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ITSM in the New Normal – a Crowdsourced Perspective
Intentionally or not, the pandemic has demonstrated to employees that most of the so-called reasons that things had to work a certain way were just someone’s opinion, based on an arbitrary decision, or worse, nothing more than a power-trip.
By Sophie Danby Published on ITSM Tools
We’re yet to be fully past the awful impact of the COVID-19 crisis but the world is slowly returning to normal – socially and commercially – although what we have now is being called the “new normal” by many. So much changed with the pandemic that it’s important for IT organizations to firstly realize that IT service delivery and support will likely never be the same. And, secondly, that the rest of 2020 and beyond needs to be planned for again, with the strategic and operational impact of the “new normal” driving new ways of working.
To help your organization’s adaptation to the “new normal,” I’ve collected the wise words of a number of IT service management (ITSM) authorities from different walks of work life – asking them “How to Prepare for the ‘New Normal’ in ITSM?” It’s a long read, so I suggest you grab a cup of coffee before you start.
Claire Agutter, Director, Scopism
The coronavirus pandemic has generated more advice, analysis, and content than any other event I can remember. How do we prepare for the “new normal” in ITSM? Until we know what “normal” will look like, it’s hard to say. But there are three steps that I believe ITSM practitioners can and should be taking now to prepare for whatever the future brings:
Seize the opportunity. There’s no time like the present! Many of us know from sad experience that the best time to get funding for business continuity or cyber security initiatives is in the aftermath of a major incident. Technology is holding many organizations together right now – it’s the perfect time to think about your future strategy and what architecture you need to have in place to support it. Make the most of being at the top of the C-suite’s agenda, and put technology at the heart of your organization’s strategy. We should not be planning to go back to the same structure as before – let’s make things better.
Accept that there’s no such thing as normal. The pandemic has created changes that many organizations didn’t plan for. The idea of global travel shutting down, offices closing, and cities being deserted is beyond many of the scenarios in use. We don’t know what the future will look like. So how do we adapt? Resilience is going to be a key competency for successful organizations. Rather than preparing plans for every single possible scenario, organizations need to develop the mindset and behaviors that will allow them to react and change, no matter what the world throws at them. Agility needs to be embedded across all of the organization’s capabilities. For ITSM practitioners, this includes thinking “beyond process”, and looking at how decision making, accountability, and empowerment are cascaded throughout the service management organization. When an exceptional situation demands an exceptional response, do you have the structures in place to support it? VeriSM’s service management principles are a great example of guardrails that allow ITSM teams to respond quickly, while understanding the constraints they operate within.
Protect your people. Most importantly, think beyond the hardware. Who has kept things going while our lives change? People – enabled by technology. We’ve seen heroic efforts from people throughout IT and ITSM in the immediate response to coronavirus. Organizations have a valuable opportunity to reimagine what work looks like, and give their people a more balanced, rewarding life. For ITSM people and the whole organization, there is a once in a lifetime chance to reimagine employee experience. Where elevating service management to the enterprise level will help to support the creation of technology-enabled business processes.
Roy Atkinson, Group Principal Analyst, HDI
If there was ever a time to review the service relationships your organization has, this is it. The rapid transitions the current pandemic required most organizations to make pointed up many weaknesses in governance, policies, procedures, and planning. Take, for example, the incredible fast growth of Zoom as a platform for virtual meetings. If organizations were not providing a tool – like Microsoft Teams – that could quickly and easily allow ad hoc video meetings and collaboration, Zoom was a seemingly perfect solution. It wasn’t, although the product has been much improved over the past three months in terms of security, offering end-to-end encryption, for example. Governance was nearly nonexistent in some organizations, while others had restrictive policies that disallowed remote work from homes where children were present. Those policies had to be quickly changed or were just ignored as workers were sent home and both schools and daycare facilities were closed. Organizations also found themselves having to leap into cloud solutions in order to continue delivering essential services to employees and customers. The vetting and RFP processes were either bypassed or accelerated exponentially. All of these share a common theme: Organizations are still thinking from the inside out, and are focusing on the various pieces of service management and delivery instead of developing a strategic picture that includes customers, employees, and internal stakeholders. Three things your service management team should do right now:
Review relationships with vendors and partners – not only from a product and contractual perspective, but also from the point of view of service and support. The service desk (whether physical or virtual) needs to know the support contacts and details in order to provide the best response to requests and service interruptions. Know who to contact, how to contact them, and the limits of your current service agreements with all partners.
Look at the way things are currently done, and how they might be done better – this includes learning about multiple frameworks and/or methodologies that can help the organization plan for the “New Normal.” SIAM, for example, might be able to offer guidance on integrating cloud providers into an on-premises based infrastructure; DevOps can show ways to accelerate the delivery of new or updated software into production. If you’re still focused on processes, you might consider looking at ITIL 4’s guidance to “Focus on value,” “Start where you are,” and “Think holistically.”Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) provides ways of rapidly developing and publishing knowledge to be used internally or to provide self-service and self-help for the consumers of your services.
Look at ways in which service management principles can be integrated into the organization – remember service management isn’t just about IT, nor should it have ever been. This is the perfect time to have conversations with counterparts from other parts of your business. Information technology – in all senses – has allowed remarkable things to happen during the past few months. You have your colleagues’ attention. Work with them to enable the “new normal” to happen
Charles Araujo, Founder, The Institute for Digital Transformation
I was recently speaking with my daughter, who works for the largest book distributor in the United States. She was concerned that her office was beginning to reopen and that they might try to force her to go back to the office soon. “I’m so much more productive at home, dad,” she lamented. I chuckled as I imagined them trying to pry her from home after she’s proven that there’s not a need to do so.
Around the world, the jig is up. Long-standing tropes about remote work being unproductive or inhibiting collaboration are now ringing hollow. But more importantly, the fact that they’ve been proven to be so spectacularly wrong is now calling into question every other long-held corporate bureaucratic notion.
So what does all of this mean for ITSM professionals? As we begin to find ourselves in a “new normal” there’ll be two significant impacts on your work. First, the broad success of the global #WFH experiment, not to mention the transformation of virtual events and other shifts that the pandemic demanded, which have opened the eyes of management to the fact that there are other ways of working that, well, work. Not only will we find that many of these “temporary work processes” become permanent, but we’ll see a much more rapid transformation of the enterprise operating model simply because enterprise leaders have become less fearful of the disruption they might have caused. These shifts will necessarily demand changes to fundamental ITSM operating practices to accommodate them.
Second, and more impactfully, however, will be the shift in attitude. There’ll be much less tolerance for inflexible processes and statements about it “being policy” or “that’s just our process” – regardless of the scope. ITSM professionals should be prepared to defend the validity, veracity, and effectiveness of every rule, requirement, and anything else that stops workers from working however they want. Intentionally or not, the pandemic has demonstrated to employees that most of the so-called reasons that things had to work a certain way were just someone’s opinion, based on an arbitrary decision, or worse, nothing more than a power-trip. Every ITSM function has always operated by virtue of the consent of the governed. It may be unfair, but your governed will no longer be in the mood to accept the status quo just because you say so.