Maintaining a Balanced IT Service Management Approach

Erika Flora
Written by Erika Flora

For an organizational transformation effort to be successful, there are three components that need to be addressed, namely: people, process, and technology. When we run into trouble or the program does not deliver what we expect, it’s often due to an unbalanced focus in only one or two of the three areas.  To find long-term success, we must focus on all three areas.  Otherwise, we become out of balance, and our efforts will immediately stall. Here, we will discuss what happens when we lose our focus along with some ways to course correct. (For ideas on how to implement a focus on people, process, and technology, see How to go from zero to ITIL in six months (without breaking a sweat).)



Technology Focus

A fool with a tool is still a fool. – Anonymous

The most common mistake we make is placing too heavy an emphasis on technology.  If you or your team have ever uttered the phrase, “A tool will fix all our problems,” you are in for trouble.  A tool alone cannot fix a bad process – it will only speed it up.  A tool cannot tell you how to run your business; and if people don’t have a solid understanding of how to approach and configure a tool, you will hear things like “I really hate this tool”.  I’ve seen great tools implemented with little to no emphasis on process or people (getting people ITIL training, defining who does what and when, etc.), and they’ve ended up blaming the tool for all their problems. 

I’ve even seen organizations scream for a better tool only to implement it and have people scream to go back to the old, awful technology.  This often happens because we move to a new tool with our old, cumbersome way of working; and a new tool with new capabilities really shouldn’t be designed or implemented in the same way.  When you make the decision to purchase new technology, you must set aside time (and budget) to figure out what the new way of working will look like.  Otherwise, you will waste your precious time and energy rolling out something that people end up unhappy with, and it’s difficult to recover from a less-than-stellar implementation – even with great technology.

People Focus

The second most common mistake we make is to place too much emphasis on training.  Let me give the caveat that there is tremendous value in providing training for your team; it teaches your staff the “why” behind best practice in IT, and your teams will undoubtedly have deeper, more meaningful conversations following training.  However, if you stop there and don’t follow training up with process re-design, coaching, or automation, then you will have some challenges.

A customer once told me that if they had to do it all again, they would not have just done training because they ended up with a situation where staff members were wandering around thinking they were experts on ITIL and IT Service Management, but not understanding how to do or change anything; and leadership quickly became frustrated by the lack of progress.  If you focus solely on training, you end up with an environment where people understand the theory, but they don’t quite know how to put that theory into action.

Process Focus

I don’t generally see this mistake. Process is generally the area that receives the least amount of focus because it’s not fun nor sexy (though you can make process design sexy).  Training teaches our staff the “what and why”, and adding a focus on process gives us the ability to say “how” are we going to work in a way that’s consistent, repeatable, and efficient.  Process, by itself, however, does not do the trick.  You must pair it with good technology that helps you automate your processes.  Otherwise, you will be bogged down in manual work and spend too much time that could be better used in other ways.

Finding Balance

So, how do you know where your team is out of balance?  The diagram below gives you an idea of some of the common complaints we hear from customers based on where they have placed too much of a focus.  Maybe some of these sound familiar?  

Performing an organizational assessment is another good way to get at the heart of where things have gone off track and build a roadmap to help you start to act in getting items resolved (see more details on why an assessment is worth the investment).  Other techniques I’ve seen help include: following up training with an all-day strategic planning review session or follow-on, weekly coaching.  Another great technique to add some balance is to pair training and/or technology implementation with process design sessions, so that you simplify and refine your processes.


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Originally published June 06 2017, updated January 01 2019