Getting the balance right
Understanding the innate culture of the business you are supporting is essential to getting the balance right when you are creating and refining your IT Service Management processes.
Higher Education is an environment that has many elements that differentiate it from other organizations. In this article I would like to discuss one aspect that, while necessary for ITSM initiatives in any scenario, is an essential component of ITSM in a higher education organization.
The aspect I am talking about is collaborative process design. Higher education is an environment where decisions are made by committees and groups; input is sought, listened to and acted upon. This is a part of life in all areas of endeavor in these organizations, including IT and its service management practices.
Higher Education and process design
For some reason, higher education has grasped the importance of well-designed processes for IT service management, more so than many other types of organization, and the business is prepared to be involved in the design of these processes. Getting this level of business involvement is something that ITSM professionals in other industries can only dream about, but it does come with its downsides. Not least is the fact that, the more people have input into decisions, the longer those decisions are likely to take, with a pretty high chance that you are not going to be able to please everybody.
How can you get the best out of this high degree of cooperation while reducing the potential complications this may bring?
- Don’t go into discussions with a blank piece of paper. Make sure that you do your homework first and come up with a list of non-negotiable items. Some of these items will be dictated by the budget you have for the program, if there is no money for a new tool, then you need to work with the limitations of what you have in place. Define the roles that you have within the IT organization, let everybody know what responsibilities go with these roles.
- Make sure that everyone in the meetings is going to be talking the same language. If you are going to be basing your processes on a particular framework, then make sure that everyone involved is given at least a basic level of training so that you are not spending time in meetings translating framework terminology.
- Ensure that you have a balance from all parts of the organization who want to be involved. Do not let one business unit overpower the others. You may need to limit the number of people who can attend from each area to keep this balance.
- Circulate basic process designs before your meetings so you have a basis for discussion. Without this, you are likely to spend the majority of your time working out where to start.
- Encourage participation by describing the “what’s in it for me” scenario. If the business can see that being involved in the design of the process will have a positive effect on the way they work, then they will be more inclined be actively involved.
- Keep the meetings on track and ensure that you have an excellent tool for capturing ideas and decisions and then turning these into useful process models.
Handing over some of the ownership of ITSM process to the business is a win-win scenario. It opens the doors for both sides to understand how the other works and how the actions of each party can impact the other.