I find attending conferences and events extremely useful. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge in the shape of industry experts, vendors and people like you and me who have already gone through those pain points we are currently dealing with. All we have to do is listen, take notes and grab handouts.
Useful as conferences are I, like many of you, do not always have the ability to take a day or more out of my working life to attend and as for getting money from the boss to travel to, attend and in some cases stay over at events, well lets just say I’m getting lots of practice at writing business cases with persuasive arguments.
To save you some energy for that impressive and compelling business case here is my list of the events, conferences and experiences for the first half of 2015 that are worth your time and (your bosses) money*.
The first of a new series of Knowledge Exchange seminars sees itSMF UK looking at Service Management today and how industry experts and leaders are dealing with the current big challenges we’re facing and promises to help us prepare for the intense changes ITSM is currently undergoing.
Despite being a trade event SITS has a fantastic amount of useful info you can take away with no less than 36 seminars being held over the two days from the likes of the fabulous Andie Kis who should have a conference all to herself and everyone’s favourite Texan Daniel Breston.
What’s more if you book before Tuesday 2nd June entry is free!
If you are a public sector service desk then this one is for you. SDI events are always well thought out with the mixture of presentations, case studies and interactive activities making for an enjoyable, engaging and worthwhile experience.
At £185 (+VAT) these days are fantastic value for money and are particularly good at focusing on a particular subject or issue.
If these all sound great but you just don’t have the time then there is an alternative…
Every 2 months Conference in a Box send out a package covering a different subject with Metrics, Social IT, Best Practice, Gamification and Kanban being covered so far. In your box you’ll find a collection of learning materials, access to the speakers online and some goodies to ensure you don’t miss out on one of the best bits of trawling the exhibition floor.
Conference boxes are between £29.99 and £59.99 and have the added bonus of you being able to attend in your pajamas!
*All conferences/events etc above have been attended/test driven by either myself or a team member. If you run or know of a conference that you think would be beneficial to the ITSM community please let us know via this link
I’ve seen various posts and conversations over the last year or so on certification where the recurring question is posed…
PMP or ITIL Expert?
Some may consider that the PMP certification is only useful for Project Managers or that the ITIL Expert certification only for ITSM professionals. This would be a limited view on the usefulness of both certifications. Either pursuit will certainly be more helpful than harmful to a career and if you can do both, it would be beneficial.
However, depending on where you are in your career, what you aspire to be, you may be more inclined to pick one over the other. Most of us are pressed for time and may not have the option of pursing both certifications, so we will have to choose.
So which one do I think is more useful and valuable? Let me take a minute to make my case…
Cost Containment versus Revenue Generation
There are two primary ways to increase profit – reduce your costs or increase your revenue. Which of these two aspects are you more interested in? Which of these two aspects are successful businesses more interested in pursuing? If we read “The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think” we know that successful companies tend to focus on being better before being cheaper and chase new revenue before cutting costs.
This would imply that a company is more likely to look favourably on and fund projects and efforts that generate revenue more so than they are on projects and efforts that look to contain costs. Take a moment to look up “CIO Revenue Generation” or “CIO Cost Containment” and you will find more articles about revenue and value creation than about pure cost containment.
Let’s take a moment and think about how this relates to ITIL and Project Management…
ITIL and Cost Containment
While ITIL does cover a wide range of subjects and aspects of IT Service Management, it is in practice primarily focused on IT Operations such as Process Management/Ownership and, more specifically, Service Desk processes and functions. This is evident by the number of job postings, discussions on social media (it is interesting to note that here on The ITSM Review the top 10 searches are all related to process and Operations), and even Intermediary Certification results show a focus on Incident, Problem, Request and Change Management, with Service Operations and Operational Support and Analysis being the two most popular taken Intermediate Exams. At the same time there are very few jobs that require ITIL Expert certifications that have anything to do with Service Strategy or Service Design.
Focusing on IT Operations is generally about being more efficient, which essentially translates to cost reduction. There is also a strong case for ITIL helping the organisation be “better” – mostly through customer service interaction in Operations and continual service improvement (CSI) which is usually focused on Operations or Transition but is rarely done to improve something in Strategy or Design. Think about this, what is in your CSI Register right now? Is it “inside-out” (making IT run better) or “outside-in” (making a new product/service)?
These programs are often hampered by the difficulty in quantifying “soft costs”, they don’t generally create revenue and it is hard to measure how much money they will save the company. However, it is usually fairly easy to see how much the program cost. Ordinarily these types of efforts are not funded at all, not funded fully or brought to a premature end leaving everyone a bit unsatisfied with the results and a host of “lessons learned“. For example in his article 6 Barriers to Proactive Problem Management, Stephen Mann clearly states this is an internally focused, hard to quantify effort that is focused on cost savings not revenue generation.
Project Management and Revenue Generation
Project Management however is not primarily focused on IT operations but more likely to be involved in IT Strategy and Design on a more frequent basis than ITSM programs or efforts. Being part of IT Strategy and Design increases the opportunities you will have to be part of an effort to generate revenue not just opportunities to cut costs. Being a PM will more likely allow you to gain experience with a wider variety of IT Services and products and not just back-end IT (operation) processes. This type of experience will be much more useful as you manage your career and look for more leadership opportunities.
A PM will be involved in any new product or service being rolled out. These have a much higher probability of being “high profile” as they are much more likely to be tied to increased revenues or improving the company brand (making things better).
Keep in mind any major IT Operations effort (such as implementing an ITSM solution such as ServiceNow, BMC Remedy etc) will also likely be treated as a “project” and may come with a Project Manager. The ITIL Expert may be there as the Subject Matter Expert but may not be the one briefing senior leadership on the status – that is a job that is usually left to the PM.
Road Warrior or Career Ladder
So we can see that being a PM does not exclude you from ITSM efforts and is also more likely to include revenue or value creation projects. Being an ITSM professional is likely to be mainly focused on cost containment and nearly entirely within the ITSM space. But what about the total number of job opportunities or types of opportunities?
Well, how many ITIL Experts does an organization need? At most maybe a half a dozen, but usually just one or two will suffice and quite often there are none. Organizations are much more likely to have several PMPs, maybe even 10 or 20 of them. It quite likely that the CIO or IT Director is a PMP as well whereas there are fewer that are also ITIL Experts.
Also, a job search will show that the majority of ITIL Expert jobs are for short term contracts (or Consulting Firms). You are more likely to find more long term employment opportunities as a Project Manager than you are as an ITIL Expert.
If you go down the ITIL Expert route, you are more likely going to find the majority of your opportunities on the road. You may have to start looking for new opportunities while still working the current one. This can be exciting for some, but for others, this can be a major source of concern. You can live that same kind of life as a Project Manager but if you want to land a more secure working life, you will find more opportunities to do so as a PM than as an ITIL Expert.
As an ITIL Expert, because the majority of the focus is on back-end processing and more specifically on IT Operations (cost containment) you may find it difficult to make a transition to a leadership or management position that is not on a Service Desk or narrowly focused on process improvement.
As a Project Manager you will be leading people, and many projects are about new functionality, new service offerings, and may be more centered around new revenue streams. This is far more interesting to the business and as such far more impressive when looking to achieve a higher level leadership position within a company.
Also ITIL Expert is essentially as high as you will go in the field. Yes, there is the ITIL Master level, which there are approximately zero jobs for, and maybe…50 people in the world who have achieved this level. It is hard to know beyond an ego boost this certification would do for you and your career.
For the PMP you can go on to achieve the Program Management Professional (PgMP) certification. Which there are hundreds of jobs postings for and have an average salary that is higher (as shown by this salary comparison) this certification is worthwhile and raises the ceiling on your income potential.
If you wish to become specialized then you can focus on Agile Project Management. There are several certifications you can achieve around this including ScrumMaster (CSM) and the Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP). These open up more job opportunities especially as Agile and DevOps becomes more widely accepted and practiced.
In the broader ITSM world you also have options for other certifications such as COBIT or ISO/IEC 20000 certifications but neither quite have the job market demand to justify it. Neither will lead you to a higher salary but they may be just enough to make a difference on a bid or job interview for a specialized ITSM role.
While there is certainly value in getting an ITIL Expert certification I feel it is more limited and less applicable than the knowledge, skill and experience one gets as a PMP. If you absolutely love IT Operations, and process improvement and you don’t mind being a gun for hire (maybe you like being your own boss) then being an ITIL Expert is a great way to go. There is plenty of money in it, and plenty of opportunity out there.
However, if you career is more angled for long term career growth inside a company and you want to know more about the business aspect of IT then the PMP is the better bet. Being a PMP does not exclude you from ITSM efforts (as noted above) and in fact may make you better at pitching, managing, and implementing various ITSM efforts. It will also give you a better foundation to explore other aspects of IT.
Agree/disagree? Let me know in the comments below.
The ITSM Review was invited to Cherwell Software’s EMEA Region Customer Conference on February 11th 2015, in Windsor, Berkshire, UK hosting in the region of 130 customers and partners.
The 2 day conference consisted of 25 educational sessions, covering ITSM & ITAM best practices from a mixture of Cherwell staff from the US and UK, industry experts and Cherwell customers.
We were keen to attend as customer conferences are always a good way to get a good understanding of what challenges ITSM professional face in their everyday work and how they use technology to find solutions to address these challenges in an informal and relaxed environment.
ITSM as Organisational Focal Point
There was a friendly and upbeat atmosphere at the event led by European MD Tony Probert and his team.
The Cherwell motto is ‘Innovative technology built on timeless values’ which seemed to fit the ethos of the event as the focus and structure of the first day was on simple and old fashioned customer engagement; listening to their customer’s feedback and requirements of the software and as importantly, how it is used to drive innovation of the tool in the future. The feedback loop from their customers accounted for 31% of version 5.0 enhancements came directly from customer requests.
Cherwell President Craig Harper opened the day with explaining that Cherwell were growing rapidly ( 1172% growth last year- Same as Linkedin) but were maintaining the right balance between customers, investors and employees. A refreshing approach in a world of software companies driven by the motivations of venture capitalists.
Engagement and Agility over Firefighting Efficiency
There was a very refreshing and thought provoking presentation from new VP of Product Marketing Jarod Greene, who stated that currently ITSM is reactive ( firefighting) and now needs to move towards a strategic response that is both innovating and engaging. Greene stated that there were the 4 Ps:
People: It’s all about the People
Place : Be where the business is
Platform : Appeal to the business user
Performance : Measure success in business outcomes
Are you ready for 2015? January is behind us—already—and everyone is still scrambling to finish any leftover projects from 2014. Additionally, businesses are knee-deep in forecasting this year’s budgets and headcount. Being successful while maintaining your sanity requires internal team coordination, removing barriers, and working smart by avoiding inefficiencies, wait times, and bottlenecks.
Here are five ways to power up, get your internal teams working like clockwork and use the first quarter to set the tone for the whole year.
1. Organize Your Work
Information is in many places and requests for help are always streaming in. On a typical day, we receive requests from emails, texts, meetings, and even drop by conversations. How do we typically respond? By working harder. But is that always the best answer? Surely we’re entitled to the occasional lunch away from our desk!
It’s a good thing that a little organization can go a long way.
Create processes in your team or department that help you organize and prioritize work. You may be able to leverage tools you already have, such as your help desk/service desk solution to automate those processes and collect all the information you need to be efficient.
There are many ways to get organized.
Some of the common methods we’ve seen are:
Create work queues: Organize your team workload into queues. Think of a queue as a place where work of a certain type, priority, or deadline goes. It’s similar to the way a call center agent might operate – it’s the next call coming in – in order, in priority, waiting for your action, when you’re ready. Queues take the guesswork out of what comes next. They make sure you always know where your attention is needed, and insures an important request doesn’t get buried in an email, and slip through the cracks.
Establish Process Steps: Take some time to define how works get done. What steps need to be followed for common tasks? Once they’re established, agreed upon, and communicated to your team, you’ll have an easier time getting through tasks in a consistent way, rather than reinventing the wheel every time.
Make the process work for you: Pick what you want to work on first. Every person, team and department works differently. So set up processes that help you be more efficient in the way you operate.
By organizing your work, you are not only eliminating stress and surprises, but most importantly you’re scaling the output of your team with the same headcount.
2. Encourage Self Service
We all self-serve when we pay bills, change a phone plan, or check the status of an e-commerce order. Why not apply this to the way we get our work done?
Self-service takes a little up front investment, but the payoffs can be huge. Recent research by Carmelon Digital Marketing found that 42% of customers were able to resolve their questions by going to a content resource. Think of how much time you could free up by not having to respond to simple commonly asked questions such as:
Where can I find our contract template?
How do I account for ad-hoc spend increases?
How do I onboard a contractor?
Don’t already have content that your co-workers can use to answer their own questions? Create it.
Identify the top five most commonly asked questions or tasks and create content that your co-workers can use to self-serve. You will likely save time not just for yourself but others as well.
Documenting processes, internal knowledge, and best practices should be an ongoing practice. In the next year, enforce habits of creating new content for new questions as they arise so you’ll only ever answer them once. Over time your company will have an entire knowledge base at their fingertips and you can focus on the important stuff.
3. Create a Culture of Accountability
Nobody wants to be the person that holds up everyone else. And nobody wants to hand in work late because someone else held him or her up. These are two recommended ways to build a culture of accountability.
Communication: It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to want to jump into work with rolled up sleeves without asking the important questions. Make sure everyone is on the same page about what the required output is, what their expectations are, and if there are any additional resources needed.
Service level agreements, or SLAs: They sound complicated, but they don’t have to be. Once a process is established for how work is requested and responded to, you can establish benchmarks for response times. For example, when Amazon promises to deliver something within two days they likely have benchmarks for each step of the delivery: when the item leaves the warehouse, when it’s loaded on the truck, and when it arrives at the sorting centre. By setting up processes, and then establishing acceptable response times, people and entire teams can ensure that they don’t hold up work for everyone else.
Getting work done on time is not easy. Slip ups and delays are common, if not inevitable. But reducing the amount of delays through smart planning is within our control.
4. Staff Up for the Busy Season
Many companies use the end of year for planning and budgeting headcount for the New Year.
Here are the top ways you can prepare to staff up in 2015:
Learn & Improve: Once you have processes and tools in place, a great by-product is reports on past performance. Look at past reports of work management such as the number of tasks performed in a given week, time taken to complete them, and how often you made and missed your desired times. Then identify the bottlenecks and work to remove them.
Ask with Confidence: Use metrics to show your value and your team’s value in the organization and use that to lobby for an increase in budget or headcount.
5. Reward Everyone for Their Hard Work
In the rush and bustle of getting things done, it’s easy to just chug through one hectic quarter to the next. But, it doesn’t have to be like that. Take some time to thank your coworkers and recognize when they pull through for the team. Take your team out for a meal, send a thank you note, or publicly recognize them in some way. These are great motivators for them to keep pushing throughout the rest of the year – and everyone feels good. Better yet, build systematic rewards when they meet benchmarks so everyone knows that they are playing as a team.
Congratulations. You’ve just read through these five ways to jump start 2015 and you can now begin to put them into practice!
Collaboration, across diverse teams and between levels of the hierarchy remain the twin, unconquered peaks for many organisations. This is also true of collaboration internally, within IT functions. Poor collaboration is often revealed to be the fatal flaw in well publicised corporate disasters. Within IT and between IT and the internal functions IT supports, it is a silent, relentless drain on time, cash, productivity, motivation and talent during organisational projects and operational improvements.
The following shows how teams from three very different organisations identified and overcame barriers to collaboration. In one case the teams were specialists within the same large IT function – responsible for different steps in the service delivery process managed in different countries. The other teams were from different functions including: Finance, Legal, Sales, Marketing, HR and IT.
At its simplest: ‘To work with another person or group to achieve something’. Initially the teams thought of collaboration in terms of:
The tools: The technology and media for accessing and sharing documents and applications, tracking progress, gathering data for decision-making, following processes
The location: In some cases the teams worked remotely, across sites, countries and continents. In others they were on different floors of the same building
However all agreed that the real heart of collaboration was not just working alongside each other to deliver products and services; there was a creative, proactive element and more in-depth on-going knowledge sharing, learning and debate.
Examples of good collaboration included doing interesting, challenging work, discovering a whole new side to people, making a difference and being recognised for it. Poor collaboration led to deep frustrations and anger over what were seen as avoidable blocks by individuals, teams and management. Where these had been left unchecked, the stronger emotions had dulled to cynicism, small barbs of passive-aggressive behaviour such as not turning up to meetings or going against decisions made, indifference to new initiatives and doing the minimum.
What Stops Collaboration Happening?
Human beings, it seems from looking at any news media on any given day, are socially and psychologically programmed to stick to and to defend their own. Collaboration is also a natural human behaviour but which requires a degree of maturity, awareness of self and others, positive perseverance in the face of others’ reluctance and an environment where it is safe to explore the new and unfamiliar. Goffee & Jones’ ‘Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?’ (2006) and Kotter’s ‘Accelerate Change’ (2014), show there are inbuilt systemic loops that discourage collaboration. It takes a resilient individual or team to question their own and others’ habits, behaviours and thinking.
The danger, when senior management talk about collaboration, is that they refer to best practice principles and thinking which make perfect sense but do not connect with the day-to-day experienced of team members and managers ‘on the ground’. In each of these three examples, senior management encouraged teams to first get some perspective, then address the details that mattered to them.
Proceeding sensitively was important, as there would clearly be areas of rawness around attitudes and perceptions relating to behaviour and performance. The groups included speakers of English as a 1st and 2nd (or 3rd …) language from all continents.
Three Barriers Identified by the Groups + Solutions Explored
Among the many barriers identified, these three were the top priorities because
a) everyone could take action and benefit immediately
b) improving these basic communication areas would enable more in-depth collaboration in other areas
Barrier 1 – Emails
The phenomenon of email ‘flaming’ is commonly recognised. When stepping back and analysing the specific language in their emails, the groups were quite shocked. Both managers and team members commented that they had become immune. Comments included: ‘It’s not nice but they are always like this so we try not to let it get to us’. Given that email was the only tool available for communication between some teams on a regular basis, this was critical. The language ranged from the unclear, incomplete and insensitive, to the frankly abusive. Plus, there was limited understanding of the damage that a frustrated ‘cc’ escalation could cause, particularly in cultures with more hierarchical relationships.
The groups focused initially on factors outside their control. These included frustrations around (perceived or real) poor planning and prioritisation passed down the hierarchy, skills gaps, bottlenecks, misaligned processes, managers using unhelpful language themselves. However, when the focus was directed at what practical steps were possible, the group started to feel less embattled, more positive and more willing to take on some responsibility for finding solutions. E.g.: Asking for a meeting, picking up the phone and asking questions.
Having discussed the 7 areas of waste identified in ‘Lean’ process reviews, one team identified ‘Waiting’ for action from those interdependent teams, as an area to work on. By using the ‘neutral’ vocabulary of the ‘Lean’ thinking, they could name their concerns and offer practical suggestions more comfortably.
Barrier 2 – International English
There were some good examples in all the groups of ‘false friends’ where 2nd/3rd language English speakers had done their best to articulate their needs, and the native speakers, perhaps having never experienced working in a second language, took the words used at face value. Some examples included the use of ‘You should …’ which sounds like a command to a British reader but in German translates as ‘May I suggest that you …’ .
Actually discussing these language aspects was extremely helpful in relationship building. All parties were keen to learn how they were perceived and what they could do to help understanding. For native speakers, slowing down – considerably – was key, and not using local expressions. Keeping sentences short. No waffle or ambiguous management jargon. Plain English actually sounds more professional and authentic, but many people, native and non-native speakers believe otherwise.
Groups created their own ‘meetings from hell’ checklist – as a light-hearted way to highlight better practices for face-to-face meetings and video/audio conferencing.
Barrier 3 – Prejudice
Having never met in some cases, and with nothing but a few words in emails and general media images to inform their judgements, the teams had created surprisingly detailed pictures of the intentions, level of intelligence, technical competence, work ethic and values of the other groups.
One team invited the other party to work with them on highlighting and addressing issues together, one at a time. ‘The whole solution in the room’ was a phrase used. Another turned process mapping into a shared, physical and visual activity, with giant post-its, a wall and marker pens. This filled many gaps in understanding and increased appreciation of each other’s knowledge, context and constraints.
In one team, where intercultural training was not an option, managers asked each team to research one of the countries they were working with and present their findings. This included contacting their local native speaker colleagues and asking for their input. The groups found this fun, fascinating and a great ice breaker.
The changes in mood, attitudes and behaviour in each of the teams, was quicker and more significant than expected. Within 3 months, there were multiple examples of small improvements in collaboration and significant improvements in delivery. Actively spending time reviewing successes and small improvements reinforced the shared sense of achievement. In all three cases, a senior manager got involved, either at the start, or when asked to support and the initiatives being taken.
Six months on, internal and customer relationships and delivery have improved in all cases.
Collaboration breeds more collaboration!
Philippa Hale has 25 years of experience in enabling collaboration and communication on international projects and programmes, particularly within and between the IT & Digital functions and colleagues from other business functions. She is Director & Senior Consultant at Open Limits Ltd and an Associate Faculty member at Henley Business School.
The way we consider, design and operate ‘End-to-End’ IT is about to end, or at least going to go through a fundamental change. There are plenty of evidence points; Shadow IT. Analyst organisational restructures. M&A transactions. Converging technologies. Current cost of I&O. The P&L’s of many organisations. New roles emerging in the enterprise such as the CDO – Chief Data Officer…The list goes on. We are all about to witness considerable convergence, or ‘Digitisation’ of our respective worlds.
There is a realisation that the world we operate in has radically changed. Our ultimate end customers and our own staff are now significantly more ‘savvy and demanding’ and the landscape we all operate in is significantly more competitive and ‘real-time’…. But we know this. However, have IT (or more importantly the business supporting and funding IT) reacted accordingly?
Welcome to the digital economy. An economy where cross-silo agility, integration, automation, data, mobility and compliance are key watchwords. An economy where we should revisit core questions like; ‘How are we doing the things we do?’ and perhaps more fundamentally, ‘Why are we doing the things we do?’
In fact one of the big questions IT should be asking is, ‘Does the organisation want IT to build and operate a basic IT platform where its users define competitive advantage from the data / services IT provides, or does the organisation want IT to build and operate a digital IT platform where competitive advantage comes from digital trends, analysis, automation and are real-time. For example, an advanced platform may empower and extend the ability for business units to build workflows and applications to remove tedious and costly manual processes without the involvement of IT, or perhaps IT themselves to ‘see’ trends and plan for eventualities across multiple silo’s of technology or process. Furthermore wouldn’t it be great if IT could effect change in one area and the implications in other areas are all taken care of. Not only joining up the data (which we typically do well), but also the processes, the management and admin.
We are entering a world where we have to dramatically improve 3 areas:
Core Service / function of IT – What we do and the way we do it
Discovery / Detection and analytics – The ability to process business value data
Reaction & Change – The ability to respond in an agile way
So let’s consider how we achieve these goals. First we need to define who we are serving and what or perhaps why we are doing this. Then we should consider where does the raw compute, storage and application stack come from to serve our audience. Finally, we can consider what happens ‘in-between’ the supply and the demand.
PART 1. Who, Why & What are we serving?
Let’s start with the ‘What’ – What we ultimately deliver is a trading platform that optimises communication, competitive intelligence and competitive service. Regularly, it is not seen that way, more often than not, IT is seen as the providers of defined or ‘canned’ business services (i.e. mail, ERP, SFA, storage, kit, etc) and the managers of I&O (Infrastructure & Operations). i.e. we are told what the business needs, in short:
Provide XYZ business applications to the BU’s and staff
Provide information/data/reports (not intelligence)
Manage, support and secure all of the above
Change is going to have a massive part to play in ‘What’ we do going forward. In the past, business change was positively ‘glacial’… we lived in an analog world. It took time for information to flow and be processed. Executive leadership, BU’s or staff took time to draw the conclusion that ‘change’ or a response was required… The majority of commercial Change requests come from outside of IT as the ‘intelligence’ was ultimately analogue, or a human connecting the dots between one set of data and another…. Or perhaps worse still, emotional.
This leads nicely onto the ‘Who and Why’. Who we serve can ultimately be divided into 5 categories:
The ultimate end customer
Each requires different services, information and tools. All need our security & compliance skills. All could benefit from our domain expertise in process and integrations and ultimately, all could do with ‘real-time’ cross data analysis to make informed ‘digital’ recommendations rather than decisions being made very slowly in the analog modus operandi.
The ultimate end user wants relevancy and respect
IT wants to know if some element of their ‘trading platform’ may be going AMBER and why…
Staff want intuitive tools, services and intelligence
Business Units want to remove the burdens, costs and improve agility
Executive want to see and measure and need value (ratio of investment to return)
The ‘why’ we do / or should do the things required in the new digital economy are fundamentally economic, whether your organization is commercial, government, charity, public or private, we all have bosses. We all have customers. Our role is to provide better services, products and financial performance that are secure and compliant.
PART 2. Where is IT coming from?
This has to be broken into three parts. The first is, where do the core applications, compute, storage, etc services come from, the second is where does the end user support for the disparate services come from for the ultimate end user, and third, where does the intelligence and ‘Change / React’ thinking come from.
The first area of ‘where core applications and services’ come from is quite straight forward, as they regularly come from a mix of on premise (physical or virtual), cloud (public and private), outsourced and of course the inevitable shadow IT conundrum.
The Second area of ‘Where does the end user service & support come from’ for the 5 types of customer is regularly a mess, primarily as the systems, processes and data is not joined up. In fact some of the applications and therefore its data do not even reside within IT’s domain.
And therefore, it’s a very similar story is the third area of ‘Where does the Intelligence and ability to Change / React’ reside…Its key to note that we are not talking about where the data or information resides, this is known, but where are the applications that use the data in order to make informed real-time decisions? They do exist in many organizations, but they are sporadic and isolated. Perhaps APM (Application Performance Management) technology is used for one customer type, and a marketing tool used for another customer type. This is an area where the ‘End-To –End’ thinking delivers optimum service, competitive advantage has its greatest effect.
PART 3. Joining the end to end dots.
In reality there are three roles for IT.
Providing the core services
Providing a service on those services
Providing real-time and cross platform intelligence
And making all of these intuitive, agile, secure and efficient
Simple….no, but IT is in the most powerful and influential position to design, build and conduct the ‘New IT’ DNA. IT will place an increasingly pivotal role in the organisation, its strategy, its people, its technology platform. New ITOM platforms are going to revolutionise how we architect IT. Its no longer about whether its cloud / Saas or on premise… it’s about End-To-End IT. We will see significant convergence, from APM, PPM, Web CMS through to ITSM / ITAM and Analytics, CRM and AI…
IT is the business. We are now in the business transformation game. Embrace it.
We often hear that we need to do more to transform the ‘experience’ of our IT Customers. Transforming what? Why do we need to do this?
Well because so many IT customers and users complain about the quality and level of communications and feedback when dealing with IT departments. This can vary from simply being too slow to respond, or slow to run projects, being negative or resistant to change, (the department that likes to say no). Also there is the need to keep up with new technologies and it seems that our internal IT departments can’t keep up. In the past IT users didn’t have anything to compare this ‘experience’ with, but now everyone buys IT in some way and this has (justifiably) raised much higher expectations.
Here’s some points I regularly find mentioned by IT Customers and business people about their IT departments
Not easy to ‘do business with’
Too much senior focus on technical detail and components
Defensive, over protective ‘old IT’ approach
Lack of relationship – need to get out and talk/listen more
Poor communications across management and teams
Lack of valuable Management Information – or clear targets/service criteria to measure
Clunky horrible old tools that we are expected to use
For me the case for transformation is absolutely clear and there is right now a great opportunity to do this and win back hearts and minds around the skills and value of IT. We can change from the ‘blocker’ to be the enabler and the solution provider, simply by
Realising we can’t do everything ourselves – so we need to use more automation and shared sourcing to free up our time and resources
Using freed up time to focus on customer and business priorities
Using new tools and innovations to improve the experience of dealing with IT – and beyond
We can’t keep up with all the latest trends and new tech, particularly if we are constantly firefighting and chasing our tails with inefficient processes and tools. There are areas that can be automated like request management and provisioning, password maintenance, procurement and standard implementation that can free up significant technical resources. In addition its no longer acceptable to get users to use old menu based and confusing, non-user friendly portal and tools – particularly if this is sold as being ‘progress’. Its vital to get colleagues and customers on board by offering a seamless and enjoyable experience when ordering kit or requesting new services – and the tools on offer really can help here.
If we also accept that we probably need to use some sort of shared sourcing model, then there is emerging experience and expertise in this areas – SIAM or Service Integration and Management provides the opportunity to really think through end-to-end service delivery and the associated supply and value-chain activities required. In the past it was too easy to simply outsource a problem, or an area that apparently wasn’t adding value –like a service desk. However it’s important to understand firstly the supply chain (i.e. what is done to deliver a service) and then the value chain (where the areas of value, cost and efficiency lie in this chain) – in order to identify what needs to be kept in-house and what can be outsourced, and still meet business objectives.
All of this requires IT organisations to get out and talk/listen to their customers, as well as building a clear model and understating of what they deliver and how it provides value – so service design and catalogue are key elements. However the real point is the need to first engage then deliver what is really needed by your customers. Sometimes this requires a first step of appreciating and accepting what the current ‘experience’ is like. It’s a good idea to try and use your own services and then listen to those that have to do this regularly – for feedback.
Overall we need to be able to ‘walk in our customer shoes’ and use this as input to drive the best possible experience when dealing with us. It’s easy to talk about doing this but a harder job actually getting out and doing it and also translating the feedback into something truly transformational and enjoyable for customers, and not just another IT-driven tool that is there to serve the IT departments way of working. So, in order to transform the User Experience, we also need to transform the way that IT works and does business.
Ultimately we can use this approach to develop our service mantra beyond IT – and many are doing this, using portal and request management tools as a starting point to implement single tools and process across a number of internal and external departments – HR, Finance and marketing. As such many forward thinking IT organisations have managed to transform themselves as part of this into clear ‘value providers’ , rather than the guys who like to say ‘no.
So let’s say ‘YES’ to transformation – both the User/Customer experience and of course ourselves…
ITSM Review Transforming User Experience event – how can we help?
The event will focus on the underlying issues, opportunities and solutions available to help you make your transformation. The day will include expert guidance including output from recent ITSM review studies and the current ‘Self Service’ Review.
ITSM Vendors will be on hand to show how their solutions have been used in new and innovative ways to help their IT customers achieve success and value together with a selection of workshops facilitated by a mix of industry peers, practitioners, consultants and vendors to discuss and map out practical strategies to help make your transformation a success.