I was recently approached by a local enterprise with the question “Can you undertake an IT service management (ITSM) assessment and how many days will it take?” The reason for them asking was that they wanted it finished as quickly as possible; but, based on previous assessments, the anticipation was that the result will take at least a few weeks. So, I did some research, sent back some questions, and came back with an answer – I could do it in three working days. They were shocked at the speed and asked how this would be possible.
ITSM is not ITIL
The main point is that this is an ITSM and not an ITIL assessment. But sadly, many people don’t differentiate between the two. Let me give a simple explanation: ITSM is the goal, in the pursuit of better business outcomes, and ITIL is one of the ways to achieve it.
During my research into how quickly I could undertake a robust assessment, I found out that the majority of ITSM assessments are actually ITIL process maturity assessments, where one goes process-by-process and evaluates current and future state. For sure, this will take weeks if not months, but is this really what was needed?
ITSM assessments should be about the quality of our service delivery in terms of value
So, how can we measure whether we’re delivering the value we promised to our customers and in the simplest possible way?
According to ITIL, value can be divided in three main areas: business outcomes, customer preferences, and customer perceptions:
- Business outcomes – what can the customer achieve as a result of service consumption (outputs vs. outcomes)? For example, the outcome of the incident management process is not the resolved incident (this is the output), but the stability of the service which allows the business to function (this is the outcome).
- Preferences – the customer’s preferences in respect of the service: language, reporting schedule, payment, etc.
- Perception – how does the customer perceive the service delivery? This is the trickiest one. There’s a term I really like – the watermelon effect – where all service level agreement (SLA) reports are green, but the customer is unhappy. So, while the service looks green, it’s red under the skin – just like watermelons.
So, how can we do an ITSM assessment in three days?
If your mind is rushing ahead, I bet that you’re now getting close to the answer I sent to them.
“We need three days of workshops with key representatives from the business and IT. Here’s the agenda:
Day 1: Define and describe what the key desired business outcomes are. If possible, prioritize. Provide this prioritization to IT. Set up a mechanism to update this prioritization regularly.
Day 2: Document business users’ preferences. Don’t limit the number. When ready, think about which ones make sense and which do not. We all know the famous 80/20 rule. Not every desire should be fulfilled. Remember this is an ITSM assessment, so don’t go process by process – I bet most of the preferences will be non-process related. Set up a mechanism to update these preferences regularly.
Day 3: Define perception in measurable terms. Even if it’s bad, this is a great start. This task is hard, but will be the baseline for everything we do in the future, so spend some extra effort here. How can this be done? A direct way is to create a survey with predefined questions. What else can we measure to know whether our users and customers are happy? I’ll give you a hint – “appetite comes with eating.” The happier our service consumers are, the more they’ll want. So, set key performance indicators (KPIs) for your service requests. Set up a mechanism to update the perception understanding regularly.”
Can we do an ITSM assessment in a non-ITIL organization?
I hope you can answer this immediately – yes.
If you stick to ITSM, and don’t go process by process, then you can do it.
Please note that I ended all the above three points with the setting up of an update mechanism. This means that you can do this assessment in any Agile/DevOps/Whatever environment if you agree that these are the three pillars of value.
Will this assessment bring value to an organization?
It might sound limited in scope, but I’ve always tried to provide simple and elegant solutions to fight complex problems.
The idea is that even at an enterprise level there’s still a lot of misalignment between business and IT. So, what better way to improve the situation than to start simple, agree on these three points, and see how it goes?
I’m a process designer, but I never forget that processes are not the goal, they’re the way to achieve outcomes. Thus, before we focus on processes we need to have clear and aligned goals.
The main purpose of my article was to show you that ITSM assessments can be done easily and quickly. I also tried to show you that ITSM is not ITIL, and even if you don’t like ITIL (which I can’t imagine, because I love adopting and adapting it) you can take still action and improve your IT service delivery.