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A Doctor's Approach to ITSM Implementations

Mar 16, 2004

ITSM Watch Staff

By Jan Vromant


Using models with a hierarchical definition of pains and remedies eliminates a lot of the guesswork in finding the accurate solution to a particular problem. The advantage of applying the correct remedy is a lasting recovery. The quality of the IT services is improved, and there is the satisfaction of having done a thorough and professional job instead of patchwork. Killing a mosquito with an elephant gun is a waste of resources.

The alignment of the Pain and Remedy Types is not a rigid proposition, as the implementation or improvement of the Service Support processes can reduce the Financial Pain or one might lessen a Personal Pain through the introduction of a new tool. Use this pain-remedy model as a conceptual reference rather than an equivalent table.

As an example, at a managed services provider company on the East Coast, we identified that the root cause of their pain came from the communications or strategic level. However, management decided their remedy was to get rid of their existing helpdesk tool, and install a new one. After a tremendous expense, and continued customer dissatisfaction, they continued to suffer from the same pain.

In another experience, the IT group at a Midwest insurance company bought tool after tool to address operational and tactical issues, but failed to address the lack of organizational structure and accountability at the strategic level. They continued to suffer from the same pain because they did not apply the right remedy.


When you begin an assessment or an IT process improvement assignment, finding the major pain points is where you will find the "low-hanging fruit" and with minimum of effort can rapidly bring some relief and recuperation. The pain-gain model helps to identify and categorize from a 30,000 ft level and is useful to:
  • encourage a sensible discussion, based on a rudimentary analysis of the symptoms
  • is easily communicated, because it is unassuming
  • it features hierarchical levels, similar to organizational layers, facilitating escalation
  • influences the building of appropriate solutions
Any conceptual model has its flaws and drawbacks and depends on the situation. The most important point to take away from this article is that many IT departments prescribe the wrong remedies because they do not understand what ails them. This model was built from experience and tries to help in the analysis of what is wrong and how to cure it. The goal is to curtail the agony of the chaos in IT.

Now I am waiting for somebody to come up with a similar pain-gain model for Wall Street, so that I will know how to deal with my 401k-pain!

Jan Vromant is a consultant specializing in IT Service Management. He can be reached at jan@vromant.com

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