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IT S&M Pain or Pleasure – IT Service Management

IT Service Management

Many organisations know about this thing called IT Service Management and hear consultants claiming to have the come up with THE silver bullet to take away all your pain, or the new shiny, washes whiter than white approach, but …this is article is about the things that can go wrong and the successes in the real world.

In this three-part blog I would like to talk about some areas of IT Service Management where things can go right and be worthwhile, where things can and have gone wrong (speaking from experience) and what lessons can be learnt.

The initial areas are:

  • Resistance to Change
  • Implementation of Event and Availability Management
  • Major Incident Management

Resistance to Change

Resistance to any type of change can come about through many different ways.

  1. Cultural changes – This can range from the implementation of new team structures or shifts to new management coming in or a reduction in team sizes. Many different areas cover cultural changes and can lead to resistance. We’ll cover this is a bit more detail further on.
  2. Resistance by customers or users. Change can be seen by customers or users as just another way to make life harder for them, or to remove their favourite support technician from their grasp.
    This is a key area that needs to be addressed as early in the change process as the team members being affected. If you get this wrong at the start, it can take a lot longer to put right later.

    1. Something I have seen but did not expect was around changes to Service Management toolsets. One of these issues was partially of my own doing and one was at a client site before I started there.

I’m sure we have all worked somewhere where the main IT Service Management toolset has not been to everyone’s liking. Either it’s not intuitive, there’s too many fields / not enough fields, reporting is cumbersome, the screens doesn’t look pretty enough…..

Yet I have been in organisations where changes of toolset have brought about resistance from the most unexpected areas. Many people just don’t like you to change the tool that they like to complain about. The best way around this resistance is to engage as many people as you can.

Key users will, of course, be involved in the process of understanding what was wrong with the old one and what is trying to be fixed. These people will be the main inputs into your requirements gathering exercise. (You are doing that, aren’t you?) However, don’t forget to ask the team that use the tool occasionally.   Their input is just as important to the success of the project, as anybody elses.

Also, don’t expect that just because people sign off on a new toolset and agree that it will deliver all of their requirements, that they will be happy. We are dealing with people here. Of the holy trinity of People, Process and Tool, People are the hardest ones to get right. But also the most important.


The pain of this resistance to change; what can go wrong?

Poor team spirit

If this isn’t handled correctly, one person’s negative view of a change can bring down the rest of the team’s view. Too often I have seen a minority, change the majority’s mind-set through continual complaining and negativity.

This poor team spirit has the ability to also be concentrated on the management or leadership of a team. ‘Why are you allowing this to happen to us?’ It may have one positive aspect, of pulling the team together, but if it is still in a negative way then that helps no-one; you still have resistance to the change and that can take months to put right.

If you discover a negative aspect to somebody’s attitude, address it a quickly as possible. This does not mean that you crush them, but rather you understand the issues and address them in the best way possible. This might require improved communication or training, or a complete re-evaluation of the approach and change of direction.

Customer Resistance

Potentially the worst of these areas of resistance, however, is a breakdown between the teams and the users or customers.

This is generally for a couple of reasons

  • Your customers won’t talk to or work with the team because of the negative attitudes or disruptive ways of working (see above), or the customer will ignore new ways of working because they “liked the other way”.
  • If customers won’t change and they continue to do things like ring their favourite person direct, then that is harder to address.

Continue the story of customer resistence in the next edition of this IT Service Management three-part blog

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