IT service management (ITSM) is about enabling IT leaders to align their strategy and deliver services that will support business goals and objectives. However, the service management roadmap can be bumpy, and without proper planning to avoid the risks, the entire improvement program can be derailed. Info-Tech research indicates that 65% of ITSM projects fail to achieve the benefits of ITSM.

Common Pitfalls

IT Managers need to be aware of the risks involved in ITSM implementations, and develop strategies for avoiding the bumps. Avoid the five common pitfalls below to ensure that maturity benefits are achieved:

Lack of executive support. Arguably the most critical obstacle to a successful service management implementation is a lack of executive support. Attempting to achieve service management maturity and integration takes time and resources that require full support and commitment from the executive team. Without their support, the project will inevitably come to a halt as other priorities arise. Engage members of the senior management team as champions in the program or project steering committees to provide guidance and to help overcome other potential roadblocks. Keep them up to date on the progress of the initiative and use them to deliver regular communications to all levels of the organization.

Resistance to change. Be realistic. The organization is invested and committed to the current way of doing things and ITSM involves changing the way people work and how the organization is structured. There will be naysayers and resisters who have a stake in the current methods and truly believe that changing will not make things better. Depending on who these individuals are, they may have enough influence to derail the project. Develop a communication campaign focusing on these individuals. Engage them with your champions. Make them aware of how the changes will benefit them and involve them in the development of new processes. The goal is to turn them from naysayers into supporters.

Big bang implementation. Another common pitfall is planning to implement service management improvements in one shot, using a big bang approach. This method of deployment is rarely effective since implementations take a long time, and without showing benefits over the course of the project, there is a risk of loss of organizational support over time. Plan for smaller incremental implementations, providing quick wins that will show benefit in areas where pain is already being experienced.

Forgetting the business case. In addition to securing executive support, it is just as important to develop a solid business case for the service management program. A common mistake is to define the benefits of the improvements in terms of improvements to IT processes or intangible benefits that can’t be quantified. The business stakeholders need to know what’s in it for them. Express the benefits in terms of the measurable value to the business (e.g. reduced cost of IT services, customer service satisfaction).

Tools before process. Often, service management tools are selected long before the process improvements have been designed. Or, in many cases, tools are implemented instead of designing process. The risk here is that by locking into a tool first, the process design is limited to the tool capabilities, rather than the organization’s needs. Or, if the process design is skipped altogether, the desired benefits will never be fully realized. Ensure that the process design reflects the needs of the organization, then, select a tool that will best deliver the required functionality. Tools should be selected as enablers of the process to bring greater efficiency, standards, and controls.

Bottom Line

In addition to the benefits to be realized through adoption of ITSM, organizations need to be aware of pitfalls that can derail the ITSM improvement efforts and erode the benefits. Proper planning will mitigate the risks associated with an ITSM implementation and ensure that the full return on investment is achieved.

For More Information:

A Beginner's Guide to Selecting an ITIL Pilot Project

A Business Friendly Approach to IT Service Management

© 1998-2009 Info-Tech Research Group. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.

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