As we push forward in a new year with the continued improvement of IT, service management and ITSM, it should be a time of reflection and renewed focus. A focus on the core things that can truly elevate the performance of all things IT, including the critical delivery and management of services through our service management technologies, processes and people.

Make no mistake, because service management touches so much of what we do across IT and increasingly across the business, this is a great example of a domain that deserves our attention and even more so, a discipline that must hold our highest expectations. We should expect to be great at service management. Nothing less will do.

Being great at service management, both for IT and for the business beyond IT, must include a dedication to fundamentals, many of which are fully under our control. One such fundamental is the relentless simplification of all our service management processes and systems. This should be iterative, and an ongoing cultural priority. As we pursue this commitment, note these efforts will intersect with ITIL, Agile and DevOps initiatives and in a way that is very much complementary. Each will make the other better.

Let’s look at a few areas that will help us advance the simplicity of service management.

A Critical Review

The service management and IT organizations should start by asking the tough questions of ourselves. This is a great exercise. A careful review of all tasks and business processes, as well as asking: 

  • Why is this work necessary?
  • Who are the consumers of this work product? 
  • Can any of this work be simplified or eliminated completely? 

Legacy systems are a great opportunity for improvement simply due to their age and changes in the business.

  • Are each of our legacy systems required today? 
  • Do we have any overlap in our current systems or business processes? 
  • Do we have manual approvals that slow us down? 
  • Can any manual approvals be eliminated? 
  • Can steps in current business processes be eliminated? 

These are just a few examples and there are many, many more questions that should be asked. The key is to question everything. This is a transformative mindset to nurture. Nothing is off limits. 

A few great places to start this review is with some of the core elements of service management—fundamental incident management, request management, self-service and the escalation process.

When we start to ask these questions, we are creating the opportunity to learn and to get better.

All Waste Must Go

Any form of waste in IT and in service management should not be carried into our future and this is the perfect time to cleanse our organization of this waste. Waste is poison. 

Because we have mature processes, tools and systems in place today—and given that many have been in place for 20-30 years—it is only natural that some degree of waste has accumulated over this time. The larger and more complex processes of service management should be included here. Good examples are change management and configuration management. This journey within the journey should be seen as an opportunity to be embraced, since we know that every element of waste can be eliminated. This results in precious time saved, resources saved, and what is likely to translate into an improvement in agility and speed—two of our strategic priorities for service management.

The elimination of waste is a naturally simplifying force.

More agile services and faster service delivery are good for everybody and can turbocharge the business.

Prepare for Automation

The use of automation and AI technologies over the next 10 years will change the face of the IT organization and that of service management. These technologies have improved dramatically in the past five years, and most service management organizations have automation at the top or near the top of the list of priorities for the next few years. 

But it is critical that we don’t simply automate the business rules and business processes we have in place today. Automating business processes and workflows that have not been scrubbed of waste and simplified as much as possible would be a tremendous waste of our resources. With this recognition, now is the time to perform our internal reviews, to eliminate every possible case of waste, and to simplify the business rules and processes to be automated in the future. 

This important work and careful vetting brings us a clean baseline that is fully automation-ready.

Simple Is Faster and Speed Is Strategic

Simple is always faster than complex, and simplicity brings the added benefits of being naturally lean and agile. Simple systems are easier to learn, easier to change and faster in execution. The closer we look, the easier it becomes to appreciate the many benefits of smplicity. Once we take simplifying our tasks and processes and systems onboard as a priority, most organizations will find many opportunities to fulfill this goal. The potential improvements are everywhere in most mature organizations. And because one of the fundamental goals of service management is the timely delivery of quality services, we can further embrace simple as it directly enables these core priorities. Simple processes will yield a better user experience, improve quality and consistency, and improve our speed of delivery. Simple can win our admiration in so many ways.

Remember, simple is not just about savings, although that is certainly a benefit of simplicity, but that would be missing the point. Simplicity is much more. It is powerful, it is repeatable, it is reliable and it is elegant. Keep it simple and great things are sure to follow.

Keep the faith my friends.

Expert predictions for 2019 and beyond