Blogging AllianceIT GovernanceRyan Ogilvie

The Three Challenges to Worthwhile Communication in ITSM


The ability to communicate effectively is still a challenge for most people despite their line of business. Because of this there are countless books, articles, and experts on the subject of improving communication. My simple advice is to personally connect with the audience wherever you can. In the service management space, we need to ensure that we communicate consistently in language that the business community understands. If I have said this once, I have said it a thousand times: It’s not about you; it’s about the audience.

Two of the most common message types that are delivered as outputs of service management processes are incident and change notifications.

Challenge #1: Targeted Audience

Not everyone needs to know everything. While we may believe that we are being more transparent by telling everyone everything, what really happens is that the communications that we send (no matter what the delivery method) start to become white noise—and then they do not get read at all.

Remedy: Ensure that you are only telling people what they need to know based on direct impact to them. For example, if I were to send you the weather report for Saskatoon every day, you might only want to know this if you either lived there or were traveling there. It is important to understand the business you are servicing so that you send communications for incidents or change that can be targeted correctly.

Challenge #2: Targeted Content

The wider the net of communication, the more sanitized the content becomes. We do not need to overcomplicate the communication with technical details; however, the communication should be meaningful enough for the audience to read the information itself.

Remedy: Outline what the impact of the incident or change will be. Are there any actions that the person reading the communication will need to perform? Are these actions outlined in a way that they can be easily understood without creating more questions? Once again, if you understand the business you are serving you will have a message that is meaningful to the audience.

Challenge #3: The Long Game

To have an effective communication strategy we have to work at it. This means working with people in the business to ensure that we understand what is impactful for them, how it impacts them, what is working well from a communications perspective, and what might not be working so well. Keep in mind that we are communicating that something is not working and we are trying to fix it, or that we are trying to maintain something so it doesn’t break, so the message may already be met with some unease.

Remedy: To communicate effectively you need to discuss with your business the importance of the communication itself. Actually meet with the stakeholders in the business to ensure that they understand the intent of the communication process as a whole and if adjustments need to be made. Some business units may want a different delivery method and timing than others, so listen to them.

It all starts with talking with your business and keeping the discussion going, so that we have a strategy and approach to communication rather than treating it as an output to a process.


For more brilliant insights, check out Ryan’s blog: Service Management Journey

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