The intended aim of an ITSM Maturity Assessment is often very different from the outcome achieved. Let me explain…..
Why do an assessment?
Organisations typically undertake assessments with the aim of achieving the following outcomes:
- Identify improvement opportunities
- Align IT with business goals
- Enhance customer satisfaction
- Optimise resource allocation
- Increase operational efficiency
- Reduce costs
- Mitigate risks
- Improve processes, tools and governance
- Foster continual improvement
As you can see, ITSM Maturity Assessments are a great idea.
When done well, a good ITSM Maturity Assessment can easily achieve these outcomes.
In theory, they provide organisations with an opportunity to baseline their current ITSM capabilities, including processes, tooling, organisation design, people and governance. In practice, they often fail to do deliver on their anticipated benefits and here’s why.
The way in which organisations set about a process maturity assessment can fall short due to several reasons.
Often, they’ll attempt to download a free self-assessment spreadsheet from the internet, which will rely upon objectivity from those undertaking the assessment. Unfortunately, it’s just not in the best interests of our own teams to admit their shortcomings, so the results are often overly optimistic, even when undertaken by various team members with the results averaged.
Assessments and audits are often muddled. An audit tends to lead to some form of certification or achievement of a standard. It will rely upon a standard set of audit criteria which will not flex to the needs of those being audited. An assessment, when done well, is flexible. It adapts to the needs of the those being assessed and adjusts accordingly. It is conversational, not based on a checklist. And it isn’t conducted by an auditor. It’s conducted by a consultant who understands that real-world service delivery excellence doesn’t have to “comply” with ITIL best practices or any other academic frameworks to be effective.
So, in essence, assessments are a good thing, but choose one which is impartial, objective, and flexible.
Challenges you will face
When undertaking an assessment, you will undoubtedly hit a number of challenges.
These might include:
- Getting agreement to do the assessment
As you will have read above, there are distinct advantages to an independent assessment, as opposed to a free self-assessment. However, there can be resistance to this. Funding will certainly be an issue. The cost versus benefit of the assessment must be sold to senior stakeholders. In addition, the primary benefit of an assessment laying the foundations for a structured improvement programme must be emphasised. It is important that all stakeholders understand that the assessment is step one of the improvement programme.
- Setting the assessment scope
Setting the correct scope of the maturity assessment is vital. As many of you will know, assessing ITSM maturity with just one or two process areas is impossible, since processes are intrinsically linked to one another. In my experience, a service lifecycle view must be adopted and the scope should reflect everything from demand management, project and service design, through transition and into live operation. Often, upstream issues will be masked by issues early in the service lifecycle, such as shortcomings in service design disciplines.
Scope must be carefully considered, not just from a process scope perspective, but also more broadly. The presence of process diagrams is inconsequential if the culture, governance, tooling or skills have shortcomings.
So we must consider a holistic approach when setting scope, which covers the right process areas through multiple lenses.
- Making the time to undertake the assessment
It is often difficult to see where to find the time to conduct the assessment, as they do require an investment in time from process owners, practitioners, IT leaders and in some cases, the team’s customers / end users. However, the long-term view must be considered here. Whilst there will be a short term hit on productivity, the assessment will almost certainly provide insights as to where improvements and efficiency gains can be found, that will more than repay the initial investment in time.
- Reaching consensus on the results
Once the assessment is over, the results will be published. Occasionally, there will be criticism which will be hard to hear. Like being told that your baby is ugly, negative feedback is seldom welcome. However, it is necessary not only to embrace all the feedback, but to reach consensus upon on it. Only at this time can the team unite to embrace the recommendations and embark upon an improvement programme.
- Making progress on the recommendations
There is a risk that the assessment and related recommendations will sit on a shelf after the assessment and the effort involved will be wasted. It is critical that responsibility is assigned to managing and tracking the implementation of the recommendations. We’d recommend setting up a governance committee to ensure that progress is made, with a member of senior IT leadership as sponsor.
Once the assessment is complete, what results do you get? A 1 to 5 score with no commentary is worthless. Results need to provide a balanced presentation, the positives and the improvement areas. A maturity score is great, but only if the marking basis is consistent. We often see common findings from our assessments, with the same issues coming up again and again see our Top 5 Common ITSM maturity assessment findings to find out more.
The output shouldn’t just contain a list of recommendations.
Recommendations need to be prioritised, preferably by impact, urgency and effort. Ideally, they should be presented in a roadmap format, to enable a clear improvement pathway to be consumed visually. A Roadmap diagram is a great way of showing the journey ahead and also of tracking progress.
The recommendations and roadmap diagram can then form the basis of an implementation plan. This plan becomes the focal point of the improvement project.
Assessment recommendations should be:
- Assigned to an individual owner
- Tracked on a regular basis
- Overseen by an appropriate governance committee
- Supported by expert advice and guidance to enable them to be implemented
- Evidence to support the assertion that they have been completed.
Progress can be tracked in a number of ways.
- Progress against individual recommendations
- Progress against groups of recommendations relating to a specific process area (e.g. Change Management)
- Re-assessment at regular intervals to refocus continual improvement efforts
Where have we done this before?
If you’d like to discuss your specific requirements, please contact us. We’d be delighted to discuss further.