07 October 2008

Incorporating IT Service Management: Digging In The Right Place

Cheryl Croce

Cheryl Croce
Sr. Consultant
Veris Associates, Inc.


As I pored through research on IT trends, the economic impact on those trends and the forecasts over the past few months, a line from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark kept popping into my head:

They’re digging in the wrong place!”

For those of you who have not seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, everyone in the movie is in a race to find the Well of Lost Souls, which houses the Lost Ark, which contains power that would be useful to any army. (Bear with me.) In order to so, they had to have the map to the Well of Lost Souls, which was inscribed on a medallion. The villains in the movie did not get the medallion; however one of their henchmen had the information burned on his hand from trying to grasp it in a fire-encapsulated building. The problem with the approach: he only had half of the information. The medallion had location information on both sides and, as a result, the baddies exhausted resources and man hours by digging in the wrong place.

It’s the same thing with the implementation of IT Service Management.

In today’s market, many IT organizations have embarked on the multiple-year investment it takes to implement IT Service Management so they may improve their quality of service to their business customers. Many of those IT teams focused solely on functions, processes and services.

While it increases the IT organization’s service delivery maturity, this approach is still missing an important component. The biggest oversight is the lack of organizational adoption of the compulsory cultural changes associated with executing the ITIL framework as part of IT Service Management.

How does an IT organization successfully incorporate IT Service Management practices into their way of working? How does it dig in the right place?

  • Foster Cultural Awareness. When IT Service Management models are adopted, IT becomes a strategic asset during times of growth and economic downturns. IT Service Management is a culture, not a project. It is not only important for the IT organization to understand this, but it is also critical for the departments they serve (HR, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Purchasing) to know this, too.
  • Talk is Good. While the ITIL framework provides a common IT language, understanding business-speak is equally important in securing the cultural adoption of IT Service Management. It is important for an IT organization to be well-versed in both IT Service Management processes and sound business management practices.
  • Conversations are Better. By having conversations – be they round tables, strategy sessions, departmental meetings or social network discussions - IT organizations will have a better understanding of the Businesses they serve. They will drive their service strategies and service development, and will continually improve their existing functions, processes and services.
  • Understand the Definition of ‘Value.’ An IT organization may have excellent subject matter experts, solid processes, standardized tools and defined measurements and metrics, but all of that means little to the customers they serve if it doesn’t demonstrate value to them. By doing so, IT will be able to capitalize, exploit and maintain their functions, processes and services to meet existing and forecasted business needs.
  • Use a Lifecycle Approach. IT organizations further enhance its strategic value to its business customers by employing a Service Management lifecycle approach. In this manner, the IT organization embraces a business and IT alignment through the use of ITIL’s Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, and Service Operations best practices. In addition, ITIL’s Continual Service Improvement ensures IT isn’t resting on its laurels. It provides an IT team with the ability to create meaningful internal and customer-focused metrics and helps it provide purposeful and powerful reporting for management and executives.

IT Service Management is a discipline for the efficient and effective management of information technology systems, philosophically centered on the customer's perspective of IT's contribution to the business. It is a culture, not a project, and provides sustainability to IT’s relationship with the business. By digging in the right place - looking beyond tools, templates and technology and seeing the cultural and business impact IT Service Management will have -IT organizations will be able to function effectively and get arms around their current operations.

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