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IT Service Management: A Matter Of Culture

Improved service is a critical objective for any organisation -not only an operational goal, but a strategic business one as well. Improved service is directly related to customer loyalty, growth and the business’s long-term sustainability. That’s why many organisations are continually looking for an impeccable, rich and memorable customer experience. This experience is the outcome of a simplified, personalised and consistent service delivery.

There is only one way to simplify and improve the service we deliver, and that’s by adopting a customer-centric culture; one that is based on:

• The continual review and re-evaluation of our current procedures
• The identification and elimination of our weaknesses
• Being accountable and open to improvements
• Enabling our people to be more effective, by providing the right tools
• Embracing optimised processes.

I am using the word “culture” for a reason. In order for Integrated Service management (ITSM) to be effective, it has to become an integral part of the organisation’s culture. Therefore, it requires the support of the people who are actively engaged and involved in it. Which can be tricky, of course. Introducing a new culture can be upsetting for people, teams or the organisation as a whole, since it challenges long established, familiar procedures, approaches and operations. Unfortunately, the businesses that need change the most, are most likely to be less responsive and open to change. Furthermore, many people are reluctant to embrace (or even follow) the new; they need to buy in to it. And the CIOs are required to inspire them by communicating, clearly and repeatedly, not just the benefits for the business, but also for each team and individual; in other words, “what’s in for them” – or as I often refer to it, “enlightened self-interest”.

So, what are the advantages for people? A clear workflow, which will help eliminate conflicts. Increased performance, with improved first-time fix rates. Enhanced productivity, by using the best available resources. Better collaboration among the team, better insight in the team’s and the individual’s achievements, recognition and increased job satisfaction – to name just a few!

These advantages have to be explained and discussed with people, to ensure they realise the value and are ready to embrace the new. If a person understands their role, they will have a clear, holistic view of their impact on the success – or failure – of the solution. These roles can be strengthened by quality ITSM training, practical pragmatic and not too bureaucratic processes, to avoid user deficiencies and the taking of shortcuts. The emphasis has to be on the impact on people, whether customers, service teams or partners.

Ultimately, it all comes down to people, processes and, of course, technology (in that order). Service excellence is built upon proven processes, extraordinary people and the technology that helps instil within the organisation a culture of change. This culture lies with well-designed and successful ITSM implementations, underpinning proven industry good practice frameworks and standards like ITIL and ISO/IEC 20000.

ITIL is, essentially, a proven good practice. It outlays processes and principles which have to be embraced and followed. ITIL can help an organisation improve its services and meet the changing demands of business, through well-established processes and by identifying and addressing areas of improvement; but let’s not ignore one of the basics tenants of ITIL: Adopt, Adapt and Improve. If a process is failing don’t ignore it; improve it. If staff feel a process is not working or adding value, change it; don’t ignore it or look for a different method or tool to solve your own inadequacies.

To be really successful, ITIL requires accountability: personal accountability, accountability to colleagues, to the department and customers. How do you spread this accountability across the team and the organisation? ISO/IEC 20000 is an effective strategy to ensuring a more accountable and successful ITIL-based service improvement programme. Since it clearly focuses on continual improvement and quality. ISO /IEC 20000 helps the Service staff become more responsible, actively engage with the process, and measure and evaluate the services they deliver to the business and customers. It provides a quality standard against which Services and Operations will be evaluated and demonstrate to the business that the service delivery processes represent good practice. ISO/IEC 20000 provides an organisational quality stamp which can be benchmarked, which the business can use to benchmark themselves and suppliers against the competition and provide organisational, stakeholder and customer confidence in their service delivery team.

Adopting ITIL and ISO/IEC 20000 for Service Management can be an exciting, transformative journey for the organisation. To further improve, integrate the ISO 27001 security standard, while embarking on this journey. CIOs have to lead by example, engage with all teams involved, and employ their most valuable assets: their people, a clear vision and strategy, and the right integrated service management technology to make it all happen.

ITSM is a ‘matter of culture’, but we must remember that culture is not a fixed concept, it is a fluid construct that can be modified to meet the changing needs and developments of the business, people and technology.

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