The "Fantasy" ITSM team

Who would be in your fantasy ITSM implementation team?

After years of experience deploying ITSM solutions in a variety of customers,  and in the midst of a major soccer tournament here in Europe which brings out the managerial expert in football-watching folk, I found myself musing on what would be my “Fantasy” ITSM team.

What is that seemingly mythical combination of team members that brings about either an aura of calm  or a maelstrom of chaos.

The ITSM Solution Architect

Quite often with fingers in various pies – a little project management here, a touch of subject-matter-expert (SME) there and a healthy dose of OCD in terms of getting Visio lines to snap to geometry.

You will typically work directly with customers, to understand what magic is required to get this Service Management tool malarkey to work.

And then – you find yourself stuck in the middle of a team trying to get processes and tools to live in harmony, so maybe add the role “politican” to your skill-set.

Size does NOT matter

No really – believe me, it does not where ITSM projects are concerned.

My most recent deployments have been as part of outsourcing projects – and even within those beasts of burden, the projects have ranged from the Service Management work-stream being a small part of a large outsourcing project, or a small group running as jacks-of-all-trades.

But there is one common denominator in all this – the need to dovetail the team’s efforts into reworking of the process with the development/customisation of the tool.

Potential Pitfalls

1) Don’t Make Me a Liar…

Process Implementation and Solution rests in two camps.  If you are lucky, the project will have a work-stream specifically for Service Management and the two areas can advance in lock step with each other.
And they NEED to.

The Process team has to know what the capabilities, and at times limitations, of the tool as they are redefining processes.

The worst case scenario here is that the earth is promised, yet for whatever reason the tool simply cannot deliver, leaving everyone looking a little foolish.

2) You can Have it all…

Of course the flip side of the coin is that you twist the tool to do anything you want, and add anything to the process.

That tends not to help much either, (see above re: foolish)

3) So Happy Together…

There are several ways, in my opinion, to bring the Process and Tool together, without uber-educating one individual to be a complete Service Manager, Process Implementation Manager, and Tool Subject Matter Expert!

(Mind you, just think what you could ask as a daily rate!)

  • A single work-stream which brings together the Service Management Processes and the tool implementation team together.
  • It requires a strong, knowledgeable Project Manager who can understand the technical, and process elements, but steps back and manages the project using those resources.
  • Collaboration between the members of the team – there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little skills cross-pollination.
  • It doesn’t hurt to herd Process folk towards the tool – yes I know, it’s horrible and it involves clicking and things, but it does bring to life those lovely diagrams you make!
  • Actually – it also doesn’t hurt for Solution Architects to perhaps get up closer and personal with some of the administration of a system so that they can combine brain-power with the Subject Matter Experts/developers from time to time

Is it ever possible to do things “turnkey”?

Now that IS a good question.

“Turnkey” is a phrase I heard all the live-long day on one project, where it was assumed that customers would just sign on the dotted line, leaving us to go and pretty much do what we wanted.

Once upon a time, maybe that could have been true, but not in the 20 odd years I have worked in the industry!

1) Requirements Gathering

No two customers ever have exactly the same business requirements.  But most companies will have developed decent sets of templates to drive out specific requirements – standardised questions and a repeatable approach helps here.

2) ITSM Solution

Ah, we architects LOVE our solution templates – plug in requirements and it might be useful to work out what belongs to Process, what are Organisational and whatever left is Tool.

THEN figure out what the tool does easily, what the contract says, and work out where your implementation headaches will b

3) Process

Here’s where we start to overlap.  Whether your tool solutions are high or detailed level, it is likely to start to cross some boundaries especially if the definitions for elements like Impact and Urgency need to be configured in the tool.

The solution needs to reflect the way the process has been written and the process needs to be implementable.

This cannot be done in isolation and also is likely to involve SMEs or developers for more fine tuning of the tool – do not leave them out of the equation.

4) Tool Implementation

The magic area where it all miraculously comes together!

Priorities, urgency, impact, fields, workflows, data loading… need I go on?

People wonder why Service Management deployments take a while!

Some things, of course, can be standardised,  for example supplying standard data loading templates, but sources of information will differ, and it is worth remembering that often the project will have to interact with groups who are maybe not directly involved with the ITSM project.

A fool with a tool… how to avoid that scenario!

There can never be a single person who possesses all the tools to make a Service Management Deployment a success – it has to be a team effort.

The best project managers have a degree of technical skill in Service Management, but can remove themselves from interfering in the technical detail.

The best process managers are actively involved with working alongside the implementation team and perhaps involved in developing testing material to aid that familiarisation.

The best teams have engaged service managers who have a vested interest in what is coming their way – all too often they are either the last people to be informed, or worse they feel they are too busy to give it the time – a recipe for disaster, every time.

The best architects understand at the very least the ITIL basics to hold their own in process/solution design discussions, and it is better still if they can hold their own in the more heated debates of “the book says” vs. “the tool does, in alignment with ITIL Best Practice

The best implementation teams have a good bond between architect and SME; often two heads can be better than one in getting darned pesky tickets to go where you want them to.

The nature of the deployment beast is that you may have some, but probably not all of your perfect team attributes but if enough of balance can be struck between the vital roles Process Implementation and Tool Implementation play during a deployment – then I think you are half way there.

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Back to Basics: Why DO the ITIL Foundation Certification?

I was actually asked this question recently by a former colleague working in the IT Asset Management arena, in the context of whether the certification would help them in terms of IT contracting.

I had to think long and hard about my answer, and having learned the hard way in previously trying to get contract work, it does tend to be something that recruiters expect contractors to have, particularly in the ITSM arena.

What’s the real value of ITIL Foundation Certification

I decided to track down the trainer who got me through my Foundation to get his views.

Neil Wilson is an ITIL expert and accredited trainer.  He says:

“The harsh reality is that organisations want it [ITIL], want to start practicing it, but don’t necessarily want to pay for it.

“They can choose who they want.

“It’s a foot in the door, and it gets you on the shortlist.”

He went on to give examples of recent class attendees who have spent many years in the IT industry, but who have never formalised their experience, and have found themselves having to face the prospect of studying.

“Whether we agree with the game, we have to have bits of paper and qualifications.”

I’m too old for this learning lark

This was the crux of my discussion with my colleague – and I am not going to lie, to cram all that stuff in for the Multiple-choice test on top of life, and in my advancing years was not a pleasant prospect.

But in my class, there were several people like me who had faced the spectre of redundancy and saw this as something necessary to help at least get your CV through the first set of scans.

Neil Wilson explains the basics.

“My advice for people who are worried about it – there is no short cut around it.

“You just have to get your head around it, whether that be classroom based or via self-study.”

It culminates in a one hour exam, 40 multiple choice questions, with 26 or more to pass.

“There is an argument for having this format as an appropriate way of testing people’s knowledge and understanding.

“The qualification gets this broad perspective of what the issues are – how do you test that?  With an exam.”

Yoda: "You must unlearn what you have learned"

Unlearn what you have learned

While it sounds a little Yoda™ -like in utterance, it is a valid piece of advice.

Most professionals working in or on the periphery of ITSM/ITAM will have an understanding of the basics in terms of terminology and basic process flow.

And so they should – remember we are talking best practice, here – not quantum physics.

BUT – to get through the exam you perhaps need to put aside what you know of real world situations and just learn what you need to PASS the exam.

Look at it like re-taking your driving test once you have established all those bad habits after you initially passed (we ALL have them!)

Isn’t that a bit defeatist?

Well not really – the Foundation Certificate is just that.  It gives the candidate a good grounding in the terminology and the concepts of ITIL, and at all times it constantly emphasises the fact that you go on a journey, and the need to adapt what you are learning to your own environment.

Is there anything I need to do beforehand?

There are some decent materials out there that can at least give you a ready reference for terminology – which in most cases is half the battle for the exam.

One of the things I found was at The ITIL Training Zone – where they offer ITIL Mind Maps and, more recently, ITIL on a Page.

I was able to catch up with their Head of Online Education, Claire Agutter at the Service Desk and IT Support Show 2012 to learn more.

She explained:

 “The mind maps were something that I found useful and we made freely available, as an effort to build up a trusted training brand.”

“People tell us they take these with them on courses!”

So is it worth it?

There are a couple of ways to look at this:

  • ITSM Credibility

For anyone working in the ITSM arena, there is little doubt in my mind that having a good understanding of the ITIL basics is going to help the team as a whole.

There are alternatives for companies who might balk at putting teams through the certification process.

Remember to balance the theory with common sense and practice.

  • Marketability

At the risk of sounding mercenary – anything, these days, that edges you closer to the start line in the race for jobs/better positions is a good thing.

Let’s be realistic – we work to make money to live.  If having at least the certification means you might be able to negotiate a better starting rate on contracts, or puts you in the frame to move up through the ITSM job structure in your organisation, then it is no bad thing.

  • Choose what works for you.  Classroom learning is an expense and takes up time, but it puts you in an environment where you have no choice but to soak it all in.  Self-study will give you a little more flexibility to study in your own time, but can be equally stressful when it comes to putting the time aside to focus on it.  If you have no self-discipline to do that, then be honest with yourself from the start!

Has it helped me?

For me, gaining my ITIL certification meant I could approach a change in role in terms of process consultancy with a little more comfort.

In my previous roles I could get by with my versions of the books and some background knowledge, happy in the knowledge we had Process Implementation Managers who handled all that other stuff.  I just needed to argue my case for the tool vs process.

But for my next role it was roles reversed – the focus was on process consultancy, with my technical expertise then helping us to develop the tool accordingly – the deeper dive into the basic foundation of ITIL gave me that balance.

I personally think it is worth the 3 days and a couple of nights of pain (if you do a typical course) to have the certification under your belt.

What you do with it afterwards, or more importantly what it can do for you…?  Well that’s another story.

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Assessment Criteria for Request Fulfilment

We will soon begin our review of Request Fulfilment offerings in the ITSM market place. Our goal is to highlight the key strengths, competitive differentiators and innovation in the industry.

In my previous article I looked at what ITIL 2011 had added to the process, and some of the pitfalls we may have seen in trying to implement Request Fulfilment in the past.

I would now like to take a look at what this means, in practical terms, when approaching Request Fulfilment – what should we be looking for?

At the recent UK itSMF ITSM Software Tools Forum event in Manchester, vendors spoke to the audience at length about transitioning from IT focussed decisions, to business outcomes, and this is an area where Request Fulfilment could come into its own, especially in the sphere of interaction by non-IT users.

But a transition is a gradual thing, and the importance of the concept of conformance should not be forgotten. I think it remains an important element for any vendor’s toolset to be comparable to identified, accepted benchmarks, as well as unpicking the practicalities of deployment a solution.

Principles vs. Process

What is more important at this stage, is the ease of which a tool’s capability can be displayed.

Demos at shows are slick and well prepared and I dare say a lot of us have had to go through the rigours of setting up demos and knowing what to click, how and where.

What we are looking for vendors to do is demonstrate to us how easy is it to start from scratch, ideally with meaningful options for an end user to start with.

Suggested Criteria


It is probably too much of an extreme to launch from recognisable standards and certification/verification platforms, to merely focussing on the look and feel of menus and options for end users in one fell swoop.

So for that reason, I am including a need to understand how vendors align to accepted best practice standards.

Overall Alignment

  • Have our target vendors aligned to ITIL and if so, to which version?
  • How do the set up roles and users to perform functions?
  • What demo capabilities can they offer potential customers?

 Request Models

  • What request workflows are available out-of-the-box
  • How easy is it to develop more specific workflows?
  • What additional administration is required for deeper customisation? At what cost?

Menu Selection

  • How is your self-help portal set up?
  • How do you incorporate new service descriptions for your users?
  • How much administration is needed to do the more bespoke work?

Request Status Tracking

  • Show us how any request is tracked throughout its lifecycle?
  • Who can see it, and when, and which teams can change it/move it on its way?

Prioritising & Escalating Requests

  • Show us how your tool prioritises requests and how they can be escalated?
  • What kind of other factors can affect a ticket (for example breaching SLAs and the escalation from that point)?
  • If a request becomes something more complex, how does your tool allow the alteration of the request (for example, a Change)

Financial & Other Approvals

  • Demonstrate a request model that includes alternative approvals (other than immediate manager)

End-to-End Co-ordination to Closure

  • We don’t expect tools to prescribe exactly how organisations manage their Request Fulfilment processes, just as we don’t follow ITIL blindly BUT during the course of the review, we want to understand how  a request can move through its lifecycle, end-to-end.
  • We want to understand the simple (out of the box), the medium and the complex (and the related additional costs that might be involved to get an organisation there).

I think it is rare that anything is utilised completely “out-of-the-box” these days, and that organisations will always have a requirement for some level of customisation. Request Fulfilment is certainly a process that could lend itself to quite intricate customisation, to the point of over-complication.


What is your view? What have we missed?

Please leave a comment below or contact us. Similarly if you are a vendor and would like to be included in our review please contact us. Thanks, Ros.

Request Fulfilment in ITIL 2011

"ITIL 2011 sees a hefty revision for the Request Fulfilment process."

What is it?

The ITIL® Request Fulfilment process exists to fulfil Service Requests – for the most part minor changes or requests for information.

Request Fulfilment landed on us in ITIL v3 when there was now a clear distinction between service interruptions (Incidents) and requests from users (Service Requests for example password resets)

And what does ITIL 2011 give us?

ITIL 2011 sees a hefty revision for the Request Fulfilment process.  There are more detailed sub-processes involved with steps broken down logically.

Now, I like me a good diagram and finally Request Fulfilment gets a decent flow and most importantly the linkages to other interfaces to the other lifecycle stages are included in a lot more detail.

Perhaps the most impressive thing is far more detail in the section about the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that have been included.  Having experienced the hilarity of definitions of over-complex metrics – this is a good starter for 10, straight off the bat and of course can be added to suit an organisation’s needs.

But what does all this REALLY mean?

It means nothing if the best practices cannot be applied and adapted into real life.

  • Now we all know that at the back of a Service Request is a process that will step through authorisation, any interfaces to other processes etc., but the business value is to provide a quick and easy way for end users to get new services.
  • A mechanism to reduce costs through centralising functions.
  • Understand what other stages of the lifecycles are needed alongside Request Fulfilment – this does not happen in glorious isolation.

Is there such a magic bullet?

The simple answer?  NO!

But there are a few things that should be taken into consideration when looking at implementing Request Fulfilment (often as part of an integrated solution).

Let’s look at the easy stuff first:

  • Look at starting nice and easily with simple Request Models that will happen often, and can be met with a consistently repeatable solution.
  • Look at what kind of options you are going to put in front of the user.  Most people are now familiar with the type of shopping basket type approach through the internet so offer them a familiar interface, with as many options that can be pre-defined
  • Make sure that the different stages of the request can be tracked – the purpose is two-fold:
    • End users don’t get (as) ratty
    • Reporting and routing can be made simpler and more accurate with meaningful status definitions

Getting the hang of this…

  • Give some thought to how you want to prioritise and escalate requests depending on their complexity to fulfil, and again pre-define where possible.

Let’s do the whole shebang…

  • Eventually there will be a need to include financial approval(s) which in turn means sticky things like deputies and budget limits
  • There may also be external interactions with fulfilment groups dealing with procurement

Back up a second – who now?

  • Give some thought to which groups are going to be involved.  In my experience it is sometimes easier to work backwards, from the outcome to the selection and fill out all the bits you need in between.
  • Easy stuff is most likely taken care of by a single, often centralised group – typically the Service Desk, or in some cases specific co-ordinators who work at that Level One tier.
  • Decide if your existing resolver groups are appropriate for some fulfilment tasks or where you need specialised groups and build your workflows to suit.  Typically the first-line support group handling the request always has the ability to track the progress of the request, and is the point of contact for the end users.

Is that it?

  • Whether your request is a simple How Do I to a Hand craft me a personally engraved and gift wrapped iPad the request needs a defined closure procedure.  There has to be a mechanism to validate that the request has been fulfilled satisfactorily before it is closed.

How do we go about deciding what works and what doesn’t?

There is something I will state, use and promote constantly, and that is the use of scenarios.  These are invaluable whether you are testing a deployment, performing user-acceptance testing with a client, or whether you are just evaluating products.

  • Decide on what criteria you need to establish your end goal
  • Break them down to manageable steps, and here the ITIL 2011 activities and points are very nicely presented to give a starter for ten
  • For a product review, for example, look at how easy it is to configure – can I do this myself using demos on the web, or do I need a proper demo on site/webinar with a tool administrator
  • As an aside, what kind of administrative skill is required for your tool of choice?

This is a doddle, no?

A number of things can kill an otherwise promising and/or straightforward deployment:

  • Poorly defined scope – People wanting the process to do too much or not really grasping the idea that Service Request models should be pre-definable, and consistently repeatable.
  • Poorly Designed User Interfaces – The best back end workflows in the world will not help you if the user interface makes no sense to an end user.  Too often I have banged my head against a desk with developers who love how THEY understand what is being asked, so who cares if some desk jockey can’t – they can ring the help desk, right?  WRONG!  Missing the entire point of the business benefits for removing the need to drive everything through 1-2-1 service desk interaction.
  • What is worse than a front end you need a degree in programming to work through?  Haphazard back end workflow that twists and turns like a snake with a stomach upset.  Just keep it simple.  Once it starts to get super-complex, then really ask yourself is this a minor request or something that requires specific change planning.
  • Make sure your tool of choice is capable of measuring meaningful metrics.  Remember, there are lies, damned lies and statistics.  What are you looking to improve, why, what is the benefit, and what can it lead to in terms of Continual Service Improvement

There are, of course, interactions that I haven’t gone into any great level of detail in this article; but do look at one of our latest articles by  Rob England has already touched on this in: What is a Service Catalogue? here on The ITSM Review.

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SDITS12 Session: "ITIL 2011: Any the wiser?"

2011 - Does anyone care?

Having gained my ITIL® V3 Foundation Certification before the new ITIL 2011 updates, I was really keen to hear this key-note seminar, at the recent Service Desk & IT Support Show 2012.

There was small gathering for the post-lunch session, and the assembled panel certainly did not lack experience.

Roy Illsley, Ovum, led the panel discussions, and was joined on stage by Ben Clacy, Chief Executive of itSMF UK, Don Page, CEO of the Marval Group, and Sven Strassburg, IBM.

Most people in the room seemed to be using at least some level of ITIL in their organisation, but as to the specific nuances between ITIL V3 and 2011, well that was anyone’s guess.

Something that I had not been aware of, raised by Don Page, was that the advent of ITIL 2011 was also supposed to bring a lot of complementary material, but none has materialised.

A quick check on the official site still has ITIL v3 complementary material, and indeed I managed to snaffle a selection of “Little ITIL” books that were being handed out free, because people are clearing stock for the new versions.

The view from itSMF was: “Just do the bits you want to.”

And there we started to diverge.

The Business Benefits

A question from the floor was around the thorny topic of how to sell the benefits of ITIL to the business.

It is a valid response to say that the business SHOULD be taking an interest on what it is paying out for.

But I am not entirely sure that answered the question, and the conversation then seemed to sit in the IT/Business separation arena.

OK – so we got the business bought in – does my new tool make me coffee?

 “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”

At this point I rather hoped we might start to venture into something I believe in quite strongly in that the ITSM processes in particular should always be the fuel that drives the Service Management tool engine.

But alas the topic stayed on fairly esoteric grounds.

A very valid point, again from Don Page, came in response to query about whether it was time “IT” was dropped from ITIL.

He believed, however, to do that would maybe dilute the content so much as to make it unworkable.

Sven Strassburg gave examples where ITIL was maybe being used to drive processes in nuclear power plants, or aircraft.

  • There was a quick wrap up where we just came back to the same points – adaptable to environments, check.
  • Something to help put structure around processes? Check.

So … what IS ITIL 2011?

It is apparently much improved, but I will make that investment in the books and will see for myself.

What I want to know more about, though, is exactly what complementary material should have materialised with the new version.

As part of my role at The ITSM Review, I want to run an article looking at what ITIL information is out there (and more importantly of actual use to people) ahead of doing courses/gaining certification.

What is it that we are missing?

Does anyone care?

The people currently on a whole heap of ITIL related groups on Linked In care a lot about this!

Which version do I need?

Can I get by with the old V3 for the new exams?

I think it is safe to say that for those taking the new exams, they will have to be at least aware of the differences with older versions that they may have access to, and newer material, for the sake of terminology in the exam.

Is there a quick way round this?

Not as far as I can see.

Start making friends with people who can help you plan for training

Look for helpful material out on the web specifically on ITIL 2011

Are you, Ros, any the wiser?

As an analyst, with experience mainly around the Service Lifecycle, I knew coming into the show that I would need to get up close and personal with ITIL 2011.

As someone with a solution architect background, I have seen projects flounder without due thought around how this is sold, but in my past life have been too low down the food chain to influence those kinds of discussions.

But at its very essence – ITIL is still an adoptable and adaptable set of guidelines.

My view, therefore, is as it was before.  Just needs an update!

For more information on the specific updates, please refer to ITIL Publication Updates

The Curious Technologist & The Case of the Analogies

Sometimes technicians, to paraphrase the character of Ian Malcolm, are: “… so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

As the new analyst for The ITSM Review, I was presented with the objectives and characteristics of the role – namely that of The Curious Technologist.

As I embark on this odyssey, I want these articles in particular to be a little more anecdotal in nature, as this subject can be as dry as toast (see what I did there?)

Incoming…

I landed in the world of ITIL back in 2005, when bids were looking for my organisation to demonstrate ITIL alignment and revolved around seemingly holy grail of Configuration Management

A simple gallop around potential contacts in the geographic regions, and within the various departments showed that everyone had their own ideas of what Configuration Management.

There was actual configuration setups of machines, to the rigidly adhered to ITIL descriptions in the book.

Welcome… to Jurassic Park!

Perhaps my favourite, certainly for Configuration Management was the ‘Jurassic Park’ principle.

Ask any technical group what their discovery tool does, and you will receive the most complex, macro-ridden spread-sheets with all manner of data widgets that can be scanned.

Trying to change the mind-set of technical folk to focus on configuration item data that is relevant is a challenge.

In the film, as the main protagonist, John Hammond, is smugly announcing his plans to literally unleash recreated dinosaurs on the unsuspecting tourist public, a mathematician specialising in chaos theory sets him straight.

Sparring from the start, the character of Ian Malcolm chides him for taking work that others have done, and just taking that extra (terrifying) step.

Sometimes technicians, to paraphrase the character of Ian Malcolm, are: “… so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Whilst maybe not as (fictionally) fatalistic, this is true when we looked at the depth of scan-able data versus what is actually required to make Configuration Management achievable.

The next logical step was to analyse the list of discovered widgets but to ask two key questions:

  1. How frequently is the data element scanned?
  2. How current is it kept and used as part of another process?

Not surprisingly, a lot of things are scanned once, and never once referred to again, or even updated again.

The linkage with Change Management in particular proved to give us the grounds to define the “highest” common denominator, which is the most typical configuration item to be affected in a change.

And therein lay the basis for our definitions (in this case) on standards.

 “Here in my car, I feel safest of all…”

Perhaps my most constant analogy of all was one that was taught to me as I was preparing for my first billable project.

In moving to a new role recently I was fortunate enough to be working on a different service desk tool, and indeed my late career was often spent moving clients from one tool to another.

There is no real difference in the raison d’être of a tool – it exists to take a ticket from the start of its life-cycle journey to another.

Processes are the fuel that will drive that engine – but essentially a ticket is opened, it is assigned, it is resolved or closed.

Not unlike a car.

I could give anyone of you the keys to my car and with a few moments of familiarisation someone could drive it away.

Simplistic analogy?  Yes.

But it is often a necessary first step in detaching recipients from their emotional attachment to whatever tool is being replaced.

Welcome to… The Curious Technologist…

A lot of these articles may well be anecdotal, but in my years of watching some of the best consultants at practice, the ability to boil down a complex requirement or approach sometimes requires a more simplistic touch.

After all, if the prospect of moving to a new set of tooling meets with barriers straight away, then how will the deployment ever move forward?

Sure, the use of film lines or pop culture may cause me more amusement than my audience, it does bring a mechanism to channel people’s thoughts along a different line, which is vital in the complex environment we often work in.

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Service Desk and IT Support Show 2012 – All in all a good two days.

Diversified Communications reported a 13% increase in attendance

Just before taking up my new role here as an Analyst for The ITSM Review, I was lucky enough to be given the chance to come to this show as preparation for the task ahead.

Certainly on the second day, in our London “drought”, the shelter from the torrential rain provided by exhibitors was interesting, perplexing, and at times irritating, thankfully not in equal measure.

 A Commercial Success

Diversified Business Communications UK reported an impressive 13% increase in visitors for the Service Desk & IT Support Show, held last month, heralding a success as its new owners.

The two-day show drew 4,495 ITSM and IT support professionals from thousands of leading UK and European business organisations, over 24 and 25 April 2012.

“The reaction to the show this year has been incredible,” said event manager Laura Venables.

From visitors to exhibitors, from sponsors to speakers, everybody gained real value from being involved and we’re delighted that it was a complete success.”

The Foot-soldier’s view

It was an interesting two days for me, leading into my new role as an Analyst for The ITSM review mainly because it has been a while since I have been to any technical conference shows like this.

Back in my early days we graduates would all gallop gleefully around the big exhibitions at the NEC, and we were allowed, as it gave us a good chance to learn those all important networking skills.

Also, we weren’t ‘useful’ yet; once you get established in client projects, these jaunts soon disappear from the diary.

It is not as easy as it looks to just launch into conversations with people, even if they ARE trying to sell you something.

For this role in particular, I have to strike a balance between getting information, and giving some kind of perception that they will get anything other than an independent review, should we ever choose to do one.

Of course, it has been amazing for putting faces to some of the great-and-the-good names of Linked In group leaders, providing me with hopefully some good material for my ITSM Review articles.

Review

It would be unfair to base my review on my tired legs, and worn out stand-staffers fed up of smiling, so it’s best to round up my experiences based on the second morning.

  • For the most part, exhibitors are keen to greet with the words “are you looking to invest in a new [insert offering here],” and some seem a little disappointed if they find out you are Press.
  • Others see it as an opportunity to find out if they can send you more stuff.

There have been a couple of disappointments though.

  • One vendor seemed uninterested to the point of: “here’s our literature, email if you have questions.”
  • One key ‘Best Practice’ organisation was not really capable of giving me their three minute elevator pitch and finally just resorted to suggesting I read their website, or maybe come to an event.
  • My pet peeve is where you are having a conversation with someone and suddenly they spy a more established customer and bellow across at them in the “old pals” style with delightful in-jokes and joshery – plain rude, in my opinion.

Conspicuous by their absence

Perhaps more confusingly, some of the biggest players in the ITSM field were not here.

IBM, for example, have a SaaS ready model for their IBM Tivoli Service Request Manager suite, yet they were at Infosec show next door, but not here, with a product that focuses on Service Desk, Incident, Problem and Change Management etc.

Meanwhile in one of the larger displays, BMC are proudly announcing to anyone and everyone about their ability to appeal to any size of market.

The giveaway chart

Now, young or old, a vital part of any conference is the amount of freebies you can get!

Herewith, my run down of what I got!

  • The boys from Service Now won my heart with coffee, jellybeans, a metal pen and an iPad stylus.
  • Followed by the ITIL Training Zone with a nifty plastic card holder (handy for hassled commuter travel cards especially!).
  • Pink Elephant were promoting their latest facilitation offering, looking at Attitude, Behaviour, Culture (ABC) and bravely gave away their ABC decks of cards.  I say bravely, because the cards on their own are amusing, but the value is the workshop that fits around it, and it’s a subject I intend to dig into for The ITSM Review.
  • BMC had a little plastic dancing/boxing man, which was cute but really served no purpose other than to set up to two of them and watch them fight to their plastic death.
  • Axios gave away the smelliest plastic bags but maybe I should thank them as it meant no-one was keen to stand too close in the rush hour tube journey.

Best Value Add

Some stands gave away content on USB memory sticks – especially vital if you want to demo ITSM up in the clouds.

Looking at these purely in the context of my new role, these were the best prizes of the lot.

Will I do this all again next year?

All in all, for me anyway, it was a good two days, and something I see myself doing more and more.

Having worked largely in the enterprise solution space, and rarely having implemented in small-scale projects, it was especially interesting to stop in on some of the less ostentatious stands.

I look forward to testing out a number of demos, getting started with a cycle of Operational Assessments and Product Reviews.

But right now, I would settle for a comfy pair of slippers to rest my tired feet.

MALC: Capstone? Or headstone for serial qualification hunters?

Capstone? Or headstone for serial qualification hunters?

Do the new higher level certifications announced recently represent a pinnacle of an ITSM professional’s achivements?

Update to ITIL® Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) and ITIL Master Qualifications

1st May 2012 saw the announcement that the top two tiers of the ITIL qualification pyramid are now updated to ITIL 2011 and live.

For most of us, the Foundation Certificate and the Intermediates are a realistic aim for a competent grounding in the theory of ITIL.

The exams take the form of multiple choice questions and scenario based questioning.

Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC)

  • MALC is the final module of the Intermediate Service Lifecycle and/or Capability modules that leads to the ITIL Expert certification.
  • The new qualification is aligned to the 2011 edition of ITIL and has increased in difficulty from the Intermediate Qualifications.
  • The exam paper is longer with more questions and more is based on case study.

Where the Intermediate qualifications look to provide either broad management/leadership focus or more detailed ITIL practice execution, MALC pitches itself at business, management and organisational leads.

Maggie Kneller, MALC project manager, said:

“The new MALC takes a managerial, strategic perspective of ITIL across the lifecycle.

“It has been our aim to produce a MALC syllabus and examination which is deserving of its position as the final ‘capstone’ leading to the prestigious ITIL Expert certification.”

ITIL Master

Hot on its heels was the announcement of the ITIL Master qualification going live.

  • This qualification differs from other core qualifications as the assessment method is through written submission and candidate interview.
  • Candidates have to explain how and why they have chosen to adopt, adapt and implement core ITIL concepts within the workplace, across the entire service lifecycle.
  • This can be based on projects conducted in the past (and maybe using earlier versions of ITIL guidance) or can be used to formulate and implement a future service improvement program.

Sharon Taylor, ITIL Chief Examiner said:

“I am very excited that the ITIL Master programme is now a reality for the many ITIL Experts who have been anxiously awaiting its launch.”

Richard Pharro, CEO of the APM Group said:

“The ITIL Master Qualification enables the most experienced IT service managers and practitioners in the industry to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and capability; defining how to approach real-world situations, apply appropriate ITIL concepts and create solutions which demonstrate continued effectiveness and benefits to the business.”

Rob England (aka ITskeptic) commented:

“The ITIL certification edifice grows higher and heaver.”

In his blog he queries who these qualifications are aimed at?

Capstone or Headstone?

We probably have all come across incredibly well qualified consultants who know ITIL better than it knows itself.

But as Rob points out in his blog, to even take the MALC qualification, you have to amass the requisite Intermediate points.

Alas for practitioners, there is no other way of attaining the ‘capstone’.

I am looking to work through the Intermediates as soon as it is financially viable, because it speaks to the experiences I have garnered at the coal face.

My comfort zone is the Service Lifecycle, but the options allow me to spread my wings and try the Service Capability modules for much more detailed process implementation knowledge.

Reading the account of someone who was on the pilot programme, it does present a challenge and focuses on aligning real experience to the complete lifecycle.

They have senior management experience, backed up with practical knowledge as a Service Manager.

Perhaps the benefits of climbing to the top of the pyramid is that it might prevent serial multiple-choice exam-sitters to get the top qualifications without ever having been involved at any level of a Service Management deployment.

I would be very interested to know from a recruitment perspective if search mechanisms pick up anything beyond the word ‘ITIL’ or maybe the Book titles when CVs are scanned.

More info here:

Introducing Ros Satar

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Ros Satar to The ITSM Review.

Ros is joining as a regular blogger and ITSM technology Analyst.

ROS SATAR


“An IT Architect, with close to 20 years experience, working both in direct commercial engagements, and more recently within the outsourcing services.  Worked most recently in the Retail, Finance & Insurance, and Government/Transport Sectors.

Strong technical, business and project skills around Business Analysis and IT Architecture/Solution Design, and Deployment in Transition/Transformation projects, specializing most recently in ITIL ® Service Management Engagements.

Responsibilities include Stakeholder Management, Project Management, User Acceptance Testing and Service Commencement.”


Ros Satar, Analyst and Writer for The ITSM Review

Gadget Girl!

Ros is an ITSM Solution Architect and Process Consultant.

Her journey in ITIL/ITSM began in 2005 when she jumped into the deep end of Configuration Management, and then swam out to the wider ITSM Ocean.

She quite likes it there… technical enough to remind her of her roots, but diverse enough to have opinions on lots of things, based on large customer projects throughout her career.

As well as writing for The ITSM Review, Ros is also following her passion for sports writing and is currently studying for her NCTJ Diploma in Multi-media Journalism.

She says…

“When I am not knee deep in paper and having a love/hate relationship with my many gadgets, I can be found putting in time at various sporting publications writing about people who are way fitter than me.”

They say…

“I have worked with Ros for many years through many technologies, as Architects we are often expected to look at a product and immediately articulate the benefits / return on investment and potential pitfalls in implementation. Ros has the ability to go “Wide” and go “Deep” into the technology and exercise it within an inch of its operational life.”

Welcome Ros!