Secrets of Request Fulfilment

 

Peter Hubbard
Peter Hubbard

This article has been contributed by Peter Hubbard, Principal IT Service Management Consultant at Pink Elephant EMEA and is based on a recent presentation that he delivered at the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition.

Request Fulfilment is one of the most useful, yet underrated, areas within IT Service Management. It has been widely recognized for many years that the ‘Front Face’ of IT is the service desk, and so how the service desk performs colours the whole perception the business has of the entire IT Department.

But what is Request Fulfilment? Request Fulfilment provides a channel for users to request and receive standard services for which a predefined approval and qualification process exists. It simple ensures that each request doesn’t have to ‘reinvent the wheel’.  A request model is a way of predefining the steps that should be taken to handle a process.

So how do you implement it?

Getting the basics right

The first thing that you need to do is create a Service Request Catalog. At its most basic level this is simply a list of all the Service Requests it’s possible for the business to make of an IT department.

The easiest way to do this is to ask your service desk staff, after all they spend all day dealing with these very issues. Ask them to write a list of their most frequent service requests, and use this as your starting point to turn an entry in the Service Request Catalogue into a fully mapped and automated Request Model.

The second major thing to do is to make sure that you separate your incidents from your requests in the toolset. After all, they are separate things! Telling a business that 10,000 incidents were received to the service desk sounds like the world is ending. Saying that 1,000 incidents were received, and 9,000 service requests were made for new kit is a very different story.

Build a request model

You MUST do this. Request Fulfilment without Request Models is just mucking about. The whole point of Request Fulfilment is to work out in advance the steps that are required, the information that you need to collect and when, and who performs the required actions & authorizations. This is the soul and centre of Request Fulfilment. Collecting all that information and not transforming it into a model, either as an established manual procedure, or ideally, within an ITSM toolset is just plain silly!

In order to build a request model the simplest method is to bring the people who are involved in fulfilling that request together.

Ask them to verbally walk through the activities involved using post it notes to build a basic flow on the wall. Once the steps have been agreed, and are in the right order, go back and detail what happens at each step: who does it, what information they would need to fulfill that step, any agreed timescales or authorizations required etc. I find this takes about half a day for a moderately complex request like building a new starters laptop and delivering it to them. Once you have the model capture it in a formal document (Visio flowchart with explanations is best) and then use this to configure your chosen ITSM toolset to automate the request.

Request Fulfilment is simple, but that’s not the same as easy?

Many people are often make the mistake in being under the impression that ‘doing’ Request Fulfillment doesn’t take more than a week or two, but let’s say you haves 800+ known types of service request. The rule of thumb is to allow half a day to map a request model as you work out all the steps involved and who does them. Then allow another half a day to document that flow into a format that can be saved, understood, and shown to others. Then add another half a day to put that flow into the toolset. So that 2 weeks worth of work was actually 1200 days work!

My best advice to keep things simple is to start with an easily understood, and not too complex request. Avoid starting with the ‘new starter’ request as a typical new starter request will involved multiple actions crossing HR, Security, Access Mgt, Facilities and IT. I am not saying don’t do it at all, just make sure you start with something simpler to get the feel for the process first.

The most spectacular mistake I have ever seen made with regards to Request Fulfilment was when I saw a CIO promise to his executive board that 95% of all service requests would be completed within 5 days.

It’s safe to say that I almost fell off my chair. I very quietly sidled up to him afterwards and said that it was very courageous promise he had just made…would he mind if I asked a few questions?

Question: Have you defined what a Service Request is as opposed to an Incident?

Answer: No, is that important?

Question: Have you worked out a complete list of all the types of request that you support?

Answer: Not as such 

Question: What is the most common type of request you receive at the Service Desk?

Answer: A request to build a new laptop

Question: Have you worked out the steps involved in fulfilling that request and the timescales involved?

Answer: No, but I know it can’t take long to simply build a laptop!

I went off and built the request model for that request. It turned out that the process to build a laptop took 37 separate steps, across 4 teams, and went to 2 external organizations who had their own response times in their contracts. If everything worked as it was supposed to then it would take 10 days to complete the cycle. Essentially the CIO had just set himself up to fail and the board hammered him for the next 6 months every time they had a meeting.

The moral of the story? Know the steps, and timescales involved before you start committing to SLA targets!

Benefits to Request Fulfilment

I always tell people ‘never keep a dog and bark yourself!’  Most ITSM toolsets are built around perfectly good workflow engines with associated notification rules. Well… guess what…that’s how Request Fulfilment works too.  You work out ONCE what a particular request needs to do, who it should go to, what they should do and so on. Then you take that hard won information and enter it into the toolset as a Request Model. From that point on the tool does the hard work for you. It moves the requests to the right team(s) automatically. It makes sure they have all the information they need on a silver platter, and it even escalates the issue to the relevant authorities if pre defined criteria are breeched.

Someone has to do all of the things I have just listed, and unless you have the tool doing it (supported by your processes of course) then your service desk agents have to do it by hand, which means you’ll soon have your agents tied up manually shepherding requests and explaining to irate users why their laptop is not ready yet. By using Request Fulfilment most of this is done for you by the tool through the Request model; although you should always make sure the final ownership of the requests sits with the service desk as normal.  Trust…but verify!

A final note

Tackle Service Request Fulfilment head on. Handling Service Requests manually is major drain on your resources on the service desk at the moment and the single largest cause of user dissatisfaction.

Do comments such as ‘we never get told what’s going on with our requests?’ or “why does it take so long to get anything done by IT?” sound familiar?

Well, you can either deal with each issue as it arises on a one by one basis, or you can invest some start-up time into identifying the top 10 requests that get made to your service desk, and create them as request models. Then put them in your toolset and automate the notification and assignment rules.

Request fulfilment frees up your service desk, and technicians time from endlessly chasing their tails as they try to find out what the next step in the chain is and who they should be talking to. By automating the basics you free your staff up to concentrate on other areas of greater interest.

2013: A Year in ITSM Review

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

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

Ironically I like neither mince pies nor sherry. 

Visits and Growth

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

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

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

What was popular?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content Contributors

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

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

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

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

Top Searches

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

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

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

Events

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

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

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

Launches

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

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

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

Additions to the team

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

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

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

So then there was 4.

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

What’s planned for 2014?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so…

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

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

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ITSM Big 4 – the practitioner view

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tobias Nyberg, Configuration Manager at Handelsbanken (Sweden)

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

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

  • Management awareness
  • Practical advice

Help us with management

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

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

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

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

Practical Advice

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

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

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

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

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

Francois Biccard, Support and Project Manager (Australia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what will the ITSM Big 4 be?

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

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

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

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

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Day 2 Review: itSMF UK Conference

reg

Following on from my review of Day 1 of the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition, it’s time to take a look at what happened on Day 2.

As the second day started I couldn’t help but look around slightly relieved that I wasn’t feeling as bad as the majority of the other conference goers looked. By all accounts the wine on the table had been completely obliterated and some people (mentioning no names) didn’t even managed to make it down for breakfast!

Talking of breakfast the fare at the Hyatt Regency was a decent spread and didn’t taste too much like it had been standing for hours.  My experience of the waiting staff was that they were efficient and courteous, something you’d think would be a given but it never ceases to amaze me how hotels can charge such an extortionate amount for breakfast and then get it so very wrong.

In the Exhibition Hall more revellers surfaced and headed straight for the coffee in an attempt to freshen up somewhat before another full day of sessions. Anyway, less talk of breakfast and hangovers and more talk about the actual conference content…

Service Integration and Management (SIAM) – ITSM’s New Discipline by Kevin Holland, IT Service Management Consultant Specialist 

My first session of the day was Kevin Holland’s Practical Tips for Effective Service Integration.

After threatening all the hungover attendees to stay awake or he’d do another Harmonica solo Kevin warned that System Integration is not Service Integration and that there is no need for an expensive supplier…you can do it yourself!

10 Steps to Problem Management – A Real Life Journey by Amanda Kirby, Virgin Media

It took me a little while to concentrate on Amanda’s session as I was mesmerized by her fantastic shiny red shoes! Getting Problem Management right is one of those elusive things that is so important and yet difficult to put into practice so I was interested to see Virgin’s experiences.

Amanda ran a visual exercise to show how difficult it can be keeping all the balls in the air…literally!

She also shared Virgins mantra “Screw it…let’s do it!” which appealed to the part of me that gets frustrated with the bureaucratic nonsense we’ve all experienced.

Amanda’s bubbly enthusiasm was totally infectious and by the end of it I was ready to go back and tackle implementing Problem Management…you know… if we needed such a thing at The ITSM Review.

Impromptu SM Congress Talk – Patrick Bolger, Barclay Rae, Paul Wilkinson and Mark Smalley

Over the course of the conference I had heard a few people commenting on how there wasn’t a lot of mention of SM Congress and so I was pleased to find that an impromptu talk by a few of the members who attended the original sessions at Fusion were going to answer some of the questions that had been raised since.

The session was particularly useful to those who were hesitant about SM Congress, as it helped clear the air and display the facts about the initiative.

For those of you that have been on the moon for the last couple of weeks and missed all the SM Congress talk you can find out more about it here.  I also recommend taking a look at #SMCongress on Twitter for general discussions about the initiative.  If you have great ideas to help shape the IT community and the future of ITSM then please consider getting involved.

DevOps – Shattering the Barriers by Kaimar Karu, itSMF Estonia

My final session of the day was a relatively new subject for me.  Kaimar explained the methodology and benefits of DevOps and why Beer is such an important part of forging relationships, although judging by what I saw over the course of the conference any old alcohol will do!

In summary

At the end of day two I was thoroughly shattered but hugely buzzed by everything I’d learnt, and I had list as long as my arm of further reading and cool stuff to investigate.

Despite some of the comments that there was a smaller attendance than in previous years, all of the sessions that I went to were very well attended and all of the staff at ICC I encountered were welcoming and helpful.

Some of the vendors I spoke to were concerned that due to the layout there was less opportunity for delegates to pass through the exhibition area on their way from one session to the next.  However vendors such as Gaming Works that invested significantly in self promotion via social media and other avenues leading up to the conference hardly saw time where their stand wasn’t attended.

We managed to sneak a few photos with some of the exhibitors:

Wherever there is an ITSM event there is Barclay Rae and his ITSM Goodness
Wherever there is an ITSM event there is Barclay Rae and his ITSM Goodness
APMG International exhibited to help raise awareness of their exams
APMG International exhibited to help raise awareness of their exams
Cherwell Software said that it's pivitol for them to exhibiti at the conference because itSMF UK is such a core foundation of the ITSM industry
Cherwell Software said that it’s pivitol for them to exhibit at the conference because itSMF UK is such a core foundation of the ITSM industry
Hornbill Systems attend the event because it gives them great insight into what is really happening within the ITSM industry
Hornbill Systems attend the event because it gives them great insight into what is really happening within the ITSM industry
Focus Group Europe were attending to promote ServiceNow and get updates on the ITSM market
Focus Group Europe were attending to promote ServiceNow and get updates on the ITSM market
3Gamma
3Gamma enjoying the event
Bomgar said that brand recognition at events like itSMF UK is important and is also good for lead generation
Bomgar said that brand recognition at events like itSMF UK is important and is also good for lead generation
HP wanted to reconnect with customers, showcase products and see what their customers are doing in ITSM
HP wanted to reconnect with customers, showcase products and see what their customers are doing in ITSM
Nexthink enjoying the event
Nexthink attended to showcase their unique solution giving Service Desk and Help Desk teams a real-time view of the end-user experiences across the complete enterprise
OpenText attended to increase its visibility and awareness of its acquisition of ICCM
OpenText attended to increase its visibility and awareness of its acquisition of ICCM
TopDesk regards itSMF UK as a high profile event
TopDesk regards itSMF UK as a high profile event
AlfaPeople attended itSMF UK conference to increase brand awareness and showcase Microsoft solutions as 'no one does what we do'.
AlfaPeople attended itSMF UK conference to increase brand awareness and showcase Microsoft solutions as ‘no one does what we do’.

All in all an enormously enjoyable event that I will not hesitate to revisit.

In closing we would just like to take the opportunity to wish Ben Clacy all the very best in his future endeavours.  Thank you Ben for everything you have done for ITSM.

Day 1 Review: itSMF UK Conference

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The ITSM Team pre-dinner awards

This was my very first visit to the itSMF UK conference. I arrived Sunday afternoon and got straight into the networking. Whenever I’ve been to an event before I have always attended with someone else and felt comfortable just meeting the occasional person.

It can be very intimidating attending conferences when you’re new to it as everyone seems to already know everyone else. I could have just relied upon my new colleagues to introduce me but I was determined to get out of my comfort zone and do it for myself.

Enter Twitter!

I sent a quick Tweet to say I had arrived and to query whether anyone else was around and within 5 minutes I had organised a meet up with Daniel Breston of Qriosity (someone I had never met before) in the bar.

That one connection led to meeting Stephen Griffiths of priSM and Brenda Peery of Tactare who in turn introduced me to countless others at the drinks reception. My advice to anyone attending an event for the first time is to be brave and get out there and meet people as soon as you can. You know you have at least one thing in common as you’re all at the conference. Mingle…it knocks an already rewarding experience right over the edge when you leave having made new friends and contacts.

The Conference

The Conference kicked off on Monday with Colin Rudd – itSMF UK Chairman, elucidating on why ITSM models of the future will change from Customer, Service Provider, Supplier to Service Broker, Service Integrator and that although the emphasis on service managers will change it will still be as important as ever.

Outgoing Chief Executive Ben Clacy introduced itSMF UK’s exciting new online Self Assessment and Benchmarking tool, MONITOR ITSM and the new Elite Volunteer Card which rewards itSMF UK volunteers with discounts and extra benefits.

The opening keynote speaker, Britain’s first female fast jet pilot – Jo Salter gave a very entertaining talk on the challenges she has met, how she has succeeded in the face of adversity and how peeing on demand is harder than it sounds. Everyone I’m sure will have taken away something from Jo’s insights and experiences but I feel it was especially beneficial for the female contingent in the room to see it recognised that not all inspirational people are men!

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend every session on the agenda for Day 1 (I’m only human), but below is an overview of the sessions that I did attend.

Suck It and See: Ingredients for Great Supplier Relationships – Cath Bartlett, Dyson

This session was full of real world learning and experience of maximising relationships with suppliers. Advice ranged from trying the ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ routine to ensuring you’re measuring the right things as you want to ensure that your green KPI’s match with the customers experiences of your service.

Quote from Cath Bartlett: ‘What gets measured gets managed’

How Assessment and Benchmarking Techniques were used to Drive CSI and how this was Applied to Capacity Management at the Co-operative Group – Ian MacDonald

Submission of the Year and Service Management Project of the Year 2012 winners, Co-operative Group can probably add longest session title to their list of accolades.

Ian gave an interesting case study on how Co-operative changed their approach to Capacity Management using a the SatNav approach: Where are you going? Where are you starting from? When do you need to be there by?

His secret to success…’Be Ronseal – Do what you say on the tin’

Interactive Plenary

After lunch on day one it was time for the Interactive Plenary with panel members Claire Agutter, Barclay Rae, Peter Hubbard, Robert Stroud and John Windebank as Chair.

The Big 4 agenda was discussed with questions thrown to the panel with a state-of-the-art system of red card/green card voting taking place. Technologically advanced, no…but perfectly adequate for the requirements.

Project of the Year 2013 Finalist Showcase – EE, Land and Property Services and QBE

Chris Williams of EE (where was Kevin Bacon?), Ignatious O’Doherty of Land and Property Services and Jacqueline Simmons and Amanda Rutledge of QBE all gave overviews of their submissions for the Project of the Year award. Each showed the trials and tribulations encountered with some very honest accounts of issues encountered.

It’s a Journey, the Future of Supplier Management..?’ Service Integration at Jaguar Land RoverMark Hipwell, JLR and Martin Goble, Tata Consultancy Services

Mark and Martin walked us through the difficulties of building a single IT function when faced with a complex legacy IT environment with no capacity for innovation, and how they overcame these to create the dynamic service now in place.

Day 1 Closing Keynote – A Forward Thinking Name for a Forward-Thinking Company – Axelos

Peter Hepworth and Frances Scarff of Axelos talked through their plans for the coming year referencing the Axelos ‘Onion’, encouraging everyone to come and visit their stand.

Awards Dinner – Hosted by Edwina Currie

stuartI admit to being surprised that I actually quite liked Edwina’s hosting. I do tend to think of politicians as rather bland individuals with no sense of humour, so I was pleased that she managed to make it both enjoyable and amusing.

The highlight of the evening was when Stuart Rance won the Paul Rappaport Award for Outstanding Contribution to IT Service Management, which was very much deserved and to further his achievements he managed to get Edwina Currie to hold Pengi – The ITSM Penguin for the award picture for which I believe we owe him a prize!

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.

The evening continued with a casino and disco which were enjoyed immensely by all, but the main attraction was the photo booth where you could look even sillier than normal by donning wigs, hats and glasses like the weird bunch in the picture>>>!

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Later we were scuppered by the hotel in our attempts to have a piano sing-a-long with Barclay Rae, but we were treated instead to a harmonica solo by Kevin Holland.

The talk of the evening centered around Mr Rance’s fantastic achievement, explaining to our very own Glenn Thompson that Swindon is not in the Midlands, and various conspiracy theories on why Patrick Bolger was still sober.  General consensus was that aliens had abducted him and left a decoy…they’re not fooling anyone!

In Summary

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day. It was nice to see the presentations grouped into specific themes (e.g. Real world learning: Stories from Members on their ITSM experiences) so that if you were attending the conference for a particular reason you could easily identify the sessions that you wanted attend. However, if there was one thing I found a struggle it was getting from one session to the next on time if I needed a loo break in between! The venue was rather large.

Feedback on Day 1 of the event from Twitter was also positive:

Now where is Jo Salter and her adult nappy contraption?

Patrick Bolger talks "why we have to do Agile NOW"

Patrick Bolger, Chief Evangelist at Hornbill Service Management, provides a summary of his presentation for the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition entitled “The Good, the Bad, and the Agile”. Patrick discusses the need for Agile, it’s benefits, and why it’s not just for software development.

He also looks at how the IT landscape has changed in the past decade – it was once highly unlikely to see a company going from an idea to market captialization of $100bn in the space of ten years. This is now possible, we’ve seen it with the likes of Facebook, and Patrick talks about how companies need to keep up to stay in the game.

As well, Patrick discusses why Hornbill Service Management works with itSMF UK and the benefits the annual conference brings to his company.

Learn more about Agile at Patrick’s session at the itSMF conference in November:

itSMF UK BIG4 Twitter Chat

twitteritSMF UK’s new initiative for 2014, ‘The Big 4 Agenda’ kicked off last week with the first of the five scheduled Twitter Chats taking place. The chat featured Big4 Agenda Speaker and itSMF UK Vice-Chair John Windebank and was moderated by Kathryn Howard the pioneer of the #leadit Twitter Chats for itSMF Australia.

The Twitter Chat Model

The Twitter Chat model shows that itSMF UK are taking strides to be more current (using social media to engage with the community) and give new and exciting ways for people to get involved. One of my uber pet hates is that Service Desk staff have limited ways to involve themselves in the industry, being able in most cases to only attend one event per year if they’re lucky and in some cases never being unchained from their desk.

The direction itSMF UK is heading seems to be more inclusive and for that I am delighted. Now, if only we could get them to do something about their website!

The point of the Twitter Chats, in itSMF UK’s own words is ‘…firstly to identify the top four issues that you are facing in IT and then to provide discussion/help/expert opinion on each of these topics.’

People from all over joined in the chat, not just from the UK, suggesting that ITSM issues are the same regardless of where you connect to your WIFI.

The Twitter Chat itself

It started off with a few technical hitches and a lot of forgetting to add the hashtag #itSMBIG4, but once all were settled in comments started to flow, albeit with the slightly disjointed manner typical of many people discussing several things at the same time. The hour passed surprisingly fast and below is an overview of what I picked up as the main topics of the event:

Tweets from several contributors show that Problem Management is still a big issue in the industry with it being perceived as the Invisible Man to the Service Desks Superman…

And a general agreement that collectively we’re totally crap at defining the value that ITSM gives to the business

Then there was that ITIL discussion that never ends. Time to face it people, at the end of the world there will be cockroaches, Cher & ITIL.

Overall

I really like the way that itSMF UK are looking at new ways to engage and what’s more, not just with their members but with everyone in the industry and I hope that this will continue and at the next Twitter Chat and that more people will get involved.

Unfortunately a lot of the points raised were, as Claire Agutter said, just the same old issues that have been floating around for years.

Having said that I’m very interested to see the results of the Big 4 Survey (voting now closed) and hope that it’s given some new and exciting insights into the current and future struggles of ITSM.

The comments from the Twitter Chat together with the results of the Big 4 Survey will confirm the 6 key topics that itSMF UK will take to the itSMF UK conference and Exhibition (4-5 November, Birmingham). These 6 topics are due to be announced this week. Then at the event a series of roundtable discussions will take place to narrow down those 6 topics to the top 4 – i.e. the Big 4 that itSMF UK will concentrate on in 2014.

Once announced a Twitter Chat for each of the individual topics will be held as follows:

  • November 13 – Big4 Topic 1
  • December 11 – Big4 Topic 2
  • January 15 – Big4 Topic 3
  • February 12 – Big4 Topic 4

I hope to see you either at the conference, or involved in the Twitter Chats, preferably both!

Image Credit

Announcing the winner of our itSMF UK Conference competition…

ICC
The entrance to the International Conference Centre

We recently gave all you lovely people the opportunity to win a FREE ticket to the upcoming itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition (4-5 November at the ICC in Birmingham), and now it’s time to announce the winner.

The instructions were simple: Tell us why you deserve a free ticket in less than 200 words.

And the winner is…

Gregory Baylis-Hall, IT Service Management Analyst at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP!

Greg’s entry was chosen because we felt, based on his submission, that not only would he benefit from attending the event, but that other attendees would benefit from him being there too.

Greg’s attitude of learning, sharing, and helping is exactly what the ITSM community needs, and something that we at ITSM Review strongly believe in.

The Submission

I’ve been a member of the itSMF UK for over two years and every year it’s held I always feel I’m missing out on something big. I’m refurbishing my house which has meant I can’t pay for the event myself.  Interacting on the twitter streams is the nearest I get to actually being there. To remedy this, some years ago I got involved and joined the committee for the BCS SMSG. This includes voluntary work organising and promoting events. Producing an audio cast of the sessions and sharing it amongst the ITSM community. Being an active member is rewarding and glues my professional and personal life together.

I’m reviewing our ITSM tool – and doing more for less all-round is a familiar trend  “keeping the lights on” isn’t good enough for me personally or the place I work! As a practitioner I need to grow and develop. Learning how others in the industry are innovating so I can aspire to be like them is fundamental for my attending the conference.  ITSM13 is a mini ITSM universe.  Everything and everyone connected to ITSM will be there and I’d like to get involved, share my experiences and be a small part of it.

We look forward to catching up with Greg at the event, and hope that he doesn’t mind being photographed / videoed / generally harrassed by us throughout the conference as we broadcast to the universe (ok to the ITSM community) how wonderful we are for giving him a free ticket how he is finding the event etc.

With a bit of luck *hint hint nudge nudge* Greg may even write a post-event review from a Practioner’s viewpoint for us to publish here at ITSM Review.

And to all the others…

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone else who submitted an entry.  We hope to be able to run similar competitions for other exciting ITSM events in 2014.

Oh and a special mention…

To Daniel Billing, Senior Solution Architect at Symfoni for his entry, which almost deserved to win simply for giving all of us here at ITSM Review a good giggle:

Unicorns, Jesus and silverbullets are things people are constantly searching for, but I will make sure that this event will at least get the chance to experience and say “now that’s a nice beaver”. Beavers have poor sight but a strong sense of smell and good hearing, which makes them great at digging the dirt at the event. This beaver also knows how to write and would publish the highlight and lowlights.  Between one animal and another – I simply want to go there to hangout with ITSM Pengi.

And finally…

Whilst there are no further free tickets available, there is still plenty of time for you to book your place at the conference.  If you can’t make it, then keep on top of the event by following the Twitter hashtag #ITSM13.

We hope to see you there!

Image Credit

Kepner Tregoe: Working together on Problem Management

Steve White, Senior Consultant at Kepner Tregoe discusses his interactive session at the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition entitled “Igniting Problem Management with Pre-emptive Successes”.

In this video Steve invites people to come along to his session to share both their Problem Management successes and current issues. With powerpoint banned, Steve’s session aims to facilitate conversations on the topic of Problem Management and help practioners do Problem Management more effectively.

He also discusses his role in the itSMF UK Problem Management Special Interest Group, explaining how his role is to actively drive discussion and engagement, ensuring that people get the most they possibly can out of the group.

Catch Steve at the itSMF conference in November:

itSMF UK: The Big 4 Agenda

itSMF UK recently announced it’s new initiative for 2014 entitled “The Big 4 Agenda”, and in this video Ben Clacy, CEO of itSMF UK provides an overview of what this new intiative is and how you can get involved.

Ben also explains the role that the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition has to play in helping determine the four key topics that will drive itSMF UK’s agenda in 2014.

Everyone is invited to get involved (regardless of whether or not you are an itSMF UK member), and you can do so by completing the Big 4 survey and/or joining in with Twitterchats on this topic.

If you have any questions about the Big 4 Agenda, how to participate, it’s aims, or other then please leave your enquiries in the comments section of this article. Keep on top of the Big 4 Agenda by following the #itsmbig4 hashtag on Twitter.