Glenn Hughes (UAE) - Challenges of Service Management in UAE.

The rapid growth in UAE Service management, at least until recent times, saw lots of companies offering IT services. But while any company wanting to adopt best practice such as ITIL service management is taking a positive step, there are more aspects to consider than processes alone. In this blog I will look at three of the challenges resulting from this situation.

The end or the means?
Some IT professionals want certification in a recognized methodology, most likely ITIL, to make themselves more marketable. The desire to have letters after ones name is very common in the UAE. I know people with email signatures ending in MCSD, MSF, CISA, PMP, ITIL v3 ad infinitum. The second is IT organizations who want to adopt ITIL to be seen using ‘best practice' or as a marketing tool. Achieving certification or adopting ITIL does not guarantee success personally or organizationally. If you are an IT manager and you need ITIL to tell you to log faults properly, manage change and your customer relationship you're probably in the wrong job. I am a firm believer in and long time user of ITIL but IT providers' goals should be to deliver great service to their customers.

Process design and adoption
The most successful service management implementations I have been involved in are those where IT teams has experience to use processes intelligently. Even if you design and document the perfect process it will have limited value if the users lack experience. Thinking a process will fit all scenarios is also a mistake. Two situations are rarely the same even if they appear so initially. Although a process may provide for a majority of scenarios, e.g. how to handle a fault, there will always be scenarios that don't fit. In these cases IT teams need to apply their experience balanced with business demands sometimes having to work outside the process. Implement service management based on classroom theory or use operational experience is a chicken or egg challenge. Which comes first? Of course the answer is use both, so you will need a mix of skills.

As popularity of a methodology increases so do the number of products on the market to support it. Project management, IT security management, quality management and of course service management all have suppliers telling you their products can help you. You can manage things using basic tools such as Excel but for anything other than small organizations this is not sustainable. Once your service management processes are live you will need to automate, track and measure performance, KPIs and other data. You may have committed to certain benefits and will need to reliably measure your progress. Although IT managers should include provision of a tool as part of a service management initiative it does not need to be ‘enterprise class, best in breed, leading edge' or other common sales adjectives. There are many good, low cost tools that will help you manage and automate your new processes the key is balancing your needs.

The benefits of service management are there to be realized. In corporate UAE's relatively young market these key considerations will help you succeed in your service management implementation: know your goals, plan for organization changes and introduce the right tools to support new operating practices.

What other challenges have you faced when implementing service management in the UAE region? Please add your comments below.

Glenn Hughes has extensive IT management experience including operations, projects and programmes and service management. Glenn has set up and managed successful teams including project management and service management functions based on industry best practice methodologies. This experience has been gained in UK and UAE where he is currently enjoying his seventh year. He can be contacted at glennphughes@hotmail.com



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