By Dick Stark
Last Thursday, I attended a panel discussion sponsored by the National Capital Area itSMF user group. The topic: DOD IT Service Management Perspective. Kirk Holmes, itSMF founding member led the discussion with representatives from the US Navy, DISA, US Coast Guard, and the the US Air Force. This was an impressive group and talk centered around service management and ITIL. Despite the investment each of these organizations has made in service management and ITIL, and even though good progress has been made, the recuring theme from each speaker was the on-going level of effort ITSM requires. Here is a summary.
ITIL maturity. ITIL has lost some of its luster recently due to its lack of perceived value and complexity. One panelist stated, “Be careful how hard you try to sell ITIL. When you try to shove it down someone’s throat, they won’t swallow.” Jeff Hiatt from the Air Force remarked, “sometimes the government is an inhibitor; we need to figure out how to get out of our own way.”
Process really matters. One panelist stated that he doesn’t mention ITIL anymore, just process improvements. It is all about IT capabilities delivered the right way 100% of the time. IT departments must focus on things that make the agency run better, not necessarily by “standardizing on ITIL. There is an incredible pressure to deliver results now and to make sure that the agency’s needs come first.
Value is more important than ever. In this era of sequestration, value, or return on investment may be the most important success factor. Drew Jaehnig from DISA mentioned that his agency is investigating ways to share potential cost savings with prospective bidders. For example, he said that a contractor might get to keep 10% of a potential $200,000 cost savings. Drew admitted that he liked the idea, but it is stuck presently in legal. All other panelists agreed that cost savings is critical and a top project selection criteria.
Adoption. It was clear that user adoption was a delicate balancing act, and that “grass roots is where it’s at.” Oftentimes the reason an ITSM project fails is not due to process or technology, but to user adoption and politics. One lesson learned was never to underestimate the role politics plays in a new initiative.
I pointed out that the anchors of service management are CMDB and service catalog and asked the panelists to describe their level of maturity with both. DISA has made the most progress. Drew described their success with federated databases and discussed the integration with Remedy, NetCracker, and Maximo. All the other panelists admitted that more progress is necessary. One discussed the difficulty of building and maintaining a CMDB. Another discussed the value a service catalog provided: “an excellent way to limit the services that our agency provides.” But it was clear that every agency lagged behind where they thought they should be. One panelist pointed out that an 85% solution should be acceptable. The remaining 15% customizations may not be affordable.
Has ITIL lost its mojo? Hardly, all representatives agreed that ITIL is a required framework for future ITSM process improvements. Jeff Hiatt summed things up this way: “My biggest mistake is that ITSM is not my full time job. We have so much more work to do.”