ITSM Tool Implementation: Big Bang versus Agility



Jennifer Carr of Cherwell Software writes:

The concepts around tool implementation and the adoption of best practice have, thankfully, matured in recent years. It is now well accepted that a big-bang approach to an IT service management (ITSM) program is not the best way to achieve an improvement. Gone are the days when an enthusiastic service management proponent would advocate launching multiple ITSM processes in one ‘big-bang’.

Going live on day one with a new tool by launching incident, request, problem, change, release and configuration management is very unlikely to deliver the expected value in the short term.

In our recent interviews with industry experts around ITSM tool implementation, Kai Andresen and Sönke Küerschner from Prevolution, a Cherwell Partner™ organisation based in Germany, talked about the need for agility.

One of the most common questions asked when taking a staged approach to a tool implementation is: “Which process do we introduce first?”

The immediate response is often “incident management,” but this may not be the most appropriate starting point. In any improvement program, a key element to ensuring success is getting some quick wins. In order to achieve this, consider which area of your operations is experiencing the most pain, and set about making some quick improvements in that area to maximize your positive impact.

Whichever process you decide to implement first, you need to spend time nailing it down and continuously improving it. This staged implementation will give you the opportunity to demonstrate the value each process brings. It also ensures that each part of your tool and process development is embedded before embarking on the next.

A quick implementation is very unlikely to be a good implementation. A successful ITSM improvement program is likely to take many months before it will be considered a success. Even then, the development of your processes will continue as part of your continuous service improvement program.

It is important to keep your vendor engaged and involved during this process as the most successful tool implementations are those where the vendor is an active partner and participant in the program. An engaged vendor will understand your business.

Taking this iterative approach to setting your new ITSM tool up also removes the temptation to ‘lift and shift’ the configuration, processes and workflows you may have been using in a previous tool. Remember: you are implementing a new tool and embarking on an ITSM improvement journey for a reason. Leave your old processes where they belong: in the history books. Making the most of your new technology means building and implementing freshly designed processes that better fit your business goals. Using all your old processes will simply move your current problems to a new platform.

Using agile techniques for your tool implementation is not a replacement for good project management technique and planning. Being agile will require discipline and planning, otherwise you will end up with a mish-mash of configuration that won’t work for anyone.

Be agile, but be cautious and disciplined at the same time. Take things slowly, one step at a time. Leave your old processes where they belong, in the past, and keep your vendor involved. If you do all these things, you will have a good shot at having an ITSM tool that truly meets your requirements and adds real value to the business.

Have you recently, or are you currently, implementing a new tool?  If so, what advice would you give your peers about to embark on this type of activity?


Posted in Cherwell, IT Service Management.

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