How to Win Time and Budget for your ITIL Project

I promised a summary of my session at the Gartner conference. You will miss out on all the amusing anecdotes, striking videos, and stomach-threatening jokes of my speech, but a promise is a promise. On the plus side, here you´re safe from my addiction to throwing things at the audience (and I swear I do).

Not surprisingly, the session was about taking Monitoring as a transformational opportunity. If you have an “ITIL project” (which, according to Westerman and Hunter, is the wrong way to say it) keep reading. If you don’t, keep reading anyway. Hey, I won’t let you escape so easily.

I started off with the MIT Sloan School of Management research findings on how non-IT people see the IT department. (As you may imagine, non-IT people have nice things to say about us, such as “CIOs speak a foreign language” and that “IT is a black hole.”)

Well, we all know that remediation of the apparent misalignment is to show strong value and real return on investments. ITIL may help, right? But, I argued next, ITIL can easily direct IT guys into what Ian Clayton calls “inside-out” traps, especially because CMDB projects—if done following ITIL books religiously—may take forever. Or even longer.

As we were celebrating our first 15 years inArgentina(we are 20 years old as a global company this year as well), I then shared my vision of success: Success is making the people that trust you look great. So after that, I revealed what I consider the Tango/04 “secret success sauce”: our Agile Service Management processes.

I will give you a glimpse of them here, but please don’t tell anybody.

First, instead of creating a huge CMDB with arcane relationships, create a Real-Time Service Model (RTSM). (Hey Gartner, no “IT” before Service, please…sometimes they dub it “Real-Time IT Service Model,” which completely misses the point.)

I owe you a formal definition of RTSM, but think of something where you can model your services (not just IT services) and store the real dependencies among components. These relationships are computational, which means you will use them to calculate real service status, as opposed to the relationship salad CMDBs are prone to. It looks like a tree: services on top, components as branches. Predefined rules, a bit of automation, a bit of drag and drop, done. Hours, not months.

And yes, this is 100% ITIL compatible (if such a thing exists). And you can still have your CMDB on the side if you so fancy it. In fact, it will be easier to deploy and maintain.

Then, you use a very simple incident prioritization schema. ITIL doesn’t say how to prioritize incidents. By setting relative values for the services in the RTSM, the priority can be calculated automatically so that it´s obvious for all the players involved which incident should be solved first—the one that really affects business services the most. Look ma, Operations is fully aligned with the business! At least tactically.

Now think strategically. How are you going to improve service availability?

The whole purpose of ITIL is to achieve “continuous improvement.” But, as Rob England says, CSI is the last book, so it rarely gets read. And ITIL doesn’t specifically say how to actually deploy this.

Again, by leveraging the RTSM, you can get a ranking of the components that are really impacting services the most. A simple report, and it´s obvious where to focus efforts and investments: on the bottlenecks. You can have a great talk with a CFO with all the facts clearly depicted. Well, maybe “great talk with a CFO” is an oxymoron. Sorry, I got carried away.

Not one of these processes is possible without an RTSM. Of course, I am sparing you a lot of details as I don’t want to discuss products here. But the main idea is that you should strongly consider starting your ITIL project using the RTSM instead of with a CMDB. Why? Because it will give you results. Real business value in a relatively short time. Results are good, as you can prove that you know what you´re doing, and you can get more time and budget for the rest of your “ITIL project” (but please, don’t call it that!).

And it doesn’t stop there. By focusing on the business services, not just the IT services, your monitoring project becomes a Visibility project and you may end up leading a radical transformation of your company, enhancing processes, eliminating bottlenecks, and unearthing all kinds of opportunities.

I really believe in all of this. Mainly because it´s working! We see people getting promoted all around the globe by focusing on “outside-in” Visibility, not just technical monitoring.

After the session we popped some bottles of champagne to celebrate our anniversary. The whole thing was recorded, so I will upload the video soon, but, unfortunately, video technology is not yet advanced enough for you to taste the champagne. Next time, join us! I’d love the opportunity to throw stuff in your general direction.

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