Two Speed Transition – Agile vs. Traditional

The service transition SIG presented an interactive session at the itSMF conference in November to discuss modern innovative and traditional approaches to Service Transition.

The conference session covered Release Management, Service Catalogue and Early Life Support and arguments were made for both traditional and more modern innovative approaches in quick fire 5 minutes presentations.

After each round, the audience discussed and voted which approach they preferred.

Presenters were as follows:

Release Management

  • Agile – Matt Hoey
  • Traditional – Sue Cater

Service Catalogue

  •  Agile – Patrick Bolger
  • Traditional – Vawns Murphy

Early Life Support

  • Agile – Jon Morley
  • Traditional – Peter Mills

The final scores were as follows:

Two speed transition

As you can see in the table above, the audience favoured Matt’s approach to release management but were on the fence for both Service Catalogue and Early Life Support.

My key takeaway from the session was that most folks were keen to explore new innovative approaches as long as the key benefits were adopted from traditional methods.

Two Speed Transition – 5 minute Video Summary

For further information on the Service Transition SIG please visit www.itsmf.co.uk

ITIL® Practitioner Guidance publication and PDF formats – now available!

*** Sounds Klaxon ***

The sparkly ITIL® Practitioner Guidance publication and PDF formats are now available! If you’re planning on sitting the new ITIL® Practitioner course and exam; you can now get some pre reading in.

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You can check out the official press release from ITIL towers below or you can order the books directly by following this link.

PRESS RELEASE – ITIL Practitioner Guidance FINAL (1)

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itSMF Czech Republic 2016 Conference

It’s the Czech Republic baby! The itSMF Czech Republic will be holding their annual conference next month – the first big ITSM event for 2016 – how exciting is that? Here’s what we know so far:

About the conference

itSMF CZ

The aim of this year’s conference is to help senior management in both private companies and public organisations optimise performance using best practice, standards, methods and techniques within IT.

IT can be either simple or complicated, but which way is best? This issue and much more will be addressed at the itSMF Czech Republic conference. Together we will be discussing whether simplicity means a higher quality of service for less money or if the reverse is true.  Are there other routes that will lead us to the holy grail of  optimal quality and optimal cost?  At this year’s conference we will look at practical examples of where simplicity worked and the other side of the story where the quality needed required more sophisticated solutions.

This year’s conference is a joint event for the itSMF Czech Republic and the Czech Association of IT Managers The conference will be over two days and has four work streams:

  • Simple or Complex IT? (Where is the optimum in terms of usability, processes and information security?)
  • Software as a Service in the commercial sector
  • Enterprise Architecture (pros and cons of using this approach in Governance and Public Sector)
  • Software as a Service in the public sector

 

Event Details:

Date: 21st and 22nd January 2016

Name:  A Simple or Complex IT?

Organiser: itSMF Czech Republic in cooperation with the Czech Association of IT Managers

Venue: the Top Hotel Prague 

Are you planning on going to the conference in Prague next month? Let us know in the comments.

 

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Injecting some ITSM goodness into the itSMF UK

After an action packed few days at the itSMF UK conference last week, I was lucky enough to catch up with itSMF UK CEO Barclay Rae for a quick chat about life the universe and everything, or in our case, IT, SDI, AXELOS and the sparkly new ITIL practitioner qualification.

Barclay Rae, The Service Desk Inspector
Barclay Rae, The Service Desk Inspector

The Conference has been a big focus over recent weeks and has been generally seen as a huge success.For those of you that didn’t manage to go, some of the highlights were SIAM, winning elephants and cute penguin videos so it was all kinds of awesome! Barclay’s focus is now on taking that energy forward. So what has Barclay been up to over the last few months? Well firstly, his role is part time which means that as well as itSMF, he’s also had the day job and some exciting work with the Service Desk Institute to get on with.

The Service Desk Institute

Barclay is part of the author team for the SDI standards and was heavily involved in updating both Service Desk training and Service Desk Certification (SDC) standards. For those of you not familiar with the SDI, it’s a professional body for anyone working in the IT service and support industry. It sets the standards for the analyst and manager exams and runs a Service Desk certification program.During our chat Barclay talked about how the Service Desk in St Andrews University went from no stars to four stars with the support of the SDI. It’s a really inspiring journey and you can read more about it here.

ITIL Practitioner

Barclay was also an architect on the new ITIL Practitioner qualification. His take on it? “given the constraints we had, it’s pretty damn good”. The idea behind the practitioner course is that it provides real life guidance, which can be bundled with the ITIL foundation course so that delegates get 5 days of ITIL fun. As an ex trainer, I think combining the two courses will work brilliantly as delegates will be able to spend a decent amount of time learning and getting a really solid grounding in ITSM. It will also ease the transition from foundation to intermediate qualifications, again with my training hat on for a second, the first day of any intermediate course was always a shock to the system for attendees as there’s such a big jump from foundation level to intermediate level. Anything that eases that pressure has got to be a good thing.

itSMF UK

So what is Barclay’s mission for his 6 months as head of the itSMF UK? To boost performance and reinvigorate the business side of things so that it can provide more value to members. Barclay wants to make more services available so that being a member gives tangible benefits to both individuals and companies. Barclay wants to build positive, constructive partnerships with other key players in the industry as well as complementary relationships with other organisations such as the BCS, and also vendor organisations.

Key to driving more value for members is the new leadership council. The leadership council is made up of senior, C level people who are experienced practitioners in ITSM. Having the right people with the right skills in place will enable the itSMF UK to provide more accurate industry analysis, better and more detailed briefings as well as driving new products and services for ITSMF, e.g. for career frameworks and benchmarking tools.

In summary, Barclay’s aim is to make a positive contribution to the itSMF UK, so that it’s seen as a vibrant industry contributor. An announcement on the dates for the 2016 conference will be announced soon for those of you that can’t wait a whole year there’s a tooling event in early February. 2016 promises to be an exciting year for the itSMF UK, more events, better value for members and exciting new partnerships so let’s get this party started!

 

Transition, collaboration & cute penguin videos – it’s the itSMF UK 2015 Conference! Part 2

Day 2

Following our coverage of Day 1 of the itSMF UK conference, we’re back as promised with Day 2!

Selling Problem Management – the views of the ITSMF UK Special Interest Group Barry Corless, Global Knowledge

First up on day 2 was Barry’s session on the itSMF UK Problem Management SIG whitepaper on selling Problem Management.

Barry’s session was focused on the output of the white paper, essentially, Problem Management needs a bit of a rebrand. It’s not a dumping ground for anything and everything, it’s a service driven follow up to reduce recurring Incidents.

Barry continued by asking the audience how they managed their Problem Management effectiveness stating “your measurements must have credibility”.

One really useful piece of advice I took away from the session was this: “go out and actually talk to your customers because not everyone fills out the customer satisfaction survey.” I loved Barry’s advice on promoting Problem Management: “selling PM is a balancing act. Crow about it too much and something is guaranteed to fall over the next day.” I’ve been there Barry *remembers own bitter experience*.

Barry finished up on a magical note: “our magic wand is to reduce risk and empower people with the skills to solve things themselves.” Brilliant point plus it made me think of this:

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Incident & Problem – Do we Really Need Both? Peter Hubbard, Pink Elephant EMEA

Next up was Peter Hubbard from Pink Elephant. His first act? Naming and shaming me as a partner in crime at previous itSMF conferences – thanks for that Pete!

Pete’s session was on Incident and Problem Management, how to get it right and what works in the real world. Pete opened by sharing what one customer said to him when he asked if they did Problem Management: “no, because we’re much too busy fixing Incidents.”

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It was an absolutely brilliant session and if you’re interested in Problem Management then I’d highly recommend having a look at Pete’s slides when they are published on the itSMF UK website. The highlight for me was when he talked about the ITIL books:

“ITIL says we should be on our Problems like a cheetah on a trampoline”

Just think about that for a minute (plus send me any funny pics you have of cheetahs on trampolines, I couldn’t find any).

Pete talked about how important proactive Problem Management is but how hard it is to get the buy in for it. When he asked how many people in the room did proactive Problem Management, only one hand went up.

Pete went on to reference Rob England’s standard case approach, giving real life examples of how it can reduce pain. He also gets bonus points for the cute cat picture:

The final part of Pete’s presentation focused on how to get support from our higher ups  stating “if you want to get some management fire power behind you, find out what business risks your exec is personally accountable for and see how fixing your Problem records could help.”

Collaboration for Successful Service Acceptance Sue Cater, Atos IT Services (UK) Ltd

After a quick coffee break, Sue Cater was up with her session on driving successful service acceptance. Sue’s session focused on 3 key areas:

  1. Operational Acceptance Criteria
  2. OLAs
  3. Service Acceptance Boards

Sue explained Operational Acceptance Criteria or OAC “lubricate the interface between techies and the business”. Sue went on to give some practical guidance on OACs reminding us that “they’re not build tasks. They’re at a much higher level”. Sue explained the benefits of OACs, “having OACs improved customer satisfaction levels. The cricket bat in my handbag had nothing to do with it!” We believe you Sue!

Sue continued on how using OLAs at an account level rather than a service level was much more efficient in her environment. By having one OLA per account, you can have all the individual (quirks) features of each service documented without the duplication. One of my favourite things about Sue’s presentation (apart from the cricket bat) was her guidance on putting together sensible OLAs. As the lady herself put it “make sure you have the right information at the right level. No one wants to be faffing about on SharePoint at 3 am trying to find the number for the support team”.

Next up was the Service Acceptance Board or SAB. As Sue said on the day “the golden rule is that there should be no surprises at go live.” Sue set out the rules for the SAB. It meets between 2 – 4 weeks before project go live and is attended by the project manager, the service manager and representatives from the business. The idea is to look at the service, ensure it’s hitting its previously agreed OACs and OLAs so that the people in attendance can make an informed decision at the Go / No Go point, just before go live.

Awesome session Sue and well done for styling it out despite loosing your voice on the morning. If I’d lost my voice the morning I was due to present I would have been simultaneously having kittens and tipping vodka into my coffee so kudos!

The Future of Work & Importance of Collaboration Technologies Patrick Bolger, Hornbill

The final session of the morning was Pat Bolger from Hornbill. 

Pat opened with this: “more functionality will not solve all your problems”. I really agree – how many times have we seen someone trying to fix business problems by chucking an expensive tool at it? It never ends well, believe me.

Pat went on to explain why social media had changed the game “one bad customer experience, and it’s out there”.

Pat talked about the benefits of collaboration “it gives people a voice. A study carried out by McKinsey found that collaboration can raise a person’s skills by 25%”

Pat outlined some top strategies for making it stick in the workplace. “Define the purpose of collaboration and make it sticky by using it to track productivity. One example of this is to link in with the timesheet system.” Pat continued by saying, “collaboration needs to be a destination application, people will go to it to get their stuff done.”

Pat finished on a really strong point – it’s better when we work together. You can view the video here (NB, no cute baby penguins were harmed during the filming of the video.)

After a long lunch, there was a quick interactive plenary and I do mean quick. Quite a few of the delegates were saying that they would have prefered a shorter lunch break and a longer Q&A session – maybe that’s something to take away for next year? People were definitely beginning to get a bit tired at this point:

For me, the highlights of the discussion were Jame’s take on DevOps “DevOps is a philosophy on delivering value to the business. ITSM and DevOps will compliment each other”and Caroline’s stance on Shadow IT “cockroach IT more like, only one licence but load of users on it”. Former itSMF UK Chair John Windebank reminded us to think of our customers “remember every Incident is a failure of our IT Services.”

Conference Closing Keynote Manchester – Devolution and Impact on ICT Bob Brown, CIO, Manchester City Council

The closing keynote, Bob Brown from Manchester City Council on how they’re making it work.

Bob gets bonus points for being the first speaker to mention the C word. Minds out of the gutter people! I’m talking about Christmas as apparently Father Christmas (or Santy for our Irish readers) is currently sat on top of their city hall:

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Bob’s mantra is “Manchester City Council services are life and death so we live and breathe our support for those services.” One memorable example was the crematorium as a member of Bob’s team said, “lose the IT services behind that and the bodies will literally build up”.

The theme of Bob’s speech was the customer experience. Bob’s team are careful to spend time with their customers with Bob personally manning their version of the genius bar once a month.

Before we knew it, it was 4 o’clock and it was time for Barclay to wrap things up. Thank you to the itSMF UK for inviting us, great conference and we’ll be back next year. Roll on #ITSM16!

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ITSM, SIAM & winning elephants – it's the itSMF UK 2015 Conference! Part 1

It’s London baby! The itSMF UK held their annual conference in London this week. The theme of the conference was “new problems, new solutions” and was held at a sparkly new location, the Sofitel at Heathrow.

Day 1

Rosemary Gurney kicked off the proceedings in style with a rousing speech; telling the audience “ITSM must stand up and be counted in the business world.”  Rosemary introduced the keynote speaker, Simon Wheatcroft.

 

Simon Wheatcroft Session

Simon opened the conference with an inspirational account of how he taught himself to run marathons despite going blind at the age of 17. Here he is in action!

SIAM: Lessons from the Frontline – Martin Goble & James Finister Tata Consultancy Services

The first session of the day was on SIAM and all eyes were on Martin & James.

Martin and James opened their session by taking some of the mystery out of SIAM stating that it’s “a framework that enables you to hit the targets in your vision.” So far so good right? Not too scary, even for a SIAM newbie like me. They went on to explain that SIAM isn’t an org chart or a model, it’s a framework that goes beyond ITIL.

SIAM isn’t however, a magical solution that will fix everything:

Martin and James’ session focused on practical advice on using SIAM. They explained how vital organisation Change Management was explaining “SIAM might be sexy to the CIO but if the Service Desk don’t get it then it wont work”. They went on to outline how to motivate suppliers in working together explaining that organisations need “a fair risk – reward model in order to drive collaborative behaviour.” When asked what a fair incentive would be, James gave a fantastic  example where he saw the CEO of the supplier company that had breached their SLA give £1 in person to the CEO of the company that was buying their services stating “it happens once, then everyone reporting to that CEO will make sure it never happens again because of the fall out”. Brilliant example and wise words indeed James.

Martin finished the session with one of my favourite quotes from the conference: “SIAM is a Major Incident bridge at 3 o’clock in the morning where the supplier does something above and beyond, that isn’t even in their contract, just because they like you.”

 

Cyber Resilience for IT Service Managers – Stuart Rance, Optimal Service Management

Next up was the total legend that is Mr Stuart Rance on Cyber Resilience and the new framework, RESILIA. Stuart opened the session by talking about why cyber resilience was critical to the business and that if you get it wrong “both your customers and your money will fly out the door.”
He referenced how commonplace security breaches occur citing Target, Talk Talk and the UK Child Benefit breaches as examples stating “if you think you’ve never been breached then your monitoring simply isn’t good enough.”

Stuart then introduced RESILIA, the new framework for cyber resilience. Luckily for all us ITSM geeks, it’s lifecycle based and sits nicely with ITIL. This is what the framework looks like – look familiar to anyone?

Axelos-RLC

Stuart walked us through the framework, giving practical examples of how to get involved suggesting “find out who the Infosec people are in your organisation and ask them how you can get involved. Look, we’re all lazy, we all circumvent controls because it’s easy and we all look sheepish when we’re caught.”

Stuart continued by stating that “ITSM and Infosec absolutely have to collaborate. Every single ITSM process has a part to play in information security so get involved in cyber breach scenarios and testing.”

Stuart concluded  by explaining the important role that CSI plays in RESILIA stating “ in Infosec, you wouldn’t even get away with not doing CSI for a month.” You can check out RESILIA here for free until the end of November.

 

Beyond Base Camp; taking a new route to improve service levels – Stuart Higgins, SUMERIAN

The first session after lunch was from Sumerian. It was tagged as being a session that explained how Capacity Management could support the other ITSM processes something I was really excited about because I don’t think that Capacity Management gets the love it deserves. It opened on a promising note with Stuart explaining “Capacity Management is key to improving service levels.” Stuart continued by talking about using three steps to delivering effective Capacity Management, “run, plan and optimise.”

Stuart talked about the need for automation in Capacity Management stating “most capacity related  Incidents could be prevented by using predictive analytics.”

The next part of Stuart’s presentation was a demonstration of how the Sumerian toolset could carry out Capacity Management tasks. For me, this part of the presentation didn’t work, as one delegate put it “it wasn’t bordering on a sales pitch, it went well over the line.” To be fair, Stuart switched back to explaining how Capacity Management could be aligned with other ITIL processes, using Configuration Management as an example. For my money, this session would have worked better as either an interactive demonstration of the software at the Sumerian stand or by getting the delegates involved in some sort of game to demonstrate Capacity Management.

Stuart finished with a great piece of common sense advice stating “we have to be more responsive in IT. Patch Tuesday happens every week, the clue is in the name people!”

 

SFIA V6: Using Skills to Leverage your Biggest Asset, People – Matthew Burrows, BSM Impact

Next up was Matthew Burrows talking about the latest version of skills framework SFIA. For those of you not familiar with SFIA, Matthew explained that “ it’s a common language to define skills, abilities and expertise in a consistent way.”

Matthew took the audience on a whistlestop tour of SFIA, explaining how it can benefit the business by having the right people, with the right skills in the right roles.

Matthew explained that both ITIL and COBIT reference SFIA:

What I loved about Matthew’s session was how accessible he made his subject matter saying “you don’t have to pay a fortune to use it, just download it and have a play with it.”

 

Two-Speed Transition: Tradition & Innovation – Starring Release, Service Catalogue & Early Life Support (Service Transition SIG)

The final session of the day was a workshop run by the Service Transition SIG. I’m not going to review it as I was part of the session as an enthusiastic SIG member! The theme of the workshop was two track IT, covering traditional versus agile ways of doing Release Management, Service Transition and Service Catalogue. The boss, @itammartin, was on bell duty, making sure that each speaker had their allotted five minutes. The output of the workshop will be pulled together by the SIG and shared with our members, so watch this space!
I missed the awards dinner because I was on child wrangling duty but congratulations to the winners and the nominees. You can see the full list here: and here is a picture of said children:

Cuddlemonsters

To be fair, the hug I got when I walked through the door on Monday night more than made up for missing out on the gala dinner! In all seriousness though, a huge congratulations to all the winners and everyone that was nominated and a special shout out to Pink Elephant who won the training company of the year category. Awesome work guys #gopinkorgohome

That’s it for now – come back soon to see our coverage of Day 2!

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itSMF UK Conference 2015 Preview

Roll up, roll up! It’s one of the biggest events in the UK ITSM calendar next week as it’s the annual itSMF UK conference! We are proud to be media partners so here is a preview of coming attractions!

 

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There are 4 tracks for the conference:

Track 1: Change & Collaboration

Track 2: Cloud & Service Integration

Track 3: People & Skills

Track 4: Service Culture & Customer Experience

 

Introducing this year’s keynote speaker: Simon Wheatcroft

The event will be opened by Simon Wheatcroft, who will start this year’s programme with his inspirational story. Simon lost his sight at 17 and began a journey of adapting technology to achieve the impossible. Through the aid of a smartphone and the feeling underfoot Simon learnt to run solo outdoors and ran his first ever race 7 months later – a 100 mile road race.

Simon Wheatcroft
Simon Wheatcroft


Event Summary

WHATitSMF UK Conference and Exhibition 2015 (ITSM15)

WHERESofitel, Heathrow

WHENMonday 23rd – Tuesday 24th November 2015

HOW TO BOOK: Click Here

itSMF Ireland Conference Review

The itSMF Ireland hosted its annual conference in Dublin last week. The theme of the conference was Continual Service Improvement something I for one was really excited about. Most of the time conferences will talk about Service Design, Transition or Operation but there’s usually little if anything on CSI. The other reason for the excitement was that for me, itSMF Ireland is my home conference so hands up, I may be slightly (read extremely) biased.

The conference itself was held at the Clyde Court Hotel in Dublin. There was a great atmosphere that day because the hotel is right next to the Aviva Stadium (or Landsdowne Road if you’re old school like me) the home ground for the Republic of Ireland football team. There was a World Cup qualifier that night against Germany and the whole nation was hyped up, hoping to create the glory days of Italia 90. Anyway, Ireland’s sporting excellence aside, the hotel was gorgeous, the food was fab and the people on reception were lovely. Parking was a very reasonable at 7 euros for the day *stares hard at the itSMF UK 2014 conference where it cost £45 for 10 hours parking – and no, the carpark didn’t have unicorns, rainbows or vodka fountains*.

The event was kicked off by Fran Davern aka the busiest man in Ireland. Fran heads up the itSMF Ireland management board as well as holding down a full time gig as principal consultant with Davern itSM. The conference was co run by the itSMF Ireland and the Irish Computing Society. The social media machine was well and truly ready for action with the organisers encouraging attendees to Facebook, Tweet and get involved!

Fran welcomed everyone to the annual bash and introduced the first speaker of the day, Ian MacDonald.


Unlocking your CSI potential – Ian MacDonald, Multiple itSMF Award Winner & chartered IT professional

Ian’s session was hotly anticipated as it was about empowering IT to make CSI truly part of everyone’s day job.

Ian talked about practical ways to not only get CSI off the ground but to make it meaningful. He went on to explain that not all benefits are tangible but it doesn’t mean that they’re not important saying “Cost is tangible, value is a feeling. Value should be promoted to support CSI”. The key take away from the presentation was keep making improvements however small “Keep it manageable, small CSI improvements are important because the aggregation can have a big impact”.


Agile ITSM – Dave van Herpen, Consultant, Sogeti

Next up was Dave’s session on using Agile. Dave started his presentation by talking about Agile and not getting hung up about definitions stating “if you’re combining customer involvement, incremental improvements and fast value, you’re already be doing Agile.”

Dave used a traffic example to explain how Agile works. He talked about a square in Holland that had the highest rate of accidents in the nation despite warning notices, traffic lights, signs and speed bumps. In the end, the local authorities were at a loss at what to do so removed all the traffic calming measures. That area now has one of the lowest rates of accidents because as Dave explained “if you have too many processes, people forget to think”. Dave went on to explain that we need to focus on customer satisfaction rather than just trying to hit SLAs or randomly chucking processes at everything.

Dave then talked about using Agile to make collaboration work saying “DevOps isn’t just about Development and Operations. It’s about having a multi talented team involving Development, Operations, Testing, Supplier Management and the business. It’s about everyone in the chain working together and helping each other out.” In other words if people actually talk to each other, we have a better chance of getting things right – yay for common sense 🙂

Dave wrapped his session up by talking about using Kanban for casework, referencing Rob England’s work on standard cases.


CSI: Bite Sized Nuggets – John Griffiths, Former itSMF Trainer of the Year

Following a quick coffee break, we were back to see John Griffiths present on doing CSI in small, manageable chunks. I’m personally a huge fan of this approach as it’s common sense. When you learn about the Deming cycle, you learn that small bite sized chunks is often the way to go rather than huge projects that will invariable fall apart once the day job gets in the way, we have a crisis or management get distracted by the next shiny new thing. Obviously that’s not the exact wording used in my ITIL foundation training but you get the gist 🙂

John started off the session by saying “it’s not called CSI for nothing, we must continue to drive improvements for our customers”. Should be common sense but how many of us forget about CSI when we’re at the sharp end of a Major Incident? Exactly.

John talked about the basic things that we need to have CSI in place. We need a CSI register, a strategy (so we know what we’re doing), a budget (so we can actually do stuff) and a comms plan (so we can tell the rest of the business about all our great work). The most important thing is to have CSI champions as people are everything. John talked about how Suppliers were key players at driving CSI at a strategic level. encouraging the audience to challenge them to get involved and suggesting the inclusion of a CSI clause in Underpinning Contracts.

John went on to explain the 7 step model using booking a holidays as an example sparking a huge response asking if we would all get holidays for doing CSI. Our Irish readers will know that there’s a tradition here in Ireland, there’s a talk show called The Late Late Show and one of the catch phrases is “there’s one for everyone in the audience!”. Sadly, it turned out that no, you don’t get a free holiday just for doing your day job but is was a brilliant way to explain how the model works.

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John’s session was dedicated to his colleague Mike Baker who sadly passed away this year. John, your session was excellent and you did Mike proud, a sentiment that was echoed by the audience and all the session posts on Twitter.

 

Onwards and upwards – Stuart Wright, Severn Valley ITSM

Stuart was next in the hot seat talking about his experience of what works best when doing CSI. This was also the session that got #stewiesteam trending briefly on Twitter (more on that shortly). Stuart advised us to look to the results of our customer satisfaction surveys when looking for improvement opportunities.

Stuart also talked about the importance of promoting CSI wins telling the audience “ we’re good at what we do but we don’t tell anyone, we must promote CSI wins, we need a flag to wave that shouts “we’re better than everyone else!”

Stuart advised us to “stop writing policies on the back of fag packets, it’s not professional”. Thanks Stuart, that’s me told 🙂 He went on to explain how sometimes the things that give us the most pain are the things that can give us the most solid base to build improvements from, talking about the importance of baselining (gives us a solid starting point) and SLAs (if we don’t have them, the customer perception is “we can have anything we want, whenever we want”).

It was at this point in the proceedings that Stuart mentioned that he needed to do a bit of rebranding on his team as it was known as Stewie’s Team and not the CSI Team. Of course being in Dublin, no one was going to miss out on a golden opportunity for acting the maggot* and within minutes #stewiesteam was trending on Twitter. If I were to list the funniest tweets tagged #stewiesteam we’d be here all day but suffice to say there were lots of references to the A-team and a message may have been sent to the team back at ITIL towers (AXELOS) if we could introduce the term “pulling a stewie” for delivering CSI projects successfully if we ever move to ITIL 4.

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Stuart talked about the need for keeping the show on the road and ensuring that CSI sponsors remained committed. He also talked about differing approaches and that sometimes we need to slow down the hares in our team and to get the tortoises to speed up.

Stuart’s final piece of advice was to use simple the simple things to keep momentum going – on one engagement the staff canteen had menu holders with space for additional pages. Stuart used the outside covers to hold leaflets promoting the CSI wins of his department – a move that publicised to the world and it’s mum all the fantastic work being achieved.

 

Practical CSI: Getting started with Continual Service Improvement – Stuart Rance, Service management & Security management consultant, Optimal Service Management

Mr Rance had the first post lunch slot and was quick to bring in some ground rules: “House rules, do not fall asleep, I will see you and I will point it out whilst laughing at you”. We wouldn’t dare Stuart 🙂

Stuart explained that in it’s simplest form, Kanban is “stop starting things and start finishing things”

and that CSI all about driving Attitudes, Behaviors & Culture, or ABC:

Stuart explained the ITIL approach to CSI using practical examples:

  • Vision – “a lovely big picture of what the future looks like
  • Where Are We Now – baselining
  • Where Do We Want To Be – measureable targets: “never believe something can’t be measured. If you care about something enough, it can be measured because you will find the extra resources and money.”
  • How Do We Get There – the plan
  • How Do We Measure The Milestones – in short:
    • Don’t focus on process maturity, focus on what your customers care about
    • Don’t confuse technical targets with business targets
    • Use Critical Success Factors (CSFs) instead of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to demonstrate performance in customer service reviews and you can have a real conversation about value rather than arguing over numbers.
    • Don’t use numbers to tell your customers they’re happy, it will only lead to disaster

(I may have heard this last point delivered in the style of Craig Revel Horward from Strictly “that was a disaster darling”)

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  • How Do We Keep The Process Of Improvement Active – the CSI register is a place to write down things you ought to be doing; it’s also a great way to promote success.

On a personal level, my favourite part of Stuart’s session was around achieving culture change. Stuart chose a very zen approach : “If you want to make a culture change, change yourself because it’s the one thing you have under your control.”

On one particular engagement, Stuart change the culture from “lets have a witch hunt and fire people” following each failure to a no blame culture by, in his own words “ostentatiously crowing about my own failures.” It reminded me of when I was a baby techie, I worked for an organisation where in the Server team, you got handed the sword of grayskull from He-Man / She-Ra as a reward for bouncing the most live servers that week.

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Stuart finished on a strong note by reminding us all that: “the biggest enemy for CSI is complacency and doing too much. Just start with the little things and keep going”.

 

CSI: Taking a Different Perspective – Michael Brophy, CEO, Certification Europe

Michael had the penultimate session of the day and started by reminding us to “never try anything for the first time when you’re up on a podium in front of a room full of people.” Mile’s perspective focused on 3 areas:

  • Standards
  • Marginal Returns
  • Lean

Starting off with a discussion on standards, Mike used ISO 27001 (Information Security), ISO 22301 (Business Continuity) & ISO 31000 (Risk Management) to demonstrate that we don’t have to be afraid of using standards: “you don’t need to be an expert to read ISO 27001, but if make some improvements to your information security based on what you’ve read, you’ve made your organisation more secure and that’s CSI.”

Mike also advised us to look at some of the less well known standards for improvement ideas. A personal favourite of mine Mike, is ISO 3103 also known as “how to make the perfect cup of tea”.

The next section of Mike’s presentation dealt with the doctrine of marginal returns perspective. As the man himself explained it “ if you keep making small improvements, you will get there.”

Mike was fantastic at making his subject matter relatable using exam preparation as an example

https://twitter.com/lizmcbride68/status/652121473163857921

The final part of Mike’s presentation looked at how using Lean could make big savings in efficiency, enabling you to do more with your existing resources without having to negate gains with additional overheads. Mike also encouraged the audience to ask for an independent perspective “we had got to the point where we couldn’t see the wood for the trees”

 

Measures That Matter – Andrew Vermes, UK Practice Leader, Kepner-Tregoe

Andrew was last up talking about making sure our measurements are appropriate telling us if we get it wrong “it’s possible to be the best by gaming the system”

Andrew got the audience energised with an interactive exercise designed to make us realise that focusing on quantity over quality isn’t necessarily the best thing and that we need to focus on people rather than just looking at the numbers and the KPIs

https://twitter.com/lizmcbride68/status/652125597536251905

Andrew reminded us that we need to be prepared:

The final part of the presentation looked at how to use white space effectively:

Andrew made the point that every process has white space, it’s how you manage it that matters. Andrew suggested having rules to manage white space for example the technician has one chance to guess at root cause and then has to follow the full process.

 

Final Thoughts, preview of forthcoming attractions and award winning tweets

Before we knew it, it was 4 o’clock and it was time for Fran to wrap things up with a preview of forthcoming attractions:

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There was also an award for the best tweet that day with the prize going to the very deserving Niamh Armstrong:

https://twitter.com/NiamhieA/status/652121447142432769

Nice one Niamh!

All in all it was a great event with some fantastic content. There were attendees from all sorts of organisations from the financial services industry (AIB), utilities (ESB) and third level education (Institute of Technology, Tallaght – again – not that I’m biased but a big shout out to ITT and to Lorraine Carmody). For my money, the itSMF Ireland is one of the friendliest itSMF chapters, everyone had a good time and everyone went away with something be it new friends / work contacts, a new enthusiasm for CSI or new things to try back in the office. Thank you to the itSMF Ireland for inviting us along and we’ll be back next year. Oh and just in case you’re wondering, Ireland won the match (1-0 #thanksshanelong #COYBIG).

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That’s all folks, go raibh maith agat agus slán abhaile.

*Acting the maggot – messing around

itSMF Ireland Conference preview – Keep moving forward!

CSI - Keep moving forward
CSI – Keep moving forward

Ahead of the itSMF Ireland conference on the 8th October in Dublin I speak with Colm O’Shea and Vawns Murphy from itSMF Ireland to discuss their theme for the conference – Continual Service Improvement (CSI).

ITAM Review and ITSM Review Feeds

Image credit

ITSM14 Conference

OVO Energy win IT Service Management Team of the Year at ITSM14
OVO Energy win IT Service Management Team of the Year at ITSM14

This ITSM14 conference article is written jointly between myself, Vawns Murphy Guest of Virgin Media and Duncan Watkins of SHL Talent Measurement from CEB the winner of the ticket giveaway we ran jointly with itSMF UK

This year’s conference saw something old and something new. The old was a return to the Novotel London, a venue whose size fitted nicely with the event and had a much better layout than last year at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. The new was the double session format. This meant that each seminar session was made up of 2 x 30 minute sessions rather than a standalone 40/45 minutes.

In amongst the usual mix of consultants and vendors in the exhibition hall were a couple of welcome newcomers. The Conference In a Box stall had a fine selection of salted caramel brownies to give away, whilst the Velocity stand had an entertaining and highly competitive ankiDrive game (a new twist on the Scalextric) where delegates compete against each other for a prize. Rebecca came a very respectable joint fifth and we wont mention Duncan’s abysmal performance!

The Conference

John Windebank, Chair of itSMF UK kicked off the conference reminding everyone that with $3 trillion invested in IT every year we have a great responsibility to ensure that we stay current and relevant and not just rest on one’s laurels.

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Next up was Richard Corbridge, CIO at NIHR Clinical Research Network asking us to be prepared for the future. With the internet of things rearing its head we need to know now how we’re going to deal with all those items that will soon be connected to our networks, such as heating systems, flood, fire and dementia monitors. Is it even sensible to try and catalogue all of them?

Sessions

Back to basics? Shouldn’t that be forward to basics? – Ivor Macfarlane, Service Management Specialist at IBM

This session focused on real world learning and how we’ve got to get the basics right to be able to deliver value to our customers.

Ivor started by talking about what the text books say versus the real world. If we’re trying to demonstrate value quickly so that we can get support and buy in, why would we start with Configuration Management? If it can take up to 18 months to see tangible value from a CMDB, why are we doing it first if quick wins are key? Start with something the CEO and CFO like and go from there.

Things have changed since the good old days, now everyone does ITIL to some degree; it’s the levels as you go up and improve that are amazing. New back to basics needs to focus on Service and giving our customers value.

We need to keep moving forward. Expectations of improvement are a huge compliment so let’s take it as such!

A practitioner’s tale: adding value through real ITSM in the real world” – Dave Churchley, Service Management Officer at Newcastle University

This session was based on Dave’s take on Newcastle University’s ITSM journey over the last 5 years. Dave’s point was that we need to be lead by our customers.

One of our favourite examples from the session was a Service Desk call David happened to oversee. One of the doctors from the university called the Service Desk to report his PC wasn’t connected to the network. Service Desk tech asked him if he could check if the network cable was plugged in to the back of the PC. The reply?

“I’m afraid I don’t know how to do that. I’m only a brain surgeon.”

Like Ivor, Dave is very much of the opinion that we need a culture change; we need to focus on customers and services rather than just the technology. We need an open environment and we need to talk to each other. Not rocket science but it’s amazing how many people forget. Sometimes all that’s needed to sort something out is to pick of the phone or go and see someone. It’s easy to hide behind e-mails but let’s face it – a stroppy, passive aggressive e-mail chain as long as your arm helps no one – least of all your customer.

One of the main messages of the session was that having an expensive, market leading ITSM software solution will not solve all your problems. As the saying goes, a fool with a tool is still a fool.

Conquering the black arts of licence compliance management – Steve Massie of Incit Technology Ltd

What we loved most about Steve’s session was his honesty. Yes, getting control of your licences is not easy and it’s not a one off exercise. In our experience, it can be a complete freaking nightmare but you’ve got to start somewhere.

The session had lots of interesting facts here about how to get support and buy in for your Software Asset Management process. 30% of software used in Europe is being used illegally. A recent Gartner study has revealed over 30% of CEOs are concerned about software audits.

He also shared his advice on getting started. Don’t try to fix everything at one – start with your top vendor and work down. Great advice! We’ve seen so many people try to do it all at once and either miss something glaringly obvious or get in a right old flap about where to start, panic, and then give up.

Keynote – Mark Hall, Director of Service Management & Operations at Aviva

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There were a number of standout sessions. At this year’s event. In the realm of future ITSM, came Mark Hall’s first day keynote speech. He talked about the benefits associated with building teams that are able to take advantages of agile frameworks to move more swiftly. A key component of this are self-forming teams that are empowered to right their own agenda in a bottom up fashion, rather than a micro-managed top down approach. However, the key idea that for me was the dissolution of the traditional customer/supplier relationship. Rather than think of ourselves as suppliers delivering to internal or external customers, we should see ourselves as part of an extended value chain that extends outside of technology through the whole of the business. For me this was a fundamental shift in perception about what I do and more importantly how I do it.

Bring me problems – Not solutions! Tobias Nyberg

Tobias opened with a quote from Einstein:

If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.

Moral of the story? Problem Management is about getting it right first time. Having Problems isn’t a bad thing, it’s how we respond to them that adds the value.

Tobias talked about his experiences trying to focus his team on understanding exactly what problems are rather than jumping straight to solutions. He detailed a three stage approach that ultimately can be applied to almost any area of life. First you focus on detailing what the problem is and all that relates to it. Secondly, you look at the goal you are trying to achieve. And lastly you look at the solution once you’ve truly explored the other two. What really made the presentation stand out for us was Tobias’s focus upon how problems make us feel. Approaching and acknowledging the feelings we have about problems allows us to better deal and ultimately solve them.

Day 2 Keynote – Peter Hepworth and Keith Richards of Axelos

Axelos announced the changes to the website and the extension to the PRINCE2 best practice PRINCE agile the first of, what I’m led to believe will be many “Axelos and…” initiatives. As always there were the supporters and the detractors but I feel that it shows Axelos’ acknowledgement that it’s best for organisations when they cherry pick the bits of the best practices that work for them.

http://twitter.com/Driver_8_Ace/status/532105620024209408

Governance – Custodian to Changing Business Trends and IT Landscape – Suresh GP, TaUB Solutions

Suresh’s session started on explaining that there is a lot of confusion over the difference between Governance and Management with IT governance primarily concerned about IT’s delivery of value to the business and mitigation of IT risks whereas Management plans, builds, runs and monitors activities in alignment with the direction set by the governance to achieve the enterprise objectives or, more simply put…

After lunch Suresh’s enthusiasm and energy were just what we needed to get us through to the end.

Awards Dinner – Hosted by Paul Sinha

Nothing short of hilarious and I think the majority of the attendees were immensely entertained. We thought the food was delicious, although there have been others that disagree and as we were on a table with the Velocity guys we were well entertained.

Unfortunately the actual awards were not as good as they could have been. We would have liked to see more lead up to the awards with more information circulated on why the nominees had been nominated. There seemed to be a slight absence of interest with the applause dying out in many cases before the winner had even reached the stage. It is such a huge achievement to win an award and we truly hope that more thought is given to promoting the nominees and their achievements next year.

A full list of the worthy winners (and finalists) can be found here. All of us here at the ITSM Review would like to congratulate both winners and finalists on their fantastic achievements. Well done to all.

In Summary

A big topic of discussion was the new double session format. For our money, when it worked it worked well but when it didn’t, it really didn’t. A positive example occurred on the first day with David Wheable followed by Eva Franconetti & Mark Adley of Telefonica. David was able to use real life examples from Telefonica’s approach within his talk. This gave an element of ground work to Eva and Mark’s, allowing them to concentrate more fully on the detail. In contrast, Tony Brough and Daniel Breston had spent a lot of time working together to align their presentations. Despite their best efforts though, the subject matter of each was too far removed to begin with. In the end it felt like two separate presentations that didn’t quite have enough time.

The venue was lovely and easily accessible albeit extortionate in terms of parking. At £45 for 10 hours we would have expected the car park to be made of gold with vodka & coke fountains and unicorn valets but, in fairness, I guess that’s central London for you.

All in all it was a good event with some great content. The ultimate test is whether there is anything you want to try when you get back to the office and we certainly felt that, whether our colleagues are ready for our new ideas is another matter altogether.

Thank you to itSMF UK for inviting us along and we hope to see you again next year.

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