Unpacking the Value of Playbooks a Deep Dive into Ensuring Consistency in IT Services

Unpacking the Value of Playbooks a Deep Dive into Ensuring Consistency in IT Services

Published February 01, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of IT services, the pursuit of consistency remains a paramount concern for organizations. Having recently delved into this topic during insightful conversations, it became evident that unpacking the value of playbooks could significantly contribute to overcoming the challenges associated with consistency in IT services. As a seasoned professional with extensive experience in the industry, I find it crucial to share insights on common areas where consistency is compromised today and the profound impact it has on managed services and IT organizations.

Why Consistency is a Challenge

Consistency often takes a back seat in IT service organizations for several reasons. Firstly, staff experience with clients, technology assets, and processes varies, leading to inconsistent execution. Secondly, the time allocated for employees to familiarize themselves with internal procedures is insufficient. Thirdly, unlearning earlier processes and adapting to new technologies and procedures requires time. Lastly, the pressure to improve turnaround time in a rapidly changing environment adds to the challenges. These factors collectively contribute to inconsistencies within IT services.

Areas of Inconsistency

In the outsourcing industry, work transitions are well understood, but inconsistencies can arise during changes in scope, documentation, or team understanding.

Onboarding, a critical phase often overshadowed by transitions, involves pre-boarding exercises, joint agreements on procedures, and the introduction of work practices. Inconsistencies emerge when the full onboarding story, including pre-boarding and post-onboarding activities, is not effectively communicated to the client. Internal challenges like employee onboarding, compliance checks, and untested escalation processes further contribute to inconsistencies.

Transition vs. Onboarding

While transitions are well-monitored, onboarding plays a pivotal role in service improvement and change. Onboarding involves pre-boarding exercises, joint agreements on procedures, and introducing work practices, creating a comprehensive process larger than transitions. Continuous monitoring of various stages and stakeholders during onboarding is essential for sustained client experience and organizational success.

The Role of Metrics

Traditional metrics like SLAs, risk registers, and timelines offer insights into contractual obligations and risk management. However, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Time to Value (TTV) are crucial for assessing client satisfaction and the efficiency of service delivery. TTV, often overlooked, determines how quickly the proposed value is delivered, influencing renewal and growth.

Runbooks vs. Playbooks

Distinguishing between runbooks and playbooks is essential. Runbooks are tactical, designed for individual tasks with clear end goals. In contrast, playbooks involve broader, multi-step processes requiring collaboration across teams. Playbooks are crucial for managing major incidents, emergency changes, and complex tasks, fostering agile decision-making and leadership development.

Consistent Playbooks Drive Change

Playbooks, unlike runbooks, enforce accountability and behavior change. They empower teams to make decisions, fostering a culture of continuous improvement. Inconsistent experiences resulting from runbook-driven tasks contribute to defocused teams, security risks, and compromised service quality.

The Cost of Inconsistency

Inconsistency impacts organizations in three significant ways. Firstly, it jeopardizes meeting commitments, leading to competitive bidding situations during renewals. Secondly, it compromises growth by deterring clients from exploring new areas. Thirdly, it diminishes the voice of the customer, hindering referenceability and referrals.


Consistency is not merely a checkbox in service delivery; it’s the bedrock of client satisfaction, growth, and organizational success. As the industry evolves, embracing playbooks and addressing internal challenges during onboarding becomes imperative. The shift from runbooks to playbooks is not just about efficiency; it’s about fostering a culture of agility, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Organizations that prioritize consistency in IT services will undoubtedly pave the way for sustained success in an ever-changing digital landscape.

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