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Welcome to the SysAid Blog - the place to go to find out where the IT industry is going, and what is SysAid’s role in it.

Watch the SysAdmin Day Movie Trailer: Revenge of the SysAdmin

Posted by on July 25, 2013 in General IT

 

Have you ever fantasized about what your life would be like if you, say, hired the Mafia to handle your service requests?


Hmmmm, interesting, right?

Well, SysAid has created a short, HILARIOUS movie trailer starring members of the SysAid team that combines the Sopranos and your daily life dealing with IT tasks and needy end users. 

Wishing you all a Happy SysAdmin Appreciation Day—we appreciate what you do as an IT admin every day!

Hope we gave you the gift of hysterical laughter on your special day.


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Call of Duty to Shape ITIL and the Best Management Practice Portfolios

Posted by on July 22, 2013 in ITIL
Axelos shapes ITIL Some time ago, I wrote about the latest happenings after the announcement by the UK Government Cabinet Office to enter into a joint venture with Capita for the Best Management Practice Portfolios. At the time, things were ominously silent on the communications front, but Capita had been busy buying up what looked like strategic purchases in view of the joint venture.

What’s Changed?

We know a lot more since that piece was published back in May. The concern for many in the industry was that maybe contributors who worked for vendors and clients in the industry would lose that sense of detachment in continuing to work now with a commercial competitor. But now, just three months on, there is a lot to reflect on, not all of it negative. At the Know 13 conference, representatives from NewCo (as it was called) engaged with key members of the ITSM community to set the new scene – The Red Herring in the Moat of Castle ITIL. And this month, NewCo has announced their new CEO, their new name and now the first of what should be a series of workshops involving more of the great and the good of the ITSM community. With the new CEO coming from games company Activision and the focus on gamification, I can be allowed the liberty of punning with a games title, but seriously – a lot has changed in a short space of time.

What’s Good?

The positive thing from this is that slowly but surely, the wheels of transformation are turning. AXELOS does not become fully operational until 1st January 2014, but in the meantime the initial hashtag of #jvlistening has now evolved into #AXELOSListening and most recently #AXELOSDOing. It is certainly a step in the right direction as they use the remaining five months to baseline their strategy and direction for the entire portfolio.

What Could Go Better?

AXELOS are in a tricky position. They need to keep the ITSM community engaged, many of whom take a pragmatic view when it comes to consulting and implementing solutions – many truly accepting that ITIL®, for example, are a set of guidelines and adapting (rather vigorously in some cases) as they go. But – they will have to accept that they cannot please everyone all of the time. Already there have been rumblings about who has been invited, who was not invited, what countries are in, what countries are out. So much so, it has started to resemble that time-honoured instrument of school torture – being picked for sports sides in the playground.

So What Can They Do?

At the moment very little except keep doing what they are doing. It is totally impractical to expect them to involve the entire body of the global community in one place, at peak holiday season for a number of workshops. But they will need to think about how to engage more than just the key names in Europe and the US. It is almost as though many, who have often consulted on or worked through messy transformations themselves have forgotten what is involved in literally moving from one company to another. Is it frustrating that some elements are slow to materialise (website, out-of-office notifications on enquiry emails)? Yes of course it is, but come on, it is nothing we have not seen ourselves over time. Bit by bit information is coming out – and to be honest if I look at what I wrote in this blog just two months ago, we had nothing to go on.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility?

I think that there are few good things to take out of the communications so far. I was lucky enough to meet up with a few of the people who had been invited to the ITSM sessions, many of whom I respect very highly within the industry. And towards the tail end of the evening, someone pointed out that the invitees find themselves with a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. They have been chosen as the first tranche of the community to help drive the direction of the best management practices. AXELOS have a lot to do post-workshops. They will need to schedule more, widen the net, analyse the results of the initial workshops and keep communicating. But the community is being offered the chance to help shape the new direction – who will answer that call of duty?
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How to Motivate Your IT Support Staff for Better Performance

Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Service Desk

Motivate your IT Help Desk staff

Increasing productivity should be a top priority for every IT support staff. In order to get more productivity from your staff, they need to be motivated. Contrary to popular belief, financial gain is not the sole motivator for all employees. Motivation comes from a variety of sources. In order for employees to perform better, it’s your duty to find out what motivates them.


Determine What Motivates Employees

The first step of improving your IT support staff’s performance is to determine what their motivators are. Humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow created a visual representation that describes the basic needs of all human beings called the Hierarchy of Needs. The chart is setup as a pyramid and consists of the following level from bottom to top:

  1. Physiological Needs. The basic needs necessary for human survival such as food, water, sleep, and air.
  2. Security Needs. The things that make you feel secure, such as stable employment, healthcare, a home.
  3. Social Needs. The need to belong - having friends, family, a loving relationship.
  4. Esteem Needs. Having personal worth, reflecting on your self-esteem, and personal value.
  5. Self-Actualization. As the highest level on Maslow’s chart, self-actualization is when you become self-aware and don't desire acceptance or approval from others.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is important because it helps determine the best way to motivate the individual members of the support staff depending on where they are in hierarchy. For example, a young entry level IT support intern is probably at the bottom level. In this case, simply having a job and making money could be enough to motivate him.

However, someone in a higher ranking position such as a support analyst may be higher up on the hierarchy. They could be motivated by the possibility of a promotion or recognition for their years of service. Once you know where an employee is in their life, it becomes easier to figure out how to motivate them.

Strong Leadership

Motivation starts from the top. When employees see that supervisors and high ranking executives are motivated, driven, and have a passion to succeed, they tend to absorb those same characteristics. Positivity is contagious. However, building relationships with your staff is even better.

Are you locked in your office all day, only dealing with executives below you? Take the time to walk around your IT department, listen and observe how your IT staff is handling requests and issues. Ask questions and listen to their needs. Are they happy with the IT management software you use? (I’m sure they are happy if you use SysAid). Does it increase their productivity? What is the hardest goal to accomplish and, why?

Set Goals AND Rewards

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is setting goals but failing to set rewards when the goals are attained. Setting a goal to decrease the response time to customer issues by 25% is great, but what do the employees get once this is achieved?

Intrinsic rewards such as a feeling of accomplishment will be enough for a few employees, but taking it a step further by giving some form of extrinsic rewards when company goals are meant will motivate the support staff to reach those goals both for the company and for themselves.

Positive Reinforcement

When employees feel like they have done something correctly, they try to repeat the same behavior. Taking the time to recognize employees who are on the right path and making a strong contribution to the support staff will motivate everyone to follow suit.

In the book The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, they describe a technique called the One Minute Appraisal. The One Minute Appraisal involves taking one minute out of your day to acknowledge and praise an employee when they have done something correctly. The theory is that these small positive interactions will help employees feel better about themselves and what they’re doing and ultimately perform better.

Develop a Team-Oriented Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is your company’s identity. It sets the stage for how the company operates, handles customers, how employees are treated and every other aspect of business. Creating a corporate culture that emphasizes the importance of employees (such as encouraging employees to be healthy) and working as a team will give employees motivation to perform at their best for the team and not just for themselves.

Many companies have taken this approach and have had tremendous success with employee morale and productivity such as Apple, Zappos, Google, and others.


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How Can Microsoft Win the Enterprise Customers Back in Windows 8.1?

Posted by on July 9, 2013 in General IT

Windows 8.1 for the Enterprise

SysAid recently released some amazing stats that show that the adoption rate of Windows 8 in the enterprise market is very low compared to the adoption rate of Windows 8 in the consumer market. (The same applies to past versions of Windows.) Having a Windows version that an enterprise would be interested in adopting is not only in Microsoft’s best interest, but also the enterprise’s. Company IT departments are so invested in the Microsoft environment, so a lack of progress for a long period of time can also mean a lack of progress in productivity.

Here are my 5 pieces of advice on how Microsoft can do better and offer a better solution for enterprises in future versions:


Problem 1 - UI changes in Windows 8 were too dramatic

I like changes in user interface (UI). Every product should be improved over time to offer a better user experience (UX), to give an answer to new technologies (e.g. touch devices) and update the design. However, when you have too many changes in one version, it confuses the users. Enterprise users are even more conservative about such changes. The solution for that problem is simply allowing the enterprise customers to keep some of the old Windows 7 UI elements (e.g. bringing back the start button). As a result, that will help people become more familiar with the new UI and also aid in dealing with resistance.

Problem 2 - Windows 8 was designed for tablets and not PCs

Microsoft declared that Windows 8 was designed for both tablets and PCs. If that's the case, they have made some wrong decisions with the design. Some aspects of the Windows 8 UI can work well in tablets but not in PCs. For example, the full screen apps are good for the small screen but why do I need the Skype app to use my entire 22" monitor? I would like to open Skype in one window and see the person I'm talking to and at the same time, read the document we are talking about. Microsoft should learn from Android makers who understand that creating an OS version that fits two types of devices takes some time. They declared Android 3 as a version only for tablets and had more time to design Android 4 that fits both tablets and smartphones. Microsoft should declare Windows 8 as a tablet version and work on a new version that works better with both tablets and PCs.

Problem 3 - Lack of ROI

Migrating from one OS to another is really a heavy investment for businesses. For such large investments, IT needs to show a return on investment. However, Windows 8 does not offer any new feature that can save money, make the business more productive, or even solve any problem. In order to win back the enterprise market, Microsoft needs to come up with a set of new features that have substantial benefits for the enterprise. One solution is to offer better management tools that reduce the IT management cost and the IT admin headaches.

Problem 4 - Windows 8 is also not attractive to the consumers

With the consumerization of enterprises (aka BYOD) , IT usually selects the devices that their end users love. Microsoft invested a lot of effort to create an OS that can compete with the iPad in the consumer market, however people don’t really like it. iPad has so much to offer consumers, it carries a huge variety of apps and provides a better ease of use. If Microsoft wants to see people bringing Windows tablets to work, they first need to make it attractive for them to use at home.

Problem 5 - Lack of marketing initiatives

Yes, I know Microsoft has spent billions on marketing Windows 8. However, they spent all that money on the consumers. They forgot the enterprise. And now IT workers lack the information needed about the version. I heard from a friend that he wanted to buy a Windows 8 Pro tablet so he could also use it for work. But in the end, he decided not to buy it after his IT guy said that Windows Pro tablets couldn’t connect to the corporate network. This is obviously not true. The IT guy just did not know the correct information. This is the responsibility of marketing to make sure the IT people know all the right details about the system.

I do not know if Microsoft can fix all of the above problems in one minor version (8.1) but at least they should start with an improvement process, show us that they are still thinking about the enterprise, and last but not least—not take us for granted.


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Behind the Scenes: Building a Website for a Software Company

Posted by on July 3, 2013 in General IT
Behind the Scenes: Building a Website for a Software Company So, how does one embark on the huge task of redesigning a website? While there are certain epiphanies and creative ideas that pop into your head as you do the most mundane things, like take a shower, the majority of website planning happens when you sit down and work through the bigger goals. While I won’t go through the more technical stages of website building that SysAid underwent (research, sitemap, wireframes, design/mockups, content, implementation and more), I will highlight the values that I chose to focus on and use as a compass throughout the website creation process. It is these values that kept the marketing team focused, mindful, and most of all, inspired.

Reflect the Product UI

The UI serves as the gateway between the user and their ability to easily and successfully use a product to its full capacity. Visitors recognize that and are therefore looking primarily for a software that is easy-to-use and nice to look at. While visitors can be impressed by a nicely designed website, if the software they are investing in doesn’t have that same look and feel, it’s really just a marketing gimmick. Therefore, a main goal of ours was to put the new SysAid product UI on display and give a true reflection of what the product is like to view, navigate, and use. SysAid has invested immeasurable time and energy into developing a clean UI that lets users easily navigate through the software, access all the features, and interact with SysAid exactly the way they are meant to. The entire new website reflects SysAid’s product UI and has similar usability as well. For example, our homepage is designed to say to our visitors as they enter our website: “This is the look and feel of SysAid; it’s polished, easy-to-navigate, and beautiful”. New SysAid Homepage

Give Visitors What THEY Want

Often companies forget that the function of a website is to give visitors the information they came searching for as easily as possible. As a Marcom Manager, I understand the desire to push marketing objectives to the front of a website, but building a website with the emphasis solely on marketing strategies means nothing if it doesn’t take into consideration what the visitors want to see. This means taking the time to do extensive research on the behavior of visitors, such as discovering which pages they are visiting the most, the click-through rate (CTR), and which pages they spend the most time on. Using great tools like Google Analytics we collected data and discovered the main interests of our visitors. From there, we designed a website focused on making these pages front and center, thereby offering our visitors just what they came looking for! Circles on homepage

Navigation, Navigation, Navigation

After discovering what our visitors were primarily looking for, the final goal was to make this information easy to access with a simple and focused navigation. Things like stuffy, crowded menus or 5 different buttons on a page overwhelms visitors and makes their website experience confusing. So, we polished up the menu to be cleaner and shorter, and also made it a “sticky menu” (a menu that stays within the visitors view) so that visitors have access to the menu even when they scroll down a page allowing them to navigate the site from wherever they are on the website. sysaid-menu-563.jpg We implemented other navigation techniques based on our research and added a search bar for those who wanted to quickly drill down on a specific topic. Search bar To summarize, SysAid’s website is built on the interests of our visitors, and is intuitive and easy-to-navigate no matter what page a visitor is on. Now that we have launched there is a lot to be done! Next steps include monitoring the analytics and making educated suggestions on how to improve the site. It’s impossible to get everything right on the first try, so now is the time to learn from how the visitors use the site and make improvements based on this.
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Release Preview: SysAid’s Fresh User Interface!

Posted by on July 1, 2013 in SysAid
SysAid Service Desk Fresh UI We have been more-than-hinting for some time now about the cool stuff we’ve been working on here at SysAid, particularly the user interface (UI) makeover on the Service Desk, which started about one year ago. Our Chief Product Designer, Maurice Hason, writes all about the process here. So many customers on Facebook and Twitter have been asking me for screenshots and sneak peeks but I was sworn to secrecy :). Today, though, we are thrilled to announce the Release Preview of our next version of SysAid that includes the first phase of the new UI.
After months of research, including observations of user behavior, we reorganized the way the SysAid menu items appear in a more structured, logical, and intuitive way. Watch the video below to see for yourself:

So What’s New?

  • We created a main menu that includes the functionalities most used, according to the surveys we conducted.
  • We took all of the system settings and put them in one place according to their topics.
  • We created a Personal Menu.
  • We reorganized all the functionalities into 4 main categories:
  • Service Desk
  • Assets
  • Analytics
  • Tools
And this is just the beginning. We've got lots more ahead.

Check It Out Now

If you want to play around with the new UI, you can see it from the instant demo on our website or even sign-up for a new Trial from the homepage, which now offers the SysAid version with the new UI. To orient yourself, we've created a table showing locations of elements in the old UI versus the new – see https://www.sysaid.com/help-page.htm?helpPageId=9617&edition=2.

What’s Ahead?

During August we’ll be rolling out the upgrade gradually for SysAid Cloud. If you have any concerns or questions, or wish to test it out beforehand, simply email us at support@sysaid.com or contact your account manager. Also in August: the On-Premise Beta will be released with lots of fixes and the new UI.
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The Process of Giving a Facelift to an IT Management Software

Posted by on June 26, 2013 in General IT
ITSM Solution Facelift User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) is not a new topic. I remember two decades ago it was called MMI (machine man interface) and was given other assorted names over the years. However, in more recent years it has become increasingly more important as we see new applications and technologies like Google/Gmail, iPhone , Facebook, Twitter and others educating users to a certain experience when interacting with software. I work at an IT management software company whose core product was developed 10 years ago. We had a major face-lifting six years ago that reached the end of life, and now we have been working for the past 12 months to create a new innovated user interface that will give the best experience to people using our software. The work included a lot of research. The research was fascinating. We examined the most used pages, the most common flows, mouse movements and more. We did this by physically watching users (who volunteered) while they worked in the current version of the software.
We know there are different roles that use the software, hence we worked on a solution that fit most use cases. During the process we had several options for almost every element. And I can tell you up front that with the professional team I worked with, there were very few definitive rights and wrongs. Instead, for every dilemma, we uncovered the pros and cons. Then, gathering together all the knowledge we accumulated—we took decisions. Planning a project of this scale for existing software was very challenging due to the simple fact that the software already exists. It is not new software we are planning, and with every new element we introduce, we need to be sure that we take into consideration all the functionality and usage of the existing elements. We not only need to make sure we don't break any existing functionality, we want to improve the experience and add functionality where possible. So we created prototypes, shared them with study groups, and had votes in various junctions to back up our decisions. After we finalized the content for the upcoming version, we sat with R&D and explained our requirements. R&D translated our requirements to the required infrastructure they need to build including new UI engine changes in existing code and much more. They dedicated a team and launched the process, of course in an agile method. When the first deliveries started being available, we were like children playing with a new toy, seeing our vision starting to come to life. It was an amazing process—the R&D engineers reacted very quickly to our comments, and fine tuning the issues that did come up were solved within the same day or later that week! Recently we launched an internal Alpha release with a few dozen users, and we stared getting genuine feedbacks. We are thrilled that so much of the inputs were positive, and the points raised were very valuable and carefully reviewed and passed to R&D. A lot of the issues raised were related to various options we considered during the research process, which were shared with the users, and they agreed that it is not a question of right or wrong—it's all about pros and cons, and as long as the balance is in favor of pros, we are on the right road! I am excited about the upcoming release where within weeks, thousands of users will encounter the new UI and find a new, innovated and exciting upgraded experience that helps them perform their day- to-day tasks more efficiently—and with a smile :).
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How Much Should a Good Service Desk Software Cost?

Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Service Desk

How Much Should a Good Service Desk Software Cost?

As someone who has been in the IT services industry for several years, I am often asked - what is the right price to pay for a help desk solution?

This seems to be a very easy and straight forward question to answer, however it is also one of the more challenging questions, and in this blog post I will try to explain why.


The first question you should ask yourself when looking at help desk solutions isn't necessarily how much does it cost, but rather it should be what am I looking to achieve from having a help desk software. For example, is your goal to make your IT department more efficient, improve their operational flexibility, or create a knowledge base for time optimization?

Having a solution that saves you time will save you money, and make much happier end users – including your CEO, who you always want to keep happy.

The next issue to tackle is: where should I start?

Most IT managers look for a solution that solves a temporary issue. However, they should be looking at the big picture, whether it is a better way to control their assets, ITIL work flows, or mobile device management (MDM), among others. Regardless of the specific issues, they must consider the following questions:

  • What will their IT department look like in the future?
  • Will the service desk software grow along with them?
  • What additional functionality does the software offer that they do not use at the moment, and more important, why don't they use it?

I have seen over time how IT managers are always happy to learn more about new features and modules that can assist them in making their department more productive. Once they see how it can work for them, they are willing to spend a bit more for future growth.

The last question I would advise for you to address is: which system should I choose?

There are many solutions in the market ranging from multimillion-dollar implementations to free systems.

You should look for something in between. Free systems often lack important features and support and there is no guarantee they will grow with you, while expensive solutions tend to be over complicated and have long implementation processes.

Ideally, I would go for a cloud-based or install scalable solution. But remember to use the solution that will work best for your organization and one with a reasonable implementation process so that the time to production is minimized.

Good luck on your hunt!


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8 Cool iPhone Features That You May Not Even Know Exist

Posted by on June 11, 2013 in General IT
For all those iPhone users out there who like to discover new features that they have and don't know about (also known as the surprise factor), I am putting together here a few tips I found over the past few months, I personally was surprised by most of them, and I actually use them in my day-to-day activities, so I thought you may also enjoy them. Now, I know I am not the only iPhone user out there who knows a thing or two about the device, and I told myself that besides the tips I know, let's see if other iPhone users from SysAid could help. So I went social and asked all iPhone users in the company to contribute to this blog—making this the first crowd-sourced blog post written by us. I'll probably blog about the process in the near future....it was fun! So a big thanks to all SysAid employees for their suggestions as well as the WOW inputs from the rest of the team who maybe didn't have ideas but "liked" specific tips that were posted, thereby helping me to sort and filter out the best ones.
Here goes: 1. Built-in dictionary to look up definitions of words. Just select a word and then launch the option Define: Highlight words to define iPhone Features 2. Speak - yes you saw that correctly - the image above also has a "Speak" option. You can find the speaking options under Settings -> General -> Accessibility. Turn it on and you can instantly have a paragraph read to you when you highlight it. I use it when I am driving and get an important email. One click and all the email is read to me clearly at the speed of my choice...and I can drive safely! 3. Blinking lights when a call arrives, or a notification. Those of you who saw my iPhone set off the flash on its own and asked me how I am taking pictures without touching the phone...I am not taking pictures, I am getting Alerts. There is a way to take pics without touching your iPhone, and you can find that in the next tip. Meanwhile, set your iPhone to use the LED flash for Alerts by turning the option ON, under Settings -> General -> Accessibility. 4. Take a photo from your iPhone headphone. You probably know by now that from the camera mode, you can push the volume buttons on the side of the iPhone to take a picture (if you didn't know that, then you just got an additional tip). But anyways, the same goes for the headphone—simply click the middle button to take a photo. 5. Easy scrolling. If you are reading a long email or web page, tapping the bar at the top of the screen (the black bar with the cellular provider's name) will scroll the page upwards to the beginning. 6. Lock the iPhone's screen orientation. Did you know you can lock the orientation? Just double-tap the home button, swipe right, and click the icon on the left-most side. Lock iPhone's screen orientation 7. Preview photos quickly. To preview a photo that you just took (without leaving the Camera app) swipe your finger from left to right over the screen. 8. Last one - Anybody hear about the language Emoji? In the long list of keyboards you can add, there is an interesting language built into all iPhones and it's called Emoji (you know those cute little emoticons?). You do not have to download an app for this! Just go to Settings -> General -> Keyboards, then Add New Keyboard… Emoji. Using the Emoji keyboard Hope you all enjoyed this blog, If I was able to pass on at least one good feature that you didn’t know about and you found useful, please share with your friends :).
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Effective IT Change Management: How to Get Everyone On Board

Posted by on June 5, 2013 in ITIL
Change Management - Love it or Fear it? I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person. I’ve been working in ITSM for many years and I understand the mechanics behind change, but it has always been one of the hardest, most arduous of processes to get right. For those who may be new to ITIL and Change Management, the textbook definition defines change as: "The addition, modification or removal of anything that could have an effect on IT services." What this means is, the scope for change management could cover anything from the architecture, the processes themselves, alterations in the tool as well as physical changes to the assets themselves. As an ITSM Architect, testing change records through whatever tool I had deployed, reviewing process documents talking about lead times into the mists of the future, I found myself musing as to why things get so complicated. Who best to help me tackle this than a former change manager, of course!
Claire Agutter has been an ITIL® principle lecturer since 2007, involved in exam panels for ITIL V2 and V3 and provides online ITIL training through IT Training Zone Ltd. Claire gained her practical experience of ITIL in the real world, including change management at the UK Highways Agency.

Why Are People Suspicious of Change Management?

One of the dangers, when organisations implement change management is to go too deep too soon, and Claire identified two ways that change management can be utterly messed up. She said: "One way is to not do enough and you still see changes failing, and the other is to say 'Right, you just moved a piece of paper, that's a change.' "That will get you unpopular fairly quickly." Do any of these sound familiar? The following are realities, just accept it:
  • Nobody wants change, everybody complains when changes go wrong, and you experience resistance from every single front you find.
  • Techies do not like it, because they think it is someone coming in and telling them what to do: "I wanted to come in and do a change this weekend, and Change Management told me I couldn’t."
  • Managers do not like it because it is more meetings to go to, and more boxes to tick.
  • Suppliers do not like it, because they have to integrate with it, and it creates more work for them.
  • Surprisingly, the business does not like it as well and can sometimes see it as a backwards step.
Looking at the last point, change management comes in at a specific point in an organisation's evolution. Before the process, there tended to be an informal arrangement so when that immediate response is removed, it can be a factor. Claire explained: "You only get once chance to get it right, because if you try and bring something in that doesn't work, what you then create is even more resistance because next time you try and improve things, you just get a wall of people with their arms folded. "It tends to be a more emotional reaction to change management than to other processes, certainly from the technical staff perspective, because you've got somebody coming in and trying to tell you how to do your job." Sometimes even the way offices are set up lends themselves to resistance. Both of us agreed that often service management are placed apart from the technical teams, requiring a walk across office floors, building lobbies to get to the technical teams.

How Do You Sell It To Everyone?

Claire believes that the sales pitch is wrong. "People see change management as quite a bureaucratic process—the messages are about control, documentation, authorisation—they tend to be words that people are not particularly interested in hearing!" The key is a high level vision. Claire explained: "We implement changes for two reasons—to make things better or fix things, or because we need to avoid a cost or make a saving. "Change management is about delivering those benefits, in the order that the business wants, and delivering them in the safest possible way. "The sales pitch has to be about why we’re doing this, not what we're doing." It is important to back with up with some context. Some organisations would rather have things quickly that do not work very well rather than trying to implement a 16-step process, with a six week lead time. Looking at the broader organisation context, change management is there to protect the business, and to deliver what they need.

Why Should People Like Change?

One size does not fit all, so you need to understand what level of change management needs to be applied to different sizes of change. It comes back to vision and doing change because it is giving the business what it wants. Maybe look at it from a customer/consumer's perspective. We take IT for granted until it stops working, but how much do customers have to engage with the change management process? It is a part of an implicit trust that you have with a service provider, that they know what they are doing and that they do it in a controlled way. We have to recognise that IT systems will fail. Claire said: "Quite often, system failures are liked to changes, and at least if you are doing some change management, you have got a clue about what might happen, and how to roll back to a working state."

The Culture and the Drama

Take a look at the culture of your organisation—does it reward fire-fighting and heroes? People love a good drama—if you implemented a change that has gone wrong, and you get to fix it, it can be quite exciting. If it is spun well to the business, teams actually look like heroes. It all went horribly wrong, but WE fixed it, because we're clever. How do you move people from being reactive and getting a buzz out of it, to being proactive. Both Claire and I agreed that we are big fans of re-using what already exists. If you have something that works fairly well, grab it, use it, and do not re-invent the wheel. Change itself is frightening, and most organisations get by with what they have had for the past 5, 10, or maybe even 15 years. So when someone comes back, all enthusiastic, from their Foundation course, you come back to the resistance to try something new, or maybe try something again.

Communication is Key

We have looked at vision, and the real reason why change management is important, but often the other stumbling block is a lack of communication.
  • Get your vision, and then tell people what you are doing and why.
  • Explain it at the right level—less about filling this form, and more about protecting the business.
  • Tie it to things that went wrong.
  • You need rewards for engaging with the process, and you need consequences for bypassing it.

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