Project Management

ITSM projects involve process changes in addition to technical tool implementations. Sometimes they include significant changes to culture. Successful projects require the understanding of stakeholder objectives, tolerance for unexpected changes, focus on value creation, and unwavering commitment to putting people first.


ITSM projects encompass a variety of stakeholders, including service users, technical support staff, service owners, process owners, and IT and business management. All need some visibility into the implementation.

The old axiom says not all that’s measured matters, and not all that matters can be measured. Nevertheless, it is important to define measurable process objectives at the start of the implementation. Too many organizations overlook this. It may be necessary to shake the stakeholders pretty hard in order to ascertain what metrics and measurements matter to the organization.

Project Management Methods

Rigid adherence to project management methodological dogma will not ensure successful implementation of the tool or widespread adoption of process changes.

In business we use  planning sprints, daily “stand-up” meetings, work breakdown structures, product breakdown structures, and rigid adherence to milestone estimates in the belief that following dogma alone will ensure project success. This is the modern equivalent of the islanders of Melanesia wearing coconut headphones in fabricated control towers with lighted fires on dirt runway strips, in the belief that imitating the rituals of modern logistics will bring material wealth.

Circumstances matter. Talent matters.

Large implementations usually result in larger disappointments. This is due in part to the difficulty of capturing unknown and unstated technical and stakeholder requirements. It is also a result of uncertainty in estimating, a discipline in which few professionals have received sufficient calibration training.

No single method fits all organizations in all circumstances.

Elements of success

Nevertheless, some elements can improve IT Service Management project efforts in most organizations.

  • Business case: The project owner and project manager must have a clear understanding of the business case, or how the project will create and capture value for the organization.
  • Phased approach: Working software is the best way to measure progress. It also helps expose unknown and unstated requirements. The phased approach provides phase gates at which drastic changes to the project (including cancellation) can easily be performed without any loss of face.
  • Next Phase Plans: The next phase should be detailed only at or near the end of the previous phase, in order to maximize the lessons learned by management and participants.
  • Balanced metrics: Metrics guide individual and organizational behaviors, but should never be used a a stick to beat the wicked. The use of multiple metrics helps to ensure against destructive over-optimization of a single metric.
  • Focus on improvement: individuals and organizations should focus on improvement rather than devotion to perfect execution of a specific objective. Perfection is seldom necessary or even desirable.