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ITSM - From Theory To Reality

Sep 6, 2005

ITSM Watch Staff

By Michael Cardinal


Another key aspect of turning ITIL best practices into reality comes from effective training. Creating an understanding of the benefits of using best practices, of the goals and structure of the processes, as well as a complete understanding of the best practices framework is vital to success.

Training helps people to internalize the framework and make it part of their lives. In this way they rely less on the need for a prescriptive set of "procedures" or "tasks." Just like professional sports figures, users of ITIL will soon begin to let intuition and training take over.

A professional football player can start his career by studying playbooks, manuals or rule books, game films, and theory to get a basic sense or understanding of the rules and the game. But actual learning requires making the rules and theories real through practice and playing time. The purpose of practice in sports is not just to learn the game. It also creates "muscle memory," so that the body takes over and the motions needed become "first nature" or intuitive.

IT professionals need to start putting IT Service Management ideas into practice to create "mental muscle memory." Once that is achieved, the need for processes and procedures recedes into the background allowing more time to focus on the customer and less on the manual.

Because people are the single most important factor in success of an IT Service Management program, one-on-one training, mentoring or good strong coaching is often needed to mold the theories and processes into implemented solutions. Users need to find "practical process coaches" or mentors.

These are people who have taken action, implemented Service Management ideas and can help coach others. They will motivate, teach, ask questions and support (and even hold hands if needed) both the new and experienced users as they too learn how to turn the theory into a practical reality.

Talk The Talk; Walk The Walk

Turning theory into reality will also require a willingness to simplify and standardize procedures, give up control and accept responsibility on the part of everyone in an organization. A new "language" that everyone accepts also needs to be put in place. A single standard set of terms helps to cut down on communication issues.

The "territorialism" and "control" that exist in many organizations need to be removed or broken down. Everyone must accept the goals of the organization and focus on making those goals happen as part of their daily work. This will also help to show strong leadership, which comes from accepting responsibility without having complete control.

Walking the walk and leading by example while taking an active part in the implementation requires senior management to help the employees understand the need to standardize and simplify the way people act and talk. They must do this however, without losing the individualism that is so important in working with people.

This will require an Awareness and Organizational Change effort to pave the way for a change in the standard operating procedures. Complexity must be replaced by simplicity. Responsibility and accountability must become the watch words of the organization.


As an organization moves further along with implementation, it must take care not to make their customization or "decomposition" of the high level process too complex. Staying as close as possible to the original processes serves to maintain flexibility, adaptability and quick response to change. Using the standard terminology provided by ITIL also allows for ease of communication both within an organization and with other organizations.

Effective communications is one of the most important factors of flexibility and for running a successful business. Poor communications is one of the quickest ways to the downfall of what seems to be a highly successful business.

Complexity and poor communication make change more difficult. In today's ever changing business and IT climate, flexibility and good communication will remain highly important for years to come. Service Management best practices allow you to ensure good communications and to help avoid complexity.

By remaining flexible, adaptable to change and focused on fulfilling the needs of the customer and user, an organization can reap efficiency, productivity and economic benefits from implementing IT Service Management best practices.

Employees will know and understand what is expected of them. Management will have an effective way to measure success and productivity that can be easily compared across all areas of the organization (comparing oranges to oranges). The organization will begin to recognize inefficiencies of operation and have a standardized means to change or fix the issues.

Interaction with other organizations using a standard language and approach will allow for overall improvements at an industry level. An organization can gain many benefits by taking a simplified and standardized approach to the use of IT Service Management best practices.