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From Frustration to Success: Unravelling Service Management

Unravelling Service Management

Too often, I see implementations of Service Management and, consequently, SM Tools that have failed to realise their value to the business. A lot is promised during initial scoping and sales cycles, but unless you can realise the benefits of the practice framework quickly and with practical outcomes, the business can quickly lose faith in IT and your program for a change!

The core of a good service management team is having people armed with the right information whose core skills and culture are more aligned to achieving success in their roles.

Regardless of any tool selection, effective ITSM requires the right attitude, behaviour, and culture embedded in your teams. These combined elements will determine the success or failure of any ITSM initiatives. Your most expensive asset delivers it; you’re PEOPLE. Implementing ITSM will be the most successful when people from all levels (C level to service desk technician, and don’t forget your customers!) are aware, receive regular communications, and understand how their role matters to the business’s ongoing success.


So why do ITSM programs and implementations go so wrong so often? Here are my main points for you to consider.

  • Keep it simple: complex implementations tend to fail for several reasons.
    • Complexity and effort – budgets are quickly exhausted over complex processes.
    • A lack of or minimal program/project management to control the scope.


  • Failing to show the value to the business. Whilst the business is often sold on the value of ITSM and maybe a new tool, it often loses its appeal as a large amount of resourcing and money is spent without the ability to show or realise the value.


  • A belief that we can do it later that is never realised. It’s not unusual to hear stories of implementations on partially implementing ITSM processes as the cost is too high to implement more. This is done under the belief that the rest can be done once the first part has been implemented (often to hide the true cost). The truth is, however if the business is not prepared to accept the full cost at the beginning of the program, they are unlikely to accept it later when you come back for more money!


  • A confusion with the Service Portfolio and business V technical V actionable catalogues. Whilst an IT business can indeed provide a technical catalogue to its customers this is because its core business is technology, and this makes sense. However, if you are in a business that provides Health Care or other services such as Emergency Services or Accounting etc your catalogue needs to be focused on the business services. Properly identifying the business catalogue with appropriate technical and actionable catalogue underpins everything you will do in your service management journey. Without this it can be difficult to show the value to the business.



So how can you ensure that you have a successful ITSM journey and realise the value to the business quickly and efficiently?

I’m sure I will create some controversy with the following, but after 25 years of consulting, I have learned the hard way.

Please start with the basics of ITSM, ITIL gives us a great framework, yet most organisation believe they are special and standard processes cannot work for them. There is a reason we have International Standards and why ISO 20000 was born out of ITIL®; it works and is best practice!

Whilst it is true that ITIL® is a framework and can be modified it's also a perfect place to start (or refresh) your ITSM journey.

Keeping to a standard framework allows you to easily implement most service management principles and processes without mountains of work and rework. Only when we understand this and complete the support loop (using incident/problem/change/configuration/Service Request Management) can we show the business the value IT provides? (There are still many more processes to implement but this should be the minimum to enable some value realisation)

How many implementations have you seen or heard of that only include incident management and change management with the tagline of "We will do the rest later". How many are still in this cycle of being responsive only and essentially Just logging tickets and telling the customer how busy we are without adding value or insight?

Custom or Standard?

Let’s be honest how different are incident, problem, and change management processes between organisations? Lots! I can hear the shouting already, but how many must be different? I have spent hours, days, and weeks in workshops while departments and work units argue over a step/status name! Do you need a different name for a status? I like to refer to that great ITIL guru Mick Jagger in times like this! You might have heard of him; he also has a band called the Rolling Stones.  Anyway, he once wisely sang, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you’ll find you get what you need” Very wise words; focusing on what you need rather than what people want, can make a huge difference. Inclusion and making staff part of the change is important, but don’t let them take control and overcomplicate and inadvertently sabotage your program.

How about trying to implement a standard framework for your core processes? You’ll be surprised at how well they can be used. That’s because they support the international standard, and there is nothing wrong with being standard.

Doing this will save you a lot of effort and time that can be spent on other basics such as the Service Portfolio, which is central to the management of IT for the business and the ability to report on the value to the business accurately.


Don’t forget to show the value to the business. To do this, you must have the basics of ITSM and ITIL. This includes a properly scoped and implemented service portfolio and Incident, Problem, Change, Configuration, and Service Request Management. (There are others, of course, but this is my minimum)

The right attitude, behaviour and culture ensure staff buy-in, commitment, continual improvement and business-added value, so any organisation should address these points before doing anything else.

Remember, it’s your people who are your killer application!