Single Point of Contact: Greg Sanker


by Roy Atkinson
October 10, 2018

HDI’s SPOCcast is your single point of contact podcast for service management and support insights. For Episode 3, I conducted an interview with Greg Sanker via Skype to discuss the current state of service management and to gain insight on how change management can better serve businesses and organizations. Here are some excerpts from that conversation, but there’s lots more Greg had to say.

RA: There is a lot of conversation going on…suggesting that IT service management is going the way of the dodo bird—titles like “IT Service Management Is Dead.” Do you think it is?

GS: Let’s start with this: It depends on what your view of service management is. One man’s service management is another man’s nightmare. Let’s be really clear on one point: Everybody in IT is doing service management. That’s just how IT gets things done. Where there’s less agreement, where it’s not clear on what exactly service management is, is when we try to wrap it with some kind of formality, like, is it ITIL®? Is it COBIT? Is it ISO 20000...Modern Service Management, or other phrases that we hear? Just getting stuff done that your customers care about, that’s service management. Is that going to go away? No.

One man’s service management is another man’s nightmare.
Tweet: One man’s service management is another man’s nightmare.@gtsanker @ThinkHDI #techsupport #ChangeManagement #ITSM #SPOCcast #podcast

How we do that is liable to change, probably should change, maybe needs to change faster than it has up to this point. But the real question—the question behind the question—is so much that goes under the banner of service management is really badly implemented, it’s internally focused, it has to do with processes, and a whole mishmash of different silos trying to optimize what they do, as opposed to really focusing in on what we’re trying to achieve as an organization from end to end. So, that? That as a practice—yeah—that needs to go away.

We focus on so many things that we believe are going to make us better that really add no value to what our customers actually care about. So the reason we’re talking about it now…is, there’s better ways to deliver service management than what we’ve traditionally done. There’s more customer-focused approaches, and we really need to be doing that.

RA: And when you say, “There’s better ways to do it,” could you elaborate on that just a little bit?

GS: DevOps is the phrase of the day, and I love DevOps, but I’m not sure exactly what DevOps is either, actually. Its’ not a methodology, it’s not a standard, it’s not a practice…It’s more of a mindset—a way we think about the things that we do…. I think service management could benefit a lot from the concepts of DevOps, like getting value into the hands of our customers, shortening our product cycles, getting feedback early on in the process, and moving towards things that our customers actually care about. So, it’s not just DevOps, it’s LeanIT, or just the principles of Lean…the idea of, “What does this look like from the perspective of our customers?” Are we in the game with our customers? Do they believe we’re there and understand their challenges and concerns?

RA: Let’s narrow it down now from service management in general to a particular area of expertise that you have, which is change management. What do you think is the main purpose of change management, and what else can it do besides that main purpose?

GS: When we’re talking about change management, [what] we’re talking about is, from an IT operations standpoint or service delivery standpoint, when we’re managing changes to the services we deliver, to the components of the infrastructure, whether that be “cloud” or on-premises, how do we manage those changes so we accomplish certain things?

Let me tell you the five things that change management should be about and probably always was about:

  • First, it’s about timely and effective implementation of things the customer cares about.
  • The second is that we have to manage risk associated with making those changes.
  • The third is minimizing the negative impact either to or for the business of those changes.
  • Number four would be making sure that we’re actually achieving the desired business outcomes.
  • Lastly, governance and compliance expectations have to be met.

Change management is not a process—and I’ll get in trouble with some practitioners for saying that. But change management is a capability that’s comprised of processes, of people, of tools and other things…. It’s the ability of your organization to bring about changes that the customer needs in a way that meets their appetite for risk, minimizes impact, and facilitates outcomes while making sure that our governance and compliance expectations are met.

Everything good in this business is brought about by some form of a change.

RA: One of the five things you talked about was minimizing impact, and I would gather from that that you want to minimize adverse impact. On the other hand, if we work collaboratively to accelerate and produce the kinds of change that the customers want and need, could you say that it was maximizing positive impact on the organization?

GS: The concept of minimizing negative impact is a fascinating phenomenon…. If you think about that, the best-case scenario is that you would have zero impact on the customer…. The real goal is to have a positive impact on the customer, actually adding value to the customer…. That’s why we start looking at Time to Value…. That’s why when I talk about facilitating business outcomes, that first view (i.e., minimizing negative impact), is very IT-focused, very centric on IT and what is our part…. But if we hold change management accountable to actually achieving business outcomes, if your customer isn’t able to do what they wanted to do—both what they were able to do previously and what we’ve suggested they’re going to be able to do now that this new feature is added—then we haven’t been successful.

About Greg Sanker
Greg Sanker is a CIO and an IT service management author, speaker, and practitioner with decades of global IT experience, ranging from a Fortune 10 tech giant to the public sector. An international speaker known for his practical been-there-done-that advice, Greg frequently blogs about excellence in service management on ITSMTransition.com and was recently named a Top 25 Thought Leader in Technical Support and Service Management by HDI. His book, IT Change Management: A Practitioner's Guide, was released in September 2017.  


Roy Atkinson Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as senior writer/analyst, he acts as HDI's in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. 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 @RoyAtkinson.


Tag(s): supportworld, service management, ITSM, change management

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