The concept of IT Service Management accompanied with the ITIL Framework elicits many different responses from all levels of the organization. From the Management side, the general focus question is “What will it cost me?” From Middle Management it is; “How will I allocate resources?” and to the man or woman on the front lines it is “What are you thinking!?” The latter is always the voice that is often missed in communicating the benefits to the organization.There is plenty of talk targeting the implementation of ITSM or ITIL revolving around defining business requirement to drive IT Services. Processes and steps to providing these services in the most efficient and cost effective manner is not always addressed. Even with the best intention of proactive management of IT environments to predict and support future business growth or potential weak points, communicating that is often an uphill battle day one. These are all very valid points in delivering a true Service Management environment to any business. In order to achieve this, one area is consistently overlooked; the role of the individual. This can be attributed to the fact that unlike processes or tools, it is extremely difficult to discover, identify and document. It is the intangible element. Processes can be defined, people can’t. Many implementers, whether internal to an organization or brought in from the outside to consult on what needs to occur to improve IT Service to the Business are very versed in the tactics needed to implement any of the areas of IT Service Management. The challenge is convincing the individual that what is being proposed can inevitably make their lives easier. Communication needs to be tailored to the hands-on audience, much in the same light as you would with Management or even Middle-Management. There is a benefit that needs to be explained to gain buy-in. Explaining the monetary benefits and ROI to senior Management is only one piece of the puzzle. Determining the most effective methods of resource management and reporting to Middle Management is also part of the critical path. Understanding and communicating the true benefit to the individuals who are tied up with daily projects, firefighting or disgruntled users must not be approached as an afterthought.
The term “Grass-Roots” is often thrown around in various seminars and case studies but there are living, breathing people who comprise this Grass-Roots element that are vital to the success in moving forward with any attempt to become a high performance organization. True leaders realize this; successful programs are ones that focus on all levels of the organization. So what is the key? Some believe that a complete buy-in and enforcement from Senior Management by default, forces the organization to comply. This is not to say that Senior Management buy-in and commitment is not important, but to get to the goal faster, having a motivated, mobilized workforce behind the effort will accomplish tasks and milestones more effectively if the troops are made to feel as if they are part of the solution on delivering the end product. The truth of the matter is, everyone has their processes. Some good, some bad and some definitely ugly. Nevertheless, they are processes that people put time and effort into developing to make their own contribution to the organization better. Discounting these efforts by pushing new unfamiliar process framework from the top down is not necessarily the right approach. The fact is, that people take pride in their work and are resistant to anything new or mis-branded to make their job seem inefficient. Then there is the concern about Job security. Many only see a program on Process Improvement, standardization and enhancements, coupled with terms like improved resource management as buzz words to cut head-count. If you are in the position of deploying an IT Service Management Agenda across your organization you have to take into account the human side of the deployment and recognize what is not always being spoken. It is critical that you provide comfort in the new processes as much as you do selling the need to enhance them. Ignoring the on-the-ground concerns in any implementation of process improvement will only result delays and push back as walls are put up in sub-conscious efforts to protect the domain of the individual. Then you have a nasty mutiny to deal with. When defining the roles of those charged with driving these new process initiatives, give some thought to the soft-skills side of the communication process. Simply being good at translating the ITIL Framework or Service Management process in general terms is not good enough.
Being able to “dumb-down” ITIL-Speak in a way that can convey benefit and value to be digested by the organization is critical. It takes time and understanding of who you are dealing with, but this is time well spent in terms of moving the program ahead. It is always easier to form an alliance up front than to tear down walls later.