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Achieving ITSM Balance

In speaking with colleagues and practitioners, I have found that one of the greatest difficulties for companies to overcome in a Service Management implementation is the desire to be more complex and unbalanced than is absolutely necessary. One of the most basic and underlying elements of good Service Management is the achievement of balance in how we approach the delivery of value to the customers and users through services. Balance helps us to find an equitable point that brings value to the customers and users without throwing out the efforts and actions needed to keep IT going.

When I speak of balance, I am referring to finding the middle ground between extremes. These include balances like the amount of time and effort spent between Incident Management and Problem Management; or perhaps the balance between flexibility and stability; or even the challenges of being proactive versus reactive; customer/service-centric versus technology-centric. There are a multitude of these types of balances and challenges that face an organization trying to use the best practices of Service Management.

An old adage states that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. This is true in IT as much as anywhere. We turn our attention to those things and tasks that make the most noise or those people who have the loudest voice. As humans we want to please others. It gives us satisfaction, praise and rewards. However, in simply trying to satisfy every need as quickly as possible in the easiest, most cost effective and timely way we are actually often throwing things out of balance. Sometimes it takes a hard choice to go down the “road less traveled” to find a more stable and effective, efficient and economical balance that brings the greatest value to the customers and users, but does not bring instant gratification.

We could spend all of our time doing Incident Management and resolving service issues and putting out “fires”. But this means a choice not to do Problem Management and gain the benefits of finding problems before they appear or stopping Incidents from constantly recurring. If we put all our time to finding root cause, we will have unresolved issues that impact the value we promised to the customers and users. So the best option is to find a balance between Incident Management and Problem Management that will allow us to resolve issues while spending some of our time being proactive with future potential problems.

To better achieve these benefits of balance we must do several things:
  • Identify opposing views or ideas or action sets that exist within our organizations
  • Determine the balance or middle ground between the extremes for our individual organizations
  • Identify actions we can take now to move towards that middle ground or balance point
  • Put those actions into place
  • Continually improve by looking for more balances to achieve


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