Secrets of IT service management implementations: The Big Bang Theory

After being involved with hundreds of IT service management (ITSM) implementations over the past decade involving small and large organizations, I’ve found that there are as many ways to address each rollout as there are organizations.

Surprisingly, although you’d assume the magnitude of the challenge would scale with the size of the organization, this isn’t always the case. In fact, I’ve found that larger companies (though generally bigger and more complex) often present challenges that are easier to solve. 

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Most large organizations already understand the need for process. Without processes (flawed or otherwise) these companies wouldn’t survive. Typically it’s these internal workflows that have allowed them to become a large business in the first place. 

Thus, when implementing ITSM at a large organization, the focus tends to be on process re-engineering rather than process adoption.

With smaller organizations, you often start with ad-hoc procedures and adapt these into formal processes. This will involve educating and convincing internal stakeholders of the value in standardizing workflows so that they are automated and repeatable.

This post is the first of three that shares key factors for success when implementing effective ITSM across an entire organization. In this first, I will tackle one of my favorites, The Big Bang Theory and why you shouldn’t try and rollout all processes at once.

ITSM – Biting off more than you can chew

ITSM is a fascinating and exciting concept. Once the light goes on and the business truly understands the upside and potential of an ITSM implementation, the sky’s the limit!

For example, an organization may decide to adopt best practices within an IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). In their enthusiasm, they attempt to capture all processes within the ITIL framework. But regardless of the size of the organization, this is not a reality-based approach. Just like the Big Bang Theory you cannot roll out all ITIL processes all at once. All successful implementations are built-up process by process. 

Although this type of experience is normally confined to small businesses (<1000 employees), I have also seen this occur at larger organizations. The common denominator (rather than company size) involves organizations that have little or no process structure in place. Therefore they lack the insight and perspective to properly scope and quantify the work that’s required for an effective rollout.

ITSM – A phased approach

Although we want to use a reality-based approach, we also want to preserve the enthusiasm. Channeling this type of positive energy will provide you with the internal champions and evangelists that will carry the project through to completion.

But enthusiasm needs to be tempered with realistic expectations about what it takes to make ITSM a reality at the organization level. I usually start by explaining that ITSM is a journey, not a destination.

ITSM is a continuous improvement process that never ends because the business is constantly changing. As the needs of the business change, so will the design and key performance indicators (KPI’s) of the business processes used to support it.

ITSM – Successive Success

The roll out of ITSM can also be iterative. The deployment and success of ITSM within a single department can be used to champion the effectiveness across the entire organization. Once other departments see the efficiencies have gone through the roof and user satisfaction has skyrocketed you have a powerful change agent in place.

Other departments will quickly see the benefits of streamlining everyday tasks and automating their own departments. HR may want to use ITSM to manage job applicants and manage employee benefit plans. The Marketing department may want to improve their job request workflows. Facilities may want to manage equipment and buildings through a formal auditable system.

The paths an organization can take with ITSM are endless. Once the business takes one bite, they usually want the whole pie. My guidance? Don’t eat it all in one sitting. Portion control is the key.

In my next post I will share how to manage the internal naysayer before and during the implementation of ITSM. As with all change, there are those who support and those who resist. My next installment will focus on how to deal with this type of person while implementing the best processes for the organization. 

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