In the previous post, we discussed some process assessment planning considerations such as the problem definition, the scope (both organizationally and process-wise), and the analysis of the stakeholders. In this post, we continue and conclude the discussion with additional planning considerations on the assessment model, the schedule and deliverables, as well as the risks and constraints.
Assessment Model (Best Practices, Evaluation Process Integration, Organizational Context)
Using the information resources mentioned previously such as ITIL, COBIT, CMMI/ISO 15504, and ISO 20000, hopefully you would have constructed the best practice models and evaluation criteria to assess the processes and organization in scope. While an assessment spends a great deal of its effort in benchmarking and answering the question “Where are we now?”, it is just as important to start thinking and formulating the response for the question of “Where do we want to be?” In addition to coming up with the best practice model for the processes you plan to assess, I think it is also important to think about and include the following criteria into your assessment model.
- Integration between Processes: These days, the ITSM processes rarely get executed effectively in total isolation. The processes often need to inter-operate effectively with other related processes in order to gain a certain level of maturity. For example, I will be surprised to see a high level of maturity for the availability and capacity management processes, if the change management process has been determined to be weak in the same organization. For the processes you plan to assess, be sure to take additional inter-process relationships into account and assess the process effectiveness truly end-to-end.
- Organization Considerations: While understanding how mature of a process is and where you can improve is important, it is just as important to understand how the maturity score fit into the overall organizational context. For example, if the problem management process has been assessed to be highly mature but the organization places only a light importance on the process, the good maturity score will have only a limited significance. Hopefully from the problem definition exercise, you have already discovered what is really important to the organization so you can target your improvement plan accordingly.
- Benchmarking and Comparison: Benchmarking is the way to compare how your organization is doing relative to other similar organizations or environments. In-depth benchmarking data are often not readily available and something that is a value-add feature when you utilizing external consulting for the assessment. For DIY assessment effort, you may or may not feel compelled to compare your results to other similar organizations, depending on your problem definition. At the minimum, the assessment results can always serve as the baseline for you to compare to when you perform another assessment in the future.
Schedule and Deliverables
Just like any project worthy of an organization’s time and effort, the assessment effort should be run and managed like a formal project. The schedule and deliverables should be carefully planned and spelled out during the planning phase. Because the assessment will likely require participation from a broad array of departments and individuals, being able to communicate the timeline (of what will happen when and with whom) is something the sponsor and participants should expect to have upfront.
When constructing the schedule or formulating the deliverables, keep the following in mind as you plan:
- What assessment techniques do you plan to deploy to gather the data? Will you use questionnaires or surveys? Workshops or focus groups? One-on-one interviews? Or a combination of two or more techniques?
- The project should have a firm start date and an end date, with clearly identified milestones. The milestones should include at least the kick-off event, the beginning, reminder, and closing dates for the survey, as well as the presentation date.
- Identify all potential meetings and schedule them in advance as much as possible. The assessment project will involve a lot of meeting invitations, attendee tracking, and calendar management activities.
- Formulate a communication strategy and start laying out various communication artifacts and templates that will be used to target various stakeholders and roles within the project.
- Identify the ITSM education needs and account for the workshops and training classes in the schedule. For most stakeholders such as the sponsor and survey participants, the ITIL Foundation level knowledge or awareness could be sufficient. For certain key participants who may need to provide more specialized information for the assessment, ITIL Intermediate level knowledge maybe necessary. For the assessor (you this case since we are talking about DIY) or anyone helping the assessor in constructing the surveys and analyzing the results, advanced understanding of ITIL and how various processes fit with one another will be required in order to perform the assessment tasks effectively.
Risks and Constraints (Time, Resources, Tools, Politics)
The assessment team should also identify any constraints or risks that could materially impact the assessment, negatively or positively. One typical constraint/risk is the key participants’ schedule and availability during the assessment phase. Considering the assessment’s results are heavily dependent of the quality and quantity of the input provided by the participants, not having the people you need at the time when you need them can pose a noticeable risk to the outcome of your project. It will pay dividend to figure out who you will need and what mitigation options you will have if you don’t get the people right when you need them and need to work around their schedules. Similar risks need to be identified with mitigation measures planned out accordingly during this phase.
After all these considerations are factored in, you should have sufficient information to put together a statement of work or an assessment project charter. The assessment charter will guide your effort and serve as the foundational governance piece as you move forward with the project. In the future posts, we will discuss kicking off the assessment, various approaches of collecting, validating, and analyzing the assessment data, plus presenting the finding and following up.