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Staffing for IT service delivery success: Think employee, think customer, then repeat

How to staff for ITSM success, starting with career development

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People-related IT service management (ITSM) blogs seem to be popular. Two based on the ABC of ICT work of Paul Wilkinsonand his GamingWorks colleagues are amongst my most popular and more recently one detailing future ITSM roles (stolen from the Forrester Service Management And Automation Playbook writings of Glenn O’Donnell) is also proving to be very popular (it is also a good pre-read to this blog).

Hence I’m now stealing some people-related guidance from Eveline Oehrlich's “Evolve Your Service Management And Automation Skills And Staffing” report to look at staffing for ITSM success, starting with career development.

Architect a service management and automation (SMA) career development plan

In Eveline’s opinion, an infrastructure and operations (I&O) leader's role in developing an ITSM or SMA career development plan is similar to that of a construction architect who defines the layout of a house via architectural drawings. These drawings include a variety of components which make it both structurally sound and developed according to the specifications of the customer. The same is true with SMA staffing and, in creating an SMA career development plan, remember to consider the following:

  • Establish what motivates your staff. Forrester has identified 12 core motivators of people's behavior with autonomy and interesting work two of the most important. But different generations vary in what motivates them so make sure you don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.

  • Forget the traditional meaning of career. Traditional thinking of a career as a "permanent calling" is no longer sustainable as technology expands and with change happening at such a rapid pace. Today's SMA employees need to be more multifaceted, with many different sets of skills developed over time. Technical aptitude alone may not always be sufficient - today's, and most certainly tomorrow's, SMA professionals need to also build industry and business expertise, such as communication and relationship skills as well as understanding the importance of customer needs in a service-centric and soon to be far more customer-centric world.

  • Bifurcate the "I" from the "O." The traditional I&O organisation is an anachronism and is not conducive to rapid adaptation or consolidated service visibility. This is because too many I&O staff members fulfill both an engineering and an operational function, which is wasteful because they mandate different mental faculties and emotional competencies and most people can perform one or the other well, but not both. This misuse of people talent is leading to a bifurcation of the I&O organisation itself, evolving into two distinct functional organisations: the "I" team and the "O" team. But as the I&O organization goes through this division, you certainly don't want to totally divorce the two entities. Keep them inextricably linked to maintain strong collaboration. This bifurcation will also allow you to optimise staffing resources, become more innovative, develop new skills, and create new roles.

Understand the role building blocks of a high-performing SMA team

Continuing the analogy, as the architect designs the house he or she uses a floor plan with various components that are needed. This is also true when building SMA teams, teams which should embrace the following roles:

  • Two types of engineering roles: technology engineers and process engineers. Both of these are engineering functions but require a different set of skills. Technology engineers require an innately creative process that takes deep technical expertise around particular domain areas. The process engineering role requires system thinking, the understanding of methodical process adherence, and the ability to switch tasks frequently to adapt to changing demands.

  • Two types of customer service roles: relationship managers and experience managers. Customer relationship managers require direct interaction with customers in either support roles (agent-facing roles) or communication roles such as sales and marketing managers. Customer experience managers require a solid understanding of how to implement and improve the customer experience in all interactions with IT. This is not just in the obvious areas such as service desk, it also includes service catalog managers, social media managers, and/or IT sales and marketing managers.

  • Reporting, analysis, and metric development roles. These roles require the ability to define, select, and report on a set of performance metrics across the SMA function. This includes roles such as application performance managers, business and/or reporting analysts, service improvement managers, and service-level managers. While reporting deals with the process of organizing data into informational summaries to monitor the performance of a variety of areas, analysis focuses on the exploration of the data and reports to get meaningful insights to better understand and improve performance, functions, and processes.

  • Service management enablement roles. These roles typically focus on tools that support the automation of the variety of processes used within the service management and automation group. The roles require the definition of tool requirements, road maps, integration needs; the work with vendors and partners to procure and implement the solutions; and the continuous management, updating, and optimization of the tools to support the roles mentioned above.

If you want more detail on specific future SMA roles please take a look at http://blogs.forrester.com/stephen_mann/12-08-13-prepare_your_people_for_the_future_of_it_service_delivery

And make sure you employ the “right kind of people”

But it is about more than just roles and skill sets. Having spent this morning with Rackspace talking about its approach to service and “fanatical support,” Rackspace exemplifies the benefits of employing the right kind of people (“obsessive” about what they do) and how such a competitive differentiator has translated into business success. Expect more from me on this soon.

As always your thoughts and opinions are appreciated.

Finally, credit where credit is due

The majority of this content is an extract from Eveline’s “Evolve Your Service Management And Automation Skills And Staffing” report which is the “Skills and Staffing” report in the Forrester Service Management And Automation Playbook.

The above require access to Forrester content, if you are not a client you can still access the following SMA Playbook blog content:





Posted by Stephen Mann
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