ABC of ICT: Critical success factors from the experts

Published on Wednesday 3 October 2012 by in Blog with 2 comments

We have presented at many ITSM conferences the TOP 10 ABC of ICT issues. The question naturally arises how do you deal with them?  We have compiled, from the 35 cases from Industry experts documented in the ABC of ICT – An Introduction the Top 10 critical success factors for making ITSM improvement initiatives work. These are what the experts do to ensure success when adopting and deploying ITSM best practices.

The cases and examples were provided by industry experts and practitioners, including ITIL V2 and V3 authors. The case studies provided by the contributors represented their experience based upon literally hundreds of practical examples they encounter in their daily lives, as well as the findings from more than 5000 World-wide organizations having participated in the Apollo 13 – An experience™ business simulation.

I hope these may inspire you and assist you with your initiatives aimed at Making Change Happen within your organization.

Top 10 Success factors from analysis of cases.

  • Involvement of all functions in designInvolve development and operations. Involve the complete delivery chain. Face-to-face meetings, workshops, simulations to stimulate discussion and involvement and address resistance. Bringing people together helps identify the hidden ABC Iceberg. Bringing people together to design their own processes helps create buy-in and ownership and avoids one of the top ‘resistance’ worst practices ‘Throwing solutions over the wall and HOPING people will follow them’.
  • Spend time with the customer, learn how they use your services, listen instead of speaking, communication is more than talking or ‘sending’, Engage with the business, moaning won’t help, take ownership and control and seek ways to actively identify business needs and ways to improve business and IT working and trust. Joint sessions and discussions change attitude (reviews, designs, simulations, workshops).
  • The top ABC worst practice world wide is ‘IT has too little understanding of business impact and priority’, another high scoring worst practice is ‘IT is too internally focused’. This will help break through these issues. Another high scoring issues is ‘Everything has the highest priority according to the users‘. Actively engaging with and involving the customers also helps to change Customer attitudes and helps create an understanding.
  • Understand business needs first before making a proposal, agree priorities at all levels (incidents, changes, projects) with business. Look from customer, user and business perspective. Consider hiring people from business to bring business perspective, moving business analysts into IT. Send ALL IT staff into the business for a day and have them comes back and present findings,
  • All in IT must know what value is and how their tasks contribute toward this. People must know what ‘success’ is and how it can be measured and demonstrated.Time and time again when we ask people in conferences ‘Put your hand up if you can tell me the definition of a service?’ less than 5% know. A Service is all about Value and Outcomes against Costs and Risks. Ask EVERYBODY in your organization if they know this then discuss it and explain what ITIL or ITSM is trying to achieve.
  • Look beyond certification. Look for a demonstration of capabilities when selecting or hiring ITIL capabilities. Selection based upon evidence. Defining roles and skills needed, look for skills in managing change. Education in ITIL is more than obtaining a ‘certificate’.
  • Executive commitment, Business & IT, without commitment culture change will fail, commitment is needed to succeed. Two of the top 3 types of resistance cards are ‘Never mind about following procedures just do what we normally do’ and ‘saying yes but meaning (or doing) no’. If there is no management commitment then these worst practices will Kill your ITSM initiative.
  • Communicate and market IT and what it can do for the business, Marketing and learning to speak in user and customer language, communicate outcomes and results not ‘ITIL’, Communicate business priorities, business goals.
  • Using facts and figures to create business buy-in. Use impact, consequences, risks, facts and figures to change attitude. Show the impact and costs of outages and undesirable behavior from both IT and the business. Show in terms of business value, business outcomes, business costs and business risks. Start gathering straight away.
  • A holistic approach, consciously addressing people, process, product and partner capabilities when applying ITIL (or any ITSM framework), coupled with a continual improvement focus. You need to walk before you can run, being aware that it takes time and effort and is a journey. Improvement must be embedded in the culture it isn’t a one-time ‘implementation’ project. Ensure at the outset that responsibilities and accountabilities are embedded in the line organization.
  • Confronting people with consequences of behavior on the business Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks as well as consequences to own team/department. Foster a culture of open, honest and direct feedback. Managers must adopt consequence management. rewarding desirable behavior and addressing undesirale behavior. This must be consciously and consistently performed to ensure credibility.

Observations of cases 

All experienced attitude issues that were impacting behavior and the willingness to change behavior. Involvement and cross functional meetings, face-to-face, changed attitude the most and leads to buy-in, acceptance and eventual behavior change. Involvement and discussions and joint sessions will bring resistance to the surface. Resistance is inevitable in some shape or form, therefore making visible and discussing it is critical.

Business goals, impact, consequences are a necessary element in helping change attitude. Pain and needs are more common than wants and desires for the future – creating a sense of urgency as opposed to painting a vision for the future. 

Producing Procedures and documentation is an iterative, involved process that goes through a barrier of resistance. It is important that people design their own processes and are not something that is ‘Thrown over the wall’. 

A Holistic approach of consciously aligning and integrating People, Process, Product and Partner capabilities increases the chance of success. Failures and frustration were often attributed to cases when a holistic approach was not consciously adopted from the beginning. 

Successful initiatives involve marketing and communication in user and customer terms. Communicating in business language to both IT and the business. Communication at all levels. Communication with executive involvement and commitment.

Getting people to look from different perspectives, involving and discussing from different perspectives, learning what others do and how your work impacts them helps change attitude. “I didn’t realize” is a common statement following these types of interventions. A number of cases involve sending IT people into the business to learn how the users use IT.

Training should also have a component for gaining buy-in, showing benefits, making the link to own situation and pain. Simulations are seen as a powerful mechanism, helping translate theory into practice and translate knowledge into results. These help create buy-in, overcome resistance and foster dialogue and discussion. Look beyond certification. Ensure skills for managing organizational change are developed or insourced. Look for a demonstrated ability to manage change and the people issues when hiring in.

Resistance is a fact of ITSM improvement and change and it must be consciously dealt with. 

Successful companies spend more time, effort and energy on the ‘people’ side. Winning hearts and minds, empowering, enabling, rewarding.

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