IT archaeology

Every tool, document, data or process must have a system sustaining it. Don't leave all your hard work to crumble into ruins. Tweet this

Tobias Nyberg wrote a great article for ITSM Review (I love despatches from the frontline in the real world!!) where he mentioned: "The walls of this room were once covered with whiteboards and huge post-its" and goes on to describe how they slowly - and cleverly - got real process implemented.

I notice in any organisation I go into that there are the ruins of "systems" all over the place (I call myself a process archaeologist) Tweet this. Whiteboards with lines ruled on them and column headings; planning charts pinned to walls; dusty binders; old post-it notes peeling off charts.

Some middle manager saw it as a quick and dirty fix to an immediate problem, which it probably was, but they built nothing of value, they did not invest for the future or for the broader organisation.

I once interviewed over 50 people in an organisation, doing a current state review. All but four said there was no service catalogue, three said there might be one, and one person showed me the catalogue; they had been the project manager when it was built two-and-a-half years previously. It only took that long to completely sink into the murk.

I was invited in to another place to design an incident process. I found one on a poster on the wall. Later they asked me to design a change process so I showed them the binders in the hall.

We implement these systems but they slowly (or quickly) die. Why? Some or all of the following reasons:

- no ownership (often the ad-hoc owner leaves)
- no culutral change to get them accepted, understood and adopted
- no processes to keep them alive: review, audit, update, promote, improve
- no induction of new staff
- they don't actually add value

So too it is with artifacts such as service catalogue. If these are only a document then they are destined to soon be stone dead. That is not an invitation for you vendors and geeks to start fizzing about tools. A document is fine if it is embedded in a human system to keep it alive. Regular readers have seen this before:

Every tool, document, data or process must have a system sustaining it. Don't contribute ruins and fossils to IT archaeology.

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