ISO/IEC 20000 – An Opportunity to Grow

Drago 3This article is a guest post and has been contributed by Drago Topalovic, ITIL & ISO20000 expert.

 

The first thing to consider when implementing best practices and standards in service management is motive.

Why Should We Do It?

When you provide IT services, you have to be the BEST you can. In other IT areas like development, infrastructure, and business system deployment, you can perform slightly under par and still add perceivable value to a customer’s business. In service management, your good performance is usually taken for granted, and every error is highly visible. Service downtimes adversely impact a customer’s business, and SLA breaches are penalized.

Every resource and every configuration item (CI) has to be utilized efficiently. Business processes and functions have to be organized with defined roles, responsibilities, and action sequences. Ambiguities and a lack of definitions and organization promptly lead to user dissatisfaction. So, IT service organizations should take any help they can get.

 

Is ITIL Enough?

ITIL is abundant with best practices, describing life as it should and could be in IT service management. You have all the options laid out in front of you – the sky is the limit. Like living in a big city, you can go to theatres, fancy clubs, and whatnot. But, do you? Living with ITIL alone tends to move you to roads more travelled, and to neglect service management components you don’t feel comfortable with. Knowing your ITIL is good; you can competently implement all the interesting processes and functions, and safely ignore the other ones, knowing that you can turn to them when the time comes.

It differs from one type of service provider to the other, but typical evaded processes in IT are financial management, supplier and customer management, and Documentation management.

For some insight on ITIL benefits, please have a look at the article Why ITIL?.

When you live with ITIL long enough, whether you are a managed services company or internal IT in a small/midsize/large company, you start to realize a few downsides of doing ITIL alone:

  • ITIL certification is personal, and as people come and go, you start to wish for a way to keep your organization’s intellectual property more anchored, instead of being strongly affected by the fluctuation of your staff.
  • With all the options of best practices, it is hard to get the firm management commitment to what really has to be done, and without it, you are on a slippery slope. There are always more urgent things to attend to.
  • ITIL 2011 addresses more processes and functions then before, and implementing all of them seems like mission impossible.
  • It is really difficult to say when enough is enough.

Once you have improved those processes that cause you the most pain, you may realize that your focus shifts to things you didn’t consider important at first. For example, you implement Incident and Change management, and it suddenly becomes obvious to you that your Configuration management lacks the power to support these processes. That’s a good sign that your organization is growing. And, it’s usually a sign that you should start considering ISO/IEC 20000.

 

ISO20000 – An Opportunity to Grow

ISO/IEC 20000 provides a very strict set of requirements for implementation. The scope can prove to be very demanding for most of the growing IT service companies in the beginning. But, as you mature, you start to consider the advantages of a service management system that takes care of what SHALL be done in order to make you a competent IT service management organization, as opposed to what could or should be done.

At some point, this set of opportunities will start to feel more appealing to an organization.

SMS
ISO/IEC 20000 process groups

 

ISO 20000 Benefits

By implementing ISO/IEC20000, the organization benefits from the following:

 

  • Integrated Service Management System (SMS) supporting the vital service management functions.
  • Organization focuses on all key processes. Measurements and control of integrated SMS brings new perspectives and ideas about organization’s service management business. Since all 16 processes are implemented, combined results from say, Budgeting and accounting with Capacity management will give you the better idea on which customers are more valuable to you.
  • Better alignment of IT services and the business it supports. Adopting the common language and the knowledge about processes usually helps in building trust and confidence of customers.
  • Better reputation on the market. Having an ISO20000 certificate is still not a very common thing; it proves you are serious about your business.
  • ISO/IEC 20000 certificate stays with the company, not individuals. The SMS helps to keep knowledge about service management business within the company, as its intellectual property.
  • Roles, responsibilities, and ownership of all processes remove bottlenecks and ambiguities in service management domain.
  • By defining key processes and agreeing about them internally, ISO20000 helps to overcome natural barriers between organizational units. For example, Sales is forced to cooperate more tightly with internal IT in order to offer more cost-effective services to external customers.
  • Vertical communication in the organization is usually greatly enhanced. Management is involved in the process from the beginning, and the feedback they receive regularly enables better quality of tactical and strategic decisions.

 

I am fully aware that the above benefits are primarily aligned with an IT management perspective. These are the pains immediately recognized by the IT members of the community. So, I intend to provide a separate post where they will be properly addressed from a business point of view. I would love to see some of the visitors’ comments regarding this.

 

Conclusion

The certification process for ISO/IEC 20000 is not an easy one. It’s a very demanding project, requiring a lot of resources. That is one of the major reasons it is not a common certificate. On the other hand, this makes it even more appreciated on the market.

If you are an experienced IT organization with good internal knowledge of key ITIL processes, the above-mentioned benefits should be inspiring to consider ISO20000. From my experience, it looks harder than it is. Just take the first step.

 

 


Drago is an IT Business Consultant oriented to Service Management and Customer Relationship Management, project management in SW development.

Specialties: ITIL Expert certificate, Implementation of service management tools, methodologies and processes. Preparation and implementation of ISO/IEC 20000.

You can follow Drago on Twitter here

 

Certification Spotlight: PMP or ITIL Expert?

4820274356_5e5db8f128_zI’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.

 

Higher Ceiling

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.

 

Summary

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.

 

Image Credit

ITSM14 Preview: Patricia Speltincx with “The 7 Building Blocks for ITSM Success”

Patricia SpeltincxIn the run up this year’s itSMF UK conference ITSM14, I chatted with Patricia Speltincx about her upcoming session entitled “The seven building blocks for IT Service Management success”.

Q.  Hi Patricia, can you give a quick intro to your session at ITSM14?

In my presentation, I will challenge the classical ITSM implementation approach and propose a different paradigm based on 7 building blocks, hence the title of my presentation and of my white paper that won two itSMF awards (UK and International) in 2013.

I have worked in IT environments for 30 years and more specifically in ITSM for the last 15 years.  I have seen organisations trying hard to implement ITIL® best practices with various degrees of success.  It progressively became clear to me that focusing on processes and technology (2 of the 7 building blocks) was far too restrictive and therefore was not the right thing to do.

To achieve success, there is a need to broaden the scope and open to a more systemic view of the ITSM reality, in other words to see it from a more global perspective.  An IT Service Organisation is still an ‘organisation’ and therefore ITSM should not be the only reference model.

Using different reference models coming from organisational theories, I came up with 5 additional building blocks, which I will discuss at the itSMF UK conference in London.

Q.  Why is getting IT Service Management right so important for organisations?

Well, it is important to get everything right nowadays, so IT Service Management is no exception.

We live in an interesting period where old paradigms are seriously challenged due to the difficult economical context.

High levels of performance have become a survival condition for organisations.  As a consequence, there are more and more pressures on people who have more and more difficulties to find motivation at work, which in turn has a negative impact on results.  A lot of organisations seem stuck in this vicious circle.  To get out of it, it is important that they get their global strategy right, two key elements of it being people and IT.  Nowadays, you can’t do without engaged people and without efficient IT.

Q. What can attendees hope to take away from your session?

In my session, I will encourage attendees to open their mind to a different, broader and more systemic approach to ITSM.  They will understand on which other building blocks organisations should focus their attention in order to achieve success. They will take away concrete ideas to build solutions to the current ITSM difficulties organisations are facing.


Patricia is an ITIL® Expert with wide experience as a trainer, consultant and coach in IT environments.

Fascinated by human potential, she is also a certified coach.  She studied and practiced several theories linked to the development of individuals and organisations. This, combined with her coalface experience in IT allowed her to develop an original approach to IT Service Management.

She is currently focusing her activities on helping individuals and organisations that are willing to challenge themselves to achieve high levels of performance.

medium ITSM14 banner aug 14

Patricia’s session is on day one of ITSM14 and featured within the Skills track. To find out more or to book your conference place please visit itSMF UK

Connect with Patricia via LinkedIn or Twitter

ITSM14 Preview: Tony Brough and Re-Igniting the Passion

Tony's session will be on day 2 within the ITSM and Agile track
Tony’s session will be on day 2 within the ITSM and Agile track

In the run up this year’s itSMF UK conference, ITSM14, I chatted with Tony Brough of Holistic Service Management International about his upcoming session entitled “Re-Initing the Passion”.

Q. Hi Tony, can you give a quick intro to your session at ITSM14? 

I had the idea after a meal with an old friend (and ex colleague) I hadn’t seen for a few years. He emailed me the following morning saying thank you for re igniting his passion for service management.

It made me think about the conversation we’d had over dinner and I realized people often need a reboot now and again to clear out the negative and re-establish the positive.

Service Management professionals face a wide range of challenges on a daily basis, so a regular boost of positivity coupled with realignment of perspective is essential.

We so often get so tangled up in the mire that we lose sight of what we are really aiming for. The aim tends to end up becoming to just get out of the mire rather than achieve the greatness we originally intended!!!

Q. What impact can passion, or lack of it, have on an organisation?

Passion is infectious. People with passion infect others who then take more interest in their own work and what’s going on around them. The consequences are that positive changes are made which benefit organisations at so many levels.

Continual Improvement attitudes and behaviors become embedded into the day job.

Lack of passion leads to stagnation.

For organisations to improve, not everyone needs to be passionate, but everyone does need to take an interest in what they do and what those around them do as well and have an attitude that nurtures improvement. 

Q. Is passion something that can be manufactured or created within an organisation?

It’s not something that can be manufactured but it can be nurtured and encouraged, which in turn begins to create a culture that is of great benefit to the organisation.

Q. What are likely to be the potential pitfalls and/or benefits an organisation may experience with attempting to create a culture of positivity?

Passion is a great catalyst to create positivity. We must remember though that we are dealing with people. It is important to manage how we best utilise it, as over-enthusiasm can have a detrimental effect on what we are trying to achieve. Balance, not suppression, is what’s needed. Benefits are endless. Organisations that have a positive, passionate, culture are able to achieve excellence and more importantly maintain it for the long term.


Tony Brough is acknowledged as a leading expert in the Service Management field and is best known for his pragmatic approach explaining every aspect in easy to understand terms, relating them to his students or customers own business. With over 20 years experience in the service management industry Tony is a certified ITIL Expert and ISO / IEC 20000 consultant and was also one of the first people in the world to become a certified BS15000 consultant.

Tony’s session at ITSM14 is on day two and featured within the ITSM and Agile track. To find out more or to book your conference place please visit itSMF UK

Follow Tony on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

Guardian News & Media: "Our SLA is to ensure the paper is published"

Guardian News & Media

Guardian News & Media (GNM) publishes theguardian.com, the third largest English-speaking newspaper website in the world. Since launching its US and Australia digital editions in 2011 and 2013 respectively, traffic from outside of the UK now represents over two-thirds of the GNM’s total digital audience. In the UK, GNM publishes the Guardian newspaper six days a week, first published in 1821, and the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, The Observer.

theguardian_rgbGNM is a dynamic and pioneering news organisation across all departments. Amongst all this cutting edge transformation, GNM’s IT service desk has been going through its own upheaval. Over the last year the team has experienced arguably the most transformative change any service desk is likely to face—that of insourcing from a third-party outsourcer and rebuilding from scratch.

So what is life like for IT service management (ITSM) folks at GNM? How do they handle delivery of IT services for one of the world’s leading brands?  How have they insourced the service desk? These are all questions I was keen to ask when I met the team in London.


Note: SysAid commissioned this case study. Thank you to Vicky, Louise, and Steve from Guardian News & Media for being so candid and sharing their views. 


Meet the team

Left to right – Steve Erskine, Louise Sandford and Vicky Cobbett, Guardian News and Media
Left to right – Steve Erskine, Louise Sandford and Vicky Cobbett, Guardian News and Media

Insourcing the service desk

GNM has around 1,700 staff working for them globally. Roughly half of GNM staff work in commercial teams, the other half are in editorial teams including worldwide journalists and bloggers. The 60-member IT team supports 1,200 Macs, 800 PCs and twin mirrored datacentres in London and Bracknell.

The service desk was insourced from the 1st August 2013 when a team of six service desk analysts took over the front line of IT service and support.

The insource meant choosing a suitable solution to underpin its service management processes. Previously, the IT team was provided with technology as part of IT outsourcing contracts, such as Remedy or ServiceNow. With ITSM now firmly the responsibility of the in-house teams, there was a requirement for a smaller system that suited their needs. Flexibility and value for money were key drivers. Following a review of the market, the team chose SysAid.

A GNM version of ITIL

The IT support team at GNM records 600–650 incidents a week, working core hours of 8am until 6pm, with extended cover until 3am to support publication of the printed newspaper.

“We resolve as many calls as we can on the first line, not just log and flog, we try to do as much as we can and only escalate to second line if we get stuck,” said Vicky Cobbett, Service Desk Manager.

Incidents arrive in the way of system monitoring, email, telephone and walk ups. The team has not yet implemented any self-service options with SysAid, as they wanted to build up a reputation and confidence in existing channels first.

Third line teams are arranged by technology stack or competence area, such as business applications, networks, integrations, multimedia, AV, Oracle applications and so on.

“Our technology base is really quite broad,” says Steve Erskine, Technology Supplier Manager. “We are digital first. It’s a very different company than the newspaper I originally joined.”

“GNM is at the cutting edge of the media industry, it means we are constantly changing. We are constantly being brought new things to manage,” added Louise Sandford, Application Analyst.

Like most organizations that refer to best practice frameworks, GNM has cherry picked guidance from ITIL to suit its requirements.

“We’ve adopted a GNM version of ITIL,” says Steve.

“We have a Change Advisory Board (CAB) every Monday and use SysAid to manage all of our changes. If you look at the ITIL book, we’re not quite doing it the way ITIL suggests, we’ve taken the bits that are appropriate for us.”

“For example, we don’t have a change manager because of the diverse teams in our IT staff, but we make sure we follow a change management process and follow ITIL where appropriate.”

“Individual teams get direct calls too. We work in a deadline driven environment so things need to be resolved quickly. Sometimes you need to resolve the ticket before logging it,” said Louise. “We try not to get too caught up in process protocol – publishing the paper comes first.”

Our SLA is to ensure the paper is published each night and that our website remains online

Publishing the newspaper and keeping the website up in total alignment to business requirements was a recurring theme during our conversation. There is no time for navel gazing about service desk metrics at GNM. Its focus is on deadlines and the key priorities of the business seem familiar to the old fable about President Kennedy visiting the Space Center.

It is said that the President approached a man sweeping and said “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?” to which the janitor replied “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr President.”

I found their customer focus refreshing. I asked the team: “How do you know if you’re doing a good job? How do you measure success?”

“The newspaper gets printed. The website is always up,” said Vicky.

The team monitors call volumes, call open times and escalates where appropriate – but the main focus of meeting customer requirements is via the personal relationships developed by Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) who go out to the business and listen for requirements, help prioritize projects and develop a medium term plan.

“Success for me is if we can put processes and procedures in place without slowing the business down,” said Steve.

“We don’t get too caught up with measuring statistics. The company knows we work hard to close all tickets as quickly as possible and are focussed on helping the company print the paper and keep the website up,” said Vicky.

“In terms of statistics and metrics and comparing this year with last year – that’s not what we’re about… and I don’t think we’ll ever get to that point,” added Steve.

“We work in a vocal environment, if we’re not doing the right thing people will soon tell us. We also have our BRM team who are going out to the business to ensure we are doing the right thing and meeting their requirements.”

“We don’t really work to formal Service Levels. We might be working on something quite important to one person, but if something happens, which means we can’t get the paper out, everything gets dropped to fix it and that person will have to wait. If we’re going to breach a Service Level Agreement (SLA), we’re going to breach it. We’ve got to get the paper out.”

“Everyone in the company has this focus. It’s our purpose for being here,” added Louise.

Why SysAid?

As Application Analyst Louise is the main owner of SysAid. She has looked after the application since insourcing back in August and works with their account manager Yair Bortinger at SysAid.

GNM learnt from working with previous tools that despite all the bells and whistles on offer they would only end up using a small fraction of the features available. So a reason for choosing SysAid was that it is a smaller system and easier to customize to their own requirements.

“We find it user friendly,” says Louise. “With other systems we’ve worked with you have to stick to the templates or labels issued by the software company. SysAid is a lot more flexible to customize to your own requirements so you can label things the way you want them and in a way the whole IT department will understand. We use the cloud version so we can use it anywhere, we can use it at home.”

A quirky bunch

I asked the GNM team about their experiences with SysAid as a company. They were extremely complimentary. Specifically, the team stated that customer service was their strongest asset.

“They’re a quirky bunch,” said Vicky, “very, very friendly.”

“They are amenable and get back to you quickly,” added Louise.

“Sometimes when you work with software companies, you’ll deal with the salesperson and they are the friendliest person in the world, but once you’ve signed the contract the relationship changes. With SysAid, when we phone them up, they’re as friendly as the day we signed the contract,” said Steve.

“…And that’s not just one person, that’s everyone you speak to, the account management team, professional services, senior management,” said Louise.

“We sometimes ask the professional services team to do something completely random and weird and they say, yeah ok, we’ll do that for you,” said Vicky.

“I hope they don’t get bought and stay as they are. We are doing this case study because they are good not because of some commercial arrangement. We want to give something back in exchange for their great product and great service,” added Steve.

IT Service desk bar

The IT service desk ‘walk up’ desk. Situated away from the main IT department in a central position within the business.
The IT service desk ‘walk up’ desk. Situated away from the main IT department in a central position within the business.

The GNM IT team has built an “IT service desk bar” as a concierge desk for walk-in IT support enquiries. It is situated adjacent to a main stairwell and thoroughfare of the business and is intentionally separate from the rest of the IT department. Three service desk analysts work at the service desk bar, which accounts for around 15% of all incidents.

“It’s meant that we’ve built better relationships within the company. They see IT as having a face rather than being a voice at the end of a phone,” says Vicky

“But around 15%–20% of incidents come from the service desk bar. 50–60% come in via email and around 20–25% are phone calls.”

Customizing to requirements

Louise estimates that the split between in-house customization and development from SysAid is around 70/30.

“I do as much of the customization myself and liaise with Yair and the SysAid professional services team to do everything else,” said Louise.

“One of the great things we like about SysAid is that it’s so configurable and it’s very flexible. It is also quite user-friendly, so without a huge amount of configuration knowledge you can pick it up and use it quite effectively.”

User account creation, which was previously managed in Lotus Notes, is now handled by SysAid.

“That was a custom project they built for us. SysAid is used to automate the account creation of logins for new users. It’s completely out of scope for what SysAid is designed for but they’ve been very ‘can do’ about the whole project. It feels like a partnership,” said Vicky.

Future plans

Having embedded change management, the team aims to look at problem management in more detail and also plans to build an asset register to record laptops and desktops using SysAid. Knowledge management is also on the agenda, done at a steady pace with issues ironed out as they go.

“It’s such a small system in the grand scale of things in terms of all the systems we use. But it’s such an important one,” said Louise.


Guardian News & Media

  • The Guardian first published in 1821
  • Offices in UK, USA, Australia
  • Headquarters: King’s Cross, London, UK
  • Revenue Guardian Media Group Plc. £210M
  • Over 100million monthly unique browsers for theguardian.com
  • 1,700 staff, 60 IT Team staff
  • www.theguardian.com

Overall Review of SysAid by Guardian News & Media

“It’s a great tool, with great service,” said Steve.

Strengths

  1. Customer service from the SysAid team
  2. Ease of use
  3. Customization

Weaknesses

  1. Reporting – doesn’t have the depth we’d like but SysAid is addressing this in Q4 2014.
  2. Reverse customization – when you’ve built something by configuring it and need to undo it, it is not always straightforward. Some elements aren’t as friendly as others. Some of the workflow elements could be improved.

Ratings

  • Customer Service 9.5/10
  • Product 8.5 / 10
  • Reporting 5/10

itSMF networking meeting, York, UK

401px-Shambles_York

Free Networking Event – Open to non-members

itSMF UK are holding a free networking event in the Biltmore Bar and Grill in Swinegate, York, from 6-8pm on Wednesday 14th May.

This event is for anyone in York and surrounding areas who works in IT service management (ITSM). It provides an opportunity to meet with fellow professionals and to learn and share how to best apply techniques from ITIL and other frameworks.

The intention is to foster a local ITSM community, holding regular itSMF UK Local networking events and inviting guest speakers to talk on topics of interest.

Light refreshments will be provided, courtesy of IT Training Zone, and all attendees will receive a copy of the Introductory Overview of ITIL 2011.

The format of the event will be: welcome and introductions, a short presentation and discussion on getting the most out of ITIL, followed by networking and refreshments.


WHAT

itSMF UK Local Event

WHERE

Biltmore Bar and Grill in Swinegate, York

WHEN

14th May, 6-8pm

COSTS

Free of charge – open to members and non-members

RSVP

Register online or contact Kevin Holland or Claire Agutter

The ITSM Diet

krispyI am undergoing a very personal transformational change right now. I am trying to learn how to eat in the real world and maintain a healthy weight. I had really let myself go.

No exercise, eating too much, eating the wrong things and not caring. The results: 360 lbs.; the inability to walk at least 50 feet without wheezing; acid reflux; and an impressive expanding waistline. I felt horrible. My body simply hurt all the time.

After much self-loathing, I made the decision to change. Now, I control my calories, carbs, fat and protein levels and I get 60 to 90 minutes of exercise in a minimum of 5 days per week. I made my health issues a “big rock” in my life (see Stephen Covey’s “Put your big rocks in first”).

The results: I currently weigh 320 lbs., I’ve lost 4 inches on my waist, and I feel a heck of a lot better.

The funny thing in all of this, people keep asking me what “diet” I’m using. Okay, here it is –  I eat less, make better food choices, and exercise as much as I can. Disappointed with my answer? I find that many folks are looking for me to give them some “magical” advice like “oh, I lost the weight by following the Krispy Kreme diet”. There are no silver bullets. You have to eat right and exercise.

So, what’s the point in relation to ITSM?

The point is this; you must build and follow a plan for an ITSM initiative to work. There are no simple solutions or silver bullets to make adoption easy. Be prepared to work hard, suffer some failures, learn from those failures and iterate, just like you do with a diet.

In order to be successful in ITSM adoption (or in your diet) I recommend following the key “exercise and eating” tips and advice listed below.

Don’t fall for hype

“Just follow our simple x step plan every day, and we’ll guarantee you will lose weight”

I’ve seen ITSM blog posts and consulting statements that indicate the same thing “…just follow our advice and you’ll be doing x process in no time” or “buy our product and we guarantee you will be ITIL compliant”. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Any offering of a “quick fix” probably will not work. Think about the long term and what you want the program to achieve. Learn good habits.

Always evaluate

I don’t do “diets” but there are items within the multitude of diet plans out there that do make sense for for certain individuals. ITSM is no different.

If something works, adopt it. If it doesn’t, forget it. For example, Problem management as detailed in ITIL® doesn’t fit well with how my organization works. We therefore adopted LEAN 8-step method as the primary way to execute our problem management but use the information in ITIL® to ensure our process is as robust as needed.

Build a plan that works for you and helps you achieve your goals

There are many ITSM frameworks out there and no rules that say you have to use a specific one. My advice is that you read, learn, and research.

You may need to use ITIL®, LEAN, COBIT®, USMBOK®, and/or combinations of the aforementioned to build your plan. Don’t do something just because someone else says you should do it. Know what you are trying to achieve and select the appropriate framework to work toward it.

For example, my company uses many different frameworks along with ISO/IEC 20000, with ISO/IEC 20000 as an indicator of “world class” IT operations. Despite this, we have attempted on four different occasions to start the adoption process for Configuration Management. What we found is teams did not understand what to do with CIs or how to move them through a change process. We therefore took a step back and spent more time looking at our Change process, and are now starting to have tabletop discussions on moving a CI through a change.

In doing this exercise, we found our teams had different execution of change, different ideas on what a CI is, and different ideas on how to move a CI through a change cycle. These discussions gave us the opportunity to drop back and review all the frameworks for a “good fit” to help accelerate what we do.

If the plan is not working, change it

When exercising, eventually your body can become use to a specific exercise and become efficient in the activity. At that point, you can continue doing the same thing, but the results will not improve. An ITSM plan is the same. If your plan is not getting the results you desire, mix it up and try a different approach. Focus on a specific aspect and find the change that helps you get the results you need.

During the adoption of incident management at my company, we had team members onboard who had been doing incident work for many years and yet our design process kept missing key steps we needed to fulfill ISO/IEC 20000 requirements. Clearly we needed a different approach and so we went back to the beginning and built a checklist of items that the design team needed to complete prior to submitting deliverables. This helped us to identify the missing steps and fix the design process.

Measure

When it comes to exercising and being healthy, my FitBit gives me all types of data to help me determine if my behaviors match my plan. Data helps us measure where we are against our goals, which is important in any ITSM initiative.

What you measure is up to you, you cannot allow others to dictate what data you need to collect. Identify your goals, and collect and analyze data that helps you reach those goals.

At my company, we ask our service owners to identify “pain points”, the place where their team or their customers indicate something in the process doesn’t deliver the promised goods and/or causes them problems. We have found that focusing on a few key measures and “pain points” leads the service owner and their teams to think more holistically about the service and why they are doing what they do. This organically leads to continuous improvement, brainstorming and discussion about user experience.

Keep the goal in mind

It is easy to get discouraged when you go a couple of weeks without losing any weight, and the same is true in ITSM. Don’t lose sight of what you have done and where you are now.

Sometimes it may seem easier to follow the same path as you always have and get the same (bad) results to achieve quick “outcomes”, but how does this help overall? Remember, incremental improvements over time lead to reaching goals.

Relax

One of the toughest issues I have with weight loss is overthinking the situation – I can become my own worst enemy. The same is true with your ITSM plan. Work the plan you built, and if something doesn’t work so what? Try something new! Be mindful of your situation and don’t be afraid to change. It will all work out in the end so just remember to breath and relax.

And a bonus tip!

Be as transparent as possible in any ITSM initiative or project, routinely discussing your success, failure, trails, and tribulations. This will help you to stay grounded and on top of where you really are in your process/project. Use your measurements to remind yourself and others of the progress you have made and make sure you understand the deliverables and timeframes.

Final Though

ITSM adoption, just like maintaining a healthy lifestyle, can be tough. It takes planning and execution, measurement and analyzing data, and it also takes support. Remember, don’t fall for the hype; always evaluate; build a plan that works for your situation and change it as required; measure your progress; relax; and always keep your end goal in mind.

Image credit

Taking a look at OBASHI in action

In this second article we’re going to look at how OBASHI fits in with other IT frameworks, standards and methodologies. If you missed part 1, read it here.

The modern business is a complex organisation. People, technology and processes work together to generate revenue and deliver business outcomes. Many businesses do not have a full picture of how all their component parts fit together. This creates risk, and can lead to real problems. OBASHI produces Business and IT diagrams (BIT diagrams) that are used to map business processes.

ownershipbusinessapplicationsystemhardwareinfrastructure

 The OBASHI layers of ownership, business process, application, system, hardware and infrastructure show the business process and the IT that underpins it. 

OBASHI can be applied to small, medium or large organisations. Larger organisations will need to factor in the number of stakeholders and the complexity of their processes and services when scoping the OBASHI project. They may benefit from using a tool to create the OBASHI outputs.

Smaller organisations will have fewer stakeholders, but may have more single points of failure in their processes as one person can have many roles. They may be able to produce their OBASHI outputs manually using paper or a simple flow chart application.

If you’re from an ITIL background, it’s tempting to look at OBASHI and think “oh it’s just configuration management”. This isn’t true – OBASHI includes the bigger business picture as well and supports conversations outside IT.

OBASHI in the wider environment

The decision about whether to adopt OBASHI shouldn’t be over-complicated.  It’s not an either or decision – if you’re already doing ITIL, or COBIT, or ISO20000 you’re not going to throw away what you’ve got in order to adopt OBASHI. Instead, view OBASHI as a complementary methodology.

OBASHI will take inputs from your existing environment – if you’ve already got a service catalogue, or an asset register, then these will feed into your OBASHI project.

OBASHI diagrams can be tailored to the audience as required, masking complexity where it’s not needed and helping to make accurate business decisions quickly.

OBASHI and ITIL

I know a lot of ITSM Review readers are from an ITSM background, so it’s worth looking at OBASHI and ITIL in a bit more detail. From an ITIL perspective, Service Strategy and the processes it includes help an organisation to create and manage a service portfolio that will meet long-term business goals. The business and IT diagrams that OBASHI creates can help the organisation to prioritise investments, plan based on accurate information, and make sure IT services align with business processes.

In the Service Design lifecycle stage, new and changed services are designed. These services must meet business requirements for quality and cost, and must not have any unexpected negative impact on existing services.OBASHI can help to identify cost savings where existing services and components can be re-used, where appropriate.

Service Transition is the lifecycle phase that moves new or changed services into the live environment. OBASHI can help organisations to map their current state and also their desired future state.Change impact assessments can be carried out quickly and easily using the diagrams that OBASHI creates.

In Service Operation, live services are operated and maintained and support is offered to the business when incidents occur. OBASHI models can show the impact of downtime, who needs to be contacted in the event of downtime, and the cost to the business of a loss of availability. If customers can see we are working effectively to get them back online, we can maintain customer satisfaction – even during an incident.

The continual service improvement stage of the ITIL service lifecycle looks for improvement opportunities related to services, people, processes, structure. It’s well accepted that we need to understand something before we can improve it, and OBASHI helps to provide that understanding of the organisation.

“Premature optimisation is the root of all evil” Donald Knuth

OBASHI and Projects

Many organisations have a mature project management capability.  OBASHI can provide support during the key stages in a project’s lifecycle, including:

  • Forming a project board
  • Writing a business case
  • Risk and quality management
  • Communication
  • Project planning
  • Project closure

OBASHI diagrams help to identify stakeholders, map current and desired dataflows, and are inputs to project planning and impact assessment. OBASHI supports project management and helps projects to deliver on time, on budget and at the right level of quality.

Getting Started with OBASHI

So, who should use OBASHI and why?

The short answer is, any type or size of organisation that wants to understand and optimise their dataflows.

Think about these statements:

  • Our organisation struggles to prioritise investments
  • Our risk and impact assessments aren’t based on accurate data
  • The business thinks IT doesn’t understand them
  • The business sees IT as a cost centre, not a valuable part of the organisation
  • We need to make cost efficiencies
  • We’re adopting Green IT/virtualising our infrastructure
  • We’re struggling to manage legacy applications/technology

If any of these relate to your organisation, OBASHI is going to be a very useful addition to your toolbox. It’s the only methodology that creates a common picture for the business and IT to work from.

Resources

To learn more about OBASHI, you can visit the official OBASHI website, where you will find some excellent case studies and presentations that you can tailor to your organisation.  Additional resource can also be found on the training website. The OBASHI training scheme is run by APMG International, and Foundation training is available both in the classroom and online.

You can view the list of OBASHI training providers online and also read up about the formal certification.

OBASHI® is a registered trademark in the United Kingdom and other countries

ITIL is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

PRINCE2 is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

 

What exactly is "OBASHI"?

Obama
OBASHI has nothing to do with President Obama!

A year ago, asking the question “what is OBASHI®?” might have got you some interesting answers.  A sneeze, a martial art, and rather brilliantly ‘OBAMA bashing’ are all suggestions we’ve had.

In the last 12 months, however, I’ve seen a turnaround. OBASHI is getting recognised for what it is – a simple, easy to adopt methodology that maps dataflow through a business and supports meaningful conversations about investment, improvement, and business outcomes.

I’m also really happy to see that this recognition is coming from the folk in ITSM who actually work with the business. Consultants, outsourcers and business relationship managers are all starting to realize how OBASHI can help the business/IT conversation move forward.

Background to OBASHI

“A process cannot be understood by stopping it.  Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it”.  Frank Herbert

The OBASHI methodology allows organisations to clearly understand what is involved in supporting their business processes. Simple, powerful information can be used to support business decisions, financial decisions and strategic planning.

OBASHI creates visual maps of businesses and parts of businesses. The maps are simple, visual references that can be understood by staff at all levels. The maps help businesses to understand:

  • How the business works
  • What assets and components make the business work and support its business processes
  • What inter-dependencies exist between assets
  • How data flows around the business

OBASHI produces Business and IT diagrams (BIT diagrams) that are used to map business processes (see image below).

The OBASHI layers of ownership, business process, application, system, hardware and infrastructure show the business process and the IT that underpins it.

OBASHI’s origins

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”.  John Muir

The OBASHI methodology was originally developed in 2001 by Fergus Cloughley and Paul Wallis. It was inspired by the computer models used within manufacturing and process industries to control and simulate the operation of infrastructure and plants.

The costs and values of manufacturing flows can be mapped, allowing the assets that support them to be optimised in a way that encourages maximum business profitability.

OBASHI develops and builds on the existing methods for costing and valuing the flow of data in the process control industry, and applies it to the flow of data in all sectors – including IT.

OBASHI is used to “help business professionals easily understand the ‘dollar per second’ value of dataflow that supports their business services and processes, in a simple and meaningful way. OBASHI is the basis on which they can make better informed and more accurate strategic, operational, tactical and technical decisions.”

Context

OBASHI is an interesting methodology because it applies to all types, sizes and sectors of organisation. It’s not targeted at a particular audience or area like ITIL® and PRINCE2®, and can be easily understood by business or IT focused staff.

For me, the value that OBASHI brings is in the way it enables business and IT conversation.  ITIL (maybe because of its name) can be perceived as being ‘IT focused’ – OBASHI is open to anyone. I feel that treating the business and IT as separate entities is a big mistake for the modern organisation – IT runs through and enables every business action and business process.

Building up a library of dataflows mapped using OBASHI helps business and IT staff to have conversations together about risk, impact, investment, strategy and growth.

Who is using OBASHI?

Early adopters of OBASHI include one of the world’s leading Formula 1 motorsport teams and the UK’s Civil Nuclear Constabulary, but perhaps one of the most interesting users of OBASHI is the global Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) project.

obashi.jpg
OBASHI Business and IT Diagram

At the behest of G20 group of nations and the Financial Stability Board, the Global LEI project has been created to proceed with development of a unique identification system for parties to financial transactions. For the past 12 months over 100 institutions from around the world have been working together on the project.

The largest financial project in the world, the Legal Entity Identifier, is a fundamental requirement if the process of addressing the systemic risks that caused the 2008 financial crisis is to have the best chance of success. The LEI will also help participants and regulators to analyse, quantify and understand systematic and operational risk across banking and other industries.

Operating in an environment where regulators and financial institutions operate within and across different jurisdictional boundaries, each with their own unique requirements, OBASHI provides:

  • A Governance framework language for LEI policy and system design
  • A Programme Management tool to help national, regional and political variations, both technically and operationally
  • A practical, easy to create model of all the relationships and dependencies between all the business and technology components of the global LEI system

OBASHI is being used to create and maintain clarity in the LEI project – a ‘Common Language’ for technical and non-technical people, from diverse nationalities and business cultures, to understand and communicate about the project. With OBASHI the stakeholders can see how people, process and technology will be required to fit together to make the Global LEI Systems operate, this is helping them make the best-informed decisions.

When the LEI system is up and running it will be used to identify any and every participant, in any and every financial transaction globally.

Set this into a global operational context of thousands of implementations, each jurisdiction conforming to regional legal and regulatory requirements, capturing data in multiple languages and scripts, and all of that being used to update data in every other local LEI system and you start to appreciate the scale of the project.

Although the LEI project takes complexity to the next level, it’s easy to see that most businesses are becoming increasingly connected and complexity rises accordingly. Creating clarity and being able to communicate clearly will become ever more important.  This is where OBASHI is very useful.

Resources

To learn more about OBASHI, you can visit the official OBASHI website, where you will find some excellent case studies and presentations that you can tailor to your organisation.  Additional resource can also be found on the training website. The OBASHI training scheme is run by APMG International, and Foundation training is available both in the classroom and online.

You can view the list of OBASHI training providers online and also read up about the formal certification.

OBASHI® is a registered trademark in the United Kingdom and other countries

ITIL is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

PRINCE2 is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

second blog will follow on where and how OBASHI fits in with other IT frameworks, standards, and methodologies, as well as taking a look at why an organisation might use OBASHI.

This article was written by Claire Agutter, Director and Head of Online Training, IT Training Zone Ltd with contribution from Fergus Cloughley, Director and CEO, OBASHI Ltd.

Image Credit

Met Office reduces (software) forecast errors

The Met Office has to implemented a new software release and deployment automation solution to reduce the number of software planning, delivery, deployment and execution errors it needs to handle on a day to day basis.

A weather
Image credit: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

The UK national weather and climate services authority has worked with specialist partner in release and deployment management solutions Cachet Software to implement the XebiaLabs Deployit product.

This installation is intended to enable the Met Office to save time, with tests already showing a substantial reduction in deployment times compared to their in-house solution.

It will also help reduce errors and increase efficiency of preparation and deployment.

Overall, the solution is hoped to increase accuracy, speed and scale for the Met Office’s deployments of new applications and services — the organisation had previously confirmed that it needed a flexible solution that could better scale and support continuous delivery of primarily web-facing services to millions of customers.

NOTE: The team at the Met Office manage hundreds of projects and services across dozens of servers — until recently, release preparations were manual, meaning each step would be subject to time-consuming checks to ensure it was planned and executed properly.

By applying deployment automation best practices with Deployit, the Met Office will be able to reduce the risk of deployment errors whilst enabling an increase in the number of deployments. Deployit will also ensure more efficient performance and deliver the ability to keep track of deployments and report on deployment results, leading to a substantial improvement in efficiency of the service delivery process.

Alan Morbey, Configuration Management Team Leader at Met Office, commented: “At the Met Office our deployments were both increasing in volume and complexity whilst staff resources were limited.   Deployment automation using Deployit has allowed us to cope with both of these issues, minimise deployment errors and helped us to further safeguard our production environment, key to delivering services to our customers. Deployit is  already showing some very encouraging results, with deployment times being substantially reduced .”

NOTE: The Met Office uses more than 10 million weather observations and a supercomputer to create 3,000 tailored forecasts daily. These briefings are delivered to the general public, Government, businesses, the armed forces and other organisations.

Stuart Kenley, MD at Cachet Software Solutions, added: “Customers today expect up-to-date services at all times, which means IT departments need to deploy more, faster and accurately. Continuous delivery is becoming a must-have for all companies. We are delighted to be working with the Met Office, having been able to help them through the process of selection by conducting a due diligence to choose the best fit for their specific requirements.”