A few months ago, I blogged about the fact that, while we were getting “excited” about Cloud and Social in the context of IT service management (ITSM), we were somewhat neglecting the impact of Mobile on our ability to deliver high-quality IT services (Social? Cloud? What About Mobile?). At the time, with the title of the blog tantamount to IT buzzword bingo, I chuckled to myself that all I needed was to throw in a reference to Big Data and I could have called “house.”
What do we do with all the data imprisoned within our ITSM tools?
Big Data? No, not really, more BI
While the Big Data perspective will be seen as a little too “large” from an ITSM tool data perspective (the Wikipedia definition of Big Data describes it as “data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time”), I can’t help think that these considerably smaller ITSM data sets are still ripe for the use of business intelligence (BI).
We have so much valuable data stored within our ITSM tools and, while we leverage existing reporting and analysis capabilities to identify trends and snapshots such as Top 10 problem areas, do we really mine the ITSM tool data to the best of our ability?
If we do (I can’t say I have had ITSM tool vendors making a song and dance about their capabilities), is it something that is both easy to implement and use?
Why am I bringing this up now? Are things changing?
Last week, I presented at the itSMF UK’s annual conference on the subject of value or, more specifically, I hid an awful lot of IT financial management-related content behind the title: “Anybody Questioning Your Value?” Importantly, this is not IT value; I am referring to business value.
It was a surprising session in many ways. Firstly, the number of attendees (I didn’t count them but I would guestimate about 80 ... I’m sure my IT service management peers in attendance will now quickly tell me it was a lot, lot less). Secondly, that they all seemed to stay to the end (well bar one worried-looking lady who left in a rush early on ... I assumed a Sev1 incident or an upset tummy, or both).
The third surprise was the response to a simple question I posed:
If your CEO or CFO stopped you in the corridor and asked, “I like the look of this Gmail-for-business thingy, how does it compare cost-wise with our internal email service?” Would you know the per-unit cost of delivering your corporate email service?
The surprise? Not one person in the room admitted to knowing what their corporate email service costs. I expected to see a low number of raised hands but not a wave-less sea of hands-in-laps. Unfortunately, being unable to answer such off-the-cuff and more formal questions around costs and value can only expose the absence of I&O’s business savvy and lack of cost-awareness. This is not a place I&O wants to be in right now (or ever).
As many of you know, Forrester conducted a joint research study earlier this year, in conjunction with the US chapter of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF-USA). The report is finally now available to the deserving. Forrester clients can download it using the normal access methods. Members of itSMF-USA will receive their copy from itSMF-USA. If you contributed, but do not fall into either category, Forrester will be sending you your copy.
You can read a few of the finding in my original post announcing the completion of the study. An example of the findings is the level of satisfaction with service desk solutions. While satisfaction in general is higher than one would think, a SaaS model has proven especially satisfactory:
Please let me know if you are having difficulty obtaining your report. Thank you again for all the participation that led us to these findings! We look forward to next year’s study!
When will our IT Support people learn (or be taught)? Listening to a family member talk about the issues they’re having with their corporate laptop and how IT Support has responded has made me both angry and embarrassed to be associated with the IT Support community.
Sorry for the potentially gross generalization, I do know that there are a great number of excellent IT Support people out there who bend over backwards to help their internal customers; with “customers” the key word here. However, like many other internal functions, IT Support can forget that they are dealing with internal customers or the internal consumers of IT services (OK, they can only forget if they knew it in the first place). They forget that it is not about the IT, that it has to be about the people and the business.
So what happened?
It started with a virus (where was the corporate antivirus when it was needed?). The IT Support first contact response was “Bring it into the office tomorrow. You will be in breach of contract if you don’t.” Say what? Is that how we treat our “customers”?
Anyway, two days later the laptop is handed back with an older version of IE and no shortcuts to anything other than Office. “There was no time to do more” the IT Support response. The “customer” response: “I'm giving up on my work laptop and using my own” and I&O continues to encourage its own downfall.
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.
IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) people have long bemoaned their service desk or IT service management (ITSM) tools. It’s a fact of life, well ITSM-life anyway, and analysts will often pepper conversations with clients (and anyone else that will listen to them) with comments such as “that on average an organization will change ITSM tool every five years.” Some analysts quote longer, others quote less. In many ways, whether it is three, five, or seven years is unimportant. It is the fact that organizations are changing tools that is.
In a soon to be published joint Forrester and itSMF USA survey and report my colleague, Glenn O’Donnell, offers up an interesting service desk tool statistic: that, with the exception of SaaS tools, approximately 30% of responders are unhappy with their service desk tool.
Of course, one could argue that this is a little “glass half empty” (that I’m an analyst trying to line the pockets of ITSM-tool vendors) and that the “full glass” view is one where 70% of responders are happy with their service desk tools.
Yes, I could take this view, but I would be doing the ITSM Community a disservice. The big question for me is “why is SaaS only at 4% dissatisfaction?”
A while ago, in fact too long ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away), I wrote a blog called Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community where I surmised that IT service management (ITSM) practitioners need help beyond the ITIL books and associated training. They need real-world help; whether this is by way of guidance, quick-start templates to prevent the “reinvention of the wheel,” benchmarks, or by other means. And that, while some members of the ITSM community already offer help, what practitioners really need is to be offered targeted and focused help. A response that is practitioner “pull” rather than helper “push.”
In short, I proposed that we need to do at least five things (as a community) to help:
Recognize that we are a community and a community that often struggles with the same issues (particularly with ITIL adoption).
Offer up our time to help out others (and often ourselves).
Identify where our efforts need to be applied (for example with the creation of a set of standard (core) ITSM metrics and benchmarks).
Deliver on our promises to the ITSM community.
Never stop trying to improve our collective ITSM capabilities and the quality of delivered IT and business services.
There is growing evidence of a harmonic convergence of Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) with Security and it is hardly an accident. We often view them as separate worlds, but it’s obvious that they have more in common than they have differences. I live in the I&O team here at Forrester, but I get pulled into many discussions that would be classified as “security” topics. Examples include compliance analysis of configuration data and process discipline to prevent mistakes. Similarly, our Security analysts get pulled into process discussions and other topics that encroach into Operations territory. This is as it should be.
Some examples of where common DNA between I&O and Security can benefit you and your organization are:
Gain economic benefit by cross-pollinating skills, tools, and organizational entities
Improve service quality AND security with the same actions and strategies
Learn where the two SHOULD remain separate
Combine operational NOC and security SOC monitoring into a unified command center
Develop a plan and the economic and political justifications for intelligent combinations
Is it a blog? Is it a musing (that’s not “amusing”)? Or is it just a cheap attempt to pick the brains of others smarter than myself? Does it matter? Can I do anything other than ask questions?
My point (or at least my line of thinking while I plan a couple of ITIL-related Forrester reports) is that we spend a lot of time talking about what to do (or more likely what not to do) when "adopting ITIL," but how often do we talk about whether we have been successful in applying the concepts of ITIL, the processes, and the enabling technology for business benefit?
Maybe it is because we quote the mantra that “ITIL is a journey” and we can’t see a point in time where we can stop and reflect on our achievements (or lack of)? Maybe we segue too quickly from the ITIL-technology adoption project into the firefighting realities of real-world IT service management? Whatever the potential barriers to taking stock, where is that statement that describes what we have achieved and our relative level of success?
Looking at this logically (fatal mistake, I know), assuming (potentially a big assumption) that there was a business case for the “ITIL adoption project” where is the post implementation review (PIR)? Where can we look to see the realization of business benefits (I deliberately didn’t say “IT benefits” BTW)? I’m trying not to be cynical but, even if we forget the formalities of a PIR, how many I&O organizations can quantify the benefits achieved through ITIL adoption? More importantly what has been achieved relative to the potential for achievement? Where did we get to in our desired-future-state?
Help mummy, that horrible man is talking about finance again.
I jest, but I very nearly titled this blog “Warning: This Blog Is About IT Financial Management And ITIL.” Sorry, but this is how I feel sometimes when I talk about the financial side of IT management, IT service management, and ITIL adoption.
But remember, accountants are supposedly boring not scary. The really scary thing is that IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations have survived for so long without really appreciating what it costs to deliver their IT services.
There is no denying that I&O organizations have always “done finance” in some shape or form. There is not a single business function, IT or otherwise, in any organization that can escape the need for some semblance of financial management and the scrutiny from the formal finance department. So my question to I&O execs is not “Are you doing IT financial management?” but rather “How mature is your IT financial management?”
The changing business and IT landscapes are bringing an end to a somewhat slapdash approach to managing I&O’s finances and investment and usher in the need to extend IT financial management to encapsulate the concept of value. Read on, Macduff.
Why haven’t I&O execs focused on maturing their IT financial management practices?