Recently, I attended the kick-off

meeting of a local interest group (LIG) of the ITSMFUSA. The acronym

stands for IT Service Management Forum USA and it is a group

dedicated to fostering the delivery of IT services via ITIL. ITIL,

which I covered in an earlier post, stands for IT Information

Library, and it is a methodology developed by the British Government

for best practices in the delivery of IT services. It is popular

internationally and is just catching on in the USA. It is another

management methodology such as CobiT, ISO, Six Sigma, etc., except it

tells you what to do in the ways of best practices, not how to do


In any case, I was talking to a

colleague of mine before the meeting about why companies need (and

will pay for) what are essentially common-sense guidelines for

managing. We were discussing this as I was flipping through a book on

IT alignment with business strategy when I came across a paragraph

(and I wish I could remember it to quote it) but it read something

like: Regarding database backups, they should occur on a regularly

recurring schedule, which is made known to the customer and any

deviation from said schedule should be made known right away.

No kidding! What a brilliant bit of

insight! Another concept in the same vein (but not part of ITIL) is

Root Cause Analysis. Root Cause Analysis refers to finding the

real cause of the problem and dealing with it rather than simply

continuing to deal with the symptoms. Okay, when was the last

time you set out to just remedy the symptoms of your problems?

See my point? Most of this stuff,

especially to those who have been in the field for a long time, is

pure common sense. Yet, I am going to argue that, in fact, these

methodologies are very important.

I concluded that the reason we pay for

common sense is because of size. When organizations are small, they

tend to communicate well. There are less people involved in all

processes; each person is usually responsible for multiple processes

and the atmosphere is usually very collegial. Thus, there is little

need for lots of communication and the communication that does occur

is direct and usually unhindered by multiple layers of management.

When organizations get larger they

start to lose the ability to communicate effectively (for a variety

of reasons). Additionally, as the organization grows, the work

typically gets more complex because you have more to do, even if it

is the same stuff you’ve been doing for years. It’s like growing

from a two-person IT shop that supports 50 users to a 50 person shop

that supports 5000 users.

So you put these things together and

suddenly, all the things that we used to do that made sense get lost

in the magnitude of the work and the breakdown in communication. As

the organization grows larger, there is a tendency to over

communicate, which increases the chances that the important messages

get lost in the deluge of e-mail, memos, forms, phone calls, etc.

Thus, we turn to methodologies to help

us return to the times when we did a better job of managing by

formalizing the structure. This helps us ensure that the basics get

taken care of as they should.

ITIL, and the other methods mentioned

above are excellent examples of how best practices and their skillful

implementation can lead to outstanding results for your organization.

I do suggest you check them out – particularly ITIL as it is being

touted as the coming wave of IT service delivery management.

You might be thinking, “Oh, so

ITIL and other frameworks are just for the big guys”. And my

answer to that my Padawan (Jedi learner) is no, it is for the little

guys too. In fact, it can be just as important for the small- and

medium-size organizations as the big ones. Whoa! How can this be?

Simply because good habits and processes learned early and practiced

regularly will stay with the organization as it gets bigger, if it is

part of the culture. Even as personnel turn over, if the processes

are firmly in place, they have a tendency to stick around. So

starting out early with one of these frameworks can pay huge benefits

down the road when your organization is MEGA-GOV.

So my suggestion is to get familiar

with one or more of these methodologies and decide which you might

want to try on for size depending on the culture of your

organization. Keep in mind though, that the implementation of any

kind of framework is a BIG DEAL and requires work, work, and then

more work. Also, it needs to start from the top. If management

doesn’t buy in, it will be doubly hard to implement and succeed.

Start slow, research, and join groups

such as ITSMFUSA

in order to have a support system around you as you begin to plan

your journey into an IT management framework. And remember, this

stuff doesn’t happen over night. But by joining a group, you will

have folks to lean on and be able to pick their brains and learn from

their mistakes – and besides, the cookies were really good at the

meeting Best of luck in your