How to Successfully Implement a New ITSM Tool

Implementing an ITSM Tool
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Buying and implementing a new IT service management (ITSM) tool is similar to dropping a large rock into a lake – the ripples it creates go everywhere. Plus, then it’ll be a while before the lake’s surface is calm again. It’s therefore important not to underestimate the reach of the consequences of selecting and implementing a new ITSM tool.

In particular, there’s a need to understand from the get-go that you’ll have to change various aspects of your existing practices in order to deliver the benefits you expect from your shiny new ITSM tool. To help, here are five tips that range from using organizational change management tools and techniques to adopting continual improvement.

1. Address the impact on people and ways of working as early as possible

A new ITSM tool involves a significant people (or organizational) change. Hence, the time taken in involving the various stakeholders in the planning through delivery should definitely pay back later. Especially because those affected (by the ITSM tool implementation) but not involved are most likely to be resistant to the change.

Some of these people-related consequences of a new ITSM tool are that:

  • The processes the ITSM tool supports will change.Including because you can hopefully now do, and achieve, things that you couldn’t before.
  • Your IT support staff might need new or different skill sets. Not only to use the new ITSM tool but also related to new ITSM processes and perhaps even policies.
  • There’s a big knowledge management opportunity. Reusing your documented incident resolutions in particular. However, this also needs a change of culture to elicit effective knowledge sharing in addition to the new tool capabilities.

You, therefore, need to get your planning right, taking the time to sufficiently involve everyone who might be affected by the new ITSM tool implementation.

2. Assess the suitability of your existing practices pre-implementation

Before implementing your new ITSM tool, examine your current ITSM processes to ensure that they are lean and serviceable. Especially before trying to increase the level of automated support for them (via the new ITSM tool).

Not only will this prevent the automation of bad processes – where you simply get to the wrong result more quickly – it also gives you a single set of changes to sell to people and minimizes change fatigue.

It’s also important to “learn from what you already know.” ITSM tool flexibility means that there are many options available, settings to choose, and decisions to be made in set up. The failure to exploit these, and to match the tool to your specific requirements, will ultimately limit the benefits from the new ITSM tool.

3. Select the right implementation approach for your organization

This is usually a case of either to “go big bang” or take a phased approach. This will be determined by the size of your implementation and your organizations capacity for, and capability to, change.

As with any new technology roll-out, it’s good to start with a proof of concept (POC) in one part of your organization, perhaps simply logging tickets for one technology type or IT service in the new ITSM tool. Use the POC and/or a pilot to either verify the chosen settings or to allow some updating and modification to the ITSM tool before rolling it out across the whole organization.

4. Don’t forget to set up mechanisms to measure your success

Your organization must start by knowing why it’s implementing a new ITSM tool. That knowledge should deliver you the critical success factors (CSFs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) against which to judge success. In demonstrating success, it’s vital to build monitoring into your processes (or practices). And remember that it’s the combined performance of your people, processes, and technology that matters here.

A mechanism is needed for capturing improved performance in the things that matter most to your organization. For example:

  • Total support team costs
  • The downtime of key IT services
  • The size of the ticket backlog
  • Customer and user satisfaction levels.

5. Be prepared to keep up the implementation project’s focus on improvement indefinitely

The end of your ITSM tool implementation project will fully justify some celebration but it’s really only the beginning of an ITSM improvement program. All of the agreed improvement measures are still targets to be improved on again over time.

The ITSM tool will also likely have more capabilities available than have initially been implemented. Therefore, you’ll need to decide on what to use next by going back round the loop of “why,” “how,” and “when” with stakeholders to identify and deliver even more benefits to the business from the investment in your new ITSM tool.

So, that’s my five tips for ITSM tool implementation planning. What would you add? Please let me know in the comments.

Joe The IT Guy is a native New Yorker who loves everything connected to IT service management (ITSM). He's a passionate blogger and twitter addict, and is also the resident IT guy at SysAid Technologies.

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