The last few weeks I have read and even participated in a number of discussions on social media, there are plenty of people talking about failed ITIL-projects or ITSM as something that only works in the books. At the same time there are people talking about what ITIL is “saying about things”. To me it is clear that there are plenty of misunderstanding, less than good implantation and therefore I will share with you guys the overall approach to ensure you will succeed.
I would like to borrow your attention and talk about how you implement and run ITSM in an organization, no matter of the size, location or maturity.
I will assume that an organization planning to implement best practices based on ITIL (please do not use ITIL-projects, this is not what it is, we are talking about organizational development) has done their homework. There are clear objectives, a baseline assessment and GAP-analysis relevant to your scope was performed, the management team is onboard and you have resources. Not all these things are easy to manage, but focus for another post, so this time I will make it very easy for me, I will just address the actual implementation program and the afterlife.
For a second consider filling your garage driveway with grass seeds. They will stay there but as soon as there is a rain or even a car coming home, the seeds will start to disappear. You will never succeed in getting a nice lawn this way. You need to prepare, rake the soil etc, and more importantly, you need to water the seeds, keep birds from stealing them etc. Well, this example is already getting out of hand, sorry… haha… but I think we all agree that we need conditions to get our processes in place and maintained (improved over time).
To develop and prepare your process implementation you need a process green house
The process Greenhouse is your offline factory for creating the process support such as documentation, training material (e-learning rocks), tool adaptation specs and much more. Basically you are preparing a process work package (alter let us talk about what should be included here), based on your unique set of preconditions and your operations, but without disturbing the status quo. This process can only leave the Green house as a release, in the same controlled manner. Normally I always recommend a celebration, for example a process cake, to celebrate the wins, remember that we are changing the culture and a lot of other things, we need to make it a positive thing. The process Green house is normally the actual implementation program you run, with resources, management, objectives, follow up, a sort of temporary organization.
Now, this is important, the processes are handed over to whom and to where? Yes, exactly, the process organization, that are part of the process council
To continuously maintain and improve your processes you need a process council.
You can of course compare this process council to the PMO, the Project Management Office, not responsible for any process but rather for the coordination of all processes. There are actually a number of frameworks to do this but I like to always keep things simple. The process council is like the PMO but without any stopping point since processes go on and on. The process council normally included process managers, potential coordinators and of course has management representation. They meet quite frequently, especially in the beginning, to help each other get ahead, thus joining forces, resolve inter-process related issues and overall being the platform for process collaboration.
Occasionally you can invite others to the process council, for example suppliers or others, for example to resolve issues and of course review and improve the processes. In case you are an external supplier, for example in an outsourced IT supplier, the process council needs to include the client process organization as well as yours. Sure, process managers are responsible for the process health, but since all processes are inter-related process management requires many contacts, coordination and collaboration.
I would say that process governance without the council, or something similar, will not work, only in the beginning when everyone is focused, there is a program and a lot of process attention going on. However, much like the grass seeds, the process governance will dissapear with the first rain, fade away and eventually everything will go back to where we were before, potentially with some minor changes.
Governance is the key, you need a defined process organization for each process already when they are being developed in the process green house, and normally these are some of the resources needed to produce the process work packs.
Now, I am perfectly aware of the fact there are a lot of different approaches, names, methods and in general information about this, and you can call it what you want. What it boils down do is these two contexts, no matter what you call the, without this approach you will not get the best out of your implementation of ITIL-based best practices.