4 is to start where you are. Use this opportunity to evaluate where you can deliver value in current products and services and how you can streamline existing processes for speedier delivery.

You will be able to adjust as you go, continually improving as you experiment, and optimize what works within your organization.  But in order to make the most of your certification, it’s best to start adopting these guiding principles immediately.

For CIOs and IT Leaders

Many of you reading this may not pursue your certification but you want to learn how to protect your investment and ensure your team is elevated by their ITIL 4 Foundation certifications.

One of the first steps you should take as an IT leader is to consider your long-term goals because ITIL 4 is the perfect way to future proof your ITSM practices. I know that many CIOs don’t have the luxury of being able to look too far into the future as they would like.  But imagine where you’d like the IT organization to be in 6 months, 1 year or 3 years.

Where do you want your IT organization to be in these timeframes? What capabilities do you need to develop in order to reach those goals? The application of ITIL 4 guiding principles, the Service Value System, and practices can reduce development times, ensure higher-quality products, streamline processes, increase collaboration and improve value co-creation.

Present these long-term goals with your team now while ITIL 4 learnings are still fresh in their minds. Ask them how their learnings can be implemented so that you can achieve these goals. Remember that ITIL 4 is a holistic approach that can be used to break down silo mentality. Engaging your team at this level will empower them to practice that holistic approach to solving problems and delivering solutions. If they see an open playing field where everyone is encouraged to apply their knowledge and skills, they will be encouraged to do the same inside and outside of IT.

The second action you can take to ensure a return on your training investment is to engage your peers in the C-Suite and across the business in your team’s new learnings and practices.

ITIL 4 prepares your team to understand how IT can contribute to business value co-creation.   As the IT leader, you must be the champion of this within other areas of the organization. You can work with other departments to break down silos and incorporate ITIL 4 learnings across the organization. This will demonstrate to the C-suite and other leaders what your team has learned and the value of the training investment.  It will also show how ITIL 4 can benefit them and the role you need them to play in the process. Remember, you want to include them in this work, not direct them in this work. Make it an inclusive, holistic approach in which everyone can be involved.

As an added benefit, you will be giving your team an opportunity to take on leadership roles within the company. Since they are the ITIL 4 “experts” in your organization, they’ll be well positioned to champion these changes with you. This will not only benefit the entire organization, but it is an excellent way to help grow your team members as leaders and practitioners. 

In another blog, I’ve touched on how ITIL 4 can open the door for Enterprise Service Management. Since your team has the proper training, you will be able to effectively expand service management concepts beyond IT and into the rest of the organization in a way that works for you.

How can Tedder Consulting Help?

At Tedder Consulting, our ITIL 4 Foundation class provides our students with an additional day of training on the practical applications of ITIL 4, providing a stronger foundation for them to take their learnings and apply it to your organization. We offer private classes where your entire team can receive their ITIL 4 Foundation certificate and we can begin to identify how these practices will improve your organization.

Contact us to learn more about our ITIL 4 public and private training classes.

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How ITIL4 Opens the Door to ESM

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A prevalent approach to Enterprise Service Management (ESM) today is to extend the use of the IT Service Management (ITSM) tool to other areas of an organization outside of IT.  Some organizations also try to apply their existing ITSM concepts, like managing requests or service interruptions, to those other areas.

This approach is essentially dropping the “IT” from ITSM and adding an “E”. Sorry, that doesn’t make it “ESM”.  While good ITSM practices can be adapted for use across the enterprise, ESM has to be more than just arbitrarily imposing ITSM across an organization.

What is ESM?

ESM is 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.


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.

ESM is all about how to best enable and support the value streams of an organization.  ESM must take an enterprise, not IT, perspective regarding how to best facilitate the delivery of end-to-end value through an organization.  ESM is not about trying to fit organizational capabilities and work products into predefined IT(SM) processes, but rather ensuring the most effective approach for leveraging all of the capabilities of an organization. 

With ESM, the organization develops a holistic approach to integrating, connecting and working together to leverage technology by creating processes, systems and workflows that benefit the company, the employee, and the customer.

Why is ESM important?

The best business value is created when all parts of the business are contributing and collaborating to deliver value in the most effective and efficient way.   In the digital age, organizations must be able to quickly shift and react to changes in market spaces is critical for business success. It won’t be enough that IT makes a change to an application or the marketing department launches a new campaign.   The enterprise must be able to shift or pivot as needed – when needed.

This is why good ESM is so important. 

Good ESM:   

  • Provides business decision support – Good ESM provides transparency into how work is done within the organization.  Decisions become data-driven, based on objectives measures captured as part of enterprise value streams.   
  • Enables organizational agility – Well defined, interdepartmental value streams and workflows enable organizational agility because there is clarity and shared understanding regarding those value streams and workflows.  This helps leaders understand where to pivot if needed. Good ESM results in improved cohesiveness and collaboration within the organization and aligns activities toward shared organizational goals, not on departmental objectives.
  • Improves organizational understanding of the business – Individual departments not only understand their workflows and processes, but also how information, work, and value flow across the organization.  There is a greater awareness of the interdependencies between the various departments within the organization. 
  • Enables an enhanced customer experience – Good ESM removes the internal friction that gets in the way of a good customer experience.

 

How ITIL4 can open the door for ESM?

ITIL® 4 introduced in February 2019, is the latest evolution of the popular ITSM framework.  Among the new or revised concepts within ITIL4 are two nuggets than can help open the door for ESM – the Service Value System (SVS) and the Four Dimensions Model.   

The Service Value System

The SVS “represents how the various components and activities of the organization work together to facilitate value creation through IT-enabled services”.  The SVS starts with an input of either “demand” or “opportunity” and ends with value.  A “demand” represents the need for something to happen, whether it’s a product or a service.  An “opportunity” represents a potential for value-add or improvement for the organization.  “Value” is the perceived benefits that will or should result from acting upon the demand or opportunity.

Applying the SVS concept to ESM, an enterprise value stream similarly begins with a demand – an order from a customer, on-boarding of a new employee – or an opportunity – a new product line.  To realize value from either of these scenarios requires the actions of multiple parts of the organization.  No single part of the organization alone can by itself deliver the value required from that demand or opportunity.  Good ESM recognizes and facilitates those actions across the enterprise.

Drilling into the SVS a bit more, there are three key components that I think can be directly applied to ESM:

  • Guiding Principles – Overarching recommendations that guide an organization in all circumstances.
  • Governance – Ensures that the policies of the organization are defined and carried out; keeps all parts of the organization pointed in the same direction.
  • Continual Improvement – Activities that ensure that the organization is proactively improving; that the organization collectively and individually is anticipating and responding to changing conditions, both within the organization and the marketplace, to meet the needs of the customer, the organization, and the employee.

The Four Dimensions Model

The Four Dimensions Model describes factors that have influence on the delivery of value. The Four Dimensions are:

  • Organizations and People – In addition to the “org chart”, this dimension looks at culture, skills, competencies, and capacity of the organization.
  • Information and Technology – Technologies and the appropriate use and protection of information are crucial enablers for today’s enterprises.
  • Partners and Suppliers – Every organization and every product and service delivered by an organization, has reliance on partners and suppliers. 
  • Value Streams and Processes – The enablement and delivery of value depends on effective and efficient workstreams, controls, and procedures.

I look at the Four Dimensions Model as a tension matrix – any change in any one dimension will have an effect – good or bad – on the other dimensions.  The Four Dimensions Model encourages a holistic look at how an organization facilitates value for all stakeholders of an organization.

Applying the Four Dimensions to ESM adoption, without the proper training and development of skill sets, the organization cannot successfully exploit information and technology nor realize value stream effectiveness.   Just extending ITSM tools into the enterprise ignores organizational cultural and competency aspects, does not address enterprise value streams, or recognizes the partnerships (both within and external to the organization) that make enterprises work. 

The key takeaway

I’ve long thought that a good ITSM implementation is key for success in the digital economy.  And that service management also must move outside of IT.  With new concepts like the SVS and the Four Dimensions Model, ITIL4 seems to be thinking the same thing. 

ITIL4 can open the door for ESM – and that’s a good thing.   

 

Ready for your ITIL4 certification? Register forTedder Consulting’s ITIL4 Foundation class.

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The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of IT

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There’s a battle afoot within many IT organizations.

In one corner is the “up-and-comer” DevOps, with its promise to be responsive and deliver technology-based solutions with velocity, while making positive changes to the culture of an IT organization.

And in the other corner, the wily veteran ITIL® , featuring its time-tested advice for supporting and delivering technology-based solutions. Over its 30 years of existence, ITIL – done well – has been shown to work. ITIL has often been referred to as the “de-facto” standard for IT Service Management.

Within many organizations, the battle is real.

Will it be ITIL?

Or will it be DevOps knocking ITIL off of its throne?

And how will ITIL4 impact the battle?

ITIL vs. DevOps

ITIL has long been a popular methodology for the delivery and support of services based on the use of technology. ITIL has gone through a number of iterations since first appearing in the 1980s, with the most recent iteration published in 2011.

Meanwhile, around 2009, a grassroots movement started that eventually became known as DevOps. DevOps emerged as a better way for IT development and IT operations teams to work together.

Many organizations took note of the movement and began adopting DevOps. DevOps was seen as a way to become more responsive to business needs and improve the velocity of solution delivery. DevOps was embraced as a way to exploit emerging technologies and capabilities – things that ITIL books didn’t discuss.
In the meantime, ITIL guidance, other than publication of ITIL Practitioner in 2016, stood in place for nearly eight years.

My perspective of ITIL adoption

I’ve always thought of ITIL as a collection of good “common sense” for ensuring that the use of technology results in business value. Yes, ITIL books were a bit wordy and dryly written, but they contained good knowledge and wisdom. With good planning and execution, the concepts and guidance described within ITIL just plain work.

But the use of ITIL has not been without its challenges.

Some have perceived ITIL as being bureaucratic and “waterfall-ish”. I would agree that parts of the guidance seemed more suited to waterfall development (e.g. Release and Deployment), but perhaps that reflected the era. Where I’ve seen bureaucracy, it was due to how ITIL was adopted – and not because of was advised. That’s because many of the companies that adopted ITIL over-engineered processes, focused on “control” and not “enablement”.

Many ITIL adoptions were aimed only at IT operations. This approach essentially put a fence around an organization’s IT infrastructure. ITIL concepts were then forced onto other parts of IT. ITIL adoption was treated as an “IT thing”, expecting others within an organization to simply comply.

It’s these types of experiences that are frequently referenced by ITIL detractors. To them, “ITIL” is a four-letter word. In my experience, many (most?) of those people either a) never took the time to experiment, learn, and improve their ITIL-based ITSM implementations or b) really don’t know what they’re talking about.

Having said that, I will agree that aspects of the ITIL framework have become a bit dated. While the concepts remain fundamentally sound, guidance for leveraging or incorporating new and emerging technologies, methods, and capabilities are sorely missing from ITIL.

My perspective of DevOps adoption

I like DevOps. I like the fresh perspectives on how to deliver value while leveraging emerging technology. I like the idea of smaller increments of work delivered more quickly. The overarching concept of CALMS – culture, automation, lean, measurement, and sharing – is a great approach to ensure that these critical aspects are both top of mind for the IT organization and considered with each product produced by IT. DevOps has been embraced by many organizations as a way to be more responsive to ever-changing business needs.

DevOps addresses an area of ITIL that always has been underdeveloped, or (as some would say) ignored – application development. While there were books about application management, ITIL has not offered much about application development.

But like ITIL, DevOps adoption has also seen its challenges.

Because of some of the hype that surrounds DevOps, many companies expect to immediately jump to tens and hundreds of deployments per day. The fact that leading companies in this space invested years of effort to get to that level of velocity is often overlooked. Some organizations expect to just throw technology at the issue, rather than develop the workflows (processes) needed to enable that velocity.

Many DevOps adoptions appear to be very “development” focused, rather than viewing IT holistically. Terms and concepts like “DevSecOps” and “BizDevOps” have emerged to underscore the need to take a holistic and inclusive approach to software development.

Some have taken a technology-centric approach to DevOps adoption. While I don’t hear of this as often now, many envisioned DevOps as a way to circumvent necessary controls or to eliminate the IT operations organization. There are also some that view DevOps as just “automation”, or an excuse to reinvent good working practices if for no other reason than “they can”.

Enter ITIL4

ITIL4 is being introduced this month (February 2019) with the publication of the Foundation volume, with more in-depth guidance to follow. ITIL4 represents an evolution in, not a replacement of, ITIL guidance. ITIL4 Foundations delivers some interesting new concepts, such as the Service Value System and the Four Dimensions model. ITIL4 also revisits some previous concepts, such as the Guiding Principles that were introduced in Practitioner.

What makes ITIL4 different than previous versions of ITIL?

Here are a few of the differences:

    • Emphasizes practices over processes – Too many look at ITIL as a collection of processes. With the introduction of practices, ITIL4 has de-emphasized processes in favor of value streams and practices.
    • Promotes systems thinking – Lifecycle approach described in ITILv3 sometimes had unfortunate effect of promoting silo thinking within IT (even though ITIL guidance clearly discussed the interdependencies between lifecycle phases).
    • Acknowledges that there are other models and approaches – ITIL4 puts in writing that it embraces new ways of working, such as Lean, Agile, and DevOps.

Who will win the battle?

How will ITIL4 impact the battle for the hearts and minds of IT organizations? Is ITIL4 “too late”? Only time will tell. But DevOps and ITIL4 have much in common. Both want to make the best use of people and technology to deliver value and meet the needs of the business. Both promote continual improvement and effective measurement. Both advise that in order to deliver value that first IT must understand what is valued by the organization.

Most IT organizations will need some of either and a lot of both to have success. Both have weaknesses and strengths. The fact is that no single approach or framework will be able to accommodate all possible situations.

The key to success is that the modern IT professional must understand the business of the business, then decide how best to leverage frameworks, models, approaches, and standards to deliver the outcomes and value needed by the business. Perhaps this is where ITIL4 will have an impact.

 

Tedder Consulting is offering DevOps Foundation and ITIL4 Foundation classes next month! Click here to learn more.

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What To Expect From ITIL 4

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It’s been 8 years since the last update to ITIL®1 and it’s safe to say that the industry is interested in this newest iteration.

Last month, ITIL 4 Foundation was officially rolled out. This is the first phase of ITIL 4 and as its title hints, this sets the foundation for ITIL 4. Tedder Consulting’s principal consultant, Doug Tedder, was one of 360 ITIL instructors invited to the “Train the Trainer” beta testing of the new ITIL 4 Foundation exam.

Now newly ITIL 4 Foundation-certified, Doug Tedder has been able to provide a glimpse at what to expect from ITIL 4.

A New Focus On Value Co-creation

One of the most important updates in ITIL 4 is the emphasis on how value is co-created between the provider and the customer.  This represents a significant change of thinking from previous versions of ITIL that placed the responsibility for value creation primarily on the service provider.

ITIL 4 recognizes that value is co-created only through active collaboration between providers and consumers.  Other organizations, such as suppliers, are also part of the delivery and support of services and contribute to value co-creation.  The key message is that providers should not work in isolation, but collaborate with all stakeholders to define what might be of value.

The Service Value System

To help practitioners understand how to co-create value, ITIL 4 introduces the ITIL service value system (SVS). This system illustrates how all parts of an organization work together to create value through IT-enabled services.

At the core of the SVS is the service value chain.  The service value chain provides a flexible operating model for the development, delivery, and improvement of products and services.  There are six key activities within the service value chain:

  1. Plan: This creates a structure to ensure a shared understanding of what the organization is trying to achieve.
  2. Improve: This helps to ensure the continual improvement of services and practices.
  3. Engage: This activity provides engagement with stakeholders. This takes requirements and transforms them into design requirements.
  4. Design and transition: This takes requirements from “Engage” and provides specifications for “Obtain/Build.” It also delivers new services that meet stakeholder expectations.
  5. Obtain/build: This creates service components that meet all specifications and ensures that are available when and where they are needed.
  6. Deliver and support: This activity makes sure that the services are delivered and supported throughout its lifecycle.

Each of these activities utilizes ITIL practices to transform inputs into outputs. These activities and practices can then be used to define value streams to perform certain tasks or respond to specific scenarios.

The flexibility of the service value system allows for integrating other approaches to service delivery, including DevOps. This is especially important in today’s digital world as the service value chain is adaptable to shifting requirements.

Four Dimensions of Service Management

One of ITIL 4’s goal is to ensure an organization takes a holistic approach to service management. ITIL 4 introduces the four dimensions of service management to help make this happen. The four dimensions are:

  • Organization and people – The culture, structure, and capacity of an organization, as well as people’s skills and competencies.
  • Information and technology – The information and knowledge necessary for the management of services and the technologies needed.
  • Partners and suppliers – Includes the organization’s relationships with other organizations involved in the delivery, support, and improvement of services.
  • Value streams and processes – How the parts of the organization work in an integrated and coordinated way to enable value creation through products and services.

You can think of the four dimensions kind of like tension metrics.   A change in one or more dimensions has an impact – good or bad – to the other dimensions. Each dimension of the four dimensions should be considered for every product or service, as well as the SVS itself, to ensure that all aspects of service management are being appropriately addressed.  

Guiding Principles

The Guiding Principles were first introduced with ITIL Practitioner, and now with ITIL 4, they are now a core component of ITIL.  This is practical guidance that can be used in any organization, regardless of industry, management structure, or goals and objectives.  The guiding principles represent the core message of ITIL, and support good decision-making and continual improvement.

Here are the guiding principles of ITIL 4:

1. Focus on value. Everything IT does must create value for stakeholders.

2. Start where you are. There is no reason to build something new if you can build upon something in place. Ignore the “Shiny Object Syndrome” of building something from scratch and consider what current services or process already exist.

3. Progress iteratively with feedback. Use feedback throughout the process to stay focused and on task.

4. Collaborate and promote visibility.ITIL 4 wants to end silos and promote collaboration. Information should be shared across departments as much as possible.

5. Think and work holistically. The organization must see the big picture, not just a piece of a puzzle. Just like you can no longer work in silos, you can no longer just focus on fixing one part of the conveyor belt.

6. Keep it simple and practical. Avoid adding unnecessary steps to complicate the process. Stay focused on creating value and avoid anything that does contribute to value.

7. Optimize and automate. The key is to optimize before you automate. Ensure your processes are as simple and effective as possible before searching for ways to automate.

A Holistic Approach Overall

In a nutshell, ITIL 4 provides an evolved view of business and value and what it means to contribute to value. It facilitates integration of concepts from other frameworks including Lean IT, Agile and DevOps. It focuses on adaptability and flexibility so that the right practices can be applied to an organization’s specific situations to ensure the most valuable outcomes.

Register for ITIL 4 Foundation Training

Tedder Consulting offers a special 3-day ITIL 4 Foundation Training course, which includes a study guide, ITIL 4 Foundation volume, and exam fees. In addition to training and the exam, attendees will be able to participate in an entire day of discussing the pragmatic application of ITIL concepts in real-world experiences. All students will not only understand the concepts but how to apply them to each unique situation at their organization. You won’t find this at any other ITIL 4 training!

Early bird pricing is available until March 18, 2019. Register for ITIL 4 Foundation with Tedder Consulting here.

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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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Is ITIL® doomed to being an “Operations Only” Framework?

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Many organizations have attempted to establish IT Service Management (ITSM) following guidance found in ITIL[1] , but focused only on the operational aspects of the IT organization.

Then those organizations become frustrated that ITSM isn’t working as well as they had hoped.

Why isn’t ITSM working as hoped?  Because the service strategy, service design, and continual improvement phases of ITSM have been largely ignored.  Some aspects of service transition, like change management, knowledge management, and configuration management, have been addressed — but often not very well.  But service operation aspects, like a service desk and incident management, are fairly well-defined.  A “service catalog” – really a portal for managing service requests – is sometimes present, but often lacks distinct (if any) request models.

Frankly, it’s usually been a commendable effort, typically led by an IT Operations organization, in an attempt to establish ITSM and bring some normalcy and consistency into IT.  But many of those efforts ran into a glass ceiling.

What is IT Operations?

Wikipedia defines IT Operations as consisting of the superset of all processes and services that are both provisioned by an IT staff to their internal or external clients and used by themselves, to run themselves as a business.[2]

IT Operations focuses primarily on areas such as:

  • Working with IT Applications, troubleshooting application and performance issues, and specialized integrations
  • Database Maintenance
  • Job scheduling
  • Network Infrastructure
  • Server and Device Management
  • Help Desk – providing user and IT application support
  • Computer operations

Make no mistake – all of these areas are critical for providing business technology enablement.  But to be effective, ITSM has to be more than IT Operations.

Can ITIL be more than Operations?

ITIL was intended and designed to be more than operations.  The core concept of ITIL is to relate IT services to business outcomes and value – from ideation to retirement. But many ITSM implementations based on ITIL didn’t connect what IT does to business outcomes and value. What were some contributing factors for those  implementations?

  • A training industry focused more on certifications, less on how to achieve tangible business value.
  • ITSM tools that were focused on managing day-to-day activities, and less on how ITSM enabled or supported business strategy.
  • Implementation plans that were more focused on managing-by-procedure than on producing measurable business impact and results.
  • IT management looking for “quick fixes” or to “grease the squeaking wheels” of business colleagues’ complaints regarding the services from IT, rather than take the longer (and more valuable) approach to becoming a business innovator, leader, and partner.

Perhaps those IT organizations would’ve been better served utilizing ITOM.

ITOM vs. ITSM – What’s the difference?

ITOM, or IT Operations Management, deals with the day-to-day tasks related to the management of overall infrastructure components, and specific individual application, storage, networking, and connectivity elements of a total IT stack in any given deployment scenario.[3]

ITOM is infrastructure-oriented; primarily concerned with managing the infrastructure components of an IT organization, such as storage, servers, and network.  ITSM is service-oriented; that is, ITSM is concerned with the value chains of people, process, and technology that work together to deliver defined business outcomes and value.

So, while ITSM is concerned about technology, it’s not *just* the technology.  It’s also the people and processes and business outcomes and value – in other words,  services.

The concept of a service is the exact issue where so many operations-focused ITSM implementations fell short.   Those implementations did not define services in terms of business value and outcomes, but rather as lists of things that IT does.  Rather than identify and define the value chains of people, process, and technology that deliver business outcomes and value, they conducted an infrastructure discovery, and called was what found “services”.

Think about it.  When you’re conducting a discovery to build up your ITSM environment, what you’re really doing is taking an infrastructure approach, not a service approach. You’re chasing and recording how an electron travels across a wire. A discovery will never find service assets like processes, documentation, service level agreements, businesses cases, business strategy, service requirements, or a service portfolio.

What’s best for you – ITSM or ITOM?

For some organizations, ITSM may not make sense.  Trying to implement ITSM may not make sense for IT organizations that:

  • Are unable to properly define services
  • Will always be viewed as a “cost center”
  • Do not have a seat at the business strategy table
  • The development and operations teams resist collaboration
  • All that is expected from IT is to take orders and keep the lights on

For these organizations, ITOM may be the better approach – and that’s okay. Managing IT infrastructure in a consistent, reliable, and repeatable way is critical for businesses, and ITOM provides great guidance for doing just that.

But if your IT organization wants to transform not only itself, but the business it serves, then a service-oriented approach – ITSM – is what you need.  But getting ITSM started is not easy.  Sustaining ITSM is just as difficult.   But good ITSM must start from the top – and must have executive business support.

Think like a business exec

While bottom-up, grass roots approaches may have some initial success, such approaches rarely achieve the full potential of good ITSM. Good ITSM must be driven from the top-down. You must have business executive support.  To get business executive support, you have to think like a business executive.  A business executive wants to know things like how ITSM will:

  • Help the business be more profitable
  • Improve productivity
  • Optimize costs

In other words, what is the financial impact of ITSM implementation?  This is the first question you must be able to answer – and not having the answer is a blocker.  You won’t get the chance to even discuss the nontangible benefits of ITSM.  To get that top-down support, you have to first think like a business executive.

Here’s a suggested approach for getting the business executive approach support you need.

  • Conduct a business impact analysis – This is a great way to get some attention to the problems that good ITSM can solve. What if the business suddenly lost its IT capabilities?  What would be the impact? A business impact analysis quantifies the impact to the business if IT services were not available.
  • Build the business case – The business impact analysis provides the cold, hard facts. Take those facts and put them into the proper context with a solid business case. Not only depicting the tangible and intangible returns from ITSM – but what will the business feel from ITSM?  Improved productivity?  Cost avoidance?  Improved profits?  Make the case – and sell it!
  • Define services – How is value generated and delivered to the customer – the real customer (not your colleagues) – within your organization? Now how does IT enable or support that generation and delivery of value?  When you answer those questions, you have defined services.  When you’ve truly defined services, you’ve enabled the “value” conversation – a conversation that your business executives want.

Without senior executive support, your ITSM implementation will never move beyond managing the day-to-day.  The impact of good ITSM must be felt in the executive suite – and the only way for that to happen is for ITSM to deliver real business value.  Make the business value of ITSM extremely clear using the tips above – and get your senior executives onboard.

Are you missing senior executive support? Need some help building the ITSM business case?  Perhaps you need to identify and define services?  Tedder Consulting can help – contact us today!

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Photo Credit:  Pixabay

[1] ITIL is a registered Trade Mark of AXELOS Limited.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_technology_operations , retrieved 10/28/2017.

[3] http://www.computerweekly.com/blog/CW-Developer-Network/What-is-IT-operations-management

 

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The CAB is Dead. Long Live the CAB.

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Can today’s IT organizations balance agility with stability?  Is IT capable of responding to ever-changing business needs in a timely, dependable, and appropriate manner?  Can IT have an intelligent discussion with its business colleagues about developing and delivering solutions, with appropriate management of risk? Can IT provide demonstrable business value at the right cost?

These are the big questions for many IT organizations.

Can business rely on IT? Is IT even relevant?

These are the bigger questions that the business is asking.

Much of the answers to these questions depend upon IT’s ability to effectively manage changes. To remain relevant, the ability for IT to manage change is critical.   Why then are so many IT organizations so resistant to change management?

When IT people hear “Change Management”, many think “CAB”

One of the core constructs of most ITSM change management implementations based on ITIL®[1] is the Change Advisory Board, or CAB.  In many organizations, the CAB has historically been a source of frustration, not only for the people directly involved with the CAB, but also for the business.

A CAB is just a group of qualified people who are to provide advice regarding a proposed change.  The idea is to have the appropriate people review the appropriate requests for change and make recommendations.

Honestly, I think the intention of a CAB is a good idea.  The primary intention is to prevent the organization from shooting itself in its metaphorical foot – and provide an objective evaluation of a request for change.

But in many change management implementations, the CAB is being used, abused, and otherwise mistreated.

The reason why most CABs are in such bad shape is that the change management process design and implementation is incomplete.   What I frequently find with underperforming CABs are the following issues:

  • There is no transparency – requests for change go into the “black box”, and (maybe) reappear sometime later.  Change Schedules are not published outside of the CAB.
  • Every request for change – large, small, trivial, ginormous – is dumped onto the CAB. Or worse, the CAB gets ignored.
  • Roles are not clearly defined, and as a result, no one really understands what they should be doing.
  • CAB meetings are conducted with few, if any, prepared to have a productive meeting.
  • Requests for change are haphazardly prepared, omitting critical information that would be helpful in the evaluation of the request.

Many CAB meetings have turned into exercises in bureaucracy, frustration, and ineffectiveness.  As a result, some within IT organizations have looked to other approaches for managing changes.

The CAB is Dead – Or is it?

First, the CAB is not the end-all, be-all for managing changes.  The CAB is just one type of change authority that ITIL discusses.  Furthermore, ITIL isn’t the only methodology that utilizes a change authority to manage work.   Other methodologies also employ similar constructs to control, authorize, and publicize changes.

Scrum

Scrum uses a “task board” or “day board” to depict the “backlog”, or work needing to be done but not yet assigned.  A Scrum Team conducts a daily stand-up meeting to review the day board.  The function of the day board is to facilitate the identification of and agreement on what work (changes) is going to be done, who is going to do that work, and ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the work that is being done by whom.

In an effort to scale, many organizations that leverage scrum have implemented a ”Scrum of Scrums” or a meta Scrum[2] , but the basic concept is still the same. The meta Scrum consists of representatives from each scrum team.  Like the Scrum Team, the meta Scrum uses a day board to depict a backlog and gain commitment of what work is being done that day and by which scrum team.

Lean

A core Lean concept is visualization of work.  To ensure the visualization of work, Lean uses a Kanban – similar to a scrum “day board”, but with an emphasis on limiting work-in-process by pulling (not pushing) work through a process.  Like Scrum, many teams using a Kanban conduct daily stand up meetings to discuss work and any blockers that the team may be encountering.

As such, Lean may view a weekly CAB meeting as “waste”, in the form of non-value-added wait time.   Having said that, many factors would have to be considered before coming to that conclusion.

Think about it

I’m not here to defend ITIL – just like with any methodology, ITIL has its faults.  But it’s not ITIL’s fault that a CAB isn’t as efficient and as effective as it could be.

There is nothing from ITIL that says that CAB meetings are only to be conducted once a week (If you find that somewhere, please let me know in the comments below).

Isn’t a daily stand up meeting functionally similar to a CAB meeting?

Doesn’t a task board or Kanban function like what ITIL would call a “change schedule”?

Good Change Management starts at the top

Change management is not just an “IT issue”.

Regardless of the methodology, no amount of velocity, flow, visualization, agility, or efficiency improvements can help without having strong leadership from senior managers.  Senior managers must develop and communicate the vision for the organization.  Goals and objectives must be clearly defined to provide the broad, overarching guidance for the company. For change management to be effective, everyone must know what is important to the business.

Senior management must seek out and break down organizational siloes. So many change management issues are cause by people refusing to collaborate.  For change management to be effective, everyone must be involved and collaborate.

IT must be part of, not separate from, corporate governance.  No differently than any other part of an organization, there must be a plan for managing the demand on IT that will result from business goals and objectives, as IT is neither an infinite or an inexpensive resource.  There must be an objective evaluation of organizational capacity – how much can be done given the resources within an organization.  Just trying to drive “more work, but faster” through an organization with insufficient capacity to meet demand is futile.

Having the above three things in place will enable change management.  But IT then must execute. Having a modern CAB is critical for that execution.

The Modern CAB

Regardless of framework or methodology, the modern CAB must have the following attributes:

  • All work must be visible – everyone must be able to view what work is being done and the demand being placed on the IT organization
  • Team members must be empowered and self-governing – this is one area where strong management support is critical.  But then those doing the work must take personal accountability for changes being done right the first time.
  • The authority for implementing a change must be delegated as close as possible to those making the change.  This means having clearly defined evaluation criteria, and identifying who approves what kinds of changes.
  • The CAB must be inclusive, with appropriate representation from all involved – not just developers or IT operations, but also colleagues outside of IT.  In some cases, this means getting suppliers involved too.   But most of all, the right people are involved at the right time.
  • Trust – When people who work together trust one another, it enables an atmosphere of collaboration instead of blame.

The relevance of IT is at stake.  IT must work as a single team.   It’s time for the modern CAB.

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Photo credit:  www.pexels.com

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

[2] From www.agilealliancce.org , retrieved 6/3/2017.

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