The phrase "It is what it is" often is used when individuals feel like the situation is out of their control and there is nothing that can be done.
What is your impression when you hear this statement?
My perspective is that the individual has given up on positively impacting the situation. They aren't taking ownership. They aren't accountable.
I propose we change this phrase to - "If it is to be, it is up to me." We should take ownership of the current situation and making positive changes for the future.
A mature service catalog includes services that are fully described in concise business language, terms and conditions, information regarding how to order, contact information for the service owner, the cost of the service, service options, links to available related knowledge, service level information, and historical service level performance. In addition, customer segmentation is in place to ensure that end users accessing the catalog can only see information about services that are available to them in their current role.
Maturing a service catalog is a step toward transforming IT’s relationship with the business. It is all about transparency. By providing the information above, IT is stepping out from behind the curtain. They are taking the time to build a catalog that helps to educate the business on expectations, process, technology, and cost.
-Clear service descriptions, terms and conditions, and ordering information make it easy for the end users to conduct business with IT. Ends users know what to expect.
-Contact information for the Service Owner provides an option for users that need additional information about a service or if they need to explore their options.
-Service level targets, agreements, and historical performance helps the business customer and end user understand IT’s commitments and performance. This data allows the business to hold IT accountable for performance but it also holds the business accountable for the service level agreements meeting the needs of the end users.
-IT services may or may not charge back to the business. Providing cost information helps the business understand the cost implications of their choices on the overall organization and their division. Service options provide opportunities for the end users and the customer to select only the type and level of service needed which helps to optimize the IT spend.
Service catalog maturity takes time and in some cases, substantial effort. Consider introducing a catalog merely with the goal of making it easier for the end users to do business with the IT organization. Additional incremental improvements in the areas noted can occur over time…..just be sure the organization doesn’t lose focus on maturing the catalog. Further development of the catalog will have a positive impact on IT’s relationship with the business.
Why is your company implementing ITIL processes? What is the vision for the implementation?
Without a clear vision, any strategy implemented will only have mediocre success. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, how can you develop a strategy to get there? How can you achieve the expected result for your ITIL implementation if you have no idea of what was envisioned at the onset of the project?
Let’s take a step back to maximize your opportunity for success. Was the vision defined and shared? If not, consider what you want to achieve from the project. What is the value proposition? I’m sure the organization has some very smart people working in IT. Engage members of the team along with the Project Sponsor in defining the vision. Why would they implement ITIL processes? What results do they expect?
Once the team members have defined a vision, solidify the vision with senior leaders. Their agreement with the vision is critical to success. Most likely, this group initially sponsored the project. Do they agree with the vision defined by the team? Fine tune the vision based on their input and circle back with team members regarding any changes.
Defining the vision for your ITIL implementation is the first step toward success. Engaging team members in vision development and garnering a shared vision will ultimately improve cultural acceptance and adoption of the changes to come.
This blog makes it sound easy, figure out what you want; engage your team; and garner support for the vision. It isn’t easy. Let’s face it – all of the possibilities can give you a headache.
Consider having a trained facilitator walk you and your team through developing your vision as well as the high level strategy for the ITIL initiative. A third party can provide a proven structure for success and they can be an unbiased voice providing best/common practice guidance when needed.
ITIL®is a Registered Trade Mark of AXELOS Limited
"The greatest revolution of our time is the realization that by changing our internal attitude or belief we can impact and change an outer event." William James
Webster’s dictionary defines accountability as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”. A lack of accountability can dramatically affect our personal lives as well as our professional lives.
To fully understand what it means to be accountable, I recommend reading “QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life”. The definition and discussion in this book will resonate with situations you experience every day.
I read material on the QBQ over fifteen years ago and even today, I recommend it to all of my clients.
You have the incident management process defined. There is a process flow, priority matrix, a policy document, procedures, defined roles and responsibilities, and even a major incident process. The team understands the process and the customer expectations and IT is staffed appropriately to meet the needs of the business. Why is it that challenges continue to exist with responding appropriately and meeting expectations?
Incident management is a foundational element of IT service management and the process efficiency and effectiveness are very visible to the customer. When there is an incident, the end user is impacted and when the process breaks down, the end user feels the pain. If there are routine issues with responding and resolving incidents, the business will lose faith in the IT organization.
Perhaps the issue isn’t the process but it is the culture within IT that is affecting performance. While IT leaders may have stressed the importance of teamwork and meeting the expectations of the business, staff may not change their behavior.
Consider taking the following four steps to make incremental progress toward changing the IT culture as it relates to incident management:
1.) Deliver the message that everyone in IT is responsible for responding to and resolving incidents. Define what is meant by everyone to ensure the entire team is on the same page.
2.) Metrics, metrics, metrics – Develop and routinely review department and individual level metrics. Publicize department level metrics and talk with HR about publicizing individual metrics. Ask lots of questions to ensure your understanding of the metrics and to let the team know that the metrics are undergoing in depth review. Address issues quickly to reinforce the message about responsibility.
3.) Add incident related performance objectives into individual performance plans and be sure the objectives link to compensation. Ensure that changes to compensation are supported by the metrics.
4.) Ensure accountability exists within the leadership team for department performance and the performance of the individual team members. Provide training to leaders who appear to be uncomfortable having performance related conversations.
The above steps will require some time and energy. You may need third party assistance to assess the current situation and develop a focused plan based your organization. Be sure to consult your Human Resources team for assistance with employee issues. Long term, consider creating a focused initiative to change the overall culture of the IT organization. It is not an easy or quick process but it can produce some dramatic results which will translate to stronger employee engagement and higher customer satisfaction.
Have you ever been in a meeting where the focus appeared to be placing blame for a particular issue rather than finding a solution? Have you talked with individuals on your team about a particular challenge only to listen to them blame another person or team? If it seemed unproductive and unnecessary, it probably wasn’t the best use of time.
There is value in understanding the root cause of an issue. The root cause may be a person, team, technology, etc. but spending time pointing a finger or expressing frustration has little value.
Let’s change the conversation. The next time you are in one of these conversations, ask the following question of the person (s) who are focused on blaming others:
“What could you have done to change the outcome?” and/or “What steps can you take to resolve the current issue?”
The question may vary slightly based on the situation but it is important to focus the question on how the situation can be changed or what we can learn from something that has already occurred. We are changing the question to an accountable question. It is so much easier to place blame than it is to evaluate our role in a situation.
Whether you are in a group setting or an individual meeting, asking an accountable question can dramatically change the conversation. Over time, if you stop the blaming by focusing on learning and accountability, you will see the culture shift. Individuals and teams will begin to make the transition as they will take cues from you on how to handle similar situations.
The accountable question – Why not give it a try?
An effective problem management process minimizes the adverse impact of incidents and problems on the business. It seeks to quickly resolve the business impact of one or more incidents and to proactively prevent the recurrence of incidents or to provide workarounds for known errors so critical functionality is available to the business and they can achieve their objectives.
Many IT organizations have some form of reactive problem management process but proactive problem management processes do not exist. Depending on the size and complexity of the IT environment, formal problem management processes will usually fund themselves in savings to the IT department, end user productivity gains, or other business related savings but it may be difficult for IT to formulate the justification without assistance.
How can the IT organization make progress with proactive problem management without adding resources or making a substantial investment?
· Evaluate the category and number of calls taken by the Service Desk. The Service Desk is a great resource for trending data.
· Ask second and third tier support teams for data regarding the volume and category of escalated incidents and follow up with a question about the volume and types of event related alarms.
· If end users are able to search for solutions to their support related questions, look at the number of times knowledge articles or web pages are accessed. This information will provide an idea of where the end users are experiencing challenges.
· Conduct a focus group or survey end users regarding their technology pain points.
Each of the above suggestions requires some work however, if the team indicates they are too busy, offer a small incentive. Their response may surprise you.
The application and infrastructure teams will need to address issues that are identified. A process is needed to review and appropriately respond to the information gathered. It does not need to be complex. The suggestions above are meant to allow the organization to take a step toward problem management. The suggestions outlined above can be completed one time or on a routine basis.
As the organization starts to make progress and one or more problems are resolved, it becomes easier to justify the investment in a formal problem management process. Compare costs associated with incidents and the end user productivity impact against the cost of the solution to the problem. How much money was saved by resolving the underlying problem associated with the incidents? This cost information provides a starting point for justifying a formal problem management process.
There is a great article in Forbes called "10 Things Every Leader Should Challenge" written by Mike Myatt. It talks about challenging everything from core values, vision, strategy, and culture to information, talent, and complexity. The trick is knowing where to spend your time and how to manage the resulting changes in the organization. It is a thought provoking article. As a leader, are you challenging the organizational norms?
The Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a tool to define expectations for the customer as well as the expectations of the IT organization. An effective SLA is generally written for a service which means it bundles all of the hardware, software, and IT processes required for an end user to perform a business function that ultimately allows the business to meet their objectives.
IT must help the business understand the cost of service to ensure they can make informed decisions about the required performance as well as the response from the IT organization. When open conversations occur between the organizations, the business is involved in the decision making process. They understand the cost variables associated with the architecture and how it impacts their day to day operations.
The IT service is delivered in accordance with the service level agreement that was negotiated however, the involvement of the business at crucial decision points, encourages trust and partnering between the organizations.