How to manage the new ITSM tool once it goes live

By ITIL® from Experience©

This article addresses two topics:

  • How to track issues users have with the ITSM Tool, and;
  • Who is responsible for its administration?

During a project, stakeholders and users usually know where to report their issues. Most tool implementation projects use an issue log, action register or defect-bug tracking tool to manage issues and requirements.

This usually continues for some time after the tool is commissioned to production (i.e. go-live) in order to manage issues discovered during the warranty period and early life support. Then, it is usually discontinued when the project is closed. Unfortunately, at times this creates a void as users no longer know where to report incident or request services like training on the tool (see Do people need training if the ITSM tool is easy to learn).

Although this gap is a symptom of a lack of transition planning to operations, one approach is to instruct all users to log their ITSM tool related Incidents and Service Requests in the tool. An alternative is for users to contact the Service Desk for logging. Some may argue that people can log their own events since the Service Desk is not a note-taking service however, the advantage is that the Service Desk can answer how-to questions and provide process guidance given that they quickly become power users as it is their primary work tool (see How to get people to log tickets).

The benefits of using “the tool to manage the tool” are that it:

  1. Gathers data and statistics on the ITSM/ITIL program
  2. Helps gauge resources required to support the tool
  3. Enables users to see the status of their request
  4. Sets user expectations since they can see the number of requests currently opened
  5. Builds a knowledge base on the ITSM Tool decreasing resolution times
  6. Tracks issues reported to the supplier and gathers data to evaluate and monitor performance against their SLA.

This approach also helps tool administrators to:

  • Experience the tool from a user perspective leading to a better understanding of user requests and empathy as they may be experiencing similar difficulties
  • Learn the tool and build expert knowledge in its use resulting in more efficient and effective support
  • Pilot new features by using them before making them available to users.

Now that all these calls are logged, who is responsible for the tool’s administration?

If the organization has an Application Management process, then the ITSM tool is no different than any other application except that the customer is Information Technology (IT). In absence of an established process, the natural inclination is for whoever bought the tool and implemented it to be responsible for its administration. Often this ends up being the Service Desk as many organizations justify the tool’s acquisition to replace their aging tool.

However, an integrated ITSM tool is like an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for IT. Many different groups use it and sometimes compromise must be made in its configuration and enhancements to meet all stakeholders’ needs. In addition, changes must be coordinated to avoid inadvertently impacting the business process of another group also using the tool.

Caution must be taken to ensure that whoever is responsible for the tool’s administration does not configure, evolve and give priority to their modifications over other groups’ requests and needs – even though they have the power to control the tool and can use it to their advantage. For example, if the Service Desk has this responsibility and they have a “it’s our tool” attitude, the tool will become branded as a “Service Desk” tool to primarily meet their needs. If it is to be used by all of I.T., tension will develop between the Service Desk and the other groups like the Infrastructure, thus reinforcing silos. This can cause significant head winds to the maturity of Service Management (see Should we do a maturity assessment).

Moreover, a proliferation of tools can result as people’s needs are not properly served by a shared tool. For example, one organization has two ERP systems as one was made to manage the supply chain to the detriment other groups, thus HR implemented its own to meet its business needs.

An established governance of the ITSM tool helps balance the needs of all groups. A comprehensive Responsibility-Accountability-Consult-Inform (RACI) matrix should be developed to clarify everyone`s role and responsibilities (see When to use a RACI Matrix). In the meantime consider the following as a starting point.

Business OwnerAn I.T. executive to act as the customer, authority for hierarchical escalations and a referee is required. The individual whose budget acquired the tool can be considered but, ideally a neutral party should be found like the Project Management Office or the CIO (see What does it mean to have CIO and management support.
Manager of the System AdministratorsEnsures that the business needs of all groups are met and that a change does not adversely impact with another group’s business process.
User RepresentativesRepresents their group’s needs, coordinates the review and testing of planned changes and identify business process impacts. They are also responsible to communicate changes to their group (see We need a simple Communication Plan that will be actioned).
System AdministratorsDesign and implements solution to address user needs based on the tool’s functionality and limitations.

Input to this governance can be submitted by having users log their issues in the tool or by contacting the Services Desk as discussed previously. Some organizations may want to instruct users to assign their issues to their Group Representative first so that it can be reviewed to ensure that the issue is indeed related to the tool and not to the business process, its rules or due to a lack of knowledge and training.

Lastly, do not forget to inform users of the procedure to report their issues. This can be done during their tool training or project updates by adding a sentence or two in the email communiqué/newsletter announcing the new tool. Simply put the message is to: “use the tool to manage the tool.”

Published on: 2014-02
Last updated on: 2017-02-20

"Because it can be done, does not mean it should be done. Make sure that the ITSM technology does not outpace the process & people's capabilities and level of maturity." Denis Matte

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