Thursday, December 14, 2006
Process Ownership Combinations
When reading the ITIL books, the reader can be led to assume that each process has a unique Process Owner; however, while it may be possible to do this in a large organization, it is far more likely that a single individual may be required to oversee and champion two or more ITIL processes. Care must be taken in the selection of what combinations work well and which represent a conflict of interest based on the process objectives.
Incident & Problem Management
At face value, these two processes look ideally suited for joint ownership. However, in practice this is rarely the case. Unlike other processes, the challenge does not lie in an inherent conflict of interest. Typically, the goals of Problem Management are subverted by the urgency of service restoration.
Problem Management is responsible for taking a holistic view of the issues around service delivery by identifying systemic IT issues and service degradation trends. Incident Management is primarily concerned with the restoration of service as quickly as possible. The typical result of combining these processes is that Problem Management activities are often overridden by the immediate need of fire fighting. This is even more apparent when the Problem Management coordinators are given the role of managing the major incident or crisis processes and resulting post-incident reviews. The great majority of time is then spent in what is actually an Incident Management role, and the proactive side of Problem Management is largely neglected.
Change & Incident Or Problem Management
The objective of Change Management is to efficiently handle, assess, approve and coordinate all changes to the IT infrastructure in an efficient manner. At the same time, Incident and Problem Management are raising records that result in requests for changes. To combine ownership of these processes is to invite a conflict of interest around the required due diligence for Change Management.
Change & Configuration Management
Change Management acts as the primary control mechanism for the updating of the Configuration Management Database (CMDB); likewise, Change Management relies on configuration data for impact analysis. For this reason, the combination of the two processes under a single accountability provides an added value to each process.
Change & Release Management
Both Change and Release Management deal with minimizing the impact of changes to the IT infrastructure; this shared objective makes this pairing desirable.
Availability, Capacity & IT Service Continuity Management
Each of these processes is back-office related and deal with the right sizing of the IT environment according to business needs. This combination is often under the control of a tactical or strategic IT planning group.
Service Level Management (SLM) & Financial Management For IT
Defining IT services, negotiating service levels and the cost associated with these services makes SLM and Financial Management a possible fit; however, most organizations will keep these separated, but aligned, due to the level of work required for each activity.
The Last Word
Best practices clearly indicate that process ownership should reside with a single individual to ensure clear accountability. The Process Owner’s role is critical for the successful design and ongoing management of the processes being implemented. While it is not necessary to designate one Process Owner for each process being implemented, organizations should be aware, during the initial planning phase, of difficult and strong combinations before assigning multi-process ownership.
The topic of process ownership is a critical success factor of process implementations.
For further reading on this topic I recommend the Harvard Business Review Article
“How Process Enterprises Really Work” by Michael Hammer and Stephen Stanton
You can also sign into the Pink Elephant website as a member and freely download these discussions as a paper and listen to a Podcast on the same subject.
Troy’s thoughts what are yours?
“The great thing about being the only species that makes a distinction between right and wrong is that we can make up the rules for ourselves as we go along.” ~Douglas Adams