In my recent blog on the top 50 ITIL adoption mistakes many related to the people-side of changing the IT service management (ITSM) and IT delivery status quo. In many ways, people are the ultimate barrier (or success factor) to effective ITIL adoption or to other aspects of an IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organization successfully meeting business demands for IT services.
We often get the technology and process elements of what we do in I&O right, but the people-side of things can be a different matter. Paul Wilkinson of GamingWorks has been a champion for addressing the ABC (attitude, behavior, and culture) of ICT for many years and he shares his (and his colleagues) thoughts with us below.
So what goes wrong?
As more and more organizations adopt ITSM frameworks such as ITIL, it often seems that ITIL or the framework is the goal itself, rather than being a means to an end – that is trying to improve the delivery of IT services from a business perspective.
Paul states that, in his experience, 70% of ITIL-adoption initiatives fail to deliver on their promises, i.e., realizing the value that the I&O organization (and business) had hoped for; with 50% of failures caused by resistance. However, we (the people) tend to blame the framework or the technology. But it often has nothing to do with ITIL – the root cause is commonly the way in which we (mis) apply and (mis) use the framework. That these failures are often down to people issues.
Earlier this week, I attended the Hornbill User Group (or "HUG" as it is affectionately known) to listen to Malcolm Fry, IT service management (ITSM) legend and author of "ITIL Lite," talk about ITSM metrics in the context of ITIL 2011.
There is no doubt that metrics have long been a topic of interest, concern, and debate for ITSM practitioners (I wrote a piece a few years ago that is still the most popular item on my old blog site by a huge margin), and IMO I&O organizations struggle with the area due to a number of reasons:
I&O is not entirely sure what it is doing (in terms of metrics) and why.
We often measure what is easy to measure rather than what we should measure.
I&O can easily fall into the trap of focusing on IT metrics rather than business-focused metrics.
I&O organizations often have too many metrics as opposed to a select few (often led by the abundance of reports and metrics provided by the ITSM tool or tools of choice).
There is no structure or context between metrics (these can be stuck in silos rather than being “end-to-end”).
Metrics are commonly viewed as an output in their own right rather than as an input into business conversations about services or improvement activity.
The IT Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) community has long been awash with management buzzwords and phrases such as "think outside the box," “bare metal,” “IT-to-business alignment,” “ivory tower,” “NextGen,” “people, process, and technology,” “innovation,” "what does good look like?" and “resonate.” More recently we have had to endure such gems as “cloudwashing,” “hash tag abuse,” “virtual sprawl,” and “cloudenomics” (please take a deep breath, don’t let them wind you up).
Another longstanding “buzzphrase” (no, I didn’t make this word up) is that I&O organizations need to “run IT as a business.” I imagine that most of us have used it (I plead “guilty” milord), at least in conversation, but do we really know what it means or what we need to do for I&O to achieve a business-like state?
Firstly, the “run IT as a business” mantra is wrong – well, partially. I&O organizations must indeed adopt practices to run as a business function, but not necessarily as a full business in itself.
One of the most prevalent areas in need of attention is that of the ITIL-espoused discipline of IT financial management. In that business-success not only stems from having a great product (or service) coupled with great customer service, there also needs to be an understanding of the cost of provision, the cost drivers, and the margins involved. Not having this understanding can only expose I&O’s lack of business acumen and capabilities, and make it difficult to compete in the new IT delivery landscape.