Review: LANDesk for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch A solid product from a vendor with expertise in both ITSM and systems management, which adds a dimension to what they can offer.
Strengths
  • Strong event management background
  • Understand that the deployment phase needs structure and the range of materials and consultancy they offer is comprehensive
  • Encompass BYOD with integration and include some neat new innovations
  • Integration/Automation platform through a graphical process workflow.
Weaknesses
  • LANDesk have put some much needed focus into their service management, and it is at least on a par with almost all the main players.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, LANDesk are typically active in the mid-large market.They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

 Commercial Summary

Vendor LANDesk
Product LANDesk Service Desk
Version reviewed 7.6.1
Date of version release July 2013
Year founded 1985
Customers ~1000
Pricing Structure Service Desk Concurrent AnalystService Desk Fixed AnalystService Desk SaaS Concurrent AnalystService Desk SaaS Fixed AnalystAlternatively available as part of LANDesk Total User Management suite : complete portfolio of integrated ITSM, Systems, Security, Mobility, Asset management solutions.

Licensed only by end user (not by number of devices or IT Users).

 

Competitive Differentiators
  1. LANDesk’s offer experience in ITSM and beyond that, systems management and as such they can provide Total User Management – covering systems management, security management, asset and service management, seamlessly integrated together through a process driven workflow platform.
  2. They provide self-service capability accessible to users via desktops and mobile devices
  3. They provide a two-way integration between Microsoft Outlook and the service desk to track task assignments

Independent Review

thumbnail (1)LANDesk combine experience across ITSM and include systems management, which comes to the fore with their approach to integrating one of the harder disciplines into their Service Management capability.

They have a good understanding of the way the market has moved in recent times – offering web services and because of their broader background, they not only lend their product but their in-house expertise to understanding what to integrate.

The focus of the solution is to be directly productive, and it is good to see them almost embrace BYOD capability – their focus is delivery of what IT does into the hands of the user.

What they have done well is to identify some neat little innovations and put some lateral thought about how these can be used. For example the use of RSS feeds to provide assignment updates to technicians and the use of QR codes to perform simple actions on processes (create/close a record). Whilst the take-up may be slow in some cases – they are ready for when the first organisation(s) latch on to the ideas.

LANDesk have developed their product to offer the same service management capability as the majority of vendors in the industry, and they provide integration and automation built in to their graphical process workflow.

They should take the opportunity to shine the light on the other bushels in their pack – not everyone can boast all 15 processes and that gives them an interesting depth in their section of the market.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

LANDesk Service Desk has been Pink Verified against the maximum 15 verifiable processes :-

The product uses ITIL terminology throughout the product, and the comprehensive coverage of all the process means they cover the bases in terms of recommended approaches and supporting practices.

Security Controls

A comprehensive matrix of permissions apply across every action and activity in the Service Desk product, so ability to perform actions will only appear for an analyst when they have this right.

Other integrations use workflow and process definition which ensures that only the right activity can take place in a secure and controlled fashion.

All integration activities are typically audited as standard design.

Pre-Deployment Integration

LANDesk is another vendor that also employs some level of sense checking as well as pure automation methods to bring across data, including:

Customer Profile Document

Introductory phone call and Project Kick-off meeting

Data collection spreadsheet which shows all the different typical default areas of data collected and imported

Workshops

In addition connectors to Active Directory, LANDesk Management Suite, Microsoft SQL, Oracle, Excel, Access, OLEDB all allow connection to other typical sources for import

Asset and Configuration Information

LANDesk Service Desk provides preconfigured integration to populate the CMDB, to import ITAM managed assets and to update any existing items. Their features include:

  • Unlimited field definitions and CI types
  • Asset/CI relationships can be imported into CI structure diagrams
  • Asset/CI relationships can be discovered and defined with a rules-engine.

Assets and CIs are accessible from all ITSM processes, updated under change management, and can be imported back to source tools from Service Desk updates.

They also provide an inventory lookup – in Systems Management focussed discovery, the tool will typically pick up all manner of information that is not required for Configuration Management – the Inventory lookup facility shows you the full detail.

Support Services Integration

  • LANDesk include (but are not limited to) their own IT Management tools supported in context:
    • Remote Control
    • Inventory Lookup
    • Software Deployment
    • Chat
    • Ping
    • Patch/Security Scan
  • As part of Request Fulfilment, Release, Change, and Incident they provide integration as part of process activity in the background. This drives self-service and IT-initiated process automation across the business, providing, for example integrated:
    • Software Deployment
    • AD Data Management
    • Mobile device wipe and other admin functions
    • Security scan, patch, OS deploy, among other functions
  • Major Incidents Communications
    • RSS – any query of data, list or dashboard gadget can be converted into an RSS feed that can be pulled on demand using any commercial standard RSS client.
    • Major Incidents are typically distributed through: Product Dashboards, Email, RSS and Twitter
  • Support Chats/Social Media
    • Core social discussion and chat features are provided as standard as well as integration through APIs and Automation is provided on request for:
      • Enterprise Social Platforms (e.g. BlueKiwi)
      • Twitter
      • Facebook
      • Jive
      • These are the basis of LANDesk’s Social Content Pack, including Discussion Threads and a Chat function within Self-Service.
      • LANDesk make use of RSS feeds which can take any view of the data and publish it as a feed to be incorporated into dashboards

Resource Management Integration

LANDesk provides two-way integration between Microsoft Outlook and the Service Desk. Assignments can be dragged and dropped to individuals or groups taken from live Outlook calendar as Gantt style views.

Assigned work appears as appointments in Outlook calendars or as tasks and once updated in Outlook, the work item in Service Desk is updated too.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Event Management

LANDesk Event Manager provides a configurable, flexible interface to allow current and future monitoring and alerting systems to interact with the service desk.

The Event Management engine captures significant issues within the infrastructure and automatically logs prioritises and routes Incidents to the appropriate analyst team. This alerts the relevant team of issues, even before end users become aware of them, thereby increasing the chance of early resolution and minimizing impact on the user community.

  • QR

Another neat innovation is the use of QR codes – for example putting integration with simple process actions such as creating or closing records – whilst take up might be few and far between at the moment, it is a way of tapping into an increasingly mobile workforce to speed up tasks.

LANDesk Customers

From the LANDesk Brochure

  • An integrated solution for systems management, endpoint security, mobility and ITSM (premise, cloud or both).
  • Easiest ITIL path for increasing end-user productivity
  • One price per end-user – unlimited devices, including BYOD

In Their Own Words:

LANDesk Service Desk is a process-driven IT Service Management software solution that can be deployed as an on-premise, SaaS or hybrid solution. It delivers all of the core ITSM functionality expected from a market-leading solution. Service Desk is ITIL®-verified in 15 processes, including incident, request, self-service, change, and knowledge management and provides powerful multi-level reporting.

LANDesk Service Desk provides a rich end-to-end service management platform that not only supports core service management, but enables your IT organization’s high-level business goals, from basic resolution management to mature service portfolio management, capacity and availability optimization, and continuous service improvement. It integrates seamlessly with your systems and network management environments, including all LANDesk solutions for systems lifecycle management and endpoint security.

The solution’s out-of-the-box functionality is easily configurable to match specific business needs without coding. It helps enterprise IT organizations move swiftly from a reactive state to a more controlled, proactive, and service-oriented posture.  They improve the availability and continuity of services and the productivity of service desk staff and users, while reducing the time-to-restoration, downtime expense, and service-related business risk.

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: Absolute Software for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch A restful and subtle interface with an inclusive service management solution that wraps around a comprehensive endpoint management solution.
Strengths
  •  They offer a comprehensive set of connectors out of the box to a number of sources
  • An element of true CMDB federation exists by way of their mapping in real time with wizard driven interfaces
Weaknesses Like many vendors they are beginning to explore new areas of innovation – take-up can be slow within the customer base. They are finding a similar dilemma for other vendors in that it takes one enterprising organisation to start embracing an element for it to fly.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Absolute Software typically sell to medium-large organizations.They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

Commercial Summary

Vendor Absolute Software
Product Absolute Service
Version reviewed 8.0
Date of version release September 10, 2013
Year founded 1993
Customers ~1,200
Pricing Structure Pricing is based on the number of technicians
Competitive Differentiators
  1. They offer a number of integrated functions within the tool including Remote Control and Chat functions
  2. They have focussed a lot of attention on a comprehensive Mobile Device Management strategy across Android and iOS
  3. They recognise that everyone has tools and to avoid “swivel-chair management” – they provide connectors to any third party data source.

 Independent Review

Absolute SoftwareAbsolute come from a mature security endpoint management point of view and so for a company that made all its money through licencing, they have gained an ITSM partner, via acquisition and now have 10 ITIL 11 processes to their name and they use ITIL terminology on their Tabs.

The majority of their revenue is focussed on licencing, and the focus on the product is for ease of deployment and not as much reliance on selling the supporting services.

It is a refined looking interface with a subtle use of colours to make records standout and they provide a lot of integration out of the box – their ethos is very much focussed on getting the job done.

Their background is recovery, compliance and security and their coverage to manage endpoints covers all bases.

They partnered with and acquired the Livetime service management solution but in addition they developed their mobile device management.

As such they do offer the full package on a smaller scale than some of the big hitters and they offer everything you would expect.

Even though they have heavily integrated their own product suites into their service management solution, they recognise that they are competing in markets where a vast array of tools exist.

They offer the ability to connect to any third party data source, and focus on allowing that data to be manipulated, mapped and managed within Absolute. They offer possibly the truest federation of data in a CMDB and recommend using their wizard driven interface to manage the incoming data.

There is something to be said for the restful design of their service management interface. Somehow the subtle colour coding works effectively when compared to perhaps more vibrant displays.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

Absolute Service comes with the ability to integrate into many different systems using their proprietary Asset Management Integration Engine – this allows for real time transformation and mapping of the data.

They supply integration with all third party authentication and authorisation systems. LDAP/AD integration is built in to the product along with integration to single sing-on products.

They provide both inbound and outbound web-services including to their applications on the Android and iOS platforms.

Security Controls

Security controls are through role based authentication and privileges on the user record within the application.

Pre-Deployment Integration

Their administration system allows for out of the box connections for a great many systems to pull in the initial information – everything is controlled by switches and there is no coding required. It is all interface driven.

Their first step would be to connect to the LDAP directory, to map properties across. They do have the capability to take in CSV bulk-uploads but they recommend the wizard-driven mapping process.

Asset and Configuration Information

Their Asset Management Integration Engine connects to any third party source, extracts the information and maps it directly into the CMDB.

As they deal with multiple sources, the data builds in the CMDB to provide a true sense of data federation, and new mapping fields can be created on the fly.

Absolute also have their own discovery tools to find any device attached to an IP address across servers, workstations and mobile devices.

The information is visible in real time

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

Absolute Service has Remote Control capability embedded into the solution and is selectable from the endpoint record.

  • Major Incidents

They allow customers to have access to RSS feeds, which can be built into any view – whilst there might not be much take up for single instance customers, but is a useful feature where Managed Service Providers are working with multiple Absolute versions

  • Support Chats/Social Media

As with Remote Control, Chat is directly embedded into the application and users can authenticate against established social media applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Resource Management Integration

As part of their mobile device management, Absolute can link to a location to allocate work to a local technician.

Within the Change Management application, a scheduling system shows a holistic view, including where people are on leave, and more importantly the workload of targeted individuals.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Escalation to third parties

Their use of web services is a good example of where incidents can be written to a third party system (for example, where a service has been outsourced to an MSP).

  • Mobile Device Management

Often BYOD is not managed in a unified way and now with a potential mix of iOS and Android devices, they provide management through homogeneous profiles, which is then implemented within their service management solution, so that pulls of profiles can be device initiated.

  • Event Management

Where Absolute have installed their own software, they can monitor and manage devices in real time, and can use web services to also connect.

Absolute Service Customers

From the Absolute Service Brochure

  • An IT Service Management solution that combines people, process, information and technology so that IT services can align with the needs of the business.
  • With a data-driven view of the overall business, IT can assess the potential business impact of each service request.
  • Easily integrates with existing enterprise infrastructure for Asset Management, Authentication and Single Sign-On, Calendaring and Messaging

In Their Own Words:

With a data-driven view of the overall business, IT can assess the potential business impact of each service request. This is important since a simple hardware failure can have serious productivity and profitability implications to other parts of the business. With Absolute Service, IT has the necessary insight to respond appropriately.

With Absolute Service, IT is able to:

  • Satisfy service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Intuitively group and resolve multiple requests with a single solution
  • Identify and avoid costly business interruptions
  • Migrate to the latest version with a single click

With Absolute Service, organizations are able to:

  • Save over 80% by configuring the solution
  • Pay once, not forever
  • Avoid costly long term consulting expenses
  • Save development time and better reallocate resources

The intelligence of Absolute Service relies on the underlying CMDB. The CMDB federates data from multiple data sources already in place within the organization, including:

  • Most IT asset management systems such as Absolute Manage
  • Directory servers such as Open LDAP, Active Directory, Open Directory, and others
  • Single sign on and identity management services

Analyze the potential impact of each service request to pre-empt interruptions to productivity and profitability by focusing on those service requests that could be impactful to other areas of the business. Absolute Service provides IT with the intelligence they need to analyze the potential impact of each service request.

 Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: BDNA for Integrations [BEST IN CLASS]

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch If anyone has ever tried to cleanse raw inventory data to build a picture of what is actually installed out there for a managed estate, this product solves all that. Data is brought in whatever format and normalized to identify a standard naming convention, but that is not all. That data then has market intelligence appended to provide the most comprehensive definition for hardware and software
Strengths
  •  BDNA have tapped into Data-as-a-Service and the concept is fiendishly simple – take in data, clean it, classify it to a sensible taxonomy hierarchy and pump it back into ITSM
  • They have extended their reach to Purchase Orders to begin to integrate procurement into a single record of consistently referenced data
  • Their catalogue is free to browse online
Weaknesses
  • It sounds too good to be true and that is their biggest challenge – this is something that really works for the larger organisations who have the insight to make the investment but may be out of reach of smaller organisations
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, BDNA’s customer base is more focused on larger companies.They are classified for this review as:Specialised tooling, requiring integration to ITSM.

Commercial Summary

Vendor BDNA
Product Technopedia NormalizeTechnopedia Normalize for Purchase Orders
Version reviewed Version 4
Date of version release Version was released on August 10th, 2013.
Year founded 2002
Customers 100+
Pricing Structure Technopedia Normalize pricing is based on number of devices whose data is being normalized.
Competitive Differentiators
  • BDNA normalizes data across multiple vendors and feel very confident to be able to offer SLAs on the level of data accuracy and completeness
  • BDNA employ a team to curate and add Market Intelligence to that normalized data
  • They have now applied those same algorithms to Purchase Orders in either structured or unstructured fields – so now information can be tracked from acquisition to retirement.
Additional Features They recognise that larger customers are able to negotiate extended products (for example where end of life support may be extended) and they offer a Private Catalog offering to capture and normalize that data but it is not sharable with any other organisation.

Independent Review

Integrations 2013 Group Test Best in Class: BDNA

BDNA has tapped into a concept so simple – it is a wonder that no-one has really figured this out before. Except they have – in endless projects to tidy up disparate asset collections with equally endless meetings to define taxonomy and standards.

What BDNA do is fiendishly simple – they bring in data, clean it up, align it to a sensible, and it has to be said logical taxonomy, and then push it back to your ITSM system.

Their data factory then can pull information in as scheduled and repeat the entire process, until anything all data is defined as either relevant or irrelevant (i.e. too low level).

The fact is the Technopedia Catalog grows organically all the time – and the data can be used to apply to other customers – although they do take care to strip out sensitive information.

The real value is the way they enrich the data with market intelligence – a team of people collect information such as End of Life state, Upgrade and Downgrade information, Operating System compatibilities. They can also collect information like power ratings which can be vital information for large data centre transformation projects.

BDNA will supply their own taxonomy – they have developed this with two or three iterations from scratch and now have a sensible hierarchy of:

Category – Sub Category – Vendor – Product.

The area of taxonomy is one that sometimes has people with emotional attachments to long strings of hierarchy – this feels spot on.

BDNA also provide customers with a real-time analysis tool to slice and dice their information which makes it a powerful tool when you consider areas like compliance.

When they apply this same knowledge to the mish-mash of information held in Purchase Orders and can perform those same levels of normalization – the end to end capability of this software is remarkable.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

There are three phases to their integration process:

  • Identity reconciliation – establishing a unique identity of the elements being managed
  • Consistency across the systems
  • The ability to support the integration in a vendor agnostic manner – so it does not matter what the source is, the information is brought in and normalized.

In the demonstration, it was staggering to see that even within one software brand, the markers differed to a large extent, from the Vendor company name to the software itself.

BDNA bring that in, and define a standard reference from which to act as the root for the definition.

Security Controls

BDNA have the ability to strip out sensitive information, for example user ids and machine ids – they assign an alternative id so that they can maintain a connection to the course systems but that data is withheld as they propagate the data elsewhere.

Pre-Deployment Integration

Even though this is not a traditional ITSM tool, the task of collecting the Master Data is a very integral part of the process and this is where BDNA comes into its own.

BDNA’s Technopedia Catalog is a definitive library of hardware and software elements of more than 300,000 different hardware elements and more than 350,000 types of software.

BDNA augment this catalog with over 1000 updates, daily. In addition to the product data, they add contextual market intelligence about the products – for example compatibility, power ratings, dimensions etc.

This information then be piped back in to an ITSM tool with a single standardised definition of the hardware and software being managed, with the following advantages and conditions:

  • No manual entry of catalogs thus avoiding the errors and duplications that can have a ripple effect on all ITSM/ITIL processes and the integrations that depend on these.
  • BDNA provide a consistent model that works across vendors such as IBM, HP, ServiceNow, BMC etc.
  • Automated maintenance of this model through the Data as a Service model keeps the information current and prevents drifts in ITSM/ITIL systems that introduce inefficiencies over time.

Asset and Configuration Information

Technopedia Normalize takes data from 36 input sources that feed Asset and Configuration data –typically discovery systems from vendors such as HP, BMC, ServiceNow, Microsoft, and Cisco etc.

Once imported, the data is filtered to remove items that are considered non-essential or irrelevant for typical ITIL processes, for example low-level DLLs, patches, tools within a software distribution etc.

They discard any duplicates and assign the data to their taxonomy to give it its definitive name/identity from the Technopedia Catalog, and the definitive information is integrated back into ITSM.

Configuration data is passed from the source system into ITSM after it has been through its reconciliation to ensure that the data is correct as it comes into configuration management, again using the Technopedia Catalog taxonomy.

Additional Areas of Integration

BDNA have made the Technopedia catalog free online – there you can search through manufacturers, hardware and software and see some of the contextual business intelligence as well.

  • Technopedia Normalize for Purchase Orders

The issue with Purchase Orders is that often product data is even more fragmented than the multiple definitions in hardware and software inventory sources. BDNA have established a method of taking the structured and unstructured fields and applying the same normalization process to pull out the information, and align it to their taxonomy. In this way, the information can be integrated across Financial and Business system as well ITSM.

BDNA Customers

From the BDNA Brochure

  • BDNA Data as a Service – we take data from your systems, clean it and enrich it with market intelligence to provide insights that directly lead to action.
  • Technopedia is the world’s largest categorised repository of information on enterprise software and hardware.
  • Updates over 1000 data points daily through the Technopedia Data Factory to ensure Technopedia is current and complete – and offers an SLA on data refresh and turnaround time.

In Their Own Words:

BDNA is the leading Data as a Service (DaaS) company whose industrialized approach to delivering clean data solves the challenge enterprise IT has faced for years in wasteful spending, recognizing risk, improving IT processes and unlocking new value streams. IT data is fraught with quality issues and is inconsistent, inaccurate and incomplete which makes it difficult to gain meaningful insights from the data.

The BDNA solution aggregates IT data from more than 35 supported data sources, filters, de-duplicates, normalizes and enriches the data with market intelligence. The resulting clean, curated and complete data can then be used by any ITIL process including ITSM, ITAM, CMS/CMDB, IT Planning, Cost and Governance, Procurement etc., to improve ROI, increase efficiency and drive decisions.

Technopedia™ Catalog: The world’s largest cloud-based IT reference catalog, providing over 900,000 hardware and software products and configuration items (CIs) in a structured taxonomy.

Technopedia™ Content: BDNA’s market intelligence repository for over 900,000 software and hardware products with over 2,500 updates per day and over 38 million market data points including software EOL dates, support data, hardware lifecycle and many more.

Technopedia Normalize™: Aggregates, filters and de-duplicates raw data from over 35 enterprise data sources, aligns the results to Technopedia Catalog and enriches with Technopedia Content.

Technopedia Normalize for Purchase Orders: Normalizes purchase orders with or without manufacturer’s part numbers enabling organizations to accurately establish what was purchased and map that to actual usage providing data clarity and consistency across purchasing systems and other IT systems of record.

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

An Interview with Peter Hepworth, CEO at AXELOS

In the run up to the official go live of the joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Capita in January 2014, AXELOS CEO Peter Hepworth and team have been busy attending conferences and workshops gaining community feedback to help shape and guide the future of ITIL.

Ahead of itSMF Estonia on the 11th December I chatted to Peter about what AXELOS have planned for 2014 and how you can get involved.

Peter will be presenting at itSMF Estonia on the 11th of December
Peter is looking forward to presenting at itSMF Estonia in December

Your 12-month strategy roadmap has just been announced. Is there anything that you personally are particularly excited about?

Having a clear roadmap is a very exciting prospect.  It’s hugely important to us to progress ITIL in the right direction and so the debate and improvement ideas that have been put forward by the community have been listened to very carefully.

The good news is that what we’ve been hearing from the workshops has validated for us that we are on the right course.

When will the Axelos website be up and running?

Official go live is 1st January 2014 which is when the initial website will go live.  We will developing a full service portal during 2014.

How do you feel about ITIL Foundation being compared to the driving test: You don’t learn to drive to pass your test, you pass your test to learn to drive and then forget most of what your driving instructor taught you as soon as you leave the test centre?

The ongoing success of ITIL would suggest that many companies find a way to make the framework fit very well into their company and keep it relevant.  I hope that in the future more companies and practitioners will be willing to share their experiences with others so that the wider community can learn from these successes.

ITIL is big here in the UK but there have been comments by practitioners in other countries who seem bemused by all the fuss over something that barely reaches their radar ordinarily.  What, if any, plans do you have to increase the reach of ITIL?

I am attending conferences in the USA, Japan, Australia and Germany, and obviously Estonia in the next few weeks and we are currently translating ITIL into new languages.  As well as translating we are also concentrating on making the content more culturally relevant and localised however ITIL is already very strong in many territories.

The ITIL Foundation app was recently released on iTunes, are there any plans to extend the platforms it is available on?

Yes. At the moment we are in test and learn mode and then we will start thinking about extending to Android and Windows devices and other translations.  The feedback we have received so far has been very positive and we’d like to thank everyone that has been involved in testing.

What are you most looking forward to at itSMF Estonia?

As with the other conferences I have attended the bit I look forward to the most is the debate and improvement ideas that come direct from the community.

To find out more about the itSMF Estonia Conference visit its website.

Image Credit

The Coming Workforce: A Case for IT Service Management

millenial
Welcome to the Millenial generation

With the Boomer generation set to retire en mass, IT organizations are faced with the unprecedented brain drain of institutional knowledge. Generation X and Millennials have decidedly different work styles and career expectations than previous generations.

At the same time, expectations of productivity and customer value generation have never been higher. IT organizations must find ways to deliver increasing levels of service while embracing the next generation workforce.

Forbes.com contributor Jeanne Meister recently wrote that Job Hopping is the ‘New Normal’ for Millennials. She cites the staggering finding that 91% of Millennials plan to stay in a job “less than 3 years”, and will have 15 – 20 jobs  in their career. They are also quick to leave a position that is no longer meeting their needs.

While much has been written about organizational cultural changes to engage and retain millennials, I’m going to talk about working on the other side of the equation.

What can IT organizations do to thrive in the reality of the Two Year Employee?

The 2-year Employee

Most agree that it takes around six months for a new employee just to reach the break even point – where they’re producing more than they cost. Beyond that, the complexity of IT environments, and the amount of deep knowledge that takes years to learn makes it very hard for new staff to reach the ‘fully trained point’ even in the space of two years, let alone making a significant contribution. Imagine if your most senior IT staff have been on board less than three years!

And that’s the problem.

If it takes two years to bring Two Year Employees up to speed, something needs to change

And fast.

Rather than fight a losing battle against a culture we can’t change, we need to build an organizational culture around the Two Year reality.

Millennials bring a high level of self-motivation, initiative, and performance. They are eager to make a contribution to an organization that shares their values. If they aren’t allowed to do meaningful work quickly, they will leave for an organization that better meets their needs.

We’re currently burning a lot of that positive energy teaching them ‘how-we-do-it-here’.

A Comparison

Let’s take a brief look at an industry that has already dealt with rapid on-boarding:Construction.

A General Contractor is engaged to build a home. She works with the customer to understand their requirements, and coordinates with a wide assortment of sub-contractors for various parts of construction – foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing, heating, roofing.

The sub-contractors show up with their crews to complete their part of the project, and the General Contractor has a high degree of confidence in a quality result.

Why?

Because there is a body of how-it’s-done in the various trades, guided by:

  • Building codes (governance)
  • Tricks of the trade (best practices)
  • Customer expectations (business outcomes)

I’ll spare you the how-it’s-like-ITIL analogy.

This is the nature of the construction business. The General Contractor has to be able to bring in workers who can immediately produce value. She doesn’t have time to teach them ‘how we do it here’. Whether you’re a framer or electrician, you are expected to know how to apply your knowledge of the codes and tricks of the trade to get the job done here.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying IT is like the construction industry. But the need for immediate value from short-term workers has driven a different model that’s worth exploring.

Time To Value

For the sake of argument, let’s say it takes two years for a new IT employee to be fully contributing. If they stay for 20 years, we’ve invested roughly 10% in their long-term productivity. Not a bad investment.

But the math doesn’t pencil out for a 2-year employee. The same 10% investment means they have to hit max productivity at around 2 months. Minor on-boarding tweaks and new retention efforts won’t get us there.

The solution isn’t to change new people to fit outdated practices, but rather to change our old practices to fit the new workforce!

Tribal Knowledge

Undocumented institutional knowledge makes it difficult and time consuming for new staff to be as productive as long-term staff.  There simply isn’t enough time to transfer 30 years of knowledge to a new employee, and even if it were possible, the person to whom its transferred is likely to leave much sooner than their predecessor.

Millennials are demotivated by the idea that it will take 10 years to contribute fully and earn a respected position.

This is a major liability that can no longer be maintained.

IT Service Management as a Workforce Strategy

For the record, I’m NOT a Human Resources professional, but I am a seasoned IT Manager concerned with the implication of significant numbers of retirements and the impact it’s already having on IT’s ability to deliver consistent quality and cost effectiveness.

The next generation of IT Professionals will be of the Millennial variety, and the common practice of training new hires ‘how we do things here’ poses a significant challenge.

IT Service Management frameworks like ITIL and COBIT are global best-practices framework for Service delivery that offers a standardized approach. These standards are shared across countries, continents, and companies.

Much like the building codes and tricks of the trade I mentioned above for the construction trades, these best practices are the key to not only survive, but to thrive with the Two Year employee.

The extent to which an organization is aligned with widely-adopted external standards directly determines how effective they will be with the coming workforce. Organizations with strong alignment will have a huge advantage in workforce time-to-value.

Standardization for it’s own sake has no real purpose but, as a workforce strategy, it has enormous value. It’s a strategic investment in an organization’s ability to thrive with millennial workers and the culture they bring.

On-Boarding in a Best Practices Organization

Newly hired employees who are trained in ITSM require very little explanation of “how -things are done here”.

Training can go more like:

Hiring Manager: Cheryl Smith is the Change Manager. CAB meets on Thursday at 9:00am.

New Employee: Where do I fill out RFCs?

Hiring Manager: <myorg/ChangeManagement>

New Employee: Does CAB meet in person?

Hiring Manager: Yes, room D713

The point being – they already get it. The know what CAB and RFCs mean, and they know how it’s done. A few minor ‘where’s the restroom’ kind of questions, and they’re good to go.

Services are well documented through the Service Strategy and Service Design phases. There is clarity and consistency in roles and responsibilities. Processes are well defined and have clear owners. Very little happens through undocumented, informal processes.

Service and process knowledge is documented in Knowledge Management. Documentation is kept up to date through Change and Release processes. All staff have access to the accurate information that they need to effectively do their job.

New staff with ITSM experience require very little how-we-do-it training when you’re using standard ITSM processes. Not only do new employees onboard faster, but they also bring valuable experience that’s compatible with best practices.

Hiring in a Best Practices Organization

The hiring process must include selection of candidates who have solid ITSM training and experience. It is no longer optional. Candidates must have both the technical skills and the ITSM process experience to be a good fit.

Colleges are starting to include course work in ITIL and organizations large and small are using ITSM to great success. Qualified millennial candidates with working knowledge of ITSM from college or a prior employer are increasingly common.

Hiring managers must consider the ROI of candidates, and shorter time-to-value is key for the Two Year Employee.

Embrace the Two Year Employee

Ready or not, welcome to the future.

If we can’t change Millennials, and I submit you cannot, then we must change our organizations to maximize value through them. We need to embrace the Two Year Employee as a strategic advantage.

IT Service Management is the key.

ITSM not only helps IT be more customer-aligned and effective, it also greatly reduces time-to-value of new employees.

If the thought of retiring Boomers, brain drain, and Two Year Employees scares you, think ITSM.  IT Service Management is an effective IT workforce strategy!

 Image Credit

Lather, rinse and repeat your process

shampooLather, Rinse and Repeat (LRR). Straightforward instructions. Hard to mess up. Or is it? If you follow these instructions, when do you stop?

The phrase has come to be indicative of two things; a) a way of pointing out instructions, if taken literally, would never end (or would continue at least until you run out of shampoo), or b) “a sarcastic metaphor for following instructions without critical thought”.

The author Benjamin Cheever wrote about these words in his book “The Plagiarist” (SPOILER ALERT – in the book, a marketing executive becomes an overnight legend by simply adding the word REPEAT to the instructions. Of course, sales of shampoo skyrocket).

The point is this, this is a process and the process has not changed or been updated in a long while.

Are you sure it’s a process?

Yep. Here is how I know.

The base statement of “Wash Hair” does not cover the steps needed to complete the activity. LRR fulfills the steps. LRR is not a procedure, as the activities do not provide instruction on how to complete the steps.

So what is the problem?

On the positive side, the process is simple and easy to understand. However, the biggest issue with it is “Do I really need to repeat”? “What happens if I don’t”?

So what’s the point with regards to ITSM?

  1. Let’s first look at the positive to LRR, it’s a simple process to follow, it isn’t complicated. Do we work to make ITSM process as simple as possible? My experience shows that we, as IT people, tend to grab Visio, graph every possibility without question, and produce a monster swim lane diagram. Do we add complexity because the customer requires it or because we have cool systems that do cool things? Or can we learn from the simplicity of LRR?
  2. Another plus point to LRR, the process is universal and aimed at the end-user. Regardless of why or where you have bought your shampoo, you know what to do with it when you are ready to use it. You can execute the LRR process with little training and/or thought. With regards to ITSM do we design processes to help our customers or to help IT? Can customers execute IT processes with little training and/or thought? It is always interesting to ask why we (IT) do something. It is shocking to see how many times the reason focuses on making things better for IT and not for customers.
  3. Then there is the negative, is the process a) even necessary, b) actually adhered to (I can’t say that I lather my hair twice, do you?). Lauren Goldstine takes on the need for LRR in a 1999 article entitled “Lather, Rinse, Repeat: Hygiene Tip or Marketing Ploy” In her article, Ms. Goldstine indicates that Repeat is probably no longer necessary due to the advances in shampoo tech, yet most shampoo bottles you look at will have the process. In ITSM do we spend time looking at how to make a process better?

Ok but seriously, what can ITSM learn from a shampoo process?

As ITSM practitioners, do we take the time to think about the processes we ask others to adopt? Do we work to remove obfuscation? Or do we trot out big ideas/opinions regarding how IT should work? To me, LRR is a reminder to design processes that can be easily executed and deliver desired results. With that in mind, here are my tips for process design.

Tips for process design

  1. Keep it simple – look for redundant steps. Remove points of “distraction” from the process flow. Ask frequently, “do we really need this step?” AND “what value does the customer get from it?”. If you cannot answer the value question, most likely, you do not need this step of the process. Other tests to verify your process is simple – can people easily explain and discuss the process? The more complex the process is the greater the chance that people will not internalize it and probably will not discuss it with colleagues and customers. If the team is not willing and/or capable of talking about the process, how will you get continual improvement to happen?
  2. Make it elegant – keeping it simple should not translate into “skimp on feature”. You should design processes to meet the needs of the business and to be easy enough to execute. The context of your situation should drive how elegant your process needs to be.
  3. Customer first – design every process with the mantra of “Customer First”. Take the time to learn who the customer is, why they need the process, and what they expect from the process. If you determine that there is a gap between expectation and delivered value, determine how to close the gap.
  4. Borrow liberally – don’t keep “reinventing the wheel”. Look at other processes (both inside and outside of your organization) and determine if the process/steps fit the context. If so, use them! The benefit is that IT teams should not need to undergo additional training since they already know how to execute specific steps. In fact, if I am in a service owner role, I would ensure that I look at the processes of my fellow service/process owners, and when I find a process that will work for my situation, I would simply declare “I follow team x process”. Doing this would alleviate me from the ownership and management of the process and documentation, but would also mean that I must work to build/maintain a partnership with the other service/process owners.
  5. Test – verify what you think will actually work. Get feedback from the folks who will execute the process (in fact, do this all the way through your design). Ensure the process will meet the expected business outcomes. Do not launch a process that will not meet needs or is not ready. At the same time, do not try to make the process perfect. Doing so means you will never launch simply because “it just needs a little more tweaking.”

Spend time in the design phase determine what constitutes “success” for the process and make sure you measure as you test.

Then, with all of the steps above: Plan, Build, Test. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

It really is that simple. And yes, the idea for this article came to me in the shower.

Image Credit 

The Internet of Things, Big Data and ITSM

Science fiction becoming science fact
Science fiction becoming science fact

I have noticed recently during my travels with EasyVista, that Hotel staff have begun to offer two or three WIFI codes on check-in, in recognition of the fact that we are all carrying multiple devices. Like sheep and rats, devices connected to the Internet outnumber humans.

The number of objects connected to the Internet actually surpassed humans back in 2008. According to Cisco 12.5 billion devices were connected in 2010 and they predict 25BN devices by 2015 and 50BN by 2020. Nowadays the average professional might be connected via their phone, tablet and PC. In a few years time you might also add their home thermostat, fridge, home media centre, home surveillance system, health monitoring system and so on.

The Internet of Things

This growing trend of everyday objects sending and receiving data over the Internet is known as the Internet of things or industrialized Internet.

Sensors can be embedded everywhere and programmed to either communicate with us, or communicate with each other.

Machine-to-Machine Communications (M2M)

RFID chips have led the way in devices communicating data about themselves – but this has been surpassed by the incredibly low cost and ease of access of simply providing devices with WIFI connectivity and management control with a cheap smart phone app.

In the absence of a usable WIFI connection, many devices can use a simple mobile phone SIM card to communicate with the wider world. M2M is a huge growth area for the mobile telecommunications industry, especially as connected devices are growing at a faster rate than humans and can provide significant strategic advantage to businesses that analyze and act on their activity.

Runbook Automation – If this, then that

Futurists have long predicted the fridge that can order it’s own food. But the Internet of Things is far from science fiction. Smart meters and apps on smart phones can already monitor and regulate heating in your home or remind you of tasks to be done based on location.

One of the most fascinating developments in the last couple of years is for devices and services to perform actions based on certain criteria. This is demonstrated perfectly via the free online service IFTTT (If this, then that). Simply connect your online services and use ‘recipes’ to automate tasks such as ‘Turn on the lights when I go into a room’. 16 years ago I travelled to Microsoft in Seattle. I had a meeting with Steve Ballmer, but while I was there, one of the execs showed me around ‘Microsoft house’. When you walked from the bedroom into the lounge, the building sensed nobody was in the bedroom, so the wall moved making the lounge bigger and the bedroom smaller. Perhaps a little too visionary, but it was clever.

It is only matter of time before these consumer-oriented services are standard in the enterprise; Zapier is an example of a corporate grade automation tool for joining together hundreds of different SaaS APIs. If the automation sounds too trivial for business consider that pharmaceuticals are building tablets that can signal when they’ve been swallowed or suitcases that can tell passengers their luggage has been loaded on the wrong flight.

Enterprise Automation

Early adopters for such automation are logistics companies using efficient freight routing or redirection based on real time congestion data to save fuel and time. Manufacturing plants are using sensors to adjust the position of component parts in the assembly process to improve efficiency and reduce errors.

The same logic can be applied to the delivery of IT Services:

  • Enterprise objects can have an online ‘information shadow’ similar to the additional reference material found on a Google map or an augmented reality. Printers have long been able to communicate their status over the network – this can be applied to all things a business owns.
  • Support can be provided in context. In an ideal world I only want to be reminded to buy batteries when I’m stood in the queue at the supermarket next to the batteries. The same filtering can be applied to support – for example knowledgebase information can be shown when customers are in a certain location, or using a certain process or device.
  • Devices can also create new knowledge or provide intelligent services. IBM’s Watson is already answering help desk calls.
  • Smart business equipment can report their own faults in real time, and use predictive analysis to prevent failures in the future.  Field service operations can be quicker and more efficient.

Automating a network of connected devices over the Internet is obviously not without risk. As with all IT Services, organizations need to be concerned with what happens with a system failure, or the ramifications of a vulnerability attack when business devices are automated and autonomous. Privacy of data and cultural shifts should also be considered, the UK retailer Tesco received complaints from packing staff for using armbands on staff to track worker productivity.

What this means for IT Service and support

What does this mean to those delivering and supporting IT services?

Ultimately businesses can harness data collected from the Internet of Things to provide better services and make better decisions based on real time data. All of these devices and online services create unprecedented volumes of data to analyze (known as Big Data). For IT Service Management professionals, new skills will be required to visualize these huge data sets, draw insights from the data exhaust and architect run book automation scenarios.

Traditionally IT support have used data from tickets or infrastructure to facilitate support – the great opportunity with the Internet of Things is to learn more about the users themselves and their behavior in order to provide exceptional support.

It also means that IT may just become BFF with marketing 😉

The 2014 ITSM Tools Universe

Runners, riders, market share and market focus for the ITSM Tools market
2014 ITSM Tools Universe: Runners, riders, market share and market focus for the whole ITSM Tools market

Please note that we are no longer accepting entries to be part of this report.

Today we kick off our 2014 ITSM Tools Universe research in which we will be looking at the multitude of tools out there that claim to help with the management of Information Technology Services; from one function tools through to the ‘all-singing-all-dancing’ suites.

Why invest in ITSM tools?

Organizations typically invest in ITSM technology to help them:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Improve service availability and response times
  • Integrate or improve integration between processes
  • Improve root cause analysis
  • Automate or improve business workflows
  • Improve business visibility of IT services

We are looking to talk with ANY supplier who has technology in these areas.

The Assessment Process

There is no cost to participate in our ITSM Universe research.

Steps:

  1. Complete this online questionnaire
  2. Upon completion, schedule an online briefing and arrange customer references

We have tried to automate our assessment process as much as possible given the number of tools we plan to assess, so we have used an online submission form to initiate the process. I have posted a PDF version for participants for reference. If you have any questions please contact me.

ITSM Universe Objectives

Rather than reviewing just the major competitors, this review hopes to shed light on the emerging players and, over time, the changes in the position of the companies involved and moves in market share.

Consideration will also be given to where vendors focus their efforts and to which customer type their products are suitable.

Results will be published in Spring 2014 using our ‘Universe Methodology‘.

The criteria we will be focusing on is as follows:

  • Competitive differentiators
  • ITSM processes included out of the box
  • The level of in-house customization possible and by whom
  • Possible configurations available out of the box
  • Self-Service options
  • Reporting capabilities
  • Process linkage
  • Interaction with business outcomes
  • Alignment with industry frameworks

The last tool showcase I attended offered very little in the way of USP promotion so I am especially interested to see what vendors believe are their competitive differentiators …please don’t let it be ‘The Cloud’!

Participating Vendors

Other Vendors

The following vendors will not be part of this report:

These vendors either declined, were unable to commit to the report schedule or were unable to provide customer references.

Anybody for some festive networking?

christmasIt’s happening. Our first post about Christmas is here. To be fair, the Christmas cards have been in the shops (in the UK) since September and it is (believe it or not) only 34 days until Christmas Day, so hopefully that means I can get away with posting festive cheer in November?!

To avoid hearing too many “bah humbugs” I’ll try to keep this post short and sweet. We are arranging an informal ITSM and ITAM Christmas meal in London on Monday 9th December (yes it’s on a school night) and we would love for as many of our readers to join us as possible.

Whether you’re a practitioner, vendor, or consultant we would love to have you come along for some informal networking, Christmas crackers, putting the ITAM and ITSM world to rights, a few tipples, and generally just a fabulous time.

Full details on location, costs and how to RSVP can be found below. Apologies to all of our readers outside of the UK, as our sites continue to grow and prosper we hope to be able to arrange similar networking events like this on a more global basis.


WHAT

Informal ITSM and ITAM Christmas meal

WHERE

7pm – 8pm drinks at The Phoenix Artist Club

8pm onwards meal at Punjab (because Indian is very Christmassy, ok?)

WHEN

Monday 9th December from 7pm GMT

COSTS

Cost of your individual meal and drinks will be payable on the night. We recommend budgeting between £30-50 for the evening. Please note that we will not be responsible for the final bill. There is a £10 deposit required per person.

RSVP

Please contact me directly to confirm your attendance. Deposit instructions will then be provided.

CONFIRMED ATTENDEES

If your name is not on this list and you were expecting it to be, or if your name is on the list and you can now no longer attend please let me know!

Image Credit

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.