Automating The Department of Redundancy Department

This post was first published by Wes Fitzpatrick on LinkedIn (19th Feb 2015). It has been edited and updated.

In recent times I’ve had the privilege to sit in on client meetings with small businesses who are moving from paper-based system to a partially or fully automated ITSM process.

It’s a great boost to see a customer who is excited by the reduced time, reduced cost and efficiency that a new system is going to bring – especially when you are the one who is going bringing it to them! It’s where you can immediately see the benefits of introducing ITIL to a system where it is only vaguely understood. Something that you can often lose sight of working in well-established larger organisations.

That said, it never ceases to amaze me during scoping exercises how often a customer wants to replicate the the paper system in the automated one.

Working with a product like Ivanti’s Cloud ITSM or ServiceAide, customisation is not a problem – there’s very little you can’t do to customise it to your own processes, however one of the questions that should be asked before blindly accepting requirements is why?

In Change Management for example, a paper-based process might require 3 different sign-off’s which is an easy trap for an executive to translate as 3 additional approval stages that need to be added to the automated system. But if the automated system allows you set up a CAB, notify all 3 people at once, set the approval rates – there may really be only one approval stage needed. In such examples, I’ve seen far too many situations where 3 stages have been created, rather than trying to help the customer to realise the benefits of automation.

The danger by trying to replicate as much as the paper-system as possible – you’re potentially cancelling out the benefits and efficiency the system brings.

It’s important to look at your current process and question what are the intended outcomes, particularly in light of the objectives behind automation. Rather than look at things from your processes to introduce to automation, try to look for things that automation can help you leave behind.

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