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ITSM program: Tips on where to start, from a CIO who's been there

When Link Alander, CIO and vice chancellor of college services at Lone Star College System, talks about his ITSM program, CIOs listen.

“How did you get started and how do you keep it going? That’s probably the biggest thing I hear,” Alander said.

Lone Star College, a community college system with six campuses and serving more than 100,000 students, is the Houston area’s largest institution of higher education. Over the past decade, Alander has transformed the delivery of IT services from a subpar collection of help desks to an ITSM program that now serves as the foundation for a major push into enterprise service management — the emerging discipline of applying ITSM principles to other business processes.

The transformation of the ITSM program was major, involving an overhaul of IT infrastructure, and was not without its bumps, including a switch in providers to his current ITSM vendor, ServiceNow, and a decision to bring the service desk back in-house.

The initial leg of the journey, which you can read about here, is an example of what CIOs can do in transforming services — not just for IT but for the business. But Alander is the first to acknowledge that developing a mature ITSM program is tough. Really tough.

“It gets overwhelming,” he said. “I don’t care what service management tool you want to use, it is overwhelming when you first look at what you have to do.”

Three-month intervals

What worked well for Alander’s team was to stay focused and knock off IT services in small bites.

“In the first stages, we focused only one on every IT service management change every three months. Then we would take three months more to mature and assess what we did — how we moved this task or process into ServiceNow,” he said.

“Then we took about three months more to evaluate it. It sounds like a long time, but when we would finish the one, we would start another so they overlapped. It kept the momentum going, as we added functionality and capabilities.”

Second nature

Over the years, he said the approach has held up:  “Take a laser focus, get the work done fast and don’t tweak too early.”

And implementing and improving the ITSM program eventually becomes second nature. In August, when Alander and I spoke, his team was closing out four service projects for enterprise customers. The team was also launching a phase two of its project management module, a big job which entails adding ServiceNow’s new “idea” functionality and building a new workflow for how projects are taken in and evaluated.

Read more about the evolution of Alander’s ITSM program and push into enterprise service management, here.

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