Winter, spring, summer, or fall – strategy, design, transition, operation, or continual service improvement (CSI). Just as the year moves and transitions through seasons, as does your IT service management (ITSM) processes. Just when you think that it’s winter and that strategy will never be completed, you hit the peak of summer heat and transition time. It might be a stretch, but the seasons and the ITIL stages are more related that you might think. In the theory of everything (ToE), everything relates to everything else, just as the service lifecycle relates to the seasons.
Everything has an ordered lifecycle.
Winter marks the end of the year. Work continues, but this is the time trigger for quieting the mind to gain clarification for the next year’s plans. In the northern hemisphere, the end of March marks the end of winter. In many companies their new fiscal year ends in March (i.e. around the end of winter) and starts again April 1 (around the beginning of spring).
The key trigger for ITIL, the strategy management for IT services process, is the start of the yearly planning cycle. At this time, strategy management uses the CSI register and the other ITIL strategy processes in a coordinated, collaborative fashion to understand the yearly financial constraints (budgets, etc.), expected demand for services, and market/customer requirements for the creation of the strategic plans that influence the portfolio of services. Although, strategic planning can be for 1-5 years, planning and adjustments are done every year in most organizations.
This time can be thought of the time for preparation, regeneration, or resurrection. The days are shorter, there are more holidays, less workdays, and work performance is usually lower. Winter is a strategic season, a value creation season.
Tips for a good ITSM winter:
- Understand the business direction and outcomes needed for the next year
- Make better decisions using metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), instead of just expert opinions
- Understand your customer needs and wants
- Pay attention to your competitors.
Spring marks the time for the execution of the new strategy for the year. In the northern hemisphere, spring spans three months until end of June, and then summer begins. During this time, the new strategic plans are executed, and designs are put into place for transition into operations. The organization awakens with new life for the year to come.
New services and products are designed based on strategy, some services are improved, some remain the same, and some are discarded. In each case designs are changed.
In ITIL service design the focus is on designing to deliver and support customer outcomes, ensuring that the proper warranties are in place. Warranties should be neither more nor less than a customer needs, e.g. too much or too little capacity to support a business service for a customer outcome.
Economic value, total cost of ownership, return on investment (ROI), and the overall value of the design investment has to be considered for business viability. In the spring, if you plant too much you are inefficient – so ensure that your processes are efficient and that you’re using appropriate technology. Prepare for value-realization transition.
Tips for a good ITSM spring:
- Be customer service oriented, not just IT focused
- Design projects for objectives related to business strategy goals
- Eliminate capabilities that don’t support customer needs or business outcomes
- Don’t do things/projects that are not necessary capabilities
- Include the customer experience in the service design
- Make sure service/product value is “fit for purpose” and “fit for use.”
In summer the days are longer, nights shorter, and it’s typically the most labor-intensive time (June-August in the northern hemisphere). Creating a time for action, agility, and lots of activity, growing, and nurturing. Summer is when the fruits of your designs start to realize value. Transitions from design to operation, such as in a release/deploy/operate model, are all around us at this time.
In ITIL service transition and service operation, risk, knowledge, service delivery, and support are managed. In this season, we monitor and validate adherence to the strategic plan. We also work hard at supporting our promises to our customers for value realization to achieve our return on investment (ROI).
Tips for a good ITSM summer:
- Stay on track, based on strategy
- Give feedback to support improvement of service and overall strategy
- Work in an agile, coordinated, and collaborative way and as an organizational team first, function second
- Be a good follower and a good leader
- Be agile.
Fall is the harvesting season and marks the end of the growing season. It’s a time of transition as leaves start to fall and the rain increases. This is a time for preparing for change and sometimes planting seeds for the next year. We monitor achievement of the strategy more at this time, in order to make adjustments for the yearly success metrics.
In ITIL service operation we may try to become more knowledgeable about the year’s events, accomplishments, challenges, and trends for giving feedback to service owners and strategy, design, and transition activities. We should proactively look at data and information to help decide resource needs for the next budgeting (winter) season. It’s vital not to go into the next year with the same challenges and problems.
Tips for a good ITSM fall:
- Think about the next level of maturity to support customers
- Think about improving customer experience
- Address waste – activities, assets, resources, and capabilities that are not needed
- Address how agile decisions are made using data, information, and knowledge
ITIL is dynamic in nature. Seasons give order to events. Everything has a season and is triggered by an event. There are value, or network, chains of events that support the lifecycle of the event, service, or a product. And, while not all services or products are harvested in the fall, they do follow a seasonal lifecycle. It’s therefore important to understand which season you are in, for the alignment of the decisions you make within your organization.
Anthony Orr is one of the author's of the ITIL 2011 publications and the ITIL MALC exam book, as well as a Sr. Examiner for the ITIL v2, v3 and Cyber-Resilience certification examinations.
He has more than thirty years working in various IT strategy, managerial, consulting, executive advisory, marketing, and technical positions. He has published numerous podcasts, videos, booklets, white papers and articles, including a white paper, Synergies between ITIL and DevOps, with AXELOS. Anthony has traveled to over 50 countries and lectured at universities around the world.