Get down to the Basics to be Successful in IT Service Management

19 November 2021
Gerry Appeltants BCB Leader TriTechnology Connect on Linkedin

In the following Digitalization Series, I will highlight some topics concerning practical implementations on the ‘Digitalization’ topic. In this article, I will highlight some basic elements for successful implementing IT Service Management (#ITSM) as part of a digitalization strategy.

Yin & Yang

Although I’m evangelizing for a decade the marriage between ITSM and ITIL still IT Service Management solutions are implemented without good processes and governance. And once again those projects fail because ITSM and ITIL are connected like Adam and Eve or like Harry Potter and Hogwarts for the fans of Witchcraft and Wizardry. ITSM and ITIL are a concept of dualism like Yin and Yang, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the business world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. So before start implementing ITSM, start defining the processes, flows and governance preferably following ITIL 4.

Don’t focus on avoiding mistakes, but focus on success

Since we have implemented hundreds of those service management solutions over the past decade, we have tasted a lot of Go-Live Cakes and celebrated successful implementations with a lot of customers through various industries. Nowadays we celebrate with Golden Go-Live Cubes for healthy reasons ;-)

Next to the successes, we’ve celebrated, we've also seen some failures caused by human decisions, let’s call them mistakes in a broad sense without blaming anybody. Making mistakes is a human thing and a process in learning to improve. The bulk of those mistakes made during those projects were rather symptoms of ITSM failure but they were not the real root cause. So focus on avoiding root causes, and focus on success instead of focusing on mistakes only.

Over the past years ITIL has evolved to ITIL 4 and evangelists like Stephen Mann has published articles like the TOP 50 ITIL Adoption Mistakes. So you would think … no it isn’t … still we are confronted with customers that call me to help them redeem their IT Service Management. And on one hand I’m really happy I can help out those customers, but it’s a pity they lost already a lot of time, money and energy in doing it right. "There are only a few ways to succeed with ITIL but many ways to fail".

What else makes you and your ITSM project successful? Get the basic characteristics right!

So what are they?

The right moment

The secret of many great ITSM initiatives is that they were launched at just the right time to exploit favorable tides and winds in the life of the organization. Conversely many projects that were essentially sound have floundered because the time wasn't right. So when is the right moment?

  • There is a burning bridge such as a merger/de-merger - preferably one with direct implications for the whole organisation, not just IT
  • The organisation is in a period of positive disruption, for instance following the appointment of a new CEO/CIO/CFO
  • Key stakeholders are already pressing for change, especially customers and suppliers
  • C-Level has a bigger agenda that ITSM happens to align with.

The number of ITSM projects that can claim to have created that senior management buy-in can probably be counted on one hand. What the successful ITSM initiatives do is latch on to agendas that senior management has already bought in to.

Your partner

The partner in implementing digitalization into your organization is without exception a fundamental criteria for being successful in projects I've seen in the past. Specialized partners have owed a large part of their success to one or more key individuals who:

  • Managed the project according to the needs and real-world needs and resources not a fictional project plan
  • Guided the customer through the project via understandable workshops
  • Understood the organizational culture of the customer
  • Took care of the project, even when hard decisions had to be taken
  • Never took shortcuts on the basics the most common mistake I still see a lot: a service request that is treated as an incident.

There is no good definition of a good partner, a small partner, a large partner or whatever definition you want to give to it. But at least there must a good fit on ambitions, culture and knowledge.

And last but not least a good tool or platform

A tool or platform that can serve the goal of the ITSM project. For too long I hear self-called advisors say out loud that “a fool with a tool is still a fool” and similar one-liners to undermine the importance of the ITSM tool or platform.

As many of you already know, I’m a hard believer in a purpose-selected ITSM tool or platform. The leader for already 7 consequent years in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management Tools (source: Gartner - October 2020) is #ServiceNow. Although my team has successfully implemented several tools in the past, I must admit that for the last 7 years we’ve only used ServiceNow. Why? No, it’s not the only good ITSM product on the market, but choosing ServiceNow is a safe choice for the C-level. The advantage as a partner for implementing a platform like ServiceNow for a customer is has a tick in all the boxes, it has all kinds of ways to integrate, there’s a clear roadmap, a lot of information documentation is available, … and yes it’s following the most popular global IT Service Management best practice framework #ITIL4.

Other factors?

Aren’t there more success factors for implementing ITSM? Yes of course there are more, but looking at my experience of the last decade, the ones mentioned above are really necessary to succeed.

Good luck!