As we see this year come to a close, those of us working in IT should reassess how we dealt with 2020 and how we ready ourselves for the year 2021 and on. Reflecting on experiences and lessons learned, there are things we know, things we can assume, things we can guess about and those things we simply do not know what we do not know – welcome to the year 2020. So how ready were we for a pandemic-influenced year?
Many of the rules and best practices of Service Management (and its component teams like Service Desk) have been defined since the early days of ITIL and other service models. Those models stressed the importance of adherence to and governance of a repeatable standard set of processes across an IT organization. The actual maturity of (or gap in) those processes became glaringly evident this year as the old model of a centrally located IT customer base was suddenly fractured into a mesh of distributed, remote IT customers along with a similar fractured mesh of IT support teams. The organizations having the greatest success in supporting the largest numbers of locations, have the smallest set of standard best practices across all.
So, what are some of the typical target areas that should be strengthened based on some of the lessons from this year:
- Extend Service Management Workflow Tools – Being able to centrally monitor and manage issues or work tasks has never been more critical than in a diverse environment. Such workflows and assignments could be automated along with any requisite communication. Supporting over the cubical walls or through email will fail in the current (or future) environment. As such, these tools need to be extended or made available to:
-All IT Support personnel - to manage every task they are asked to report, address or perform
-IT Customers – as a means or portal to perform self-help (automated tasks or articles) and to request support for issues, or the provision of IT material and/or work
-Business & IT Leadership – to query or present real-time views of critical service performance, outages, issue status, communication and escalation
- Strengthen Service Management Processes – While organizations address a typical service management processes like Incident Management, the expansion (or in some cases the actual establishment) of additional processes greatly enhance the ability to manage critical services. In a diverse organization, Change Control becomes critical in communicating impacts to critical services – as does Problem for root cause analysis. To properly know impacts, Configuration relationships must be current and managed. Any “hole” in these processes becomes deeper and darker in a diverse organization
- IT Leadership Empowerment – Endorsement or simple documentation of a standard set of IT processes is not enough to ensure success. There must be unconditional adherence expectations from IT Senior Leadership and throughout the organization.
- Business Partnership – Growing and changing to stay in line with the critical business requirements has become more challenging when moved out from under one to many “roofs”. Strong and constant communications on current performance information helps build trust and reliance. “Out of sight, out of mind” leads to business unit temptation to build and maintain “shadow IT” environments.
While many of the IT process rules and best practices were defined before COVID-19, the importance of and adherence to them have never been more relevant. I asked an old ITIL instructor once if he ever followed up with a customer where he implemented ITIL processes and he said “Sure”. When I asked what he said to them, he said “I told you so.”
About John Sheehan:
John Sheehan is a certified ITIL Master, ServiceNow Administrator and leads the practice for Service Management and ServiceNow implementations for Morris Technology Solutions. John has more than 25 years in the IT Services industry.
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Morris Technology Solutions
14400 Northbrook Dr, Suite 220
San Antonio TX 78232