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ITIL's Top 10 Quick Wins

Without quick wins, too many employees give up on ITIL (or actively join the resistance), writes ITSM Watch guest columnist Graham Price of Pink Elephant.
Apr 27, 2007

Graham Price

Major change and continuous improvement efforts, such as the implementation of ITIL’s best practices, takes time—sometimes years! However, most people, including senior management, won't go on the long march unless they see compelling evidence within a short time that the journey is worth the effort and cost, and is producing expected results.

Here’s a quick case study to illustrate this point:

Dale, an IT manager, was by nature a "big ideas" person. A very good visionary and long term thinker. With assistance from two other IT managers, he developed a concept for how a configuration management database (CMDB) could be developed to help improve knowledge and control of IT assets.

In fact, the more the three thought of the opportunity, the more they realized that a CMDB could bring many related benefits to the business as well as the IT operation. The three managers gained approval for their initiative and plugged away at implementing their vision for more than a year.

By their own standards, they accomplished a great deal: new discovery and audit tools and methods were developed, new processes and activities were defined, and a master CMDB was defined and populated.

However, by the standards of skeptics, especially the CIO and divisional controller, who wanted to see more tangible and financial benefits to offset the costs, the managers had produced nothing.

When questioned, they explained that big changes require time. The CIO and controller accepted that argument for over a year and then pulled the plug on the project.

Best Practices For Leading Change

According to John Kotter, Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School, there are eight critical success factors for leading change. This organizational change model is widely regarded as the best-practice framework for conducting major transformations. One of the success factors, No.6, is “generating short-term wins”.

In Dale’s case, if he and his colleagues had deliberately incorporated a couple of short‑term wins into their plan, their very useful project would probably have survived and helped IT and their organization.

If, in IT Service Management (ITSM), our long term goal is to build an efficient and effective operation, then it is important at the outset that we are already planning for short-term wins, then acknowledge and celebrate them when they occur.

These “low-hanging fruit” will go a long way to help validate our efforts and win the hearts and minds of key people in IT Service Management, the customer community and our external partners.

Top 10 ITIL Quick Wins

Here are some of the most common quick wins to keep in mind as you build your own plans:

10. Consolidation To One Incident Database

Even if your organization is spread out with multiple physical service desks, common reference to a single incident database will enable more consistency of process, consolidated data for reporting and more relevant analysis of incident and problem trends. You will end up with faster and more accurate decisions for changes and improvements.

9. Establish A Single Point Of Contact (SPOC)

A SPOC is not to be confused with a single service desk (or an alien life form). You can have multiple service desks for different geographies, languages, business units, etc.

Just make sure each customer only needs to know the one place to contact for everything. This is a well established, proven best practice and will earn you great kudos with the customer community.

8. Establish Incident Management Policies

Give your service desk staff some hard guidance on how to consistently handle specific, expected situations. The danger of training people in generic customer service skills and then not giving them specific procedures for how to handle typical situations is that they will do well the first time, and maybe the second and third times – but each time they are possibly re-inventing how to handle the situation.

That is a surefire way to tick-off regular customers. Deal with customers consistently and they will love you.

7. Start Thinking Problem Management

This is one of the weakest areas in ITSM. There are still too many people who think that if they are good at fire-fighting then they are good at Problem Management. No!

To be able to effectively engage in Problem Management, you need to get out of the front line and start analyzing incident data. Write this task into job descriptions and allocate the time to do it proactively (Meaning: not just as a reaction to high impact incidents).

The quick win is that dealing with problems proactively will pre-empt future incidents, thereby improving service quality.

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