Whilst reflecting (see below) on my time in the ITSM industry in particular, it’s clear that there are still many of the same fundamental issues and questions coming up that have been around for 20+ years.
In my experience the same old questions keep coming up – questions like ‘where do we start? how do we make ITSM work? what practical steps do we take? what tools and processes do we need? etc.
It’s good to see several different ‘back to basics’ initiatives happening (e.g. itSMF UK) to focus on core activities – (including ITSMGoodness of course…).
One area that really has changed however, in answering these basic questions is simply this:
This was a key topic at the recent SDI and UCISA conferences that I attended, and is also on the lips and key pads of industry leaders, analysts, bloggers globally.
At last! – and this is not just some mad post-modern hype dreamed up by idealists or marketeers. This is about real human interaction and how that is the way to build and maintain successful service relationships. It’s really refreshing to see this and hear people talk about this as the way forward.
The simple idea is this: in the scheme of things – customers, service providers, ‘portfolio’ of services and how these are managed etc – the relationship is the glue that holds everything together, regardless of issues, problems and mishaps.
The relationship is more important then SLAs or KPIs etc and will survive issues if they are managed properly and satisfactorily, based on the fact that the relationship works towards some common strategic goals. For too long organisations have focused simply on hitting SLAs and thinking that this means – job done…!?
And as an example, try this question…
Do you have SLAs with your partner/spouse/lover?
Does your family work to KPIs and do these form the basis of your familial happiness and success?
I really hope that the answer is no to this..!
The serious point is this – successful relationships do not work on the basis of contracts or SLAs or other formal metrics and targets, they work because both parties are engaged and work closely together to make it work. Minor issues are tacked as part of the ‘bigger picture’ and should not cause the relationship to break down.
There are 3 key points to consider as fundamental here:
Common/Shared goals – both parties need to have a shared view of what the relationship is trying to do and achieve – and they have to care about it – that way they can make it work regardless of minor issues
Intimacy – relationships need both parties to share secrets and confidential information and ideas in order to work successfully and for mutual benefit
Proximity – it is vital to be physically close as this cuts down the needs for explanation and formality – if you are in proximity you know whats going on…
Relationships that do break down are dysfunctional in one of more of these areas – e.g. either not working to a shared goal or not honest or not close enough. No-one breaks up really because of the toilet seat or the lack of shared washing up duties – these are ultimately symptoms of a lack of understanding, or a lack of honesty or just not enough synergy..
So, what does this mean for IT Service Management?
Well we are definitely too obsessed with SLAs and target metrics and thinking that these are the success criteria for our service delivery. Our relationships with internal and external customers and partners should be based on solid human relationships – where purpose, goals, communications and regular (face-to-face ideally) interactions are clearly defined, managed and maintained – much like we need to do with our our family and relationships.
Our definitions of things like Business Relationship Management (BRM) are useful and key elements, however the relationships must extend across all participants in the relationship and service ‘supply chain’ – i.e. so including front line and back office internal and external staff too.
Sure we need guidelines with SLAs but these should always be second to the needs of the customer and their service experience – the relationship is the framework to let this happen, not the straight-jacket that stops it…!
Ultimately we keep going in relationships because we choose to do so, for whatever reason – ideally that should be the goal for Service Delivery too…
It’s nearly holiday time and I’m in reflective mode – as a number of ’round numbers’ are showing up for me…
- 30 years since I first left my hometown Glasgow – I’ve moved around a lot in UK, Europe and beyond since then
- 20 years since I started Consulting – running 2 companies (e2e customer services and current BRC) plus time at, HDI/SDI/Axios, 500 projects,
- 10 years married – now have 2 fantastic kids!
- 5 years since I started on Twitter – 15,000 Tweets and c 3,000 followers
Right now it’s all go and lots of exciting things developing behind the scenes, particularly around ITSMGoodness – watch this space…
Have a great Summer..!