Service Management Is Like Mowing Your Lawn


by Roy Atkinson
June 8, 2017

It’s summer in the United States, and many homeowners are engaged in the annual ritual of mowing their lawns. For some, it’s a necessary but unpleasant chore; for others, it’s a form of relaxation that produces a sense of accomplishment.

But what on earth does this have to do with service management?

Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of mowing a lawn:

  • Without any mowing, a lawn will quickly become chaotic, with tall weeds sticking up and detracting from the overall appearance of the property
  • Mowing a lawn is not a “one-and-done” endeavor
  • There are many types of tools available for mowing
  • The same lawn can be mowed in many different ways

Chaotic IT

Without some thought about services and how they should be managed, chaos will take over. Services will fail, and there will be arguments about what happened, how to fix it, and who is responsible for fixing it. There won’t be agreement on what to do and when to do it. Services may come to a standstill, and—especially in the case of IT services—a business will grind to a halt. This is why service management became important in the first place. The people who developed service management frameworks put a great deal of thought and hard work into thinking through how services can be managed and optimized. We know the collections of their thought as best practices.

Service Management Is Not a Project

One of the defining characteristics of a project is that it has an end. Does the need for service management come with an end date? No, it doesn’t, and approaching service management as a project has produced many failures. The processes and practices will continue to work, and—if you’re doing it right—keep improving over time; but you have to keep doing them and looking for those improvements.

There Are Tools, and Then There Are Tools

If you happen to own a townhouse with a 50 x 60 foot back yard, we probably won’t see pictures of you mowing on a $4,000 state of the art “zero-turn” lawnmower with a three-bin grass catcher. We might, however, see you pushing a small, walk-behind mower. The smaller, far less expensive option is the right one for your situation.

In the world of service management, too often organizations completely overbuy and over spend. Your internal processes are always more important than the tool. There is no point in spending lots of money for a tool with features your organization will never use. You can add to your tool later or replace it if that becomes necessary. (When you are laying out your requirements, consider including the ability to add modules.)

In service management, internal processes are more important than the tool.
Tweet: In service management, internal processes are more important than the tool. @HDI_Analyst @ThinkHDI #ITSM

Is There a “Right Way?”

Unless you are mowing a major league baseball field or a professional golf course, it probably doesn’t matter very much whether you mow from the outside edges into the middle, or whether you mow in straight lines across the lawn. What counts is how it looks to you when you are done and whether the job is completed to your satisfaction. Do you think the grass is the right height? Have you cut it neatly? Then that is what matters.

When you are doing service management, what matters most is outcomes. Are there measurable improvements, such as fewer incidents and faster times to restore service? Are customers rating you higher? Is your organization running more smoothly because of the processes you have put in place? If the answers to these questions are yes, you are doing good work in service management.

It’s always a pleasure to see a freshly mowed lawn, but remember that it needs continued attention week after week.

To learn more about best practices, consider HDI Training and Certification.

Roy AtkinsonRoy Atkinson is HDI's senior writer/analyst, acting as in-house subject matter expert and chief writer for SupportWorld articles and white papers. In addition to being a member of the HDI International Certification Standards Committee and the HDI Desktop Support Advisory Board, Roy is a popular speaker at HDI conferences and is well known to HDI local chapter audiences. His background is in both service desk and desktop support as well as small-business consulting. Roy is highly rated on social media, especially on the topics of IT service management and customer service. He is a cohost of the very popular #custserv (customer service) chat on Twitter, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on December 9, 2014. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @HDI_Analyst and @RoyAtkinson.


Tag(s): supportworld, ITSM, IT service management, service management, framework and methodologies, tools

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