ITSM blah blah blah!

It seems that everyone is talking about implementing ITIL or doing service management properly, but no-one seems to have a process by which to do this. There are a lot of Frameworks lurking about in various IT companies and none of them seem to be practical enough for the Actual Operations and Support Teams to accept that implementing them is actually possible…

BUT, is the reluctance maybe just because the crew believe:

  • We really can’t improve
  • We’ll never get the budget to change
  • If we change and it ends up being much better, we’ll look bad for not having done this earlier.
  • We are working hard enough, this kind of change will make us work even harder
  • Better processes usually mean more admin and paperwork… yuck

Or some combination of the above.

It seems that the old Marketing philosophy of making the people hungry first is what is needed. We have to sell the need to have some ITSM processes in a way that the relevant teams start to crave a “better way” and eventually start asking for processes and tools to improve their roles.

HP, Microsoft and BMC all have simulation games that convey the message. These simulations take around half a day and cover all of the ITSM processes in a way that all the participants get a real feel for what is needed. The challenge is getting the necessary group of middle management to participate in a simulation game.

If we could get the right group of managers thinking in terms of the need for a better way to do IT Service Management they will come knocking; looking for the best-practice processes we speak so highly of.

We seem so anxious to start the journey that we are buying tools and initiating projects, implementing processes before we have the necessary need instilled. Even “I know I need something, but I’m not sure what” isn’t good enough. We need the respective Service management teams to be saying: “We are working too hard and we can’t prove that we are actually improving anything for the business. We need ITIL! Please!” Once the teams are talking like that the battle is won and a programme of projects to set up ITIL processes will succeed (or whatever guidelines/standards are decided on). What’s more the people will be finding ways to get proper processes implemented faster and cheaper, instead of thinking of reasons it cannot work.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying: Make sure you have REAL buy-in at all the required levels in the organisation before you try to implement ITIL. It makes the programme easier from start to finish. Rather spend the time and effort getting buy-in that trying to implement pilots to prove the benefit to a group of people who are trying to find the reasons it won’t.

I’d love to find the ROI of a marketing programme in terms of

  • Partial or no buy-in before project start: Project time and cost to implement ITIL
  • Full buy-in through marketing before project start: Project time and cost to implement ITIL

I am convinced the cost and effort savings in the second case would far outweigh the cost and effort of the marketing programme required to achieve the buy-in.

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2 Responses to ITSM blah blah blah!

  1. Malcolm says:

    Yes. Many of these things are obvious now, but remember I wrote this in 2006, when ITIL was the be-all and end-all, and many “experts” were saying, “if you don’t do the full thing you will fail.”

  2. Ibo says:

    above: the “fault” lies not with the tool but the workman.ITIL is only wrong, oudatted, bureaucratic, etc, etc if you suspend all rational thought and believe for one iota that it is possible to write down the answer to everything. Douglas Adams had the solution – 42! And that is just as useful as putting one’s faith in ITIL as the answer to everything. Perhaps “faith” is an apt word, because some people do treat it as a religion. For a while a called myself an “evangelist” because that is what someone accused me of being after a presentation, having totally misunderstood or not listened to a word I said. Having reminded him that my whole message was about service management & that I had mentioned ITIL only 4 times in the 40 minutes and 2 of the references were warnings about its limitation, I said categorically that I was not an “ITIL fundamentalist”, but if by evangelist he meant someone speaking passionately about a subject that they believe is important, then I was happy to be called a “service management evangelist”.We must remain focused on the outcomes that we are seeking, not the mechanisms that are used to achieve it.If the enterprise needs rapid changes with little bureaucracy to inhibit them, then that’s a business choice – as long as there is also an acceptance (preferably documented) that this approach will certainly carry higher risk and may lead to heavy costs if something goes awry.If the enterprise is happy for people to ask for help & support from any source, then fine, allow it – as long as there is acceptance of the fact that different people might give conflicting advice, it is probably less trustworthy, has an inherent risk and again may lead to extra costs down the line.Everything depends upon the requirements of the enterprise and each one will be unique – and the requirements of each will change in different ways and at different speeds form any given point in time.In my humble opinion, “Castle ITIL” (as my kiwi mate the IT Skeptic calls them) bears a lot of responsibility for the issues facing us. Cabinet Office may well own the brand & the copyright on the words/diagrams, but I am extremely sceptical (English spelling!) that they (as an enterprise in a business sense) actually understand service management & how ITIL fits in the jigsaw. They didn’t produce the intellectual content and view it as a solution not a means to assist enterprises towards achieving one.The official accreditor has a remit that is focused on ITIL – after all that’s all Cab Office can give them; they are purely commercially focused – which means sell as many exams that are as cheap as possible for them to manage; which in turn means multiple guess tests.This then actively encourages organisations to offer “training courses” that are almost totally fixated on getting people thru the multi-guess tests to the detriment of educating them in the nuances and complexities of service management. I answer “ask the expert” questions on a forum and am staggered by the depth of ignorance displayed in some of the queries from people who have sundry “bits of paper” but clear not a shred of understanding of the basic principles and philosophy of service management.Enterprises lazily enter into contracts for products and services sprinkling the tender documents with ITIL references without understanding what they really want in the belief that somehow the magic 4 letter incantation will make everything right. (IT WON’T!) But who can blame the vendors for developing solutions that, at least on paper, embrace ITIL at their core – and having done so, have every reason to use this to promote their offering and well as becoming another group with a vested interest.Over the years, I have heard people criticising ITIL for what it includes; what it doesn’t include; its amount of detail; its lack of detail; its wooliness and lack of prescription; its rigid and bureaucratic approach; etc, etc. In other words, someone will always find fault because they themselves come to the subject with their own pre-conceived ideas, sometimes with their own agenda and vested interests to protect/promote, or just because they are trying to stir up trouble/debate. (YOU CAN’T PLEASE ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME!)Just as service management is an enormous and complex beast, so are the issues raised by this thread. Getting us back onto track requires an enormous effort from a range of stakeholders – but some of them are as likely to evolve as the dinosaurs were.

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