itSMF Regional Seminars: Where Speed Dating meets Networking?!

Speed Dating meets Networking?

When I went to my first itSMF Regional Seminar last month, I never would have believed that I would be putting those words together!

The event (hosted by Attenda for the London and South East region) was focussed on End to End Service Management, as well as that all important networking element.

According to outgoing Chair Jane Suter, their last attempts hadn’t been quite as successful, revolving around groups moving from room to room.  However, on arrival, we were handed slips of paper with what looked like safe-combinations on them, and corresponding numbers were dotted about the venue, the idea being that at the various breakouts, we proceeded to the relevant number on the list to meet with like minded numbers!

This worked really well until we got to lunch time when we actually missed out one session altogether and the feedback session for the last one took a while – but it was actually a very valuable session.

I suggested that they should build in the time to do more detailed feedback, because after each presentation, and then each networking session, we were encouraged to look at the subject matter and incorporate those into our introductions.

I’m sure it’s an approach that has been done before, but was a pretty effective mechanism and a good icebreaker, especially for a few of us who were first-timers at these events.

The Role of the new CIO in an End-to-End Service Management Environment – Mark Fowle, Attenda

This was a well presented and well thought out presentation, not pitching Attenda, but putting forward their perspective based on their customer base.

The presentation focused on how the IT Director role was perhaps drifting away and being replaced with that of a Chief Information Officer as a key contributor – moving away from pure technical focus and looking to solve business problems.

When I put this in context with a CIO pitch a week later at the itSMF UK Software Tools Forum in Manchester – the focus of is very much on achieving business outcomes, setting and achieving meaningful Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Enforcing Service Management practices through interoperable systems – Neil Forster, Attenda

Neil’s time was perhaps a little shorter than he had intended, as he ran us through how Attenda put a management layer over the top of their third party tools to provide them with platform to get information to their engineers, when they need it.

Neil focused in three key areas – Event Management, Incident Problem and Change Management, and Service Knowledge Management

They have developed mechanisms to have their engineers check for likely “best bet” matching tickets, and with links to knowledge based articles approved by team leads.

His key message was the presentation of information at the point of need, as well as embedding knowledge in the process.

Service Management in an Agile/SOA environment.

The final speaker of the day was Graham Youngs, from Tata Consulting Services –I had been on the periphery of an Agile-run software development project for an ITSM deployment and until that project the only scrum I had heard of had everything to do with Rugby Union and nothing at all to do with ITSM!

In fact what it focusses on is speed of change versus quality of service, and what I could draw from my own experiences was that a good Agile project manager is as much a key to a development team’s success.

In my own experience, although there were attempts to break down the barriers between development and operations, it still needed flexibility and a firm hand from the agile/development management side to keep members of the team focused on their immediate role as well as the bigger picture.

Overall impressions

  • Highlights

A friendly environment and easy to network thanks to the “speed dating approach”

  • Things to improve

The structure of the networking breakouts were relevant to the day’s theme and I think that they should allow some feedback time on the sessions as the group become very interactive at that point, making the seminar worthwhile.

University of Exeter Students Choose Twitter for IT Support

Given the choice, University of Exeter Students Opted to Receive IT Support Updates via Twitter

The itSMF held their UK South West & South Wales Regional meeting at the University of Exeter this week.

The theme of the day was processes and toolsets with a big emphasis on member interaction and discussion.

In a nutshell: A good day. Recommended.

Two presentations really stood out for me during the day. Firstly Deborah Pitt, Configuration Manager at Land Registry Information Systems in Plymouth, gave a compelling talk on how she managed to convince various IT teams within Land Registry to buy-in to their CMDB. In short, Deborah recalled her strategy of badgering, evangelising and more badgering.

Winning Friends and Implementing CMDBs

Deborah shared with us that she increased engagement and adoption with the CMDB by farming out responsibility for configuration items to various IT teams. For example, the team responsible for management of blackberry devices were assigned ownership of Blackberry data within the CMDB, a great strategy for building confidence in the system and getting users to let go of their precious excel sheets.

“Although process and tools have both been important in getting buy in from consumers and owners of the data that goes into the CMDB, another, often overlooked factor has been a major plank of getting the message across.   This is building successful, communicative relationships with both consumers and owners.  Through selectively targeting the audience and tailoring the message, Land Registry have been able to build enthusiasm for CMDB, such that there is now a widespread take up of CI use and ownership.” Deborah Pitt, Land Registry.

Bring Your Own Pot Noodle?

However, for me the most interesting talk of the day came from the hosts: Zach Nashed who runs the IT Helpdesk at the University of Exeter.

Zach shared how the IT support team at the University were coping with the changing demands of students. It was interesting to hear of the changing attitudes towards IT support since tuition fees were abolished. Since students will be paying £9K per annum out of their own pocket from 2012, this was beginning to translate into higher expectations and demands of IT support (e.g. If I’m paying £9K a year to study here I’m not paying extra for printing).

The IT team are also under increasing pressure to provide 24/7/365 IT services for multiple devices per student. For example students are arriving on campus with a laptop, tablet and phone with all flavours of platforms and expecting instant compatibility and high-speed ubiquitous WIFI access.

Fish Where The Fish Are

To provide higher levels of support at the University and align closely with current requirements Zach and his team hold focus groups with students. As a result the University has begun to explore Twitter as an IT support communication channel. When given the option, students at the University chose Twitter as their preferred update mechanism.

I think this is an important point for anyone considering implementing social channels into their support infrastructure. When considering implementation with a particular channel we need to consider:

  1. Do our customers actually use this social media channel?
  2. And do they want to hear from us when they are using it? (Zach noted that although students spent a great deal of time on Facebook their preferred update mechanism was Twitter)

If students of today are recruits of tomorrow then this initiative paints a picture of IT Support in 2015.

The University of Exeter are a long term Hornbill customer and are exploring a module from Hornbill specifically for twitter integration. Want to know how they get on? Follow them here.

Event Listing: Service Catalogues & Service Portfolios Seminar, itSMF UK, 18th April, Solihull

National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull

What?

itSMF UK Seminar – Service Catalogues & Service Portfolios

“Service catalogue, service portfolio and service level management are the essential elements of the relationship between IT and the business.  Without these processes in place, it is increasingly difficult to define what IT services are available to the business and on what basis.

But the relationship between service catalogues and service portfolios is often poorly understood, and this can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. This seminar explains how these concepts inter-relate, and helps attendees to build a solution that suits their specific business needs. “Problem management is often the most under used process, and is described by some as the “If we only have the time” process. In reality it is a process that if used correctly adds real value to the business, and supports all of the other service management processes. To get there, there is a need to invest both time and resource – the very things that problem managers have little of.”

When?

  • Wednesday 18th April 2012, 9am – 4pm

Where?

Who?

  • itSMF UK

Agenda

  • Service catalogue – all things to all people?Not only is the service catalogue a way to orientate your organization and processes around services, it is also a user facing service itself. This is Unilever’s experience of delivering a user-friendly catalogue that is part of improved customer satisfaction. ~ Andrew Davies, Unilever
  • Unlocking the potential of service portfolios and service catalogues, and measuring the right thing This presentation will destroy some myths, make you think differently, and give you the tools to continually improve both IT and the business by integrating portfolios, catalogues and measures. ~ Kevin Holland, UK Public Sector Consultant.
  • Magic wand session: Service catalogues and service portfolios in your organizationTake part in one of our interactive round table discussions, led by Dr Don Page of Marval, and discuss the answers to some key questions concerning service catalogue and service portfolio implementation. ~ Don Page, Marval
  • The service portfolio – the new tool in your service management toolset Just when you have finally understood the concept of the service catalogue and managed to produce a useful addition to your service management toolset, along comes ITIL v3 and the service portfolio. What is it, how does it help us? This presentation will give you some answers. Rob Young, Fox IT

Further Info…

Image Credit

Review: itSMF Problem Management Seminar [Chelsea Football Club]

Steve White, Kepner Tregoe, Engaging the Audience at Chelsea
Steve White, Kepner Tregoe, Engaging the Audience at Chelsea

The UK itSMF hosted a popular Problem Management seminar this week.

Around 100 itSMF members met at Chelsea Football Club to learn about ‘Proactive Problem Management’ from a variety of industry specialists.

Firstly, a quick summary of the sessions (Football Clichés A Go-Go):

FOX IT – GENTLE STRETCHES TO WARM UP

John Griffiths from Fox IT explored the human elements of problem management, the communication channels that exist between incident capture and problem resolution and the interpretation and translation that must happen via the service desk.

SERVICENOW – OWN GOAL

In many ways this event felt a little like a ServiceNow user group – but when the SaaS vendor took centre stage to deliver some thought leadership we were delivered an undiluted sales pitch.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting David D’Agostino before and know him to be clever, funny and articulate – so I had high expectations for this session. This was an opportunity missed – The itSMF need to be brutal with their editorial – in the end it’s the vendor who came off worst.

KEPNER TREGOE – THE CROWD ARE ON THE PITCH…

A great session from Steve White at Kepner Tregoe. Steve hosted an interactive whiteboard session on defining proactive problem management. For me and for the other delegates I spoke to this was the highlight of the day. More like this please itSMF! It would have been interesting to perhaps walk through some real life scenarios and discuss options with the audience using this open forum approach.

PINK ELEPHANT – A HEARTY PERFORMANCE

Unfortunately I missed parts of Vawns Guest’s session but from what I saw and feedback from others Vawns gave a passionate lesson on the relationship between incident, problem and availability management.

OASIS HEALTHCARE – END-TO-END ACTION

This was an interesting case study from Mike Evans from ITS and Rich Starkey from Oasis Healthcare.   The double act provided a before and after picture of progress at Oasis Healthcare, a network of over 200 UK dental practices. It was also great to see an organization sharing business benefits and return on investment for their project.

Is Honesty The Best Policy?

An interesting point was made during one of the sessions regarding honesty with problems – i.e. do we tell the customer we’re experiencing a problem?

There were mixed views on this – do we keep our problems to ourselves for fear of the organization using it against us or do we openly admit that, we’re human, mistakes happen and we’re doing everything we can to resolve it?

In my view – How an organization answers this question gives a good insight into their culture and maturity. I’m sure that at times there are perfectly good reasons for keeping schtum – but I think honestly is the best policy.

Whether you are trying to run trains on time, hosting services in a datacenter or delivering fruit and vegetables– a bit of honesty from your provider strengthens the relationship and gives the impression that you are not just being fobbed off.

Wrap-Up

Overall I would definitely recommend this seminar, some interactive sessions with lots of questions. I look forward to attending future itSMF seminars this year (further info here).

Finally, Colin Rudd asked the audience if there was interest in rejuvenating the Problem Management SIG and the response was positive – contact itSMF to learn more.

Photo

Event Listing: Proactive Problem Management, itSMF UK, 8th Feb, London

Chelsea Football Club
Chelsea Football Club

What?

itSMF UK Seminar – Proactive Problem Management

“Problem management is often the most under used process, and is described by some as the “If we only have the time” process. In reality it is a process that if used correctly adds real value to the business, and supports all of the other service management processes. To get there, there is a need to invest both time and resource – the very things that problem managers have little of.

“This seminar is targeted at problem managers who want to improve their approach and understanding of problem management by adopting a more proactive focus in order to deliver more successful outcomes”

When?

  • Wednesday 8th February 2012, 9am – 4pm

Where?

Who?

  • itSMF UK

Agenda

  • ‘Incident, problem and availability management – the new holy trinity’ Vawns Guest, Pink Elephant
  • ‘IT service delivery from a third party – jumping from reactive to proactive’ Mike Evans, ITS & Rich Starkey, Oasis Healthcare
  • ‘Are you communicating problems or having problems communicating?’ John Griffiths, Fox IT
  • ‘Is the cloud a ‘problem’ for problem management?’ David D’Agostino, Service-Now.com

Further Info…

Vendor Booths at Conferences Need a Shakedown

Vendor Booths at Conferences Need a Smack Down
Time for a new model?

I was lucky enough to attend the first day of the ITSMF conference in London yesterday. Having spent most of the day in the exhibitor lounge I can’t really comment on the speakers and content, but the whole event was very well organized and it seemed to have a great atmosphere, great networking and great people.

I have previously attended this event as a vendor so it was interesting to see the other side of the fence. Getting people to your stand is an age old problem but the disconnect between vendor booths and delegates seems to be getting worse, especially for tool vendors. This is not a criticism of the ITSMF conference per se, but conferences generally.

Exhibitor Booth – A Twenty-Year Old Concept?

The rest of vendor marketing seems to have moved along with the times with the introduction of email, web seminars and to a degree, social media. But with the exception of electronic swipers and polluting hashtag streams – has the conference vendor booth concept really progressed in twenty years?

The ITSMF team did a good job of delivering a compelling agenda with varied content and speakers. But most of the exhibitor lounge seemed to be disconnected from the delegates like awkward boys and girls at a teenage disco. We’re in the same room, we have shared interests but I’m not sure where to start…

In dating terms the current exhibitor booth model is like a nightclub – your luck in finding a suitable date is strongly dependent on serendipity; who is there at the time and who you happen to bump into. Whereas exhibitor booths should be closer to speed dating – aligning customers with problems with pain with solutions.

I don’t claim to have an answer for this issue, but one idea that springs to mind is breaking the traditional vendor hall into themes as chosen by delegates prior to the conference. So for example some key themes might be consumerization of IT, doing more with less / accountability and maturing your operation.

Exhibitors could populate ‘zones’ dedicated to certain subjects and delegates with an interest in that topic could immerse themselves in what the industry has to say, and offer. For exhibitors – If you don’t feel confident speaking about the key concerns of the industry – what are you doing at the conference?

Permission

I believe the disconnect can be boiled down to permission. The marketing guru Seth Godin refers to permission based marketing; the tectonic shift between outbound and inbound marketing. I strongly recommend Seth’s book for anyone trying to grapple with modern marketing, it is very readable and accessible (The much hyped clue-train manifesto remains half-read on my bookcase gathering dust next to ‘A brief history of time’).

Outbound marketing refers to ‘if you throw enough at the wall something will stick’; cold calls, leaflets, advertising. Inbound marketing refers to getting found by prospects and ‘earning their way in’ by providing value.

Let’s start a conversation based on something I know you are interested in, have a brief discussion, then we can both walk away from the show knowing we have something of interest to talk about in the future. I have your permission, a topic of conversation and a common interest. I don’t think swiping my badge in exchange for jelly beans whilst you tell me about your latest release constitutes value.

An intangible part of the conference process is networking, catching up with old colleague in the industry and having a bit of fun. Daft toys , in nothing else, are a bit of fun and good ice breaker. However if I were a marketing manager looking to justify my attendance at such a show it has to be based on hard economics.

These conference are important. Many people in the industry get great value from them. Exhibitor booths are an important part of the financial model of a conference – either the exhibitors need to up their game or the model has to change.

itSMF – The Glue That Unites the Service Management Industry

Not-A-Pink-Shirt
Ben Clacy, UK CEO, itSMF

As I begin my journey into the world of ITSM what better place to start than with The IT Service Management Forum (itSMF)?

I recently met with Ben Clacy, CEO of itSMF UK to discuss the recent changes to ITIL and the announcement of a new professional credentialing scheme for service management professionals.

ITSM Review Q. For those not familiar with itSMF –what do you do?

We are community of over 12,000 UK based service management professionals. We were born out of ITIL and are essentially an ITIL user group. There are 53 chapters of itSMF around the globe, all of which are not for profit groups run by volunteers. It’s all about giving back to our members and helping them deliver better IT services.

Q. If I’m a new recruit in a support department or have just started a service management related role – how can the itSMF help me?

As a member of itSMF there is a variety of resources you can gain access to. We have a knowledgebase so that members can learn about all aspects of service management, a quarterly journal where members can learn about all the latest hot topics and events – from our annual conference through to smaller regionals events.

The ‘forum’ part is the most important aspect of the itSMF. It’s all about learning from your peers. Professionals who specialize in particular areas lead our events, allowing others to benefit from their real life experiences.

Ask itSMF members what the biggest benefit of membership is – and they’ll tell you it’s the ability to reach out to other members and understand how they can do something better.

Q. What is prISM?

The industry already has a good qualification scheme based on ITIL, but a lot of people question it because it is only a qualification. You can read the books and take the exam but it does not take into account your experience and your others skills as a service management professional.

prISM is a credentialing scheme for the service management industry.

Credential – “a qualification, achievement, quality, or aspect of a person’s background, especially when used to indicate their suitability for something” Source

The idea behind prISM is to provide, as many industries do, a recognized level of accomplishment that takes a broader view of the individual and their qualifications.

Q. So miles on the clock and hours at the rock face are taken into account?

Yes, to a certain extent, experience is certainly part of it. prISM looks at the job they do, what that involves, the knowledge they have and other training courses that might be relevant to service management. The goal is to provide a bigger picture of that individual’s professional experience.

Q. Could you provide a high level overview of the prISM credentialing levels?

The levels are:

  1. Student in Service Management (SSM) – for students with an interest in ITSM
  2. Associate (ASM) – for entry-level professionals
  3. Professional (PSM) – for mid-level, experienced professionals
  4. Distinguished Professional (DPSM) – for senior, experienced professionals and leaders.
  5. Fellow (FSM) – recognized for making significant contributions to the profession and its body of knowledge.

Q. Could you share your opinion on ITIL 2011? I’m a from an enterprise software background so from what I understand it is a minor release in order to resolve a few bugs and not a major version – is that a suitable analogy?

ITIL are trying to move away from version numbers. The UK government owns ITIL and things take a little longer than many people would like.

Some would prefer it to be a more of an iterative update. It has been out since the late eighties and version three was released in 2007. It has only had two significant updates.

ITIL 2011 is an update not a new version. The structure has remained the same. The first book on service strategy has had a significant overhaul but the other four books have only had minor adjustments. Service strategy was a new concept for a lot of people back in 2007 and this update makes it more accessible.

Q. So going back to my new recruit who has just landed on the helpdesk and has never heard of ITIL – what would you recommend? What is the best path for learning about all of this?

The best way to begin the journey with regards to ITIL is to attend a one-day training session that some training companies offer which is effectively a game or a simulation.

This experiential form of training puts you in a real life scenario (the Apollo 13 mission, a shop, a trading floor etc.) with the group running an IT department.

It soon becomes apparent the mistakes being made, the damage being done to the business and the money being lost. Gradually the ITIL processes are put in place so that the people taking the course can witness real life improvements being made. There is commonly a light bulb moment when people realize what effect these changes can have on their own business.

 Q. How is the itSMF linked to ITIL?

ITIL is owned by OGC and we have no real formal link to the 2011 update – but 90% of our members use ITIL as a framework for their business and all of the authors of ITIL are itSMF members. ITIL is the theory and the itSMF provides the real life context, allowing members to learn from others who have implemented service management in line with ITIL principles.

Further Information