Establishing strong IT Service Management (ITSM) best practices means you need to outline a detailed execution strategy. It can mean the difference between clear, efficient IT services and mediocre imitations.
With a strong, inclusive approach to ITSM, your organization can offer reliable services that deliver as expected on a daily basis. If and when any issues arise, strategically sound ITSM protocol will ensure that problems are resolved in a prompt but lasting manner.
Failure to meet those consumer expectations, especially if that stems from preventable ITSM mistakes, is inexcusable. It not only hurts the technical side of your services and puts you behind the curve when it comes to improvements and updates, but it also gives your brand a bad name in the eyes of your customers.
Let’s take a quick poll of those reading: Who’s okay with that as an outcome? No one? Okay, great.
While much of what goes into your ITSM operations is situational, there are still plenty of common threads that, if tackled effectively, can help you step up its strategic game in this area and build the best long-term roadmap possible.
Let’s take a closer look:
Get Universal Stakeholder Buy-In
Just like any other major business strategy, the viability of your ITSM game plan depends largely on your ability to get all your major stakeholders to buy in. Identifying goals and setting up execution workflows is all well and good, but it means nothing if you don’t have everyone on your team(s) pulling in the same direction.
This means clearly communicating mission, vision and resulting benefits of a given project, as well as keeping everyone informed about any major system or process-related changes. As a decision-maker, you must provide clear, actionable descriptions or instructions for:
- Your IT operations (this includes roles, ecosystem structure, workflows, etc.)
- Management functions and how they’ll drive value
- Cross-department business enablement that aligns with IT’s objectives
Getting buy-in from all major stakeholders is also important to establish a strong, uniform sense of governance. If you don’t have that sense of collaboration and inclusion, team members will often resort to doing things “their own way.” This can result in simple resolutions being delayed or mishandled for frustratingly preventable reasons.
In short, strong two-way communication about your ITSM strategy will go a long way to universal buy-in from everyone involved in the process. Once all team members are on the same page, refining or tweaking your roadmap over time is made that much easier.
Create a Rock-Solid CMDB
Arguably the most important building block in your ITSM roadmap is the creation and management of your Configuration Management Database (CMDB). With that in place, you’ll have the starting point you need to build out the rest of your ITSM processes and refine your CMDB layout over time.
This also applies if you need to streamline your existing CMDB and the dependencies it oversees. With a seemingly endless amount of customization possibilities available in Jira (especially when you use the Insight app), it’s not uncommon to fall short of optimal efficiency the first time you try and map one out.
In fact, there’s a good chance that you won’t build the final version of your CMDB on the first go-round. That’s okay. It’s the commitment to iterative improvement and working towards a fully-optimized version of it that will unlock the full power of your ITSM strategy.
Creating a bulletproof CMDB also means your organizational standards for asset discovery and data accuracy need to be established at the beginning of this process. You must ensure that the information making up your CMDB updates regularly and accurately delivers only the most recent data.
If you’re working with multiple teams and/or in a decentralized Jira environment, there needs to be a clear understanding of how everyone should merge, reconcile and import different batches of information into the CMDB. This goes back to the importance of having all major stakeholders on the same page about the maintenance concepts and more.
Adhere to Well-Established ITIL Standards
One of the downsides of having endless customization possibilities for your CMDB is that, if you’re not careful, your database layout and dependency structure can get bloated in a hurry.
To avoid this, your organization should consider leaning on well-known ITSM best practice models, regardless of whether you’re creating a new CMDB from scratch or refining an existing structural template. The best-known of those norms is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).
If you’re just starting out with a new CMDB, you can refer to problem management, incident management, and change management - the trio of widely-used best practices under the ITIL umbrella - to inform your initial setup. Again, focus on establishing a solid base instead of getting it perfect in a short period of time.
If you’ve already got a CMDB in place, it’s still a good idea to revisit these standards and make sure you're abiding by their combined strengths. Continuous improvement is the name of the game when it comes to the Agile method, so tweak your CMDB to best suit your team’s goals and long-term outlook.
Generally speaking, ITIL best practices are an integral piece of successful ITSM strategies.
Build an Extensive Service Catalog
Another key part of a robust ITSM roadmap is having an exhaustive service catalog. Without one, it will be very difficult to get a clear picture of what services are being offered, what conditions they’re under and, if issues crop up, what steps need to be taken to reach a solution.
Your service catalog should not only define your IT services but map them to your business processes as well. Connecting other departments to your IT team’s current slate of projects and ticket backlog will enhance overall organizational communication while minimizing workflow inefficiencies.
In addition, creating a service catalog adds to the transparent definition of the value that your IT services bring to the table on a daily basis. As a result, you’ll take the steps needed to demystify common external questions or concerns that may get raised on a regular basis and, in some cases, add to production slowdowns.
Monitor Results and Be Methodical
Building the most comprehensive ITSM and a CMDB to match takes time. Once you create your initial roadmap and establish your short and long-term targets, it’s important to monitor your results and, if you need to alter that gameplan, be methodical when making those changes.
This starts and ends with data. The intel you gather over time, from how more (or less) efficient your service ticket response time becomes to how your ITSM is impacting overall customer satisfaction, will serve as your guiding force insofar as what’s working well and what isn’t.
Questions about changes to this overall strategy must always take the user experience into consideration. To that end, those in decision-making roles must also keep both the benefits and potential roadblocks that stem from major tweaks to the system in mind. You have to respect how the process affects all other team members.
With that, we find ourselves back at the concept of top-down buy-in. With everyone concentrating their efforts on the same common goals, build the perfect ITSM system for your company will become a doable project instead of an impossible mission.
Empowering Your Organization Through ITSM
As this blog post has demonstrated, crafting a robust, empowering ITSM strategy entails more than just plugging technical holes within your IT platform of choice. It demands focus, hard work, and sound decision-making through data analysis from everyone involved with the project.
Fostering an inclusive, collaborative environment for ideation is another big part of creating a successful long-term ITSM strategy. While certain lessons can be learned through trial and error during the execution phase, it’s thinking outside the box conceptually and striving for continuous improvement that will allow you to build a strong CMDB and service catalogue.
Getting your ITSM strategy right, even if it takes multiple trips to the plate, is an extremely valuable part of your company’s overall appeal moving forward. Reducing time spent bogged down with a huge service ticket backlog and internal miscommunication will only increase the quality of your organization’s services and, in turn, boost customer satisfaction.
Taking on a big project like building an ITSM strategy means you need capable apps to support your needs. Find out how Insight gives companies around the world the tools they need to succeed in areas like service management, asset management and more by clicking below.
Originally published May 14, 2019 12:00:00 PM