Sunday, September 2, 2012

I think I was wrong....

I have contemplated starting my own Service Management blog for a long time.
My reason for not putting my thoughts online until now...I really feel that my ideas are nothing new and  just represent common sense, plain and simple. But what I have come to realise recently is that, perhaps, common sense is not as common as I thought it was. So maybe I really do have some thoughts that could be useful to others...only one way to find out!
I am not a career geek, although I am quite definitely a geek, and proud of it! I came to IT Service Management in 1999 by way of an interrupted career in journalism. Somehow, after raising four children, I fell into a job setting up a service desk for a major stockbroking company in New Zealand. Now, research is my thing, I love gaining new knowledge, so I threw myself into finding out how to set up the best service desk possible.
Pretty quickly I discovered this thing called ITIL(R), persuaded the company that they needed me to be trained, and so my journey began. Like many before me, and since, I became somewhat of a zealot and probably annoyed the hell out of my coworkers and managers as I foisted my new knowledge of this magical framework that was going to save our IT world upon them...If any of you are reading this, please accept my apologies!
I made mistakes, probably some pretty stupid ones, in those early, over eager days. Sure wish the access to the real industry wisdom that can be found in today's socially connected world was available then, it would certainly have saved me, and my colleagues, some unnecessary grief. But then again, every mistake is a fantastic learning opportunity, so I did learn a lot...such as:
  • Just because you can create an asset or CI record for it does not mean you should...if you would throw something out when it breaks down, it is not an asset, it is a consumable! In 1999 this related to a mouse and keyboard, in 2012 it has probably extended to a desktop printer and other peripherals
  • If you are not going to act on the information, don't report on it, and if you are not going to report on it you probably don't need to categorise it - in other words, having 100 or more categories for call logging is just plain silly, it just pollutes the metrics you can get out of your tool and makes them worthless
  • An ITSM initiative should not be a project with a finite end date. It is a moving target and is constantly changing. If you sit back one day and say, "that is it, we've done it, our service desk (or whatever ITSM improvement you were attempting to make) is complete" - then you just don't get it
  • Trying to make service management improvements by stealth can only go so far, pretty quickly you will get to the stage where you have to have management buy-in and a budget, so don't waste your time half doing things...get the C levels on your side from the outset, otherwise you are just setting yourself up for disappointment and ultimate failure
  • Now for my personal soapbox - You do NOT implement ITIL!  ITIL is a framework - one of many you may utilise in a service management improvement journey. You design best practice processes and guidelines that work for YOUR business and you implement the changes that you need to make these stick
  • Probably one of the most important lessons to learn - don't forget the people factor. Change hurts and you will get resistance, so learn how to manage the ABCs (Attitude, Behaviour and Culture) from the outset. If you don't get this one right, your changes, no matter how well designed will not stick
These are all things I learned from my own mistakes as an enthusiastic, but perhaps inadequately informed, ITSM zealot. I have learned a lot more in the intervening years, hopefully some of these lessons will be useful to others...maybe I can help today's newcomers avoid making the same mistakes!
As a footnote, I did set up a pretty good service desk, if I do say so myself, even if it did take a couple of false starts before we got it right. I have gone on to use the lessons learned there to help several other businesses in New Zealand and Australia in the past few years.


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  2. Nice start..! I agree that Common Sense is not at all Common. I do like to have transition projects as catalysts and kkick starts, also to get funding, project management and governace. BUt I agree that the ongoing sense of committment is hardest...

    1. Completely agree with the idea of initial project status to get funding, management and governance, just so long as it doesn't end there. I worked on one ITSM improvement project a few years ago as a contract project manager, after 12 months where we achieved some fantastic results, the project was over. Seven years down the track many people working there have no understanding of ITSM or ITIL and those who do believe in it are having to start from scratch to try to get support again for new initiatives. The previous investment, which was substantial, has been largely lost.

  3. Keeping a tidy issue classification hierarchy/system is vital to good reporting, workflow and easy of use. This is where a lot of people go wrong, and as you say, it messes with reporting metrics.

    Good post Kirstie.

  4. When it comes to ITSM (part science and part art), common sense rules but we can also learn a great deal just by reading and reflecting from other’s experience. More points of view and lessons learned are always welcome by me. Thank you very much, Kirstie, and keep the great work coming.