6 ITSM Project Pitfalls to Avoid

Murphy’s law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. While it’s not actually true, it has become a common saying because it definitely feels that way sometimes. That being said, most Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) projects will likely encounter a few hiccups along the way. However, these tips should help you avoid some of the common pitfalls that can plague any ITSM project.

1. Be Aware of and Honest about Your Department's Abilities

While it may seem tempting to stretch the truth and make your department seem more capable than it actually is, this is a common pitfall that should be avoided. Honestly assess and communicate your department’s ability to implement and support new processes, technology, and people. If your organizational maturity, capabilities, and/or capacity aren’t a match for the impending changes, this is a project risk that needs to be assessed before the organization invest large amounts of money in the new project.

2. Label Your Project with Business Outcomes

From the get go, your project should not be exclusively referred to as an ITSM project (or even an ITIL project). While you understand what can be accomplished by these improvements, others may not. That means you have to make sure they are aware of the projected outcome of the project every step of the way. You should directly affix the expected IT or business outcomes to the project by labeling it as such. Is the purpose to improve IT support? Say so. Is the purpose to make communications more effective? Say so. Is the purpose to reduce costs or increase revenues? Say so! There are a lot of desirable outcomes that can stem from improvements to your ITSM, but if you don’t convey those outcomes, your project could stall out before it gets a chance to really start.

3. Define Clear Deliverables and Success Criteria

To go right along with labeling your project with business outcomes, you should also take the time to sit down and clearly define the deliverables that can be expected as well as what success will look like. If this isn’t done, different people may have very different expectations for the same ITSM project. Make sure all objectives are communicated, and that everyone is on the same page before unachievable expectations create pitfalls you don’t see coming.

4. Limit Each Project’s Scope

While it can seem appealing to do a “big reveal” after a large project has been completed, this approach can lead to disaster. Instead of putting all of your eggs into one basket, you should limit the scope of each project to something that can be fully implemented within the budgeted project timeframe. Avoid sabotaging yourself by trying to do too much at once. There are a lot of things outside of your control that can cause problems in any size project as well, so you should also make sure you are reporting incremental successes. One additional reason to limit a project’s scope is that it can be easier to troubleshoot smaller projects that are implemented independently than to try to figure out what part of a big project is causing a particular issue after a big project launch.

5. Use the Right People Resources

In order for your project to be a success, you need to schedule the right people resources. Many potential pitfalls can be avoided by utilizing staff that are assigned to the project exclusively. This can be critical to the success or failure of an ITSM project on a day-to-day basis and in the long term. If the people aren’t exclusively assigned to the project, they will generally have to fit the project around their daily schedule. Additionally, trying to utilize “surplus” people who don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge can lead to disaster. While the company may look to save a few dollars by utilizing internal people resources, there is little benefit to having people with the wrong knowledge, experience, and skills working on your project.

6. Have a Long-Term Plan

By their very nature, most ITSM projects are finite in their scope. However, you should have a long-term plan for what you want to accomplish. When you plan for the future, you can lay the groundwork ahead of time for future projects as you implement current projects. If a move to enterprise service management is a possibility, you’ll also want to make sure that groundwork is laid for eventual integration of other departments into your ITSM. Whatever ITSM projects you have planned, we hope these tips will help you avoid many common pitfalls.