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ITIL® Practitioner: why it’s always best to Keep It Simple

Blog posted by: Mauricio Corona, PHD – Associate Director of BP Guru, 28 October 2016


One of the reasons why businesses overcomplicate processes in transition projects is because they are trying to develop an approach that meets all the principles of best practice.

Quite often, the people in charge or accountable for transition projects want to achieve perfection when designing a service; it’s a natural desire and they want to do their best. However, in IT Service Management (ITSM you will never achieve perfection. Continual service improvement is critical and it’s important to, as ITIL Practitioner states, Progress Iteratively.

The animation outlines a very common and representative scenario in ITSM: when organizations consolidate resources – either in creating a shared service department or businesses merging – problems occur and for a variety of reasons.

Watching the film, I estimate that about 80% of viewers would probably think that option two of understaffing was the likely issue, but in the majority of businesses that isn’t the case. As the animation goes on to show, overly complex and confusing processes are often the root cause.

Striving for perfection

Mauricio CoronaProject owners can overcomplicate processes by trying to provide a solution for every exception. When creating a process service designers do need to think about exceptions, but they can’t cover them all. Exceptions should be treated separately as it’s impossible to account for every possible scenario.

But as well as trying to get a state of perfection that they may never achieve, those leading a project are often trying to consolidate services to do more with less. In those instances, it’s even more challenging to achieve best practice and is absolutely why organizations need to keep it simple.

The forgotten people

A further factor that often leads to the failure of consolidation projects is a focus on budgets and deadlines rather than people. For instance, project owners think: “we’ve got the technology and all the people are in the same place and we’re ready to go.” However, when their colleagues or customers encounter the new scenario on day one, their thoughts are: “now I’m here, what do I do? How do I handle tickets, how do I escalate?”

How to keep it simple

Working with businesses ranging from telecoms to financial institutions, I’ve seen many examples of how processes can be overcomplicated and confusing. However, I’ve also seen how it can be done effectively – and that isn’t through employing lots of people.

An effective service desk is achieved through well-trained and thought-out, simple processes that are efficiently automated. In fact, I once encountered a huge financial organization that had a service desk manned by just four people, which goes to show it isn’t all about numbers.

To keep it simple, I’d recommend the following considerations:

  1. Ensure value: every process should provide value and every activity should have a purpose
  2. Define your metrics: ‘quality’ is an ambiguous term; what does success actually look like?
  3. Worse is better: don’t expect too much from the first iteration; it should allow you to evolve and improve
  4. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication: Leonardo Da Vinci’s advice is as true today as it was back then. It’s may seem harder to simplify but it’s more effective
  5. Do fewer things but better: focus on the essence of what you’re trying to achieve
  6. Respect the time of the people: a 1,000-step process might be perfect but it’s too complicated and bureaucratic and, ultimately, is a poor use of customers’ time  
  7. Easier to understand, more likely to adopt: to embed a process, make sure it’s easy to follow
  8. Simplicity is best route to achieve quick wins: on any project, quick wins are important to show value. By keeping it simple, you can demonstrate success faster.

See our ITIL Practitioner section for more information.

See more blogs and animations about the ITIL Practitioner Guiding Principles

Them vs us: the importance of Collaboration

ITIL® Practitioner - Be Transparent

ITIL® Practitioner - Focus on Value

The past and the present: why it's always important to Start Where You Are

ITIL® Practitioner - Design for Experience

Read Mauricio's previous blog for AXELOS, ITIL® Practitioner: Tackling the challenges of Service Strategy.

 

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