Top Worst Practices in IT

The implementation of Best Practice Frameworks like ITIL or COBIT is a big hype since years, but why are still so many IT Service Improvement Programs failing? Studies that have been performed on this topic show that a lack of addressing the so-called ‘IT Worst Practices’ is the main reason.  For example, a Forrester report revealed that 52% of ITSM initiatives fail because of ‘resistance to change’.

Looking at these facts, just focusing on implementing a Service Management framework and its processes into an organization is apparently not sufficient.  It is imperative to identify and address any organizational ABC (Attitude, Behavior, Culture)-issues that can hinder project success in the long-term. The ABC Card set, developed by Paul Wilkinson and Jan Schilt from GamingWorks, is an excellent assessment instrument for this (german cardset version is available here). Glenfis AG addresses the subject of ABC both in IT Service Management training sessions as well as in implementation projects. In addition, since mid-2011 surveys have been conducted in each ITIL course identifying the top worst practices (mainly representing the Swiss market), which I would like to share with you as follows. Click on each link to get more information:
(Jan 24th 2013: Below table has been updated. Interesting:“Blame culture“ has moved from rank 10 (2011) to rank 2 (2012). A new megatrend in our society?)

Card Description  2011
Rank
 2012
Rank
6 Everything has the highest priority….according  to the users 1 1
A Blame culture 10 2
9 Maybe we just should have tested that change first 5 3
7 9 to 5 culture 4
4 Not capturing the right knowledge for reuse 5
Q Not my responsibility 2 6
3 Too little business involvement in requirements specification & testing 7
8 Plan, Do, stop….no real continual improvement culture 9 8
5 Neither partner makes an effort to understand the other 9
Q The solution the customer sees isn’t the one that IT sees 6 10

How does this help you?

…don’t forget! ABC is like an Iceberg…..a lot of it hidden beneath the surface, and capable of inflicting damage!

You can derive your own interpretation of the above table and some of these ‘worst practices’ might sound familiar to you. Having in mind, that addressing them is a critical success factor for IT Service Improvement Programs, it is important that you become aware about the worst practices in your specific work environment. May I propose a few suggestions to get started on this:

  1. Identify the specific Worst Practices in your organization
    The first challenge is to start talking about it. The humoristic style of the ABC cards (similar to the Dilbert comics) can help to open the dialogue. Why? Because it’s fun! Run a workshop with random people in your IT organizations and let them study the ABC cards. Let them choose the cards they think that they apply to their environment and taking the point of view of different stakeholders. (e.g. business view and IT view)
  2. Identify the consequences to the business
    Having now identified and agreed the Worst Practices in your organization, think about the negative impact to the business. This will help you to put the focus on the ones that hurt the most. For example, if you have chosen ‘Maybe we should have tested this change first….’, one negative impact is interruption of business operation due to change-related incidents.
  3. Develop actions to address the worst practices
    Knowing the worst practices you should look at first, develop a plan on how to address them. This is the point where Best Practice Frameworks like ITIL come into play. For example, if you identified ‘Everything has the highest priority…according to the user’ as a worst practice, a properly defined, implemented and communicated priority matrix can be the right solution. Or in the example of ‘Maybe we should have tested that change first…’ a proper Change-, Release- and Deployment-Process (based on ITIL Best Practices) can solve this issue.

Above steps are just a rough guideline and you might have the need of an external facilitator to get started, for example with Glenfis, which has extensive  expertise in this area. Another recommended method is to combine the ABC exercise with an ITSM Simulation,  e.g. Apollo 13.

Glenfis will update the ABC statistics with the top Worst Practices on a quarterly basis.

2 Comments
  • ITIL Schulungen

    4. June 2013 at 08:15

    Thanks a lot for sharing your useful tips with us.
    Since I took part in a ITIL Worlshop in Munich, I´d like to get more information about ITIL. And your blog is a very good a source.

    So thanks for that and have a nice day!

  • […] Studien zeigen, dass 70% aller ITSM-Projekte an diesen „Worst Practices“ scheitern. Sollten Sie also ITIL als eine einmalige ITSM-Initiative ansehen, werden Sie nicht weit kommen. Sie müssen ihre Projekte nach der PDCA-Methode durchführen um damit die Qualität zu sichern. Dieser Blog liefert Ihnen weitere, interessante Hinweise zu dieser Materie. […]

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