Is the approach of ITSM Project as strategic as its objectives (Part 4)

By Laurent Duenas, July 25th 2013 

3rd question: which approach enables me to deal with these questions in an exhaustive way?

How to fully cover the strategic aspects of an ITSM project? How to conceive a progressive approach step by step, that ensures the consistency sought? How to guarantee a successful implementation?

Like any other project, an ITSM project follows the classical evaluation, framing, build, then deployment stages, until the final feedback. Therefore, it relies on a structured project approach, controlling deliverables, deadlines and budget.

Unlike for a purely technical project, the framing stage is strongly amplified to make sure all strategic aspects are taken into account. The project can also benefit from a framework specifying best-practices such as ITIL V3, or the ISO 20000 norm, using it as an evaluation guide or a target to reach.

The approach suggested below is a proposal (among others) relying both on the permanent improvement loop and field experience:

Stage 1: Define the vision

This stage aims at understanding business objectives and setting up a strategic vision for the ITSM project. A vision of the target to reach regarding the best-practices to implement will emerge from objectives. Some options considered can require analyses about complementary return on investment, before they are adopted as objectives.

Once the target is clarified, a first focus identifies the major project stages, its schedule and budget estimate. Management members are necessarily involved in the validation of the target and expected benefits. Their validation also includes approval of project urgency and budget.

After approval is obtained, the project can be launched among stakeholders, which potentially makes them aware of the project. At this stage, stakeholders’ involvement is often limited to management. It is conceivable that field teams are not involved until later (more concrete) stages such as processes build and then implementation stages.

At this stage, activities include:

► Identify business objectives

► Identify the target to reach for the ITSM project (we also speak about macro-objectives)

► Evaluate the benefits of the ITSM project objectives

Carry out the necessary studies

► Set up the roadmap to get there

► Obtain Senior Management approval

► Set up a budget, obtain funds

Set up a communications strategy

Launch the ITSM project.


Stage 2: Initial diagnosis

The initial diagnosis consists in a complete audit of the organization processes and the organization itself (part involved in the audited processes). This stage is also called « Maturity analysis ». We often consider this stage as the starting point of an ITSM project. In my opinion it not really is. You cannot set up objectives merely based on the results of an audit, without linking these objectives to an “expected” benefit for the company.

Generally carried out on the basis of an evaluation questionnaire, this audit identifies the gaps with the ITIL framework best-practices and positions the organization on a maturity scale (CMM* levels). This evaluation is based on the analysis of various topics as shown below:

* CMM for Capability Maturity Model

Formalization of recommendations derives from this stage. All the gaps observed in the audit can give rise to recommendations. But all recommendations must not necessarily be integrated into the ITSM project. They are classified according to their contribution to the business objectives identified at stage 1. Recommendations are then prioritized. Let's remember that the objective of an ITSM project is not to make an organization 100 % compatible with all the best-practices of a framework on the market. Before anything, the objective is to optimize efforts to reach the expected goal. A selection of best-practices is necessary. This selection in itself is an alignment stage on business strategy. It demonstrates that the maturity audit is not the starting point of the ITSM project, but is complementary to stage 1.


Once the improvement topics of the organization are identified, they are shared with the various audit stakeholders in order to keep them aware of the future change.

Main activities at this stage:

As a matter of fact, the diagnosis does not only rely on interviews of stakeholders and managers, but it also requires the consultation of documents and tooling entering the scope of the evaluation.


► Launch the audit approach

► Make interviews and field analyses

► Consult the documents and evaluate the tools supporting the process

Consolidate facts

► Identify gaps and formalize recommendations

► Prioritize recommendations

► Set up a budget, obtain funds

► Share the results of the audit with stakeholders interviewed


Stage 3: Set up a roadmap

The roadmap is a projection of the various objectives that result from the previous two stages, on a temporal plane. It aims at building an accurate Roadmap of the main steps (or maturity levels) and their various own objectives (here we talk about intermediate objectives). An ITSM project is a sequence of levels of maturity and spreads over several years. 3 to 5 years is a quite common perspective. Each level regroups a set of best-practices to implement, that are selected according to their contribution to objectives and their implementation schedule. For each stage, projects necessary to reach intermediate objectives are set up, describing the various stages of design and implementation of best-practices. The duration of a level is variable (from 3 to 6 months, generally less than 1 year).


The implementation schedule is associated with a change management schedule aimed at increasing the involvement of organization stakeholders into the project. It is preferable to set up such a schedule for each project level and to adapt it to intermediate objectives and populations concerned.


Main activities at this stage:


► Identification of maturity levels progression (the roadmap)

Definition of intermediate objectives at each level

► Identification of the various project and deliverables

Planning of a realistic sequencing

► Identification of key indicators of project success and intermediate objectives (each stage)

► Identification of various resources and needs, definition of the project team specific at each stage

► Identification of change management actions

Identification of risks and countermeasures

Share vision about project progress and stages (middle management and future project key resources)



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