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|ITSM needs to grow up|
ITSM needs to grow up
by Barclay Rae
In discussions with ITSMF members around the country, it is becoming clear that ITSM needs to move on a stage from its technical roots, to stand up and be counted as a profession. Here Barclay Rae summarises the current thinking on ITSM as a professional integrated discipline.
1 A grown-up ITSM industry
ITSM needs to grow up – we need to look at ourselves and professionalise our industry and approach.
This means re-positioning as a more strategic and business-relevant function, with demonstrable business benefits, supporting organisational and customer expectations. In the past this has been too narrowly focussed on internal IT functions, projects and costs.
ITIL has been the ‘de facto’ training and development approach for the last 10 – 15 years, yet those involved in delivering it know that ITIL is not enough – success requires much more than knowledge of a process framework.
In reality ITIL currently offers little in terms of practical guidance around successful ‘implementation’. *
IT and ITSM also needs to be viewed and appreciated more in a business broker role, more able to react quickly and be a solution provider rather than a ‘blocker’ - or the guys who always say ‘no’.
Without a significant change in speed of delivery, quality and perception of service and demonstrable value, many IT internal departments and external IT companies will become more and more exposed as obsolete, and ultimately, redundant.
The ITSM industry itself also needs a make-over, with fresh and accessible content, some new and contemporary framing and messaging, in order to remain attractive and relevant.
In order to succeed with this we need first to take steps to improve the image of the industry, and the extent to which it can be shown to be professional, business-like and valued at the C-level.
2 ITSM as a discipline?
One problem is that ITSM is not as a discipline. ITIL has a certification structure for individuals, but ITIL is a process framework and doesn’t - at this point in time * - include teaching and testing beyond process knowledge.
There are several models for organisational certification (ISO20000, based on ITIL, SDI/HDI for Service Desks, COBit as a governance model). Yet there is no central point of convergence or clarity about how these relate or are jointly relevant to support businesses. There is a growing but relatively low take-up of most of these models, which is disappointing since this would provide evidence that the ITSM programmes are working.
There are several industry organisations in this space that have members and forums, produce content, run events and in some cases set standards – yet these tend to exist as standalone niche bodies. Memberships have declined from initial high levels as the market has become saturated and knowledge and content has become more freely available online.
There is a large gap in the body of knowledge around ITSM – ITIL is primarily focussed on process, whereas successful ITSM requires a much wider portfolio of skills and capabilities. ITIL does not define organisational change, human interaction or customer experience, all essential for success.
Many organisations have expected ITIL to deliver results way beyond its capability or remit, seeing ITIL itself as the solution and ignoring these other factors. The result has been a lot of failed or incomplete ‘ITIL projects’ – these have burned cash and resources with little positive results – leaving the brand names of ITIL and ITSM damaged.
Without a central body to manage these issues, each area of the industry has continued unilaterally to deliver point solutions with limited success and restricted commercial penetration.
ITSM is therefore not a properly codified discipline. In its current form it will not be sustainable and the industry needs a new and wider definition, vision and structure. This must include e.g. a broader definition and portfolio of skills and capabilities, body of knowledge, organisational standards, plus clear career development paths, higher education qualifications and a code of conduct.
ITSM needs to be clearly positioned and presented as a business approach both within and beyond IT organisations. This is a growth area as many organisations are now using ITSM processes and tools to deliver wider collaboration and work management functions. C-level value propositions must be universally promoted around ITSM as an enabler, broker, orchestrator, rather than administrator.
All stakeholders need to engage and play their part in the delivery of Service Management - it’s a team game. We need to move away from thinking that ITSM is ‘just what the Service Desk do.’
In other words, in order to survive, the IT and ITSM industry has to move to the next level of maturity - we collectively need to grow up.
3 What needs to happen?
What do we need to do as an industry to improve and broaden our skills and reflect that in training and development?
Here are some key areas for development:
4 What skills are needed beyond ITIL?
There are 2 main areas of expertise and knowledge required – these are some examples:
* Market and industry-wide knowledge – awareness and skills in a variety of other frameworks:
* Personal and management
Overall ITSM requires strong people skills in order to drive through change and make it sustainable – management, organisational skills, influencing skills, communications, project management, business understanding and focus.
ITIL has tended to define roles in operational terms rather than those required for the transformation, and often the change roles were given to those better suited to operational/business as usual functions – often not enough to really affect change.
Other key skills include:
Successful ITSM requires participants to have good understanding and knowledge of their own organisation, key contacts, stakeholders and sponsors, as well as having a good amount of ‘clout’ and respect across the organisation. They need to be experienced in perhaps more than one area to be able to really see how to deliver ITSM.
Many organisations are using ITSM for work management beyond IT. In these cases the IT organisation is becoming the department that says ‘yes’ – a solution provider not a blocker.
In this way IT can further transform itself and add value – if this is not grasped then ITSM will become another obsolete museum piece.
ITSM is actually a potential game changer for IT, not an albatross around its neck…!
The challenge for individuals working is ITSM is to step up – develop their skills beyond ITIL and the ‘silo’-based department, stop seeing other teams, departments and industry areas as ‘them’ and start to engage and work together in positive collaboration as ‘us’.
The challenge for the industry is to unite and see the real potential for ITSM as a business enabler, not a best practice.
We need more practical and enlightened collaboration across frameworks, training organisations and established communities to support this move.
We need as an industry to move away from ‘them and us’ – IT and ‘the Business’, Operations and Development, Service Desk and other support teams.
If we must have ‘them and us’ – then let that involve natural selection. Let ‘them’ (competitors) have best practice, whilst ’we’ (our whole organisation) deliver business value.
*Axelos have recently announced a new ITIL practitioner qualification as a supplement to the existing programme, to provide more ‘non-ITIL’ skills