Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 9

Ninth in a Ten Part Series

By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool.  Below is the ninth in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #9: Have a good CAB.  ITIL will tell you that the “Change Manager” is the only person that needs to approve a Request for Change (RFC).  While this is literally true, the “Change Manager” must be advised by someone.  That “someone” is the Change Approval Board (CAB).  In reality, however, most ITSM platforms and organizational practices require the actual approval (recorded in the ITSM) system of many different stakeholders.  What you want to avoid is folks who provide “rubber-stamp” approvals.  You want approvals to be meaningful and reflective of a person’s true position of authority in the organization.  Similar to the way some organizations skip the step of defining services or a service catalog, many organizations will take shortcuts in defining who should approve an RFC.  As I mentioned in Lesson #5, every service and CI should have an owner.  When an RFC is raised and the requestor of that RFC selects the services and CIs that are impacted by the RFC, the owners should be notified by the ITSM tool that a new RFC has been raised against their service or CI and that their approval is required.  In my professional opinion, these are the only three (3) persons that should approve an RFC; the service owners, the CI owners, and the Change Manager.  I fully endorse the concept of the CAB advising the Change Manager, but approvals from CAB members are not necessary.

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Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 8

By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool.  Below is the eighth in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #8: Resist Customization.  Everyone thinks that their organization is unique, has a unique use case, and has a valid reason why a tool should be customized to fit their use case.  While I am not denying that there are some valid reasons for customization, implementing an ITSM strategy should largely be based on ITIL.  If your organization is doing something that doesn’t conform to ITIL, it’s probably worth examining the non-conforming activity and attempting to discontinue it.  Anyone that has been in IT long enough knows that customizing commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software will undoubtedly introduce unknown complexity in the future.  The software manufacturer and the integrator may warn you against customization while simultaneously advising that the customization you are requesting is both doable and won’t cause a headache later.  Again, beware; they are attempting to sell you a product.  Think long and hard about any potential customization.  It will cost you in the future in terms of additional custom development in order to implement upgrades, as well as subsequent pre and post release testing.

Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 7

Seventh in a Ten Part Series

By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool. Below is the seventh in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #7: Review ALL existing ITSM systems, organization charts, and IT contracts when developing the strategy for your new ITSM platform.  If you’re going to deploy a new, single, unified ITSM platform to replace all others in the organization, you’ll need to gain read-only administrator access to each of these existing systems and thoroughly interrogate them.  This includes project management systems.  Any application that is used to manage IT assets (assets are hardware, software, and people) should be reviewed and a thorough analysis conducted to determine exactly how use cases will translate from existing systems to the new one.  Similarly, you’ll need the organizational structure context that only organizational charts can provide.  While the transition is under analysis and execution, a concerted effort must be made by the organization to keep reporting relationships and functional teams largely intact.  In other words, it becomes increasingly difficult to implement an effective ITSM strategy if the organization is in a constant state of flux.  Lastly, you’ll need to gain access to all of the active asset (underpinning) contracts within IT.  When implementing asset management and service level modules, the information contained within the contracts will be required.  Some of this information may be sensitive so be prepared to have these conversations with the keepers of these documents.

Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 6

Sixth in a Ten Part Series

By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool. Below is the sixth in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #6: Have Diligence Relative to Category, Sub-Category, and Item.  As I mentioned in Lesson #2, don’t take shortcuts or be short-sighted in the proper definition of your meta-data.  I realize that it may be impossible to know all the permutations that will ultimately exist for Category, Sub-Category, and Item when the ITSM platform is initially launched.  For this reason, you must make these fields not required for the user / customer, but required for the Service Desk prior to closing the service record.  The user will generally know if its hardware or software that is impacted, but they may not, or they may choose incorrectly.  Ultimately, it’s up to Service Operation to correctly append Category, Sub-Category, and Item to the service record and they must be empowered (authorized) to create new entries as needed in order to properly record the service record.

Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 5

Fifth in a Ten Part Series
By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool.  Below is the fifth in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #5: Have Service & Configuration Item (CI) Owners.  The concept here is simple; there is a single person listed in the ITSM platform that is responsible for the availability and working operation of the service and the configuration item.  When a new service record is logged against a service and a CI in the ITSM platform, the appropriate owners are automatically notified.  Similarly, if a request for change (RFC) is raised against a service or a CI, the ITSM platform knows to automatically append these persons as approvers of the RFC.

Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 4

Fourth in a Ten Part Series
By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool.  Below is the fourth in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #4: Log Incidents, Service Requests, Problems, Change, and Releases against Services AND Configuration Items.  As I’ve mentioned in the previous lessons, when a new service record comes into the Service Desk, you’ll want to ensure that accurate meta-data relative to the Service and Configuration Items impacted are accurately associated to the service record.  Now, it’s not necessary that the customer correctly identify the Service or Configuration Item, only that they submit as much information as they have to the Service Desk.  It’s the responsibility of Service Operations to ensure that the data ultimately appended to the service record is accurate.  Without the Service and Configuration Items being appended to the service record, it’s impossible to report on a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) relative to the service and / or the configuration items.  For example, if a major incident record does not identify the service impacted, how can you accurately report on the availability of that service?  As I mentioned in point #3 above, if you make development of the Service Catalog prerequisite to launching your ITSM platform, logging the Service & CI impacted by the service record will be easy.  If you don’t, your ITSM platform will simply be just another “ticketing” application.

Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 3

By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool.  Below is the third in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #3: Have a Service Catalog.  The Service Catalog is the foundation of any ITIL-based IT environment.  If you don’t have a Service Catalog, then you don’t have true Service Management.  Developing a Service Catalog is not easy and its something that should be undertaken before any discussion of a potential ITSM tool should take place.

There is much literature relative to developing an IT Service Catalog, but a few key points to keep in mind are:
(a) It should be done in conjunction with the business (customers)
(b) It serves as the “menu” for what IT’s customers can order
(c) “Services” deliver business outcomes and are NOT applications or configuration items
(d) An IT organization’s assets (applications & configuration items) align to deliver services
(e) When a customer raises a request for service (an Incident, Problem, Service Request, Change, or Release), the “Service” that the customer is requesting assistance for, should be clearly identified.

Keep in mind that a customer doesn’t care that an application or network is down, they only care that their business outcome is not able to be achieved.  Having services defined in a catalog, and then reporting on the availability of them, is the true first step towards IT service management.