Trains, planes, giant inflatable elephants & Yoda – Service Manager Day 2016!

It’s Utrecht Baby! National Service Manager Day is an annual event hosted by the NGI-NGN organisation in Holland. The NGI-NGN are the Dutch professional association for ICT professionals and managers. It is an independent platform where more than 2,500 members deepen their knowledge and maintain their network. Here’s our take on the big day.

Opening Keynote: The Future Of ITSM – David Cannon, Forrester

David kicked off the day in style with his take on the future of ITSM. David started off by outlining some of the challenges the ITSM community currently face telling his audience: “our customers drive innovation and that innovation is growing. We need to look at new ways to enable our customers.”

He continued by explaining that as ITSM professionals, we need to innovate “customers expect us to know all about them without them having to tell us” whilst keeping the lights on.

David went on to explain the our customers will continue to expect innovation something I completely agree with. Lets face it, we live in the world of Amazon, Facebook and Google – shouldn’t everything be that easy?

The next part of David’s presentation focused on the innovation cycle. David explained this by using the Google Maps example “Remember the first version of Google Maps? Best practice was to follow the directions then walk around for a bit until you found your destination. Nowadays if Google Maps doesn’t deliver you to the front door of the address you entered you get mad at them; ie innovation has met operation and IT needs to move from innovation to commodisation”. David also spoke about the need to manage technical debt explaining “We need to manage our services so that we can cover services throughout their lifecycle not just the first eighteen months. We must ensure money spent on operational systems to the original value proposition because if we don’t, we will only ever be associated with costing the business money”.

The final part of the session focused on practical advice. David explained that the focus has changed “It doesn’t matter what you call it, build and run must happen at the same time. The support model has changed, with the advent of genius bars customers want to know how they can use the technology they’ve got to do something new.” David used an Apple example to explain this “Apple have used genius bars to transform the worst part of a user experience, a broken device, into a real selling point”.

David concluded on this note “We need to learn the language of return on investment as a service manager – everything else is irrelevant.”


Next up was Christian Tijsmans on how Service Management can change your life. As someone who’s been in ITSM since I moved to the UK in 2000 I was all ears. Christian opened his session by talking about the only metric that should really matter – the personal happiness index.

Christian’s take on CSI is Continual Personal Improvement taking the audience on his journey from baseline to getting there and keeping the momentum going.

One of Christian’s key word of wisdom? Take accountability; or as he put it “stop starting things and start finishing things.”

Christian gave practical examples of how using KanBan and COBIT can make us more effective as well as the importance of planning and remaining agile:

My favourite part of the presentation was Christians reminder that people are everything “keep people at the forefront of your journey; Peter Pan needed belief to fly”



Minds out of the gutter people! This was Claire’s fab take on all things cyber resilience. The first part of Claire’s session focused on current threats:

Claire talked about how easy it is to accidentally compromise security telling the audience “50% of users will click on links from phishing e-mails, sobering stuff. Claire went on to explain why everyone is responsible for cyber safety – poor old Dave though!

The main part of Claire’s session focused on sorting out our cyber resilience. She started by introducing #RESILIA. RESILIA is the new framework for cyber resilience. It’s aim is to build cyber resilience in an organisation from the boardroom down. The RESILA framework provides practical guidance on:

  • Organisation wide awareness training
  • Cyber pathway tool
  • Leadership engagement
  • A certification pathway

Claire talked about how important it is to integrate cyber resilience into IT Service Management explaining “we need to integrate security into every one of our ITSM processes”. As a starting point; “use your experts to get security going in your organisation – stop hiding them away!” Getting buy in is a critical part of any security policy and as Claire put it “make senior management walk the walk” I completely agree. Let’s face it – how are you going to get end users to follow security procedures if all they see is senior management breaching them left right and center.

Claire went on to talk about the importance of training that engages the audience telling us “E learning where the person goes away and has a cup of tea while it plays then ticks the box at the end doesn’t work”.

Claire’s final slide gave the audience some key takeaways to consider including:

  • Risk Management
  • Knowing your critical information assets
  • Making a plan

Claire finished by signposting everyone to the official RESILIA website where the Cyber Pathway will be available free of charge next month.

The radical impact of DevOps on IT Service Management – Charles Betz

Following a quick power break with the world’s most awesome cake selection Charles Betz was up as the afternoon keynote talking about the impact of DevOps on ITSM.

Charles opened by talking about digital transformation as a driver of Agile and DevOps “Agile is transformative and descending on our organisations at speed”.  He talked about the challenges that the ITSM world is currently facing:

He went on to talk about the substantial benefits a DevOps environment can bring, if done correctly.

He talked about what to do if you bump into a scaling problem:

As well as referencing the work done by Donald Reinertsen on product development flow.

Charles talked about the need to speed up feedback loops and reduce the cost of delay explaining “a nine month Release cycle won’t work in a digitised environment”. I’ve talked before about Amazon’s release cycle; deploying new code every 11.6 seconds – can you imagine telling the CEO of Amazon that he could only have one Release every nine months? No. Nope. Nopity Nope, No.

The final part of the session looked at finding leverage points to get buy in and support. Charles suggested automation, shared services, and challenging over-elaborated processes. In the words of organiser Dave van Herpen

It’s all about the services: Implementing a Service Portfolio – Nelli Serifovski, NNIT

The final session we attended was by Nelli Serifovski. Nelli’s session was all about using the Service Portfolio to drive value and was based on her practical experience of implementing Service Portfolio Management across NNIT; one of Denmark’s largest IT services providers.

Why a Service Portfolio instead of a Service Catalogue I hear you ask? Let me explain. A Service Catalogue is essentially a menu of all live services available to the business. It can have different views based on the role you’re in (e.g business and technical views) and gives you a view of all services. A Service portfolio is so much more. It’s made up of three components;

  • The Service Pipeline
  • The Service Catalogue
  • Retired Services

The Service Pipeline gives you a view of services that will be launched in the future; a sort of preview of coming attractions if you will. The Retired Services section keeps a log of all legacy services that you used to support and the Catalogue is your basic menu of what’s available now. So if your Service Catalogue is a menu, The Service Portfolio gives you the past, the present and the future.

Nelli’s session was full of practical advice on implementing Service Portfolio Management from the first attempt “no one wants to read a 600 page Service Catalogue” to the final version with an impressive benefit realisation.

Nelli talked about the need for governance explaining that  dedicated roles and responsibilities from service owners to solution architects  were key. Nelli outlined the cost model and planning involved sharing that every service delivery manager had to create a service plan replacing 20 odd services status with five across the company.

Nelli finished by sharing her key learnings and this final message “You need to keep working and improving. Service Portfolio Management never ends!”

For our money Service Manager Day was brilliant; informative, empowering and inspirational. This tweet summed up the day perfectly:

A huge thank you to the NGI-NGN for inviting us and we hope to be back next year.


Image Credit

Heat Software Event 2015 Review

Heat Software hosted their annual Heat event in London this week. The event is especially for users of the software, giving them access to subject matter experts, industry partners & consultants and a “preview of forthcoming attractions” for exciting new toolset functionality.

The event was held at the Crystal building in central London and was completely packed out. Not even a DLR strike could dampen the enthusiasm for Heat users with most people attending the day by cable car – which yes was exactly as glamorous & James Bond like as it sounds!

The Conference

Roberto Casetta, Snr. Vice President International kicked off the proceedings by welcoming everyone to the event and setting out the agenda for the day. He then welcomed the first speaker, Jonathan Temple.

Software Update, Vision & Strategy – Jonathan Temple, President & CEO Heat Software

Jonathan introduced his session by sharing Heat’s vision – telling us all to “pay attention, there’ll be a test later.” Heat’s vision is “to deliver superior business performance through the relentless improvement of security & service quality”.

Jonathan continued by talking about the challenges that CIOs are now facing: “nowadays the CIO is not just tasked with improving service quality across IT but improving it across the entire enterprise.” Jonathan also said that in this day and age, it’s simply not good enough to keep buying ITSM toolsets stating “ we need an IT operations management mini suite”. Jonathan explained that the mini suite should contain ITSM functionality, asset (both hardware & software) functionality, customisable management dashboards and discovery tools.

The next part of Jonathan’s presentation focused on the future of Heat. He gave an overview of the Absolute acquisition which will strengthen Heat’s mobility offerings and gave examples of how Heat could be used in non IT situations like tracking facilities issues or managing HR queries.

The final part of Jonathan’s session summarised what Heat users could expect from the product in the near future; the new Heat online community which will be much more user friendly to “allow for global social collaboration” and a sparkly new App store to make it easier to download software components & updates.

Product Strategy & Roadmap – Udo Waibel, Chief Product Officer, Heat Software

Udo followed Jonathan’s session and opened by talking about the overriding product design principles for Heat and how they are underpinned by their customer for life ethos.

Udo explained that Heat set out to provide software that “focused on end user performance, fit for purpose & easy to install, configure, maintain & upgrade”.  Udo continued by saying “we must simplify the complex, password re-sets should not require human intervention”. After working for a company in a previous life where password resets required multiple calls to the Service Desk, an e-mail from your manager and endless faffing around trying to prove your identity, I couldn’t agree more. To be fair, after seeing my colleague’s experience, I never forgot my password but still, a fantastic example of what not to do and I agree with Udo’s stance on password resets whole heartedly.

Udo explained the complexity of the recent release cycle for Heat stating “each Release had over 25,000 line items or lots of stuff” and talked about the plan to work with Pink Elephant UK to increase the Pink Verified number of ITIL process to 13.

From Chaos to Consolidation with HEAT Service Management – John Ireland, Director of Customer Services, University of Oxford IT Services

Next up we had John Ireland from Oxford University. John opened by explaining the complexity of his live environment: “35,000 users on site, 100 autonomous IT teams & 140,000 central IT calls”. Certainly not a job for the faint hearted. John wanted to streamline IT by consolidating the Service Desk and brought in the expertise from both Heat & Pink Elephant.

John explained the key thing he learned about the project was not about processes or technology but by driving business change. “We mitigated the pain by giving people large quantities of cake!” Brilliant plan John!

John continued by saying that by really paying attention to the people, they were able to complete the project with a grand total of zero end user complaints! That’s awesome John and also probably some sort of record!

John finished up his session by sharing 2 final top tips:

  1. Stop techies rejecting your tasks by giving them cake
  2. You can’t make an Incident a P1 just because you like the user

Wise words indeed John.

Raise your shields, the enterprise is under attack! Graham Cluley, Security Analyst

@gcluley concluded the morning’s fun by introducing his fab session on security. Graham started by explaining how easy it is to build trust even when it might not be genuine or deserved:

Graham talked about the need to be vigilant using the example of the attempted theft of the crown jewels in 1671 by Thomas Blood.

Graham explained just how easy it is to be taken in my cyber criminals; it’s not just about looking out for suspicious attachments or links, e-mail headers can be faked or legitimate websites can be hacked meaning that simply clicking a link can put your entire organisation at risk. The ramifications can be huge, people can lose their jobs (Graham used the Target example in the US to explain this) not to mention the threat to personal and corporate data.

In recent times, the Talk Talk attack resulted in 1.2 million email addresses, names and phone numbers and 21,000 unique bank account numbers and sort codes being accessed and the Dow Jones dropped 130 points after the Associated Press news agency’s @AP Twitter account was hacked posting a fake story about an attack on Barack Obama. Scary stuff indeed.

Graham concluded his session by talking about the need to be security aware.

The Story Behind The Crystal – Pete Daw, Cities Urban Developer Siemens Plc

Straight after lunch we had an overview of the Crystal landmark and how groundbreaking it is in terms of sustainability:

At this point, the day split into 3 tracks, Service Management, Endpoint Management & IT Security and Service Automation.

Track 1: What’s New in HEAT Service Management? – Christopher Powell, Senior Engineer, Heat Software

Chris used his session to give us a quick run through of some exciting new functionality. First up was the news that quick actions have been expanded to include Export to Excel, Run from Workflow and Insert Object functionality.

Chris then took the audience through the updated master Major Incident module showcasing the quicker linkage and closure options and also talked about the new discovery functionality meaning that you can now return CI info straight into your CMDB from registry keys.

Chris concluded with the exciting news that links to external systems and tools from Microsoft to other ITSM tools would be supported. It’s great to see a software vendor recognise that other tools & solutions exist and taking positive action to enable linkage between multiple services enabling them to talk to each other. Nicely done Chris!

Track 1: Service Catalog: The Service Enabler – Peter Coote, Solutions Manager, Heat Software

The final session we attended was a whistle stop tour by Peter Coote on Service Catalogues, Knowledge Management and Voice automation.

Peter ran through the Service Catalogue Management functionality in Heat, taking us on the journey from Service Offering, to Service Request via the Service Catalogue explaining that a Service Catalogue is “a list of everything you need”.

Next up was the Knowledge Management module. Peter explained that it had been revamped to be driven by the side bar making navigation across multiple devices for example from phone to iPad to laptop much easier. Peter also gave us his take on the difference between FAQs and Knowledge Management “FAQs are small, simple pieces of information that you can probably get from Google. Knowledge is usually much more specific & detailed with attachments & supporting information”. Good rule of thumb Peter but this is my favourite definition:

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 09.50.08


The final minutes of Peter’s session were spent explaining the Voice functionality included in the software. Incidents can be raised directly from end users calls using automation making the Service Desk analyst’s life a hell of a lot easier. Speaking as an ex techie (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when it was still called the Helpdesk) anything that makes it easier for the Service Desk to log Incidents rocks.

A Really Useful Event

For my money, this was a really useful event. It’s always nice to see the big software companies give something back and the day was a really good mix of brand, customer and partner presentations & end user experiences. The customers I spoke to were all really engaged and a great day was had by all. Thank you to Heat Software for inviting us along and we hope to be back next year.