ITIL4 and the digital economy. A perfect team! (Part 1/3: Connect)
Dec 1, 2020
Part 1: Connect
In recent years, digital service delivery has become increasingly important, and COVID-19 has further intensified that boost. Did you know that more than half of the global population is now commercially active online? The digital market is huge and so is the ‘have now’ mentality.
This means companies are now faced with a completely new set of challenges: How do you satisfy that immediate need? How do you make sure your customers receive the expected service, at that warp speed and at the right price? How will your organization remain relevant in this digital age?
For IT organizations, ITIL used to be a good starting point to address such service management puzzles. However, that guidance no longer provides the building blocks we need for this new reality. Therefore, ITIL got a major overhaul.
Due to the focus on processes, ITIL is considered too rigid for the “Volatile-Uncertain-Complex-Ambiguous” world. The answer came in February 2019 with the launch of ITIL4. It took me a while to understand the potential of ITIL4, because it was so different from the previous versions. This evolution - at times the word ‘revolution’ even came to my mind - provides a solid guidance for the digital economy, as it boils down to two words: Connect and Focus.
However, before you can start boiling, you need to prepare. To stay in the atmosphere of cooking: first, you need to have all the ingredients. In our world, that translates to “assess the current situation, the AS-IS state, and identify all components involved”. Key words here, are ‘all’ and ‘current’. To understand ‘all’, ITIL introduces a concept called the ‘four dimensions’. This includes:
Organization and people
Information and technology
Partners and suppliers
Value streams and processes
This article does not aim at explaining all of this in detail, but please know that if you use these four dimensions, your assessment will map out the entire situation.
Additionally, you have to make sure that all identified components are active now. It is about who you are today. This is the raw material you will build from, this is your ‘list-of-all’. No sugarcoating, you need to make sure the components are listed in their purest form. A word of advice: if you hear words like ‘assume’ and ‘believe’ during your discovery tour, go and dig deeper. Chances are that it is not the current foundation you are looking for.
‘Connect’ is the new mantra
What is key to maximize success when everything around you is changing? You have to make sure that the organization is connected. Why do you have to connect? Well, in order to show you why, I would like to take you back to my childhood. As a kid I loved to play with glass marbles. That might give away my age, but I am fine with that. I can still hear my mother shouting at me, because I converted the living room into a huge track, allowing the marbles to roll down. Success was only achieved when the marbles reached the endpoint. Later, after some more shouting, reaching that endpoint as fast as possible was my new measure of success.
Think of a service or product created and supported in your organization as a giant marble track. The only way the service (the marble in my childhood) will reach the end (the customer consuming the service) is when the track is fully connected. But as there are many tracks and all kinds of marbles, things get complex sometimes. And all products and services should reach their target – your customer - in the most efficient way. Luckily, you have all track components, because you have the ‘list-of-all’.
So how do you “connect”? Use the ‘who does what when’ rule to draw that map. However, to maximize the chance of success in your drawing endeavor, involve the people who own the components. Because connecting is not only having the track built, it is also about the people participating in the building process and creating that mutual understanding how they fit in the connected structure. What is more fun than building tracks together, right? That understanding is the foundation for the ‘buy-in’ of the team.
When thinking of ITIL as service management enabler, instant connotation is made to a service desk and the different support lines involved. This is the last section of your marble track. Yes, it is important, but imagine the value, if the whole track is defined and operated because everyone understands the involvement with regard to that complete track. That is exactly what ITIL4 proposes; get that ‘all-in’ understanding and involvement throughout the end-to-end product or service lifecycle. Make sure that the effort of creating and delivering your perfect digital marbles reaches and enables your consumers the best way possible.
Now you might think: what about the organizational complexity? To address that challenge, ITIL 4 provides us with additional concepts. They all have one thing in common. Unraveling complexity into purposeful connections, into Focus. I will explain that in my next blog. Stay tuned!
CTG Belgium Principal ITSM Consultant, Eddy Peters, is a Service Management expert with plus 25 years experience in various IT positions, from support functions to consultancy and from commercial support to managerial positions.