The YaSM Blog

Beware of evil process templates

  October 5, 2014      By Stefan Kempter      YaSM Process Map   ITIL  

YaSM Blog: Beware of evil process templates

In a recent blog post on his ITWNET, Jan van Bon, IT service management expert and author of many popular books on the subject, muses about people using 'ITIL process templates' making a 'fundamental mistake' (ITIL process templates - a contradictio in terminis?). Instead of adopting something that is already developed, organizations should 'spend serious time on designing their management system'.

Obviously, as providers of such templates we don't fully agree with Jan's line of thought. We learnt that lots of organizations love to use process templates. For them, it is much easier to assess the suitability of a process that has been written down and to start from there, than it is to try to develop the process from nothing.

But Jan has a point: No service management framework should be seen as something that must be implemented to the letter without any adaptation. It is always necessary to consider individual circumstances - what works for one organization may not work for another.

Does that mean process templates are evil stuff? Maybe they can be, but I think it all depends on how they are used...

The point is that we need to know what we are doing: Before applying any kind of recommendations, management techniques or guidelines, it is absolutely necessary that we understand those recommendations and the reasoning behind them. Only then are we able to judge if the advice works for us and to adapt it to our particular situation.

This is where process templates come into the picture: The ones we provide, with their graphical presentation of processes, are a lot more user-friendly and accessible than wordy books.

They help our customers understand how service management frameworks and guidelines like YaSM and ITIL work. And once they have acquired a thorough understanding of the advice, it is relatively easy to adapt it to the needs of their organizations, for example by removing unnecessary parts, adding more detail, etc. Of course, nothing speaks against using a variety of sources in addition to the templates, such as the ITIL publications.

At the end of his post Jan helpfully suggests that one can also hire a consultant, implying, it seems, that consultants are a better alternative to process templates. But it's probably fair to say that most consultants base their work on their own view of 'templates' - even though these may not be written down.

In practice, there will often be a role for both: Templates like ours, which are fully documented and have been refined over many years, make it faster to develop a process, while independent experts may help organizations facilitate and implement the required changes.

Ultimately, our process models present good practice in a format that makes it easy to understand how service management works and to start off with a proven set of process blueprints that can be adapted further - no more, and no less. We would never pretend our products can do miracles or are a substitute for critical thinking.



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Author: Stefan Kempter