ITSM can be Transform or Die: Choose One

While the choice of title may seem a bit extreme, from an ITSM provider’s perspective, let me assure you that it’s not. In fact, on a daily basis, we make decisions all the time – often without realizing it – that affect the organization we work for and the customers we serve.
In this article, we examine how even “routine” choices can act as transformational moments for a service provider organization.

You Can’t Do It Alone

In 7 Simple Rules to Design a Process David cautions us that:

“There is an old saying that goes something like, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” But that doesn’t mean by yourself. ITSM processes are fundamentally about people and, more specifically, the hand-offs of activities, tasks and information between people. Sure, tools are important, but they just facilitate the communication between people.  Now, if your goal is to make sure people never follow the process you design, then the best approach is to not consult anyone at all in the design.”

This is a goal which no one in a service provider organization should aspire to achieve. Really, we should be looking to eliminate such thinking wherever we can find it.

Attitude is Everything!

David tells us in 3 Signs of a Dysfunctional ITSM Program:

“An IT organization exists for one reason, and that is to support the needs of the business.  The moment that you think you know what is better for the business is the moment you have become arrogant and out of touch with their true 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 technology, but it is imperative you also listen to their needs.”

If you operate like this, you might find that you are no longer the provider of choice and likely next on the “Endangered Species List.”

More Customer Choices

David also notes in 3 Signs of a Dysfunctional ITSM Program:

“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 strongly 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.”

Whether you like it or not, customers are increasingly willing to cut IT out of the product evaluation loop and risk buying an inferior solution, if they feel that they’ll get the results/outcomes that they really want. How do you want to be seen: as a partner or an obstacle? Choose your next move carefully.

Learning to Listen

As David mentioned earlier in 3 Signs of a Dysfunctional ITSM Program:

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

It’s not about being passive or detached. There is a time to just listen and there is a time to ask questions – both are a potential pathway to engaging the customer. In some cases, it will mean that you need to get comfortable asking open-ended questions, such as:

  • “Why is this important?”
  • “How can we help you?”
  • ”How do you see it will help move the organization forward?”

Listening is the great equalizer! It’s a demonstration of your commitment to provide real service to customers and is also an effective antidote for the arrogance mentioned earlier.

Is Your Customer Happy?

In An Approach to an ITSM Tool Implementation David recommends that we:

“Invest the time to understand if your processes are working and if your clients are happy with what they got.  Use this information to develop a set of requirements that you can implement in an agile fashion”

This is a very sound piece of advice. If you’ve started asking questions that enable you to determine what your customers really value, you’re in a good position to assess whether or not you’re doing what’s necessary to produce the results that your customer will care about. Once you know, do more of that!

People Hate (Process Design) Surprises

In 7 Simple Rules to Design a Process David wrote:

“But if you want to garner support for your process, use this opportunity to consult with the stakeholders and get their buy-in. Building this support starts back when you were assessing gaps and continues through the design phase.”

Yes… and also

“However, make sure to balance this collaboration with efficiency.  Keep your core design team to the fewest number of people as possible. Bring in expertise as required. Communicate to the broader audience of stakeholders through personalized updates and status reports.”

When it comes to communication, if you’re not sure how much is too much, err on the side of over-communicating. Over-communicating is NOT the same as “giving them more detail.” In most cases, what’s needed is more context and shaping (the view of the forest) than detail (ability to count every tree).

As you engage your customer, you’ll quickly get the feedback needed to adjust your communication methods and strategy in near-real-time.

While you might change processes and structures along the way, that’s not what transformation is about. Real transformation happens when your communication and relationships alter. This happens when engaging internally (with the service provider’s personnel) and externally (the customer).

Elevating the level of communication is a vital first step in a meaningful and lasting transformation program.

Guest article by Kenneth Gonzalez

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 14, 2014
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