ITIL change management, as it relates to IT service management (ITSM), manages the processes and environment involved in deploying organizational change. To streamline your organizational change initiatives, your customer experience and business goals must be a priority.
Jump to the main takeaways:
Tie Change Purpose to Business Outcomes
Set ITIL Change Management Goals
Build A Change Management Plan Template
Create a Flexible, Actionable ITIL Process
Respect Your Tolerance For Risk-Taking
Identify KPIs, Learn From The Results
Implement Iterative Improvements, Not Just Quick Fixes
Why is change management important? In short, technological change runs the business world that we currently operate in, constantly setting new benchmarks and forcing organizations around the world to adapt or die.
Recent reports show that 89% of companies investing more money in IT in 2019, with 64% saying the main reason is outdated infrastructure. As such, how well you manage those changes and use them as drivers to maximize overall productivity will directly impact your business’ ability to grow and thrive in a digital-first marketplace.
To get to that point, it can be hugely beneficial to use a strong ITIL foundation as the framework for your change management plan. It can help you optimize your IT asset management (ITAM) processes and get the most out of other subdomains like ITIL incident management, ITIL service management, ITIL problem management, and more.
Most importantly, you’ll be able to consistently deliver the kind of user experience that stands out from the competition.
In this blog post, I’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to implement the best ITIL change management practices based on your organization’s needs. Along the way, I’ll also be highlighting to crucial dos and don’ts that will help you avoid common change management pitfalls.
Let’s get started!
One great way to underpin your organizational change initiatives with ITIL is to use the framework as the glue that ties organizational transitions to tangible benefits and/or business outcomes.
With business environments becoming increasingly erratic and uncertain, most definitions of change management focus on how you implement and/or smooth out any kind of organizational transition. However, as Forbes’ Brent Gleeson observes, it’s the anticipatory component of change management that can make all the difference:
“[One] of a leader’s most important competencies is to foresee and prepare for change well before it is needed [...] The change opportunities companies can seize can occur within or outside of the business. The need can be a business model or product adjustment or even an industry opportunity that can take the company to the next level.”
Therefore, it’s crucial that your ITIL change management plan comes with both a singular purpose and a set of identifiable, relatable benefits that all your stakeholders can get behind. This serves the dual function of setting the table culturally for upcoming change and creating a sense of urgency that will help combat internal resistance.
Elevated customer expectation and competition means that your change management purpose may go through several phases of ideation. However, if your ITIL change management process isn’t tied to a deeper purpose that keeps business-related benefits in mind, your ability to properly implement any improvements will be nullified.
For more change management lessons that you can learn from one of Hollywood’s best sports movies, check out our blog.
Once you’ve settled on a benefits-centric purpose for your ITIL change management practices, you need to use it to inform your short and long-term goals.
The process of pinpointing needs and selecting targets starts at the top. According to recent polls, 84% of executives see CEOs as the ones driving change and embracing new technology, so your company’s leaders need to be the ones at the forefront of setting organizational change management goals.
That said, ITIL change management involves far more than just soft elements like culture and vision. As this HBR piece puts it, there are “hard factors” to consider:
“[Hard] factors bear three distinct characteristics. First, companies are able to measure them in direct or indirect ways. Second, companies can easily communicate their importance, both within and outside organizations. Third, and perhaps most important, businesses are capable of influencing those elements quickly [...] Our research shows that change projects fail to get off the ground when companies neglect the hard factors.”
Examples of hard change management factors include the time needed to accomplish certain tasks, the personnel needed to get the finished product over the line, and the financial results that those actions are expected to achieve. Performance metrics may vary from business to business, but those ingredients will remain largely intact.
While goals are hard to come by without an underlying purpose, your overall change management targets will also give that vision added context and vibrancy. It’s not necessarily a matter of one coming after the other, but of these two components working harmoniously.
Once your organizational change purpose and goals have been set, it’s time to go about building a plan that, in part, clarifies roles, responsibilities, and how those connect with the overall process.
Some key elements in a powerful ITIL change management strategy include:
- Set aside resources for skill and knowledge acquisition. While some managers may argue that the initial cost doesn’t yield an immediate benefit, this is about investing in your talent and, in the long run, reducing costs and potential employee turnover due to change management goals.
- Establish a strong IT governance foundation. This involves mapping out ITIL processes, linking them to smaller micro-goals, and attaching specific roles and responsibilities to stakeholders involved with each project.
- Keep stakeholders informed and be open to feedback. The first steps you take in your change management journey likely won’t be perfect. This is normal. In order to enhance your productivity, you must keep everyone informed of alterations and, both internally and externally, be open to constructive criticism.
Again, there are no hard and fast rules that you absolutely must observe when planning your change management projects. However, it’s important to remember that the latest version of ITIL stresses a collaborative, customer-first approach to value creation through IT services. In other words, lasting organizational improvements are those that keep end-users in mind.
Therefore, your change management plan needs to address both consumer expectations and internal areas for optimization. Acquiescing to one without keeping at least a watchful eye on the other will leave you with a one-dimensional change management strategy.
For more on how you can construct the best change management plan for your organization, and to download our FREE template, visit our blog!
After your ITIL change management plan has been laid out and received buy-in from all your stakeholders, you must establish a set of practices and workflows that will maximize everyone’s productivity.
The two main factors at this stage of organizational change management are actionability and flexibility. The former is pretty straightforward–to accomplish your goals, the process needs to empower your team to complete tasks–but the latter sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, much to the detriment of various change initiatives.
Part of being flexible is acceptance and pragmatism with regards to how quickly most businesses need to pivot when it comes to adapting their way of working to new technological norms. But, as R-each CEO Pierre-Yves Hittelet notes, it goes far beyond simple reactive thinking:
“[...] We have a tendency to rest on what we know too well. Take, for instance, the organization that repeats the same evaluation process at the end of the year knowing all along that it doesn’t work anymore and is more demotivating than anything to its personnel [...] The comfort zone is a phenomenon that no one can elude.”
By being honest with yourself and your team, and committing to the kind of flexible process that enables your organization to pivot when necessary, you’ll be a step ahead of the IT innovation curve in your industry, instead of being forced into an uncertain, unstable management scenario.
Accounting for process-based flexibility in your ITIL change management plan also includes your organization’s unique tolerance for risk-taking.
Although I echoed the virtues of pushing oneself beyond their current comfort zone, what that entails and how quickly the follow-through happens is completely subjective. Taking risks shouldn’t mean adopting reckless organizational behavior, but avoiding risks altogether will result in company-wide inertia instead of growth. Moderation is key.
If you’re unsure of your organization’s threshold in this regard, a change management risk assessment is the logical next step. Start by identifying and quantifying the hazards associated with proposed organizational change, then follow that up with the creation of contingency plans that map out the worst-case scenario for each stage of your plan.
Just like all previous sections of this blog post, an evenhanded and flexible approach to risk assessment is crucial, especially considering that the variables that influence risk are wont to change as quickly as technology does. That said, embracing discussions about potential pitfalls instead of avoiding them will only make your company stronger going forward.
The goals your business targets and performance standards you set over time will influence which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you’ll ultimately use to monitor the success (or failure) of your ITIL change management projects.
Remember, KPIs are meant to provide an objective view of progress throughout a plan’s lifespan, as well as insight into efficiency, compliance, and performance change levels at different points throughout the execution process. This data will lead to better informed, active-minded decision-making from all stakeholders involved with change management.
Besides any global KPIs that your organization introduces to the mix, you can also come up with ones that are specific to different departments. At the same time, choosing KPIs can only happen after your organizational change preparation has taken place. Don’t jump in the deep end before you swim.
Once those performance indicators have been fleshed out, you need to collect all your data-driven insights (preferably using some sort of automated reporting system) and, more importantly, learn from those results. If something isn’t working, tweak your approach. If your team hits one or more change management milestones, take time to celebrate them.
Continuous improvement that’s based on information gleaned from your KPIs is one of the hallmarks of agile change management. You can read more about this concept on our blog.
Finally, we come to one of the most significant factors when implementing change to your IT services via agile and ITIL project management: deploying iterative improvements.
In keeping with the agile method of development, pushing leaner updates/upgrades more frequently will help you grow your IT services alongside changing technology, rather than playing catch-up, as most bloated deliverables tend to do. For more on the pros of pushing the earliest Minimum Viable Product, check out the “Skateboard to Car” agile blog post.
Sometimes, smaller improvements can be misinterpreted as “quick fixes,” patchwork updates that are done to plug holes instead of improving the user experience. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, smaller deployments that are simply bits of a larger plan leave you with a greater amount of flexibility and, if you set it up right, a far more actionable feedback loop.
Let’s take implementing new software tools as an example. If you introduce those elements piece by piece, it will be more digestible for employees who are tasked with using them every day and, in terms of the bigger picture, will also minimize the negative impacts of this change.
Conversely, if you throw a boatload of new software at your team all in one shot, they’ll not only be bogged down with learning the ins and outs of multiple interfaces at once, but also feel overwhelmed by the change at hand. Once that happens, negativity and resistance are not far behind.
Many people are no doubt familiar with this disappointing change management statistic: only 30% of related initiatives are considered successes by executives.
ITIL has evolved a ton in its brief history. So too have the IT assets that are now widely available to increase an organization’s agility and efficiency, particularly on platforms like Jira. With that in mind, organizational change management methods need to grow alongside those changes in the tech and business spheres.
By taking the time to find the singular purpose that will drive that change, setting strong goals, developing a powerful ITIL-based strategy, injecting flexibility into your process and committing to continuous iterative improvement, there’s no reason why your business can’t overcome the dubious change management success rates that have become the norm.
That said, every organization needs a lot of support when taking on widespread change initiatives. As a software tool that can streamline asset management, service management, CMDB and database creation, and so much, I’d recommend giving Insight a try.
Used by over 50 of the Global 500, our top-rated app can be the secret weapon that puts your change management efforts over the top. For more information on the product or to get started with a free trial today, click below!
Originally published Sep 12, 2019 7:00:00 AM
Topics: Change Management