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itSMF – The Glue That Unites the Service Management Industry

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Ben Clacy, UK CEO, itSMF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. What is prISM?

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

prISM is a credentialing scheme for the service management industry.

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

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

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

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

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

The levels are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Q. How is the itSMF linked to ITIL?

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

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