Building a New Campus? ITSM Can Help

Most of the time, IT service management (ITSM) is employed in familiar places, with retrofits and upgrades. When organizations modernize, ITSM is useful in helping to manage the change.

But what about when an agency is building new, constructing a whole new building or campus?

These instances present organizations with a special opportunity to re-invent how they work and to infuse their processes with new approaches and technologies. In doing so, it’s important not to abandon those same ITSM principles.

The automaker Ford is currently transforming its more than 60-year old facilities in Dearborn, Mich., building more than 7.5 million square feet of technology-enabled workspace for today’s – and tomorrow’s – highly connected, collaborative workforce.

“We want an open campus and for people to be able to move around,” said Phil Simonte, IT operating model manager at Ford.

From a service perspective, that means having widely available Wi-Fi capabilities, of course, but it also means anticipating wireless network demands not just for today, but for years from now. Simonte, an ITSM practioner who holds ITIL and COBIT certifications, said the number of devices and the volume of data each consumes must be accounted for – and growth needs to be anticipated for years or even decades to come.

Planning and building now for a future we can’t yet imagine is hard. But the key to success is staying rooted in your organization’s work objectives, and then incorporating only technology that helps you achieve them.

One key is not to get dazzled by shiny objects, cautioned Mark Storace, CEO of the IT Service Management Professionals Association. “Don’t just implement a tool,” he said. “It won’t work!”

Instead, Storace sounds a familiar ITSM consultant’s refrain: look at process, people and technology. For new buildings and campuses that need infrastructure and services flexible enough to remain viable decades from now, that’s even more important. Managers and planners must invest time on the front end of the project defining processes, roles and responsibilities. Those in turn lead to decisions about how to deploy resources throughout the facility.

It’s also essential to assemble a capable and formal transition change management team, he said. That “will make adoption and implementation much easier.” Everyone involved should have at least a basic level of understanding of ITSM concepts and terminology. He advocates ITIL, the IT Infrastructure Library, which is managed by Axelos, but other ITSM standards can also be used. The key is to have that common understanding and language.

‘Like Taking a Trip’
Matt Moore, practice manager at Fruition Partners, an ITSM consulting firm, has been involved in numerous public sector projects for agencies and departments in Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma and elsewhere

“It’s like taking a trip to Wally World,” he said, referring to the fictional amusement park in the movie comedy National Lampoon’s Vacation. “The ultimate goal is to follow a road that gets somewhere.”

The car, in this analogy, is the technology platform. Over the years it will need to be serviced. Tires and belts will be replaced and the engine or transmission may even need to be rebuilt. Someday, it may have to be replaced completely.

Yet while buying the vehicle – or the technology platform – is exciting, it also can be distracting, according to Moore. It’s the destination that’s really important, not the mode of transport, he said. Planners must first assess existing resources (systems) and determine whether they are adequate for the journey. Only then is it time to examine the people, processes and technology needed to identify the gaps.

ITSM is useful in the process. New York University, which has an enrollment of more than 50,000 students, used ITSM techniques to reduce calls to its overloaded service desk by putting more information online. Having seen success, Moore said the university began to apply the concept in other areas.

One example directly relevant to government campuses: using technology to account for students in the midst of a crisis, such as a mass shooting or terrorist incident. NYU needed a solution that would take into account its affiliated institutions, New York University Abu Dhabi and New York University Shanghai, because students enrolled at the university can be located half a world away at another location. The solution: a polling system, in which the university can identify users in a given areas, then poll mobile phones. Only those indicating a problem or that fail to respond are placed in line for the next level of checks.

When it comes to a new campus or building, selecting the end goal gets to the heart of an enterprise’s mission. For an example, Moore cited a hypothetical university with a strong business program and a weak reputation for the sciences. In designing and constructing a new building or campus, university decision makers could opt to concentrate even more on its core specialty or use the opportunity to invest more in its science program.

External as well as internal factors must be considered: How will a more robust science footprint affect enrollment? What effect might a rival institution have by making a corresponding investment in its business school?

Having a technology platform that is flexible and can adapt to changing situations is crucial, both for the hypothetical university and for a dynamic government agency. For a new facility to be successfully embraced by its occupants, it’s not enough to have bigger windows and high-tech meeting rooms. If technology is changed without the users having a say, change may not equate with improvement, Moore said.

That’s what happens if “the people who are doing the day-to-day were not consulted,” he said. “In essence, they need to have a say in ‘Will the shiny buttons actually help them out?’”

Outside In
Ian Clayton, principle at consultancy Service Management 101, says many institutions start out too quickly looking at technology and infrastructure centric, focusing too quickly on existing practices, policies and processes.

“As valuable as this is, I believe starting the journey to customer centricity from an inside-out perspective will fail,” Clayton said.

It’s better and more productive to work from the outside in, he said. Clayton says organization should ask four questions:

  • Who are our customers?
  • What activities do they perform in pursuit of successful outcomes?
  • How do we help them with those activities?
  • How satisfied are they with our help?

“In my experience, organizations adopting an ‘outside-in’ philosophy can answer these types of questions easily, and are able to commit effort and resources where they will have the greatest positive impact on customer satisfaction and the value derived from using IT services,” he said.

Importantly, for those looking at new buildings and campuses, Clayton has found that an outside-in focused organization can easily adapt to changes in customer behavior and needs. They can do so in real-time, and make targeted improvements to a service management system, operating model and service offerings, he said.

Clayton noted that inside-out efforts are worthwhile. They can be helpful, for instance, when improvements are needed in incident, change and configuration processes. The key is to ensure that everything is done in a customer centric way.

Applying ITSM practices during new campus development can also lead to significant cost savings, said Stan Tyliszczak, chief engineer and vice president for technology integration at General Dynamics Information Technology. “By understanding and addressing the business processes first, it’s possible to minimize or even eliminate duplicate and unnecessarily redundant services and capabilities.

“In our work with the federal government,” he added, “we find that campus development projects are ideal opportunities to rationalize applications and consolidate software licenses. The results are pretty substantial cost savings, while at the same time improving IT service performance.”

Starting with a blank slate is a wonderful and rare chance to re-invent how organizations work, said Ford’s Simonte. “It’s a good opportunity to be innovative, to think outside the box and to offer new services.”

But even so, the old fundamentals still apply, Simonte said. “The principles are the same whether it’s a new, green field project or if it’s a retrofit or an upgrade.”

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