The new ITIL® Practitioner qualification is about giving IT Service Management (ITSM) professionals practical guidance that allows them to truly adapt and adopt ITIL® in their organization. Practitioner is very much going to be about continual improvement as much as practical guidance; it will work in day-to-day, business as usual activity as well as the bigger initiatives ITIL is so often associated with.
For that reason there are several key areas of ITIL and ITSM that we are expanding upon in the guidance and communication is one of them.
Good communication in ITSM is vital to success
Communication is quite simply one of the most significant enablers of successful service management. Practitioners can spend a lot of time writing great processes, creating workflows and using the latest tools, but if the culture and the people part isn’t right then none of it will be successful. The expression “culture eats strategy for breakfast” is very much true for ITSM; if people are not on board with the changes and the new processes, no matter how good these are, it will always fail.
The key to good communication in ITSM is not just about telling people things but it’s also about listening and hearing what people are saying to you; communication is ultimately an essential personal business skill you must have in order to make service management work. The issue practitioners have had previously is that communication has never before been presented in a way that’s tangible – guidance just says we need to have good communication for successful ITSM but without explaining how. This is where Practitioner is going to make a real difference: we are providing clear guidance on what’s important in communication with practical examples of different ways communication is used and tools that can help communicate better.
The practitioner guidance will include many useable tools, such as checklists, that clarify important areas that practitioners should tick off in their communications with colleagues, stakeholders and customers alike. Throughout my experience as a consultant I’ve found many IT professionals tend to over-engineer documents that communicate a process, a result or an issue because they misinterpreted what that document needed to look like. We end up creating 200-page reports when a three-page summary would have been sufficient to communicate the point well. ITIL Practitioner won’t be a definitive solution to good communication; it’s a guidance that can be followed and adapted but in a way that makes communication very real.
Key principles in communication
There are some key principles that will be discussed in the guidance, the first is that communication is a two-way process. There is a sender and a receiver in any communication; yes it’s important to communicate your point well but it’s equally, if not more important, to listen to the response. For example, if you’re gathering requirements it should not be simply about going and getting the information. Instead you should also be asking those involved questions – what’s working for them, what isn’t? IT professionals can jump into solution mode very quickly and this often results in missing out the vital detail of key user and business requirements.
Users of IT services can also feel that they are not getting the level of support they need from the IT department, for example at the service desk – if they do not receive sufficient feedback and re-statement of their issues and needs. It is not enough just to log an incident, the agent should also clarify to the caller that they have understood their issue and that they will own it.
Another principle is understanding that we communicate all the time without realizing it. Our body language can say a thousand more things than our voice, our tone of voice can completely change what we say and who you include in project teams and who you don’t can speak volumes.
Choosing the correct form of communication in each situation is also hugely important. There are so many different types of communication available to us and each is most suitable for certain situations. From email to telephone, from board meetings to gathering requirements – it’s about knowing which to pick at each point in time.
As people gain more experience at work and mature into their roles, they often naturally become better in their communications, but on the other hand there are still too many that don’t.
How we communicate can be more important than what we are actually communicating so it’s vital we build on this skill from the moment we start in our roles. How we communicate determines how successful that communication was received and therefore leads to the success or failure of initiatives. Simple processes well communicated are more successful than excellent processes badly communicated.
ITSM is not simply B2B or B2C – it’s H2H: Human to Human.
See our ITIL® Practitioner section for more information.
Do you agree that communication is a key part of ITSM? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.
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