Getting buy-in from the ‘Techies’ for ITSM best practices?

Published on Wednesday 3 December 2014 by in News with no comments

A global technology provider organized an enablement workshop for its Korean partners in Seoul. The aims of the session were: to familiarize delegates with the ITIL framework as a good practice for IT Service management; to translate the theory into practice using a business simulation game – Apollo 13; and to discover how new cloud based ITSM solutions can help the partners provide better management and value to their customers.

An important concept underpinning the new ITSM cloud solution is the need to manage services end-to-end through consistent SLA governance and visibility across multi-sourced environments. Customer organizations are becoming increasingly dependent upon external providers as part of the service delivery capability. However this presents a risk – the need to ensure consistent quality of services, processes, people and use of support technology across the delivery chain.


Often customer organizations use ITIL, for some of our partners this is new. Customers are expecting and insisting that outsourced support and cloud solution providers also use ITSM best practices.

For many partners this represents a significant shift from managing technology to managing processes and services”.

Inconsistent delivery and a lack of integrated capabilities can result in confusion, rework, delays, unintentional mistakes, lack of insight to enable effective decision making and prioritization of resources.

All this costs money, creates dissatisfaction and more importantly creates a business risk to the end customer AND a risk to the sourcing partner.”

The delegates – who were  technology experts whose core capabilities are installing, configuring and managing technology solutions – were shell shocked after their intensive introduction to ITIL and ITSM. It seemed all very theoretical and bureaucratic. It was time to make some practical sense of all the ITIL theory and try to apply it.

Apollo 13 – An ITSM Case experience is a dynamic business simulation exercise in which  participants enact the roles of the Mission control team of Apollo 13.  During this workshop participants see, feel and experience the benefits of applying best practices on organizational performance: ‘cost of ownership’, ‘effectiveness and throughput of processes’, ‘enablement of business innovation goals’ and ‘customer satisfaction’. Delegates have to use their ITSM theory to design, implement, evaluate and improve their own processes. They  have to work together as a team, take decisions, agree and apply their own working practices in order to meet their service level targets and save the astronauts. The team must ensure that the complete end-to-end delivery chain, including the supplier is aligned.

The Apollo 13 case appealed as it seemed to be all about mission critical, complex technology – this is what the delegates were good at! It soon became clear that the technology was only 1 part of managing and realizing a successful mission.

The initial game round was characterized by inconsistent and poor performance and a clear lack of alignment throughout the end-to-end delivery chain. The team had applied PPT – People, Process & technology to some degree but had totally failed to ensure the alignment of the 4 P’s of ITIL – People, Process, Product and PARTNER capabilities.

We assumed we knew the priority….we didn’t understand about the real business impact”.

“We have consistent capabilities across the delivery chain……none of us knows the status of all the incidents”!

In the final game round the team had learned to effectively apply the 4 P’s aimed at realizing  the 5th ‘P’- Performance. They had seen significant improvements in quality.

The delegates were then asked ‘What did you apply today in this workshop that you NEED to take away and start applying in your organization’?

Key takeaways:

  • Engage with the Customer to understand the Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks (VOCR) in terms of Service levels – or Performance – to be achieved and agree reporting needs and communication channels – (Strategic, tactical and operational).
  • Define and agree end-to-end process (together with all partners in delivery chain), including end customer interface to process. (The touch points and the inputs and outputs between processes must be clearly defined and agreed).
  • Develop tool together and ensure tool is up-to-date, accurate and accessible to all who need it (integrate tool across providers if required). Agree WHO needs access to what information to enable process performance.
  • Ensure delivery is on-time (as agreed). Ensure priority and escalation mechanisms are aligned to business impact and time. Escalation responsibilities must be clearly established across the delivery chain.
  • Ensure visibility and status known of workload – end-to-end. Transparency is important.
  • Ensure Known error database is shared, available across providers and can demonstrate value to 1st call resolution.
  • Processes are never perfect first time, they need to be evaluated end-to-end, related to performance and where necessary improved’.

 It is easy to say we will work ’end-to-end’,  but in reality it is much more that simply saying this.

What was powerful in this session was building the process together. We stuck the ITIL process flow on the wall and then as a team – 1st level, 2nd level and supplier we discussed and agreed what is fit-for-use and fit-for-purpose, and we assigned and agreed responsibilities and authority for managing the process end-to-end. This created a lot of dialogue and discussion and ultimately buy-in and COMMITMENT”.

Another interesting discussion item was ‘Problem management’ – how valuable this was in enabling first call resolution AND in targeting initiatives to ‘reduce incident volumes’. Whose responsibility was this? The customer or the outsourced service provider? If the service provider bills on incident volumes then it isn’t in the interest of the sourcing provider to reduce incidents! Fortunately the team agreed that It was all about reducing business risk and ensuring the business can realize value. Problem management was seen as an added value capability the sourcing provider can deliver. 

In the final round it was no longer IT department and supplier – it was a partnership focused on realizing the business needs.




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