Why the right ITSM consultant is your best friend when adopting ITSM best practices | @valorizeit.com

I enjoy reading Ryan Ogilvie’s blogs about the Service Management journey, and what a great word he is using, journey, because this is exactly what adopting best practices are. I especially enjoyed the post about the external and internal resource usage, asking yourself if the consultant really is your best friend when embarking on this journey.

So, I decided to dedicate first post this week to this, since I do not want to write to many comments, I get kind of excited and feel like there is so much to say, but it’s really not the way to go posting 3423 comments.

I claim that the right IT Service management consultant is the best friend you ever had when you embark on the journey to implement best practices based on ITSM/ITIL.

When I say the right ITSM consultant, I actually mean that there are good ones and bad ones, pretty much like any other business on this planet. I would like to help you ID those qualities of a good consultant, that will not only help you but be the winning ingredient in your ITIL-based process implementation and/or development project soup. Please feel free to print this blog post and hand it to your purchasing… 😉

This is a good ITSM consultant, I give you THE consultant:

  • Deep pragmatical knowledge of ITSM: Knows which are the main mechanism in each process, where to start, what needs to come first, which are the shortcuts and other extremely relevant practical knowledge of how to implement and operate ITSM. This can only be based on practical experience. All hail, to the great ITIL books but they are books and cannot be implemented, needs to be adapted to each client’s unique set of conditions. This is not for just anyone; you need to know your practical ITSM.
  • Big, no huge, ears: It does not matter how fancy the processes, how great support scripts or how dynamic SLA if the client does not need or want that. The consultant needs to really listen, also to what is not said, to read between the lines. This is a coaching role, to base everything on the Baseline assessment he/she of course did (not doing that is another warning signal, always do this please) and what the client wants, their goals and objectives. Process development and implementation depends a lot on really focusing on the client situation and then what ITIL best practices should be applied.
  • Knows how to stay in your shadow: The consultant is your back up, your coach and your mentor, the one that gives you the perfect advice you need in that exact moment. However, the consultant is “only” your advisor; you and your organization are responsible for taking the next step. This consultant should not be an active part of the implementation team. If so it should be for another role, sometimes resourcing can be tricky for these projects, and therefore consultants needed, but that is another issue. The consultant needs to make you and your organization heroes, not him- or herself.
  • Pragmatism: The organization needs to see results, preferably even some immediate ones. The consultant needs to help the ITSM program/project create short/medium/long term improvements but also a set of quick wins, what I usually call “low hanging fruit”. This to get the wins you need right from the start and keep the motivation high. After all, we are talking about change of culture, ways of working and a lot more, the resistance is always fierce in the beginning and for each quick win, the resistance loses power. The consultant needs to very pragmatical to give the client organization these wins.
  • Keeps you happy but is not a suck-up: The consultant needs to be in your ringside corner, but this does not mean that he/she should say what you want to hear. It all comes down to how this information is passed on, being the coach, ideally operating without being seen, the consultant passes on the advice, helps the program manager to plan and in general participates in relevant activities, without directing it. Now this is the ideal, sometimes it is difficult; you should always try to avoid direct consultant delivery for many reasons.
  • Extremely business focused: This is a given one, and most consultant, even the less good ones, has a business focus. However, this needs to balance with the other qualities; too much business focus will mean advice that will not be beneficial for IT and the business but rather only the later. Unfortunately, I have done a large number of rescue projects based on delivery from business consultants trying to implement best practices for service management. Many times some of our colleagues seem to think that a strong business consultant simply attends an ITIL Foundation and then becomes not only a management consultant but also a service management consultant. This is rarely the case and not to recommend for the kind of consultant role I am talking about, the advisor, for a number of rather obvious reasons. I am sure it would be the exact same if an ITSM consultant tried to implement a new business strategy or a marketing campaign. Be true to yourself.
  • Multi-tasking: The consultant needs to be involved in different activities, act on several levels in the organization and be aware of what is going on; he/she needs to be in the center of things to be able to help. This also involves an ability to structure activities, help the client to prioritize and all the time be one-step ahead to enable the consultant to give timely advice that really will make a difference for the client.
  • Does what is best for you: There are some organizations that are ready for pretty much anything, for those organizations a fast pace of process improvements and/or implementations will work. For others a slower, more thorough pace is needed. The consultants needs to recognize these things and help the clients in the best possible way adopt best practices, that is ideal for his situation, objectives and conditions.

Given that your organization has found one of this good consultants that will help you slice the elephant, to cut the right corners and to coach and mentor you and your organization without doing consultant delivery, well, congrats, you have just tripled your chances to really get the best out of ITSM.

I guess some of you are thinking: oh yeah, this guy is just selling himself, and sure, partly I am, after all I am a consultant, but what I am really saying is that you need external expertise, especially in the beginning of your efforts to adapt ITSM best practices. This is simply about giving yourself the best possible beginning you can, this is what we do, and then we never really leave your side, even though we will be phased out of the actual ITSM program after a few months, or at least kept along to also help out in the initial governance. A good ITSM consultant has no ex customers, only more or less frequent contact with his customers.


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