If you’ve been around IT service management (ITSM) for any time, you can easily recite the three aspects of ITSM: people, process, and technology.
Frankly, the best way to implement ITSM is to first address the “people,” then develop “processes,” and then put into operation the “technology.” Some organizations follow this approach and have great success. But many organizations jump from a cursory look at “people” directly to the “technology” in their ITSM implementations. Still, other organizations just start with “technology,” hoping for a quick, out-of-the-box fix to their service management challenges.
In my opinion, “technology” is always the easiest part of the equation. Typically, ITSM technology takes the form of a software solution that captures tickets, routes work, and perhaps features a self-service portal. These solutions have been tested against typical use cases and, generally speaking, they work.
However, “people” continues to be the most critical aspect of any ITSM implementation. The "people" part of ITSM requires some time and effort. Anchoring ITSM into the organization means a change of the collective mindsets of individuals. This shift demands more than just a couple of training classes and a smattering of emails, ITSM success relies on the engagement, buy-in, and support of all people involved.
Which brings me to “process.”
A process is a defined sequence of activities that transform inputs into outputs. Why do so many organizations 'dance around' process design?
Because. Process. Is. Hard.
Because process design and implementation mean that as an organization, you’re putting a stake in the ground. You are committing to a way (not umpteen ways) of doing something.
But the design of process is only part of the challenge.
While technology does enable and underpin processes, process definition alone is not enough.
One of the most significant challenges with the way we do things today is that even when we take the time to design and implement "process," there is little guarantee that people will follow said process.
Even if people follow the defined process, there are huge challenges. For example:
But be warned. Despite the challenges of process use, short-cut process design at your own peril. Not just because "process" is such a critical component of ITSM now. It’s because of the emerging fourth aspect of ITSM: automation.
It’s one thing to design and document a process – and hope that people use and follow it. It is quite another thing to have a computer do something with a process.
Automation ensures that processes are followed. And if processes are the way to scale an organization, automation operationalizes that.
TechTarget.com defines IT automation as “the use of instructions to create a repeated process that replaces an IT professional's manual work…The scope of IT automation ranges from single actions to discrete sequences and, ultimately, to an autonomous IT deployment that takes actions based on user behavior and other event triggers.”
People can do more value-added work if they are given the time. Defining processes have long been considered the way to scale. But automation takes it up a notch – automation makes scaling operational.
Perhaps in some ways, automation is nothing new. What’s new, however, is how automation is changing ITSM.
The rapidly and ever-evolving technology landscape is going to change how we do ITSM.
But it all starts with defining processes. Defined process enables automation. Automation opens the door to a more advanced use of technologies, like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Know this – you won’t get there if your process designs are weak, not fit-for-use, not fit-for-purpose, or require constant manual intervention.
Ready to automate? Before you invest in technology, here are my 5 things to do to get ready for ITSM automation:
Automation done well and done appropriately frees up valuable time for people to do the “people things” that are so critical to good ITSM – problem-solving, relationship building, communication, and innovation. And as companies enter the digital age where customer and user experience are so critical, automation will ensure a consistent experience.