ITSM: skills and attributes you need to succeed today

ITSM: skills and attributes you need to succeed today

Barclay RaeIn the past year to 18 months, we’ve witnessed a real shift in IT Service Management (ITSM).

For a long time, there’s been an emphasis on the importance of processes, technology and certifications but now, there’s a much greater awareness of the need to have new skills. Such skills are more about people: communication, leadership, management and business knowledge.

And people are beginning to advocate wider skillsets, with many IT organizations hiring individuals based on a broader set of criteria than previously.

Increased need for Agile and DevOps approaches

A number of things have driven this shift and it begins with the accumulation of twenty years’ practising these principles, though not always successfully. From my experience, I’ve learned that frameworks don’t deliver success on their own and that on an organizational level, skills and personal capabilities make the difference.

Consumerization has mostly driven this: the rise in customer demand and customer experience means that people are expecting more from their workplace IT. They want it to be faster, modern, more connected and more social than ever, just like the technology they use recreationally. As a result, this has fuelled the adoption of Agile and DevOps approaches.

Today, there’s more of an emphasis on flexibility and simply following a process, script, SLA or KPI model isn’t enough. We need more fluid ways of working, meaning that people are enabled to make judgements about what is right for the customer rather than blindly following a process. The Agile methodology maintains that processes are good but principles may overrule them: the challenge lies in applying these principles to more traditional ways of working.

Looking to succeed in 2017

It’s perhaps too soon to see the difference ITIL® Practitioner has made to ITSM, but more and more people are aware of it, have used it and appreciate it. It is starting to make an impact but this will take time. However, the guiding principles within ITIL Practitioner are better than anything we’ve had before and people who know their stuff believe in them.

I also think that co-operation between IT and business needs to improve going into 2017. Key elements of running a business like procurement and finance are also critically connected to IT and can fall between the cracks. Therefore, IT professionals need to show other competencies beyond the technical, like communication, internal marketing and leadership. These aren’t separate from IT, just as IT isn’t separate from business.

But when it comes to finding talent, I feel the recruitment process is still too geared towards the technical when competence shouldn’t be measured by training and certifications alone. Senior executives need to recognize that a person’s competence in managing people is just as valid as having a certification. The recognition of this is happening, but slowly; we haven’t got time to wait for people to change and the business imperative is on a much faster timescale.

Emergence of new professional competences

There is a different, modern workforce coming through that is more attuned to this. And though digital transformation has been with us for 30 years, what’s new is the need for people to be more responsive to the new demands placed on them and which reflects the changing pace of transformation.

It’s down to the CIO to help create the more responsive, fluid organization that will meet external demands – and that needs new competencies. If that’s successful, the combination of people and organizational change will deliver real ‘digital transformation’.

See our ITIL Practitioner and guiding principles sections for more information.

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