Published on February 17, 2014
Kiran Kumar Pabbathi Top 5 Issues in ITSM consulting projects and its mitigation methods
Top 5 Issues in ITSM consulting projects and its mitigation methods Kiran Kumar Pabbathi (ITILv3 ® Expert, PRINCE2 ® Practitioner, MCP – MS Sharepoint 2003, MCTS – MS Project 2007, Six SigmaGB, ISO/IEC20K, TMap & Cloud Computing - Foundation) Author of the books “PDCA for ITIL” (published by TSO, UK) and “Guidance for ITAM” (published by Servicemanagers.org)
About the speaker Kiran is a certified professional in ITIL v3 ® Expert, PRINCE2 ® (Practitioner), Six Sigma Green Belt, MCP in SharePoint 2003 Customizations, MCTS in MS Project 2007, ISO/IEC20K -F, Cloud Computing - F, and TMAP – F (Test Management Professional). I am a BCA (Bachelors in Computer Applications) and MBA - Information Technology graduate from the city Hyderabad, located in the southern part of India. I have totally 11 years of experience in IT Industry, 2 years in software development and 9 plus years of hardcore experience in ITSM domain. I worked as a service desk analyst, incident analyst, problem analyst, technical writer, quality assurance analyst, process consultant, project and process manager which gave me thorough knowledge and understanding on ITSM. Currently I work as a Quality and Process Manager in Shanghai Bizenit Information Technology (www.bizenit.com). Our company is focused in developing cost effective and reliable IAM (Identity and Access Management) solutions, Oracle Identity and Access management product implementations, ITIL trainings and consulting.
About the speaker I am also the author of the books: • “PDCA for ITIL – Metrics, CSFs and workflows for implementing ITIL practices” published by TSO, UK (ISBN 9780117082076) which provides a direction for implementing ITIL processes and designing ITSM solutions. Published in August 2013 • “Guidance for ITAM – Step by step implementation guide with workflows, metrics, best practices and checklists” published by Servicemanagers.org (ISBN 9780991320509) which provides a direction for implementing ITAM processes and designing ITAM solutions. Published in February 2014
Agenda • • • • • • • Introduction to the topic Back to Basics Top 5 Issues and its mitigation methods Guideposts for ITSM consulting teams Common errors in ITSM consulting projects Metrics for ITSM Consulting teams Questions
Introduction to the topic Today many ITSM consultants, all over the world are facing numerous issues in ITSM consulting projects (be it process consulting or tool consulting), and the reasons are: • Increasing complexity in IT environment (with the evolution of cloud computing, BYOD, big data, etc) • Changing requirements from the clients • Evolution of new best practices, standards, etc • Increasing compliance requirements from government and legal institutes
Back to basics What is ITSM (IT Service Management) process consulting? ITSM process consulting is the activity which involves planning, analyzing, designing, evaluating, implementing and training of the developed ITSM best practices. (Also it involves the continuous improvement initiative) Planning Implementing & training Evaluating Analyzing Designing
Back to basics What is ITSM Process consulting team? ITSM consulting team generally comprises of: • Process manager • Process consultants • Process developers • Quality analysts • Technical writers Process manager Process consultants Process developers Quality analysts Technical writers
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects 1. Why process definition and implementation? let’s go for straight away tool implementation! 2. Understanding the requirements 3. Selection of the best practice 4. ITIL framework implementation is very costly & time consuming 5. Process adherence & awareness
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects 1. Why process definition and implementation? let’s go for straight away tool implementation! All organizations primary goal is cost cutting and they are with the approach “Why process definition and implementation (wasting time and money), let’s go for straight away tool implementation!”; Organizations assume that straight away tool implementation would reduce the complexity, costs, time and efforts, and if this is done it would become the greatest disaster for organizations (in terms of costs, time and efforts). So getting the confidence, enlightening and convincing the customer that ‘process definition and implementation pre-dominates the tools implementation’ is the number 1 issue for all ITSM consultants. Hence consultants should enlighten and make the customers understand that no ITSM tool can meet all the business requirements (in terms of scope, priorities,
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects integration with other applications) in such a way that it can straight away be deployed in the IT infrastructure and IT staff can utilize and optimize the tools. Because every individual organization has its own priorities, requirements, goals, pain points and risks. Hence, before implementing any tool, an organization has to define a process addressing and consolidating all the objectives, scope, roles and responsibilities, risks, issues, and then accordingly tool has to be developed/ purchased and then deployed.
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects Mitigation method 1. ITSM consultants should initially begin with simple process diagrams (without delving into different kinds of process collaterals and consulting approaches) depicting the ‘as-is’ and ‘would be’ status of IT infrastructure; highlighting and demarcating the: scope of the work, communication flow, integrations with other business processes or departments, roles and responsibilities, interfaces, and etc. 2. ITSM consultants should elucidate the advantages of process definition, highlighting that: process would act as a baseline and as a backbone for IT operations, process would provide a previse understanding on the long term and short term goals, process would provide better clarity in requirements and information flow, process would identify the risks, issues and dependencies (giving a better picture), process would provide thorough awareness on the business operations (to all technical and non-technical stakeholders), process would provide easily understandable documentation for all audiences.
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects 2. Understanding the requirements Today world class MNC’s & Consulting firms are executing the ITSM consulting projects in an offshore model, where 1 or 2 process consultants are at customer’s location (for a while) and the rest of the process development, testing, and documentation team is at offshore location. (Good for customers or clients – in consideration with cost savings. Chaotic for process development and testing team – in consideration with unclear requirements, vague knowledge on customer’s IT infrastructure, tardy communications and etc). Understanding the requirements thoroughly and effectively plays the most important task for any ITSM consulting projects. If the consultants and process developers are working in customer premises (onsite), most of the discrepancies in understanding requirements can be eliminated with continuous reviews, feedbacks and discussions.
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects Mitigation method In consideration with discrepancies that can happen while working from offshore premises, here are some suggestions how to capture and gather detailed, complete and accurate requirements: 1. Define and demarcate the requirements as Business requirements (defining the business need and logics), Functional requirements (defining the functionality of the proposed system), User requirements (requirements in consideration with different types of users), Design and Technical requirements (in consideration with the architectures, high level and low level design, technological aspects like availability, capacity, security, etc), and Non functional requirements (in consideration with user friendliness, accessibility, etc) 2. Perform SIPOC (Supplier, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers) analysis in consideration with the requirements, objectives, issues, risks, dependencies, etc. 3. Perform MoSCoW analysis on requirements to identify and understand what is ‘Must’, ‘Should’, ‘Could’ and ‘Would be in future’.
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects 3. Selection of the best practice Unfortunately and fortunately there are many best practices available for ITSM, and that arises an issue for customers which makes them to think profoundly ‘What is the best ITSM practice that I should adopt in my organization?‘ And another issue is ‘Insistence from customers to define processes as per a specific best practice only’, for example: • If a customer is an American, he insists that he wants to define ITSM processes only as per COBIT; • If a customer is from UK, he insists that he wants to implement the processes as per ITIL only; • And another customer says that I want to implement the processes only as per MOF. These acute, biased preferences from the customer makes the consultants job more difficult and takes them to a groove.
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects Mitigation method ITSM consultants should educate the clients that adherence and alignment to a ‘specific ITSM best practice’ (only) is not a good idea, as there would be pros and cons for every individual best practice. So implementing ITSM processes as per a specific best practice (be it ITIL/ MOF/ COBIT/ etc) would also carry forward the flaws, misses, risks into the organization’s environment. Hence the efficacy of an ITSM consultant is to take the best from all best practices and customize them as per the needs of the business requirements; So an ITSM consultant should refer and take the guidance from all the best practices (ITIL, COBIT, MOF and etc), standards (ISO/IEC20K, ISO/IEC27001, ISO/IEC27005, etc) and previous consulting experiences to develop effective processes and its respective collaterals. For example: A consultant can refer the ITIL/ MOF books to define the processes, process activities, and workflows; COBIT books to define the governance
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects mechanism, controls, checklists, generic goals, roles and responsibilities etc; and standards to define standard operating procedures (SOP), guidelines, auditing checklists, etc. So the consulting team can refer different best practices, and bring out the best from all the best practices.
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects 4. Implementing ITIL framework is very costly & time consuming task Generally customers are afraid, skeptic of ITIL framework implementations and its positive results, as ITIL is a humungous framework which comprises of 28 processes and 4 functions. Well, obviously this involves great costs, resources and time. Mitigation method Implementing all ITIL framework (all 28 processes and 4 functions) would evidently cost millions of dollars and 4-5 years of time duration without any doubts. Hence ITSM consultants should scope the ITSM process development project into a phased approach. Consultants should enlighten the customers that the consulting team and organizational IT management would identify the most critical, prioritized issues first and then they would implement necessary
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects processes/ functions in a phased approach delivering visible results after every process implementation. Consultants should identify the major pain points in infrastructure (prioritizing them), its root causes, dependencies, then accordingly they should determine which process would be apt to start with, which process can bring in results for the IT department and Organization to reach its business goals. For example: A company is having issues with its IT, where there are regular outages and also takes very long time to restore the services. (Let’s assume there are no defined processes) Now a consultant would analyze and assess the complete business scenario (in terms of number of outages on an average per month, time taken to fix the issue, time taken to restore the services, what was the reference material used to fix the issues, how many technical members were involved to fix the issues, how
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects many of those were recurring issues, what is the root cause of the issues, what is the business impact of the outages with respect to number of users, costs & penalizations, what is the strategy of the organization and finally the budget for IT department) and then he/ she would define a service desk function (with defined roles, responsibilities, operating procedures, metrics, etc) which will act as a SPOC for any information, requests, and complaints that will consolidate accurate information about the issues reported by its end users. Then the consultant would define the incident management process (with defined roles, responsibilities, operation and escalation procedures, metrics, etc) and then problem management process (with defined roles, responsibilities, operating and escalation procedures, metrics, etc) followed by developing a knowledge base for all individual teams - service desk, incident management and problem management. In this way, scoping of ITSM processes demonstrates benefits in short time period and will also align towards the long-term goals.
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects 5. Process adherence & awareness In one of my consulting experience, I have understood (after all the process development and implementation) that some of the key stakeholders were reluctant to follow the process, and some were not even aware of the process. Effective process definition is a very vital task for organizations, and strict adherence, complete awareness on the defined process is explicitly mandatory. Among the 4P’s (People, Processes, Products and Partners) of ITSM, the first P ‘People’ acts as a main foundation and is also a secret for successful implementation and to demonstrate positive results. And this ‘People’ involves IT management, operational managers, administrators and also other staff including end users; all of these stakeholders should adhere and have perfect awareness of the developed processes for effective and efficient management of IT.
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects Mitigation method Involvement of all the key stakeholders right from the process planning, implementation and trainings is very much necessary for the success of process consulting projects. Involving the key stakeholders in brainstorming sessions and conducting regular reviews, will enable in getting frank opinions, important suggestions and their observations with respect to their previous experiences. Also it gives them a feeling that the process was developed based on their opinions and reviews, which makes them to follow and adhere to the process very strictly. Not only that it also helps in winning the hearts of stakeholders for better human relationship and also for further business opportunities. Process awareness among the stakeholders can be developed by:
Top 5 issues in ITSM consulting projects • Conducting regular (monthly/ quarterly) trainings, assessments, quizzes, etc. • Developing a management initiative that rewards the staff, who scores maximum in the assessments. • Creating simple & understandable process diagrams in posters and placing them in every kiosks and meeting rooms, to propagate the importance of processes. • Creating posters highlighting the IT benefits and Business benefits (when the team adheres to the processes).
Guideposts for ITSM consulting teams ITSM consulting team should have real experience in ITSM ITSM process designing is not copy-pasting Risk analysis and mitigation must for every ITSM consulting project. Selection of the right tool
Guideposts for ITSM consulting teams Guidepost 1: ITSM consulting team with real experience and knowledge I have seen management hiring and promoting staff as process developers/ consultants just because they don’t have technical skills and they have stayed in a company for long term in an organization. This is a blunder. Select the ITSM consulting and process designing team who has real experience in ITSM, who has seen real scenarios, experienced real issues in ITSM departments. As people who have seen real issues (continuously) can bring impeccable solutions based on their experiences, technical knowledge and their innovative thinking. Having theoretical knowledge from books, certifications (is a must) is good but not strong enough to develop efficient processes/ solutions in consulting or process development.
Guideposts for ITSM consulting teams Guidepost 2: ITSM process designing is not copy-pasting Its so shocking that I have seen some consultants who do copy-pasting from ITIL books and call it as ‘process development’. Well, ITSM process designing is not copy-pasting and rephrasing the content from ITIL or MOF or COBIT books, it is bringing out the practical solutions for the real issues happening at customer premises. Hence ITSM consulting team should have people, who have real experience in ITSM departments and ITSM consulting skills, not people with incompatible experiences. An excellent ITSM consulting team doesn’t require a group of evangelists from ITIL or MOF or COBIT; it requires ITSM consultants who are cognizant about different ITSM best practices who knows the pros and cons of different best practices, who can bring ‘out of the box’ solutions for the real issues.
Guideposts for ITSM consulting teams Guidepost 3: Risk analysis and mitigation must for every ITSM consulting project. Risk analysis and mitigation is the area which is ignored in many of the ITSM process consulting projects, leading to failures or inappropriate process developments. Typical risks in consulting projects are: • Requirements creep/ changes in requirements • Schedule lags • Lack of stakeholders involvement • Lack of reviews (at regular intervals) while the processes are being developed • Ineffective communication among the stakeholders • Ambiguity in process documentation deliverables Hence process consultants should always have a constant watch on risks and plan appropriate mitigation methods.
Guideposts for ITSM consulting teams Guidepost 4: Selection of the right tool ITSM tools are very necessary as it can: • eliminate routine human work and human errors • automate the routine tasks, saving time • follow a defined workflow without reinventing procedures and taking approvals again and again Criteria for tool selection should be primarily based on: a) organization’s strategy b) core functionality c) costs and pricing d) organization’s infrastructure and architecture e) usability and visualization
Common errors Err 1: Consideration of ITSM process implementation program as a typical IT project ITSM process implementations should never be treated as a typical IT projects which has specific start date and end date. Typical IT projects deliver outcomes, after the project is completed (after the proposed end date) and the stakeholders would be able to experience the value very clearly. But ITSM process implementation projects are not like typical IT projects which show off the outcomes or ROI or VOI right after completing the project, since process definition & implementation is like the directives or blueprints which has to be followed by the operations team and then the operations and management teams would be able to see the difference in outcomes. Secondly ITSM process development and implementation programs can never be marked with an acute end date as ITSM process development
Common errors is always bonded with continuous improvement approach which gives continuous or periodic feedbacks and with respect to the feedbacks the process has to be redefined or updated. Hence organizational top level management should understand that process definition and implementation is not a typical IT project, it should be considered as an ongoing program.
Common errors Err 2: Appointing inappropriate people for the most crucial roles. Today in many reputed organizations, management presumes that a ‘2’ digit years of experience in some ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’ roles is an asset for an organization; and some management folks assume ‘grey hair’ as a symbol and exemplification of knowledge. For example: “A resource having 10-15 years of experience in car driving, is good enough for driving a car (only) and cannot drive an airplane with the previous car driving experience and skills”. Assigning well versed, knowledgeable resources as subordinates and underdogs for some dumb people will be the greatest err. Hence organizational management should carefully understand who has the right knowledge, exposure, experience, skills, etc and accordingly they should appoint the resources with the respect to the roles.
Common errors Err 3: No encouragement and support for grooming consultants knowledge (like trainings and certifications). ITSM consulting team needs good encouragement and management support for grooming the staff’s knowledge on evolving, ever changing best practices, standards, and methodologies. As it is very much evident that the inception of new best practices, standards and methodologies is happening continuously, year after year; in the same way consulting team should be equipped with the updating or evolving knowledge areas. As discussed above, ITSM consulting team doesn’t require ITIL/ COBIT/ MOF evangelists it needs consulting team who has knowledge on all of the contemporary best practices, standards and methodologies for bringing out the best from all the reference materials. Hence management should identify the right human resources (‘who wants to snug in a company’ and ‘who has passion and innovative thinking’) and then
Common errors support them without showing any bias (based on years of experience in an organization, nationality, sex, religion, caste, etc).
Metrics for Consulting teams 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Time taken to develop a process and its collaterals Number of resources and mandays required for process development Number of resources and mandays required for process testing Number of resources and mandays required for technical writing Number of defects found by process testing team (in all process collaterals) Number of defects (typo’s, confusions, grammatical errors) found in process documentation 7. Number of defects found by end users and customer teams 8. Number of documentation deliverables (process guides, standard operating procedures, work instructions, role & responsibilities) available on a process 9. Number of NC’s (Non-conformances) found in audits with respect to process 10.Number of areas where there is no documentation available 11.Number of process trainings provided 12.Customer satisfaction rating on process documentation provided 13.Customer satisfaction rating on process trainings and trainer
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