Keeping ITSM Simple

As you may have noticed, posts on this blog advocate a simple approach to IT Service Management. There is a reason for it. ITIL and other methodologies have been developed to help us remain in control of our complex reality and improve the value provided by IT. However, these methodologies are complex themselves, and if you try to implement them in a big bang, you will fail.

ITIL best practices are documented in a plethora of books. Many of them give you the bigger picture, but not down-to-earth instructions. Figuring out how to apply the best practices in a particular company is a resource-intensive activity. Also, there is no silver bullet approach; there are a number of possible implementation choices along the way.

Enterprises with sizable resources have been launching ITIL adoption programs. Such programs can go on for years and engage an insane number of people. They can also be really successful. I have personally seen the results.

However, the risk of getting underwhelming results is very high. This is because process-oriented IT Service Management requires building a culture. Yes, people have to have the right mindset. They also need to see the purpose in those activities. It is not something easily achieved within one project, e.g. implementing Incident Management process along with a new ITSM tool.

Another risk is that organizations might get stuck perfecting the core processes they implemented. They could go on for years improving the way incidents are managed and changes are controlled. In the meanwhile, they would try to make some sense out of Problem Management. They would run out of steam before they got to the less obvious processes, like Service Level Management, not even mentioning the Service Strategy stage in the ITIL lifecycle.

There is another way. You can adopt a more agile approach of small, iterative cycles. You can, for example, implement a simple Change Management process and move on. Close one project, start another one. Don’t dwell on one stage of the service lifecycle for too long. As you get close to completing one project, see what else makes sense and target that area.

This is because the biggest benefit is obtained with synergies between various processes. It is better to have them implemented in a simple form, but sooner. After a while, you will notice how they benefit each other. You will get more breathing room to refine the processes in subsequent projects. Over time, you will also end up building an ITSM culture in the organization.

Good luck!


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