Clients often engage me to assess their ITSM maturity. During the assessment, I am introduced to the client’s culture, their knowledge of ITSM, and how they operate. To assess the current state of ITSM within the IT Organization, I begin by conducting interviews with employees; IT Leads, Process Managers, process “users”, etc. I often find that there is a disconnect between the Process Managers and the users. This occurs when it comes to the existence, usage of, and maturity of the ITSM processes. This disconnect is an example of “The Checklist Illusion” where it’s believed that because something exists (e.g., “Problem Management? We’ve got a process document for that! Check it off the list.”) it’s effectively and efficiently utilized.
Below are some common responses to the question “Do you have X Process (e.g., Problem Management) defined and embedded?” that might be a clue ITSM in your IT Organization is experiencing The Checklist Illusion:
“We have a document for that.”
If the Process Manager provides this response, it usually means “Yes, we do have this Process and it’s embedded”. If a Lead or practitioner says this, it usually means “We have a document on this, and I might even know where that is”. No one references it or reviews it since its creation.”
It’s important to keep Process and Procedure documents alive by:
- Reviewing them on a regular basis
- Referencing them when appropriate (e.g., during a Root Cause Analysis meeting)
- Reminding IT they exist, their purpose, their benefits
It’s important to walk new IT staff through the process and use of the documents. It is not sufficient to give a new team member a link to the documents then check “trained on process” off the list!
“Our ITSM Tool has that capability.”
ITSM Tools today are very robust and often have modules to create records for many ITIL processes. However, the existence of these modules does not guarantee their proper or consistent use, or if they’ll be used at all within the IT Organization. I’ve seen a Project Management team use the Problem Management module of a tool to create issue tickets. The reason? “Because no one else was”. Then when I asked the ITSM Manager if they had Problem Management in place, I was told “[Our ITSM Tool] has that capability and see there are even records in the Problem Management module.”
Ensure defined processes and those with Agent/Support access to your ITSM Tool know how it supports those processes. I also recommend hiding modules you’re not ready to use from the Platform menu to prevent premature or accidental usage.
“We had training on ITSM maturity once.”
This response is often indicative of a process being implemented and proper training given at the time. Unfortunately, the lacking momentum failed to maintain to embed (and even improve) the process. As a result, they lost the intended and expected value. After a process implementation, everyone needs refresher training and reminders about the benefits. New members of staff need to have initial training – ideally by the Process Manager who should ensure alignment of the training with the goals and benefits of the process. If there is a lapse of time since the last training, more than likely the team hasn’t followed the process as intended (if at all). Results and benefits can’t occur without proper training.
“We have reports that measure that.”
If there’s one thing ITSM loves, it’s reports. And every ITSM platform comes with several “canned” reports. Is there alignment between your reports and your targets? Does your team review the reports regularly for progress? If so, who reviews them? (Management? Agents who impact the results?) Are successes and improvements promoted? Does the organization re-evaluate targets? When the IT focus needs to change, do they remove targets and add new ones? This can occur when IT focus needs to change to align with Business’s change in focus?
I often advise that reports are the starting point to ask questions, dig deeper, and make decisions. Simply having and distributing reports is not enough. You need to regularly review them with the right audience, evaluate whether the targets should still be the focus, and if the results you are seeing are what you want to be seeing – and if not, why not?
Is “The Checklist Illusion” impacting the success of ITSM maturity in your Organization?
Here are some of the corrective actions you can take:
- Ensure there is a Process Owner / Manager for each process you have in place. The process owner ensures the team follows, embeds and improves the process. While it might not be appropriate for your IT Organization to have one Owner / Manager per process, in order to commit sufficient time to the role, it’s key that this person isn’t wearing all of the ITSM hats (i.e., Please do not make your Service Desk Manager the Incident, Problem, Change, and Asset Manager as well.).
- Identify all stale documents, procedures, reports, targets, etc. and develop an approach to review, revitalize – and in some cases – relaunch them. Determine and commit to the frequency of review and follow-up to ensure they do not go dormant again.
- Engage those in IT who will be using the processes and ask for their help in being part of the renewal of ITSM. Getting the right partners on your side will go a long way in reducing the resistance and providing the energy to move forward with re-introduction and maintain momentum.
- Engage a consulting firm [insert marketing plug for ClearBridge] to review your current state and identify recommendations and next-step planning to get your ITSM Program on track to benefit IT and the Business.