Tag Archives: Outside-In

The Curious Case of the Missing IT Strategy

Share twitterlinkedinmail

IT organizations often get stuck in a vicious cycle of never-ending work. IT implements solution after solution, fixes one problem after another, and no matter how many times they do it, those solutions and fixes never seem to stick. IT often finds itself just trying to keep up with what appears to be a constantly changing business. IT is often seen as the anchor slowing business down and has earned a reputation of being the slowest path toward technology implementation.  And when budget times come around, IT never seems to manage to get its fair share. 

These are signs that an IT organization is missing strategy.  This is a massive problem for both IT and the organizations that IT works within. Why are so many IT organizations missing a strategy?  What can be done to establish a viable IT strategy?

One thing that is certain – the strategy can’t just be “do”.

The Missing IT Strategy

Of course, no leader intentionally avoids developing strategy. It’s usually a consequence of a number of factors. However, in the case of the missing IT strategy, the CIO has to establish a business-technology (not technology alone) strategy, talk and share that strategy with other leaders, incorporate and underpin the larger business strategy, and drive the IT organization forward following that strategy. If a CIO spends too much of their time doing or supervising the day-to-day work within an IT organization instead of delegating, she won’t have the time (or energy) to be strategic. If a CIO has to spend more time supervising the daily activities of IT than ensuring business outcomes and value, that’s usually an indicator of a missing IT strategy. 

The second indicator of a missing IT strategy is the lack of true service management. Why? Because if the service management foundation is not strong or well executed, IT can never be strategic. If IT ignores:

  • Defining services in terms of business value and outcomes
  • Creating workflows that are based on services, not technologies or organization charts
  • Publishing performance reports that are relevant to and meaningful for the business 

then IT is setting itself up for failure.  Many organizations look at service management as just something that a service desk does.  But good service management provides the capability of relating technology investments to business outcomes.  This makes good service management a critical part of the foundation of IT. Having a solid foundation is what keeps IT relevant, reliable, and able to scale to meet business needs. WIthout good service management, IT will waste a lot of time just trying to keep up with service requests and putting out fires instead of enabling the realization of business strategy.  

Finally, the third indicator of a missing IT strategy is a “one thing at a time” mentality. To stay on track, IT organizations often choose to focus on just one initiative at a time. This might help your team feel less overwhelmed, but it often comes with the cost of missing a holistic view of the organization. The ability to see the birds eye view of how the organization relies on technology to create better outcomes for end users and customers is one of the most important skills for an IT leader.  Having this big picture view enables the IT leader to be even more strategic.  

Why does IT need a strategy?

IT operating as only a support team is no longer an option for any business. The speed of business has increased significantly over the last decade, due in a large part to the introduction of new technologies, such as automation, mobile computing, cloud-based services and machine learning. IT has to be the driver and enabler of technology. Whether it’s realized or not, technology has become “baked into” every aspect of the organization. 

The question is “has IT become ‘baked in’ as well?”  Without a well-defined IT strategy, the answer to this question is usually “no”.   

Defining, socializing, and executing a strategy strengthens IT’s role within an organization. It’s what separates the IT organizations that are treated as order takers from the IT organizations that are treated as valued partners. 

How to solve the case of the missing IT strategy

Here are three things that IT leaders can do to solve the case of the missing IT strategy.

What is the business strategy?  How can technology enable realization of business strategy? To shift from a “support only” team to a strategic asset, IT first has to understand the goals and objectives of the overall organization – and how technology can be used to enable realization of those goals and objectives. IT’s strategy must be tied to these business goals and objectives. IT leaders have to take a step back from the inner workings, day-to-day activities of IT and look at the bigger picture of the organization. 

Elevate to real service management, not just some arbitrarily selected processes.  Once IT understands the role of technology in achieving business strategy, IT must then elevate its approach to service management.  Service management is more than just fulfilling requests and resolving outages. An effective approach for elevating service management is to identify and map the value streams of an organization, then identifying how technology underpins those value streams.  Value streams help identify the products and services that IT must deliver. This exercise not only lays out what service management must enable and deliver for the organization, it is also a great way to align what IT is doing to the overall needs of the business. 

Report IT performance in business terms. Once you’ve elevated your service management and understand the goals and objectives of the company, then you’ll be able to produce and publish performance reports that reflect how IT contributions enabled achievement of business goals and objectives.  Having this capability is significant for a number of reasons.  First, it demonstrates that IT truly understands what is important to the organization.  Secondly, it provides the ability to evaluate if IT strategy is meeting business needs.  And lastly, it begins to change the perception of IT as just being a “support team” to a strategic asset.

Thinking and working strategically is transformative for an IT organization. After you’ve seen how IT integrates with the rest of the organization, you won’t be able to go back to working only in a ‘support’ role.  By defining and executing an IT strategy , your entire business will become stronger.  

Need help developing an IT strategy that is aligned with your business objectives?  Let Tedder Consulting help!  Tedder Consulting will first visit your organization to understand your business, goals, and current IT situation.  Tedder Consulting will then conduct an analysis of your IT services and practices to determine how they are operating. Finally, we deliver a plan for aligning your technology strategy to your business goals.  For more information, contact Tedder Consulting today.

Share twitterlinkedinmail

The CIO Role, Reasserted

Share twitterlinkedinmail

After an unprecedented year of change, many organizations are adjusting to a new status quo with technology – and technology experts – leading the way. 

And changing right along with the rest of the organization is the CIO role. With more reliance on technology, remote and hybrid working environments, and more technology-focused roles in an organization, the CIO has also had to adjust to the new status quo.

What can a CIO do to cement their status and reassert themselves into the conversation?

It’s time for the CIO role to reassert itself.

The CIO Role, Reasserted

As technology has become more critical for the daily needs of a business, the role of the CIO has become more fractionalized. New technology leadership roles, such as the CTO, CDO, and CISO, have emerged within many organizations. While these emerging roles may have been responsibilities that the CIO formerly performed – at least at times – the CIO is no longer the only technology leader within the organization. 

But that doesn’t mean the CIO doesn’t play a vital role among these technology-focused roles. In fact, I’d argue that with all the different technology initiatives, it’s even more important for the CIO to reassert their role in the organization. With so many specialized roles, organizations are in danger of more technology silos. So instead of being a gatekeeper or the arbiter of technology, the CIO has to become the connector, especially in this age of technology democratization. 

Progressive CIOs have a deep business acumen and understand how technology contributes to the success of the business. A good CIO brings a broad, holistic view of the business and how technology can impact the bottom line – and the top line.  The CIO can use these specific skills and knowledge not only to support the CTO, CDO, and CISO – but any business leader as well. 

Using this holistic understanding of the business, the CIO has to become the common thread and ensure balance between the different technology roles and business leaders. Instead of Chief Information Officer, the CIO could be more like the “Central Information Officer” and be the driver of all business initiatives involving technology. 

But make no mistake – this isn’t about a power grab. It’s about the idea that the CIOs knowledge of business strategies and technology will strengthen and enhance everyone’s initiatives. For example, business leaders could use the CIO’s knowledge and understanding of how to drive a positive customer experience that IT has gained through the service desk in order to improve their offerings. 

This shift into the Central Information Officer requires all of the hallmarks of breaking down silos: open communication, shared workflows, and driving and emphasizing the achievement of organizational goals over isolated departmental goals.

And to do this, there is one concrete step a CIO can take to begin facilitating connections and reasserting the importance of their role.

The Start of the Reimagined CIO

CIOs can’t afford to wait to start reinventing their role. The longer a CIO waits to start connecting other technology roles, the more siloed and fractionalized the organization could become. 

So where does the CIO start?  

If all companies are now technology companies, and we want to connect how the different parts of the organization leverage technology, then true service management is the way forward. 

But I’m not referring to ITSM of the past, where an organization would invest in a tool and blindly implement out-of-the-box workflows and constructs that weren’t designed with your company in mind. I’m referring to Enterprise Service Management (ESM), an organizational capability for delivering business value and outcomes by leveraging the resources of the organization (including technology) to produce and deliver products and services in a holistic way.

As I mentioned earlier, the progressive CIO has a holistic view of how technology and business functions work together to co-create more value for the company. In order to have that view, you have to understand the people and processes at work. People and processes are what drive businesses forward and combining people, processes, and technology in a clear, consistent and organized manner is the most impactful thing a CIO can do.  That’s why effective ESM is so vital today. 

Implementing a strong ESM approach is a multi-step process. First, if your IT foundation is not solid, you’ll need to clean that up before you will be able to engage other business leaders in ESM. But once you’ve audited and tightened your own workflows and your IT team is working like a well-oiled machine, then you can start to implement ESM in other parts of your business.

And the best place to start ESM is with those frequently executed value streams. This is where a CIO can test their connector powers and leverage other business leaders’ expertise to adopt ESM within their departments. Doing so results in improved transparency and underpins the importance of having effective, cross-functional processes across all parts of the organization.

ESM opens the door to better customer experience, better employee experience, better business outcomes, and better value – for both the organization and its customers. Good ESM also eliminates silos, which can be among the biggest problems organizations face as they try to scale, and truly elevates the organization as a whole.

For many organizations, the CIO saved the day last year when the pandemic hit. But as businesses move forward, the CIO can’t bank on past successes to maintain their leverage in an organization. Reasserting the CIO role requires open collaboration, effective communication, and bringing other parts of the organization together. Strong ESM is the path forward for CIOs to reassert their role within the organization.

 How can ESM help your organization? How can you leverage ESM as an organizational strategy to connect your organization in such a way that drives and enables success?  Contact me today for a free, no-obligation 30-minute chat to discuss! 

Share twitterlinkedinmail

Are You Prepared to Meet Customer Expectations in 2020?

Share twitterlinkedinmail

In November 2018, I examined a few ways customer expectations have changed due to technology and what organizations, especially IT, need to know to stay competitive. Today, we reflect on how those expectations have changed in a short amount of time.

Customers, technology, new expectations. Let’s start off talking about a company that failed to pay attention to any of those things.

Long before we could access almost any TV show and movie from the simple click of a remote, Blockbuster reigned supreme. Anyone born before the mid-1990s probably has memories of heading down to the video store in hopes of finding a new release or a beloved classic. Of course, you never knew what would be checked out so you had to hope for the best. After you picked out and paid for your movies, you’d head home and watch it almost immediately. Because you had to return the thing a few days later to avoid those late fees!

But then in 1997, Netflix came along. And remember, before you could instantly stream thousands of movies to your TV, you could request certain DVDs online and Netflix would send them to you. And then you could send them back whenever you wanted. No late fees! This was revolutionary and it upended the video rental industry.

But Blockbuster failed to catch on. They failed to innovate. They failed to use the technology that was becoming available to them and they failed to meet the expectations their customers now had for their products.

Today, Netflix is booming and Blockbuster is long gone.

It’s easy to look back in retrospect and point out where Blockbuster failed. It’s easy to wonder how they failed to pay attention to the writing on the wall. But, of course, we enjoy the benefit of knowing how the future unfolded. Blockbuster didn’t recognize the impact of technology and, when I think about it, I can actually understand how they failed. At its peak in the mid-90s, Blockbuster had 65 million registered customers and was valued as a $3 billion company. They probably thought that they had happy customers, millions of them, in fact. They might have assumed that if they could just keep most of those millions of customers happy the same way they had been for over a decade, then they could endure some flashy competition.

The problem was not the competition, though. It was their customer’s expectations and their failure was marked because they refused to pay attention to the changing expectations of the marketplace.

While every industry is different, there are several overarching customer expectations that every organization should know.

Instant Response & Seamless Communication

Consumers don’t contact brands like they used to. They won’t call a hotline or sit on hold for hours. Now, they interact with brands just as they would interact with friends or family, through texting, social media, email or messenger. And no matter how they communicate, customers want an instant response. 40% of consumers expect a customer service response within an hour. (And yes, this means on the weekend too!)

Organizations must have the technology for instant response and seamless communication with their customers. Whether it’s incorporating chatbots, creating auto-response tools or using AI, you can’t afford to keep your customers waiting.

Easy Access to All Their Data

A decade ago, consumers understood if they had to be put on hold while you transferred them to another department or waited while you found their file in the filing cabinet.

But things have changed. Fitness trackers provide consumers with a wealth of data about their bodies just by glancing at their watch. Customers can open up Google, type in a word or two and have answers in seconds. Consumers have almost instant access to data these days. They expect your organization to do the same. They simply don’t have the patience for you to transfer them to the right department, dig for their info or wait for access from a superior to their data. Furthermore, you can’t afford to be relying on manual methods of data entry or note-taking inside a customer’s file. Every interaction needs to be automatically tracked. Your organization must have the ability to easily, securely and quickly access every customer data.

Delivery Times

Amazon changed expectations regarding delivery times. In 2015, 63% of consumers surveyed felt that 3-4 day shipping was fast. In 2018, that number dropped to 25%. And while many small businesses would love to gripe that it’s hard to compete with the biggest retailer in the world, griping will do very little to change the situation. Customers don’t care if they are ordering from a billion-dollar company or from a small shop made up of 10 employees. They expect faster delivery time.

This means organizations have to improve efficiency for every piece of the process that leads up to the actual delivery. From processing the order to packaging, organizations need to improve their process, optimize their technology and push themselves to be as fast and efficient as possible to meet demand.

Device-hopping

Consumers go from browsing on their phones to their tablets to their computers and back again. The experience with your brand needs to be consistent no matter what device someone is on. This means a mobile-friendly website, ordering system and contact forms. Everything you publish and promote needs to be accessible and easy to understand from any screen size.

These expectations are not easy to meet. The pressure is intense for every organization but I encourage organizations to look at more than the expectation but the need behind the trend to stay ahead.

Netflix didn’t succeed because they used technology to mail out DVDs. They succeeded because they understood their customers wanted convenience. Customer expectations are born because organizations pay attention to what customers want and need. Whether its speed, convenience, comfort, customer service or quality, there is a need or a want behind every new customer expectations.

Organizations, especially the IT department, should be listening to their consumers and identifying their underlying needs. If they can do this, then they can identify the best services, create better processes and find the right technology to deliver those services, meeting not only these customer expectations but any expectations that might arise in the future.

Share twitterlinkedinmail

Why Service Management must move out of IT

Share twitterlinkedinmail

Is your IT service management “future ready”?

A recent MIT Sloan Management Review article[1] discussed how organizations must become “future ready”.  The article stated that becoming future-ready requires change to the enterprise on two dimensions:  the customer experience and operational efficiency.

Of these two dimensions, the customer experience will drive competitive advantage for businesses.[2]  Is your service management ready to enable and drive that differentiating customer experience?

The Future’s Impact to today’s (IT) Service Management

For many organizations, service management continues to be narrowly focused on the day-to-day operations within IT and follows a “service provider/internal customer” approach. To become “future-ready”, this approach to service management must change.

The organizational mindset of an internal service provider/internal customer construct must change to an enterprise service management approach.  The business exists to serve customers, not just others within the same business.  In other words, all parts of the business must work together to drive business success.

Value streams are the threads that link the parts of the business together for producing and delivering products and services.

Every part of a business is part of one or more value streams that delivers products and services to customers.  Technology underpins those value streams; by itself, technology doesn’t provide value to a business.[3] But because technology use is so ubiquitous within businesses, the line between technology (or IT) and business functions have become blurred.  In some organizations, the line does not exist.

This has two implications for service management.

  • Service management processes must be “waste free”. Any bureaucracy or non-value-added work within processes must be eliminated. Eliminating waste, bottlenecks, and manual intervention in processes help facilitate a good customer experience – things just “work”.
  • Service management processes must reflect and support the entire value stream, not just the IT portion. IT’s contribution to enterprise value streams, while important, is only a portion of those value streams. Having good enterprise service management processes facilitates good handoffs between contributors within the value stream, enables measurability, helps drive effective workflows, and promotes viewing value and outcomes from the customer perspective, not an internal perspective.

This means that service management must move out of IT and into and across the enterprise.

What is the impact to IT?

When service management moves into and across the enterprise, what does this mean for IT?

First, having strong business acumen becomes critical for IT.  Some IT organizations are too focused on technology and lack business acumen. Business acumen must be a core competency of the IT organization.  Why?  Because the business is about the business first, not technology.  Technology only enhances or enables what the business wants to do.  Having a strong business acumen helps IT understand why, not just how, technology can help.

IT can then become the trusted advisor for exploiting technology for business advantage.  IT must help its business find the right balance between “leading edge” and “tried and true” technologies; again, dependent on business goals and objectives.  To do this, IT must internalize business goals and objectives to understand and develop competencies and awareness of current and emerging technologies.

Lastly, “order taker” IT organizations will be outsourced.  If an IT organization cannot demonstrate or promote how it delivers true business value, IT will appear to be a commodity.  And commodities can be obtained from anywhere.

But if your IT organization is practicing good service management, IT can take a leadership role in expanding service management across the enterprise.

Get Service Management “future ready”

To get service management “future ready”, here are four things you must do:

  • Service management must be (re) envisioned from the customer perspective – the true customer. The true customer is found outside of the organization, not inside the organization.  This means that you have to understand how value is created and flows through the organization (or value streams).  Service Management must underpin the entire value stream – from the customer through the business and back to the customer.  Service Management must take an “outside in” approach so you can understand how work is getting done – and where obstacles and bottlenecks may exist.
  • Shift the service management focus to the entire organization. – The objective is to ‘float all boats’ in the service management ‘harbor’, not just the ‘IT boat’.  Why? The customer does business with the business, not with an individual component within the business.  Siloed business operational models must end.  If one part of the value stream fails, the entire value stream fails. This means that service management must expand to include all parts of the enterprise so you can work transparently and deliver an outstanding, consistent, and repeatable customer experience – as an aligned, integrated organization.
  • Automate. Humans have better things to do than call a service desk to reset a password or request products to which they are already entitled and eligible to receive. Now take this idea one step further – do you really want to irritate your customers with such tediousness?   Drive toward automating those day-to-day operational activities so you can free up people to do what they do best – innovate, imagine, and problem-solve.
  • Invest in knowledge management. Knowledge management must become an enterprise-wide capability.   In the “always connected, always on” digital economy, organizations can ill afford to spend time rediscovering what is already known within an organization.  Neither can there be siloes of knowledge within an organization.  Effective knowledge management is a key enabler of a “future ready” service management approach.

Service management can no longer be about just IT.  Service management has never been about this or than methodology – frankly, there is no “one-size-fits-all” methodology – it is about delivering business value and results.  The future-state service management approach is a blend of several methodologies and practices from all parts of the business (including IT) that enable the whole business to deliver value and results.  Get “future ready” now by moving service management beyond IT and into the enterprise.

Need to expand  service management into the enterprise, while still leveraging your existing investments?  With our Next Generation ITSM consulting service, Tedder Consulting can help you get the best of both worlds – contact us today!

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

 

Picture credit:  Shutterstock

[1] Weill, Peter and Stephanie L. Woerner., “Is Your Company Ready for a Digital Future?”. MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter, 2018.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Westerman, George. “Your Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy”. MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring, 2018.

Share twitterlinkedinmail

The Importance of Good ITSM in the Digital Economy

Share twitterlinkedinmail

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

Share twitterlinkedinmail

A Cure for “Bad ITSM”

Share twitterlinkedinmail

Is your business suffering from “bad ITSM”?

What does “bad ITSM” look like? Some examples:

  • Every request for change (RfC) goes before a change advisory board, because there’s no criteria or models defined that would facilitate reviewing a RfC any other way.
  • “Services” are not defined. Instead, the IT organization has a list of the applications, systems, and activities that it supports or performs. Many of the items on that list  appear in what is being called a “service catalog”. There is no discussion of how the things on the list add value or provide required outcomes to the business.
  • “Service level agreements” are just whatever IT configured within its ITSM tools. No documents describe the value of what IT is doing or how that value is measured or reported. There is no evidence of reviews with the business regarding what is configured within the ITSM tools as “service level agreements”, much less any signed agreements between the IT organization and the business it serves.
  • New projects and applications are primarily evaluated based on cost and resource requirements, instead of desired outcomes, opportunities for improvement, and current investments and capabilities. As a result, IT winds up trying to do all projects instead of the right projects- often using the same resources that are already being used to support existing applications, systems, and activities.

Look familiar? You’re not alone. Unfortunately, the above scenarios describe many ITSM implementations – “bad ITSM”.

What is the cause of bad ITSM?

Usually there is no single cause of a bad ITSM implementation. In some instances, a business case was never developed and agreed. If the business case was developed, it focused only on buying technologies rather than articulating  the business value and return on investment of the ITSM implementation.

In other cases, a holistic approach to implementation was not used. In these situations, the implementation took on a ‘frankenstein’ approach. The IT organization identified a solution looking for a problem, took some data from here, a tool from there, drafted a couple of resources that weren’t doing anything else and somehow cobbled it all together into some sort of ITSM thing.

Sometimes the initial implementation was very successful. But due to a lack of communications or an agreed plan or management support, the ITSM train lost momentum. The sense of urgency quickly faded and the organization moved on to the next big thing.

But there is good news, even in the face of the bad ITSM implementation. The good news is that you’ve started. But if nothing changes, “started” is where the ITSM implementation will “stop”.

What is the cure?

Like many medicines, the pill may be bitter and hard to swallow. But if the right medicine is used, the result will be improved ITSM health.

The tendency with many bad ITSM implementations is that the organization looked at process improvement only at the process level. The ITSM implementation gets lost in the details of the process and optimizes only a few parts (or a single part) of the overall IT value stream. ITSM becomes the bottleneck rather than the  enabler.

The cure? Stop looking at ITSM as a collection of parts.   Good ITSM is not just about implementing this process or that tool. Good ITSM must be all about the business you’re serving – in its entirety. This means you must take a “big picture” view and drive ITSM from the top-down.

Why? Because the better your ITSM implementation helps the business achieve its the goals and objectives, the better your ITSM implementation will be. But to do that, IT organizations have to take a different approach to ITSM to ensure the “big picture” view.

Get the “big picture”

Having trouble seeing the big picture? Here’s a few techniques that will help.

  • Use “Outside-In” thinking.   An “Outside-In”  mind-set  looks at a business from the customer’s perspective, then designs the processes, tools, and products based on what the customer requires. Good ITSM must take the same approach – look at ITSM from the business perspective and define how IT contributes to what the customer requires.
  • Develop Value Stream maps. What is a value stream? A value stream “comprises all the people, activities, departments, and hand-offs necessary to create and deliver value to the customer, be it a product, service, or information”. [1] A value stream map illustrates that a process (or processes) is a part of a larger ecosystem. Using value stream maps can help prevent a ‘tunnel-vision’ approach to ITSM that results from focusing on process improvement at the expense of the overall value stream.
  • Define the Service Portfolio – really.   I almost didn’t suggest this approach because many organizations don’t get the concept of a “service” correct, which then contributes to “bad ITSM”. But I also believe that ITSM can be used to help ITSM, and defining a service portfolio is a great way to see the “big picture”.   A well-defined and maintained service portfolio demonstrates that the IT organization understands how the services it provides contributes to the success of the business it serves. As business conditions change, the service portfolio changes as well. In other words, IT sees (and is part of) the “big picture”.

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter!

[1] Michael A. Orzen and Thomas A. Paider, The Lean IT Field Guide (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2016), p 22.

 

Share twitterlinkedinmail