Common sense in Service Management

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Service Level Management

Too much of a good thing

I have to say that at times I despair about the seeming lack of common sense in the IT Service Management industry.

A lot of this feeling comes down to witnessing so many organizations buying into the various frameworks and methodologies that we are presented with on a daily basis in ITSM, to a point that is damaging to productivity rather than beneficial.

The great thinkers who are behind the wisdom that is ITIL®, COBIT®, Agile, Lean, IT4IT™ and all the other ways there are to structure the way we work in ITSM never expected you to pick up and run with every part of these frameworks, practices, and methodologies.

How often do we hear people say they are ‘implementing’ ITIL? This just isn’t something that can be done. I remember my first day of ITIL Foundation training when one of the first things we were told was that all the knowledge that is contained in ITIL is there for you to adopt and adapt and use in a way that makes sense to your business. There was never any suggestion that you should pick up the 26 ITIL processes and drop these on the organization and expect them to improve the IT capability.

ITIL – a four-letter word?

In too many cases this ‘adopt and adapt’ message has been lost and I see the results when I go into organizations that are disillusioned with ITSM and see ITIL as a four-letter word that must not be spoken. When a framework is applied in a way that is rigid, un-scaled and just inappropriately adapted for an individual situation, the result is going to be dissatisfaction at all levels of the business.

One process that often gets an awful name in this case is change management. A well designed and appropriate change management process will reap significant benefits for any organization with a reduction in change related incidents, reduced downtime, lower cost of individual changes – the list goes on. But a poorly designed process, that does not take into account the business it is being designed, for will likely have the opposite effect.

I have seen change management processes that dictate that every single change, no matter how small, must be assessed and approved by a change advisory board (CAB). This situation causes people to circumvent the process and to make changes ‘under the radar’ only because they do not want to have to go through all the red tape that has been put in the way of implementing what they see as a simple change.

Bogged down in process

In this particular organization, the CAB met for half a day every week and looked over every request for a patch, security update, software installation along with the changes that did present some real risk to the organization.

Each month the detected number of unauthorized changes grew, and the expected benefits of a strict change management policy were unrealized. They were actually in a worse situation than they had been when people simply talked to each other and let them know what they were planning and when.

It simply does not have to be that way! Spend time with the people who will be affected by any new processes you may design, get them onboard and make certain that you are not adding excessive overheads that will force people to work out ways to get around the process.

The right amount of process

Well-designed processes make things run smoothly, eliminate many errors, create happier customers and staff. Processes that are designed in a vacuum without involving the people who will be affected by them will have the opposite effect.

Work out how much process and control is too much, the only way to do this is to talk to the right people in the organization.


IT4IT® is a trademark of the Open Group

David Mainville

David Mainville, CEO and co-founder of Navvia, is a passionate advocate of Service Management and a frequent presenter, blogger and well known member of the ITSM community. With over 35 years of experience, David has held progressively senior technical and management roles allowing him to "connect the dots" between the Business and IT. At Navvia, David leads the charge to bring innovative ITSM solutions to market focusing on Product Development, Marketing and Operations.

• Posted by David Mainville on Apr 13, 2016
• Filed under Articles

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