Learning & Development for ITSM
This article does not regurgitate aspects taken from a learning and development (L&D) text book, this article has been based purely on my own personal experiences. Whilst I do not profess to be a L&D expert, as an accredited Axelos®/Peoplecert® ITIL® training instructor combined with many years working in IT I do have in-depth knowledge regarding the most effective approach when it comes to achieving IT service management (ITSM) L&D goals and objectives, and this article focusses on just that, companies getting the best return on its ITSM L&D investment.
There are five key elements that I want to focus on:
· Outputs and outcomes
· The L&D platform
· Managing the momentum and embedding the initiative
· Creating a brand in-house
· Coordinating value through outputs
Outputs and outcomes
It is important to firstly establish the intended outcomes and then map the required outputs to these outcomes accordingly. In fact, this detail would form part of a business case when proposing a business action that requires a level of sponsorship. Whilst this may appear to be an obvious step such detail is frequently overlooked, and with such oversights becoming exposed when we are expected to measure achievement if there is little or nothing to measure against?
For clarification, an output is a tangible or intangible deliverable which a service provider delivers, whereas an outcome is the result a service consumer wants and where value is created. Outcomes would be identified through understanding the goals and objectives and outputs typically derived from establishing how we propose to get there?
Once the outcomes and outputs have been mapped it becomes clear that both the service provider and the service consumer each have responsibilities. The service provider has a responsibility to manage the resources necessary to deliver the outputs and the service consumer has a responsibility to manage the resources necessary to transform these outputs into outcomes. The best relationship the provider and consumer can have is where both parties understand each other’s roles and responsibilities.
For the purpose of providing examples; An intended outcome could be to reduce costs and improve efficiencies through the introduction of self-service capabilities with a contributing output being the composition of a service catalogue. Or an outcome could be to visibly justify investments made in IT with a contributing output being the composition of one or more service level agreements (SLAs). Or at entry level, may be an outcome could be to speed up generic understanding and support collaborative working when onboarding new personnel with a contributing output being ITIL® foundation training.
The L&D Platform:
This is the core of L&D, and from where a L&D strategy and culture is formed. This strategy and culture will determine the degree of L&D successes, failures and cost efficiencies. The L&D platform should ideally act as an integrator between the provider and consumer. In fact, the L&D platform should adopt practices that operate transparently with relationship management, supplier management, service level management, business analysis and the service desk. I could compose an article dedicated entirely as to why these relationships should exist with L&D however, this is a separate topic.
So, now realising that an outcome is a result of what starts off as a business demand, and with the IT organisation (in the context of a provider) required to deliver the outputs necessary to meet this demand, from a L&D perspective, the L&D platform should guide IT in terms of suitably equipping itself with the necessary capabilities. To do this L&D must understand both the intended outcomes from the business (consumer) perspective and required outputs from the IT (provider) perspective, and furthermore, actively become responsible to contributing to this value chain. What we do not want however, is L&D to be just a place where L&D resources are requested and sourced, almost like a library from where you can hire or purchase a book as and when you need one. In other words, whilst a library will provide you with a book on how a garden should be turfed it will have zero interest or contribution as to whether you actually turf a garden or not, nor will the library will be interested in why you are turfing the garden?
If people are unable to see how an organisation within a company actively contributes to the value chain, they will attempt to circumvent it or see it as a process/procedure that is purely cosmetic and/or bureaucratic Without digressing too much, some service desks are circumvented for the same reason. E.g. the consumer knows that many service desks are not populated with technical experts and in the eyes of the consumer they want an expert, hence the prompt to circumvent the desk. However, if the service desk engendered confidence that the consumer’s issue will be truly owned and guided through to conclusion and able to demonstrate emotional intelligence combined with awareness of business impact, the consumer would not be so inclined to circumvent the service desk.
Managing the momentum and embedding the initiative
The most common cause of L&D failures is an inability to manage the momentum and embed (institutionalise) the committed initiatives, and as a result we can expect to see:
· People reverting-back to old ways
· Initiatives impacted when certain individuals leave the company
· New starters placing too much focus on mimicking individuals