Eddie Vidal hosted the recent session at USA service management conference, FUSION14, where AXELOS Product Development Director, Frances Scarff presented her thoughts on project/programme management and ITSM. Here, he reflects on conference learnings and the state of ITSM in the USA. He is also winner of the 2014itSMF President’s Award.
This year’s FUSION14 conference reminded me how, in a technology-connected world, it’s actually great to connect with people in person as well as gaining a lot of knowledge in a short space of time at the event.
And the overwhelming impression I came away with from FUSION is that IT Service Management (ITSM) is becoming a more widely-accepted practice that is embedded in business. It can be plugged in to so many things and not all of them necessarily IT. But while we, the practitioners, realize the value ITSM adds, the talent and skills we bring is sometimes not appreciated.
That might equally be our fault! ITSM professionals often don’t know how to sell the value of what they do. Even CIOs who may have risen to their position through a technical route may not have the softer skills to communicate value and that needs to change. However, I feel that ITSM is on a journey - moving in the right direction - and it will get there.
Frances Scarff’s presentation at FUSION - on the role of programme and project management in ITSM - struck a chord with me in my role as Service Desk Manager. That is, it’s important to involve IT, including the service desk, in project development and to align with what the business wants.
On past projects, I asked the tech vendor working with us if they wanted volunteers from the service desk for testing. It was a suggestion they’d never had before! Simply put, we’re users too and if we have experience of the system it’s going to make providing practical support to other users so much easier. And yet some project managers don’t think about that approach at the start.
Often, projects may be treated as internal to IT but, in some way or another, they will eventually affect the business - and they can’t be called a success until the project is rolled out to the customers. As Frances pointed out, project success can be viewed in different ways: a project that comes in over budget can still be called a success if it delivers something of value.
In my previous experience of other change projects - including an IBM customer service initiative at Florida International University - a problem can be created if there are silo mentalities. So, first, you need to break down the silos and work as a team. For us, it involved meetings after hours to discuss the project, how culture needed to change to create acceptance and to align with the business.
Is it easy? No - a culture-shaping transformation is often up against a lot of people who don’t want to change. You need “change agents” who can adapt more quickly; innovators who see what’s in it for them and the organization.
But it also needs IT people who both understand IT and can talk to the business. It helps if the service desk sits “at the table” when projects are rolled out. Achieving that is possible if you can get the conversation going on critical issues for customers - what type of calls are they expecting? What reports will be needed for senior management? Is there a need to hire more people? This aligns well with the programme and project management approach and helps to ensure that the ultimate transition to operations is successful.
And there is certainly a place for best practice guidance, if you use it appropriately to your organization. ITIL can be used to improve your processes, but not everything works for every organization or culture. But it’s a guide or framework for success that has worked elsewhere and which adds a lot of value. In my situation, one example is combining ITIL and KCS (Knowledge Centred Support) to put together a service management approach.
For ITSM leaders in the USA today, demonstrating the value of what you do is paramount; to do that, you need to align with the business - it’s about the people we’re there to serve.