Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

ITIL Conclusions

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  • Proof that the adoption of ITIL produces, for most of those who measure it, a real improvement in service levels to the user base as customer.
  • More than half of adopting companies measured a distinct improvement in customer satisfaction.
  • ITIL benefits staff. Not only does their work competence increase, but so does their job satisfaction.
  • The size of your company is no limit to or likelihood of your adopting ITIL or not. Size does not appear to make a difference. You can take up ITIL with just two people in the IT department.
  • The typical ratio of IT headcount to userbase is around four to six percent – this by-product of the survey could be seen as a staffing benchmark.
  • Taking up ITIL still remains a matter of deliberate choice rather than a must-have. This is encouraging for ITIL as a philosophy, for it suggests that despite the method’s recent prominence, it is not a passing fad or the latest IT lifestyle, but the subject of serious strategic consideration.
  • Those who adopt ITIL have a slightly heightened tendency to adopt other external practice standards in their business. Those who reject ITIL are highly likely to reject other standards also.
  • Smaller companies are more likely to be among the group rejecting ITIL. Despite its apparent workability in smaller, even tiny IT departments, the methodology is still typically the premise of the larger organisation.
  • At this stage in ITIL’s development, it is by design a methodology, not an industry standard to which companies can adhere.
  • ITIL-based companies see one of the main benefits as being the unification of the whole of IT under common practices – but ITIL alone will not necessarily deliver this. The active participation of as many departments as possible is crucial.
  • ITIL can be adopted exclusively within IT, without necessarily accounting for existing business practices and strategies.
  • A fifth of adopting companies acknowledged that ITIL had indeed given them a competitive advantage in their company’s market – and as by definition not everybody can be market leaders, this fifth reflects a commercially significant benefit to ITIL.
  • For any desired benefit, the implementers must take specific and careful steps to ensure that it comes about. Clear goals and a consistent pursuit of them are critical so the benefit does not become one of the ubiquitous ‘Almost Delivered’.
  • ITIL is an IT matter only. Business strategic, commercial and political matters, although important on an organisational scale, are not necessarily components of the ITIL implementation.
  • All sections at all levels of IT should be prepared for procedural and operational change. Concentrated study of IT procedures will be paramount and unavoidable.
  • Despite all the processes mentioned in ITIL, it remains incomplete. Adopting companies found a need to add other processes beyond those described in the ITIL literature.
  • Two thirds of those using software to support ITIL adoption found that the software had to be customised even where the software was aimed at the ITIL market.
  • There is no single way of ‘being ITIL compliant’ because the flexibility of the methodology renders the concept of ‘compliance’ irrelevant in an ITIL context.
  • First-time-fix and time-to-fix improvements delivered by ITIL have cost justification implications because quicker fixes mean that users are losing less downtime in the helpdesk queue. This service increase translates directly into a business benefit.
  • There is a trade-off between expedition and accuracy. The records in the CMDB do not just impact IT, but have a business implication, for they are a list of valuable hardware assets. Perhaps it is worth seeing a reduction in service level in exchange for an increase in the integrity of management information.
  • Benchmark the services prior to adoption in light of a probable benefit thereafter.
  • In nearly three quarters of cases, ITIL can be implemented with the same or ultimately fewer staff than at present.
  • ITIL is not a cure for all procedural ills or absences – its processes, though detailed, do not cover everything, as experienced implementers overwhelmingly agree.
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Fixing Broken Outsourcing Relationships

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The Issue
For a number of reasons, the reality of IT outsourcing frequently turns out to be very different than the promise of outsourcing. Recent studies continue to find that more than 50% of all IT outsourcing relationships are considered unsuccessful – and almost 70% of IT outsourcing relationships are terminated early.

Way too much attention has already been devoted to the pros and cons of outsourcing and the right and wrong ways to outsource – but I want to take a shot at an approach for turning problem outsourcing relationships into successful outsourcing relationships.

Five-Step Plan for Fixing Broken Outsourcing Relationships
Okay, bear with me a minute while I try to explain where I’m going with this. Think of me as a marriage counselor giving advice on a troubled marriage.

From what I know of marriage counselors, they typically get involved in a marriage when things aren’t going very well for either party. The married couple typically wants the counselor to “fix” the other person or they want to get out of the marriage as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, the marriage counselor is not into affixing blame. The counselor listens to the “he did this” and “she did this” stories, but the counselor’s objective is to get the marriage back on track.

That’s what I want to do. I want to get troubled outsourcing relationships back on track. Here’s my five-step plan for fixing broken outsourcing relationships:

Step 1 De-Emotionalize the Situation
I know it’s not easy when you are in the middle of a contentious outsourcing relationship, but the first thing you need to do is relax and try to eliminate the emotions associated with the outsourcing relationship. The only way you are ever going to be able to salvage a troubled outsourcing relationship is by thinking and acting unemotionally.

As counterintuitive as it may seem under the circumstances, you have to start thinking in Win/Win terms. That means trying to find a way for both sides to win with the outsourcing relationship.

Ask yourself, “Am I ready to find a Win/Win solution to our outsourcing problem?” When your answer is “yes,” proceed to Step 2. If your answer is “no,” redouble your de-emotionalizing and Win/Win visualization efforts. If you are never able to answer “yes,” skip the rest of this briefing and start looking for a briefing on outsourcing divorce.

Step 2 Establish Realistic Expectations and Objectives
The second thing you need to do is clearly define your expectations and objectives for a successful outsourcing relationship. Think Win/Win in establishing your expectations and objectives because your expectations and objectives have to be realistic.

Actually, unrealistic outsourcing expectations and objectives are a reason why many outsourcing relationships get in trouble – but I’ll have to address that in another briefing.

When you are satisfied that you have clearly defined expectations and objectives for a successful outsourcing relationship, write down the expectations and objectives.

Step 3 Assess Options
The next step is to thoroughly analyze your existing outsourcing agreement and understand your options. Understand your options for terminating the relationship and determine if you have any leverage in getting the relationship back on track.

Step 3 is a form of negotiation. You never want to get into a negotiation without getting as unemotional as possible, knowing what you want to achieve from the negotiation, and understanding your options. In other words, you want to be in as strong a position as possible when you initiate the negotiation process. By the way, this is the position you want to be in when you initiate negotiations on a new outsourcing relationship too.

Step 4 Objectively Explore Solutions With Outsourcer
After getting yourself ready, it’s time to get down to business. As emotionlessly as you can, you need to explore options with your outsourcer. The script for this discussion should begin by saying you are unsatisfied with the outsourcing relationship and you want to explore options for getting the relationship back on track. The script should not include the word “attorneys” and should definitely not say anything about the outsourcer’s personal history or business ethics.

After getting past the uncomfortable beginning of the discussion, you should be prepared to clearly spell out what you see as the problems with the outsourcing relationship and outline your expectations and objectives for the relationship. This is where you use the expectations and objectives you wrote down in Step 2.

Depending on how the outsourcers reacts, you might want to have a printed copy of Step 1 available for the outsourcer so they can understand the importance of de-emotionalizing the situation and thinking Win/Win.

I’m kidding about having a copy of Step 1 available for the outsourcer, but both sides in the discussion of options have to keep emotions in check and understand the importance of creating a Win/Win situation. You may want to use an objective, third- party marriage counselor to make this happen.

Step 5 Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
The only way you can fix a broken outsourcing relationship is by actively communicating with your outsourcer. A lot of troubled outsourcing relationships get that way because of poor communication between the enterprise and the outsourcer.

You probably don’t want to hear this now, but doing a better job of communicating might have kept the outsourcing relationship on track in the first place. There I go, sounding like a marriage counselor again.

Moral of the Story
In some cases, ending an outsourcing relationship may be the only viable option, but there are a lot of troubled outsourcing relationships that can be turned into successful outsourcing relationships by taking the emotion out of the situation and taking positive steps to fix the relationship.

I know this marriage counseling approach for dummies is a little over-simplified, but the steps are right. Give this approach a try the next time you are considering an outsourcing divorce.