The 3 key things to remember when implementing ITSM

It never ceases to amaze me how much negativity there is when it comes to implementing ITSM and ITIL®. One would think that a practice that is focused on delivering superior IT services to the business would have nothing but the support and accolades of senior management and the whole IT department, but it doesn’t.I personally believe that a lot of the cynicism and distrust aimed at ITIL® and ITSM is a result of a complete misunderstanding as to what service management is all about. I’ll even go a step further and say that it’s the result of bad organizational management practices.

Ian Clayton, the author of the Service Management 101 blog, called ITIL® the Viagra of service management, in other words, the quick fix. I definitely agree that ITIL has been positioned as the solution when in fact it’s just one of the many tools at our disposal. The reality is that there is no quick fix or magic pill for implementing ITSM. IT service management takes time and discipline.

There are three things about ITSM that every ITSM professional should remember (I know there are more but let’s start with three):

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

If your motto is “12 processes in 12 months” maybe it’s time to rethink your approach. Service management isn’t rocket science. It’s actually fairly simple. But don’t confuse simple with easy. It takes a lot of work to define your processes, implement them in a tool and rolled out into production (no matter what the tool vendors say).

There is more to designing processes than adopting ITIL®

ITIL® tells you what to do at a high level. Best practices like ITIL® are devoid of any specific organizational or technology requirements. You have to take the best practice and adopt it to your company. There are a lot of specifics that you need to address: What service management tools are you using? How does the tool need to be configured (functional specifications)? What are the specific workflows for your company? What policies do you have in place? What services are you managing and who is responsible for them? … This list goes on and on.

ITIL may tell you what to do, but it’s up to you to determine how to do it.

Get people involved

When implementing processes it is critical to get the support and buy-in of the organization. You also have to balance consensus with implementation. Consensus takes time, but there is no point in implementing something people do not accept or even understand. Why? Because they will end up doing something entirely different. I am not saying everyone in IT gets a say in how to implement. I am saying that some people get a vote, others are consulted, some are advised and the rest are trained and coached. People need to know the value proposition of what they are doing if they are to do it well.

Most of the negativity and cynicism towards ITSM comes out of poorly executed programs. ITSM is like adopting a healthy lifestyle. It’s fairly simple, but it takes work and discipline. It’s easier to blame the diet than the dieter. It’s also easier to blame the practice of Service Management than those trying to practice it.

Keeping these three things in mind can put you on the right track for adopting the IT Service Management lifestyle.

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 Nov 07, 2012
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