Tripping Out On Small-Business ITIL
What small businesses care about
Large corporates could be characterised as caring about profit, market-share and risk-control; and government characterised as pursuing policy compliance, public service and allocation of funds. What do small businesses care about?
Small businesses are typically chronically short of time and money. Contrary to popular belief, SMEs are in many ways quite inefficient, because of the lack of economies of scale and the lack of specialisation and process optimisation. They make up for it by minimising costs in general and waste in particular (it is the owners money), and by doing entirely without some processes (see Risk).
Small businesses are often characterised as being happy just the way they are, but this is generally not so. In the same Canadian survey, 88% said that growth or expansion over the next few years was important to their business (55% said very important).
Small businesses typically operate on narrow margins and low cash reserves. They lack the diversity and momentum of larger businesses. They are tossed about on the seas of change, and often are completely absorbed in just staying afloat.
What does best practice mean to small businesses? Often, not much.
For any methodology to work for them it needs to be three things: achievable, applicable and acceptable. The writer uses a set of 14 transforms for filtering IP so that whatever comes out the other side is achievable, applicable and acceptable to small business. I call it the BSF: the Common Sense Filter.
What does ITIL look like through the BSF?
SLM is not about us and them: there is no tribal effect. So there is less measurement and reporting and more defining the catalogue and focusing efforts on services. In this SME context I prefer to call SLAs Service Level Definitions. Awareness of the service-centric mentality is important. So too is awareness of the need for planning.
Change Management boils down to a change log, a CAB, and moving the organisation through three levels of change maturity:
This will generate debate, but I think pragmatism dictates that Configuration Management boils down to a financial asset register and the rest stored as him over there: all the relationships and impact analysis are in someones head.
In general, processes are stripped of much formal process. Most of the remaining processes focus on having an Owner, making plans, aligning the process with the business strategy (and the need to have one of those), and making forecasts to cope with growth and reduce the costs of surprises. Measurement is limited to a few basic KPIs to ensure the process is working.
With some processes, the aim is merely to create awareness that the process exists and get ownership so somebody thinks about it. Examples are continuity and capacity.
Perhaps the most fundamental difference is that there is no IT, so it makes little sense to talk about service management in the context of IT services delivered to the business. Service management is about managing all services, whether delivered to staff, partners or customers.