ITSM – Keep It Simple
Why do people have to make things so complex? I often see organizations whose processes, tool configurations, user interfaces and every other aspect of IT service management (ITSM) is so complex that nobody can understand how to use them. I just don’t see the need for this.
When I am designing processes or user interfaces I like to make them as simple as possible. This makes the design much easier for me, it makes it much easier to modify the design to meet evolving needs, and it makes things much easier for people to use. The best example of this is comparing the user interface for Google with that for a typical enterprise application. Google just presents the user with a box in which they can type what they want to search for, we all understand how to use this – and it generally delivers exactly what we expect.
Let’s look at some examples of how you can use this “Keep it Simple” approach to make ITSM work better in your IT organization:
- When you design categories for your incident management process, use as few categories as possible. Only add new categories if you are absolutely sure they will add value. This will make it quicker and easier for your service desk agents to log incidents, it will make it easier for users to categorise their own incidents using self-help, and it will simplify analysis and reporting. If you find that there is some really important information that you can’t get because a category is missing then don’t just add that category, first you should think about whether you can find a different way to get the required information from the existing records. Only add another category if you really can’t manage without it.
- When you design a change management process, think about how many steps there are, how many people have to get involved in approving each change, how much information has to be assembled by the change submitter, and see if you can simplify any of these. Your goal should be to make things so simple that everyone sees change management as the process that helps them get changes implemented, not as an obstruction that slows down change. In one of my customers each change request is assigned to a single approver. That person is selected automatically based on the size and risk of the change, and they are accountable for the decision they make. The change approver asks other people for input if they need it, but then they take a decision, and they are measured on their change approval success rate. This is much quicker, simpler and easier than holding a half-day CAB meeting every week where people sit through long boring discussions about changes they haven’t analysed.
- When you create a configuration management process, think very long and hard about exactly what data you really need to manage your IT services. Only collect data if it is going to deliver real value. I see many configuration management systems that have been designed to collect every possible piece of data that they can. These become extremely complex and difficult to manage, while delivering very limited value to the organization. One organization I worked with just stored the name of each configuration item, with a link to the owner, and other links to dependent configuration items. This was enough for them to identify who they needed to talk to when they were planning changes, or needed planned downtime, or needed to identify who to contact during an incident. It allowed them to see trends for incidents, problems and changes, and the data was extremely easy to collect and maintain.
The really great thing about my Keep it Simple approach to ITSM, is that my customers are happy AND I get my work done quickly so I have plenty of time at the end of the day to relax and enjoy myself, now that’s what I call a result.
Posted by Joe the IT Guy