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Collaboration and communities – using ITIL 4 for IT service management

A group of people having a discussion

In the current world of remoteness and uncertainty about places of work, language and common understanding take on a new level of importance.

My work over the past four to five years has involved bringing people together in organizations to use ITSM effectively.

This has become even more critical in the past 18 months with people missing out on face-to-face experiences and having less facility to share day-to-day learnings. With ITIL® 4 moving people’s way of working from processes to practices, this requires greater stakeholder collaboration.

Therefore, we are beginning to see the growth of organizational best practice communities, sharing successes, spawning other communities and creating combined sources of knowledge.

Creating a service quality community 

In one large, global organization I’ve worked with, the customer journey is facilitated by teams across the world.

This also combines multiple methods – such as ITIL and DevOps – but with often-conflicting strategies and people at odds with each other.

To address this, we created a service quality community based on ITIL practices. This works by taking people out of their usual role and objectives to participate in a global community that focuses on value streams for the customer and organization. Removing the strain of day-to-day conflicts across time zones has led to collaboration.

The approach used to achieve this includes:
  • Understanding the company vision: what is it and how do stakeholders contribute to it? In the service quality community, that means everyone – from C-level to analyst – coming together to talk about value, based on the ITIL 4 principle of focus on value.
  • Agreeing a purpose statement: starting with an outside-in view (how does the organization look to the customer?) and solving it using an inside-out view (how can we do better with our end-to-end service?). 
  • Creating a charter: Continually review the charter, challenge one another respectfully; we don’t solve the incident, rather the bigger picture. 
  • Identifying “fragile” services: for example, you might have legacy technology supporting a digital service. This needs care, maintenance, and alignment between teams to reduce its fragility and ensure service quality. 

As a result of creating a community such as this, the organization has seen improvements in its net promoter score, employee experience (including training and development in ITIL 4) and customer experience (while gradually moving away from service level agreements).

Bringing people together in this way helps both the business and customers but also employees’ mental health, by building an environment where they can speak freely. Having a focus on value and ITIL 4’s other guiding principles has become the easiest way to create a foundation for one, common language and a better understanding of how people contribute to value.

From reactive to proactive

One of the biggest challenges to successful improvement is people stuck in the cycle of reactive responses to the latest problem or situation.

Senior leadership teams need to understand this and release both time and budget to allow people to get together and, often, not solve anything initially. Instead, a community will identify proof of concept areas in the organization and focus on what the customer considers important in order to demonstrate value.

When others see the work of the community, they will want to get involved for the right reasons and bring their contribution also.

ITIL 4 practices have given us the capital, leverage and structure to formalize how we do this. It helps people discuss and deliver value in a way they didn’t consider before.

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