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
One classic issue is when L&D adopt a strategy of sending employees on public training courses thinking the job is done. The job is far from done! In fact, such thinking could end up with the job being undone. Public training courses, like any service, will undoubtedly introduce risks and these risks need to be managed, such as managing the momentum and ensuring the initiatives are embedded. Again, I could compose an article dedicated to this topic alone however, for the purpose of this article I will keep this brief:
Public training courses promote different classroom instructors therefore, one public course can be worlds apart from another, resulting in one group of employees having a completely different understanding and view point to another group of employees.
Public training courses have pre-set course durations which can be so unforgiving for some employees and in turn promote inconsistent exam pass rates. Meaning these courses cannot be revisited (e.g. played-back) to suit the learning pace of each employee equating to some employees failing their exam and in turn become de-motivated and despondent when this could have been easily avoided. Employees should not feel as though they are walking into a competitive arena, the L&D strategy should be based on the whole team succeeding.
Public training courses publish a calendar of pre-scheduled course dates which are out of the control of L&D, so it is likely that any initiative will be based on a series of hit and miss events. Not to mention, new starters who fall outside of such a schedule will substitute this shortfall by resorting to mimicking individuals - so let’s hope these individuals attended one of the better public courses in the series and passed their exam!
In order to ensure the momentum is properly managed and initiatives are embedded within the respective organisation L&D should aim to:
· Retain as much control over the resources and schedules as it can in-house
· Ensure where possible, that the necessary resources are available on-demand
· Monitor and measure progress and performance and act on this accordingly
We at ITSM Assist, support L&D to manage the momentum and embed the initiatives through providing certified training courses based on the following combinations:
On-demand 24x7 (in-house) online e-learning: Provides full access to our Axelos/Peoplecert approved online ITIL certification e-courses on demand 24x7. Therefore, under the control of L&D, employees can access accordingly and play-back as many times to suit. Some customers have even opted to upload our e-courses onto their own (in-house) L&D system.
Note: for clarification, our ITIL certification e-courses are presented to the same standards as we deliver in-class, comprising of MP4-video (trainer presented) lessons complete with online knowledge tests and mock exams. You only have to check-out the company organisations who use our e-courses to verify credibility.
Blended training: We provide onsite classroom instructor-led (Axelos/Peoplecert approved) ITIL training courses which combines employees having full access to the respective online e-course 7-days prior to classroom delivery and 7-days after classroom delivery. This means:
Employees come to class with already a comprehensive understanding and where classroom training reinforces and strengthens employee understanding which also significantly increases exam pass rates.
Employees have the option to take their exam onsite on the last classroom course day as a paper-based exam, or after class at a time to suit as an online exam.
Note: Onsite means where we deliver the course on the customer’s own site and ensure the same instructor for the relevant course topic. Furthermore, this option can significantly reduce costs compared with public training courses.
Creating a brand in-house
To support embedding L&D initiatives, motivating employees and measuring achievement the L&D platform should create its own branded certification/acknowledgement scheme. This is not to replace industry recognised certification schemes but to accompany these however, focused on in-house business relevancy. Meaning, industry recognised exams are based on a syllabus of generic topic questions whereas in-house exams/knowledge tests would be based on a syllabus that specifically relate to how the job gets done. For example, such a syllabus could incorporate topics relating to the process for managing VIP requests, or how a new service is entered the service catalogue?
Think about it, why do students take industry recognised exams? The answer is so the student can communicate to the relevant examination institute (EI) that they understand the topic. Well in-house exams/knowledge tests would be based on employees communicating to management that they understand the job.
We at ITSM Assist, support L&D to create a brand in-house:
Whether as paper-based or online exams/knowledge tests we can work with L&D to assist with the composition and production of an in-house ITSM-related certification/acknowledgement scheme, which can even be accompanied with a series of customised online e-courses available on-demand 24x7.
Coordinating value through outputs
Public training courses including our onsite blended training courses focus on industry recognised certification training and therefore, follow the relevant syllabus accordingly. Therefore, these courses would not focus on the composition and production of specific outputs aimed at facilitating outcomes for a target consumer group. For example, such training courses would not incorporate the composition and production of a service catalogue. However, those L&D organisations whose platform contribute to facilitating this is worth every penny of their existence.
We at ITSM Assist support L&D to coordinate value through outputs by providing onsite customised training courses. Following initial onsite consultation, we can provide specific workshop-based courses based on the composition and production of specific outputs with a view of fulfilling the desired outcomes. E.g. composing and producing a useable service catalogue. If preferred, we can even produce these workshop courses as online customised e-courses on-demand 24x7
Feel free to contact me direct should you wish to discuss further.