Sweat the Small Stuff: A Guide to Business Reuse

The ability to reuse assets owned by the business provides considerable advantages to cost, time, and risk prevention.  It doesn’t matter if the asset is physical or intellectual, the fact remains the more uses that can be obtained from the asset, the more value the asset becomes for the business.  So the best move for a business is to design and build their assets in such a way that they can be reused over and over.

For effective reuse, the key factor is size.  This applies to any asset:  the larger the component is the harder it is to reuse it because it carries more context with it to be used elsewhere.  Manufacturers already understand this concept, for many parts in manufactured products can be interchangeable.  It’s especially effective when one product does not perform as expected, remaining stock of parts can be reused in other products.

The same concept is available in IT Service Management, keep the services and the process components small and accessible.  By doing so, the business may find greater flexibility and scalability available to them.  So how does one keep the components small.  Several areas of ficus can be taken on:  the applications, the processes, the organization, or the service itself.

On the application side, look for similar components in all the systems used for ITSM and identify any way to leverage those components.  The systems used for Change Management and Problem Management utilize a routing table for ticket queuing and notification purposes.  In many environments, these tables and the mechanisms that use them are different for each system.  As changes to the environment occur, each routing table has to be updated individually.  If one routing table was used by all the systems, than the changes only need to be made in one location and disseminated outwardly.

Several service design processes have planning steps associated to them.  Often, different systems are created to support each service or process in its entirety.  Smaller systems designed to support similar functions, such as planning, can yield greater quality with less confusion.  Because the smaller system focuses on a piece of the process, storing the components of the plan can assist in creating historical knowledge from past plans, allowing the identification of workable solutions, lessons learned, and handled risks.  The effect in this case is the ability to create better plans for implementation in the service areas.

The same concept for small components extends to organizations.  Katzenbach and Smith recommended that high performance teams be restricted in number to no more than twelve members in their book, The Wisdom of Teams.  The reasoning behind the restriction is the ability to build robust relationships with the team members.  In large organizations, the ability to build such relationships is difficult.  Small teams allow more collaborative efforts, greater chances to innovation, and usually faster response times.  As the team progresses and matures, the group can be reused by giving them greater responsibility or bigger projects.

So the next time you are discussing reusability, the answer isn’t in the entire solution but in the components contained within.