itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit)

This year's conference will be hosted in Melbourne
This year’s conference will be hosted in Melbourne

It is with incredible excitement that we are able to announce that we will be the Media Partner for the itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit), 13-15 August 2014, at The Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel in Australia.

This ITSM event, which is the largest in the southern hempishere, brings together more than 500 IT professionals, with over 50 keynotes and breakout sessions  – covering a wide range of subjects that are at the heart of our industry.

What you can expect

Generally regarded as one of the best itSMF-hosted conferences in the world, you’re in for a treat with this year’s agenda which includes (but is not limited to):

  • A fantastic series of keynotes featuring ITSM greats such as Rob England and James Finister, as well as motivational speakers such as Jason McCartney
  • A broad selection of breakout sessions featuring an array of speakers including the likes of Robert Stroud, Harold Petersen, Paul Wilkinson, Mark Smalley, Karen Ferris, Rachel Pennings, Stuart Rance and plenty more. Covering topics such as: cloud, continual service improvement, IT governance, ITSM process best practices, mobility, service lifecycle, IT asset management, agile, BYOD, customer experience etc.
  • A choice of 7 pre-conference workshops including “building agile virtual teams” and “real techniques to achiever a successful ITSM implementation”
  • A jammed pack social programme providing an array of opportunities to connect with your peers and the service management community, from the standard welcome drinks and networking evening to gala dinners, a social dinner and games night and a post conference winery tour through the Yarra Valley.
  • Ceremony for the 2014 itSMF Industry Awards

Join in the fun

Considering attending but not quite sure yet? Or crying that you can’t go and are going to miss out on all the fun? Why not get involved with one of the Twitter chats that will be hosted by itSMF Australia in the run up to the event?

Date Name Twitter handle Topic
Wed 02-Jul-14 Rob England @theitskeptic Big Uncle: Benevolent Security and The End of Privacy
Wed 09-Jul-14 Stuart Rance @StuartRance Getting Started with Continual Service Improvement
Wed 16-Jul-14 Ian Jones @Jonesyianau Leading ITSM from Scrum to Kanban
Wed 23-Jul-14 James Finister @jimbofin Service Integration and Management: SIAM 
Wed 30-Jul-14 Peter Doherty @ITILNinja Working Smarter at the Service Desk to Engage the Business
Wed 06-Aug-14 Sophie Danby @SophieDanby Get the most out of #Leadit

ITSM Review is flying longhaul!

Two of our team will be in attendance (we haven’t yet finished arguing about who gets to go on such an amazing trip), and if you’d like to schedule a meeting with us whilst we’re out in Australia please email me.

We also intend to make the most of our trip across to the other side of the world and in conjunction with the wonderful James Finister and Stuart Rance we are hoping to be able to run a series of ITSM community initiatives whilst we’re out there (let me hear you cry “the Brits are coming”). Not just in Melbourne, but potentially anywhere in Australia (within reason – it’s a big country) and even potentially en route as well. We’ll provide more information on this as/when things get confirmed, but in the mean time please let us know if you have any ideas related to this or would like to see us whilst we’re visiting.

The ITSM Review team will also be making a trip to India in conjunction with our visit to itSMF Australia, so we urge our readers in that part of the world to also get in touch.


Event Summary

WHAT

itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit)

WHERE

The Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel, Australia

WHEN

The conference runs from Wednesday 13th August to Friday 15th August, with a range of pre-conference workshops taking place on Tuesday 12th August.

BOOKING

Booking rates are available online

Please note that all social activities are included in the 3 / 4 day conference pass, except for the post conference tour, which will need to be purchased separately.

Image Credit

Podcast Episode 2: 'Hot tables' at SITS, ITSM Industry News, CSI and Barclay in his onesie?

ManageEngine
Thanks to our friends at ManageEngine for sponsoring this podcast.

Episode 2 of The ITSM Review Podcast!

Hosted by Barclay Rae and Rebecca Beach.

Special Guest: Stuart Rance from Optimal Service Management

ITSM Industry News

CSI

  • Most problem management is CSI
  • CSI – source of the biggest ROI
  • Metrics for change management, Real meaningful metrics for CSI
  • Stuart Rance – Balanced Scorecard Approach
  • 1. What does it look like for the customer?
  • 2. How well are my internal processes running?
  • 3. What do the finances look like?
  • 4. What am I doing to learn and improve?
  • Taking Service Forward

Our next Podcast is scheduled to be recorded at SITS14.

If you have industry news to share ahead of our next podcast please give me a shout.

Thanks to our friends at ManageEngine for sponsoring this podcast.

ITAM Review and ITSM Review Feeds

Excellent service doesn’t have to cost more

20140212_104838I have seen discussions in social media about whether service providers should aim to deliver excellent service, or just deliver the service they have agreed to.

One side of the argument says that we have more choices than we used to, and that service providers must aim to delight all their customers or they won’t survive in a modern, consumer-oriented competitive environment.

Other people argue that organizations decide what to spend and what quality of service they want to deliver, and that a company can choose to compete on cost, or some other factor, rather than on service quality. A classic example of this is low cost airlines which often treat their customers very poorly when compared to traditional carriers, but are doing very well in a highly competitive market.

I think that there is a third alternative, and I came across an excellent example of this recently, when I dropped my mobile phone, cracking the glass screen.

My experience

I researched options for repairing the phone on the internet. I could buy a replacement glass screen quite cheaply, but replacing it looked difficult, requiring me to heat the phone to a fairly exact temperature that would soften the adhesive without damaging the electronics. I asked a local phone repair shop for a quote, but they told me the glass couldn’t be replaced and it would cost nearly £200 to replace the entire screen assembly. Eventually I found a company on the internet that would replace the glass for a reasonable fee. I paid online and posted the phone to them.

On the next day I watched the tracking information to see when the phone had been delivered. Much to my delight I received an email from the company within 30 minutes of the phone arriving, confirming that they had the phone, explaining what the next steps would be, and saying that 97% of repairs would be completed the same day – but also saying what the worst case would be. They then sent another email that evening confirming that the phone had been repaired and providing a tracking number so I could check on the return delivery. I received the repaired phone the next day, and they had done a good job of replacing the glass.

While the phone was being repaired I had moved my SIM to a spare phone. When I got the phone back it wouldn’t recognise the SIM. I remembered that it had been hard to remove the SIM in the first place, and I guess I must have damaged something. Oh dear. I phoned the company to ask if they could help and they put me through to a manager who talked me through examining the SIM card holder to see the bent pins. He then offered to replace the SIM card holder for a very low price, since I was already a customer!  I sent the phone back again and had a very similar experience. This time when the phone came back they also sent the faulty part taped to a business card, so I could see that they really had replaced it.

What can we learn from this?

There are a few things about these transactions that illustrate how to deliver excellent service without it needing to cost more.

  • The email that acknowledged receipt of the phone was a template email that will have taken an hour or two to write and could then be sent to thousands of customers. Cost: Negligible, Value to customer: Enormous, Delight factor: Considerable
  • They told me that they did not always repair things in one day. They explained some of the factors that could result in a slower service, and as a customer I was very happy that they had given me good information without just trying to show the positive. Another example of negligible cost with considerable value to the customer.
  • They did repair the phone in the agreed time for the agreed cost, and made sure that I could track the returned phone all the way to my house. I have had similar transactions in the past where they simply said they have posted the package, rather than providing me with the tracking information. Cost to them? Value to me? – I will let you provide the answers this time.
  • When I had a further problem they talked to me as an intelligent human being and helped me to see for myself where I had caused the damage.
  • They included the faulty part in the box, so I could see for myself that it really had been repaired.

In summary

It is possible to provide low cost services with good customer service. Nobody is saying you must provide expensive services to people that don’t want to pay for them, but every service provider should think about things they can do to delight customers without increasing costs. That is always the right choice.

In the world of IT and IT service management this means ensuring that all your staff adopt a customer mind-set, and constantly think about what they are doing and how this might impact the ability of customers to get value from your services – even if they are tied customers with no choice of service provider. It also means making sure you communicate with your customers well, and set their expectations appropriately. Tell them what you will deliver and then do what you’ve said. Every service provider should be able to do this, even if they are delivering low cost services.

Oh, and before I finish, if you live in the UK and break the screen on your mobile phone then I highly recommend the services of www.repairworlddirect.co.uk

Live from PINK14: AXELOS Announcements

photo

Today at the Pink Annual Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, AXELOS made a number of announcements from launching new products to introducing new members of the team. In the coming days we will be publishing a video interview with some of the AXELOS team to discuss said announcements in more detail, until then a brief summary can be found below.

Cybersecurity best practice

A key announcement today was the news that AXELOS is to develop a new cybersecurity portfolio designed to help commercial organizations and governments around the world combat the risk of cyber attacks.

The AXELOS cybersecurity portfolio, to be launched in the second half of 2014, will include best practice guidance, training materials and certification, simulations and tools – all designed to assess, benchmark and improve an organization’s cyber resilience capabilities.

AXELOS CEO, Peter Hepworth, said “The cyber risks are clear and there are more policies and standards being published – but organizations are still searching for the right, pragmatic way to make these part of day-to-day business operations.  The new AXELOS cybersecurity portfolio will provide that practical ‘how-to’ management advice.”

Additions to the team

In addition to the new cybersecurity portfolio, AXELOS announced the appointment of Kaimar Karu as the new Director of ITIL. Kaimar will be responsible for a number of things in his new role, but first and foremost his focus will be on looking at the overall ITIL strategy.

 

Kaimar’s experience will be of huge benefit to AXELOS, specifically his knowledge of DevOps. Also, as many of us know, Kaimar is an active member of the online community and has strong connections with the itSMF (he is currently president of itSMF Estonia), which means he has a good sense of what is really important to people when it comes to ITIL.

AXELOS are also welcoming Nick Wilding as Director of Cybersecurity. As Nick was not present at the conference, there was little information shared specific to his role but we hope to hear more in the coming weeks.

Further to these two additions, it was also announced that AXELOS will be working more closely with Stuart Rance and Kenneth Gonzalez moving forward. Stuart will be responsible for authoring the guidance associated with the new best practice portfolio for cybersecurity, whilst Kenneth will be assisting with broadening the AXELOS global footprint. Kenneth will also be looking at how to bridge the gap between the customer and service provider.

In addition to the announcements at PINK14, AXELOS also issued a press release last week on expanding its senior management team with two new appointments. Daryl Flack and Kelvyn Lien-Hicks will join as Chief Information Office (CIO) and Sales and Marketing Director respectively.

Daryl brings to AXELOS 14 years experience in delivering technology solutions and business transformation. Having worked internationally across a variety of business sectors, most recently Daryl was the divisional Chief Technology Officer for a UK-based FTSE 50 organization responsible for the technology strategy across many private and public sector contracts. Kelvyn also brings significant experience to the AXELOS team having worked for 20 years in the international sales and marketing arena, specializing in the education and e-learning sectors.

The appointment of Daryl and Kelvyn completes the senior management team at AXELOS:

Other news

In a presentation this morning led by Frances Scarff, AXELOS also showcased new research. At the end of 2013 they sought to validate their ITIL roadmap and thus arranged an independent assessment of 380 global organizations. The aim of the research was to see how the AXELOS value proposition relates to different organizations of different sizes.

The slides from today’s presentation will be available from AXELOS in due course, but the two key findings that I personally took away from the session were that:

  • The US are very keen on certification, vs APAC who are less worried about certification and more focused on the ‘doing’
  • 81% of CIO’s surveyed said that they find ITIL to be very or exceedingly valuable to their organization

AXELOS also announced it will launch a new partner programme with strategic, academic and sales partners. Little detail has been given on the initiative thus far, but we can expect to hear much more about this as their plans develop.

In summary

All in all, it was an eventful day in the world of ITIL. Initial reactions to all of the news was very positive, especially around the appointment of Kaimar as Director of ITIL.

Whilst many still remain dubious about AXELOS and the future of ITIL, it is clear to see that they are listening to the community and acting on feedback. For example, hiring Kaimar and working with Kenneth is a clear sign that AXELOS does not intend to be a UK-centric operation, something that everyone will be very glad to see.

As Peter himself said, “it’s going to be a great year”.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Kaimar, Nick, Daryl and Kelvyn on their new roles at AXELOS on behalf of all of everyone at ITSM Review. Congratulations also to Stuart and Kenneth on their involvements.

All the latest news from AXELOS can be found on the AXELOS websiteGoogle+ and @AXELOS_GBP on Twitter.  If you have specific queries around any of the announcements please contact Ask@AXELOS.com.

The Adaptive Service Model

The Taking Service Forward initiative has launched the first release of the Adaptive Service Model, you can see the official announcement here. This model is the first step on the way to an open architecture for service management. I’d like to share some of my thoughts about what the model is, why we need it, and how it might evolve in the future.

This model is owned by a community called Taking Service Forward. The initial members were invited to participate, but in a few weeks anyone will be able to join by making contributions to the architecture. If you want to see announcements about this then join the Taking Service Forward community on Google+, or the  group on Facebook or on LinkedIn .  You can also see more details about the history of Taking Service Forward on these sites.

This first release is a “meta-model” showing the types of things that will be in the actual architecture. For example it includes “process” and “role” but not any specific processes or roles.

Adaptive Service Model - Abstraction - Diagram v0.11
This diagram shows a very high level view of the model.

Even at the level shown in this diagram there are some interesting things that you can see about the model:

  • There is no reference to IT. This is not an IT service model, it is a generic model about services. It can certainly be used by people who manage IT services, but the intent was to start at a higher level where the key concept is “service”, not “IT service”.
  • There is a symmetrical relationship between the service provider and the service consumer. This is not a model about how service providers create services, it is about how service providers and service consumers work together to create value based on using services. The service consumer plays just as important a role in this relationship as the service provider: both provider and consumer receive outputs and outcomes from the service; and both provider and consumer must have suitable processes and roles to enable the creation of service value.

The meta model has been published as three entities:

  • A document which describes the concepts, modelling language and principles
  • The model itself. This is an entity-relationship diagram which has been created in ArchiMate®, an open and independent modelling language for enterprise architecture. You need to install the free, open source Archi software to open the model, but you can download a diagram showing all the entities and relationships if you want to see the model without being able to make edits
  • A table with descriptions and attributes for each entity and relationship

The Adaptive Service Model is open source, released under a creative commons license, so it can be freely used by anyone, even in a modified form – so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.

Use of the meta model

The main use of the meta model will be as a foundation for creating an architecture, with much more specific entities. For example the meta model has entities called “process” and “role”, the architecture will show all the different processes and roles needed by both service providers and service consumers. The meta model will be useful for a number of purposes, even with the current very generic level of detail:

  • Facilitating discussions between service providers and service consumers, helping them to articulate their needs and expectations
  • Helping managers in service provider and service consumer organizations educate their staff about service relationships, management, governance and other high level concepts
  • Providing a context to help different types of service providers (and consumers) discuss what is common between them, to help create opportunities were we can learn from people in different industries
  • Improving our ability to provide mapping between standards and best practices by providing a consistent, common language for the highest level entities

Next stages

The next stage of our work will be to validate the meta model, correct any aspects that need improvement, and complete missing content. The intent is that this should be done with open participation from the service management community so that we can pull on the widest possible breadth of knowledge.

Once the meta model is complete there will be two more stages to this work:

1)     Creating a detailed service architecture, based on the meta model. This architecture could be used for a number of purposes.

  • It could help the owners of different best practices and standards improve their alignment with each other
  • It could provide a formal structure for service management, to help organizations create and review their systems for governance and management of IT
  • It could be further developed to create industry specific variants (for example an IT service management architecture)
  • It could provide a framework for future releases of best practice such as ITIL, to improve internal consistency while allowing for a natural, narrative, style of communication

2)     Creating a detailed ontology, based on the architecture. An ontology would define detailed protocols for interoperability, for example an “incident exchange” message format. A formal ontology has many potential uses, including:

  • Enabling tool vendors to create inter-operable tools based on open source, published definitions
  • Helping people designing complex multi-supplier solutions to specify the requirements for interchange of incidents, changes, problems and other records

The work has only just started, and there is a huge amount to do to get to our end goal, but I think it will be worth the effort. Please download the model and see what you think of it. Then consider signing up to contribute to the future development of this Adaptive Service Model, it will only be as good as the people who take part. You can offer feedback using any of the community groups listed at the beginning of this article, and in a few weeks you will be able to submit change requests and become a member of the Taking Service Forward initiative that owns the model.

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.

Image Credit

Ashley Hanna

Ashley Hanna  - 25.11.2013
Ashley Hanna 18.03.1960 – 25.11.2013

Ashley Hanna passed away on 25th November after a long struggle with cancer. Ashley was a source of inspiration for many in the IT service management industry and has been my personal friend and mentor for many years.

I first met Ashley in 1997. At the time I worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and I was attending a Compaq high availability training course. This course was all about high availability technology but on the last day they brought in a new trainer (Ashley) to explain to us how important service management was to achieving availability goals. It was a great pleasure to discover somebody working in the IT industry who really understood the importance of balancing people, process and technology. That same day we heard that Compaq was going to buy DEC, and Ashley and I became colleagues.

Over the 17 years since then, Ashley mentored me and helped me to develop both personally and professionally. I could not have asked for a more kind, helpful, or knowledgeable colleague and friend. We worked very closely together in HP, with itSMF, and with OGC and TSO. Ashley was really proud of his contributions to ITIL and I will never forget what a pleasure it was to work with him. Ashley was the best collaborator it was possible to have. We often sat in our own homes, me in Essex and him in Yorkshire, with telephone headsets and shared screens, creating documents for publication. Our discussions were often lively and heated, but nearly every time we disagreed I eventually realized that Ashley had been right all along.

Many people have spoken to me of how Ashley collaborated with them in different projects, and in nearly every case they tell a similar story. He brought a calm, sensible and thoughtful approach to everything he did. He could defuse difficult situations with his calm, authoritative manner, and any group or committee that included Ashley seemed to run smoothly, with minimal conflict and maximum effectiveness.

Ashley worked at an international level, both in HP and with itSMF. It can be really difficult to work with people from different countries and backgrounds, but Ashley’s ability to understand people from different cultures and help them to manage conflict won him many friends. Everyone he worked with had enormous respect and liking for him, and many of them have contacted me to say how much they will miss his guiding influence.

Ashley was an editor without peer. He could take somebody else’s writing and change it from disjointed sentences into prose that was just “right”. As chair of the UK itSMF publications committee he was responsible for the production of many pocket guides which have been a source of guidance to thousands of IT service management practitioners.

In 2010 Ashley was awarded the UK itSMF Paul Rappaport Award for Lifetime Achievement in Service Management. There could not have been a more deserving and popular recipient of this prestigious award. Ashley’s contributions to IT Service Management really were a lifetime achievement, and he will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues from all round the world.

itSMF UK Conference 2013 – the practitioner perspective

Meeting the famous ITSM Penguin
Meeting the famous ITSM Penguin

When I got a tweet from Sophie saying I’d won the ITSM Review Competition for a free ticket to the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition I seriously couldn’t wait to tell people…especially my manager who was delighted. I’ve never been to Birmingham and I’d certainly never been to an itSMF UK conference and now I had the chance to be there in a more interactive capacity than the odd twitter stream comment…wow…time to get organised and get up there.

Drawing from my submission I hoped to get the following from attending:

  • Learning from others – practical hints, tips and experiences from other practitioners. Their journey using service management techniques to improve their company’s IT landscape. The sort of thing that money can’t buy – the sort of thing you don’t necessarily read about …rolling the sleeves up and getting to the nitty gritty.
  • Networking – I was going to be rubbing shoulders with the some of the most respected and nicest people from the global ITSM community. People whom I follow on various social media streams, the ITSM Review crew and people I’d got to know over the past couple of years. As well of course to make some new friends along the way…well I thought gregarious by name, gregarious by nature.
  • Innovation – finding out what’s new with the industry and what’s coming our way in the future.

Sunday networking

On sunday afternoon I beamed up to Birmingham to join everyone at the Hyatt hotel. The first thing that struck me was that so many people were there that are involved in the same IT discipline that I am…it was time to immerse myself and get involved.

The idea behind Sunday evening is to have informal drinks, network and enjoy your time getting a feel for what is going to unfold over the next couple of days. Take my example, randomly, I found myself sat at a table with fellow practitioners, consultants, trainers, mentors and even the Chairman of the ITSMF UK – Colin Rudd. Where else could this happen? Where else would all these Service Management experts be in one place? Where else I could I bump into Pengi? It was then that I realised the true value of being there…and I knew it was going to be good.

Opening Keynote

Monday morning came round fast and kicked off with an awakening electro charged sound track and video with Colin Rudd and departing Chief Executive, Ben Clacy introducing the conference.

Colin went on to say this was the 22nd ITSMF UK conference, featuring delegates from over 20 countries.

He discussed how Service Management will be more important than ever before through the use of service integration and the ability to demonstrate the value of IT services to the business – Service Catalogue will be key.

Looking jazzy with ITSM Review
Looking jazzy with ITSM Review

It was reassuring to hear that AXELOS (the new commercial owners of the best practice management portfolio) are engaging with itSMF UK and that they were to be a big presence at the conference.

Round table discussions to discuss the Big4 agenda were mentioned. The concept whereby delegates have the opportunity to share their views on what they think the four key topics in ITSM for itSMF UK to focus on should be for 2014.

Ben went on to introduce MONITOR, which is an online ITSM self-assessment and benchmarking tool that helps IT align with business goals. The contents of which have been “crowd sourced” from industry experts.

The opening session was then finished by Jo Salter, the opening keynote speaker. Jo is Britain’s first female fast jet fighter pilot and in my opinion re-defined the meaning of stress at work. If flying at the height of a tree wasn’t bad enough – try doing so at 600MPH – that requires not only fast thinking, but cat-like reflexes. She put the attribute of “speed and response” down to the sport of fencing in acquiring good hand to eye co-ordination.

Considering what Jo had done for a living she came across as being well grounded. When she was growing up she wanted to be a hairdresser, then an accountant and when the government decided women could fly jet fighters she took the opportunity to do just that. Along the way she faced much adversity – from old school boy scepticism to working out the easiest way to “pee” whilst flying.

Jo told several inspiring stories, each with a hint of tongue and cheek and doses of “eeek factor” and determination to succeed.

We’re only human and we all make mistakes. Jo was once preparing for take-off, something she had done countless times before.  The engineers were running final checks on the underside of her fighter. Due to miss-communication between them she accidently uncoupled a missile from the plane. It fell to the ground with a thud. Luckily nobody was hurt. Jo’s message was a simple one “be honest and open” It’s all about experiences -learning and moving on.

The sessions

Over the two days six topical presentation streams were provided. I mainly focused on two. Real World Learning – this stream covered the main reason I wanted to be there – learning from others and their journey – adversities they encountered and what approaches they took to achieve their end goal. The second stream, IT(SM) into the future – what disciplines and innovations are emerging.

Monday’s presentations came from a good mixture of companies such as Dyson, Accenture, Jaguar and Land Rover and Tata Consultancy Services. Between them they covered subjects such as Supplier Relationship, Business Relationship Management, Service Integration and End User Support.

Ingredients for Great Supplier Relationships

Cath Bartlett from Dyson gave practical advice gained from her experiences dealing with suppliers. My takeaways from her session were:

  • Ask the question – who are we? And who does our supplier think we are?
  • If you feel it’s not working request an account manager change – it can be a positive thing and bring value to the relationship
  • As the customer, define what matters to you, after all you’re the expert on what you want…but remember that the supplier is the expert on how you achieve it
  • From a customer perspective ask the supplier what you can do better, this will only encourage collaboration
  • Make sure your KPI’s are a true reflection on what the business wants from IT

Business Relationship Management

Andrea Kis was next on my list. She outlined “the Beauty and Simplicity of Common Sense for Business Relationship Management”. Takeaways from her session were:

  • BRM is a skill, an ability not just a job title – they’re enablers that can connect the business and IT
  • Make the business understand the value you bring, business perception is key
  • Common goals are the foundations to building a relationship – it’s not an enslaved deal, it’s a partnership
  • Have a positive effect and take responsibility
  • My favourite of six competencies that Andrea listed was  “established teams don’t work in silos” – have collaboration at all levels

Project of the Year

Midway through Monday’s presentations The Project of the Year award 2013 finalists from EE, Land and Property Services and QBE were showcasing how service management techniques over the past 12 months helped them reach their companies goals.

EE’s objectives were to maximise their stability, and recognise and mitigate the risks during the London Olympics with the influx of foreigners to the capital. I liked their use of capacity management whereby they measured against forecasts to ensure services met demands and how this was used to good effect to drive through changes quickly.

Land and Property Services was a great example of minimal budget in times of austerity. Using an Agile approach enabled them to improve their IT systems freeing up man hours and leading to better services.

QBE – who later went on to win the award with its zero to hero Service Desk implementation.  This was a classic case of turning around the business perception of IT. QBE’s IT asked the business (their customers) what they thought of the service given to them from IT. The response was shocking – their stats showed that IT wasn’t fit for service and the business didn’t have confidence in its IT department. Their customers felt that they’d lost that personalisation and that their incident tickets were falling into a black hole. Being customer centric they took the feedback seriously and set out to bring back their in house Service Desk. Jacqueline Brunett and Amanda Rutlege spearheaded the initiative and employed 10 new service desk agents. Training for the new staff included learning the nature of the business (which I feel all organisations should provide for their service desk).

Three months on from the rebirth of the Service Desk the stats improved and both agreed that being customer centric was key to this success.

Optimising the End User Support Model

The afternoon presentations started with Mel Tuke Griffin from Accenture. They have a huge user base of 275K that mainly work out of the office and generate on average 1 million incidents a year. Their drive was to help prevent users having to come into the office for repairs. This was achieved by incorporating an effective one-stop shop self-service experience along with improved IT remote tools.

Accenture have used self-service since 2001 and 61% of their incidents come from the self-service portal and it is treated as the front door to IT. Once logged in they can search a database for known issues, for example outage information on key services and general issues such as what to do when your mail box exceeds its size limit.

The Future of Supplier Management

Mark Hipwell of Jaguar and Landrover and Martin Goble of Tata Consultancy Services co-hosted a session on service integration.  With TCS’s help, JLR’s objective was to improve the IT supplier management process. These were my takeaways:

  • JLR outsourced the responsibility to TCS, but kept the accountability in house. This allowed for JLR to step in from time to time and allow the processes and procedures to be tweaked
  • A benefit of using the ITIL framework allowed everyone to talk the same language
  • An example of JLR working collaboratively with its suppliers was arranging with them to inform JLR of their own planned outages. JLR then analyse the risk and put mitigation and communication plans in place to take that risk away

AXELOS road mapClosing Keynote

Then onto the closing keynote from AXELOS the new owners of ITIL and PPM. “Think AXELOS think best practice” was Peter Hepworth’s message. Takeaways from this update:

  • Those going through qualifications, keep doing that
  • Quality, relevance, growth, innovation and collaboration through crowd source is key

Evening Entertainment

After an action packed day attention turned to the evening for the glamorous itSMF UK Service Management Awards Dinner – hosted by Edwina Currie. A special mention must go to the guru Stuart Rance who deservedly won the Paul Rappaport award for outstanding contribution to IT service management. When collecting the award Stuart was kind enough to let Edwina hold Pengi to have their photo taken, which was especially cheered and clapped from a certain couple of tables near the back of the awards hall.

After the awards, the dance floor was rocking, surrounded by casino tables, bars and hilarious photo booths – fun was had by all deep into the early hours of the next day.

Service Integration and Management

In a blur I arrived back at the ICC for the last day of the conference. My Tuesday agenda focused mostly on CSI, SIAM and Problem Management.

Presenter Kevin Holland asked the question…what is SIAM?…For starters it most definitely is not a breed of cat and … it’s a lot more than a new fancy acronym (Service Integration and Management) for ITSM. The fact is it’s not even new – but is something that we’re all going to be hearing much more about in the near future and this is why:

  • SIAM is a service integrator, it governs and links everything together consistently, ITIL doesn’t do this
  • SIAM takes problem, incident and change management and integrates them
  • It’s not the technology, it’s using soft skills such as relationship and conflict management – it’s people that make SIAM work
  • You need to build trust at every level, focus on customer outcomes and what value you provide

Interestingly Kevin asked a full room of attendees “Who has a service catalogue?” Only two put their hands up. In an ideal world you need a service catalogue to work out what you do. Without this you’re wondering what does what and how the information flows.

SIAM is coming but if the majority of companies don’t use Service Catalogues it will be interesting to see how SIAM gains momentum.

Implementing Problem Management

From one lively presentation to another – Amanda Kirby from Virgin Media gave a 10 step guide to successfully implementing problem management. Amanda’s enthusiasm shone through as well as the attitude of “screw it … do it”. During the session and with the help of other attendees (and myself) she used a fun game consisting of different coloured balls to demonstrate the conflict that can result from using the same resources for both problem and incident management.

These were my takeaways from her session:

  • Dedicate a team to underling root cause, separate incidents from problems
  • Record known errors and link everything, incidents, change and outputs
  • Elevate the profile of the problem team – Amanda insisted that problem management must challenge the status quo
  • Change the culture and embed the process

Continual Service Improvement

The next session that I attended was by Adam Poppleton, from BrightOak Consultancy Ltd exploring the requirements of a good CSI implementation.

Adam’s thought provoking presentation started with discussing someone he knows who embeds CSI in their personal life – this person would sit down and ask himself what is it he wanted and how is it he was going to get there. An interesting approach when you consider that as an industry we tend to be bad at taking our own medicine.  Adams view is that CSI should be the first process people consider.

These were my takeaways from his presentation:

  • Before you start, baseline otherwise how do you know how well you’re doing?
  • CSI shouldn’t be retro fitted, it’s applicable to everything and everyone is involved
  • If you have a CSI register communicate it out – if nobody knows of it nobody will use it, think crossover risks and opportunities
  • Where do you start? – where it’s hurting most … be brave
  • Keep CSI simple, what does the business need how can you help enable it to get there

Next up, Laura Jay and Steve Bowler gave advice on the journey so far into their service improvement programme at 3M Cognet. Laura and Steve’s story was similar to others, they needed to keep the service fresh, their challenge – lack of resources. Thinking adapt adopt – they didn’t use the full 7 step CSI process and instead they used the parts of CSI that works for them.

Here are my takeaways:

  • Include stakeholder engagement
  • Define corporate strategy and link to service strategy
  • Small improvements can have big results
  • ITIL un-alignment isn’t a bad thing
  • Use a CSI register for managing expectations after all it’s an evolving document

In Summary

Socialising with Stephen Mann from ServiceNow
Socialising with Stephen Mann from ServiceNow

Over the course of the two days I attended many presentations, that represented hours of insightful learning; but it didn’t stop there. Bubbling away under the roof of the ICC was an ITSM eco-system, which meant in-between all these sessions you could network and exchange “war stories” and using social media I was able to keep updated and find out what else was going on.

Over the course of the two days I attended many presentations, that represented hours of insightful learning; but it didn’t stop there. Bubbling away under the roof of the ICC was an ITSM eco-system, which meant in-between all these sessions you could network and exchange “war stories” and using social media I was able to keep updated and find out what else was going on.

My only criticisms of the event would be the woeful Wi-Fi – there would have been more twitter activity if it wasn’t for all the signal problems.

After speaking to several of the vendors they felt visiting numbers could have been higher. I would consider a venue that allowed for the vendors to be central and whereby traffic can flow through the vendor area to get to their sessions.

The delivery of training in my opinion leads the way for innovation. Whether it is board games, computer games or education via your smartphone it gives a student more options to learning service management. Otherwise I felt innovation was lacking.

When all said and done the question is would I come back again? Most definitely. There is real substance to coming to an event like this and learning in one place from some of the industry’s best.

Common threads that I picked up on were:

  • Engage with your business focus on their outcomes and what value you provide
  • Work collaboratively, create and build relationships
  • Be open and honest, learn from your mistakes
  • Change the culture and embed the process
  • Have a positive effect and take responsibility
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel, if you’re interested in asset management find out if it’s being done somewhere in the business already under a different name
  • Small changes accumulate – don’t boil the ocean
  • If appropriate use ITIL

There is a core in the ITSM community that I tap into from time to time so I can hear and read about their thoughts and opinions on what’s happening out there in the world of ITSM. Going forward I will be doing so more often. Winning the ITSM Review competition enabled me to have the pleasure in meeting those acquaintances who I’m happy to say have now become friends.

See you at ITSM14.

 

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>>>!

photo (1)

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?