Here’s a question that a candidate posed on the ITIL candidate

 “I’ve been on an ITIL V3 Foundation course and now my boss thinks I can implement ITIL best practices. What do I do next? All calls are being directed to the “IT Support” staff via emails and verbally. I’ve got no way of tracking my work and my boss wants to see ROI almost instantly!”

See below for the advice we gave this candidate. What would you say to him?

It seems that you can see you need to implement a Service Desk system for Incident, Problem and Change Management but you’ve got nothing in place at the moment and budgets are tight.

We think you need to persuade your boss that you need a Service Desk and get some external help to get everything in place.

While the guidance contained within ITIL is applicable to all organizations, implementing a service management solution is different for every organization. This is because it depends on factors such as where they are currently, where they want to be (and how quickly), what resources they have, etc.

It is very difficult for organizations to achieve everything without some external assistance. This is usually because there aren’t “spare” resources internally who can devote all their time to the complex challenge of defining and implementing new processes – and it isn’t just a case of taking what’s written in the books!

Even if the organization doesn’t wish to implement all the ITSM processes in full (there may not be an imperative to do so), there needs to be a big picture within which decisions at lower levels can be made. Clearly this aspect needs major internal involvement.

Some of the choices are therefore:

  1. Take on some temporary staff to perform the current day-to-day work while internal resources are focused on ITSM development
  2. Take on some temporary “ITIL-qualified” staff to work with internal people on the ITSM development
  3. Hire some external consultants to develop the solution for you.

Option 3 can be expensive and is not always viable.  But 1 or 2 or combinations of them often prove successful. The key is to ensure that knowledge is passed from any external experts and remains in-house, embedded in the processes and the people who will execute them.

Yes, this does mean expenditure, but a successful solution will repay this outlay over and over. Try to quantify some of the things that are happening at present:

  • How many issues keep cropping up repeatedly?
  • How many changes don’t work first time?
  • How many lead to subsequent issues?
  • How do you ensure accurate tracking and accounting for assets?
  • How do you make sure you have adequate resources in the right place at the right time without over-engineering (and thus overpaying)?
  • Are the users happy with what they’re getting?
  • Can you provide timely and accurate performance info to the business?
  • Does the business understand what it’s paying for and whether that represents value for money?

It should be possible to translate some/all of these into hard currency costs to the business – and thus show how improvements will lead to medium and long term, sustainable savings. Talk to the business about value – not cost. Effective ITSM allows them to be in control and make decisions based on value.

It would be a good idea to join the itSMF and plug into some of their members and events; see how others have benefited and what they have done that works (or doesn’t!).

Bottom line: Service improvement programmes cost money. Trying to do it on top of doing the day job almost always fails. Getting it right leads to real demonstrable value. And don’t forget, if you’ve completed your ITIL Foundation you should take a close look at the scheme and pick some intermediate modules that will be most appropriate for you too!