ITSM: Don't stop with Ops!

Rachel Seaniger urges continuation of the IT Service Management (ITSM) journey to achieve lasting value.

©iStock.com/rappensuncle 

©iStock.com/rappensuncle 

My colleagues and I find that a large percentage of organisations implementing ITIL® only go as far as Service Operations (and often Change Management) but rarely get as far as formalised Service Strategy or Service Design.

The ITIL Lifecycle provides rich guidance on Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition and Continuous Service Improvement. So why do so few go beyond the basic quick fixes of Service Operations? Every organisation is unique and there are more reasons than stars in the sky, but I see them falling into roughly five categories:

Reason #1: Obviously, the place to start is where the user is most directly involved with the IT organisation. The highest priority is the areas of highest visibility – for example, processes for requesting a new laptop or incident management. That gets done then… nothing!

Reason #2: Having tackled the immediate, customer-facing issues to achieve early wins, the team simply runs out of puff. But there’s so much scope to go further with ITSM… Remember, the tortoises are the winners.

Reason #3: Sometimes the IT team tries to extend beyond Service Operations but simply fail. Feeling they’ve got their fingers burnt, they have little appetite for pressing on.

Reason #4: Business As Usual always prevails within IT, chewing up available resources and time – so even the best-meant ITSM implementations grind to a halt prematurely. (The road to Hell is paved with good intentions!)

Reason #5: The business simply doesn’t understand the value of the more strategic ITSM processes, so is unwilling to invest further. Many senior IT managers also fail to see value in extending beyond ops. This is the big one and the hardest to overcome; without management commitment and sponsorship, the efforts of underlings are doomed to failure – however logical and passionately advocated.

For all these reasons, we often get just so far – when there’s still a way to go.

Why NOT stop here?

Users are happier, the organisation has paid lip service to ITSM and IT management feels that it’s fulfilling its charter. But how much more could be achieved?

There is tremendous value in following up with the Service Strategy and Service Design phases. This takes ITSM beyond merely what the user is interested in and what they need; potentially transforming the entire IT service delivery function to make it more efficient, less costly and infinitely more stable in the long run.

Without formalising these phases, you will always be playing catch-up. The ideal place to be is on your front foot: optimising emerging technologies and positioning IT to meet users’ future needs. Yes, I’m afraid that it’s all about the ‘I’ word that we all aspire (and struggle) to achieve: innovation.

Look at the symptoms; do any of them sound familiar?

Lack of Service Strategy results in:

  • Your business users googling ‘big data’ and ‘Internet of Things’ to find solutions to their IT issues
  • You’re no longer getting invited to strategic planning meetings, and everyone stops talking when you walk into senior management meetings
  • You’re spying an IT Outsourcer brochure on the CEO’s desk
  • IT solutions rolled out that the IT organisation had nothing to do with
  • IT being perceived as an abyss, into which money mysteriously disappears with nothing coming back out

Lack of Service Design results in:

  • The business still using the old system despite the new solution being a raging success, according to IT’s objectives
  • User satisfaction dipping to new lows, although service levels are almost always met
  • Users not getting what they want while vendors are meeting all their service targets
  • Porsche promised, VW delivered – which does the job adequately, but just isn’t a Porsche
  • Service Level Managers needing trauma therapy after monthly service review meetings

If you recognise any of these symptoms within your own IT organisation, pick up the phone and call me or one of my Australia-wide colleagues. It’s really not as hard as you’d think to complete your ITSM implementation and reap its true benefits. 

About the Author

Based in Brisbane, Rachel Seaniger is a Principal Consultant and the ITSM Practice Lead at CSC Consulting. She has 16 years’ experience in senior service delivery roles including Queensland Police Service and Queensland Health.