Is the approach of ITSM Project as strategic as its objectives (Part 1)

By Laurent Duenas, May 4th 2013 


Purpose of this article


What are the key points of an ITSM project? Where are the risks? How important is it to have a structured implementation approach?

The purpose of this article is to thoroughly examine the actual objectives of an ITSM project and the various approaches to reach them. Of course, we know all about maturity audits, process formalization stages, but in the end, do IT stakeholders have a full vision of the issues an ITSM project should address and on how to get there? The author leads us into the core of the ITSM project addressing its challenges, its difficulties and the founding principles which are essential to the construction of an efficient and successful project.


Objectives of an ITSM Project

The notion of "ITSM project", often covers the implementation of one or several processes, the implementation of good practices (such as CMDB) or the implementation of an Incident or Change Management tooling. As a matter of fact, these items are part of the typical deliverables of an ITSM project (and the list is far from being restricted to these examples). But behind deliverables comes up what is actually at stake: other objectives covering behavioral and cultural change, towards excellence and business performance. Those objectives make ITSM projects significantly more complex. Beyond process formalization or successful implementation of tooling, concrete business results must materialize.

In order to understand the complexity of the implementation of an ITSM project, you must bear in mind that the performance expected from a process is linked to the ambition of the organization. Each contribution brought by the process and the good practices it embeds must be perfectly aligned on the company's objectives. As a result, these contributions must be aligned between each other. Indeed, a process does not operate on its own. It needs clear rules and policies guiding stakeholders decisions, frameworks enabling them to find the information they need, tooling enabling the automation of activities, stakeholders trained to reach process objectives and activities, and, last but not least, coherence between management directives and process objectives. The difficulty of an ITSM project stems from the multiple necessary alignments the project manager must imperatively take into account is he/she wants to succeed:

►   Have an accurate vision of the components involved in the goo operation of a process,

►   Have an accurate vision of how to make them coherent to align them as a whole on the organization objectives,

►   Obtain field stakeholders buy-in of visions, to avoid obstacles,

►  Make shure coherence will actually be implemented

An ITSM project cannot only rely on a technical vision of implementation (process formalization, tooling implementation, etc.). A strategic dimension and a desire to accompany change must be imperatively integrated, if the project is to have a chance to actually contribute to what it was designed for. This must be clearly visible in the planning set up by the leader of the ITSM project.

1st question to ask: which business challenges does the ITSM project address?

How to answer this question? Is it easy to connect company objectives with those of an ITSM project? Is the ISTM project manager able to have this vision on his own?

Many of you will think that the solution lies in the ITSM project manager profile, or in the involvement of senior management. And you are fully right. But many project managers, and generally speaking many IT stakeholders, are not familiar with this kind of questions which are worth being raised. A few points listed hereunder can help sort out which questions should be asked. As a matter of fact, these points are the drivers of an ITSM project:

►  What are the company business objectives? More performance? Less expenditure? More agility in the marketing of new products or services? Compliance with legal requirements? Etc

►  Which IT Services are involved in these business objectives? What is the nature of their contribution? And what is their criticality (or their impact on business activity in case of failure)?

►  What are expectations regarding service level?

►  This question clearly aims at describing how to turn these expectations (often expressed in business language) into performance brought by processes, which can be expressed in terms of « utility » and « warranty »

 ►  « Utility » and « Warranty » which often come up as follows:

► How does IT Service contribute to the quality of company products and services? 

► How does IT Service contribute to make company product or service stand out among competitors?

► How does it make it better, more accurate, more flexible or adds any other value perceived by the customer?

► How does IT Service contribute to business productivity and / or reduction of company products and services cost price?

► How can it contribute to rationalize company means and resources or make the most of IT teams?

► How can IT Service or IT organization concepts bring flexibility and reactivity to change, making the company very agile?

► How does the IT organization integrate norms in design and operation of IT Service to make the company less vulnerable or how does it improve its compliance with legal or professional requirements.

►  How is critical IT Service protected from operational risk, or risk linked to external attacks?

►  Etc.

Understanding this should enable you to set up clearly identified ITSM project objectives. The illustrations hereunder give a hint of the close bonds between some ITSM project and some company objectives. The list if far from being exhaustive:

The next part of this article will focus on the consistency between the best practices implemented in an ITSM Project.



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