How do you plan?

Lifecycle Management

Developing a process

Whether you are using ITIL, FITS or other ideology / tools to help you develop a support service, you will find that you will borrow, adapt, use, tweak, refine and make wholesale use of a plethora of pre-existing examples of procedures. It is a simple fact of life that sharing and comparing procedures is more efficient than re-inventing the wheel in isolation.

However, you will find that there will be occasions when you have to create a process specific to your school and your school’s services. You may be the first school you know to move to a specific technology or to use it for a particular purpose, within the curriculum or for services involved in running the school. It is at this point you can fall back on two areas of support for such tasks.

You might have developed a house style for your processes with set communication routes, set timescales, a pre-defined hierarchy of decision-making and clear mechanisms for measuring success. Or it might be that you truly are starting from scratch.

Either way there are a number of ways that spending some time looking at Lifecycle Management could be beneficial to helping developing processes. Those with FITS or ITIL experience, especially ITIL v3, will tend to look at the whole service first to see where the process sits and then work on it, but the principles are basically the same.

In ITIL the service lifecycle is made up of 5 sections

  1. Service Strategy
  2. Service Design
  3. Service Transition
  4. Service operation
  5. Continuing Service Improvement

And these we can change into some simple questions.

  1. What do we want?
  2. How is it going to work?
  3. How do we get it to work?
  4. How do we keep it running?
  5. How can all this be improved and how can we use it to improve other things in the future?

And those with ITIL or PRINCE2 experience are now screaming that this is over-simplifying the process … and they are right, but we have to start somewhere. It is hard to talk purely on theory and go on about simplifying ITIL or FITS, so we will have to look at a real world example which we have to fit processes around. Let’s go for a big one that will affect every school, no matter whether a school runs additional management software from companies such as RM, whether you run thin clients, schools who manage computer deployments from central systems, all the way to small schools with a handful of computers … yes, we are talking about INSTALLING NEW SOFTWARE.

Over the coming weeks I will be looking at the questions above and applying them to the task of installing new software, looking at the wide range of options, looking at how different schools and schools systems might come up with different answers, looking at what the impact is on those having to come up with solutions, giving real examples of how schools have overcome obstacles to developing these processes and looking at the various roles within schools who will have to be involved.

As always, I am always interested in talking with schools who have gone through some of this and if anyone would like to be involved then please let me know.

2 thoughts on “How do you plan?

  1. ajt

    I use the following process for implementing anything major:

    1. State the objective
    2. List all the things that could possibly go wrong.
    3. Against each of those things in 2, list all the possible causes of them.
    4. Against all the things in 3, list all the actions we can take to prevent those causes
    5. For each thing in list 2; if it does happen, what do we do about it?
    6. For each thing in list 2, how will we know that it’s gone wrong and when to take the steps in 5 ?

    So, let’s say you’re robbing a bank for £1m :-) :

    Column 1: (what could go wrong)
    Police already aware, get caught in the act (then list all other possible problems)

    Column 2: Possible causes
    Accomplices talk/spill beans (etc)

    Column 3: (how can I prevent 1)
    Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t involve any accomplices. Lock up all accomplices until after the heist, etc.

    Column 4: (what to do if problem in 1 occurs)
    Get a good lawyer

    Column 5:
    Handcuffs appear on wrist. Blue flashing lights, etc.

    Forgive the daft example, but if you follow those 5 steps for anything major, from installing software on a few school computers to sending a space shuttle into orbit, then you have a pretty complete plan of action.

    The one area of your process above it doesn’t hit is continued service improvement, but I’m not sure that’s ever something that can be put into an implementation plan.

    I’ve always found ITIL and Prince far too high level to be any use (particularly Prince) at a practical level. The most effective processes are the ones that have had occam applied – simple yet not so simplistic as to be ineffective. Your questions above strike me as a good starting point for any project, though I recommend having a looking at Kepner-Tregoe and their various processes – http://www.kepner-tregoe.com/TheKTWay/OurProcesses.cfm

    Reply
  2. Tony Sheppard Post author

    KT is wonderful for problem management and risk management, but often falls when trying to plan something new and you don’t always know what could go wrong or how you are going to deal with it when it happens. It also keeps things pretty insular rather than going out to those who will be affected by the change / new service and getting them involved from word go.

    Locally, we have an issue with projects not working, going over budget / time and having massive scope creep because the section of planning involved in “What do we want / need” (you state the objective) is not in-depth enough, has not involved speaking to others and is built up of too many assumptions.

    If your school has very good communication in place then some of this happens each day anyway … but it is worth recording it anyway. Remember that you will not always be at the school, neither will the SLT and teachers you have a good relationship with.

    Reply

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