Since my introduction to ITIL best practice guidance at the beginning of the Millennium, an important lesson I've learned is that ITIL is guidance not gospel.
Fast forward to 2016 and the launch of ITIL Practitioner brought even more clarity to the guidance and how to leverage it for your organization.
However, ITIL Practitioner also put an end to the “secret weapons” I’d been using in my service management consulting career! Despite that, I was pleased to see what the new guidance brought to service management and how its 9 Guiding Principles help address some common problems I’d observed for a long time, which are:
- People not keeping the big picture in mind
- Value seen from an IT perspective only
- A tendency among IT people to over-engineer because they can.
The net result of these issues is creating service management as bureaucracy, taking too long to get only a mediocre result and not achieving a frictionless interaction with IT.
The big picture
Thinking about the big picture is about making it simple and bringing value.
However, the fact that IT people are smart – almost too smart – means that doesn’t always happen. For example, a company I worked with had developed a six-level incident categorization approach. On paper it looked great; but they hadn’t considered the impact it would have on consumers already mad with the organization!
An antidote to this is the Continual Service Improvement (CSI) model which I use to listen and open up a discussion about where the organization is today. With that and a value stream mapping approach – walking through the process steps – it will help with understanding of the impact a decision has on overall effectiveness, reinforce the big picture and the need to “keep it simple”, as in ITIL Practitioner.
Focus on value
IT people can do some very slick things technically, but sometimes lose sight of why they are doing it and who in the business cares about it.
If you tell the business that you’re “taking calls at the service desk”, the business might well say “so what?” and question the value of what you’re doing. So, it’s important to get at the “why”. Providing a clear answer to the question “what is the business driver for this?” can be a mind-shift for some IT professionals.
As Mark Schwartz says in his book, The Art of Business Value, business value is whatever the business says it is. Therefore, engage the customer, ask them what they value and act on it.
IT organizations tend to talk among themselves about business value instead of talking with business colleagues.
And over-engineering is a problem I know well, having been guilty of it when working in a regulatory environment requiring documentation. Of course, I over-documented things! What makes a process run is the people executing it and they don’t necessarily have time to read pages and pages of documentation. Again, it needs simplifying to do the job it needs to.
So, today, ITIL Practitioner brings a lot of wisdom about how to approach things as a practitioner: it helps you question the business case, think about how to communicate to your audience, consider what are the right things to measure and how. Ultimately, these are the high level “rules of the road” for excellent service management.
I think the modern service management perspective is to always be learning; that’s key to success because the organizations we support are always evolving and so we need to evolve with them.
Read Doug Tedder's previous AXELOS Blog Post, Continual Service Improvement: The Six Steps to Success