ITSM House

Building Your ITSM House – Part 1

Would you build a house by starting with the roof?  Well of course not!  Yet many ITSM implementations I hear about want to start with what I would argue is the ITSM “roof”.  Here’s some examples:

  • “Let’s get SLAs with our customers!” – Hey, I get it – you want to establish performance and delivery expectations with your business.  Bravo!   That is a very customer-focused thing to do.  But have you defined a service catalog?  Do you have the basic consumer-interaction processes – incident, change, and request – in place?  How about a service desk, as opposed to a “help desk”?
  • “Let’s build a CMDB so we know what we need to manage!”   Again, another great idea.  Having a CMDB and defining CI models helps you understand impact of a change to other CIs within the model.  Is change management defined?  How do you identify and handle when you have issues with a CI, like incorrect attributes or a relationship issue?

Maybe if you look at an ITSM implementation like you’re building a house ….

Just like you can’t put the roof on the house without having built the walls and foundation first, there are some ITSM processes better implemented if the proper supporting processes are in place first.

Before I start explaining myself further, I want to issue my standard disclaimer, and that is that “your mileage may vary”.  You may find, or have developed, an approach that is equally as effective for your specific situation. So think of this as “food for thought”.  Like pizza.  I like pizza.  Sorry, I drifted for a second.

It begins with an idea and some thought…

Have you ever built a house? I’m sure many of you have, or perhaps someone close to you has. When you’re starting to think about building a house, what are some of the first things that you think about? You probably think about things like:

  • “How much house can I afford?”
  • “Where do I want to build my house?”
  • “What do I want my house to look like?”
  • “What features or amenities does my new house have to have?”
  • “Who will build my house?”
  • “When will I need to move into my house?”

Let’s apply these same questions, but this time in the context of your ITSM implementation.

Your HouseYour ITSM House
“How much house can I afford?”
  • What is the appetite for implementation?
  • What attitudes, behaviors, and cultures exist within the organization? What do you need to do to address organizational change challenges?
  • Can you identify the “burning platform”1 that would ignite the ITSM implementation?
“Where do I want to build my house?”
  • With what part of the organization do you want to start your implementation?
  • Is there an area within the organization that is “ripe” for an ITSM implementation?
  • Will this cut across the entire organization, or be done in phases?
“What do I want my house to look like?”
  • What are the things that you think your ITSM implementation must achieve?
  • What are the qualities that your ITSM implementation will enable? (Easier to do business with; improved transparency into the IT organization; improved workflow within IT, etc.)
“What features or amenities does my new house have to have?”
  • What does the initial implementation of ITSM need to deliver? Maybe some self-service capability, or perhaps a consolidated, centrally-managed knowledge repository? Perhaps actionable reporting? Or measures and metrics that illustrate the value and contribution IT makes to the business?
“Who will build my house?”
  • Do you have people with the right attitude and proper skillsets within the organization?
  • Do you need external help?
“When will I need to move into my house?”
  • What are some near term and longer term goals?
  • Are there any “quick wins” that you can achieve by doing some small incremental changes or improvements?

1  For a deeper discussion of the “burning platform”, see “Leading Change” by John Kotter, HBP, 2012

Once you’ve thought about and identified the answers to these questions, you’re ready to start building your ITSM house. Like building a house, an ITSM implementation is an iterative endeavor. You can’t build your ITSM implementation in a single step, just like your house can’t be built with just a single nail.

Let’s build!

So, again, if you think of an ITSM implementation like building a house, you’ll recognize some definitive phases of construction:

Your HouseYour ITSM House
Requirements, style, financing, blueprints
  • CSI model
  • Business case
  • ITSM plan
  • Organizational change plan
  • Training and communication plan
  • Implementation team
Cement, cinder blocks, floor joists, support beams
  • “Iron Triangle” processes (change, incident, request)
  • Establish service desk
  • Define services
  • Establish BRM
Walls, floors, wiring, plumbing
  • Enable continual improvement
  • Metrics and measures
  • “Next wave” processes (problem, release, event, SACM, and others – depending on business requirements)
Finishing Work
Roofing, painting, landscaping, decorating
  • SLAs
  • Service catalog
  • Formal periodic reviews
Move In
“Punch list”
  • CSI register
Maintenance and Upkeep
Adding a deck, redecorating, repairs
  • Continual service improvement
  • Service portfolio


I’m not done yet, but let’s take this in stages. Before you get started on your next ITSM implementation, take the time to think it over and answer some of the questions I’ve proposed here. For a refresh, I highly recommend you read this ITSM white paper. I’ll follow up soon with the next part in this series. So, until then, find your trusty hard hat, grab your toolbelt, and get ready to enter the construction zone.

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Posted by Joe the IT Guy

Joe the IT Guy
Joe the IT Guy

Native New Yorker. Loves everything IT-related (and hugs). Passionate blogger and Twitter addict. Oh...and resident IT Guy at SysAid Technologies (almost forgot the day job!).

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