Why ITSM fails to deliver promises of better IT - Matthew Hooper VigilantGuy Digital Transformentalist - Create High Performing IT
Why ITSM fails to deliver promises of better IT

broken-dreamsIn my last Blog I talked about ITSM vs. DevOps  Agility vs. Control, I highlighted that these two organizational disciplines need to co-exist and serve the same purpose, but in different ways.

I ended the article promising to discuss why ITSM fails.  There are lots of contributing factors to an ITSM failed promise;
  • poor consulting advice
  • an esoteric framework that staff can’t get their heads around
  • poor product selection or implementation
  • the list goes on…
All of these are just symptoms of the real failure of ITSM to deliver failure.  What is that failure, it’s the promise itself!  The moment you sold ITSM as a best practice, a new tool, a better way to operate, you failed.   Let’s look at the common ways in which ITSM is positioned within organizations, and tell me if you can relate:
  • “ITSM can help us make our systems more stable”
  • “ITSM can help us operate more cost effectively”
  • “ITSM helps us stay more aligned with the business”
  • “ITSM improves our ability to service our customers”
Any of these sound familiar?  Did you use these as the catalyst to justify budgets and start new ITSM projects?   These are great benefits, but If you did, you likely found yourself 6-9 months later re-justfying the program with expressions like these;
“You need to understand ITSM is a journey”
“It take s organizational maturity to see the benefits of ITSM”
“We have released that process into the new tool yet, once we do we’ll actualize the benefits”
“blah, blah, stinking blah”
In essence what you have done is completely undermined the efforts and foundations of improvements you have laid down so far.  You fell into the management trap of over simplifying ITSM so that you can get approvals for resources.   While all along you were already doing ITSM….  yes, that’s right you were already doing it.   Don’t believe me, here is a self-quiz;
  • Do you fix technical stuff?
  • Do you buy technical stuff?
  • Do you change technical stuff?
  • Do you answer technical questions?

Hate to break the news to you, but you have been doing ITSM… you just suck at it (no offense).

You have always been doing ITSM, and what you should have been promising is that you are going to keep doing what you have been doing, but better.   Let’s compare selling ITSM to executive management with this mindset versus they way most departments try to sell it:

ITSM Sold as a new an improved “X”                
What executive management Says:
ITSM not sold, it’s already here and we are just making it better
What executive management Says:
Once we deploy change management we will eliminate risks, reduce outages and have better control over our environment.
What do you mean you don’t have control over the environment?  Maybe we should outsource you.
Our current change management solution requires more business input and traceability for greater risk assessment and communication.
That would be great, we need to reduce our risks and improve communications, what do you need?
This new tool and process will help us standardize globally on how we handle issues & outages.
Why do we have so many global issues and outages?  Why are we not outsourcing that?
Our current support model is working well regionally, but with the global expansion of our business we’ve identified improvements to help global operations.
Excellent, we were just discussing if IT was going to be able to support us. Glad you are on top of it, what do you need?
We have identified 36 KPI’s for 8 CSF’s so that we can meet and exceed SLA’s.
Great!  We’ll need those benchmarks when we shop for the outsourcer.
We’ve identified 8 key areas of operation that are stable and measurable which we think can be outsourced.  The current resources could be leveraged to  proactively analyze performance of vital business functions and improve planning.
We never thought about outsourcing any IT function, but will consider your suggestions.  Let’s make sure GM’s across the business are plugged into those conversations.
Clearly this is an over simplified dramatization… it’s a blog not a book.  You get the sense though.  Positioning of ITSM as something new really undermines the hard work and progress you have made.  Organizations can not handle major changes, so sell ITSM by not selling it.  Position it as continual improvements, a natural progressions towards a higher level of professionalism and quality that the organization is demanding to meet the business climate and end customer demand.
And for goodness sake stop calling your internal associates customers.  It’s demeaning to you and them.
In my next blog I’m going to tackle the starting point for ITSM improvements.  Where and how you should focus your improvement program.
Written by

Digital Transformentalist Twitter: @VigilantGuy http://twitter.com/vigilantguy Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewbhooper Web: http://www.vigilantguy.com Matt Hooper is an industry advocate for Service Management strategies and best practices around Enterprise Service Management. For over 20 years Matt has instituted methodologies for business intelligence and optimization. Leveraging technology to drive business outcomes, he has built an industry reputation for his highly effective approach to creating value through Service Management. Matt is active on Social Media known as VigilantGuy, and co-hosts the weekly podcast: Hacking Business Technology. HackBizTech.com

  • Karsten says:

    Oh, here it was, already. Thank you also for this one.
    I would agree here, too. As with many frameworks, people have been doing these things all along, but called them differently – and many of us are not great at communicating it. Thank you for triggering my thoughts. I am again looking forward to your next post (tuned in via Twitter :-). Cheers, Matt.

    • matt_hooper_2000@yahoo.com says:

      Thanks Karsten,

      Security, Availability, Performance, these are all underpinnings of the information value. Technology usually enhances the value of information, but when business directives are too far removed, it typically becomes a constraint rather than an enabler. That is why DevOps will be a strong movement, technology has to be leveraged to improve the value of information. Security and availability being 2 major components of that value equation. Thanks for the read and comments.

  • Rod Weir says:

    Brilliant post Matt. Bullseye!

    I work with so many organizations that are doing a great job at managing IT, and they have never heard of the smoke and mirrors that is ITIL, ITSMF and the like. More power to them.


    • matt_hooper_2000@yahoo.com says:

      So True Rob.

      Plain and simple, frameworks do note provide business value. They provide guidance as to where improvements could be made, and maturing an aspect of IT development and operations that will improve business efficiencies. Thanks for the read and comment.

  • Aprill says:

    “Hate to break it to ya, but you’re already doing ITSM.” Totally.

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Matthew Hooper

Digital Transformentalist