In the tradition of mass production, ITIL processes tend to become administrative burdens aimed at getting the SLA numbers right, in stead of doing what they’re supposed to achieve. Batching incident tickets, or RfCs in systems and meetings, assigning and reassigning to not have it on your (team’s) name so long that you breach your KPIs, are more practice than exception. All the while, producing changes that put the production environment at risk and having incidents unsolved in reality, so the business is prevented from making money. But hey, in the system the ticket is closed on time, so the incident is resolved, right? Apart from the fact that a new ticket is opened and assigned to another team.
My previous job in the group, at the Dutch Operational Excellence practice in Capgemini Consulting, I came to be a Lean adept. The manufacturing process philosophy derived from the Toyota Production System which made the Japanese car manufacturer become the world’s biggest. For a Lean adept, scenario’s like above are a horror. Especially when you have an idea of how to fix it, but the organisation has no immediate urgency to fix it, because no one realizes it is not going well. That is, until that urgency suddenly comes along, as it always does. So, now, we are Leaning ITIL, starting with the Incident Management process. For the most pressing ones, in jargon called G1 incidents, we introduced real-time incident management. As soon as a call is received about an incident that is qualified as a G1, the Major Incident Manager on Duty is called, who has authority to get all the experts he thinks he needs into the resolution team. Adding and releasing experts as we go, depending on needs coming from incident analysis, until the problem is solved. In this way, we manage to start significantly reducing outage times (jargon for users on the business side not being able to do – part of – their work due to the incident).
When the system is functioning again, we have an incident debrief, in which we collect all data and information to better understand the real root cause(s) behind the incident, so that we can prevent it from happening again. We also look, with the whole team, at how we could have reduced the time to detect the incident, reduce the time to fix the incident, and what else we can do better next time.
To some this might seem as what the Dutch call panic football, but it most definitely is not. It is a Lean and Agile way of reducing the time the business is prevented from making money because they cannot process goods or services. It is an example of how with a high level process description, a versatile toolbox of collaboration tools, empowered actors and a no-nonsense approach organisations can immediately and successfully respond to changing demands and unexpected events. It is time to stop worrying about rigid and overly detailed processes and procedures. It is time to act fast and professional in a controlled and self improving manner. It is time to focus on what your customers really wants, and make that.
So, start getting your organisation into Lean shape today and improve quality and profitability.