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Hiring and developing IT service management talent

Blog posted by: Adam McCullough – Principal ITSM Architect, 06 August 2021.

Two people fixing the wires on a device

At the point when I became an ITIL Expert, one company executive I spoke to told me: “ITSM and ITIL® is going away”. When I heard this unwelcome news, my first thought was “am I missing something? Do I need to pivot?”, because what you don’t want in technology is to be left behind.

However, while this was the executive’s perspective, I was seeing a different picture on the ground. And, after speaking to colleagues in the industry, I concluded there was still plenty of relevance in ITIL and so continued on my learning journey. With the arrival of ITIL 4, it proved to be right.

Keeping up in the technology industry can be complex for both organizations and professionals. If you work in a business that encourages and funds training, it’s much easier. But, for other organizations and practitioners figuring out what to do or just starting out, keeping up needs due diligence; to know which are the top certifications and matching them with organizational needs.

Getting the skills you need

There are two main routes to getting the skills an organization needs: either hiring people externally or growing them organically with existing staff.

But how do you know you’re getting what you need? Certainly, there should be a plan covering external hiring and cultivating internal talent, ensuring you’re not totally reliant on one or the other:

Hiring new people 

When bringing in new blood, organizations need people who can take a holistic view and will have empathy with both the organization and its customers; having both a depth and breadth of experience, a person should understand organizational culture change and carry a level of experience which complements the certifications they might have.

Developing organically 

By taking on “stretch assignments” – something they might not get paid extra for – existing employees are getting an opportunity to try, maybe fail and learn as a way of advancing their career and bringing something new to the company.

I’d also expect current talent to know what’s trending and what the business should be trying. Also, creating a mentee/mentor relationship with someone in the organization and being involved in some type of virtual collaboration office for brainstorming and creating new ideas means knowledge is shared across the organization.

A toolkit of skills

Wherever you might be in your career journey, there are certain skills which I think are vital for today’s professional and organizational challenges:

  • Knowing how service management works across the business and how value is co-created. 
  • Being an active listener and understanding problems before you try to offer a solution.
  • Having a mindset of life-long learning: learn, unlearn and relearn. 
  • Cloud computing, AI and cyber security: the foundation for where digitally-enabled businesses are going and what they’re focused on today. While you don’t have to be an expert, you need an understanding of why these things are important and how they integrate. 

Five years ago, you could “go deep” in one skills area and stay there. Today, it’s more about having breadth as well as going deep in any area.

IT organizations – at one time – tended to look down on end users. Now, with the shift to commoditized IT, it needs a collaborative approach in which IT and users solve problems together. And it’s about the ability to roll with whatever situations can arise in an organization and help to keep things on an even keel.

For me, it’s about continuing to up-skill: asking executives, colleagues and mentors about trends and ultimately making training and development decisions based on the feedback.

Once you get past the fact you’re never done with learning, you’ll be fine in dealing with what might previously have been a daunting task.


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