ITSM – reaching the goal with lean processes

ITSM (IT Service Management) is intended to help achieve a structured and uniform way of working through processes to prevent each employee working differently and the quality of the work being different. In addition, processes are to reduce the workload of the employees.

This basic idea of ITSM is often not given the necessary weighting when setting up a process and developing it further. Often it leads to processes not being lived or to bloated processes that achieve the goal of the process but are far too complex.

The desire for successful ITSM should not only be a structured, uniform way of working to achieve the goal, but also a professional approach to the customer. Customers are all users of the process, whether external or internal colleagues. Customers expect consistent quality and a constant process, even if different employees are responsible for the customers. This creates trust and a professional impression. Companies want transparency and measurability of individual activities, so that it is traceable how customer inquiries are processed or the workload is distributed. Processes offer both transparency through documented process flows and measurability, as critical success factors (CSF) should be defined and these CSFs can be measured using key performance indicators (KPI).

Every process should always be designed for efficiency and simplicity. Therefore, the following steps should be taken when designing and further developing:

The first step is to analyze each process or the existing working methods. The involvement of the executing employees is absolutely necessary for this.

The following questions should be asked when analyzing:

  • What is the goal of the process?
    • What are critical success factors?
  • Can the work become more efficient/simple?
  • Which requirements are given (legal requirements, requirements from the company, SLA’s with the customer)?
  • Are there interfaces to other processes, for example, that need to be considered?

The process employees should also be involved in the Drafting process. They are best placed to determine whether the process can be integrated into the daily work routine. The findings from the analysis phase should definitely be included here and always keep in mind that the process should be made easier and more efficient.

You should think about the tool support if a process is very complex and difficult to handle without a tool.

One of the most important elements of a process implementation is awareness of the stakeholders. Here, all stakeholders should be made aware of their benefits and changes with the reason. Processes are only lived if they are accepted by all parties.

The process must be enforced. It can only work if all stakeholders live the process. Here it is important to work against it again and again, if the process is not conformed to. If necessary, the process must be adapted, since this is probably not practicable in everyday work.

The further development of the process should be done continuously. All stakeholders should have the opportunity to make suggestions for improvement at any time.

An example: Confusion when working on tasks in internal IT

A company with approx. 100 employees and 3 IT staff has no process to process tasks in a structured and prioritized manner. The tasks arrive by phone, e-mail or in person at an IT employee of choice. Urgent topics often remain on hold for a long time, because the employees are always interrupted by the many small requests and lose the overview.

What would be a good approach here, after the steps mentioned above?

1. Analyze

  • What should change/is the goal?
    The internal IT department should be able to prioritize tasks and process them in a structured way.
  • Can the work become more efficient/simpler? Through a request fulfillment process, the workload of employees can be better distributed and customers have a channel to make requests centrally.

We neglect the other questions in the scenario because it is only an internal process and no interfaces are relevant in the first step.

2. Design process
Important points for the process design can be the following. Creating a central contact point for colleagues and setting guidelines for prioritizing requests.

3. Tool support
A ticket system in which requests by e-mail, telephone and in person are recorded would be a good support. Introduction of a central telephone number for requests.

4. Awareness
Both the IT staff and the requesters must be informed about the new process. It is important that the benefits are made clear (some examples):

  • Prioritized processing of requests
  • Central contact point, so that availability can be guaranteed at all times
  • For the IT staff: The possibility to work concentrated on one topic without being constantly interrupted.

5. Life (some necessary steps)
During the first weeks it is important to get IT staff and requesters used to the new process. This includes pointing out to the requester that IT employee “xy” is the central contact person at the moment. Calls to the IT employee of choice must be stopped and referred to the central contact person. The IT staff must be reminded again and again to maintain the tickets until this is done independently.

6. Further development (some ideas)
The process is already well established after a few weeks, but there are still uncertainties with the tool. Perhaps adjustments will have to be made here. The workload is already better distributed, but not yet optimal. For the distribution of the requests, criteria may still have to be defined.

Conclusion

Processes must be continuously improved, but at the same time kept lean, simple and efficient so that those involved in the process do not lose track of them. Introducing a simple process is better than working through tasks in an unstructured way. Frameworks such as ITIL, Cobit or FitSM are a good approach, but do not need to be applied to the full extent at the beginning. It is important to involve all stakeholders in the process design and to design the process in such a way that it can be integrated into the daily work routine.

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Monique Porner
IT-Services