Searching for the ITSM silver bullet

ITSM Jones and the Search for the Silver Bullet

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We join our protagonist, Isaac Thomas Smyth Jones (or “ITSM Jones” as he prefers to be called), as he reflects on his search for the Silver Bullet of ITSM. He had been searching for years for this Silver Bullet of lore that would solve all of his service management issues in a matter of days, if not hours. Ignoring the pundits, his quest for this Silver Bullet had taken him to all corners of the ITSM world, frequently encountering the solution that absolutely was that Silver Bullet that he so desperately wanted (and often on which his management bonus depended!). He returned from each quest with that magic solution in-hand, implemented what he thought had to be ‘The Answer’, only to become frustrated when his challenges were never quite resolved.

Where did ITSM Jones’ quest for the Silver Bullet take him?

Discovery is the answer

The first Silver Bullet was a discovery tool. ITSM Jones scanned the entire network, identifying and capturing all of the data found on any network-attached device, and dumping that data into a repository and calling that a “CMDB”. Alas, that was not the Silver Bullet, as he really didn’t define any Service Models within his CMDB, much less identify the critical information he needed to manage services. Instead, he found himself with more data than he needed, impossible to manage.

No, it must be a Service Catalog!

He then decided that developing a Service Catalog was the Silver Bullet, and began to list every application, every product, and every activity of the IT organization as the “services” within that catalog. Alas, that was not the Silver Bullet either, as what he listed in this catalog were in fact not services that resulted from the agreed strategy between the business and the IT organization. ITSM Jones could not use this catalog to articulate the outcomes or value delivered by IT in terms that were understandable by those within the business.

Ah…the ‘out-of-the-box’ ITSM toolset

But ITSM Jones was undaunted. As he continued his quest, he came upon the idea of buying an ITSM tool and implementing it right out of the box, without doing any type of configuration or tailoring.   After the new ITSM tool went into production, indeed the Service Desk was able to start logging incidents and requests, and routing tickets within the IT organization. Surely, this was the Silver Bullet for which he had searched for so long. But soon users of the new ITSM tool became frustrated, as it didn’t quite meet the unique requirements of the business. Those in the IT organization became frustrated as well, and reverted back to their old ways of tracking and managing their work. Again, no Silver Bullet.

The answer must lie in training

Then, the idea hit him. He needed to send members of his team away for three days of training, so that they could properly design and architect the complete ITSM environment! Why hadn’t he thought of that before? His team would learn everything they needed to know about defining processes and services and organizational change to be successful in the ITSM implementation. But, as you might have guessed, that was no Silver Bullet either.

Don’t misunderstand. Everything that ITSM Jones thought was the Silver Bullet may very well contribute to a successful improvement program. ITSM tools, CMDBs, Service Catalogs, training – all can contribute to success.

Sadly, there really is NO silver bullet

The truth is that there are only two places where you will ever find a Silver Bullet – in the movies (specifically movies about vampires or masked lawmen from the Old West) and in a bar. That’s it. Especially when it comes to ITSM, there is no Silver Bullet. And despite the many claims of having the ultimate solution, whether it be a tool, methodology, consulting, or training, success in an ITSM implementation always comes down to these same principles:

  • Plan your work, then work your plan – What are the goals and objectives of your ITSM implementation? Where are you now? What do you need to do to achieve your goals and objectives?
  • Always communicate – Keep all stakeholders informed of your progress and your setbacks. By doing so, you become a credible partner to your business.
  • Don’t lose sight of the ‘big picture’ – ITSM must deliver value to the business. Adapt best practices and then do what’s right for your business, not just what someone thinks you should do
  • Measure what you do, report on what you measure, act on what you report – The old saying is true: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. But before you begin measuring and creating reports, first think about what decisions you’ll be faced with as you manage your ITSM implementation. Then identify the data you need in order to make informed decisions. Now you’re ready to measure and report. Don’t just measure or create reports just for the sake of doing it.
  • Utilize a steady approach to implementation, with a dose of urgency – Implement ITSM processes too slowly, and the business will lose interest. Rollout ITSM processes too aggressively, and improvements will not stick
  • Share your knowledge and learn from each other – ITSM implementation teams are better when everyone contributes and shares their unique skills, perspectives, and knowledge
  • Continually improve – Strive for progress, not perfection. Your first wave of ITSM implementations should not be your last – but it should identify improvement opportunities. Keep in mind that if you’re not continually improving, you are becoming obsolete.
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Doug Tedder is the principal of Tedder Consulting LLC, an ITSM and IT Governance consultancy based in Fishers, Indiana. Doug is a strategic, innovative, and solutions-driven service management professional with over twenty five years of experience across a variety of industries. He is a resourceful, pragmatic, and hands-on leader with a proven track record of success implementing ITSM, focusing on value delivery and organizational transformation. Doug holds the ITIL® Expert, ITIL® Service Manager, ISO/IEC 20000 Consultant Manager, and other industry certifications. He is peer-recognized as a Fellow in Service Management (FSM TM). Doug is also a certified ITIL® Foundation and HDI trainer. An active volunteer within the ITSM community, Doug is a frequent presenter and contributor at industry user group meetings, webinars, and conferences. He is a member and former president of itSMF USA, as well as a member of HDI.