ITSM Community Mixed on Announced Process Additions

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New process additions are met with mixed emotions from the ITSM community

Authorities today announced the addition of new processes to the IT service management frameworks. It’s long been recognized that many common practices have thus far been shunned in the popular ITSM frameworks. Early reports indicate numerous new processes, functions and roles are being added to the guidance. Long ignored, these newly accepted processes have been quietly slipped into the best practices. Officials have downplayed the inclusion as little more than “minor corrections”.

The newly-included processes are outlined below.

Indictment Management

The process for determining who’s at fault when things fail. Most people think this is part of service operations, but it is actually part of the service design lifecycle phase. You should always know who to blame when things go wrong.

“Proactive indictment management reduces the time and effort required to place blame during and after major incidents, and is part of a healthy service management program” says Jeremy L, who declined to identify his company. “I’ve seen way too much effort spent in reactive blaming, when simple, best-practice planning can streamline the process”

Refuse and Diversion Management

The process of telling IT customers ‘no’ by either direct refusal or diverting their attention to another “shiny object” to placate them until they forget about their true need. Common practice is to include this informally as part of relationship management or capacity management, this newly recognized process brings focus to the practice.

Abscess Management

The process for managing wounds gathered over the years. Seasoned ITSM professionals know how quick customers are to forget about significant service outages. This process ensures that decision-support information about each and every IT failing is available to customers at all times.

Knowledge Manglement

Knowledge is power. Knowledge manglement describes how to maximize the benefit to one’s self and minimize the value to others in an effort to exert superiority. The new process includes best practices for withholding, modifying, misdirection, omission, and otherwise limiting the value of information to others, especially in other departments.

Change Adverse Board (function)

The newly included function causing the most international stir is the Change Adverse Board. This board has long existed in many organizations, meeting informally in break rooms, cafeterias and coffee shops. The function of the group is to discuss pending changes and to formally compare and contrast them against “how we’ve always done it.” The board provides a great deal of organizational inertia, and  effectively undermines all efforts to change.

Problem Manager (Role)

The definition of problem manager has been supplemented to include it’s more common connotation – that of an IT manager focused on IT Transformation who “makes a lot of waves.” Jessica L from ITishell said: “I once worked for a problem manager. She was always talking about how we can improve service delivery and better align with the customer. Thank goodness they finally got rid of her.”

How has the news been received?

Nigel Geil of TrainWreck, a global training company, welcomes the new additions. “TrainWreck was the first training company to include these emerging trends in our ITSM training programs. Our clients are working professionals who need and expect the very latest in ITSM practices.”

The global ITSM community is mixed on the announcement. There is far from universal acceptance. Numerous practitioners took to social media to celebrate what they see as recognition of the daily realities they face. Said one: “we’re just keeping it real.”

A consultant who asked to remain anonymous had this to say: “this announcement reflects a disturbing trend of framework owners’ to rapidly update best-practices without the traditional decades of dialog, committees, and international involvement.”

Framework owners expect full community buy-in, and are anticipating additional changes in the near future. They are seeking industry input.

Get your ideas for new processes heard by submitting in the comments area below. Please include the process name and a brief overview.

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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!

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Future of ITIL workshop – a little insight

AXELOS

The following comment piece is contributed by Stuart Rance of HP and Stephen Mann of ServiceNow.

Yesterday a number of ITSM professionals convened in London to talk about the future of ITIL. From the get-go, it was stressed that the purpose of the meeting was to provide input to AXELOS’ thinking and not to make decisions.

Who was involved?

It was a passionate group of people that represented: ITIL authors, examiners, consultants, service providers, vendors, penguins, and AXELOS. The attendees were:

Of all the qualities we might look for in a SAM Managed Services Provider - proven track record is key.
AXELOS CEO, Peter Hepworth and ITSMPenguin

And of course ITSMPenguin. Everyone had opinions and ideas to share and it was a good mix of people.

Some attendees travelled a long way to attend: Anthony from Houston, Sharon from Canada, Jayne from Florida, and Rob Stroud would have attended from New York but for personal reasons. Even though most of the attendees reside in the UK, they work for global organizations and as such have global experience and global views. Not withstanding this, we all agreed on the need for more input across geography, culture, industry, and language.

If you wish to provide your input please respond to this blog (in the comments section) or email AXELOS direct.

Community input

You can already see much of the input from things people have already shared with the ITSM community:

Scope and content of ITIL

The discussions included the scope, content, and structure of both ITIL and the ITIL exam system. And started with people suggesting ideas for strategy and principles for ITIL going forward. It was surprising how long this took (shouldn’t we already know this?) and not unsurprisingly everyone agreed that ITIL should be driven by business and customer needs.

Other suggestion related to:

  • Having a visible set of values
  • Separating architecture and structure from narrative and examples
  • Collaboration with a wide community of practitioners, examiners, trainers, consultants, vendors, and industry bodies across geographic and industry boundaries
  • An emphasis on relevance to end-user organizations
  • Quality being more important than time to market.

From a content perspective, AXELOS introduced the concept of what it calls the “Onion Model”, shown below, that encompasses the previous feedback on how there is a need for different types of content and, importantly, community input to the ongoing development of ITIL.

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Where:

  • The centre has the very stable ITIL core
  • The next layer has modular content such as role or industry-specific information
  • And then further layers have more practical content such as templates, guides, and case studies
  • The very outside layer is community owned and community driven with AXELOS and the community curating and promoting this

Content is able to move inwards as it becomes accepted best practice.

                                       Training and exams

Of all the qualities we might look for in a SAM Managed Services Provider - proven track record is key.
The workshop group

We discussed the importance of people, culture, and organizational aspects. In particular the need for more practical guidance about how IT organizations can benefit from the experience of others, and how they can start to gain value from ITIL within their own organization.

There was a lot of passion around training and exams. An interesting point was the absence of guidance on the development of skills such as negotiation and management as part of effective IT service management. Everyone recognized the need to make the exam system more valuable to both individuals and employers. But there was a consensus that that any change requires more input, more time, and needs great care not to disrupt the status quo. Again, if you have an opinion as to the future of ITIL exams, please respond to this blog or email AXELOS direct.

Next steps

Following day two of this workshop (a second blog will follow), AXELOS will continue to seek out global community input.

If you want to follow what’s happening, please look for their communications on Twitter or Google+

As always, thoughts and comments are encouraged.

How good Change Management can still sink ships

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on 10 April 1912

The sinking of the Titanic has become synonymous with epic failure, brought on by ego and arrogance.

But if you look at the immediate actions of the crew, you’ll find a fairly rapid and well orchestrated response to a (Emergency) Request for Change.

The Titanic Story (in short)

The lookouts were perched high in the crow’s nest scanning for danger. History has it they were without binoculars, doing their best to fulfil their duty as early warning. Captain Edward Smith was a well seasoned and decorated captain with the right experience and background to captain such a mighty ship. Though other ships had reported icebergs in the area, and it’s irrefutable that he was aware of the dangers, his orders were full steam ahead.

When the lookouts first spotted the infamous iceberg, they immediately sounded the bell and notified the bridge. First Officer Murdoch order “hard astarboard!”, signaled full stop, and then full reverse. All executed with speed and practiced precision.

And then they waited anxiously to see if the helm responds in time – if the changes will turn this mighty ship in time to avert disaster. Less than a minute later; impact, and the rest, of course, is history.

The parallels to IT Service Management are helpful in understanding the difference between Change Management and Change Enablement.

Change Management

Traditionally, Change Management focused on quickly and effectively implementing business-required changes without producing negative business impact. (“screw it in, not up”)

Much of the focus of Change Management is on risk analysis and management to avoid adverse impact – “protecting the business”. Change Management typically views success as implementing the requested technical feature or service (application updates, new IT services) without problems.

ITIL defines Change management:

The goal of the change management process is to ensure that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient and prompt handling of all changes, in order to minimize the impact of change-related incidents upon service quality, and consequently improve the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Let’s take an example we’re all familiar with. I’d hazard a guess that most IT organizations have upgraded their mail servers recently. In the process, most of us defined the desired result of the change to be successfully upgrading to Exchange xx with minimal user impact. It was most likely justified by increased security, supportability, and new features.

How many upgrade efforts were driven and measured by the enhanced capability and improved productivity of business users? Would we even know how to measure that, and if we did, would we see that as our responsibility, as a Critical Success Factor for Change Management. Or are we more likely to view that as “their concern”. Ours being the successful implementation of the technical requirements, leaving the business with some-assembly-required to produce value.

In the case of the Titanic, there was an immediate need to change course. Using established systems and processes, they quickly implemented the needed change. It was implemented with precision, and the change was, by traditional measure, successful.

But the outcome was far from successful, by any reasonable measure. And yet, IT organizations the world over defend their contribution by declaring they have successfully implemented the technical part of the change, as requested, with no negative impact. Success.

Change Enablement

But we all know the end of the Titanic story. Disaster. Failure. Even though the ship’s Change Management processes quickly and effectively implemented the desired change, the result was catastrophic. It didn’t achieve the desired outcome.

Change Enablement, by contrast, seeks to ensure the business actually realizes the desired outcomes – the results the business envisioned when changes are requested of IT. It evaluates and identifies additional success parameters, and establishes transition plans to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved.

Change Enablement includes organizational Management of Change required to achieve the desired business result.

Senior leadership (including IT) is charged with ensuring the resources under their care are aligned with the business objectives of the organization. If they are not, leadership is not fulfilling it’s obligation to the stakeholders, for which they will be held accountable. (Governance)

Implementation of needed changes is but a minor component. Change Enablement focuses on the entire organization’s capability to achieve outcomes. It includes people (the right skills, knowledge and experience), processes (working together as a system to maximize effectiveness, and directly aligned with the business), technology, relationships and organizational structures required for success. Everything from viability of the business’s long range planning strategy, the formation of effective tactical plans to achieve, and the organizational capability to deliver.

Change Enablement needs traditional Change Management, but is laser focused on the larger whole. And in the end, it’s the business results that count. Like the Titanic, the IT crew is on the same ship, and if the ship sinks, it’s bad for us all. It’s not like we’re safely on another (IT) ship. We are, quite literally, all in the same boat together.

For Titanic, Change Enablement would include investments in better early warning systems – night vision, radar, GPS, etc. Improvements in real time analysis and controls for determining appropriate speed for given conditions. Analyzing the ship’s design and engineer improvements to the ship’s ability to more quickly change course.

The road ahead for IT organizations is an even greater role in enabling the business to meet the ever increasing demands on their organization. ‘Change Enablement’ is no longer the high minded double speak of elite management consultants. IT can no longer faithfully implement changes in isolation and declare success.

If you think about it, Change management, as described, is essentially playing to not-fail. Whereas Change Enablement is playing to win. Business requires an IT who can help them win the larger battle – Change Enablers who help deliver meaningful business results.

What a great time for IT Service Management!

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