ITIL Service Operations – From development to maintenance without headaches

I agree that it’s not easy to finish the development of a new service or implement significant change to an existing one. But, once you are finished and ready to go live, i.e., enter the live environment, be careful, because here is where the challenges begin. Let’s consider two (but I’m sure you can find more) reasons for that:

  1. A new service (or major change to an existing one) brings changes to the users. And they are affected by those changes. So, either there will be resistance in usage, or some time will be needed to accept the changes.
  2. Once the service is in the live environment, your maintenance team has to show competence. But, it’s too late to start learning when users start using the service. They have to be competent beforehand.

It’s hard to argue with the first reason. But, let me elaborate on the second one. Most organizations provide, and therefore support many services at the same time. But, your users may use only one or just a few of your services. And they do so on a daily basis. That means they become familiar with the service, and learn about the service, very quickly. It would be a problem (for you, of course) if they knew more than you. That means that once the service enters the live environment – you have to be ready.

Maybe those two items look complex – that’s not the end of the world. There are several things you can do to improve the performance of your operational teams.

You are not alone

Remember the feeling when you arrive at a new location (e.g., some place in another country where you have never been) and that feeling of uncertainty. Well, on your trip as a tourist – that could be a positive feeling (let’s be honest, it usually is). But, let’s get back to reality.

In my previous blog Early Life Support – Live environment introduction made easy I explained how your transition team can support you once the service enters the live environment. And that works. I have been a part of such a project, and colleagues who are doing maintenance really need that help.

That was the positive thing about Early Life Support (ELS). The negative? Well, today’s business changes rapidly, and ELS can get into trouble by being too slow to answer the requirements (for fast changes). I would argue – use it for significant changes. For smaller changes, you need another approach.

And… the other way around

Let’s consider what you could do to:

  1. Enter the live environment ready – meaning, having know-how about those services which you need to support.
  2. Respond to changes faster.

Well, sometimes you don’t have the time, or opportunity, to learn by doing. Meaning, once you have the service in the live environment – you have to be ready. That means that you have to know the service, its service assets, good sides as well as bad sides… or, you have to have experience. That’s not easy, or at least it sounds like that. But, there is a perfect place where you can gain that experience, i.e., increase your know-how. It’s in the Service Transition (learn more about Service Transition in the article Service Transition in ITIL) phase of your service lifecycle.

What you should do is involve your people from Service Operation (e.g., employees supporting Incident Management, Problem Management, working at the Service Desk… etc.) in the Release and Deployment Management (RDM) process, which is your “executive process” (i.e., transitioning from service on paper into something tangible) in the Service Transition phase of the service lifecycle. During RDM, they will have enough time to “play” with the service and learn all those tiny specifics, which will give them enough knowledge and confidence once the service is in the live environment.

But, that’s not the end of the story. People involved in Service Transition and Service Operation have a lot of practical experience with the services you provide. And that can be reused in previous phases of the service lifecycle. Namely, it’s excellent to have people who have knowledge about any topic you need. But, what adds value is practical experience. So, involve people from Service Operations and/or Service Transition in earlier phases of the service lifecycle. In such way you will benefit from lessons learned in the live environment (and avoid the same mistakes). But, your people who are maintaining the service once they are operational will start gaining experience even before the service is developed. And that gets them a huge advantage in real life.

The world is round

It’s not only Continual Service Improvement that makes you keeps your eyes on the service all the time. Preparing your supporting organization well before the service enters the live environment means you made your first step on time. But, involving your people from Service Operation and Service Transition in earlier stages of the service lifecycle means that you transformed into a learning organization that not only invests in supporting teams, but also gains benefits from their experience. Having that implemented in new services provides you with self-confidence and your customers with quality in service delivery. And they know how to appreciate that.

Use this free  ITIL implementation diagram to see how to implement ITIL processes and functions in order to achieve efficiency in service delivery  once your services enter the Service Operation stage of the service lifecycle.

Advisera Branimir Valentic
Branimir Valentic
Branimir is an expert in IT service management (consultancy, training and tools), IT governance (training and consulting), project management and consultancy in IT and telecommunication. He holds the following certificates: ITIL Expert, ISO 20000, ISMS Lead Auditor and PRINCE2.