It is important to establish an ITIL service management training program to examine the roles people in the organization will play and the skills (from a process and technology perspective) that they will need to fulfill the specific responsibilities.
This is very similar in concept to the ITIL V3 Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed model for things like change management. Once you set up these matrixes, you can deliver very accurate, targeted levels of learning.
There are a few tools and techniques that organizations can use to address the people part of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and enhance the training process. In ITIL service management you need to create processes like incident, problem and configuration management. However, most of the people who have roles in these ITIL processes have not been involved in developing them. If someone was not part of developing the incident management process, for example, it is harder for them to understand the nuances of the benefits the process delivers and adequately deal with the pressure that comes when this process is kicked off internally. The challenge is to expose your staff members to the ITIL processes and give them firsthand experience in a safe and controlled environment rather than a production environment.
Fortunately, there are simulation programs and workshops that allow participants to design, execute and improve process and technology enablement in a controlled and safe environment. This allows them to understand not only the "how" but also the "why" of each step of their ITIL service management processes. For example, when participants first formulate their incident management process, everyone generally agrees that prioritizing incidents is a good thing, yet they rarely define the priorities and everything comes through to the resolver group as a priority level one, requiring the same level of urgency as the next incident.
Another common mistake is not making sure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities in the process. Without a clear delineation of duties, everybody starts to swarm around the service desk, trying to "add value." As the ITIL service management simulation workshop progresses, these roadblocks and inefficiencies are removed and people have a clear understanding of the benefits of the process and why it was developed with a specific workflow.
Simulation workshops allow people to immerse themselves in ITIL and service management processes and look for continual improvements as they move from round to round of the workshop. There are a number of organizations that offer such simulation workshops centered around applying ITIL and service management principles.
Depending on their service management roles and responsibilities, people will also need different degrees of process and technology training. For example, an incident management person will need different skills and understanding of the process than a release management person. The good news is that the days when you needed to send all your support people to days of costly technology training are gone. A very cost-effective way of delivering service management process and technology educational content is through the use of live and recorded webinars. Using Web-based technologies allows users to broadcast live sessions, including presentations and live technology feeds. They can also be recorded for later playback and review.
In addition, ITIL process-based modules can be created and run from individual desktops to help people better understand the process. Imagine the productivity increase where someone in the change management process has access to educational content that is presented in the context of the function that he is performing in his current tool set.
ITIL-based use cases can also be created to test whether a given tool is supporting the process as required. These use cases should demonstrate the key functions that most users will be required to perform. Combining process modules and use cases into a recorded webinar creates a powerful learning tool for distribution prior to going live with an ITIL process.
Subject-matter experts (SMEs) -- those people considered the most knowledgeable about an ITIL process -- should be identified and called on to help other users, to create use cases and to help with test cases to ensure that the technology actually does what is required. These SMEs or process champions should take part in the user acceptance testing part of a program. This could be as formal as them signing off on the test cases or as informal as giving them tasks to perform in the test environment. They could even be challenged to "break" the tool set in a safe environment, within the bounds of the system requirements.
Whatever ITIL service management training program is put in place, it must be ongoing to ensure material is updated with new releases and enhancements and adjusted based on changing user base. If you put some effort into ITIL service management training and communications, you will see great improvements in the motivation and engagement of your people and, thus, improvements in your process and technology.
Peter Doherty is a published author on IT asset management with the Cutter Consortium. He worked on the ITIL V3 refresh and was a contributing author to the ITIL V3 Service Operations book. He has a Manager's Certificate in IT Service Management and is also a principal consultant in CA Inc.'s Pacific region.
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This was first published in May 2009