Implementing a new IT Service Management (ITSM) system is a big step for most companies, as they upgrade and modernize IT processes to support their transformation into digital businesses. If your company is in the middle of ITSM implementations or considering one for the near future, then here are some common, potential pitfalls to avoid.
- Data hoarding – The CMDB is a powerful tool to integrate disparate data in one place and create mappings and relationships to reveal hidden insights. That doesn’t mean you should try to add everything to the CMDB. Each new data source and attribute has a cost to maintain, store and keep current data to generate value for your company. Before you add new data to the CMDB, consider how the data will be used, how current it must be and whether referencing it from the source system might be a better alternative.
- Chasing new features – Executives reading the list of new features in the release announcements from ITSM providers is like giving a small child free reign in a candy shop – they will find enticing morsels everywhere they look. They will desire everything they see. This can lead to the pitfall of adopting features before a company is ready to use them. Many new features require a few releases to reach a level of stability and maturity without incurring undue risk. For most companies, it is better to wait for a second or third release before adopting cutting-edge new features. Let others face the normalization challenges of an initial release to reveal best practices and learn the lessons that can increase your opportunities for success.
- Taking shortcuts on setup tasks – The most difficult part of ITSM implementations is reviewing your company’s operational processes, roles and responsibilities to ensure the configuration of the new system matches your operational realities. Most companies will underestimate the time and effort required to perform this analysis, implement process changes, set up the platform and train users – leading to misuse of the new system, as users continue to follow old behaviors. Taking the necessary time to complete the up-front process work will save considerable headaches later.
- Ignoring the capacity of users to absorb change – Changing ITSM platforms (even to a new offering from the same service provider) is a big challenge for both end-users and IT staff. With the time and energy many of these users must to devote to their normal workload and “day jobs,” they have little remaining of either to learn a new set of ITSM tools. When evaluating implementation alternatives, you must seriously consider the capacity of your users to absorb change in their environment. A phased rollout of capabilities may be a better option than a big-bang, cutover release.
- Using your ITSM system to solve your company’s financial problems – The relationship between the functions of the IT and Finance departments is one of the most important, yet complex, dynamics within a company. Modern financial-management processes depend heavily on IT capabilities to track assets and resources accurately as well as to support regulatory compliance activities. The ITSM system is a core part of providing these critical financial capabilities. The pitfall many companies fail to avoid is to expect a new ITSM system to fix poor processes and decision-making structures within the finance function. The ITSM system can help record assets, but tracking and allocating them is still a finance function. GRC processes (Governance, Risk management and Compliance) can leverage ITSM workflows and data, but that isn’t enough to ensure compliance.
Each of these pitfalls can easily trap companies when implementing ITSM systems, either because they are overly ambitious in their expectations about the new system or they are trying to move too quickly through the implementation process. One of the biggest benefits that companies can achieve from ITSM implementations is the thoughtful review of processes, procedures, roles and responsibilities, and to be a catalyst for simplification. ITSM industry standards and ITSM service providers are excellent resources from which to obtain best practices and lessons learned from others who have been through this process. Using these resources will help increase your likelihood of successful ITSM implementations.