ITSM in the New Normal – a Crowdsourced Perspective

ITSM in the New Normal

We’re yet to be fully past the awful impact of the COVID-19 crisis but the world is slowly returning to normal – socially and commercially – although what we have now is being called the “new normal” by many. So much changed with the pandemic that it’s important for IT organizations to firstly realize that IT service delivery and support will likely never be the same. And, secondly, that the rest of 2020 and beyond needs to be planned for again, with the strategic and operational impact of the “new normal” driving new ways of working. Including ITSM in the new normal.

To help your organization’s adaptation to the “new normal,” I’ve collected the wise words – related to ITSM and ITIL in the new normal – of a number of IT service management (ITSM) authorities from different walks of work life – asking them “How to Prepare for the ‘New Normal’ in ITSM?” It’s a long read, so I suggest you grab a cup of coffee before you start reading about ITSM in the new normal.

In this article, 22 people from all walks of #ITSM share their thoughts and opinions on what ITSM teams should be doing as we move into a “new normal” post #COVID19. #newnormal Share on X
Claire Agutter Photo

Claire Agutter, Director, Scopism

The coronavirus pandemic has generated more advice, analysis, and content than any other event I can remember. How do we prepare for the “new normal” in ITSM? Until we know what “normal” will look like, it’s hard to say. But there are three steps that I believe ITSM practitioners can and should be taking now to prepare for whatever the future brings:

  1. Seize the opportunity. There’s no time like the present! Many of us know from sad experience that the best time to get funding for business continuity or cyber security initiatives is in the aftermath of a major incident. Technology is holding many organizations together right now – it’s the perfect time to think about your future strategy and what architecture you need to have in place to support it. Make the most of being at the top of the C-suite’s agenda, and put technology at the heart of your organization’s strategy. We should not be planning to go back to the same structure as before – let’s make things better.
  2. Accept that there’s no such thing as normal. The pandemic has created changes that many organizations didn’t plan for. The idea of global travel shutting down, offices closing, and cities being deserted is beyond many of the scenarios in use. We don’t know what the future will look like. So how do we adapt? Resilience is going to be a key competency for successful organizations. Rather than preparing plans for every single possible scenario, organizations need to develop the mindset and behaviors that will allow them to react and change, no matter what the world throws at them. Agility needs to be embedded across all of the organization’s capabilities. For ITSM practitioners, this includes thinking “beyond process”, and looking at how decision making, accountability, and empowerment are cascaded throughout the service management organization. When an exceptional situation demands an exceptional response, do you have the structures in place to support it? VeriSM’s service management principles are a great example of guardrails that allow ITSM teams to respond quickly, while understanding the constraints they operate within.
  3. Protect your people. Most importantly, think beyond the hardware. Who has kept things going while our lives change? People – enabled by technology. We’ve seen heroic efforts from people throughout IT and ITSM in the immediate response to coronavirus. Organizations have a valuable opportunity to reimagine what work looks like, and give their people a more balanced, rewarding life. For ITSM people and the whole organization, there is a once in a lifetime chance to reimagine employee experience. Where elevating service management to the enterprise level will help to support the creation of technology-enabled business processes.
We must make the most of being at the top of the C-suite’s agenda (thanks to #COVID19), and put technology at the heart of our organization’s strategy – @ClaireAgutter #ITSM #newnormal Share on X
Roy Atkinson Photo

Roy Atkinson, CEO/Principal Advisor, Clifton Butterfield LLC

If there was ever a time to review the service relationships your organization has, this is it. The rapid transitions the current pandemic required most organizations to make pointed up many weaknesses in governance, policies, procedures, and planning.

Take, for example, the incredible fast growth of Zoom as a platform for virtual meetings. If organizations were not providing a tool – like Microsoft Teams – that could quickly and easily allow ad hoc video meetings and collaboration, Zoom was a seemingly perfect solution. It wasn’t, although the product has been much improved over the past three months in terms of security, offering end-to-end encryption, for example.

Governance was nearly nonexistent in some organizations, while others had restrictive policies that disallowed remote work from homes where children were present. Those policies had to be quickly changed or were just ignored as workers were sent home and both schools and daycare facilities were closed.

Organizations also found themselves having to leap into cloud solutions in order to continue delivering essential services to employees and customers. The vetting and RFP processes were either bypassed or accelerated exponentially.

All of these share a common theme: Organizations are still thinking from the inside out, and are focusing on the various pieces of service management and delivery instead of developing a strategic picture that includes customers, employees, and internal stakeholders.

Three things your service management team should do right now in terms of ITSM in the new normal:

  1. Review relationships with vendors and partners – not only from a product and contractual perspective, but also from the point of view of service and support. The service desk (whether physical or virtual) needs to know the support contacts and details in order to provide the best response to requests and service interruptions. Know who to contact, how to contact them, and the limits of your current service agreements with all partners.
  2. Look at the way things are currently done, and how they might be done better – this includes learning about multiple frameworks and/or methodologies that can help the organization plan for the “New Normal.” SIAM, for example, might be able to offer guidance on integrating cloud providers into an on-premises based infrastructure; DevOps can show ways to accelerate the delivery of new or updated software into production. If you’re still focused on processes, you might consider looking at ITIL 4’s guidance to “Focus on value,” “Start where you are,” and “Think holistically.”Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) provides ways of rapidly developing and publishing knowledge to be used internally or to provide self-service and self-help for the consumers of your services.
  3. Look at ways in which service management principles can be integrated into the organization – remember service management isn’t just about IT, nor should it have ever been. This is the perfect time to have conversations with counterparts from other parts of your business. Information technology – in all senses – has allowed remarkable things to happen during the past few months. You have your colleagues’ attention. Work with them to enable the “new normal” to happen
The #newnormal is a perfect opportunity to look at ways in which ITSM principles can be integrated into your org. After all, IT isn’t just about IT, nor should it have ever been – @RoyAtkinson #COVID19 #ITSM Share on X
Charles Araujo

Charles Araujo, Founder, The Institute for Digital Transformation

I was recently speaking with my daughter, who works for the largest book distributor in the United States. She was concerned that her office was beginning to reopen and that they might try to force her to go back to the office soon. “I’m so much more productive at home, dad,” she lamented. I chuckled as I imagined them trying to pry her from home after she’s proven that there’s not a need to do so.

Around the world, the jig is up. Long-standing tropes about remote work being unproductive or inhibiting collaboration are now ringing hollow. But more importantly, the fact that they’ve been proven to be so spectacularly wrong is now calling into question every other long-held corporate bureaucratic notion.

So what does all of this mean for ITSM professionals? As we begin to find ourselves in a “new normal” there’ll be two significant impacts on your work. First, the broad success of the global #WFH experiment, not to mention the transformation of virtual events and other shifts that the pandemic demanded, which have opened the eyes of management to the fact that there are other ways of working that, well, work. Not only will we find that many of these “temporary work processes” become permanent, but we’ll see a much more rapid transformation of the enterprise operating model simply because enterprise leaders have become less fearful of the disruption they might have caused. These shifts will necessarily demand changes to fundamental ITSM operating practices to accommodate them.

Second, and more impactfully, however, will be the shift in attitude. There’ll be much less tolerance for inflexible processes and statements about it “being policy” or “that’s just our process” – regardless of the scope. ITSM professionals should be prepared to defend the validity, veracity, and effectiveness of every rule, requirement, and anything else that stops workers from working however they want. Intentionally or not, the pandemic has demonstrated to employees that most of the so-called reasons that things had to work a certain way were just someone’s opinion, based on an arbitrary decision, or worse, nothing more than a power-trip. Every ITSM function has always operated by virtue of the consent of the governed. It may be unfair, but your governed will no longer be in the mood to accept the status quo just because you say so.

#ITSM professionals should be prepared to defend the validity, veracity, and effectiveness of every rule, requirement, and anything else that stops workers from working however they want – @charlesaraujo #newnormal Share on X
Kevin Baker Photo

Kevin Baker, Founder and CEO, Sollertis

As we come out of lockdown, and into the “new normal,” I think it’s key we don’t become complacent, and that we remain prepared for change and disruption; whether that be in the form of a second wave of the pandemic or any other unexpected event. This crisis has shown us that we need to be able to adapt quickly to anything that comes our way.

Organizations should begin building a comprehensive knowledge base both for colleagues and external entities. The importance of knowledge during uncertain times and an ever-changing future cannot be understated. Through the furloughing of key team members or through parental leave, thousands of organizations will have seen knowledge walk right out of the door; with no ability to call upon these specialists to aid the resolution and fulfillment of IT activities.

I’m confident that every person reading this will know of individuals in their organization that are imperative to their success and delivery of services, or are aware of their own lack of knowledge/documentation around their practices. By implementing a consumable knowledge management solution, a significant amount of the “unknown” that has impacted businesses could be alleviated.

This comprehensive approach to knowledge will ensure that people are well informed and confident when fulfilling their role, in everything from how to use particular software or equipment in the event of staff having to work remotely, or how to temporarily fulfil an absent colleague’s role.

Through our engagements, we’ve heard from clients regarding investments in laptops to mobilize their workforce; in the majority of instances, doubling up on IT assets to enable a newly formed business continuity plan. Decentralization and mobilization of organizations through adjustments to infrastructure and investments in collaborative/cloud solutions such as Microsoft Teams or Slack ensure that employees are able to work from anywhere, free from reliance on any static tools or fixed locations. But employees are too often hegemonized by the inflexibility of the tools they use, creating a working environment liable to disruption, and preventing a truly workable business continuity plan.

Investments in cloud-based technologies that offer real-time collaboration provide greater agility and consumption of services without the need for VPN connectivity which can sometimes come at a hefty price. With all modern technologies providing a plethora of integration options (which only becomes easier with secure cloud solutions); the opportunity to enhance existing processes and project productivity gains is a real opportunity for IT to elevate and improve their services and offerings.

Lastly, organizations need to focus on the health and wellbeing of their workforce. This might sound obvious but sometimes it’s not until you read something that you step back and think. In this case about how you’re reviewing and assessing the wellbeing of your workforce. Every business is about its staff; whether a technology-based company that relies on their developers or a retail company that relies on its design, distribution, and retail staff. Without a productive and motivated workforce, every organization will fail.

When we return to normality or the “new normal,” the health and wellbeing of our workforces will be of paramount importance. With organizations now starting to evaluate their work-from-home policies; encouraging regular physical exercise, maintaining a healthy working environment, and having regular communication between team members to help ensure IT teams and organizations as a whole remain efficient and rewarding places to work. We all have a social responsibility to help others, and this isn’t exclusive to team leaders or managers. Every problem is an opportunity to shine and prove your value; we need to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, even when we’re faced with extreme situations such as the one we find ourselves in now. Organizations should look at this pandemic as an opportunity to assess and improve, building a more efficient workforce, a better working environment, and a more reliant service offering, unchained from internal proxies and in-house servers.

Orgs should look at #COVID19 as an opportunity to assess and improve, building a more efficient workforce, a better working environment, and a more reliant service offering – @k3vinbak3r #Cloud #MentalHealth #ITSM #newnormal Share on X
Karl Bagci

Karl Bagci, Head of Operations, Cronofy

As we move into a world where remote work is more commonplace, ITSM teams are faced with challenges, which previously, were thought to be some way off into the future. The way that the world wants to work has changed. I don’t think that the workplace is ever going to look the same again. Remote is an option that a lot of people want to take up, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that our businesses can function effectively throughout this phase of transformation in the workplace.

The first thing that springs to mind for me, is risk. I’m naturally risk-averse. A question I think all ITSM teams need to ask themselves right now, is can we continue to deliver business continuity, whilst remaining secure and compliant? Have we identified new risks as a result of people using their home networks? Or even their own devices? Making sure that end users are securely able to work from home, and that people know what the right thing to do is, in terms of security, is a risk all teams should be looking to address.

Cyber-attacks, security breaches, and the associated fallout from such events are one of the largest risk businesses face right now. Here’s what I’d recommend doing immediately:

  1. Identify new risks and update your risk register to reflect new ways of working. This will generate a “to-do” list of things you’re going to need to do sooner rather than later.
  2. Ensure anti-virus is rolled out onto every endpoint
  3. Establish a baseline of knowledge for all users. Ask yourself, do people who work at this business, understand what is expected of them, in terms of Information Security? If not, make sure that they do.

The next thing I’d like to see teams start doing now is reducing wastage. I know, I know, the word agile is top of the list when it comes to Tech buzzword bingo. And yes, I know, you don’t just start “being agile”. However, most businesses waste a lot of time, adhering to poorly designed processes. My recommendations to reduce wastage:

  1. Speak to your teams and identify processes that are ineffective uses of your time
  2. How can you reduce bottlenecks? In the example of deploying production changes. Are changes having to wait because they require an authorization? Could these changes be broken down into smaller, less risky changes? Are they low risk enough to not warrant approval? Would improved testing reduce the risk and mean approval isn’t required?
  3. Ask yourself, how can you, as an ITSM team, help to streamline these processes?
  4. Adapting to new technologies and being open to, and helping to deliver change, is how ITSM teams can truly deliver value to the business, and the people that they support.

ITSM teams will also start to have to implement, support, and manage software not built by their developers. A lot of businesses are realizing that it’s much more prudent and cost-effective for teams to buy a solution, than it is to build it. Product teams want to be able to prove a theory, without having to wait for a development team to plan, write 100 JIRA tickets, and deliver it three months late (I joke – kind of). Heck, some businesses want as little touch as possible, and there’s a very vocal movement for running a service on a solely no-code stack all together.

This is something we at Cronofy have seen first hand for the past five years, with a noticeable surge over the past three months, with the digital transformation projects for many businesses, becoming prioritized. Businesses want to quickly add functionality to their product, in our case, scheduling, without having to sink time into building and proving a product, themselves.

ITSM teams should now be looking to add processes around supporting low or no-code solutions. This means ensuring that you have processes in place to ensure the new vendors your business wants to use, meet the correct standards. Consider taking into account what data is being collected, how data is transferred, where it’s being transferred to, and how the data is being stored. Good processes to have in place are:

  1. Third-party risk assessments
  2. An approvals process for third-party providers
  3. Data protection impact assessments

I think the key here is to not be a blocker but to help reduce the risk surrounding bringing on board a new solution, by ensuring that the appropriate due diligence is in place.

To be honest, I believe the most important thing for ITSM teams to do right now though, hasn’t changed. It’s to try and understand the needs of the business, and to use that knowledge to help that business deliver value.

A question I think all #ITSM teams need to ask themselves right now is: can we continue to deliver business continuity, while remaining secure and compliant – @irutsun #newnormal Share on X
Patrick Bolger

Patrick Bolger, Chief Evangelist, Hornbill

Based on our research, the “new normal” will be an era of hyper-transformation, where the need for, and value of, ITSM and ITSM tools will be higher than ever.

As we return to work, there will be less funding available for projects and fewer people to handle the workload. Businesses must therefore find new ways to innovate, disrupt, and use technology to deliver services more effectively, while extracting every ounce of efficiency from existing resources.

Prior to COVID-19, service management resources were stretched to breaking point, simply maintaining and supporting existing services. As businesses work out their strategies for the return to work, new IT strategies and technologies will be needed, which will spur significant investment in critical support systems. As McKinsey’s expert resources on COVID-19 highlight; investment in service management and automation technology is advisable to ensure that organizations can meet the increased levels and frequency of support requests.

Just as first-generation SaaS solutions reshaped the service management market over the last decade, demand for low/no code, agile, and cost-effective cloud-native SaaS solutions will change the market beyond recognition over the next 1-2 years. What makes us think this is included in my recent article “The Path Out of COVID-19 Needs Service management Tools“. For me, the data is clear – demand for modern, agile service management tools is greater than ever. IT groups with a strong digital strategy are acting now and, as others get their strategies finalized, the service management tools market will fly.

For further insights from Patrick on this topic, please read his article “How Will COVID-19 Change the World of ITSM?

ITSM in the New Normal – a Crowdsourced Perspective Share on X
Sally Bogg

Sally Bogg, Head of Live Services, NHS Digital

It seems many moons ago now since I first wrote about the potential impact Covid-19 could have on the ITSM industry. Here we are twelve weeks later, and many of us are starting to plan for the “new normal.” I predicted that the world of work would change forever – remote and home working will no longer be a nice-to-have but for lots of organizations it will be the “new normal”. For those of us providing digital services, we need to adapt and transform the short-term strategies and approaches we put in place to deliver the pivot to home working into robust and resilient services.

Here are three actionable steps I’d recommend for anyone currently delivering ITSM within their organizations:

  1. Get your IT self-service portal in shape – as many people continue to work from home, working at hours that suit their family and other commitments, the traditional 9-5 role will start to disappear. By providing a really good self-service experience you can empower people to solve their own IT issues and enable them to work more efficiently and effectively at a time and in a way that better suits them.
  2. Revisit your business relationship and customer relationship strategies – many organizations will have put their business and customer relationship management activities on hold in order to prioritize the response to COVID-19. As we prepare for the new world of social distancing and restricted or limited travel we must start to think about how we continue to ensure effective engagement with our key stakeholders in the “new normal”. Many of our customers will have changed the way they work and operate so it’s essential we reach out to establish where they may have new requirements for IT and digital services.
  3. Look after your people – many of our service delivery teams will have been at the sharp end of the pivot to home working and are likely feeling fatigued. During the lockdown, the separation of home from work has become harder over time which can leave many people feeling stressed and anxious. New team and organizational cultures are required, so we need to give our people the space and time to work through these. Be patient, don’t expect the same continued levels of productivity that were seen in the initial response stages of the pandemic and take time to provide support and consideration for those who may be finding the lockdown difficult. For leaders and managers, flexibility is going to be the key to ensuring our people are able to deliver the services and great customer experiences we need from them.
ITSM in the New Normal – a Crowdsourced Perspective Share on X
Daniel Breston

Daniel Breston, Business Continuity Advisor, Independent

Three things I think organizations should be doing to prepare for the “new normal”:

  • Think about what keeps you in business – your customers, your staff, your suppliers. Now map out a service you provide to them, it doesn’t matter if it’s critical or not BUT you MUST start from the end outcome and shift left. Look at the time it takes, the tools, the people, the very macro level process and the outcome expected for each step. Now ask: what can we do everyday to ensure that tomorrow we can do this and we can do it even better? This is continuity in business providing sustainability, but it only works if the people doing the work perform this exercise.
  • Stop doing business impact analysis – I mean did it help you over the last few months? Instead, jump in and improve a way of doing something. Spend the effort, time, and money to improve by learning something that makes work better no matter where that work occurs and measure the result to the consumer of that work (internal or external).
  • Create a business continuity culture – Agile, DevOps, ITSM, they’re all underpinned by work – by doing something that services a customer. If you’re on an Agile, digital, or DevOps journey, then you’re changing things fast. The business continuity plan and test won’t keep up unless you bake in business continuity into your culture and prove that every change is resilient, sustainable, provides value to the consumer, and supports the values of your organization.
In this #newnormal, you need to bake business continuity into your culture and prove that every change is resilient, sustainable, provides value to the consumer, and supports the values of your organization – @DanielBreston Share on X
Matthew Burrows Photo

Matthew Burrows, President, SkillsTX

Keep the focus on the people! We’ve witnessed some heroic actions during the pandemic. There’s been public praise for skilled professionals performing key roles, including some technology specialists being recognized as essential workers, reflecting the critical dependency pretty much every organization has on their technology. Some have even referred to the COVID-19 pandemic as “forced digital transformation.”

Certainly we’ve seen a shift in the operating model to reflect different ways of working, including increased remote working. We’ve also asked individuals to take on different roles at times, to cover for colleagues who have been unavailable or to reflect a different balance of activity. For some team members this change has included asking them to resurrect skills from earlier in their career, and this is where companies who already had a complete and up-to-date skills inventory have benefitted, because they already know what skills their resources have. The companies who followed out-dated advice and only captured the skills used in an individual’s current role rather than getting a complete picture, those who did a skills assessment as a one-off activity and haven’t kept it up-to-date, or the majority of organizations who have no skills inventory at all, have found this more challenging.

Some of these changes are likely to remain in some form or another. In ITSM, we’re reasonably used to dealing with change, but quite often this change tends to focus on the technology. Hopefully the organizations with a mature approach to change management would also consider the impact of change on the process, and the knock-on effect on roles, responsibilities, and therefore the balance of skills needed by the people performing these roles.

If it hasn’t already been done, now is the time to take stock of the changes that have been made or the changes that will be made to reflect the “new normal” (if there is such a thing) or at least the next iteration of the operating model. Any change should trigger the question “does this change cause the roles within the process to change – either through requiring a different mix of skills, some existing skills at different levels, or a different number of people with certain skills?”

The economic impact will find some employers having to let people go, but there’ll also be new opportunities created as we progress ITSM in the new normal.

So, how do we get there?

We’re all adjusting to where we now find ourselves and where we need to be next – we have to adjust the journey plan to reflect the next leg, or effective navigation will be impossible.

In order to move forward in the right direction, the following actions will put organizations and their workforce in the best possible position:

  1. Skills Inventory – the current “starting point”
    • All organizations need a clear and complete answer to the “what skills do we have” question, so everyone knows where we’re starting from.
    • This is actually much easier to achieve than many people think, and can be completed in a few weeks – as long as you use a reasonable best practice approach. I’ve written extensively about how to do this, so check out this information or reach out for a bit of support with your planning.
    • If you already have a skills inventory, make sure it’s up-to-date and includes all the skills of each individual, not just the sub-set of skills from their current/old job description – and then keep it up-to-date as people develop their skills and competencies.
    • Each individual should have a skills profile – a baseline of their current skills
      • For those finding themselves looking for work, this will serve as a digital CV – a valuable outplacement action which employers can use to help these individuals to find new opportunities, plus an essential view of the skills that they are losing.
      • For all, this forms a baseline for the next stage of gap analysis and development planning.
  2. Critical Skills – the next “destination” on the journey
    • Check the current skills inventory against an internationally-recognized skills and competencies framework like SFIA (the Skills Framework for the Information Age), so you can identify potential gaps and prioritize the most critical ones.
    • Role profiles and job descriptions may need to be updated, identifying the skills needed now and into the future.
  3. Development Action Plans – the “route plan,” “map,” or “satellite navigation guidance”
    • Ensure all individuals create and maintain a development action plan, working with their manager to prioritize the critical skills and competencies, and balancing the needs to the organization and the individual.
    • Action plans should also be considered at team level, department level, as well as a rolled-up view for the whole organization – identifying and mitigating critical people and skills related risks.
    • Remember that well-rounded development plans reflect the 70/20/10 model, with only 10% of development being through off-the-job formal training, 20% being near-the-job coaching and mentoring, and 70% being on-the-job experience.
ITSM in the New Normal – a Crowdsourced Perspective Share on X
Christopher Chagnon

Christopher Chagnon, ITSM Architect, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

While some teams have found that they’re able to operate 100% remotely, and work from home, there’s a pretty likely chance that, sooner than later, we’ll be trading in our well-worn sweatpants for business-casual as we head back to the office. With the return to offices, campuses, and working in person comes an “offboarding” experience for many of the things we did to enable remote work.

  1. Get ready to manage assets – our users will likely be returning borrowed equipment en-masse. Make sure your CMDB is in tip-top shape and ready to have all of this information updated. In addition to just changing the status of loaned equipment, you’ll likely have a huge influx of quirks or support tickets coming in for network setup, forgotten passwords, and requests for lost accessories like mice and keyboards. Get ready now by checking inventory levels, refining self-help documentation, and consider preparing a refresher course of any IT or employee orientations you already offer.
  2. Create a way to track the chaos – with people returning to work, some staying remote, and phased rollouts where we increase capacity, your organization may be wondering how can we start to orchestrate this all? Use the power of the platform and start building out tracking fields and functionality in your ITSM tool. You could consider adding attributes to user profiles to track whether they’re remote or office-based, or creating forms and workflows for tracking department or office reopening requests. Many additional ITSM tools have dipped their toes into the waters with enterprise service management capabilities over the course of this pandemic, but get ready to make a splash by showing the true power of those tools in automating the tracking, auditing, and approvals of these types of forms in your tools. Leveraging your tools and self-service portals for this not only illustrates their value to leadership, but reinforces their importance to your users.
  3. Practice empathy – this is a skill that can be improved, and a tumultuous time like this is a great opportunity to start empathizing with your users. Things are changing all the time, and this pandemic is stressful. Fearful and stressed-out users and service desk technicians could benefit from a drop of empathy from you. When sending out communications make sure to be reassuring, patient, and kind. Remembering that even the simplest issue is just another drop in a very stressful bucket. This doesn’t extend just to service desk and incident management! The need for empathy can be helpful when considering problem management or the processing of change requests. In your change advisory board (CAB) meeting start discussing the weight of end-user impact and how necessary a change is if that impact is high.
ITSM in the New Normal – a Crowdsourced Perspective Share on X
John Custy Photo

John Custy, ITSM Consultant, JPC Group

There’s been a lot of ideas, prophecies, and discussions of what the “new normal” will be once our lives return to a less chaotic, less stressful schedule. However, what we do know is that we won’t return to life as it was pre COVID-19, pre-March 2020. From concerns about contagions, viral loads, social/physical distancing, how we’ll interact with our peers at work, how formal or not we need to be on a video call, should we or can we hug friends, shake hands, etc. If we look at other cataclysmic events, e.g., 9/11, we know not all the changes that result from these types of events are necessarily bad. We’ll adjust, we’ll figure out how to do what we want and need to safely, and some will figure out how to thrive in the new environment, with unwritten rules on our behaviors. Here are three examples:

  1. Expectations will change. In the “new normal” our expectations, needs, and wants will change as other things change around us. It’s not just the shiny object syndrome (SOS), but when we observe someone else with the productivity tools that would benefit us and our customers, how long will it take the organization to respond? To meet this new challenge will require organizations to be more agile, not only agile software development, but organizational agility, the ability of the organization to respond quickly to customer needs and wants.
  2. Automation will rise in importance. In fact, automation will continue to be critical in reducing costs, increasing efficiencies, and contributing to more engaging work for people. People need to be connected to content when we know what to do (automate), and to people when we’re not confident we know what to do. Automated remediation will also continue to advance, with predictive capabilities that will reduce the impact of service and product failures. The service management toolsets need to be leveraged, yet optimization is first needed before automation. AI, machine learning (ML), and analytics will be used to better understand what is occurring, and how to improve current products, services, and workflows.
  3. Knowledge will be vital. As organizational goals and objectives are different, as are the starting points (baseline), and organizational capabilities, there is no one single best way to do this. However, organizations need frameworks that will help them develop their capabilities. The principles of Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) and the ITIL 4 guiding principles can both provide the guidance that will enable organizations to make better decisions. The days of a siloed mindset between business units and their service providers is over. While we don’t know specifically what will exist, we do know that it will be different from what it is today.

For further insights from John on this topic, please read his article: Five Things to Expect of ITSM in the New Normal.

The days of a siloed mindset between business units and their service providers is over, and the principles of #KCS and #ITIL4 Guiding Principles will be vital, says @ITSMNinja #ITSM #newnormal Share on X
Rob England

Rob England, Managing Director, Teal Unicorn

There are two premises in the topic which are questionable. They are (a) that this is anywhere near over; and (b) that we can foresee any future “normal.” Unless we all get lucky:

  1. COVID-19 won’t slow down until it’s infected at least two thirds of the population and killed over half a percent. Then it’ll continue to break out until we have a vaccine and give it to billions of people.
  2. Ultra-rightwing governments in USA, UK, and Russia are clearly collaborating. The USA is on a trajectory that doesn’t bear thinking about. Trump can’t be removed from power by an election. There clearly is social disruption coming, the only question is the scale.
  3. There is a general agreement that we’re heading for the biggest recession or depression in a century. Unemployment is off the charts. Bankruptcy soon will be.

The “new normal” is some time off and unforeseeable. In fact, we must let go of the mental model of “normal,” of stable states of society. Persistent social change is the “new normal” and it’s here now for as long as digital, biological, and materials technologies continue to accelerate. Change is not episodic between states, it is the state. (This is as true of IT as it is of society).

In chaotic times like these, we can only plan for a few months out, and set navigational visions for an increasing number of years out. That short-term planning should be guided by our continual improvement program. In the long-term, we can only envisage who we want to be, what we want to be like, not what we’ll be doing. There is a broader discussion to be had about new ways of working and managing, and beyond that new ways of social thinking, both outside the scope of this article. We talk about them here. But, what does it mean for ITSM?

ITSM is at the heart of what we need to do right now to prepare:

  1. Maximize agility to respond quickly:
    • Absorb ITIL 4, especially HVIT. Adopt Agile.
    • Adopt Product not Project.
    • Build DevOps (Continuous Integration, Continuous Testing, Continuous Delivery, etc.)
  2. Maximize resilience to recover quickly from stress and shock:
    • Learn about Safety-II and Resilience Engineering, Site Reliability Engineering, Antifragile, and Swarming.
    • Build more DevOps (Shift left, DevSecOps, Infrastructure as code, containers, serverless, etc.)
  3. Cut spending and build reserves:
    • Work incrementally, no big bangs.
    • Work less, manage demand. You need the headroom to make changes.
    • Optimize value flow.
    • Reduce waste, especially defects.
  4. Implement continual improvement as an organizational foundation to drive all of the above. No, do it! Stop just saying it.

Buckle up and be aware of what is likely to be next. Change is the “new normal,” and chaos is normal for a while. Through agility and resilience, in life and work, we’ll come out of this with better societies and better work.

As we move into a #newnormal (if a thing), we must cut spending and build reserves: work incrementally (no big bangs), work less and manage demand, optimize value flow, and reduce waste (especially defects) – @rob_england Share on X
Rajesh Ganesan

Rajesh Ganesan, Vice President, ManageEngine

Prima facie, remote work seems to be the “new normal.” Initially, the COVID-19 situation forced companies to set up remote work as a temporary alternative work arrangement, but it seems to have been so widely accepted that it’s now the “new normal.” However, companies realize that remote work alone is impossible to sustain and so are opening up their offices to small groups of essential staff or starting satellite offices to keep the physical workforce small while keeping the rest of the staff working remotely. We’ll also start seeing creative variations of these work groups once companies start experimenting on what combinations are most sustainable. Very soon, most companies will realize that this is the “new normal.”

To support the “new normal,” here are a few actionable steps ITSM teams can take to be adequately prepared:

  1. Fine tune and tweak the existing IT service delivery model to accommodate the “new normal.” Social distancing norms have changed the way conventional offices and workplaces function. Consequently, pre-COVID-19 IT service delivery methods, troubleshooting techniques, communication channels, ticket service level agreements (SLAs), and conventional metrics are simply not equipped to handle the changes in geographical location and work styles of each work group. This had led to inconsistent or delayed service delivery and metrics that don’t reflect the changed realities. Therefore, IT teams need to revisit their service delivery model to ensure the same levels and quality of service as in the pre-pandemic days.
  2. Bolster the organization’s ITAM strategy to tackle the unplanned surge of shadow IT. The COVID-19 situation has caused a spike in corporate device damage and device replacement requests forcing people to use their own or borrowed devices when replacements are unavailable. IT teams need to first reconcile all devices used for corporate use and ensure that these devices follow security protocol for audit compliance and seamless updates. A key risk to information security comes from people disabling security software for the sake of convenience or productivity. IT teams need to update their ITAM programs, including procurement and usage policies, to ensure that information security is not compromised.
  3. IT teams need to understand how the “new normal” brings a paradigm shift in the way incident management is driven. Typically, incident management was driven by NOC or SOC type command centers with immediate access to key stakeholders, information, and tools that allowed IT teams to effectively circumvent incidents. But the “new normal” workforce being geographically spread out restricts the immediate access that was vital for the pre-pandemic incident management process to function effectively. A geographically spread out workforce also increases the number of attack vectors and incident sources. IT teams need to rethink and re-calibrate the way they approach the incident management process to ensure incidents across the spectrum are handled effectively under such different circumstances.
IT teams need to rethink and re-calibrate the way they approach incident management to ensure incidents across the spectrum are handled effectively under such different circumstances – @rajesh05 #ITSM #newnormal Share on X
Liliana Gary

Liliana Gary, CEO, InvGate

When contributing to crowdsourced pieces I try to be a little bit different. So, I looked at the question through an IT service desk lens and with a deliberate focus on both the old and the new. Because, for me, the answer has to be a focus on a blend of both the new and the not-so-new (I didn’t want to call it “the old”). With the following three points some of the many things IT service desk will need to consider and address during the rest of 2020 and into 2021:

  1. Finally nail down your IT service desk’s “reason for being.” This isn’t a new need, but it is impacted by everything that we’ve experienced so far in 2020. In the “new normal,” your IT service desk has to be even better at meeting organizational and employee-level needs, and to do this it should first understand its “reason for being.” This will cover many things. For instance, appreciating that IT support is about people, and their ability to work, rather than the technology itself – that the adverse impact of incidents on employee productivity needs to be an area of focus, especially with many employees stranded from peer-based assistance as they work from home.
  2. Focus on people support, not IT support. This is a continuation of point #1 but it definitely needs reinforcing in a separate point. Of course, the terms we’ve always used in IT don’t help – from the IT help desk to the IT service desk to IT support. However, the modern IT service desk needs to be all about getting services and people back up and running as quickly as possible – minimizing downtime – and supplying the IT capabilities that employees quickly need too. All while offering an acceptable service experience as a minimum too. I could have called this out as “a focus on employee experience,” but I thought it better to first peel back another layer to start with the people we service before then looking to improve things related to employee experience.
  3. Use employee feedback as free consultancy – ask them the right questions and act on their answers. You might have heard the old adage that “customer feedback is free consultancy.” Well, the same is true with employee use of the IT service desk and its capabilities. But only if we ask the right questions. You only have to look at all the recent “conversations” around watermelon SLAs to appreciate that the customer satisfaction surveys that have been employed by IT service desks for the last two decades don’t necessarily get to how employees really feel about the suitability of the IT support they receive. Thankfully, the “new normal” is an opportunity to focus less on the mechanics of IT support to instead measure IT service desk success closer to the end user – with the level of employee lost productivity a great example of a more fitting IT support performance measure.
ITSM in the New Normal – a Crowdsourced Perspective Share on X
Simone Jo Moore

Simone Jo Moore, Senior Consultant, SJM

When I Googled about preparing for the “new normal” after COVID-19, I received 611,000,000 results. From new workplace norms to trends reversing overnight; from empty office buildings to over-tracked personal spaces; from business “digitizing” employees to personal grief recovery. New vocabulary is also taking hold. As “Google” went from a brand name to an accepted phrase/verb for searching as “Google it” so to is “Zoom” becoming a phrase/verb for virtual meetings, training, and other collaborative efforts – “let’s Zoom it”.

Having gone from typewriters and dial rotary phones in support roles to the high level of automation where I can work across the world from anywhere, I still feel a sense of wonder. As much as technology has changed the way I work, I’ve also had to “up my game.” This includes keeping up with new technology such as how we’re going to apply artificial intelligence (AI) in paving new pathways of working. The focus though is how the technology augments our ability, not replaces it. This is a human journey and a human experience we’re having and certainly in this short space, not every tangent can be covered but let’s look to at least three things that you, as a support leader, can do.

  1. Lead with purpose. This period of time is a great opportunity to strengthen your support reputation. Ask yourself if your business is still the same? Talk with your teams and customers to find out what they’re currently experiencing (individually and collectively). How have their needs changed? What are their hopes in the coming months? From having deep conversations with them, you may find that your original purpose has broadened, narrowed, or even a new one created. Ensure that the purpose is clearly articulated, communicated, and you’ve got a good feedback system in place for knowing how well people believe and value the purpose.
  2. Lead with resiliency. We’re not living or working in ordinary times and what we knew is no longer how it will be. Your team’s health and wellbeing are crucial for their own sake and for business continuity. To your customers, your team may represent the frontline of resiliency. To build their resilience takes you, HR, and the leadership in your organization to demonstrate daily your belief in them. It also means each person in the team must take responsibility for the impact of their role. To enable that, we need to provide the appropriate approaches and techniques; make the business impacts clear and help them understand and work with the risks. Actively show your care and compassion by providing the right health and safety protocols (physical, emotional, and mental), and understanding with a focus on productivity, not hours logged, so they’re able to manage the often difficult times juggling with what is also happening in their personal life.
  3. Lead with competence. One of the best forms of building resilience is to enable your people. We’re not just maintaining capability, but we’re expanding it, deepening it in order to provide some sense of stability but also provide a stronger more flexible system that can adapt as we continue to shift. Access to the right technology for your team is to not just support the customers but to advance their own tools of trade for communicating, collaborating, and learning.

In the context of the journey being taken by our customers and the competency levels of our people we know skills are evolving and that new ones are being developed. In order to understand how they can take us forward, use a competency framework such as SFIA so you can identify where your talent is and create a more flexible workforce model.

Mindful Leadership

Being human is sometimes a tough gig! All of the above requires the skill and practice of emotional intelligence. You can even start simply by looking at a free interactive online tool like the Atlas of Emotions but there’s no end game to being human except to become who we wish to be. Each of us has values, we apply our values to what we do, and value things differently. Tapping into that will be your greatest challenge and greatest treasure as an individual. When this happens across your team and reaches across the organization the potential is enormous.

The past can teach us lessons, but some lessons must be lived to be understood. Stay focussed on your present taking the small actions that trigger the larger changes you wish to achieve.

The past can teach us lessons, but some lessons must be lived to be understood. Stay focussed on your present taking the small actions that trigger the larger changes you wish to achieve. - @simonejomoore #ITSM #newnormal Share on X
Ivor Macfarlane Photo

Ivor Macfarlane, ITSM Consultant, MacfPartners

Well … “new normal” and predicting the future. There’s a famous quote that tells us that “The best way to predict the future is to study the past,” because human nature doesn’t really change. But we also see that when we try to predict the future we write it in terms of our present. You can see examples of this in fiction and prediction everywhere. Take the 1950’s advert for electricity of the future, centering on flying cars – but with the mother and daughter in 50’s dresses going shopping while father and son play catch at home. And no-one is wearing safety belts in the car.

Or look at Star Trek – the original series has 23rd Century computing that was painfully archaic by 2010. Central processors, buttons, and switches – and most of all the computer being told what to do by people, while we now see the opposite as the everyday.

So, the big lesson? Don’t expect to be able to predict where we’re going, the “new normal” when it settles in is unlikely to be anything you expect. We’ve also seen that when you seal something up (lockdown) and apply pressure it’s likely to burst out where you don’t expect it. Because we protect against the expected, then we suffer from the unexpected. And what do we do about that?

Encourage innovation and reaction to the actually encountered circumstances, don’t try to plan too much in advance. The reality of the post-COVID-19 world will not be what we think – don’t paint yourself in a corner by thinking you know – teach your staff how to learn experientially and apply that new knowledge. And for this to work we need more trust and less autocracy – so the new ways of working will be even more important.

Go read Dr. Cherry Vu and Rob England’s “The Agile Manager” – that’ll be a good start. We’ve also learned from all that Zoom-based working-from-home that our work colleagues might be rather more human than we had thought – that overly serious manager has a cat they dote on, interruptions from pets and children have become accepted, even welcomed. Let’s build upon these enhanced human interactions to develop better working relationships and (again) more mutual trust and rapport.

And also realize that just because we have a “new normal” (whatever that might look like) it won’t take away all the issues of the past – yes, we’ve been pushing some of the technologies harder than before, but very little is different underneath the hood. The old issues and limitations will still be there. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, make sure you use all the relevant experience you’ve built up. Just be sure you can tell the relevant from the irrelevant. Put some time into identifying what skills you need more of, what skills you might not need so much, and ensure your staff are up to date with what you can see has changed.

The reality of the post-#COVID19 world will not be what we think – don't paint yourself in a corner by thinking you know – teach your staff how to learn experientially and apply that new knowledge - @Ivormacf #ITSM #newnormal Share on X
Stephen Mann

Stephen Mann, Principal Analyst and Content Director,

While there are many tactical responses that can be carried forward from the often-Herculean IT efforts during the COVID-19 crisis, for me it’s the evolution of IT service delivery and support strategies that will ultimately make the difference in the “new normal”:

  1. Aim IT strategies at being “better, faster, cheaper” not just “cheaper.” The adverse commercial impact of the crisis will place a heavy focus on costs in at least the short term, with budget cuts as a result. Even so, organizations need to ensure that strategies aren’t overly focused on cost cutting at the expense of the triumvirate of “better, faster, cheaper.” After all, a dollar saved at the IT service desk might sadly lose even more at a business level.
  2. Focus on employee productivity. Your organization needs its people, which might be a smaller number than pre-crisis, to be the “best possible versions of themselves.” IT service delivery and support strategies and their execution therefore need to be aimed at optimizing employee productivity for both IT staff and the people they serve.
  3. Invest quickly, but wisely, in additional automation. The corporate need for “better, faster, cheaper” and with different business functions potentially working with fewer people, means that technology which can carry the burden of both the “heavy lifting” and the “heavy thinking” will help. Not only should this include the potential of capabilities that employ machine learning and natural language understanding, but the opportunity should dovetail into corporate enterprise service management (or back-office digital transformation) strategies and activities for maximum corporate benefit.
In the #newnormal #ITSM needs to ensure strategies aren't overly focused on cost cutting. After all, a dollar saved at the #servicedesk might sadly lose even more at a business level – @StephenMann Share on X
Vawns Murphy Photo

Vawns Murphy, Lead IT Partner – Service Delivery, Silva Homes

One of the things that COVID-19 has highlighted is the need to support new and flexible ways of working. At the time of writing this, the world is slowly starting to return to something approximating normal. Workers are being un-furloughed, colleagues are returning to work, and in some cases, offices are opening. Here are some examples of the next set of challenges IT departments across the world will face as well as some possible solutions:

  • Feeling like everyone in the business has forgotten their password. If people have been on furlough for the last few months, they may not have been using their equipment and logging in as normal. We know that password resets can be a real pain at the best of times, and this is definitely not the best of times, so we need to plan accordingly. If you have a self-service offering, promote it so that self-service can take the load by empowering end users to reset their own passwords freeing up your support techs for the serious stuff.
  • A cabling situation that resembles spaghetti junction. We’ve all seen those horror shows of cabling gone wrong, but chances are the cabling at your office may not be how you remember it. In the days before lockdown, many, many colleagues will have taken their monitor, keyboard, or mouse home anticipating a long time away from the office. It can be easy to dislodge cabling when removing equipment so have your support teams do a (socially distanced) sweep of the office to ensure things like network cables are plugged in where needed and that there’s no missing equipment.
  • Increased ticket volumes. Automate what you can to drive efficiencies and ensure incidents and requests are dealt with consistently and effectively. Look at your most frequently raised incidents and service requests from last year and either script them (in the event of fault fixing) or use automation. For example, keyword lookups linking to knowledge articles or pushing security patches.
  • Colleagues missing or using nonstandard equipment. Be flexible in the way you offer support. Most supply chains are returning to normal but if someone is missing equipment consider the use of smart lockers as a safer delivery mechanism or promote the use of BYOD (bring your own device) so that end users can still access their work via Office 365, Microsoft Teams, or G Suite (other applications are available).
  • So many alerts and not knowing what to deal with first. Build a resilience dashboard to help focus. Create reports to monitor key metrics such as service availability, application capacity, storage alerts, network performance, and VPN stability so support teams can focus their efforts and any issues can be acted on and remediated.

The reality is that for the next few months, the “new normal” will still be busier than ever. Look out for yourself and your colleagues, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. You’ve got this.

The reality is that for the next few months, the #newnormal will still be busier than ever. Look out for yourself and your colleagues, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it – @Vawns #ITSM #COVID19 Share on X
Anthony Orr

Anthony Orr, Chief Cloud Expert, SAP

How do you prepare for the “new normal” in ITSM? Preparing for anything begins with being educated and learning what you’re preparing for. In ITSM as a practice we discuss project preparation of the aspects of people, process, products, and partners – also known as the 4Ps – in our organizations. Each one of these areas requires change from one baseline or “normal” state to a new baseline or “new normal” state. As the current normal state progresses to the “new normal” there are dynamic relationships between the 4Ps. To focus on one area and not consider the other areas usually results in unsatisfactory changes to the “new normal.” Out of the four areas, people are usually the most challenging. Here are some tips to help prepare for the “new normal” with the people in your organization.

  1. Understand the people journey to normal
    • Stages of change – precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, termination
    • Stages of grief – denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance
    • Stages of learning – unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, unconscious competence
    • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, self-actualization
    • These stages should be used together, not separately
  2. Identify where in the journey people are
    • Ask what is needed from the people
    • Depending on where they are, especially in the middle parts of their journeys there’s a lot of stress until things are considered normal
    • Understand their thoughts and show empathy
  3. Teach tolerance, compassion and empathy for others
    • Offer happiness related to the change
    • This helps each person view each person as normal instead of different
  4. Take action
    • Be a team for the “new normal”
    • Make sure leaders are capable of leading change from normal to the “new normal”
    • Provide informative education
    • Create new tolerant interaction rules for online meetings, etc.
  5. Define, survey, and recognize success of the “new normal”
    • Do experience management
    • Do confidence management
    • Do continuous improvement.

These tips can be used outside of your organization and in your personal lives. Personally, we all move from the normal to the “new normal” on a regular basis with the people around us.

There is a need to understand the employee journey to the #newnormal - which includes the stages of change, grief, and learning plus Maslow hierarchy of needs, says @AnthonyOrr. #ITSM Share on X
Don Page

Dr. Don Page, Strategic Director of Service Management, Marval Software

For me, it already seems like a lifetime under COVID-19. My wife has not been out of the house since lockdown. I’ve been furloughed, along with other members of staff. Our key service and management teams continue to hold the fort, focusing on keeping customers happy around the world. It’s fair to say this sometimes has been, and currently continues to be, challenging on both a business and personal level. COVID-19 is not over by a long way, and everyone should do their bit to keep us all safe.

ITSM is about IT and service departments keeping the lights on to ensure business survives, remains sustainable, and is positioned to thrive during this challenging and unprecedented time.

Some companies regrettably may, or will, have to cut staff and growth plans to survive. Some may simply be using COVID-19 as a vehicle to restructure and reduce headcount. While others – yes as well as losers there’ll be winners – will want to invest to grow their business.

So, what would I recommend ITSM teams should start doing now?

First, take a long, hard look at the way you’re doing things and your performance. Be honest about your strengths, weaknesses, and challenges, be prepared to make some hard decisions, then make improvements and position yourself to sell them back to the business.

  1. Ensure you’ve created and maintained a service improvement plan with an accompanying risk register.
  2. Review and identify the ongoing performance of all active business-critical services, processes, practices, and activities (e.g. communication plans, risk management, business continuity, disaster recovery, and remote and home working).
  3. Revaluate how training delivery models and materials are performing, not just with customers, but IT staff as well. You may need to consider changing them.
  4. Identify, record, manage, and report in your ITSM tool on any improvements that can be made – and, if practical, make them NOW. Specifically, in relation to maintaining your assets, CMDB, and security controls.
  5. Training is usually one of the first casualties, but to ensure value you need to focus on your people, their skills, their mindset, wellbeing, and their training.
  6. Review and produce a training plan which identifies: where staff skills and performance could be improved, their communication/management skills, and any knowledge gaps.
  7. All teams should focus on selling their value and contribution to the business. Work on the premise “if any activity is unable to demonstrate value – drop it.”
  8. Consider standardizing the management of your whole ITSM infrastructure with ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 to secure your businesses future.
  9. Review and consider automating many of the routine tasks previously done manually, but don’t let teams get bogged down in looking into new technologies or fads.
  10. Review how productively staff are working from home or remotely and the technologies being used.
    Successfully meeting and managing customer expectations is key to moving forward – focus on combining SLAs with customer experience agreements (XLAs).
Training is usually one of the first casualties of cuts, but to ensure value moving forward you need to focus on your people and their skills, mindset, wellbeing, and training, says Dr Don Page @MarvalSoftware #ITSM #newnormal Share on X
Doug Tedder Photo

Doug Tedder, Principal, Tedder Consulting

Back in April, we were just starting to feel the full impact of the pandemic. Most of us were staying in place and working from home. IT teams, some via Herculean efforts, enabled the needed technologies that allowed organizations to remain in business, albeit perhaps in a slightly different way. Sadly, some organizations have been unable to continue. But, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, I saw three truths that had clearly emerged:

  • Successful use of technology is more about enabling businesses to deliver results and value, and less about methodologies or frameworks. Case in point – business continuity plans. Make no mistake, business continuity planning is a critical activity for any organization, just ask those businesses that were sadly unable to continue. But how many business continuity plans had “pandemic response” as an entry in that plan? Very few I would surmise. Yet, somehow many organizations are surviving.
  • When there’s a compelling business requirement or reason, businesses will gladly invest in technology. If an IT organization had proposed ripping out an on-premises based platform used by everyone in the organization for collaboration and replacing it with a cloud-based solution – without testing – over the course of a few days, I think that that presenter would have been handed their hat. Or worse. Yet, that is exactly what happened in many organizations during the crisis. And organizations were more than happy to invest.
  • The successful use of technology depends significantly on the people using it. This can also be referred to as “where there is a will, there is a way.” People were more tolerant of temporary technology glitches. People were willing to try different or unknown technologies.

So now that we’re starting to move into a “new normal”, what are the three things that ITSM teams should do? Well, it’s actually one thing to do (in three parts). Get the answers to these three questions.

  • What is the organization doing differently now versus before March? How is the organization co-creating value differently than prior to the onset of the pandemic? Is the organization doing the same thing, just slightly differently, or has the organization found new value streams and different ways of working?
  • Why is the organization doing that (whatever the “that” is now being done differently)? A word of caution here – don’t just settle for an answer of “because of the pandemic.” The pandemic was the catalyst, but it was not the reason. Ask the questions behind the question. What was the problem that the organization had to solve? What are the results? What worked well and not so well? What was discovered about the organization? About customers? About partners and suppliers?
  • What is the organization going to do with this new-found knowledge? How will we use this knowledge to create the “new normal”? The answer to this question is critical – because the answer to this question is what the IT organization – and ITSM – must enable and help co-create.

I also have an additional suggestion for ITSM teams. I’ve long said that a primary reason to implement ITSM is to enable continual improvement. There’s never been a better time to identify and implement improvements than right now. Hopefully, you’d already established and updated a continual improvement register (CIR) within your organization and have been reviewing and taking actions based on its entries. Regardless, I’d like to suggest the following entries to your CIR:

  • Were (are) you measuring and reporting metrics that are relevant to the organization? How were the metrics and reports used to help the organization make informed decisions and understand the impact of those decisions? If your answer to either of these questions isn’t positive, this is an improvement opportunity.
  • What has IT learned because of the pandemic? The answer to this question may point to needed improvements to governance, practices, value streams, or other needed capabilities.
  • What new relationships have been formed between IT and the organization? How do you continue to nurture these relationships going forward?
There's never been a better time to identify and implement improvements than right now. If you haven't already, you need to establish and update a continual improvement register, says @DougTedder #ITSM #newnormal Share on X
Barclay Rae

Barclay Rae, ITSM Consultant, Barclay Rae Consulting

As individuals, we should take the opportunity to reflect on our own work and ambition, our preferences and success criteria, and how we can combine personal and career goals – ideally, they shouldn’t contradict each other. Many of us may decide to modify our work-life balance, or re-focus on family or career, or take fitness or personal development, hobbies, and achievements more seriously.

In terms of practical ITSM activities, I think we need to focus on three key areas:


Forget “DevOps vs. ITSM” – we need both. Organizations need to own this and concentrate instead on recognizing the goals of the organization and the requirements that come from them.

Use ITSM where it’s needed for consistency, control, and to manage demand-to-value. Use DevOps techniques and tools to maintain business agility and speed of delivery. Use new ways of working but don’t throw out the old stuff that works and is valuable. It’s important to develop a greater understanding and awareness of corporate governance and to use that to drive activity, performance, and monitoring – not the IT-led SLA.

Action: Learn about simple corporate IT governance and set up a working party to integrate ITSM and DevOps activities.

Data and analytics

How can we use data more effectively – what’s the value of our current reporting? What should we be measuring to get value? We need to be curious and ask more questions about the context of what we do. How does the delivery of key services and systems support the goals of the organization – come to think of it, do we even have a good definition of what our service are?

For years I’ve had debates with organizations about their definitions of services – and the value that can come from them. This is what we used to call service catalog (still often do). Developing this builds clarity around what’s needed and how this is delivered – and also provides a unifying factor for the DevOps/ITSM divide and a great end-to-end model for reporting. This also requires some external customer feedback on their experience of using services.

Action: Review and update reporting outputs. Map current customer journeys and create a value stream view of how services are delivered. Start with a simple services view (as per the example).

Social Continuity

Be curious and ask more questions about how your organization works – why we do things the way we do.

Identify the pros and cons of different ways of working post COVID-19 – highlight new things that have emerged as well as other good “old” practices that should be retained. There’s an opportunity to break down team silos and develop more real, integrated working across teams.

Action: Create a matrix of new and old practices and which you want to keep or lose. Ensure that positive new methods are enshrined as ways of working, as well as good old practices.

For further insights from Barclay on this topic, please read his article: “Next Steps for our Post-COVID-19 Future”.

As we move into the #newnormal, #ITSM teams should create a matrix of new and old practices and determine which to keep or lose. Ensure that positive new methods are kept as well as good old practices – @BarclayRae Share on X
Joy Su

Joy Su, Senior Director, Product Marketing for Freshworks

In a broad sense, employees working outside the office present businesses with a consumer-like support environment. This requires resetting expectations and expanding coverage and offerings to meet the needs of a more distributed workforce as we improve ITSM in the new normal.

  1. Reexamine your SLAs. In a work-from-office setup, employees are used to a certain level of engagement or SLA. In the new shelter-in-place WFH model, most conversations are via Slack, Zoom, and other real-time platforms. As an employee, there is a tendency to expect your issues to be addressed with the same sense of urgency as a conversation on Slack or Zoom. It’s therefore critical to level-set employee expectations around resolutions times. Also, use this opportunity to beef up your knowledge library to guide employees for expedited self-help.
  2. Increase automation via AI/machine learning. Use automation to turn mundane, routine tasks into self-service tasks. Incorporate an AI/ML layer into the self-service process to learn and solve similar incidents. Train your Bots and your AI platforms to provide context-rich information in natural language to your requestors. In the “new normal”, there’s a higher WFH workforce with additional needs that may result in additional service tickets. More often than not, many will fall into common issues such as account lockouts or password resets. By automating common requests, the service desk agents are freed up to handle critical issues quickly.
  3. Offer an omnichannel experience, anywhere anytime. The workforce has shifted work locations and work times due to the current climate. Having the flexibility of an omnichannel experience, where they need it and when they need it, is critical.
The workforce has shifted work locations and work times due to the current climate. Having the flexibility of an omnichannel experience, where they need it and when they need it, is critical – @JoyAlegriaSu @Freshworks #ITSM #newnormal Share on X

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Sophie Danby
Sophie Danby
Marketing Consultant at

Sophie is a freelance ITSM marketing consultant, helping ITSM solution vendors to develop and implement effective marketing strategies.

She covers both traditional areas of marketing (such as advertising, trade shows, and events) and digital marketing (such as video, social media, and email marketing). She is also a trained editor. Y

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