Bonus Lesson in a Ten Part Series
By Chad Greenslade
Given the points made in the ten lessons learned, you may be wondering what my strategy recommendation would be for launching a new ITSM platform. Well, as I mentioned, each organization is different and will have differing levels of ITSM knowledge within it. Similarly, you may have IT executives who don’t see the value of defining services and CIs prior to launching the platform. ITSM platforms can be expensive and executives are eager to show value for money as quickly as possible. This will most likely translate in a directive to get “Incident”, “Problem”, and “Change” launched ASAP. There may be no change management system currently in place and the organization’s viability depends on getting a handle on changes in the IT environment. You’ll need to tailor your approach to the organizational dynamics at play, but give deference to the items I’ve mentioned above. If you’re being forced into the market without a properly defined service catalog or configuration management database (CMDB), setup your service management processes to allow for the eventual introduction of these pieces. Keep in mind that a new ITSM platform can be relegated to simply a “ticketing” system if services and configuration items are not defined. The true power of the ITSM platform is “Service” management, not Incident or Change Management.
If you’re allowed the time and the money to “do it right” from the beginning, here’s my recommendation:
- Phase 1: Discovery, CMDB, & Asset Management. Many ITSM platforms will perform a network scan of your environment and automatically discover configuration items (CIs). When you first turn this on, it will be like drinking from a fire hose. There will be a lot of data that will need to be sifted through. Many data points of a CI will be pre-populated, but these will need to be reviewed for accuracy against underpinning contracts. You may see duplicate CI entries. For example, duplicate entries may be the result of scanning a Windows domain controller that may not be properly configured or up-to-date. There will most likely be components that cannot be scanned, or components that can only be scanned upon completion of appropriate troubleshooting. Some scanning will require credentials whereas others may be discoverable without them. There may be add-on components that you can purchase to make discovery easier. You’ll want regular scanning to be enabled so that when new devices are found, appropriate action can be taken. Using the underpinning contracts, you’ll want to populate warranty, maintenance, and depreciation information. A properly setup CMDB and asset management practice will serve as a solid foundation from which to build your service catalog.
- Phase 2: Service Catalog, Self-Service Request Fulfillment. Once you have all of your IT assets properly defined, you’re now able to use them in the construction of services to be consumed by your customers. The “menu” by which a customer can order a service is the “Service Catalog”. Some services are running all the time and need not be ordered, and some may need to be ordered only once. The key thing to keep in mind is that IT assets are used in delivering services, so the underlying principle to developing a service is the mapping of configuration items to business outcomes. For example, a service could be “Messaging”, which could entail email, mobile phone, desktop telephone, and instant messaging. A number of configuration items are responsible for delivering the “Messaging” service. Development of the Service Catalog involves mapping these CIs to the “Messaging” service. Keep in mind that a single CI can be mapped to more than one service. Once the service is defined, Request Fulfillment entails the definition of one or many service requests that can be logged against the defined service. A Service Requests differs from an Incident in that a Service Request is a request from a customer to run a service as it’s designed, versus an Incident entails a service being degraded or broken. An example of a service request for the “Messaging” service would be creation of a new user mailbox.
- Phase 3: Incident, Problem, Change, and Release. Only after Services & CIs are properly defined can true service management occur. As mentioned, you may experience pressure from executive to skip straight to this step in the deployment of your ITSM tool. If this is the case, you’ll want to make room in your process for the eventual introduction of the items in phases 1 and 2. The proper configuration of Category, Sub-Category, & Item as discussed in Lessons 2 & 6 becomes even more important if you’re not allowed to complete phases 1 & 2 first. Again, the goal of this exercise is to implement “service” management and not simply a “ticketing” system. You’ll want to ensure that you have process models created for Incident, Problem, Change, and Release. ITIL foundations will provide you with basic models that can be tailored to your organization.
- Phase 4: Project Management (Waterfall & Agile). With a solid ITIL operating platform established via the first three phases of your rollout, you are now ready to “bolt-on” project management modules. In most organizations, the management of an IT project will culminate in the raising of one or more Requests for Change (RFCs) to implement one or more releases into the production environment. Project management modules will assist you in managing these efforts. Having project management as a part of your ITSM platform will also facilitate integrated resource management across all work types within IT. The ideal situation is one in which an IT resource can access a single application (e.g. the ITSM tool) and see all of their work items. Whether it’s a trouble ticket (Incident), a Service Request, a Problem, a task associated with a Change or Release, or a task associated with a project, your ITSM platform is intended to be the one-stop-shop for all work within IT. Integrated time tracking will also facilitate labor capitalization for qualifying work.
- Subsequent Phases: Service Level Management, Reporting, Governance, Risk, Compliance, Cost Management, Knowledge & Content Management, and User Survey. With each of the subsequent phases, you are “tightening the screws” on your ITSM platform. Increasing service availability and IT operational efficiency are the overarching themes while managing risk, enforcing compliance, collecting knowledge, publishing content, and polling users for satisfaction.
The approach above is intended to be comprehensive and is the ideal scenario. Rarely do we get to implement exactly how we want. Don’t let perfection get in the way of being good enough. In general, modules are flexible and your implementation can be tailored to your specific organization’s dynamics.
Chad Greenslade studied Information Systems at the University of Texas at Arlington and graduated Magna Cum Laude.