WILL YOUR ITIL/ITSM INITIATIVES FAIL?
Practitioner Advices to IT Leaders
Today, most organizations place a high importance on technology, as they allocate budgets and resources to developing tools which enable them to drive better customer experiences, optimize their processes, increase overall effectiveness, and generate insights and reports meant to help organizations better understand their stakeholders and markets. For example, in the US, companies are spending over 50% of their invested capital on IT (Laudon and Laudon, 2010), while international figures are increasing year by year. It is no wonder that adopting ITIL/ITSM has become a priority for many organizations and that rates are going up. According to research conducted in 2009*, in the USA, almost 54% of companies adopted ITIL on an operational level and almost 25% adopted ITIL on a strategic level, while a 2014 study** published by the Association for Information reveals that nearly 50% of the organizations worldwide have adopted ITIL, with Germany, Austria, and Switzerland coming in at 75%, the UK at 53% and the US and Australia at 40%. Still, we, at IT Chapter, know from experience that although up to 70% of companies include ITIL in their strategies, almost half of them fail to absorb it. On an organizational level, this equals wasted time, wasted money, confused stakeholders, and an overwhelming lack of trust towards internal IT departments.
With all this in mind, I have decided to look at the factors which often affect ITIL/ITSM implementation and which, from my experience, revolve around how people relate to new ways of doing things. I have made a list of the top seven reasons why people resist change and seven advices for what IT leaders can do to prevent them.
REASON #1 : Lack (or absence) of deliberate approach to managing organizational changes. Too often, leaders or initiators of ITIL/ITSM implementation projects believe that people will follow it just because they are told to or just because it should make sense for them. They fail to realize that resistance to change is an inevitable burden, which should be anticipated and dealt with in its early stages.
ADVICE: Use skilled Management of Change Experts who focus on assessing and influencing people’s behaviours and the overall internal culture during any major ITIL / ITSM initiative. Do it even when you strongly believe that all your associates are “go-getters” and that they do not need additional motivation to embrace change.
REASON #2 : Lack of transparency . Often, leaders have the habit of crafting strategies behind closed doors and imposing them on other team members without letting them in on their plans. In these cases, new ideas and projects tend to be thrown into work without no prior explanation. This makes people feel confused and uncomfortable; thus, they lose their stamina and motivation, which eventually leads to them interfering with ITIL implementation.
ADVICE: Communicate, put a face on the change, name people responsible for it and have them answer their colleagues’ questions, as well as provide support. This will make associates understand what ITIL can actually do for them and, thus, will make them more open to it.
REASON #3 : Leaders fail to set implementation examples. When it comes to new process implementation, managers and leaders need to be informed and follow them to the letter.
ADVICE: Leaders should make all conscious efforts to walk the walk.
REASON #4: IT and Business don’t communicate. At IT Chapter, we are strong believers in the cooperation between business and IT as a means of driving success and measurable results with strong business outcomes. As with everything, especially in ITIL/ITSM implementation, Business and IT Partners need to work together, to watch and protect the company’s goals, as well as respond to its needs. So offer everyone a seat at the table and ensure that all points are taken into account and that possible issues are being discussed and mediated.
ADVICE: Undertake a deliberate approach in building the relationship between Business and IT structures.
REASON #5: Lack of feedback. Companies often tend to implement ITIL in unidirectional manners. This means that they create procedures, which they impose on people, without getting feedback and seeing whether they are feasible out in the field. This leads to the development and propagation of a set of unrealistic measures which only work on paper. To prevent this from happening, people involved in adopting ITIL should be consulted, and leaders should focus on the continual improvement of their strategies and measures.
ADVICE: Design your measurement framework early in the course of your implementation stage. Always remember that you cannot control what you cannot measure.
REASON #6: Leaders ignore the “learning dip” phenomenon. In the implementation stage, team members who will learn the new ways of doing their work using new ITIL/ITSM methods will have to increase their efforts to achieve the same performance results, because of the learning curve. This means that the performance will become worse before it gets better, because anything new requires adjusting to and dead time. This should be expected, anticipated and managed.
ADVICE: Acknowledge and reward the extra efforts and first successes of your team members, ensure that they get extra perks and incentives which encourage them to go along with the change and serve the organization’s goals.
REASON #7: Lack of empathy. IT Professionals often give it less credit that they should. With each new challenge associates are faced with, they experience several emotions, such as: fear of getting dragged out of their comfort zone, uncertainty, fear they won’t live up to what is expected of them, fear of getting fired / replaced etc. When implementing change, leaders need to take all of these into account and ensure that they offer people the necessary information which enables them to understand the big picture, their role in it, as well as feel safe and inspired. When change strikes, associates need to be kept in the loop, feel supported, empowered in making decisions and be treated as part of the change.
ADVICE: Apply your active listening skills and your emotional intelligence. Listen, listen, listen and empathize, make your team members the feel like they are supported and that you are all in the same boat.