Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:18 am Post subject: Starting an ITSM program, the time factor
Sharing an article I wrote on papleux.com on Dec. 16th. Hope it gives ideas... Don't hesitate to give me your feedback.
Starting an ITSM Program: The Time Factor
Written by Fabien Papleux
Saturday, 16 December 2006
When is the right time to start a Service Improvement Program? Is it in June? Is it in the Fall? Is it on the CEO’s birthday? Well, as it appears, it depends. In principle, any time is the right time to improve services, to work on the efficiency of your processes or to realign IT and the business.
But you cannot walk in the CEO’s office and ask for $2 Million dollars anytime. You probably won’t be very successful in selling an ITSM program if the only thing the Board of Directors is focusing on is to increase the top line. As a consultant, why would you spend time trying to sell services to a company that is not listening?
Among all the factors that influence a board’s decision to implement IT Service Management, or to start a Continuous Service Improvement Program, timing is of essence. There is a number of other factors that should not be disregarded, including the need to pass regulatory audits or the need to increase service performance to stay competitive.
In this article, I will discuss the influence of time as a factor to sell a Service Improvement program to the board.
A Business Cycle
As Francois de la Rochefoucault wrote, “The only thing constant in life is change”. And so does it go in business. A business is in constant state of change, going up or going down.
However, over its lifetime, it should overall grow. We will not spend time on companies with an objective of reducing revenue. We can therefore establish that at some point, a company enters unchartered territory and breaks record revenue.
We can define a business cycle as the time between two peaks. Each lifecycle will contain a period of recession, a trough, a period of growth, a revenue record breaking point and its following record breaking period. For practical purposes, the cycle starts right after peaking, right before the fall.
(DIAGRAM CUT HERE)
Best times in a business cycle
Within the cycle, there are two distinct periods when a Service Improvement plan will have the biggest impact on Senior Management.
First of all, there is an important window of opportunity right at the beginning of the cycle, as the company peaked and gets into a recession. This is a moment where Senior Management can be sold on the idea that maximizing the efficiency of IT will help limit the impact of the recession.
This window may be difficult to hit as right after it, all that counts is cost cutting, and cost reducing projects. If you manage to sell a Service Improvement program on a cost-reducing premise, you are taking a risk as it can take significant time before cost focused results start to show.
Once at the bottom, in the cutthroat area, your desk is probably being liquidated so there really is no bonus available for good ideas. Wait for the storm to finish. There is light at the end of that tunnel.
Right at the beginning of the new period of growth, there is a new window of opportunity. This one is a time when Senior Management can be sold on the idea that streamlining operations and keeping processes lean and efficient will maximize the profits by not adding the usual fat.
As you pass by the revenue record breaking point, or any point after a substantial period of growth, it may become difficult again because the company starts to ride the wave. During those times, Senior Management is often busy working on increasing the top line by investing in marketing, acquisitions or new markets. The internal competition for the buck can become more than unsatisfying. It does not mean that a program cannot be sold outside of the described windows, but the effectiveness of the effort may be maximized inside of them.
Identifying those windows
For all practical purposes, one should keep track of Industry and Sector indices in order to identify the type of companies that are striving in the current Economy. For instance, just about a year ago, Real Estate developers were making fortunes around the country. For them, times are more difficult nowadays. Last spring was probably an interesting opportunity.
Also, there is seasonality to many businesses that should be monitored. As the Retail industry is peaking in November and December, they start counting the deads and the wounded by mid January, and well into March. January may be a good time to contact retailers.
Finally, all news from a company should be monitored for opportunities. Has it just appointed a new CEO? Is it negotiating new contracts with vendors? Is there anything in the news that may suggest that a company is on the market for Change?
Time… is of essence. _________________ BR,
Technology Consulting | Service Excellence
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