Project and Programme Management's Role in ITSM Success

Project and Programme Management's Role in ITSM Success

The space in between people managing and operating IT services and those that build and deliver IT products could be called the great divide.

Among developers, the thinking can - sometimes - be based on the principles of "build it and hand it over". The big issue is that they may not consider how to build a product that is both easy to run and maintain during its operational life.

Frances ScarffAs part of the itSMF FUSION conference in the USA this month, my speech on "The role of Project and Programme Management in achieving ITSM success" is focused on helping service management engage better with business and project people and to avoid a "them and us" scenario.

This isn't just about playing nicely together; service management needs project leaders to develop products which have both business and operational needs front of mind from day one. Understandably, project teams like to use new concepts; but that can make the end product problematic to maintain over the long term. And, after all, the operational phase is far longer than the build phase! The potential inefficiencies created by maintenance issues can ultimately cost the business money. So the overall emphasis of the project or programme needs to be on building business success; to do that you need to ensure risk is considered from a variety of perspectives.

To deliver successful projects, there need to be integrated project teams, including representatives from the business, development, service delivery and the end customer. The overall governance needs to focus on business need, delivery of benefits and full-life costings.

From the outset, sound communication is needed to avoid any potential breakdown in understanding across the different roles and teams. If they don't recognize and respect each other's roles this will hamper delivery of business value in the long term. For example, projects can be developed, delivered and handed over with no ITSM professional or change manager involved but this brings significant risk that the product will not be optimal and the full set of benefits it is intended to achieve are unlikely to be realized.

Essentially, project and programme teams begin their work based on a business case. Therefore, the developers need to ensure what they're building is fit for purpose when it goes live. End users also need a voice in terms of what training and education they will need. There's no point in building something that looks good but is difficult to use in practice, so the end user, as well as the service operations team, needs to be involved in reviews and testing.

The development team needs to consider the short-term transitional requirements ahead of the long-term operational and ensure the business is ready for when the new product or service becomes operational; too many things in development going live at the same time could put the whole business at risk. However, it is only when a service is operational that it delivers value to the business, so this needs to happen as soon as possible but at the right cost to achieve timely benefit delivery.

Following best practice approaches should ensure that collaboration between teams is well organized and remains integrated.

In a typical project management approach, the triumvirate of time, cost and quality remain paramount with benefits realization being the driver. But there are other delivery factors that are often overlooked, though they shouldn't be:

AIMS/SCOPE: All organizations will cover aims and scope at some level. But using best practice guidance, such as PRINCE2®, will instil the need for a business case, focusing on business objectives and requirements.

BUSINESS READINESS: Can involve either a light touch approach or more formal methodology from the business but, either way, the business needs to consider whether a change project is ready before it goes live.

EXTERNAL DEPENDENCIES: Projects do not sit in isolation so you need to ensure that the relationship with 'the outside world' is considered, specifically where the success of the project relates to those factors. This includes looking at factors such as legal/regulatory, interconnectivity with other projects or reliance on an external service provider for the necessary capability and resources.

SKILLS AND CAPABILITIES: May be short term or permanent, depending on what you need to build the project and what skills need transferring to the ongoing operations. To deliver a successful new product you need the right people to deliver it and service operations people in place, including a service desk with the requisite knowledge.

PROCESSES: Any change in business processes needs visibility with users and the facility to get help if necessary. Let people know what has changed and the likely impact on existing processes.

GOVERNANCE: Business governance needs to influence governance of projects and programmes. Understanding roles and responsibilities and where decisions need to be made is critical in building success. In particular it is essential to consider where the budget decision lies and whether authority has been delegated appropriately.

And as my presentation's fulcrum imagery showed at FUSION, change projects are a balancing act and there is no single, all-encompassing solution.

When managing business change, if we are too focused on reacting to change and requests from the outside world we will always be firefighting and not in the driving seat. Businesses and their change teams need to take a step back and agree what the business needs to do to develop optimally.

Certainly, you have to account for changes demanded by customers but they must be considered in the context of the business' overall objectives.

So, an organization that is looking to achieve full value from its projects and programmes needs to ensure they are run in a way that includes the knowledge and perspective of a range of individuals - including those with service management experience - if they are to deliver true success for the organization.

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