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27 October, 2023 Service Management

The Who, What, Why, Where, When and How about Sustainable Service Management

Everything must be sustainable these days, mustn’t it? But what does it really mean?

Why do we keep changing and ‘transforming’ our organisations and structure? – progress is good but long-term stability is also desirable.

If we are delivering and demonstrating value, then why change or continually run change/’transformation’ projects?

What is Sustainability?

After all – we are not really talking about making sure we have the right things in the right recycling bins prior to bin day – but the principles of sustainability are not that far off from the basics of sorting out your paper from your plastics.

Sustainable means: lasting, repeatable, viable, successful

Value delivered and balanced across all dimensions – people, tools, data, costs, environment

  • PREDICTABLE – outcomes, costs, definitions of value
  • CONSISTENT – re-useable, predictable, managing GRC – Governance risk, compliance
  • FLEXIBLE – evolving, agile, business aligned

Demonstrating success, value and continued improvement, with flexibility and the ability to change through evolution…

How many of us have come from IT Service Management projects where we constantly seem to have reinvented the wheel?

At a recent conference, I spoke to someone who came to our stand, who had recently been appointed to ‘fix’ their service management. That is some remit. But more importantly how often does this happen?

Even more pertinent – how wasteful is to potentially sideline everything that happened before and how about the expectations on those shoulders to ‘fix’ service management?

It is not always a case of getting it wrong, and therefore having to go right back to the start and revisit the whole thing. Often it is seen as though that is the issue, but often the constant effort of change and transformation comes about because of progress and evolution.

What makes service management sustainable is being able to continue an acceptable steady state that is agreed by everyone who comes into its range. That’s the whole point behind ‘Start where you are’…

What are the common reasons why sustainability is not achieved?

From recent workshops that I’ve run this year, here are some recurring themes and issues:

  • Lack of engagement with stakeholders – obvious, but services that last need regular engagement
  • Short term focus – not enough strategic or ‘big picture’ thinking
  • Lack of clear definitions of work and interactions – processes, particularly handovers, escalations, definitions of support levels and structure
  • Governance and oversight – this is often missing
  • Core quality processes and practices – which are ignored or misunderstood
  • Inattention to results and data – there’s no point in producing reports if these don’t lead to improvement actions
  • Poor performance and perception of issues – performance issues can be confused with orgnisational challenges, often leading to inappropriate solutions like unnecessary outsourcing, or new procurement (again)
  • Lack of focus on people and communications – too much focus on tools and projects
  • OCM – what’s that? Orgnisational change requires care and planning.
  • Transformation bandwagons – ‘the next ‘shiny things’…

 Why is sustainability important?

Striving towards sustainable service management will help demonstrate success, value, and continued improvement. In short, it would have the flexibility and ability to change through evolution.

  • Value – Balanced across all dimensions – people, tools, data, costs, environment.
  • Outcomes, Costs – Predictable
  • Risk, Governance – Consistent, re-usable, predictable
  • Business Aligned – Flexible, evolving, agile.

Let’s take the example above – where is the perceived value of the projects that now needed ‘fixing?’

At a guess, I would say somewhere off the map at this stage. And what effect would hiring a new manager to fix the issues cost? Where would they/should they even start when it comes to trying to put some governance around their efforts?

Of course, it is not all ‘doom and gloom’. The person in question had a broad idea of what they needed to do, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to do that level of deep discovery when coming in new with an expectation to be a miracle worker.

That is not to say it isn’t possible, but of course it seemed overwhelming – and that is where understanding the basics can help.

Where should we look to implement Sustainable Service Management?

“Everything is broken, it’s all no good.” Who is feeling the pain here? The management, who have thrown money at all the latest tools with bells and whistles, but still have unhappy customers and users. The customers and users who resent going near anything to do with service management because it is more hassle than it is worth.

Any of that sound familiar? How do we proceed?

Look end-to-end but have a strong focus on the customer experience and in turn the support mechanisms and processes in place to deliver the required service.

Manage the expectations of the leadership and deliver what makes sense to do so.

Look for low-hanging fruit that will yield instant paint-point relief before jumping in – but always keep an eye on the bigger picture.

When is the right time to consider Sustainable Service Management?

Evolution – whether it be technical or organisational – is a natural process. Sustainability needs to be integrated to all those efforts.

You could argue there is never a right time, but also not doing anything for fear of just reinventing the wheel is just as bad.

Evaluate where you are with your service management, and where you need to be.

How do we achieve Sustainability?

There are seven simple steps to achieving Sustainable Service Goodness.

  1. Engage and listen – to customers, users, stakeholders, and expectations.
  2. Define and map – services, value streams, catalogue, profiles, priorities, performance, experience, outcomes, costs.
  3. Structure and invest – support model, service desk, capability, quality.
  4. Create and manage – processes, practices, quality and governance.
  5. Produce and use – reports, dashboards, scorecards, for experience, outcomes, analysis, narrative, decision-support.
  6. Build and lead – people, teams, collaboration, projects, operations, culture.
  7. Communicate and sell – success, improvement, achievement, value.

It all sounds like common sense, yet often elements get overlooked. Perhaps because organisations think that this is a one-time effort and fix. It can never be. Constant evolution of technology, of organisations means that the end-to-end solution constantly needs tweaking. This does not always mean ditch and replace.

Getting started and getting the basics right means achieving sustainable ITSM goodness in a way that is simple to understand and more importantly straightforward to implement.

Try not to get hung up on jargon, attached to industry standard guidelines and practices. Step away and look at what the pain points are, engage those who are affected and get buy in at all levels to progress your solution.

When can we get started?

Sustainable Service Management is not a gimmick, and it need not be a one-time fix. It is taking care of the basics and that, at its very core, is sustainable.

  • It’s about people, motivation and engagement – shared purpose and focus
  • Sustainability requires clear understanding and communication of value, understanding of business culture.
  • Develop listening and story telling skills
  • Sell the value to keep the focus.

Who is responsible for Sustainable Service Management?

Everyone. It sounds easy enough to engage, listen, build, and lead but sometimes a little external help can cut through some of the internal barriers that can present themselves.

Any time. Visit Barclay Rae Consulting for more information and free downloadable resources that can help you on your way to achieving Sustainable Service Management Goodness.

Consider  consultancy services for workshops or bespoke services to help guide the conversation pragmatically.

Barclay presents this content at the SDI Spark Conference in Birmingham UK on 31st October 2023.