2013: A Year in ITSM Review

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

As 2013 begins to draw to a close, I thought it would be nice to finish off the year with a final article that’s an overview of what has happened at the ITSM Review over the last 12 months.  That’s right, this will be our last post for 2013 because the entire team is heading off to fill their faces with mince pies and sherry. But don’t worry we’ll be back in 2014 with slightly bigger waistlines and lots of exciting plans for 2014 (insight into which you can find at the end of this article).

Ironically I like neither mince pies nor sherry. 

Visits and Growth

  • We have had nearly 230,000 page views this year, an increase of a whopping 210% from 2012!!! A huge thank you to the circa 120,000 of you for coming to read our content.
  • Visits to our site increased by an astounding 58% between the end of June and end of July alone, and then continued to grow on average by 5.5% every month.
  • Our Twitter followers increased by 193%.

One thing that I think it’s worth pointing out here as well is that the bulk of our readers are not actually situated in the UK (which is what a lot of people presume given that this is where we are based). In 2013, 17% of our readers were from the UK, but an impressive 30% were actually from the USA. Perhaps we should open a US office?! A large proportion of visitors also came from India, Germany, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, France and Sweden, as well as plenty of other countries too.

Owing to us attracting more and more visitors year-on-year from outside of the UK and America, we are increasingly being asked to produce region-specific content. We are therefore looking for practitioners, consultants or analysts based in Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe who would be interested in writing about their experiences of ITSM in other countries. If you are interested please get in touch.

What was popular?

The top 3 most-viewed articles of the year were:

  1. 7 Benefits of using a Known Error Database (by Simon Morris)
  2. Gartner Magic Quadrant for IT Service Support Management Tools (Martin Thompson)
  3. AXELOS: Capita and ITIL joint venture lift lid on new brand (Martin Thompson)

Of those articles only number 3 was actually written and published in 2013.

I have to say congratulations specifically to Simon Morris here as well, because his KEDB article was not only the most-read article of the year, but it achieved 37% more hits than the second most popular article of the year! (And that’s not counting the hits it originally got in the year it was published).

Of the articles written and contributed in 2013, the top 3 were:

  1. Future of ITIL workshop – a little insight (Stuart Rance and Stephen Mann)
  2. Four Problem Management SLAs you really can’t live without (Simon Higginson)
  3. 7 golden rules for getting the most from the Service Catalogue (Yemsrach Hallemariam)

Is there a specific topic that you would like us to write about? Are there are practical pieces that you would like to see us cover to help you in your day-to-day job? Please let us know.

Content Contributors

In 2013, we were pleased to welcome 3 new, regular content contributors to the ITSM Review.  These are people who now write for us on a regular basis (roughly once a month), so you can expect to see a lot more great content from them in 2014. They are:

We also published content for the first time from the following companies: Cancer Research UK; EasyVista; Fruition Partners; GamingWorks; LANdesk; Macro4; Oregon Department of Transportation; Service Management Art Inc; and xMatters.

A great big thank-you to all of our regular and ad hoc contributors for helping supply with us with such fantastic content.

If you’re reading this and think you might be interested in contributing content (we welcome content from all, including) please get in touch.

Top Searches

Given that we had over 230,000 pages view this year, I thought that many of you might be interested to see what it was that people were searching for on our site.  The top 20 searches of the year were as follows:

  1. KEDB
  2. AXELOS
  3. Known Error Database
  4. ITSM
  5. Issue Log
  6. Proactive Problem Management
  7. ITSM Software
  8. Gartner ITSM
  9. What is Service Management
  10. Cherwell Software Review
  11. Gartner ITSM Magic Quadrant
  12. ServiceNow Review
  13. ITSM Software Review
  14. ITSM News
  15. Major Incident Management Process
  16. Free ITIL Training
  17. RemedyForce Review
  18. BMC Footprints
  19. KEDB in ITIL
  20. Process Owner

Are there any search terms that you are surprised to see on there?  Or anything that you would have expected to see that isn’t?

Events

In 2013 we branched out and kicked off Media Partnerships at the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition (Birmingham) and itSMF Estonia Conference (Tallin).

Our aim was not only to spread the word about The ITSM Review, but to spend time with delegates to find out what things they are struggling with and how we might be able to help them.

Next year you can expect to see us the PINK conference in Las Vegas, and we hope to announce some other new, exciting partnerships for 2015 in the New Year!

Launches

In May we launched the ITSM Review App (Search ‘ITSM’ in the Apple App Store). 

Then there is the ITSM Tools Universe, which we launched at the end of November. The Tools Universe hopes to shed light on the emerging ITSM players (as well as the major competitors) and, over time, the changes in the position of the companies involved and moves in market share. Most importantly it is free to participate and unlike any Magic Quadrant or Wave, the ITSM Tools Universe is open to ALL ITSM vendors. 9 vendors are already confirmed.

If you are a Vendor and are interested in learning more the ITSM Tools Universe please contact us.

Additions to the team

As of 1st January 2013 the ITSM Review was still simply just the man you all know and love Martin Thompson (he tried desperately to get me to remove what I just said there… modest and all that jazz).

However, ITSM Review finished 2013 with an additional 3 employees:

  • In January 2013 Glenn Thompson (you’d be right to suspect that they might be related) joined full-time as the company’s Commercial Director. For some reason there was no official announcement (we’ll blame Martin) so for some of you this might be the first you’ve heard of it! Without Glenn we’d struggle to continue to offer all of our content to readers free of charge, so despite the fact that he’s a Chelsea fan, you’ve got to like him.
  • In July, for some reason Martin decided it would be a good move to hire some strange blonde lady who liked penguins (that would be me) as the Marketing and Community Manager.
  • Finally, in October Rebecca Beach joined as a Research Analyst. Famous for being a “gobby midget”, Rebecca will be writing most of our ITSM research and reviews in 2014. Rebecca also spends time (in conjunction with me) making fun of Martin and Glenn on a regular basis (it’s not our fault they make it so easy).

So then there was 4.

If you’re interested in any upcoming job opportunities at the ITSM Review (or ITAM Review), then please let us know.  We certainly plan on increasing that number 4 in 2014.

What’s planned for 2014?

Next year we are hoping to broaden our coverage of the ITSM space even further by securing new content contributors; participating in more industry events; launching new products (such as video product reviews, webinars, and case studies); and more.

We’re also looking very seriously at the possibility of running regular ‘social meet ups’ like we recently did with the Christmas get-together.

In addition to the publication of our ITSM Tools Universe in the Spring we will also be continuing our Group Tests, and a full list of topics for the Group Test series will be published early January.

In addition to the above we also have some planned changes in the works for our website. Nothing too major (it will still look like the ITSM Review that you know and love), just some cosmetic updates to make it easier on the eye and increase your ability to easily find what you are looking for.

Watch this space and we’ll keep you updated of our plans throughout 2014!

Oh and if you’re interested in the 2013 review and plans for 2014 from the ITAM Review, you can read them here.

Is there anything you would like to see us doing in 2014 that we’re not doing currently? Are there any changes that you would like to suggest to the website? Would you be interested in a tooling event or social get-togethers? Are you a Vendor who is interested in our Group Tests? We welcome your feedback, so please get in touch.

And so…

2013 is drawing to a close. Our success and growth throughout the year has made everybody here happy bunnies; but most importantly we hope that our content / site / presence this year has made YOU a bunch of happy bunnies. The whole purpose of the ITSM Review is to help ITSM practitioners, and everything we do has that end goal in mind.  Even if we only gain an additional 5 readers in 2014, so long as our content aids those 5 people and makes their work lives easier then these bunnies will continue to have smiles on their faces.

So with that image of turning the entire ITSM industry into smiley rabbits, I bid you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Thanks for reading throughout 2013; without you… the ITSM Review doesn’t exist.

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Balance your productivity books

What did you achieve in 2013?
What did you achieve in 2013?

The end of the year is coming and if you are anything like me you find time to reflect and ponder over the year that has passed. This year I had a chance to show myself that I have actually made a difference to my organization and that my work has been valuable.

I recently had the good fortune to speak at the itSMF Sweden Expo 2013 in Gothenburg. It was actually the first presentation I have given in this line of business so I didn’t already have a presentation to just whip out and deliver. I had to create one.

Someone presumably knew that I had been working as a Configuration Manager for the same company for almost three years and they probably assumed that I would have some valuable insights to share with my peers by now.

So when I was asked to present what I and my colleagues had accomplished over the last three years my first reaction was:

“What a great honour, I’d be delighted! But… I haven’t anything to tell, we haven’t accomplished anything yet…”

Having said that to myself I quite rapidly asked myself:

Really? Not a single accomplishment during three years worth sharing? I must really suck at my job!”

I don’t believe that I suck at my job so I set out to balance my productivity books to get an idea of what we had accomplished and what results we had achieved.

Finding the records

Looking into the past can be both dreadful and uplifting. It’s so easy to judge choices and decisions in retrospect when you have all the answers at hand. But you can also find forgotten gems of good stuff that will remind you of things that mattered but had lost its place in yours and others minds.

At the same time you might find that you don’t keep your records in good enough order to know whether or not you’ve been valuable by the end of the year. I had to wade through a lot of documents, blogs, posts and tweets, and talk to quite a few people to find the good bits and pieces that I had left behind as imprints of accomplishments over the years. Many things were still in my head of course but when it came to details and hard facts, I had to dig deep and look far to find them.

To my surprise there was quite a lot of things to be found that showed my accomplishments. Not only in form of project reports and management presentations but also in actual effects in my organization. Effects that weren’t directly connected to what I had done but at least started with my doings.

One of the lessons learned here is to keep a better record of my own accomplishments. Starting 2014, I’ll track things I do in some kind of ledger so that I can find records of my activities more easily.

Doing the math

It’s a good thing to measure. I think most people in the ITSM industry can agree to that. And we have all heard, read and talked about the necessity of measuring in the smartest possible ways to gain results.

When it came to measurable results in my records, there was close to none, and the few metrics I had were not really comparable. And all that aside, I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to show or to whom.

It’s tricky measuring ones value or the value of ones accomplishments. I was pondering over one aspect of this in another article some time ago and I did come up with some interesting findings.

The value of metrics and what they tell you is probably not the most important aspect to consider if you want to balance your productivity books (a completely different story if you are balancing the financial records of your company, I’d presume). But if you are interested in numbers, do the math and see what you get. The result may surprise you.

Presenting the report

Even if you don’t have the opportunity to tell your peers in the community the results of your work with a presentation at a conference, you would gain from summarizing it in some way. This will force you to select what was important and what was not.

Use the result as a compilation of the work-year to keep in your personal archive. Use it to tell your boss what a great asset you are to the company. Use it to share your success with your peers, your spouse or even to explain to your mother what it is that you actually do at work.

But most importantly, use it to empower yourself with the knowledge that you have accomplished many important things this year and that you are your own fortune.

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itSMF Estonia Conference Round-up

Christmas Tree small
Beautiful Estonia

On Wednesday 11th December, in a very cold and snowy Tallinn, President of itSMF Estonia, Kaimar Karu kicked off the annual itSMF Estonia conference by introducing all of the speakers and encouraging delegates to ask questions of them throughout the day.

Kaimar had managed once again to raise attendance of the conference (by 10%), with representation from 10 different countries, and with a very good female representation in the audience too.

Delivering Service Operations at Mega-Scale – Alan Levin, Microsoft

Alan Levin small

First speaker was Alan Levin of Microsoft whose presentation talked through how Microsoft deal with their vast number of servers and how, built into all of Microsoft products, is the ability to self-heal.

On the subject of Event Management Alan spoke about ensuring that alarms are routed to the correct people and how, in your business, any opportunity you have to reduce alerts should be taken.

Enabling Value by Process – Viktor Petermann, Swedbank

Viktor Petermann small

Viktor opened his presentation by saying that 4 out of 5 improvement processes fail because people are not robots. You cannot just expect them to know what you want and how you want things to work.

He continued by saying that having the right culture, processes and learning from relevant experiences will enable you to do the right things the right way.

Viktor warned that like quitting smoking, change will not happen unless you really want it to.  Before embarking on any change make sure that you are willing to give it 100%.

Oded-Moshe-small
Oded Moshe

Benchmarking and BI, Sat Navs for Service Desks – Oded Moshe, SysAid Technologies Ltd.

After having to rest his voice for 24hrs due to contracting the dreaded man-flu Oded still managed to show how to use Benchmarking to improve your Service Desk.

His presentation contained useful guidance on what areas to look at and how to benchmark yourself against them.

He also explained how you can use SysAid and it’s community to gather global service desk metrics to measure yourself against.

Presentation words of wisdom from Oded: Don’t become fixated with metrics and benchmarking as they are not the only way to measure.

Service-Based Public Sector – Janek Rozov, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications

Janek Rozov small

In contrast to the other presentations “Service-Based Public Sector” was presented in Estonian.  Although I do not speak Estonian I could tell how passionate Janek was about the subject and it was one of the most talked about presentations that evening in the bar.

The presentation covered how the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication are using ICT to fulfill their vision of supporting Estonians as much as possible, while they are using their rights but bothering them as little as possible in the process. Perhaps we could pay for Janek to spend some time with the UK Government in the hopes that some of this common sense might rub off?

If you would like to know more about Estonian ICT success in the public sector you can read Janek’s pre-conference article “Standardizing the delivery of public services”.

Service Desk 2.0 – Aale Roos, Pohjoisviitta Oy

Aale Roos small

Aale spoke profusely about how service desk’s and the mentality of “break fix” is old fashioned and flawed.  He described how the service desk needs be brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century, concentrating on proactive measures and outcomes.

He continued to say that ITIL has been outdated for over a decade and that unlearning ITIL and moving to a “Standard + Case” approach is the way of the future.

Networking

There was lots of opportunity for networking across the event, and at lunch I got the opportunity to speak to a few of the delegates and presenters to find out what they thought of the conference.

Quote from Oded Moshe:

I think the first session by Alan Levin from Microsoft was a great chance for us all to see the insides of one of the largest operational support organizations in the world! They are in charge of providing more than 200 cloud business services to more than 1 billion people with the help of more than 1 million servers. So Problem Management, Incidents, Monitoring – everything is on a HUGE scale – it is easy to understand why you must have your service processes properly tuned otherwise you are in a master-mess…

Peter Hepworth – CEO of AXELOS, Kaimar Karu – President of itSMF Estonia and Patrick Bolger – Chief Evangelist at Hornbill Service Management
Peter Hepworth – CEO of AXELOS, Kaimar Karu – President of itSMF Estonia and Patrick Bolger – Chief Evangelist at Hornbill Service Management

Industry Leaders Agree IT is Revolting – Patrick Bolger, Hornbill Service Management

Pat Bolger small

Adapt or die was the message in Patrick’s session with references to high street names that didn’t and paid the price.

Comparing how we in IT think we are viewed and how the business actually views us was sobering but mentions of SM Congress and Arch SM show that the industry is ready to change and we are not doing this alone.

Problem & Knowledge, The Missing Link – Barclay Rae, Barclay Rae Consulting

Barclay small

Presenting on the missing links in ITSM, Barclay hammered home why Problem and Knowledge Management are so fundamentally important.

Using his ITSM Goodness model Barclay showed how to move away from the process silo’s we so often find ourselves in and which processes to group together for maximum effectiveness i.e. Incident, Problem, Change.

Barclay also held well-attended workshops pre-conference in conjunction with itSMF Estonia.

DevOps, Shattering the Barriers – Kaimar Karu, Mindbridge   

Kaimar small

Kaimar’s message is unorthodox:  Don’t play it safe, try to break things, don’t mask fragility and plan for failure, for this is the road to increased quality and innovation.

He advised that we need to not forget that developers are human and not unapproachable cowboys riding round on horses shooting code.  Get to know them over a drink so that everyone can relax and say what’s on their mind without the fear of repercussion.

But most of all remember that “Sh*t happens”.  Stop the blame, it doesn’t help…EVER.

Problem Management Challenges and Critical Success Factors – TÕnu Vahtra, Playtech

Tonu Vahtra small

The penultimate session of the day was from TÕnu on how Playtech are working through Problem Management and the issues they have encountered.

The major difficulties TÕnu has found is the lack of practical information on how to actually do Problem Management, and Playtech have found themselves having to teach themselves learning from their own mistakes as they go.

It was a very useful case study with helpful pointers to information and literature such as Apollo Route Cause Analysis by Dean L Gano for others struggling with Problem Management.

The Future for ITIL – Peter Hepworth, AXELOS followed by Forum

Axelos Workshop small

Following on from the publication of AXELOS’ roadmap, and the announcement that they would be partnering with itSMF International, Peter talked through the progress AXELOS has made and its hopes for the future.

The forum was well attended and many useful suggestions were made for ways that ITIL and PRINCE2 could be improved.

You can learn more about AXELOS’ plans by reading our interview with Peter.

My thoughts

Considering the cost of a ticket to the conference I wasn’t expecting the content and presentations to be at the very high level it was.  I haven’t yet attended any of the other non-UK itSMF conferences but the bar has now been set incredibly high.

My main observation from the conference and the discussions that took place after is that the majority of delegates knew how very important Problem Management is, but are still struggling with implementation and making it work.  In the AXELOS workshop the main feedback seemed to be the need for ITIL to cut down on the number of processes available as standard and concentrate on the core areas that the majority of organizations have, or are trying to put in place.

Well done to Kaimar and team for the fantastic job and thank you for the wonderful hospitality. In addition to the conference I particular enjoyed the entertainment on the Tuesday evening, when some of the organisers, speakers, delegates and penguins ventured out in the snow for some sightseeing and a truly delicious meal at a little restaurant called Leib in the Old Town.

I highly recommend to anyone to attend the itSMF Estonia 2014 conference next December. With flights from most places in Europe less than £150, a hotel/venue that is less than £100 per night, and an amazing ticket price of less than £40, it is extremely great value for money. With outstanding content (90% in English), brilliant networking opportunities and excellent hospitality, it’s too good of an event to miss. I certainly look forward to being there again.

As a final note, thank -you to itSMF Estonia for having us involved as the Official Media Partner.  We are hoping to work with other international itSMF chapters in 2014, as well as on other worldwide ITSM events.  Watch this space 🙂

 

CSI puts the ‘taste’ back in Service Management

Francois
Francois Biccard

This article has been contributed by Francois Biccard, Support Manager.

We have all probably heard the slogan ”Common sense is like deodorant, the people who need it most never use it”. In my observation that probably rings true for many organisations when it relates to a Continual Service Improvement (CSI) plan or strategy.

The more an organisation grows, the more it becomes an essential requirement to its success.

We can all bang the drum of “the customer is king”, “the customer is central”, “the customer is <fill in the blank>”, or whatever slogan the next pundit tries to sell us. If I were to put myself in the customer’s shoes, I would have to fill in the blank with: the customer is well and truly over it. Over the lip service.

You can only have so many mantras, visions, slogans, goals, values – whatever. When all the customer get sold is all the marketing guff but no substance, it is like going to your favourite restaurant, ordering the t-bone steak, and getting one of those fragrance pull-outs from a magazine with a note from the chef saying that he can sell you the smell, but the fusion of smell and taste is just an illusion. Would you accept that? Should your customer accept the same from you?

CSI is the substance – it’s what happens in the background that the customer cannot see – but can taste. It provides substance to your mantra, vision, goals – for your staff, and for your customers.

What is more, it forms the backbone of your strategic plan, and feeds your operational plan.

Without it you are lost  – like a boat without a rudder. You will still go ‘somewhere’, if only by the effort of competent staff tirelessly rowing and steering the organisation through their own little ‘swim lane’ as part of the broader process. However, you won’t have much control – not enough to make sure you set your own destination. Yes, by chance you might end up on a beautiful island, but there are a lot of icebergs and reefs out there as well, and Murphy will probably have the last say.

Misconceptions

There are other misconceptions that may get you stranded too,

“…but all our staff do Continual Improvement every day”.

The problem with this statement is, that if you don’t provide them with a framework and a channel or register where they can document current, or propose new improvement strategies, you are:

  1. Not creating awareness or fostering a culture that is all about continual improvement.
  2. You are not leveraging the power of collective thought – which is extremely important in continual improvement, especially since they are probably the foot soldiers who are most aware of the customers’ most intense frustrations and struggles.

You might not act on every suggestion added to a register, but at the very least it will provide you greater insight – whether that is to be used in planning, resourcing etc.

Another example: “…but we just don’t have the resources or time to act on these suggested improvements”.

Not all improvements will require the same level of resourcing.

Order ideas by least effort and maximum value – then pick one you can afford. Even if you start with the smallest, it’s not always about what is being done, but actually starting somewhere and creating the culture first.

Remember, Continual Improvement is more about creating the culture first. Create the culture and the rest will be much easier.

Golden Rule: Start Now!

So, you haven’t done anything and you now feel like you’re four again, and the plate of vegetables placed in front of you has a mountain of peas, each the size of a small boulder (insert your own nightmarish vegetable of choice).

All is not lost though – you can turn things around, but there’s one golden rule: There is no better time to start than right now! Every moment you delay, opportunities for improvement are lost.

  • Go forth and research!
  • Provide a register where others can contribute ideas or suggestions.
  • Review and decide, as a group, what you can afford that will provide most benefit.
  • Ask some practical questions to get the thinking started:
  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where do you want to be?
  3. How you will get there – what would you have to do?
  4. Where do you need to mature?
  5. What do you have to do to achieve that maturity?
  6. Where are the gaps in your services, organisational skills/training etc.?
  7. What would you have to do to fill or complete those gaps?

If you want to be passionate about Service Management, you have to be passionate about constantly improving and evolving. The nature of Service Management is evolution – if you stop you’ll stagnate.

About Francois:

Francois specialises in continual improvement and applying practical ITSM solutions and strategies in the real world. His career started in Systems Management and IT Operations, and for the last 6 years have been focused in implementing and improving Service Management principles in the Application/Product Development industry. He is passionate about practical ITSM and how to leverage real value for the Customer and Business alike.

Pink Elephant 18th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition

Fatima Cabral and George Spalding delivered the opening keynote at PINK 2013
Fatima Cabral, CEO and George Spalding, Executive Vice Preseident at Pink Elephant delivered the opening keynote at PINK 2013

We are excited to announce that we will be a Media Partner for Pink Elephant’s 18th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition (aka Pink14), 16-19 February 2014, at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

The event brings together 1,500 like-minded IT professionals, with over 160 sessions spread over 14 tracks – covering a vast array of subjects from all across the ITSM spectrum.

What you can expect

  • 14 tracks of educational, strategic, tactical and operational content. Tracks include: The 3 I’s of Leadership; CIO Forum; ITSM Winner’s Circle; ITSM Project Management; Service Support and Operations; How-to ITIL Clinics and Workshops; CSI – There Is No Finish Line; Using Frameworks and Standards to Achieve Business Value; Pink Think Tank; Tools and Technology; Breakfast Clubs; Discussion Forums; Half-day Workshops; Platinum Sponsor Stream – BMC Software. You can find out more information about all of these tracks here.
  • A various array of pre-conference courses covering ITIL and Lean IT Certifications; and post-conference workshops covering COBIT and ‘how-to’ instructional workshops.
  • Presentation of Pink’s IT Excellence Awards, with awards for: Project of the Year; Practitioner of the Year; Case Study of the Year; Innovation of the Year; and IT Leader of the Year.

Both Rebecca Beach and I will also be in attendance. If you would like to schedule a meeting with either of us at the conference please email me. We are interested in hearing from all attendees whether you are a vendor, practitioner, consultant or other!

We hope to see you there!


Event Summary

WHAT

Pink Elephant Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition (aka Pink14)

WHERE

Bellagio Hotel

WHEN

The conference runs from Sunday 16th – Wednesday 19th February, with pre-conference courses running from Wednesday 12th – Sunday 16th February, and post-conference courses from Thursday 20th February to Saturday 22nd.

BOOKING

Booking rates are available online

Collaborative IT Support at the University of Reading

Joel Bomgar, CEO of Bomgar & Gordon Roberts, Customer Services and Communications Manager, IT Services for University of Reading
Joel Bomgar, Founder & CEO of Bomgar with Gordon Roberts, Customer Services & Communications Manager, IT Services for University of Reading

Since 2012 British Universities have been able to charge £9,000 (about $15,000) per year for tuition fees. I wrote last year, following the itSMF regional at the University of Exeter, that this charging policy shifts the relationship between undergraduates and institutions and further elevates students to ‘customers’ with buying power. Students have new expectations and demand higher standards of their Universities, including IT services.

This is sentiment echoed by Gordon Roberts, Customer Services and Communications Manager at the University of Reading, who I met with Joel Bomgar, CEO of the $50m enterprise remote support company that bears his name. Joel was in the UK to visit the EMEA office and talk with clients including the University of Reading (UoR) who have recently joined the ranks of around 8,000 other Bomgar customers.

Gordon stated his team were under increasing pressure to increase service levels: both to satisfy their staff and students but also manage external reputation. Bad vibes about support spread like wild fire amongst prospective IT savvy students.

The UoR team admit that they stumbled across Bomgar whilst on the search for a new service desk (Recently replacing BMC with TopDesk), Gordon said “All the ITSM vendors we spoke to during our ITSM tool selection process said they integrated with Bomgar, but we’d never heard of it. However after researching further we immediately saw the value and have been using it since May”.

IT services at UoR act as a central point of contact for all IT requests and incidents, even for those faculties that may have their own IT support resources. Gordon stated that the lines between first and second line support had begun to blur as the first line support team were encouraged to learn more. “There has been an effort to move away from log and flog and increase the skill levels of frontline staff”

Bomgar facilitates collaboration between support teams by:

  • Allowing 1st and 2nd line to collaborate in real time on issues and learn from each other during calls rather than passing batons between teams with no real increase in knowledge
  • Recording calls and clipping the video to a knowledge base article for future reference
  • Doing all this whilst meeting their security and regulatory requirements. An audit trail of Bomgar activity records all interactivity.

I was surprised to hear that anyone in IT support can use Bomgar; it is not restricted to a few specialists. In fact Bomgar is also used for hands-on 1-2-1 training sessions outside of IT support, for example when training staff on tips and tricks with Microsoft Office, CMS systems or Blackboard.

Once upon a time we pushed plugs in a telephone exchange and called the operator to make a phone call – now we click on somebody’s face in Skype and talk to them immediately on the other side of the planet via a free video link. Bomgar paints a vision of a similar immediacy. Service request portals have provided scope for great steps in automation; remote support of this type allows the human touch to return and vastly accelerate support by allowing collaboration in real time.

itSMF Estonia Preview: Standardizing the delivery of public services

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Janek Razov

Ahead of his presentation at itSMF Estonia, we caught up with Janek Rozov, Head of Information Society Services Development Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in Estonia has taken the lead in standardizing the delivery of public services. Can you please explain why this initiative has been undertaken and what is the value for the Public Sector and for citizens?

One reason is that satisfaction about public e-services that are provided by different authority’s varies from 37% – 91% (e-service) and awareness about public e-services is very low (approximately 30%). We have very a complicated overview about how many services are provided by authorities and right now we don’t have a (much-needed) structure to describe the meaning of public service in the same language for all service providers. The primary benefits of standardizing the delivery of public services would be for:

  • Citizens – increasing awareness and satisfaction.
  • Public Sector – understand that kind of services is necessary to change

What kind of guidance for the Public Sector have you already created and published?

To date, we have created:

  • Green Paper – Organisation of Public Services – it was approved on 16th May this year in the Government Cabinet meeting. It was a one and a half year-long process before approving. We ran lot of workshops and discussions with public authority representatives as well as with organisations representing different clients groups.
  • Public sector business processes – Process Analysis Handbook – We published this in summer; it is a handbook based on public sector practice in the field of process analysis. 5 departments and 1 local government agency were involved in its creation.
  • Creating preconditions to improve quality of public services by ICT means – Approved in October 2013, this program consists of three primary parts: awareness in field of new e-solutions and principals in public sector (trainings and information days); analyses and conceptions (e.g. information governance vision (documents management vs information governance)); and Pilot projects.

There can be many challenges when coordinating Service Management activities between various Public Sector organisations. Any advice on how to overcome these?

The main principal that our departments try to follow is “think big do small”, anything we want to implement is first test in ‘pilot project’ mode. Pilot projects help us to achieve collaboration and trust between our team and the people from different authorities.  It also helps us work out what works and what doesn’t.

How does Public Sector Service Management differ from the Private Sector?

In my opinion there are no differences in its management. You need to understand the clients need and provide them with services to fit these needs regardless of whether it’s in the Private Sector or the Public Sector.

Can public sector organisations from other countries learn from your achievements?

Yes we continously share information about our experience in public service development at different conferences and via our ministry web page.

How do you see the future of the initiative – what does the roadmap for the next few years look like and what are the main outcomes you are hoping to deliver?

  • Publish “public sector e-service design handbook”, which will be based on “Road authority pilot project in summer – autumn 2013”
  • Cannel strategy for providing public services
  • Public services portfolio management model
  • Pilot project in field of public e-services design (teaching, analysis (AS-IS –ToBi), e-service design)

itSMF Estonia

Janek will present at itSMF Estonia on 11th December at 14.25. His presentation will be in Estonian with slides/translation in English. An overview of his session is as follows:

Estonia is a country where most of the interactions citizens need to have with the government can be done online – submitting applications and notices, registering the birth of a child, voting on local government council and parliamentary elections, filing taxes, starting a company, etc. The public sector is focused on making these experiences as smooth as possible and the results have been well received by both the citizens and the entrepreneurs, and noticed by the countries.

The Department of Information Society Services Development within the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is leading the standardisation of the delivery of public services and ensuring the development of customer centric physical and virtual environments based on available IT solutions. They have recently published the Green Book on Management of Public Services, which covers the main challenges of delivering public services and provides a set of proven solutions. The models described in the Green Book have already been successfully applied to several projects. This presentation describes the these models and shows how the public sector and potentially the private sector can use this BoK when designing and improving their services. 

ITSM Big 4 – the practitioner view

What would your four key topics be?
What would your four key topics be?

For 2014 itSMF UK has decided to focus on four key topics that will drive its agenda for the next 12 months.  These topics will be the basis for all of its content, events, SIGs, Regionals, and Masterclasses throughout next year.

The aim is to create a sense of coherence and continuity across all of its activities and give its members (and the wider ITSM community where possible) the support they need.  Yes, these four key topics (referred to as the “ITSM Big 4”) are chosen by YOU.

In order to help select these four topics there has been:

  • An online poll
  • Numerous discussions with the itSMF UK member base
  • Two Twitter Chats
  • Two roundtables at the itSMF UK Conference in early November

I have to say it’s great to see how proactive itSMF UK has been with this initiative, adopting new channels (Twitter) and also proactively communicating with people outside of the UK for their opinions, despite the fact that the concept will be UK-based. However, having taken part in both the Twitter Chats and the roundtables at the event I couldn’t help but feel that there is a specific type of input missing – practitioner input.

I think it’s important to stress here that this isn’t itSMF UK’s fault. Within the ITSM community there are a lot of dominant voices and opinions, which is not a bad thing (I must stress), but it does sometimes mean that either other voices cannot be heard over these opinions, or it can prevent others from coming forward with their thoughts (specifically if their thoughts differ). It’s also often the case that practitioners are so knee-deep in actually doing ITSM that they often don’t have the time to provide input into these sorts of initiatives.

I had hoped that the practitioner presence may be more noticeable in the roundtables at the conference, but in reality I struggled to spot more than one practitioner amongst the large group of consultants in the room. This is when I started to realise, that if not careful, the ITSM Big 4 will be chosen based on perceptions of vendors and consultants alone, with very little input from the ITSM Big 4’s actual target audience – the practitioners… the people actually doing all of the stuff that we are talking about.

Unfortunately I don’t have the answer as to how itSMF UK (or any of us for that matter) can better succeed in reaching the ITSM practitioners of the world, but I do know of four practitioners dotted around the globe that contribute content here at ITSM Review on a regular basis.  So I thought, why not ask them?

Below, ITSM Review regular contributors and practitioners provide their views on the ITSM Big 4.

Earl Begley, Total Quality Manager at the University of Kentucky (US)

First of all I want to say that I think that the ITSM Big 4 concept is a very cool idea. I like that itSMF UK is working to focus on 4 major topics. Secondly, rather than simply giving you my top 4, I wanted to start by commenting on some of the themes/ideas that I have seen being raised in the Twitter Chats.

  • IT as a business partner – Yes, this is key: IT caring about the business objectives/Business caring about the technology provided.
  • The future of service management – I think the future of “ITIL” is a little too narrow in focus – stop making the discussions about the theory of a framework.
  • Is ITSM maturity a “regional” issue? – As I sit across the pond, it is so easy to me to see where the US is a “late” adopter of this movement – when I communicate with one of my ITSM brethren in the UK, Europe, or Oceania how they think about ITSM is well ahead of where I see my fellow countrymen. If that is truly the case, how do we start building better communities?
  • Building skills over certification – to me, working as a practitioner is like being on a daily version of “Iron Chef” – I don’t know what the “special ingredient” for the day will be but I know I have a short amount of time to impress the business with innovate processes to help the business satisfy its appetite (outcomes). It doesn’t matter how many certificates I hold,  it’s how well I apply the lessons I have learned.
  • Basics – Should anyone ever talk advanced ITSM concepts if they can’t show they are providing best in class IT basics? I think there is a lot of “improvement” to be made around Incident, Problem, and Change because we have still not mastered those disciplines (assuming most people would consider Incident, Problem, and Change as basic operational processes for IT).
  • ITIL and AXELOS – As a practitioner, I do not care who owns ITIL, what type of profit they are looking for, or the issues regarding improvement of the model. It’s like walking onto a car lot and being told “…oh, we know you want to take a test drive, but let me redirect your focus on to how we mined the ore to make the engine block” – give me something I can use to make my business more efficient and effective.

So, to sum up… ITIL shouldn’t be part of the big 4, concentration on basics is essential, I don’t care as much about the future as I care about the NOW, and yes, demonstrating IT value to the business and opening two-way communication is critical to success.

The questions I ask myself on a day-to-day basis are:

  • How do we improve operations in context of what the business needs?
  • How do we improve beginner, intermediate, and advance ITSM practitioner skill sets? What does the pathway from practitioner to consultant/industry expert look like? What do I need to do to be taken seriously in my ITSM community/context?

As far as I am concerned frameworks and Tools really don’t matter – it’s how we build knowledge on best class operations and allow the practitioner to select/use the framework/tools that best suit their context that is key.

Tobias Nyberg, Configuration Manager at Handelsbanken (Sweden)

Looking at the public conversations around the itSMF UK ITSM Big 4 initiative it certainly feels as though the channels are flooded with pundits wanting to share their ideas. So I guess I should add my little practitioners view to the mix.

I see two main areas where people like me need help;

  • Management awareness
  • Practical advice

Help us with management

As a practitioner, it can often feel all uphill when you approach the thought-leaders of the business. You are constantly told that you need to work outside-in and top-down. But sometimes it’s very difficult to do that without management support or understanding.

I would like bodies like itSMF UK to focus on how to spread the word further than to those of us who already “get it” but can’t do much about it. I’m stuck with my management and even if I did have some influence it doesn’t take me far enough when wanting to change things. I could have the most brilliant idea in the world to work outside-in and top-down, but without management on board (or to be honest, without even getting them to listen to me in the first place) I have no chance of implementing it.

I don’t know that much about the ITSM-scene in the UK and other countries, but when it comes to Sweden a lot of practitioners like myself are having problems with management that are not interested (or sometimes don’t even know what you’re talking about) when you try to speak service management with them. They’ve all heard of ITIL, but they don’t understand the whole concept of IT Service Management.

I also know that itSMF Sweden struggles to get CIO’s, CEO’s and that type of executive to its conferences and other events. And we (the practitioners and consultants) get stuck in only talking to each other about how things could be done, if only we could reach management and get them to listen to us, and more importantly understand what we’re talking about.

Practical Advice

The other thing that I see a huge need for is more practical advice on how to succeed on an actual day-to-day basis. How we successfully use and implement processes, what tools we use, what the best methods are for specific things etc.

We’ve got a huge body of knowledge in the ITIL-books and we’ve learned a lot on the theories there. But the books, the consultants and the thought leaders all tell us that we need to take all this stuff and change it so that it suits our organization, our special needs and circumstances. But then they tell us not to change it to much! Or they tell us that if we change the wrong stuff, we’ll be screwed! Nobody actually tells us what to do on a more practical level, nobody tells us how much change is ‘too much’, or what the ‘wrong stuff’ is that we shouldn’t change.

Of course some practitioners may be lucky and may find some good consultants to help them with the practical stuff, but for most of us that isn’t an option.

Some of the ‘themes’ raised in the Twitter Chats etc. such as: the future of ITIL; innovation from IT driving and helping the business; maximizing and exploiting IT investment; anticipating the future; business alignment and integration of IT services, etc. they are all interesting topics and they all have a part to play, but they are not relevant to many practitioners right NOW.  How can we possible focus on maximizing and exploiting IT investment, when we don’t even know how to successfully do the basic practical stuff and we can’t get management to pay attention to us?

I would really like to see itSMF UK (and all the other itSMF bodies for that matter) keep in mind that there is a great body of practitioners that still struggle with management support and how to make incident/problem/change work.

Francois Biccard, Support and Project Manager (Australia)

In my view ITSM has gone on this self indulged journey, where it was so focused on itself it became inflated to the point of exploding. In my opinion, it becoming inflated had some benefits, but created many misconceptions and failures along the way as well. I recall watching an online presentation by Rob England a while ago where he was talking about ITSM and DevOps and how they might be at that point where they are a bit inflated…

I think for the first time I see something new in ITSM circles – we’ve realised we were a bit too impressed with our badges and libraries with pictures of shells on them, and that we lost a bit of touch with reality. That is why getting back to the basics resonates with me. One tweet from Barclay that I think is very true:

We all make the assumption that people must be ‘getting’ the basics by now – but in reality this is exactly what most people struggle with – they don’t ‘get’ the basics, and they cannot envision how to implement or use the basics, or how it applies to the chaotic world they travel in every day.

By that I still believe there is a lot of value in the ‘new’ – e.g. anti-fragile, DevOps, Agile, Gamification etc – but only because it gives you a perspective of the past and where we have come from, and it gets people excited about the future – to see that we are not becoming stagnant.

We need to see how ITSM fits into the real world, with its challenges etc, not the perfect world or utopia where you have highly competent and skilled people and resources, clearly defined process and wonderfully automated tools. We need to see ITSM in bare feet not high heels. I also believe more needs to be said about Cultural change and effective ways to achieve that in imperfect organisations – which comes back to the wise saying by Rob:

“Good people will deal with bad process – in fact they’ll fix it. And good process can work around bad technology (and identify requirements). But new technology won’t fix process. And improved process won’t change people.”

Gregory Baylis-Hall, IT Service Management Analyst at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP (UK)

AXELOS has to be a subject up there on my list – as of January 1st they will be officially launching and the best practice management landscape will change for everyone. I feel that they’ve done a good job of interacting with the ITSM community but I’m still not convinced if the same can be said for the project management community. PM’s I’ve spoken to don’t know anything about AXELOS and companies that have approached me regarding Prince2 training haven’t had AXELOS cross their radar…which I find worrying considering the significant role that they now have with the best practice management portfolio. Because of the changes that will happen long-term, we (the practitioners) need to be aware that change is inevitable and more importantly what the impact of said changes that will be in the long-term.

Demonstrating value of IT to the business – how do you really demonstrate value to the business? It can be down to how IT is perceived by the business and not necessarily in a monetary term, for example, beg the question would you recommend your service desk to your work colleagues? If so, why – if not, why not…and work from there.

The service catalogue in my opinion is the jewel in the crown of ITSM…I get told it shows how IT can demonstrate the value to the business, and that it’s a key part of ITIL and SIAM. If this is the case why is it that so few IT departments actually do it? I can only imagine that the Service Catalogue is being pitched at the wrong level. Sure, practitioners get it and I’m sure IT managers understand the advantages of it BUT if the business was aware of the tangible benefits perhaps it would demand it.

With this in mind I’ve been lucky to attend several conferences this year and at each one I’ve been in sessions where the audience are asked who has a service catalogue and every time I would say less than 5% put their hands up…this number ideally needs to grow for the service catalogue to stay relevant, the question is how.

Practical advice and skills – Cobit5 is all about the governance and ITIL is all about the doing in service management, more practical advice that’s less vendor specific would be helpful. We don’t have the time to read volumes of books, but case studies would give practitioners useful snippets of topical guidance. These case studies could perhaps be categorised by different sectors.

Soft Skills – when I was at the itSMF UK conference this year a common thread was “engage with people in the business”, talk with them and more importantly listen. Getting back to the good old basics of “the fluffy stuff” as it’s referred to is important but appears to be a skill largely forgotten.

So what will the ITSM Big 4 be?

itSMF UK will announce the chosen four focus areas on December 11th at 8pm GMT via it’s third Twitter Chat, so there is still time to have your say (and remember you don’t have to live in the UK to make your voice heard). You can get involved on Twitter using #ITSMBIG4, you can use the comment box on this article, if you are an itSMF UK member you can join the discussions in the online forum, or if you would prefer to remain anonymous you are welcome to send me your thoughts directly or via our contact form to share with itSMF UK on your behalf.

So to all you practitioners out there, please do step forward and share your thoughts. This initiative is aimed at supporting you in the areas where you need support, it shouldn’t be based solely on what consultants and vendors think you need.

And remember, as always, regardless of the ITSM Big 4 initiative please do let us know what it is that you need help with. All ITSM Review content is aimed at helping you on a day-to-day basis, so please do tell us what you need and want from us and we will always do our upmost to provide it. That’s what we’re here for!

As a final note, thank-you to Earl, Tobias, Francois and Greg for taking the time out to provide their input.

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Service management for a more mobile world – is anything different?

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Don’t get lost in the mobile world

Ask any consumer what their favorite new tech gadget is, and odds-on it won’t be a new PC, but a tablet or smartphone. It’s the same in the enterprise: the number of traditional desktop machines being bought is continuing to slide according to Gartner, with a drop of around 8.4% in sales this year compared to 2012. At the same time, tablet sales for 2013 grew by 53.4% to an estimated 184 million devices.

This changing landscape not only changes the way we work, it also greatly impacts IT service management and support strategies. Gartner recently reported that the volume of requests for support of mobile devices will increase significantly, from less than 10% of help-desk requests today to more than 25% of requests by 2016.

This shift in device types and working locations will lead to changes in the type of support issues that service desk technicians will have to deal with. This will force the service desk to skill up around all those different platforms that will be in use, rather than just understanding traditional desktop operating systems, as well as handling requests in new ways.

To help service desks cope with this influx of calls, there are a number of things that service desk managers and ITSM professionals should consider.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM) tools may not provide everything you need

MDM and MAM typically allow enterprises to secure, provision and manage mobile devices, whether they are company-owned or bought in by employees. Most of these activities are performed on a mass scale across groups of devices. But beyond remote locking and wiping features, most mobile management tools provide limited functionality for incident support.

Remote support refers to the tools and technologies that service desks use to access, troubleshoot and control remote systems, typically when an individual has an issue with one specific device or application. Basic remote support functionality has been used for years to access and fix traditional desktops and laptops, but many of the legacy remote access tools don’t work with smartphones and tablets.

Part of the issue is that some mobile operating systems, such as Apple iOS and some instances of Android, limit screen-sharing functionality, but there are a number of remote support tools that let you view system information, configure settings, co-browse, and transfer files to and from the device, which all greatly improve the service desk’s ability to fix an issue. In addition, some solutions offer application-level remote support, where the service desk technician can view and control a specific application.

Users want consistency in their support experience, no matter the device

Unsurprisingly, another limitation with MDM and MAM tools are that they only work with mobile devices. But according to a recent report by Enterprise Management Associates, 87% of all business device users regularly use a PC and at least one mobile device. If users have a bad support experience on one device, this typically drags down their perception of the provider as a whole.

Since service desks normally provide support for end-users that are utilizing both traditional and mobile devices, they should have the ability to use the same remote support tools regardless of what the end user device is. This is important both for efficiency of the service desk – after all, having to run multiple tools to achieve a specific result is a significant drag on productivity – and it enhances the end-user experience if it is seamless and crisp.

New skills will be required for mobile support, and collaboration

As part of its research into service desks, Gartner reports that mobile devices have increased the service desk workload over the last two years for 81% of organizations. However, the majority of these have not increased their staff in line with this. While smarter use of tools like self-service portals, chat technologies and remote support have made service desk professionals more efficient in general, the rise in mobile devices will call for more training and a wider knowledge base across the team.

One way IT teams can boost on-the-job training is by using collaboration functionality and session recordings within remote support sessions. Some solutions allow a front line representative to invite an internal or external subject matter expert (SME) into a session so they can share the case history, do joint issue research, share screen control and ultimately help fix the issue.

Bringing this SME into a support session can help get a customer problem fixed faster, but it also allows the frontline representatives to see how to fix the issue first-hand. It’s even better if that session can be videoed for internal training or used as the basis for a knowledge base article. This means that those esoteric issues can then be dealt with by the first-tier team in the future, reducing costs and improving first-call resolution rates.

In summary

The influx of mobile devices into the work place will have an impact on what service desks have to provide to end-users. However, planning for this now should enable service to be consistent and efficient in meeting those ever-changing needs.

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