This scenario is being repeated many times as more and more enterprise IT organizations retain an IT Service Management (ITSM) "systems thinker" (internal or external) to mentor the IT leadership team on what it will take for them to transform their organization to operate as a service provider integrated into the enterprise’s or mission’s value net.
This trend is also very similar to existing executive consulting patterns in other areas, such as hiring experts to implement or improve the customer service capabilities of the enterprise as a whole. These trusted advisors and the programs they have created have become the cornerstones of how the enterprise does business in the markets it services.
Similar to the business consultant, the IT Service Lifecycle Consultant partners with the IT leadership team to help the enterprise extend its customer service capability throughout the IT organization and the services it delivers.
In order to operate as a service provider, IT organizations must demonstrate four main characteristics – an unambiguous understanding of their customer's need; a model to help determine if services should be in-sourced, out-sourced or multi-sourced; repeatable processes to ensure consistency of execution; and the ability to innovate in a structured manner. These points structure the model for delivering business aligned-processes and technology.
Historically IT organizations have had little difficulty mastering the technical skills required to install, operate and maintain the components of the IT infrastructure. The challenge they face today is how they will manage the transformation of IT from a "technology-focused" organization to one that is a "service provider" using IT Service Management (ITSM) best practices. Most of the issues they face involve mastering and integrating a combination of technical and soft skills to deliver IT infrastructure management and support as a set of business technology services.
Many, if not most, IT organizations retain ITSM training companies to educate (and in some cases certify) their IT organization on the principles associated with ITIL and ITSM.
Although these programs do a good job in helping IT professionals know what they should be doing in the context of ITIL and ITSM, they do very little to teach them how to go do it. Moreover, the training programs exist outside the context of the work the ITSM Lifecycle Consultant has already completed. This may, in fact, slow down or detour the ITSM implementation, as the ITSM team works to reconcile the ‘theory’ of ITIL with the reality of the organization’s time and place in the ITIL Lifecycle.
A pragmatic way of addressing this situation is with a new breed of online training programs that enable ITSM consultants to stay in the middle of the education process while the organization completes its standardized training. These online programs (see sample) take a blended learning approach to training by incorporating a video-based curriculum with direct coaching from the enterprise ITSM consultant. This approach enables students to internalize the concepts of ITSM and ITIL, while at the same time becoming familiar with the specifics of their enterprise ITSM program.
The Service Lifecycle Consultant must, in a structured repeatable manner, define and categorize the technology platforms that will help the enterprise address the automation aspects of ITSM. Although a product cannot comply with a descriptive framework like ITIL, it can provide support capabilities for one or more of the inputs, outputs and other ITIL process functional requirements by facilitating one or more tasks.
Just as accountants audit the books to make sure the enterprise complies with generally accepted accounting rules, the Service Lifecycle Consultant should have a similar plan to audit the ITSM environment. A thorough ITSM audit allows enterprise executives and management personnel to determine the status of various processes and identify potential problem areas.
ITSM audits analyze four key performance indicators:
Just like ITIL has moved from its purely process focus to looking at things in the context of a lifecycle, the new breed of ITSM consultants are following a similar ‘whole-life’ approach in the way they package and deliver their ITSM service offerings to the marketplace. By joining with the leadership at the top, they are including the whole scope of IT services in their plans to create effective IT Service Management practices and outcomes.