Breaking the ITSM fire-fighting loop

by Markos Symeonides, on 13-Sep-2017 17:08:00

It’s interesting that only about 30% of people who sign up for one of our ITSM webinars actually attend the event. Why? IT people are just too busy. We’ve all been there – making an effort to set aside some time. But when the time comes there’s always a higher priority to attend to. Fire breaks out and it won’t wait. Otherwise, IT’s reputation gets burnt to a cinder. Most IT managers and practitioners know that IT ought to be done better, and are always keen to hear about new strategies and best practices. But fire-fighting always gets in the way of progress.

  People struggle to make time for webinars, whitepapers, networking events, blogs, articles and reports that can hold the key to improvement – particularly where the ‘quick wins’ are. People struggle to break out of day-to-day operations and climb out of the rut. When the business puts pressure on IT, the answer is always the same - There’s no time to change the way we do things because we’re too busy doing it.If you don’t have time to make change happen (or even think about making change) then you might think that things in IT will always stay bad. They won’t. They’ll be worse. If IT doesn’t get lined up to provide the business with what it needs fast, the business is going to get what they need elsewhere – from the cloud. For IT, that means a shrinking budget, shrinking staff, shrinking value and shrinking reputation. Without change, IT is on a downwards spiral to obsolescence by default. CIOs and IT directors need to define a path that will lead IT out of the rut and into the business limelight. You probably spend around 70% of your budget on keeping the lights on, so there’s not much room to play with and every investment has to be considered. If you spend money on this, you can’t have that. So how can you make these strategic decisions with confidence? Simple. The IT guys need to find out what the business wants, and map this to how IT can make it happen. Actually, not so simple when the business is reeling off demands and you’re sitting with a blank sheet of paper. As ever, something that is simple in principle is complex in execution. Break it down into two steps.


  1. Make sure you understand what the business needs. Don’t assume. Ask the business units what they need – both now and tomorrow. Ask them to anticipate business change and how it will affect their requirements. Read it back to them to validate your understanding. The more conversations you have, the better. As the saying goes, time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.
  2. Map business demands to IT solutions – and agree it with the relevant business people. If business users want IT support on the move, discuss and agree the roll-out of a mobile support application – What it is. What it will look like. What it will cost. When they will get it. By being methodical – going through each point on the business wish list – you can map out an ITSM roadmap that outlines what will be delivered and when.

  It’s not going to happen in one day. It’s not going to happen in a week, or a month, or maybe even a year. The purpose is a roadmap is to start thinking about the longer term – a journey towards alignment with the business. It sounds utopian doesn’t it? But unless IT directors, managers and practitioners get their heads around the need for change – and formulate a strategy for action - corporate IT is going to get left behind by dis-satisfied business units. IT maturity is often assessed internally according to a 5-stage model (Initial, Repeatable, Defined, Managed, Optimising), but the business only ever rates IT maturity on a scale of two:

  • Succeeding
  • Failing

 In our recent webinar, Eveline Oehrlich, VP & Research Director at Forrester, talked about how you can get to a higher IT maturity level by mapping out simple, bite-size steps that are realistic and actionable. Brian Hendry, Axios Senior Consultant, talked about where technology fits into the equation and how you can get some quick wins to help you put out fires and get your foot on the first rung of the ladder to a more mature IT organization.



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