Why Should You Involve Customers in the Design of ITSM Processes?
If IT organizations want to provide high quality, reliable IT services to our customers then we need to have good processes. If we just rely on technical people doing the right thing then the services we deliver to our customers will be expensive and inconsistent compared to IT organizations that have well designed repeatable processes in place. You often hear IT service management people talking about the need for the right balance between people, process and technology. Good people (with the right attitudes, behaviour and culture) make sure that we do the right things for our customers, good processes make sure we carry out all the activities that are needed, good technology allows us to automate what we do, to increase our efficiency.
Many organizations base their ITSM processes on best practice frameworks like ITIL or COBIT. These frameworks define many processes, for example:
- Incident management is there for when customers run into difficulty using IT services. It defines what we do to help get everything working again for them, including the activities, roles, tools and even the things we measure and report to make sure we keep improving.
- Capacity management helps to ensure that we can deliver the capacity and performance we have agreed with our customers in a cost effective and timely manner.
If you’ve ever taken an ITIL training course you’ll be familiar with these processes, and many others, and I’m sure you understand how they contribute to your success. In fact I’d be very surprised if anyone reading this blog doesn’t have many of these IT service management processes in place already. Of course you don’t just copy the activities in the books and carry them out mindlessly, you look at the examples in the best practice publications and modify them so that they will work in your context, fitting in with your people, culture and customers.
Creating, Changing, or Updating a Process
Introducing, or changing, a process is a challenging thing to do. People get used to the way they work and can be very resistant to new ideas and new tools. So you need to identify all the stakeholders and get them involved in the design of a new or changed process. If you tried to just create a process as a document and emailed it to all your staff it is very unlikely they would adopt the new process and make it work properly.
So if you’re going to be creating or updating a process, who are the stakeholders that need to be involved? It is quite unusual for an IT organization to include their customers in the design of their processes. Many IT organizations see their processes as being internal, they think that processes just define how the IT organization operates, and that this is nothing to do with their customers. I think this is a mistake because every one of your processes needs input from customers, defines activities that customers have to carry out, or provides outcomes for your customers. These customers are a major stakeholder in every single IT service management process. For example:
- The incident management process depends on the customers to initiate the process, and to provide the required information about what has gone wrong. It also delivers its outcome of restored service to customers
- The capacity management process depends on customers for information about their future needs and changes to their business plans, without this information all you can do is use trends to predict and these will never be enough. Also the outcome of capacity management is to provide the correct capacity and performance to meet the customers’ needs.
You could almost certainly write a paragraph like this about every single service management process, because the whole purpose of service management is to help you deliver services to your customers. So, next time you’re thinking of implementing, improving, or changing an ITSM process think about the most important stakeholders – your customers – and get them involved in the process design. Not only will this give you a wonderful opportunity for customer engagement, but you may also learn something new about how your processes impact your customers.
Posted by Joe the IT Guy