ITSM Software is not a Silver Bullet

Let me first say, I think all of us, as IT managers, believe IT Service Management is a great idea.  It’s possible to define and implement an effective ITSM solution that will meet your current needs and set you up to continue to meet the business needs on into the future.  However, what doesn’t exist is the ‘buy a product and implement it in a couple of weeks’ solution.  There is no solution that will immediately solve all your current issues and enable you to provide exemplary service delivery to the business out of the box.

In other words, there is no “Silver Bullet’ fix.

So, why does our IT senior management continue to believe it does exist and have so many failed attempts at finding the right one?

First, there is a lot of hype out there today. There are many best practice frameworks available that tell you ‘what you need to do’ to deliver quality services, and numerous IT service management consultants willing to come in and ‘implement’ them for you.  There are also tool vendors willing to sell you software tools that can be installed quickly and easily that will help automate the processes described in the frameworks.

Second, our senior management is facing huge resource constraints.  The tightened economy has forced IT to cut costs and reduce overhead in order to stay alive while attempting to deliver what IT believes the business needs.  Senior IT management no longer has access to the resources necessary to properly identify ITSM requirements for their business, develop the processes and procedures, acquire the right IT service management software tools, and then tailor these tools to meet the requirements.

Third, we are getting more and more pressure from the business to demonstrate the value we provide to the business other than ‘keep the lights on’ processing.  What can we do to help the business in the market, how can we provide a competitive advantage or differentiate the business from its competitors.

Is it any wonder that when our senior management sees the advertisements in the trade magazines, goes to vendor sponsored seminars or trade shows, or reads whitepapers on ITSM telling them ‘you too can have a “world class ITSM program in just a few weeks’- one leading to better cost-effective, service delivery that will perform consistently while still being agile enough to adjust easily to changing business needs’ – they believe it?  It looks like the answer to their prayers.

Until we acquire the ‘silver bullet’ and the awful truths are revealed.

The frameworks do tell you what to do, just not how.  The service management tools, such as ServiceNow, CherwellBMC Remedy and FrontRange come complete with workflow automation built in, but nothing about your personnel skill sets for routing the work requests or parameters for decision points.

Our IT organization must define all the service management processes and procedures to meet the organization and business needs, but in many cases we do not know what they are, and we don’t have the time and/or expertise to do it.  We end up engaging ITSM consultants to come in and define the processes we need.  Of course, the consultants end up working in a vacuum with no access to in-house expertise, but still need to produce something quickly, so we end up with ‘stock’ generic processes that don’t match the way our IT is setup.

The ITSM software vendor then has to try to automate these ‘stock’ processes with no detailed requirements, so they look for automated pre-defined databases that mirror the organization, use standard default values where possible to tailor the tools to route work and track the artifact (incident, problem, change, service request, etc.) through the ‘stock’ processes.

What we end up with is a set of service management processes and tools that do not match our organization’s real requirements and are poorly understood.  They may even have extra steps and duplication, or gaps all together that may cause service delivery failures.  In the end, they are frequently ignored.

The best-practice frameworks such as ITIL®, CobiT and ISO20000 are sound.  There are some really good, highly flexible IT Service Management software tools such as ServiceNow and Cherwell out there.  But we have to ensure that our senior management resists the lure of the mythical ‘Silver Bullet’ and ties the ITSM initiative to real business objectives and establishes realistic goals, so we can succeed and provide the level of quality service delivery our business needs.

Brian Lenner

Brian Lenner

Principal Consultant with Navvia, have over 35 years experience in IT and Business spanning a multitude of business verticals. Enjoyed successes in IT re-organization and strategic planning positioning IT to support new and changing business plans, improve technology penetration into the mainstream business units while maximizing the ROI on IT investments. Prior to starting the consulting career I’d enjoyed success at the IT Executive level with experience in the application, technical, and operations arenas; including all aspects of IT governance. These include: Financial Services; Insurance; Telecommunications; and Retail Packaged Goods.

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