Friday, April 25, 2008
Why Bother With ITSM Process Assessments?
It’s not just about knowing where to start, it’s more about proving how far you have come!
So you are off on your ITIL journey and you are either starting to plan how to eat the elephant one bite at a time. (excuse the pun) Or you have been at this for some time and it is now important to get an objective perspective of what your processes look like in live operations.
In either of these two contexts you are considering if it is worth the time and the bother to put your organization through the effort and stress of an assessment using internal resources or external consultants.
If you are like many people I have spoken with over the years you may be hearing two competing voices in your head.
Voice 1: Best practice literature, ITIL and Pink Elephant all say we need to establish a baseline of current maturity before we take the next step. (The “Where are we now?” question of the six step improvement model found in the ITIL Continual Service Improvement book.)
Voice 2: We don’t need an assessment! We know we don’t have much in the way of process and we know exactly what we need to fix first. Why spend the time, energy and money on an assessment that we don’t need!
Sound familiar? I have heard that statement on more than one occasion and from the perspective of only needing input for project planning voice number 2 is hard to argue with.
However, in my personal opinion there are four primary reasons you do an ITSM process assessment. Gaining insight and information for project planning is probably the least compelling.
So here are the top 4 reasons you should strongly consider the need to plan a series (yes I said a series) of process assessments.
Reason 1: As I have already mentioned it is helpful and healthy to obtain an accurate snapshot of your current process maturity, gaps and cultural climate to use for planning purposes. This information is useful for setting project priorities, establishing road maps and looking for quick wins to improve current practices. However, more importantly the information and data you gather before you actually fix anything will be critical for reason #4.
Reason 2: Investment validation (building your business case for project funding) is the next critical reason to conduct an assessment. I am fond of repeating a wise saying I once heard. “It is not real until it is documented” It is a quirky part of human nature that allows us to deny or at least postpone the reality of things that are not documented. Somehow putting it down on paper and making it official forces us to at least consider the need to act on the things we have put off dealing with.
Reasons 1 & 2 assume you only do an assessment up front prior to beginning your improvement efforts. The next two reasons require you to consider the need to conduct additional assessments following any improvement actions.
Reason 3: So you have deployed new processes, established policies, documented new roles and implemented improved tools. What makes you think that people are going to change their behavior and not revert to the way they have always done things? One of the critical success factors in achieving employee compliance and changing behavior is creating a sense of personal accountability through measurement and yes audit. Another factor of human nature is that we often take the path of least resistance when under stress (and who is not under stress) when we know we are not being measured or held accountable for our actions. I am sure you have heard the quote, “What gets measured gets done!”. By planning for, executing and publishing the results of a series of self or external assessments you are buying insurance on the increased likelihood of deployment success, not to mention continual service improvement. For more information on the subject of establishing personal accountability and employee compliance take a look at the following article.
Reason 4: The most compelling reason to conduct at least two process assessments (if not more), is the cold hard fact that you will have shown evidence of the benefits and return on investment promises you sold to your boss as part of your ITSM business case. An ITIL implementation program is always a journey of many steps and you may or may not have had formal funding for your first improvement projects. (Many organizations start this journey in stealth mode and fund their initial actions through existing budgets.) However, eventually you will need to go to the well so to speak to ask for real resources (time, people, tools and money) to support your next targeted improvements. To do this you will have to show your sponsors and benefactors that you achieved something worthwhile in the first round of improvements by pointing to the evidence provided by an initial assessment report. This, of course, requires you to have conducted an assessment before you started to fix things so that you can compare the improved present against the wild west past. Without the two separate snapshots it will be very difficult to prove that life has gotten better. Yet another one of those quirky human nature elements. “We have short memories!” and “It’s not real unless you document it!”
As I list my four reasons for assessments you may be thinking that the last two points can be handled by metrics and reports that are generated as part of your ITIL project. This may be true in part, but consider that reports are typically targeted at specific activities or Key Performance Indicators. Assessments allow for a much broader snapshot of the current practice and can include observations for all four of the key enablers of any process (Governance, Process, People and Tools). Add to this the power of having an outside objective voice conduct an assessment on your behalf and the power of the report is significantly enhanced.
In summary, conducting a process assessment for the purpose of planning input is only one of the reasons you will want to seriously consider investing time and energy into organizing and conducting an ITSM process assessment. At Pink we offer you several tools and options to equip you for success. Please take a look at PinkSCAN Online
Troy’s Thoughts What Are Yours?
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” ~ Confucius
Thursday, April 03, 2008
ITIL In The Land Of OZ
Are you trundling or trudging down the ITIL yellow brick road?
If you have been following the articles I write in this blog you may have noticed that I have a tendency to use fun analogies to explain concepts and ideas. I suppose that is why I admire Douglas Adam’s strange view of the world and the universe around us. For example, I like to explain the principles of managing a CMDB in terms of living in a high-rise condominium.
In the previous post I referred to an analogy I like to use to explain the differences between ITIL V2 and V3. What I find strange is the question “Should I stay with ITIL V2 or move to ITIL V3?”
The reason I find this strange is that people look at this question as if they were evaluating two separate models of cars and wondering which one they should drive off the lot. In my opinion this is not the right perspective at all. When you pose the V2 or V3 question what you are really asking is how far you plan to drive.
You see, apart from some fine tuning of existing V2 processes and an improved focus on the concept of IT services and their lifecycle (It is a Service Management framework after all) the real difference is one of scope.
To illustrate this principle consider the story of Dorothy and her journeys in the land of Oz.
The story starts with an economic storm that disorients our heroine Dorothy (or should I say Dot.com) as her house of IT is transported to a strange land of of legislation, controls and new requirements. Basically she is lost without direction or bearings.
Then along comes this sage advisor/consultant (ok so she is a witch but she is a good witch of the North) Canada?
The story continues with Dorothy being told of this wonderful place called the ITIL V2 Emerald City where she will be given the means of finding her way home. (This Emerald City is a place where all Service Support and Delivery processes work together seamlessly under the guidance of benevolent and wise process ownership).
When she asks how to get to this wonderful place her guide says follow the “Yellow Brick” road and gives her an ITSM Roadmap to security and process harmony. (Yes I know I am stretching it here but this is an analogy after all).
Along her journey she gains team mates, each one critical to her success.
Dorothy: Provides the vision and leadership (we’re going to the Emerald City!)
The Scarecrow: Provides the brains and ITIL knowledge
The Tin Man: Provides the heart and passion for Service Management
The Lion: Provides the courage to break away from the technical silo status quo and overcome the many obstacles that they will face.
Ok so you are probably thinking what about Toto? Well Toto is Security Management since he dutifully barks whenever trouble approaches.
So along the way Dorothy and her team fight the good fight against what seems like insurmountable odds. Despite major operational Incidents, such as the Tin Man rusting solid and the Scare Crow catching on fire, the team keeps moving.
However, it looked like it was all over when they were diverted off the ITSM road by the attack of the minion flying monkeys of the project’s political adversary, the wicked witch of the West, who wanted Dorothy’s red slipper resources.
Finally, the team beats the odds and crests a hill after several years of process adoption and sees the ITIL V2 Emerald City shimmering in the near distance.
However, to their shock, disappointment and despair they see the Diamond ITIL V3 city in the far distance. They realize that the Emerald City was not the final destination after all but only a milestone along the way of continual improvement.
Regardless of the new V3 processes and the now strategic reach of the ITIL framework, organizations will still implement the processes in the same relative order based on the need to first gain operational stability and control over production transition. Only after this is accomplished can they lift their eyes to the more proactive elements of strategy and design.
Who’s to say that as we continue the journey past the Emerald City and crest the hill overlooking the Diamond City that we don’t see at that time the ITIL V4 Platinum City in the far distance.
Troy’s Thoughts, What Are Yours?
“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” ~Winston Churchill