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The Four Dimensions of ITIL 4 and the Changing World of Work

Originally posted on owlpoint.com, June 15, 2020, and written by Mark Blanke, CEO of Owlpoint, and Chairman of The CIO Initiative

The Four Dimensions of ITIL 4 and the Changing World of Work


Recently Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced his employees could continue working from home “forever.” Knowing some people like an office environment, Dorsey is keeping the door open for those who want to return to the workplace. But ultimately, he is leaving it up to each employee to decide what they want to do. Dorsey’s statement follows reports that Fortune 100 corporations, including JPMorgan, Facebook, Capital One, Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow, and others, are extending work-from-home policies.

Post-COVID-19, having employees in an office environment can be a sticky proposition. What if someone falls ill and infects others? What if a valued employee simply doesn’t want to come in – ever? What if half of your office space is continually empty? This leads to another question – why rent expensive commercial office space if you aren’t using it?

When I started OwlPoint in 2008, I did a careful analysis of whether it made sense for us to lease office space. What were the rationales others gave for renting? I often heard things like fostering strong relationships between coworkers and establishing a strong corporate culture, or, if you can afford it, having a prestigious address will impress prospects and clients. There’s also the importance of face-to-face meetings and a central place to work on projects together. However, once it’s pointed out that ALL of those things can be done remotely - and most client meetings are at their office or in a restaurant - it came down to a place for the file cabinet.

Yes, the file cabinet. The file cabinet that holds HR records, accounting reports, checkbooks, and legal documents. The file cabinet with all the important documents in one place so the people who need it can access it. In the 1950s this made sense, but as a digital company that strives to be on the leading edge of technology, it didn’t make sense for OwlPoint. We can save all those documents securely online. The cloud is our file cabinet.

Not trying to discount that many people simply prefer to work in an office, but at this point, it is not necessary. And in the age of COVID, it may not even be wise for large companies to have everyone onsite at the same time. People may come to the office in shifts or only on certain days. This could lead to more chaos.

ITIL 4 best practices should be applied to your organization to ensure that you can respond to drastic and unexpected changes. It is crucial to look to the Four Dimensions of Service Management and evaluating how external factors affect the four dimensions. As a result, you can accommodate employees and rapidly changing workplace scenarios without missing a beat. 


VALUE STREAMS & PROCESSES

While Value Streams and Processes are listed as fourth in the diagram for the four dimensions, this dimension is first on my list because it represents what work is being done and the reference point for the other three dimensions. Value Streams represent the business processes you are participating in that provide value to the organization. This is the reason your organization exists. The processes are there to support the execution of the value streams. While something like COVID may alter many aspects of the working environment, it is most likely that the Value Streams and processes remain the same. However, many of the procedures may be updated based on the changes to the other dimensions.


ORGANIZATION & PEOPLE

COVID-19 affected every last person in your organization. As such, it is a Social and Environmental influence on all organizations has affected people the most. Many organizations prepare for an issue like a fire or a technology failure. Still, an impact that requires employees to physically stay away from their coworkers and office was an extreme many were not prepared to handle. Organizations need to solve several issues, including what technology needs to be applied to help people do their job, identify ways to maintain collaboration between teams, and ensure that people do not feel isolated and disconnected from their company. For long-term or permanent remote worker environments, some companies will need to look at their organization and make adjustments to provide better support and social influence for their workers.


INFORMATION & TECHNOLOGY
We already live in a technology world, and for IT organizations it probably isn’t challenging to implement collaboration tools that help support a remote workforce. Many organizations previously supported remote workers, but not at the magnitude to support the entire company. The first step is to ensure that people have access to the tools they need. This requires evaluating the current state to determine if technology needs to be enhanced, such as acquiring new collaboration tools, then determine if the business needs to strengthen its technologies to engage with its customers differently. One example is telemedicine for a doctor’s office. Information is also a part of this dimension and, as it relates to working from home, much information can be collected to see if productivity and quality have been maintained.


PARTNERS & SUPPLIERS 
Who are your partners, suppliers, and vendors, and what exactly are they providing? Sounds simple, but how many times have you started a subscription to a service only to find out someone else in the organization already has a license for that exact supplier or a close competitor? The last thing you want to do is for everyone who started working from home signing up for all different platforms such as Teams, Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting. For this dimension of ITIL 4 it’s essential to know every partner and supplier and to have a contract that spells out the exact deliverables and responsibilities. This process of developing a service relationship model ensures the success of IT service management.


Overall, for every business challenge, there’s a solution. Whether you decide to have an onsite or offsite workforce or a combination of the two, the effective implementation and management of IT services cannot be overstated. 

If you find yourself overwhelmed and wondering where to turn for answers, chances are ITIL 4 can show you the path to solutions. Managing a disparate workforce requires a manager to adopt a new approach. Even though people are apart, technology can make them feel connected. Having the correct platforms for project management, brainstorming solutions, and social engagement can ensure your companies vision and mission are top of mind for every employee.

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