ITSM and the customer: make a difference through services, not “framework hunting”

  • By Madeleine du Toit – service and governance expert
  • 15 September 2017
ITSM and the customer: make a difference through services, not “framework hunting”

People wanting to progress their careers and make a difference in IT and IT service management (ITSM) roles need to concentrate on three major issues: their customer, the services they need, and the value they should be providing. Avoiding the sport of “framework hunting” is not only encouraged, but highly recommended.

After all, delivering value to customers through the services you introduce, is what your customers need, they couldn’t care less which framework you use to get you there (and I believe most will, if you apply it properly). But where do you start?

The best place is, conveniently, at the start of the lifecycle and that is with the concept of service strategy. Within ITIL®, the strategic approach forces you to question the value of IT and what it’s there to deliver. It challenges you to understand your Services, your customers and the value you are here to provide. Once you understand that it in turn informs the whole lifecycle of design, transition, operation and continual service improvement.

ITIL – a “golden thread”

For example, when delivering ITIL Practitioner courses we go back to the service management concept and challenge the students to look at the business value of introducing new services – something that is key to ITIL Practitioner’s 9 Guiding Principles.

Our course involves a fictitious exercise of bringing in a new service to a company. For some students of ITIL – for example incident managers or people on the service desk –  this can sometimes be a mental leap: while they might think of ITIL as involving processes, they often don’t think about it as introducing new services that are effective, efficient, stable and provide business value.

The decision to study ITIL is an important learning curve for people in IT, as it reinforces that IT isn’t just about technology, it’s also about services, customers and value. I believe that ITIL can help you create a “golden thread” that connects everything when delivering a service and helps instil universal understanding within an organization of the business value that you’re providing to your customer.

Regardless of whether you are working within infrastructure, operations or development the single driving force for everyone should be providing value through service. Therefore, rather than working in silos and focusing on each specific element of the service, the actual service becomes the focal point and the reason for everyone to collaborate.

“Framework hunting”

A phenomenon that is adding to the complexity for ITSM practitioners is that of “framework hunting”, with a notion (often difficult to define) that there is “something missing”. People working in IT start looking for the next “Holy Grail” or miracle solution to their problems. So, they might look for the answers in DevOps or Agile when, in my opinion, they should stop framework hunting and go back to what improvements their customer wants and how to deliver them.

A typical mistake is to think that ITIL “does operations” and Agile or DevOps “does design” when they are each complementary. ITIL provides you with the knowledge that, for example, you need to bring a structured approach to design; that could apply as much to an Agile environment as a non-Agile environment. And, with DevOps, you might need fewer processes and touch points, but that doesn’t eliminate the issue of how to manage design, deployment or an incident. You still need to think about the process – and that’s where ITIL comes in.

So, practitioners can return to ITIL as a book of advice which helps you know what you should be managing and offering an optimal way of doing it, while allowing you to choose the best way to do it within your own organization.

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