ITIL Practitioner: Preview of forthcoming attractions, geekery & pink elephants!

As most of our regular readers will know I’ll jump on any opportunity to get my ITIL geek on so when I heard about the new ITIL Practitioner qualification, I was all ears. For those of you new to the ITIL qualification scheme, or if you’re simply old school like me (I was a V2 Manager / red badge) here are the basics.

ITIL Qualification Scheme Explained

itil_qualification_scheme_with_practitioner__kk26112015_v2

There are five levels:

  • Foundation
  • Practitioner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • Master

The foundation exam is your basic guide to ITIL and Service Management. It’s a three day course with an exam at the end which will give you the basics in ITIL. The foundation is a prerequisite for any other ITIL qualification and is worth 2 credits.

The practitioner qualification is new and aims to bridge the gap between the foundation and intermediate qualifications. As a former consultant and trainer, one of the things that stood out when we moved to version 3 in 2007 was the jump from foundation to intermediate levels. When you’re only got 3 days to explain 20+ processes and 4 functions at foundation level; jumping straight into the intermediate levels came as a shock to the system for some delegates. ITIL practitioner aims to build on the knowledge gained at foundation level and add in practical guidance on CSI, organisational change management, communication and measurement & metrics; giving delegates a more rounded experience as they continue through the qualification scheme. The practitioner qualification is worth 3 credits.

The intermediate levels are the next stage in the certification scheme and can either be life cycle based (Strategy, Design, Transition, Operation and CSI) or capability based (Operational Support & Analysis, Planning, Protection & Optimisation, Release, Control & Validation and Service Offerings & Agreement). The lifecycle intermediate exams are worth 3 credits and the capability exams are worth 4 credits. The Managing Across Lifecycle (MALC) module sits between the Intermediate and Expert levels and is the final required qualification gaining Expert status. It is intended to help you apply and integrate your knowledge of ITIL in real-world settings and in your own workplace. MALC is worth 5 credits.

The expert level aka the purple badge, is awarded automatically when you reach 22 credits made up of the foundation and MALC qualifications and then any combination of the intermediate and practitioner qualifications.

The master level is the final stage in the ITIL certification scheme and validates the candidate’s ability to apply the principles, methods and techniques from ITIL in the workplace.
3998969618_54bff5743a_z

Focusing On: ITIL Practitioner

So back to the practitioner qualification – why do I think it’s so important? As someone that’s worked in ITSM forever, one of the main reservations I had about the ITIL v3 qualification scheme was that it was too focused on the perfect exam answer (and a multiple choice exam answer at that) rather than what works in real life. One of the fundamental principles of ITIL is that it’s a framework. It’s not prescriptive and you can flex the approach to suit your organisation and your people. When the version 3 certification was launched, one of my concerns was that the intermediate courses simply didn’t give delegates enough real life practical experience (even with MALC) when you compared them to the version 2 manager course. To me, the inclusion of the new practitioner level will change that, as it will give delegates an extra level of understanding of IT Service Management as well as building on their foundation knowledge with the nine guiding principles:

  • Focus on value
  • Design for experience
  • Start where you area
  • Work holistically
  • Progress iteratively
  • Observe directly
  • Be transparent
  • Collaborate
  • Keep it simple

Pinkification

Let’s face it, anything that empowers delegates and gives them more practical, real life experience can only be a good thing! I’m so excited about the new course, I’m going back to the classroom at my old stomping ground Pink Elephant to do the course in May. I used to work for Pink so I’m really excited to see their sparkly new take on the practitioner qualification. Here’s their official summary of the practitioner qualification:

‘The qualification aims to demonstrate that IT Service Management (ITSM) professionals are equipped with the skills to apply ITIL concepts in their organisation, ensuring maximum business value by delivering fit-for-purpose and fit-for-use services. At the same time, it’s designed to give confidence to managers that the members of their team are ready to initiate and successfully carry out required improvement initiatives.’

I’ll be reviewing the course and exam experience during their upcoming course in May. If you’d like to find out more or register, you can do so here.

What do you think? Will you be doing the practitioner course? Let us know in the comments!

 

Image Credit

PINK16 Day 2 PM & Day 3 – Dead Cats, Football Legends & Batman

Multi-Speed IT Rob England, The IT Skeptic

Kicking off the afternoon on Day 2 was the legend that is Rob England aka The IT Skeptic

Rob opened his session by explaining that for IT to truly deliver value “we must accommodate multiple cadences; your IT cadence must be matched to the speed of your business”.

Rob went on to talk about how in order to stay relevant; we need to change our working culture: “Change Management need to move from Change control to Change facilitation”. The other example he used was avoiding “dead cat syndrome” aka as the Dev guys chucking something over the fence into production and expecting the Ops guys to make it work seamlessly. As a former colleague from Pink would say “that’s taking blind optimism at step too far”

Rob talked about how using the standard case model can add value; talking about having a standard lifecycle aligned to the bespoke requirements of your business. Looking to the future; Rob talked about how Change Managers will build the lifecycle so that Dev can manage production. He talked about the need for culture change stating “we will need a cultural change towards trust and empowerment. We need to stop people from gaming the system”.

On a practical level Rob talked about how faster doesn’t always = riskier explaining “you can automate controls within your pipeline”. Rob went on to talk about practical examples in Release Management “if you package everything into one massive release and chuck it into production, why are we surprised when everything breaks? If you’re releasing every day and something breaks, you know exactly what caused it so you can fix it straight away.”

Rob ended on this final message: “To deliver value, you need a spectrum of speeds that empower the business”. Go Rob”

Success Under Pressure: Gary Bailey, Former Manchester United Soccer Star & Speaker

The final session of the afternoon was with Manchester United legend Gary Bailey. In the interests of honesty, I was born on the United side of Manchester and then moved to Dublin when I was 6 months old. I’ve always been a massive Man Utd fan and always will be so excitement about this session from my side had reached almost Start Wars proportions.

Gary’s session was based on the premise that effective leadership under pressure is critical for achieving success. Gary shared the G.R.E.A.T principles of how to thrive under pressure and become even more successful in business.

Gratitude – or as Gary put it; look for the new in everything; be grateful for the good and for when you’ve avoided the bad stuff. Essentially;

Reframing: stop the inner criticism and reframe them. In other words; so what if that one person at work doesn’t’ like you. Lots of other people do.

Energy; aka exercising and STEPPING AWAY FROM THE SUGAR.

Advancement; keep improving or get left behind.

Teamwork: as Gary put it; say nice things to people as oxytocin is a natural cuddle drug.

Day 3

Morning Keynote – Four Conversations For Success – Stuart Knight

Stuart opened the morning with a session on creating powerful relationships. Stuart had been the MC and facilitator for the entire conference so a big high five to him for doing such a brilliant job.

Collective Genius: The Art & Practice Of Leading Innovation – Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research & Development, Pink Elephant

@troydumoulin ran a session on the principles of innovation, leaders of innovation, creating the environment & willingness for innovation and the 6 leadership paradoxes. As Troy put it; “innovation is a team sport. There is no guarantee that something will last forever, especially if we don’t focus on innovation”

Or, in other words: “get off the hamster wheel of death by organising for innovation”.

The second part of Troy’s session was the 6 paradoxes of collaboration:

Paradox 1; Affirm the individual and the group nn

Paradox 2: support & confrontation; allowing people to ask the hard questions within clear supportive rules

Paradox 3: Experimentation v performance; aka maintaining a sense of urgency

Paradox 4: Promote improvisation & structure ie more jazz ensembles over marching bands

Paradox 5: Show patience and urgency; ie create a leadership within peers

Paradox 6: Encourage initiative from the bottom up and intervene from the top down ie only get involved when people start throwing food at each other.

IT Governance Vs. Compliance : Taking Back The Strategy High Ground – Peter Hubbard, Principal Consultant, Head of Product Portfolio Development – UK, Pink Elephant

The final session we attended starred Pete Hubbard from @pinkelephantuk

Pete’s an ex colleague so there was no way I was going to miss a chance to heckle support him. Pete’s opening note was around governance and red tape explaining to his audience: “if people are complaining about red tape then you’re doing governance and compliance wrong.”

Pet went on to explain how COBIT can be used to support strategy by providing enhanced levels of governance and control.

Pete talked about process overkill asking the audience “put your hands up if you’ve seen an organisation with all 20 odd ITIL processes in place. Keep it up if it’s been a success.” You can imagine the response; as Pete said – it’s magical unicorn time.

4067099731_05da0835d3_m

Image Credit

Pete explained how to use COBIT to ensure your ITSM processes map directly back to senior management objectives:

To recap: COBIT is an awesome way to map IT processes to business goals. Just remember; it’s there to enhance strategy alignment not replace it!

His final piece of advice on governance? “I don’t care if you use ITIL, COBIT, DevOps or a ouija board as long as your processes are effective, efficient and transparent.

5455322433_d46e529e63_m

Image Credit

Nice work Mr Hubbard –  ex colleague high five!

With that, it was time to find the airport to make the long journey home. Thank you so much to @20yearspinky for having us. It’s been an amazing conference, and we’re already planning a return trip next year.

Main Image Credit

ITSM Review Confirmed as Official Media Partner for PINK16

The ITSM Review are excited to be confirmed as official media partners for PINK16 – Pink Elephant’s 20th annual international IT Service Management conference and exhibition in Las Vegas from 14th – 17th February 2016.

Pink Elephant trademark

PINK16

Now in it’s 20th year, Pink Elephant’s Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition being held in Las Vegas from 14th – 17th February 2016 offers delegates a packed itinerary.

This year’s conference focus is IT @ The Speed Of Change and the event includes 12 tracks and 160+ sessions, covering a vast array of subjects from all across the IT Service Management (ITSM) spectrum: ITSM, ITIL®, ISO, Lean IT, Six Sigma, PRINCE2®, PMBOK®, COBIT®.

Bellagio, Las Vegas
Bellagio, Las Vegas

 

With a vast array of speakers, including a keynote from Emmy & Tony Award Winning Actor Martin Short, delegates will enjoy a comprehensive and entertaining few days.

WHAT: PINK16

WHEN: 14th – 17th February 2016

WHERE: Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas

WHO: C-Level, including CIOs/CTOs/CSOs, IT Directors, VPs, IT Service and Support Managers, Service Desk Managers, IT Infrastructure Managers, Process Owners, Senior Support Analysts, Quality Managers, Service Level Manager, Project/Program Directors and Managers, IT Auditors, IT Consultants, IT Suppliers/Vendors, Anyone seeking to understand why and how to implement best practices according to ITSM, ITIL , ISO, Lean IT, Six Sigma, PRINCE2, PMBOK, COBIT, anyone who is interested in building and managing a truly business focused IT organization

HOW TO BOOK: Click here

 

The ITSM Review is looking forward to attending and covering this event. See you there!

 

Image credit

"You need to practice what you preach" says Ken Gonzalez (Video)

This interview was filmed at the Pink Elephant Conference and features Ken Gonzalez, Service Management Consultant at Engaged Consulting Inc, discussing his views on ITSM.

In Summary

In addition, Ken also talks about:

  • His work with AXELOS
  • Shadow IT
  • Best practice frameworks, and whether ITIL is still relevant

Please note that owing to this interview being filmed live at the Pink Elephant event, there may be some minor volume issues and background noises throughout this video.

About Engaged Consulting Inc (ECI)

ECI is a premier provider of advisory and technical consulting services that focuses on the area where Service Management, Personnel/Organizational Development, and Data Center/Technology initiatives converge.

About Pink Elephant

A global company with a proud and pioneering 30 year history – the world’s #1 supplier of IT Service Management and ITIL® education, conferences and consulting.Visit www.pinkelephant.com for more information about the company, services and products. This video was filmed at the 2014 Pink Elephant Conference. The 19th Annual Pink Elephant International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition will take place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, February 15-18 2015. Registration is now open.

"A new way of thinking is required for ITSM" says Andy White (Video)

This interview was filmed at the Pink Elephant Conference and features Andy White, General Manager and Executive Vice President at EasyVista discussing what he sees as the current challenges in ITSM, along with the need to think about your customers’ customers.

In Summary

In addition, Andy also talks about:

  • Driving innovation
  • How to improve IT maturity
  • A need to improve the ITSM platforms that were built for yesterday’s world
  • The need to go beyond IT

Please note that owing to this interview being filmed live at the Pink Elephant event, there may be some minor volume issues and background noises throughout this video.

About EasyVista

EasyVista, founded in 1988, is a leading global provider of IT Service and Asset Management solutions for the mid to large-sized enterprises.

About Pink Elephant

A global company with a proud and pioneering 30 year history – the world’s #1 supplier of IT Service Management and ITIL® education, conferences and consulting.Visit www.pinkelephant.com for more information about the company, services and products. This video was filmed at the 2014 Pink Elephant Conference. The 19th Annual Pink Elephant International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition will take place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, February 15-18 2015. Registration is now open.

ITSM: Going beyond IT – thoughts from Stephen Mann (Video)

This interview was filmed at the Pink Elephant Conference and features Stephen Mann, Senior Manager, Product Marketing at ServiceNow discussing the current hot topics he is seeing in ITSM, such as service catalogue, SIAM, and the consumerization of IT.

In Summary

In addition, Stephen also talks about:

  • Witnessing an increased use of ITSM tools outside IT
  • The differentiators needed by vendors to disrupt the ITSM market
  • ServiceNow’s focus on the customer

Please note that owing to this interview being filmed live at the Pink Elephant event, there may be some minor volume issues and background noises throughout this video.

About ServiceNow

ServiceNow is the enterprise IT cloud company. “We transform IT by automating and managing IT service relationships across the global enterprise. Organizations deploy our service to create a single system of record for IT and automate manual tasks, standardize processes, and consolidate legacy systems. Using our extensible platform, our customers create custom applications and evolve the IT service model to service domains inside and outside the enterprise”. Visit www.servicenow.com for for more information.

About Pink Elephant

A global company with a proud and pioneering 30 year history – the world’s #1 supplier of IT Service Management and ITIL® education, conferences and consulting.Visit www.pinkelephant.com for more information about the company, services and products. This video was filmed at the 2014 Pink Elephant Conference. The 19th Annual Pink Elephant International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition will take place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, February 15-18 2015. Registration is now open.

"IT needs to stop waiting for the sky to fall in" – Ian Aitchison (Video)


This interview was filmed at the Pink Elephant Conference and features Ian Aitchison, ITSM Product Director at LANDESK discussing the current challenges faced in IT service management, along with the need for IT to stop always focusing on the negatives.

In Summary

In addition, Ian also talks about:

  • Shadow IT
  • IT needing to better engage with the business
  • The ITSM community
  • How LANDESK interacts with its customers

Please note that owing to this interview being filmed live at the Pink Elephant event, there may be some minor volume issues and background noises throughout this video.


About LANDESK

LANDESK Software is an industry-leading provider of solutions that span five key IT management disciplines: systems lifecycle management, endpoint security, IT service management, asset management, and mobility management—all unified in a consistent, user-oriented experience. Visit www.landesk.com for for more information.

About Pink Elephant

A global company with a proud and pioneering 30 year history – the world’s #1 supplier of IT Service Management and ITIL® education, conferences and consulting.Visit www.pinkelephant.com for more information about the company, services and products. This video was filmed at the 2014 Pink Elephant Conference. The 19th Annual Pink Elephant International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition will take place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, February 15-18 2015. Registration is now open.

Transforming the IT service experience

Left to right: Lori Krikorian, Dana Swanstrom, and Sally Shane accepted the Project of the Year award in Las Vegas in February.
Left to right: Lori Krikorian, Dana Swanstrom, and Sally Shane accepted the Project of the Year award in Las Vegas in February.

EMC Corporation’s IT organization (EMC IT) has been on a multiyear transformational journey, transitioning to a virtual and private cloud infrastructure and modifying its operating model to be one of a competitive service provider. They have also been working to unlock the capabilities to deliver more agility to its business customer through optimized service delivery and modern application development aligned to IT trends of cloud, mobile, social, and Big Data. But, the company’s IT service management (ITSM) processes lacked agility to meet the evolving needs of its internal customers. Couple this obstacle with unstable, obsolete, and unintegrated technologies that lacked mobility, community, and self-help functionality.  EMC IT launched its UnITy program to address this significant challenge.

UnITy Program

The UnITy program began in July 2012 to optimize ITSM processes, replace its previous ITSM technology platforms, and transform IT into a customer-focused organization committed to consistently delivering collaborative support.

To start, the team conducted more than 100 interviews and numerous workshops to collectively understand the challenges IT faced and secure leadership support for the problem, business drivers, critical success factors, and solutions. From these sessions, the team defined the program’s vision as: “To delight EMC IT’s clients by transforming their IT service experience through optimized service management processes and technologies.”

The program then set out to address four key points in EMC IT.

  1. Enhance the customer experience for EMC’s 60,000 users by evolving IT’s to be service-focused and allow the customer experience to drive prioritization and responsiveness.
  2. Enable IT to operate as a business by optimizing processes and improving transparency through service metrics and better service quality.
  3. Align IT’s resources with customer expectations and improve capabilities such as self-service and the availability of better decision making data.
  4. Optimize IT support so the company will, in time, realize millions in annual savings by reducing the use of in-house production support and managed service providers, decommissioning redundant IT systems, and using self-service to reduce calls to the service desk.

Program Phases

In Phase I, the program released the new ITSM platform along with three processes – incident management, request fulfillment, and knowledge management. In Phase II, the program rolled out an improved configuration management database, a new service taxonomy, and three more processes – problem management, change management and service asset and configuration management.

At the core of UnITy was a mountain of change for EMC IT to adapt. To usher in the necessary cultural changes we created three workstreams – process optimization, technology, and transformation. While the workstreams focused on their respective topics, the entire team worked cohesively to evangelize the program by sharing a common understanding of the capabilities and benefits being delivered by UnITy. Perhaps most importantly, the transformation workstream led the organizational change in EMC IT, providing training, communication, and engagement at all levels in IT to drive the cultural evolution toward one of customer focus.

On the training side, the team built its own custom, instructor-led and computer-based training and enlisted 100 global users who went through week-long training on the new platform, processes, and way of thinking. In turn, these users held day-long training sessions with more than 1,000 users across our global EMC IT sites. As program champions, these individuals evangelized the program and provided support in the field before and after. Additionally, another 1,500+ users received computer-based training.

On the communications side, the UnITy program engaged a multi-channel campaign to provide information in a number of accessible and easily digestible ways. This included:

  • An intranet site that consistently ranked among the most-visited EMC IT sites
  • A regularly published email newsletter
  • Regularly scheduled global town hall meetings
  • A user engagement network that met weekly, championed the program, and provided feedback
  • A series of videos that featured IT leaders and program members delivering key messages

The UnITy team also used its leadership steering committee to validate decisions, in some cases make decisions, clear hurdles, and champion the program throughout IT. This was vital to pushing change through an organization and program sponsors helped communicate expectations to EMC IT through video messages, personal emails, and even shared goals for training and adoption.

So, what did EMC IT learn from this complex and culture-changing program?

  1. Engagement at all levels of the EMC IT organization was vital. Having leadership support made it easier to push changes through, but having employee understanding of why the changes were happening and how they would benefit the individual and organization accelerated adoption.
  2. No customizations! Sticking with the out-of-the-box ITSM functionality kept the program on course using best practices and ITIL processes, instead of bending the technology to match the way IT operated in the past.
  3. Listen to the pros. We brought in experts to guide us in process adoption and tool deployment. When in doubt, we turned to the experts on best practices and moved ahead with their guidance.

EMC IT are currently in Phase III of the UnITy program to expand the service management platform and processes to businesses outside of IT. They remain focused on the metrics and reporting analysis to identify areas for continuous improvement. While it was a tremendous initiative for the whole EMC IT organization, they now have the technology and processes in place to continue to evolve the organization and to continue to provide the highest quality services for the future.

In February this year, EMC IT won the Project of the Year Award at the Pink Elephant Annual Conference in Las Vegas. If you would like to learn more about the UnITy program’s journey, you can read this blog post by program lead Dana Swanstrom.


 

The ITSM Review are holding a series of seminars this year headed by ITSM superstar Barclay Rae. We will be starting in March with Transforming User Experience – Enterprise Service Management & Self Service. For more information click here

Things I didn’t learn in ITIL school

4902440868_5f916ccdb6_zWhile at the Pink Elephant Conference back in February, I successfully completed an ITIL intermediate class/exam and the really cool part of this is, that I’ve been able to use the knowledge gained in the course to change my company’s adoption plan and help streamline our strategy.

I was discussing this sequence of events and outcomes with colleagues. Our conversation kept circling back to the things we have to do in ITSM to help drive adoption and how many of those things that are not covered in ITIL courses. I have jotted them down here to help you in your planning, as these items can be the “sticking” points that disrupt and delay ITSM activities.

Sales/Selling

In any ITSM plan you need to have a sales strategy and sales plan. You are bringing concepts and ideas that may be seen as “threats” to the way your colleagues currently conduct business. You will need to be able to convey your message to senior/executive management, line staff, mid-level management, and customers.

You will not find much in the ITIL books that explain how to sell a new idea/change to your business. You will need to master this skill on your own and you will need to spend time outside of work perfecting it.

One other point to mention is that people sometimes swap the terms “sales” and “marketing” in similar context. Personally I do not think they are the same thing. Sales plans are designed to help decision makers “buy” your ideas/concepts. Marketing plans are designed to help teams adopt decisions. Of course, there is overlap in the definitions though. I encourage you to gain insight in to how your organization views these terms and plan accordingly.

Takeaways:

  • Have a “sales” plan for each ITSM item
  • Read books on selling or discuss with professionals who sell things for a living

Negotiation

You and your team will have wonderful ideas. While we know you have the organizations best interests at heart, not everyone may see your proposals as progress. You will need negotiation skills to help settle difference in opinions and reach the best possible outcome. You will need to assess attitudes, understand what knowledge is available, and draw on interpersonal skills to obtain a win-win situation.

Mastering this skill will not only benefit you in an ITSM role but may also help you be seen as a better candidate for future positions.

Takeaways:

  • Take courses on formal and informal negotiation techniques
  • Build a relationship/mentorship with a person who negotiates for a living. Practice negotiating with this person

Building Relationships

Of all the potential pitfalls you may encounter, building relationships can be the showstopper. This skill is necessary regardless of the work you do. You MUST learn to network and build relationships with people throughout your company/organization.

Think of it this way; a person’s decision whether to help you may depend on how you make them feel, how much they trust you, and their perception of how willing you are to work with them. Building good solid relationships with everyone who will execute your ITSM vision is critical for success.

Yes, it will be a lot of hard work. You will need to prove you put their needs before yours, be prepared to give consistently and receive occasionally, value the message and the messenger, and be willing to see the other person’s view without bias. You do not necessarily need to have deep, meaningful contact with everyone but you do need to have the ability to allow others to perceive they can be comfortable around you.

Takeaways:

  • Try to meet someone new in your company every day. Once you have met everyone in your company branch out to your community
  • Make notes on family, hobbies, likes, etc., on your contacts. Review these notes prior to meeting with the person
  • Use social media to meet people from around the globe
  • Do not force this – build relationships at the other person’s pace

The value equation

In ITSM, we spend a great deal of time discussing the value of a service. We discuss the importance to the business of showing value in the services we offer, we discuss the pitfalls off not showing value, and we discuss the criteria and mechanics of how to show value. Do we discuss how to show the value of ITSM adoption?

The CIO has made an investment in the IT department by deciding to adopt ITSM. The CIO most likely had to get someone above his/her role to agree this was a good idea as well. Regardless of stated requirements for your role, the CIO expects you to demonstrate value. You will need to show the ROI of an improved process, the TCO of service activities, how efficiently it has provided more resource capacity, how teams are now utilizing the additional resource capacity, and how the ITSM program is fit for purpose & fit for use.

Takeaways:

  • Understand how to calculate ROI and TCO and how your company interprets this information.
  • Be able to show the utility and warranty of your ITSM work.
  • Hold regularly scheduled reviews with senior leadership on ITSM value.

Final Thoughts

I learned about most of these items the hard way. Most (if not all) the things listed here are (possibly unstated) expectations of you. Remember:

  • Focus on building relationships. Good relationships will take you far in your journey.
  • While you need to be in charge of the sales plan, you do not have to be the chief seller. If others in your company are good at selling, enlist their help.
  • Make sure you understand what information/reports your boss and the CIO want/need regarding the value of the ITSM program
  • Do not get overwhelmed if you cannot quickly master these skills. These skills take time to learn and internalize. Remember this is an iterative process and little improvements on each interaction are good.
  • Do not forget to record your accomplishments somewhere. You’ll need them for your value calculations and discussion.
  •  Do not forget to enjoy what you do and have fun. You can quickly succumb to the negatives in ITSM work. At the end of the day, especially the tough days, ask if you helped make your company better. If the answer is no, regroup and try again tomorrow. If the answer is yes, pat yourself on the back move onto the next goal.

Image Credit

Change Management – Surviving Implementation

253914822_f34c961bd6_z
The super power of a change manager is an “invisible shield”, just like Violet from The Incredibles

One of the things I’m getting asked about most this year is about getting the basics right – how to actually do change management in the real world. We all know that having good processes in place protect us all, ensures we meet regulatory guidelines and are generally just common sense, but what about using them so that we can build a better, stronger IT organisation? In this article, I’m going to talk about getting started and surviving the implementation phase. I’ll then follow it up with another article on how to actually run your change management process.

Let’s start from the beginning. change management sits in the transition stage of the service lifecycle. ITIL states that the objective of change management is “to ensure that changes are recorded, evaluated, authorised, prioritised, planned, tested, implemented, documented and reviewed in a controlled manner. In a nutshell, change management is about putting things in, moving things round or taking them out, and doing it safely and without setting anything on fire.

When describing the change process, I call change managers the guardians or protectors of our network. They ensure all changes are sanity checked, tested, reviewed, approved and scheduled at a sensible time. Their super power is an invisible shield (like Violet in “The Incredibles”) that protects the rest of the organisation from the adverse impact of change.

Getting started: Common Excuses and Ways Around Them

Change management is an incredibly important process because it enables you to manage, control and protect your live environment. Since the credit crunch, I’ve had more and more people coming to me saying that their change departments would either have to endure massive cut backs or stop improvement works. Here are some of the most common excuses I’ve come across for this along with some possible ways around them.

Excuse number 1: “We don’t have the time”. Ok, what about all the time wasted dealing with the impact of failed or unmanaged changes, firefighting incidents and dealing with the big angry mob camped outside the IT department waiting to lynch us for yet another mistake? Let’s be sensible, having a strong change process in place will lead to massive efficiency savings and the use of standard changes, models and templates will make the work involved repeatable.

Excuse number 2: “We don’t have the resources”. What about all the time spent going cap in hand to the rest of the business explaining why a key service was unceremoniously taken out by a badly executed change? Spin doctoring a major incident report that has to go out to external customers? I’d argue that you’re wasting resources constantly firefighting and if you’re not careful it will lead to stressed out departments and key individuals burning out from the stress of trying to keep it all together. Instead of wasting resources and talent – why not put it to good use and start getting proactive?

Excuse number 3: “We don’t have the money”. What about all the money spent on service credits or fines to disgruntled customers? Then there’s the less tangible side of cost. Reputational damage, being front-page news, and being universally slated across social media – not nice and definitely not nice having to deal with the fall out. Finally, what about compliance and regulatory concerns? Failing an audit could be the difference between staying profitable or losing a key customer.

Excuse number 4: “We can’t afford expensive consultants”. Ok, hands up. I used to be a consultant. I used to work for Pink Elephant UK and for anyone out there looking for an amazing consulting / training company then go with Pink – they rock. That aside, if you can’t afford outside help in the form of consultancy, you still have lots of options. Firstly, you have the itSMF. Again, I’m biased here because I’ve been a member, as well as a speaker for, and chair of, various sub groups and committees, all in an attempt to champion the needs of the IT service management community. Here’s the thing though, it’s useful war stories, articles, white papers and templates written by the members for the members. There’s also ISACA which focus more on the governance and COBIT side of things. There’s the Back2ITSM movement – lots of fantastic help support and information here. There’s the ITSM Review and blog sites from the likes of The IT Skeptic – lots of free resources to help you sort out your change Management process.

Excuse number 5: “I’m probably going to be made redundant anyway so what’s the point?” Yes, I am serious, this is an excuse I’ve come across. There’s no way to sugar coat it, being made redundant or even being put at risk is (to put it mildly) a rubbish experience. In that situation (and believe me, I’ve been there) all you can do is keep doing your best until you are told to do otherwise. Having a strong change management process can be a differentiator on responses to bids. Tenders as SOX compliance, or ISO 20000 accreditation can set you apart from competitors. Bottom line, we have to at least try.

Planning for Change Management

So how do you get started? First things first: you need to get buy in. Most management guides will tell you to focus on the top layer of management as they hold the purse strings, and that’s very true, but you also need buy in from your guys on the front line – the guys who will actually be using your process. Get their buy in and you’re sorted, because without it you’re stuffed.

So, starting with the guys at the top, you need to speak to them in their language and that means one thing – a business case! This doesn’t have to take forever and there are lots of templates out there you can use. The key thing is to explain clearly, in their language, why change management is so important. Things to cover in your business case are introduction, scope, options, deliverables and benefits. Now get your techies on board. There’s no “right” way of doing this. As someone with a few war stories to tell, things that have worked in the past include:

  • sitting down with your techies
  • templating everything
  • using the umbrella argument (more on that later)
157147622_3b79fa7cab_z
Krispy Kremes can help

I’ve also found that bribing support teams with doughnuts can be very effective, as a former techie I can confirm that Krispy Kreme ones work particularly well.

Once you’ve got your buy in, gather and confirm your requirements.  At the risk of playing management bingo here, a good approach is to set up workshops. Engage with both IT and the rest of the business so that there are no surprises. If you have an internal risk or audit department now is the time to befriend them! Using the aforementioned donuts as bribery if necessary, get their input as they will have the most up to date regulatory requirements you need to adhere to such as SOX or Basel 3.

Define the scope otherwise it will creep! Plan what you want to cover carefully. Do you want to cover all production equipment? What about test and DR environments? Whatever scope you agree, make sure it is included in any SLAs, OLAs or underpinning contracts so that you have documented what you are working to.

Keep your end users in mind

When writing your policy, process and procedures, keep your end users in mind. Don’t try to cover everything in red tape or people will find ways to circumvent your process. Let’s start with your policy. This is your statement of intent, your list of “thou shall” and  “thou shall nots”. Make sure it’s clear, concise and is in alignment with existing company standards. I know this might sound counterintuitive but also, prepare for it to be broken. It might sound strange but there will be times where something will need to be fixed in the middle of the night or there will need to be an urgent update to your website. It’s important that changes are raised in enough time for them to be reviewed and authorised, but exceptions will pop up so plan for them now when you’re not under pressure. Examples of when an emergency process could be used are:

  • Something’s broken or on fire (fixing a major incident)
  • Something’s about to be broken (preventing a major incident)
  • Major commercial reasons (in response to a move by a competitor)
  • A major risk to compliance has been identified (e.g. base rate changes, virus patches)

When looking at your process, make sure you have all the bases covered. This will include:

  • Recording and processing the change
  • Change assessment
  • Change Advisory Board (CAB)
  • Build and test
  • Implement
  • Review and close

I’ll talk about these in lots of detail in part two of this article.

Training & Communications

You’re about to go live with your sparkly new change management process and you want it to be a success so tell people about it! First, attend every team meeting, management huddle and town hall that you can get away with! Get people onside so that they know how much help change management can be and to reassure them they won’t have to go through lots of red tape just for the sake of it. Another way of getting your message out is to use posters. They’re bright, cheerful and cheap – here is one that I’ve used often.

2650056763_2a7cd6b746_z
Pelt front line teams with coloured balls if necessary! Not too hard though!

In terms of training you need to think about your change management team and your stakeholders, the people that will be raising changes using your process. For your change management team there are lots of practical courses out there that can help – a few examples could include:

  • ITIL Foundation
  • ITIL – Service Transition
  • ITIL – Release Control and Validation (RCV)
  • COBIT
  • SDI Managers Certificate
  • ISO 20000

Other important considerations include:

  • On the job training
  • Shadowing

But what about your front line teams who will be raising the changes and carry out the work? Again put some training together – make it interactive so that it will be memorable – in the past I have been pelted by brightly coloured balls by a colleague in the name of explaining change management so there really is no excuse for death by PowerPoint!

Things to cover are:

  • The process, its scope and the definition of a change
  • Raising a change record to include things like implementation plans, back out plans, testing, risk categorisation (“no it is not ok to just put medium”) and DR considerations
  • Templates & models
  • Benefits

I’ve done a fair few of these in my time so if you would like some help or examples just ping me on my contact details below.

Go Live

So you’re good to go. You’ve gathered your requirements, confirmed your scope, got buy in and have written up your policy, process & procedures. You’ve socialised it with support teams, ensured everyone has been trained up and have communicated the go live date. So deep breath time, go for it! Trust yourself, this is a starting point, your process will improve over time.

Metrics

I’ve written lots about metrics recently and have spoken about the basics in a previous article on availability, incident and problem management but in short:

You need to have a mission statement. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it does need to be a statement of intent for your team and your process. An example of a change management statement could be “to deliver changes effectively, efficiently and safely so that we put the customer at the heart of everything we do”.

Next come the CSF’s or critical success factors. CSFs look at how you can achieve your mission and some examples for change management could include:

  • To ensure all changes are carried out effectively and safely.
  • To ensure all changes are carried out efficiently, on time and with no out of scope emergency work.
  • To work closely with our customers & stakeholders to ensure we keep improving while continuing to meet their needs

Finally, we have Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. These give you the detail on how you are performing at the day to day level and act as an early warning system so that if things are going wrong, you can act on them quickly. Some example KPIs for change could include:

  • More than 98% changes are implemented successfully
  • Less than 5% of changes are emergency changes
  • Less than 10% of changes are rescheduled more than once
  • Less than 1% of changes are out of process

So you’ve survived your change process implementation – smile,  relax and take a deep breath because now the real work starts! Come back soon for part two of this article which will give you some practical advice on running your new change management process.

Image Credit 1

Image Credit 2

Image Credit 3