Sweeping change takes time. The key to success is having a vision but taking action in small increments that can be absorbed into a corporate culture of improvement.

by Phyllis Drucker
Date Published December 13, 2023 - Last Updated 76 Days, 13 Hours, 6 Minutes ago

Sweeping change takes time. Planning, developing, and testing technical solutions that are part of a change can have lengthy cycles, and the adoption programs associated with such change also take time. The bad news is that business conditions can change before the planned improvements are adopted since we live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. The key to success is having a vision but taking action in small increments that can be absorbed into a corporate culture of improvement.

Program Adoption Can Be Daunting

Many organizations fail at large-scale service management adoptions because of their scale, the investment of time and money, and the time it takes to see value. Making a set of iterative changes, each of which provides value, can yield the same result in the long term but with greater satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment along the way. Achieving this combines understanding the business and how they use technology with techniques similar to digital design techniques and can be achieved with three basic steps.

First, Understand the Business

Understanding how business uses technology doesn’t come from sitting in an office and asking people what they do. There are two ways to accomplish this: becoming a customer to experience how the customer is impacted by the technology the organization uses and getting out into various departments to watch people do their job and what they do when technology fails.

These actions can be followed up with focus group discussions to identify pain points and how business personnel interact with IT when things fail. These become inputs to the improvement initiative.

Second, Know Where You Are

To be effective in the second step, you need a vision of how IT should operate. Yes, this is going to require an assessment of the organization’s operations against a best practice framework or standard. The easiest way is to gather key IT personnel and have them assess the current maturity of each practice. Next, using the inputs from the business visits, rank the most important areas to address.

If practical, it would be beneficial to review how the business personnel used in the earlier focus groups to see how they feel IT performs in those practices that touch them (like incident management, service request management, and support practices). It would also be helpful to get their opinion on which they feel are most important to improve.

Finally, Make a Plan and Begin Working the Plan

Once the gaps are known, it’s possible to put together a high-level plan. The easiest way to improve incrementally is to try a crawl, walk, run approach. The mistake many organizations make is attempting to run in all service management areas before they are even crawling. An idea of where to start and how to progress enables a large-scale service management adoption program to get started and provide value.

To start with this, create a template containing all of the practices in the left column, with crawl, walk, run across the top of a page and begin filling in the improvements needed in each area. It might look something like this: 

Practice Area Crawl Walk Run
Incident Management
  • Log 100% of contacts
  • Get complete resolution information in tickets
  • Implement prioritization schema and SLAs
  • Achieve 85% conformance to SLAs
  • Achieve 95% conformance to SLAs
  • Reduce customer callbacks with improved communication
Change Management      
Configuration Management      

While this is a simplistic example, the run column should indicate the future state vision and how the practice should work in a best-case scenario, understanding that it might take five years and many changes to the vision to fully mature. The walk items should be sufficient to operate successfully in the shorter term, and the crawl activities should include all of the basics required to lay a solid foundation for support.

Next, using the prioritization of the practices, select 3-5 that will be used as a starting point and put together a three-month plan to make headway in those areas. To get started, look for “low-hanging fruit” or things that can be done quickly and easily. If the organization focuses on easy-to-implement changes first and achieves value by making these small changes, they establish momentum.

Before starting, it’s important to select key performance indicators for each improvement area. Baseline measures of the last three months, six months, and one year should be taken for each of the key performance indicators before beginning any improvements. This enables the organization to measure the results and see the business value being driven by the changes. This part of the program enables the organization to create a business case when investment is needed later in the program.

The value of this approach is that it can be done at a department level or widely across IT and requires no investment other than one of time. By targeting how to improve and making small improvements, a large impact can be seen over time without investing heavily in tools and training before the organization can achieve results. While these will be needed, creating the business case using small changes helps the organization prepare to achieve the larger ones.

Tag(s): supportworld, leadership, change management, IT service management, ITSM, IT-business alignment, organizational change management

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