During my time in the ITSM space I’ve spoken to countless service managers, and as each IT pro shares their story, I find myself relating to their pain points and challenges. While each organization has its unique issues to overcome, some common themes seem to repeat in just about every case.
In an effort to help navigate these troubled waters, I will be posting a blog series over the next 4 weeks providing tips and tricks to help sharpen strategic decision making in all areas of ITSM, and avoid The 4 Deadly Sins of Service Management.
¨The 4 Deadly Sins!?¨ I can hear you saying….
¨That´s right. The 4… Deadly… Sins.¨ So, what are they?
Believe it or not, fear can actually be a useful tool when you’re a service manager. Fear can force you to slow things down and you can use it to keep yourself focused when there are IT fires to put out. However, that same instinct can be a hindrance if it’s overly involved in your decision-making process.
Case in point – just recently I spoke with the Director of IT at a very successful software company in Florida. We were discussing how his team uses their current service desk app to assist with customer concerns and it came to light that their current homegrown system was first deployed in 2005 and hasn’t been updated in a meaningful way since 2010. I had to stop him right there to ask why they’ve gone so long without an update and he was pretty frank in his response. Basically, he told me there are 3 things standing in his way:
- He knows that there are probably better looking/functioning solutions out there but he’s afraid his customers won’t be open to change after this long
- He’s afraid to pull any of his technical resources “off the line” to code and configure a new system for the next few months
- He fears the backlash that will come from his techs when management forces them to train on a new system
All in all, these fears are valid but I had to remind him that the benefits of change are realand that all of his fears can be addressed if he tweaks his approach. Here’s what I imparted to him:
- If changing systems leads to a quicker resolution of their issue, and the interface is intuitive (and end-user friendly!) – adoption won’t be an issue
- If he just focuses on service desk systems that are preconfigured with best practices, his team can focus on the handful of things that are truly unique and, thus, deploy in weeks – not months
- Design and user experience is the key here. I asked him to think about how easy most modern devices are to use. We don’t need any training, or convoluted instruction manuals to navigate our smartphones, for example. In just the past few years there have been amazing leaps in the UI/UX field and software developers have jumped on board with the trend too!
When it comes to budgets, the struggle is real. Even though ´bottom line´ thinking can keep the rails from coming off during a board meeting, it’s important to remember that price is just one of many factors when you’re shopping for a tool.
If you can get into the habit of buying a result instead of a product, you’ll find that it’s much easier to track your budgetary successes. Before you even begin shopping for a solution, here’s what I generally suggest:
- Make sure that you’re considering pain points from both your users AND your techs and make sure you’ve documented them well – this will come in handy over the coming weeks and months. Some organizations like to score the importance of various pain points but I recommend setting that aside until later on in your process.
- Stay solution agnostic at first. If a team member opens with “well our current system already does x, y, and z” make sure to reorient the conversation around the problems that your current solution can’t solve.
- Now you know what’s missing, so it’s time to start looking at the applications that align with the results you expect.
This emotion can get particularly tricky if you’re currently using a solution that was developed in-house. Especially if those developers are still part of the mix at your organization. It’s important to remain diplomatic and make sure everyone understands that change is a positive thing:
- Remind your in-house developers that they’re too valuable to your company to be working on projects like this
- Ask them about the projects they’ve had to put off just so that they can keep up with maintenance, support, and changes to your in-house help desk
- Get them thinking about the first thing they’ll tackle once they’ve got those cycles freed up
- Keep them involved in the entire research and acquisition process. Just because they won’t be as involved moving forward doesn’t mean that they aren’t a tremendous asset during the transition.
I think that hope can actually be the most dangerous of the 4 Deadly Sins of Service Management because it can keep you from addressing the systemic problems that arise from years of quick fixes.
Circling back to my chat with the Director of IT I mentioned earlier, his initial assumption was that if he found the right service desk, somehow all of his problems magically fade away. Unfortunately, that’s never the case. We continued exploring his current issues and what we found is that some of their legacy policies and procedures needed to be updated as well.
Once we had that settled, we worked that into his matrix of must-haves and nice to haves and he set off down a path that was previously hidden from him.
Hopefully this post gets you thinking about the emotions that impact your own decisions. Be sure to check out Part 2 of our series in the coming week too!