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Seven Tips to Rapid Service Transformation

No ITSM methodology can guarantee success, but there are ways to shorten time to implementation and ensure you get it right the first time, writes ITSM Watch guest columnist Martin Likier of Forsythe.
May 15, 2009

Martin Likier

Once your organization has made the decision to implement an IT service management (ITSM) discipline, you can quickly become overwhelmed.

A litany of books, terms, processes, functions, roles and responsibilities is the first wave that hits you. Then a second wave hits you, which includes communicating with the business, defining services, service level agreements and the gruesome task of trying to develop critical success factors, key performance indicators and operational metrics.

It is enough to make anyone feel like they're drowning, but it doesn't have to be that way. While there is no methodology that can guarantee success, there are seven tips that will shorten your time to implementation, while helping ensure you get it right the first time.

Tip One: Start with a Framework

Frameworks help people avoid reinventing the wheel and overlooking something that will rear its ugly head sooner or later. If you already have a framework in place, you have a choice to make: continue with that framework or choose a new framework. For those who are thinking about choosing a framework path, you may want to consider the following frameworks.

ITIL has become the de facto global standard for IT service management. ITIL provides a set of best practices for managing all phases of the IT service lifecycle. ITIL's best practices encompass services, people, processes and technology, implemented from a life cycle point of view, focused on integration with the business. Because it is public and non-proprietary, it is cost effective and provides the fastest path to making your framework actionable.

Alternatives to ITIL like Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) do exist but can be based on proprietary or a specific vendor's knowledge which can make them far more difficult to adopt and adapt, and their focus can be either too broad or too narrow. If you are considering an alternative to ITIL, be sure you have determined that it fits your organization’s service management requirements and that you are aware of where gaps may exist between its capabilities and your requirements.

Tip Two: Effective IT Service Management Program is Proactive versus Reactive

Most IT departments spend a great portion of their day operating tactically by reacting and responding to one IT fire after another. Due to this turmoil, reactive organizations generally wait for a directive from the business before they move forward. Proactive organizations are always looking for ways to improve and provide better service. They understand the importance of integrating IT into the business and being viewed as a strategic partner. IT departments that successfully transform into a service oriented culture are able to maintain a proper balance between being proactive versus reactive.

Being extreme in either case can cause problems, but being more proactive helps position IT organizations as true advocates of the business. The business will appreciate you more and value you more highly if they see you being proactive in trying to address and even prevent problems.

Tip Three: Implement Best-Practice Processes and Document Them Properly

Whether it’s a down economy (potentially losing staff) or a thriving economy (potentially gaining staff), it is important for everyone to know what is expected of them and how to accomplish their tasks. Implementing a formalized and documented process model based on best practices will lead to consistent performance of your IT staff day-in, day-out. This holds true whether you are a new hire asked to perform a task on day one or you are a 20-year veteran. Each process should have an identified owner and include role-aligned procedures and tool-aligned work instructions. Using an informal process approach leaves too much to interpretation and runs the risk of not getting it right the first time.

Tip Four: Establish a Governance Committee

Establishing a formal governance (or steering) committee will ensure the continued evolution of an IT service management initiative. Such committees take a holistic view of the entire portfolio of IT programs and recommend and prioritize which improvements should be made and when. Without a formal committee, governance will typically be ad-hoc and driven by silo requests. Ad-hoc governance rarely considers the integration of processes, people and technology to provide improved services to the customer.

services, management, IT, ITIL, ITSM

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