Signs of a Dysfunctional ITSM Program

3 Signs of a Dysfunctional ITSM Program

During my career in IT Service Management, I have come across many different ITSM programs.  Most are very capable and focused on what’s right for the business.  On the other hand, there are a few that just don’t seem to get it. 

The things that make an ITSM Program dysfunctional are no different than what impairs any organization.  The root cause is typically a lack of leadership and vision, starting from the top.This void in leadership usually gets filled with politics, low morale, and disengaged employees.  While not an exhaustive list, here are three things that I see as signs of a dysfunctional IT department.

1)   Employees are empowered, provided all decisions get CIO approval

I am always suspicious of any organization that trumpets how much they empower their employees.  True empowerment is practiced, not talked about.  A lack of empowerment can hinder an ITSM tool implementation.  People resist tailoring the tool, as they don’t want to bring the changes to senior management who has been sold on “out of the Box”.  In the end, the ITSM tool doesn’t meet business requirements, and the project fails.

When all ideas are channeled through the CIO, all you get is a log jam of innovation.

2)   Customers are important, we’ll just tell them what they need

An IT organization exists for one reason, and that is to support the needs of the business.  The moment you think you know what is better for the business is the moment you have become arrogant and out of touch with their real needs.

Anyone who designs an ITSM process in a vacuum, without gathering requirements from the business, is setting themselves up for failure.

As an IT group, you must definitely consult with the business on the details of the technology, but it’s imperative you also listen to their needs.

3)   Standard processes are essential, we’re just too busy to implement them

I often find it ironic that the one department focused on automating business processes is often the one that is the least process oriented.

Lack of resources and overworked staff are often touted as reasons not to improve internal ITSM processes, but improving them are critical to saving both time and money.

One question; how can the business trust you to enable their processes if you haven’t gotten your house in order?

So, why is it important to recognize these signs?  Because, when it comes to IT, the business has more choices than ever before.

The traditional role of the IT department is being challenged by Outsourcing, Cloud Computing, Software as a Service and a host of new web-based services from companies like Google and Microsoft.
While I firmly believe the role of ITSM is to guide the business through these opportunities, dissatisfied users can see on-demand services as options to dealing with the IT department.
The sad thing is that organizations with a dysfunctional ITSM program, or lacking IT Service Management altogether, seldom see themselves as the problem before it’s too late.
Is your ITSM program exhibiting these signs?  What are some of the other signs of a dysfunctional Service Management Program?

Feel free to add your voice to the discussion!

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David Mainville

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 02, 2013
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