Employee development is extremely important at the Kent School District in Kent, WA. They make it a priority to invest in their staff and continually improve in every facet of their operations. As Joelle Bejarano, a PMP and ITIL certified Senior Project Manager at Kent stated:
Being a learning organization, it is important for us to continue to seek out and identify and offer learning opportunities for our staff.
Joelle is responsible for ensuring that large, complex, customer-facing projects within the IT department are completed successfully. In 2016, during their spring break holiday, she coordinated a private onsite training session with ASPE Training, following a recommendation by one of her colleagues. After discussing their options with ASPE National Account Manager, Taylor Dellostretto, they decided to take The Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification Exam Boot Camp in order to get a few of their employees certified, actionable, and up to speed.
Students and upper management alike were so impressed with their first training experience with ASPE, that they once again booked ASPE for a private, onsite ITIL training in the spring of 2017.
Getting Everyone Speaking the Same Language
It wasn’t one specific challenge that prompted Joelle and Tom Metcalf, Director of Technical Services, to seek ITIL training. Their primary goal was to have everyone within the department using the same terminology. Previously, the whole department informally adopted ITIL practices. However, some people were still unclear on ITIL language and methods, and were unable to communicate with the rest of the team efficiently.
The IT leadership team at Kent School District understood that in order to continually improve and increase efficiency and productivity, everyone in the department needed to reinforce and build on their existing understanding of the foundational elements of ITIL. The course they selected was the ITIL v3 Foundation Exam Preparation Boot Camp. By attending this course, employees would learn to understand ITIL terminology, structure, basic concepts, and the core principles of IT Service Management best practices.
Finding Growth Opportunities
Tom and Joelle also wanted everyone in the department to understand how ITIL could make their department more efficient, have more successful outcomes, and be able to identify growth opportunities where ITIL practices had not been adopted. Their departments needed to understand the capabilities of the ITIL framework presented and learn how to think strategically using ITIL as a focal point.
The Class Experience
One of the specific objectives that Joelle brought to ASPE was that she wanted the instructor to integrate the school district’s real world experiences, projects, and situations into the course material. Joelle was concerned that some people might get lost if they reviewed more conceptual material.
On the first day of class, Joelle and a couple students informed Leslie Landry, the class instructor, that some of the early classroom exercises were still too conceptual. After hearing this feedback, Leslie customized the course content even more to match what was practiced in the Kent School District. For example, when discussing various roles in change management, students were able to use their coworkers’ names in the scenarios they role-played. Students were excited to learn how to apply ITIL practices to everyday situations they originally had not correlated with ITIL. Working with those real-world scenarios allowed the students to think of new ways to approach their practices and processes when they returned to their daily routine.
It was amazing to see how fast the canoe was going when everyone was rowing in the same direction.
Since ITIL v3 Foundation Exam Preparation Boot Camp is a certification preparation course, Leslie still had to go “by-the-book” during class at times, but the students said she did a great job balancing teaching for the test and giving real-world scenarios that matched their environment. A prime example was when they discussed change management. At the time of this course delivery, it was unrealistic for Kent School District to follow change management practices “by-the-book” due to the level of their ITIL practice sophistication. Joelle believes that if Leslie had not customized the course content, the students may have felt bogged down by the overhead, saying,
Her flexibility in those regards were a huge help for us.
Due to Leslie’s mapped out customization of the course to fit Kent School District’s situation, students were more able to retain the knowledge they acquired in class. Donna Paulson, Director of Client Support Service, noted that she still hears her employees using buzzwords they learned in class.
Applying New Knowledge
After taking the course, Joelle, Tom, and Donna saw their coworkers immediately apply their newly acquired knowledge. Specifically, Donna noted one of her employees is currently re-doing their ticketing system after learning more about ITIL, and his newfound understanding of ITIL is helping him improve the grouping and overall flow of the system. Donna also said another member of her team, Tyler, applied what he learned by implementing processes and steps into their new help desk system.
Since the training, Tom noticed senior members of the department who were previously just vaguely familiar with ITIL now speaking in clear and defined terms. Now that they had a foundation in ITIL, these senior members knew what specific changes they needed to incorporate into their existing systems and processes. The leadership team in the IT Department at Kent has worked hard on developing a strategic roadmap for growth. Because the foundation of ITIL spreads across many facets of IT, this training session enabled them to gain buy-in and increased understating from organizational leaders.
The effects of the training transcended from everyday tasks, to project based work, all the way to how we plan for the future in the ever-changing field of IT, which was a huge benefit.
Joelle, Tom, Donna and the rest of the IT leadership team at the Kent School District have seen a number of positive results after taking the ITIL v3 Foundation Exam Preparation Boot Camp with ASPE Training. After the course, they had a debriefing session during which they identified growth opportunities where they have not yet adopted ITIL practices. For instance, change management and incident management processes.
A few benefits their department experienced in the few months after taking training with ASPE include:
- Improved help desk ticketing tool
- Developed a service catalog available to customers
- Broke down silos by improving systems, therefore, allowing cross-team collaboration
- Decreased time of ticket creation
It will be a continual effort from this point forward, and one that I hope that we can build on in the years to come. This is learning we can use every day.
Whether it’s the change management process for rolling out a new system, or incident response for an unplanned outage, the IT staff at the Kent School District plan to use what they learned in class in all areas of their work. After taking ITIL training with ASPE, they now see their department more as a service provider focused on their customers’ success.
Now having gone through the ITIL training, it’s another lens we can look through to ultimately better support our customers.