The best way to start a System Center engagement is with a roadmap. If you skip this step and jump past planning, you’ll ultimately end up either lost, delayed, or buried. Like this guy… (I saw this while I was on a Service Manager status call)
What is a roadmap? A roadmap is the articulation of the business value, phases, and milestones of your service management initiative. It usually takes the form of a PowerPoint, since it is easy for people to browse through. It doesn’t need to be long, but it does need to state what you intend to achieve and how you intend to do it. There are a lot of good reasons to start your service management project with a roadmap, but here are a few of the ones that I’ve seen practically impact my projects:
- The roadmap helps you take the time to determine the problems you want to solve. I’ve found that roadmaps allow teams to take a step back and understand what is truly not working in their business. I see a lot of companies starting their projects looking to do “like for like” conversions in service management, which ultimately brings existing problems into a new system. A conversion is a great opportunity to fix processes which are broken and transform IT into a delivery engine for the business that drives innovation.
- The roadmap helps you review the actual solutions to the problems you identify. In creating solutions you are able to address real business challenges. In the case of System Center, there are a lot of solutions available, many of which can be arrived at quickly, but the planning process lets you align these solutions to the business problems. It also lets you create a cohesive strategy around process and technology, not just process or just technology. I find that a lot of service management initiatives focus on process with technology in a vacuum, which misses the cohesiveness. In other cases companies focus on technology and miss process transformation entirely. You need to hit both to be successful.
- The roadmap helps you create milestones which drive accomplishment. I’ve seen awesome things come about when we create three month milestones around System Center deployments. I find that organizing these milestones helps the team to focus and deliver, especially on technical objectives. The shorter timeframe of a milestone also allows the team to be realistic in what is actually can accomplish, allowing the movement of activities to future milestones or phases.
- The roadmap helps you determine your skill gaps and team goals. It is clear that service management initiatives are huge opportunities for growth in team skill and organizational capability. The process and technical skills that come out of System Center projects transform an IT department, especially in the space of automation. I find that the automation skills transform engineers from “manufacturing line IT” into true innovators who create and use their imagination to solve problems. This transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but it is clear and significant.
- The roadmap helps you articulate business value. The ultimate goal of service management is to deliver better for the business. You are either saving money, driving revenue, or improving quality. The roadmap gives you the opportunity to show the business how IT is not simply a “cost center” but an innovating force in the business that creates both better people, a better business, and better service to your customers.
I hope this helps you with getting started with your service management project. I’ve found these types of projects are an opportunity to transform the workplace of my clients and help businesses improve everything they do.