ITSM into 2018: drinking from the well of training and development

Figure looking down a large well which takes up most of the image

In 2017, people working in IT service management (ITSM) have shown a real openness to change and new ideas.

Nikola GaydarovThere has always been a discussion that “a change is needed” in the ITSM world. Still a lot of initiatives have started and died unnoticed, or after a ton of negative opinions. For example, two years ago the idea of Agile ITSM would have attracted a lot of negative comments. More recently, I’ve seen a shift to comments and attitudes that are overwhelmingly positive.

Change is needed in ITSM and the negativity that has gathered in recent years needs to make way for new things. That said, it’s clear that ITIL® is not going away and it’s great that ITIL will be updated this year.

People will always need various ways to solve problems and to be pragmatic about using the best framework to achieve that.

Room for improvement?

So, looking ahead to 2018, what still needs to improve in ITSM?

It’s obvious that businesses need to operate at greater speed and ITSM hasn’t been moving quickly enough. Into that context comes DevOps which means pushing through new things and, potentially, “breaking” a lot of things too. This raises the question of quality, though I think many people are willing to sacrifice quality for speed.

Also, ITSM needs to provide real transparency and involvement for the businesses it serves. The business end of organizations has become more tech-savvy: they want to know more and want to be following development closely, making adjustments if needed. By taking the lead from agile ideas, ITSM shouldn’t treat the business just as “requesters” but as equal stakeholders, providing ideas and feedback. Often, ITSM underestimates the business and what it can bring to the change and improvement process.

2018: what does ITSM need to do?

ITSM needs to adopt and adapt its processes. For example, using agile incident management means updating the process approach. When you have a disruptive and game-changing technology such as Blockchain you cannot keep the same processes and means of communication.

Speaking of game-changers, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming in 2018 and is non-negotiable. Organizations looking at GDPR will be asking how they are going to be operationally stable on 26 May 2018 – and this is where ITSM can help a lot. This is an organization-wide challenge that affects every process, service design and implementation.

ITSM practitioners and the need to improve skills

To develop the skills and abilities needed to be successful in 2018, ITSM practitioners all need to read more! Now, there’s ITIL, Agile, COBIT, Lean, IT4IT, SIAM, VeriSM, etc. If you want to work in this business you need to have an idea about everything – that means reading, interpreting and adopting. Every framework can offer help in one way or another and practitioners need to work with several simultaneously to be effective.

Finally, there is a growing need for skills in organizational change management (OCM), which focuses more on managing the people side of change. Learning about OCM has been one of the greatest benefits from studying ITIL Practitioner; it has reinforced the idea that just sending an email and calling it communication, or doing nothing at all, is not going to be enough to create successful change.

If you have responsibility for enabling change, you need to understand people’s psychology and be prepared for personal resistance. It doesn’t work – even as a senior manager – to rely on your job title to persuade people to change old habits and embrace new ways of working.

So, developing the softer, human-to-human skills will be critical in service management in 2018. While new technologies are, comparatively, easy to understand the biggest issues are interpersonal: that means calling an end to poor communications, both internally and externally.

This year is about finding the true value in service management; with ITIL leading the way and supported by the other frameworks, it’s time for professionals to “drink from the well” of training and development.

Read Nikola Gaydarov's previous AXELOS Blog Post, What is Agile ITSM and what does it need to be successful?.

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