Ten Steps Your Organisation Can Take In Conjunction with ITIL Training

In an ideal world, booking your people onto an ITIL training course should be part of a planned approach to operational improvement.  Training can empower people to make a difference by applying their knowledge and understanding.  Sadly, a colleague recently said the problem with training is that it too often means only ‘sheep-dip’ and ‘light-bulbs.’

What she meant by this was firstly that training is too often only seen as a necessity rather than part of a continual improvement programme and secondly, that during the course of the training, light-bulbs are switched on in the heads of the delegates as they see how the training can result in improvements, only for these to gradually dim over the succeeding weeks if nothing actually changes.

So how can you ensure that when you book an ITIL training course, your delegates not only recognise the value of the training, but also contribute to subsequent improvements?

Both the delegates and the organisation must recognise that they share the responsibility for reaping the benefits of the training.  At the very least, this means sharing the organisational improvement planning with the delegates so that they understand the context of the training and think about their role in the improvements.

So, here’s ten steps you can take to maximise the advantage from your ITIL training programme.

  1. Be clear about how the training supports the wider service management improvement programme.  Our experience is that most of the smaller organisations we work with start their improvement by training their staff. In contrast, many of the larger organisations already have an improvement programme in place or even an embedded programme of continual improvement. The danger for the former is the lag between the training and any meaningful change.  The danger for the latter is the difficulty for the delegates of understanding their role within the wider programme.
  2. Once the training has been delivered, maintain delegate engagement with some form of follow-up.  This might take the form of a short debrief (collectively by preference) or perhaps a one-to-one with their manager to agree specific improvement objectives to which they can contribute or even lead.  The training should ideally relate to a personal or departmental objective established either before or shortly after the training to maintain the momentum.
  3. Commission a process maturity analysis to help identify and prioritise the processes and corresponding actions needed to mature them to the most appropriate level in support of the improvement programme.  Contrary to popular belief, this has to be neither expensive nor time consuming but will generate valuable insight and create a focus for improvements.
  4. Appoint process owners/managers for the key processes (many organisations start with incident, change, release and service level management).  Having someone accountable for a process is not only the most effective way of maturing a process and contributing to its improvement, it is also a natural role to assign to someone suitably trained.
  5. Draft a service catalogue.  The ITIL definition of a service is ‘A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes they want to achieve.”  Defining these services is a highly effective way of helping to understand and document the value of IT.  The service catalogue also facilitates the definition and appointment of service owners and is the basis of service costing.
  6. Commission a service management simulation.  This is a role-playing event facilitated by an external provider for between ten and fifteen delegates to experience the benefits of service management and process control in an exciting and memorable event.  It is particularly effective at helping people understand the need for and value of having processes under control and at team building.  Ideally, participants from both IT and the business will participate together.
  7. Review your measurement and reporting framework to ensure that:
    a) you’re measuring the right things and
    b) the measurements are driving continual improvement.
    Too often we find that measurement and reporting is done by rote and that no-one is actually using the information in any meaningful way at all.
  8. With the benefit of process owners/managers defined, draft the process policies.  ITIL is non-prescriptive, that is to say that it offers advice and guidance and what should be done to define and mature processes but is weaker on how to do so.  Your process policies define your organisation’s standards for managing each process.  For instance, the change management policy should define normal, standard and emergency changes based on the ITIL definitions, but the procedures for managing each will be specific to your organisation.  Defining these procedures is the basis of control and therefore improved efficiency and effectiveness.
  9. Review the extent to which key process interactions and dependencies are operating effectively.  For instance, do the transition activities include software licence validation and handover of the know error database to the incident teams?  Does capacity management receive timely information about changes in demand and patterns of business activity?  Have supplier contracts been mapped against service levels to ensure compatibility?

10)  Map your IT costs to the IT services to devise the cost per service.  Then divide the derived service cost by the consumption of service units to derive the cost per service unit.  Very few organisations have even attempted this, and yet it is the basis of assessing the value for money of a service and the right time to retire or replace a service.  Furthermore, service costing facilitates capacity management and budgeting by relating spend on IT components to the fulfilment of business outcomes.

None of the above suggestions are mutually exclusive.  An effective improvement programme could include all of these, albeit there is a risk of being too ambitious.  Instead, a realistic plan should be devised with clear priorities and accountabilities, interfaced with any other improvement programmes and the benefits tracked and publicised to maintain momentum.  A useful approach is to adopt the continual service improvement approach:

  • Define the vision (including goals, critical success factors and key performance indicators)
  • Where are we now?  (Establish strategic, tactical and operational baselines)
  • Where do we want to be?  (Define realistic target values based on data from the previous step)
  • How do we get there?
  • Did we get there?  (The target values have been reached)
  • How do we maintain the momentum?

 

Infrassistance is a consultancy and training company specialising in IT service management. We work with organisations of all sizes around the world and in all industry sectors, helping them optimise the management of IT services and the corresponding business benefits.



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