itSMF UK Conference 2015 Preview

Roll up, roll up! It’s one of the biggest events in the UK ITSM calendar next week as it’s the annual itSMF UK conference! We are proud to be media partners so here is a preview of coming attractions!

 

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There are 4 tracks for the conference:

Track 1: Change & Collaboration

Track 2: Cloud & Service Integration

Track 3: People & Skills

Track 4: Service Culture & Customer Experience

 

Introducing this year’s keynote speaker: Simon Wheatcroft

The event will be opened by Simon Wheatcroft, who will start this year’s programme with his inspirational story. Simon lost his sight at 17 and began a journey of adapting technology to achieve the impossible. Through the aid of a smartphone and the feeling underfoot Simon learnt to run solo outdoors and ran his first ever race 7 months later – a 100 mile road race.

Simon Wheatcroft
Simon Wheatcroft


Event Summary

WHATitSMF UK Conference and Exhibition 2015 (ITSM15)

WHERESofitel, Heathrow

WHENMonday 23rd – Tuesday 24th November 2015

HOW TO BOOK: Click Here

itSMF Ireland Conference Review

The itSMF Ireland hosted its annual conference in Dublin last week. The theme of the conference was Continual Service Improvement something I for one was really excited about. Most of the time conferences will talk about Service Design, Transition or Operation but there’s usually little if anything on CSI. The other reason for the excitement was that for me, itSMF Ireland is my home conference so hands up, I may be slightly (read extremely) biased.

The conference itself was held at the Clyde Court Hotel in Dublin. There was a great atmosphere that day because the hotel is right next to the Aviva Stadium (or Landsdowne Road if you’re old school like me) the home ground for the Republic of Ireland football team. There was a World Cup qualifier that night against Germany and the whole nation was hyped up, hoping to create the glory days of Italia 90. Anyway, Ireland’s sporting excellence aside, the hotel was gorgeous, the food was fab and the people on reception were lovely. Parking was a very reasonable at 7 euros for the day *stares hard at the itSMF UK 2014 conference where it cost £45 for 10 hours parking – and no, the carpark didn’t have unicorns, rainbows or vodka fountains*.

The event was kicked off by Fran Davern aka the busiest man in Ireland. Fran heads up the itSMF Ireland management board as well as holding down a full time gig as principal consultant with Davern itSM. The conference was co run by the itSMF Ireland and the Irish Computing Society. The social media machine was well and truly ready for action with the organisers encouraging attendees to Facebook, Tweet and get involved!

Fran welcomed everyone to the annual bash and introduced the first speaker of the day, Ian MacDonald.


Unlocking your CSI potential – Ian MacDonald, Multiple itSMF Award Winner & chartered IT professional

Ian’s session was hotly anticipated as it was about empowering IT to make CSI truly part of everyone’s day job.

Ian talked about practical ways to not only get CSI off the ground but to make it meaningful. He went on to explain that not all benefits are tangible but it doesn’t mean that they’re not important saying “Cost is tangible, value is a feeling. Value should be promoted to support CSI”. The key take away from the presentation was keep making improvements however small “Keep it manageable, small CSI improvements are important because the aggregation can have a big impact”.


Agile ITSM – Dave van Herpen, Consultant, Sogeti

Next up was Dave’s session on using Agile. Dave started his presentation by talking about Agile and not getting hung up about definitions stating “if you’re combining customer involvement, incremental improvements and fast value, you’re already be doing Agile.”

Dave used a traffic example to explain how Agile works. He talked about a square in Holland that had the highest rate of accidents in the nation despite warning notices, traffic lights, signs and speed bumps. In the end, the local authorities were at a loss at what to do so removed all the traffic calming measures. That area now has one of the lowest rates of accidents because as Dave explained “if you have too many processes, people forget to think”. Dave went on to explain that we need to focus on customer satisfaction rather than just trying to hit SLAs or randomly chucking processes at everything.

Dave then talked about using Agile to make collaboration work saying “DevOps isn’t just about Development and Operations. It’s about having a multi talented team involving Development, Operations, Testing, Supplier Management and the business. It’s about everyone in the chain working together and helping each other out.” In other words if people actually talk to each other, we have a better chance of getting things right – yay for common sense 🙂

Dave wrapped his session up by talking about using Kanban for casework, referencing Rob England’s work on standard cases.


CSI: Bite Sized Nuggets – John Griffiths, Former itSMF Trainer of the Year

Following a quick coffee break, we were back to see John Griffiths present on doing CSI in small, manageable chunks. I’m personally a huge fan of this approach as it’s common sense. When you learn about the Deming cycle, you learn that small bite sized chunks is often the way to go rather than huge projects that will invariable fall apart once the day job gets in the way, we have a crisis or management get distracted by the next shiny new thing. Obviously that’s not the exact wording used in my ITIL foundation training but you get the gist 🙂

John started off the session by saying “it’s not called CSI for nothing, we must continue to drive improvements for our customers”. Should be common sense but how many of us forget about CSI when we’re at the sharp end of a Major Incident? Exactly.

John talked about the basic things that we need to have CSI in place. We need a CSI register, a strategy (so we know what we’re doing), a budget (so we can actually do stuff) and a comms plan (so we can tell the rest of the business about all our great work). The most important thing is to have CSI champions as people are everything. John talked about how Suppliers were key players at driving CSI at a strategic level. encouraging the audience to challenge them to get involved and suggesting the inclusion of a CSI clause in Underpinning Contracts.

John went on to explain the 7 step model using booking a holidays as an example sparking a huge response asking if we would all get holidays for doing CSI. Our Irish readers will know that there’s a tradition here in Ireland, there’s a talk show called The Late Late Show and one of the catch phrases is “there’s one for everyone in the audience!”. Sadly, it turned out that no, you don’t get a free holiday just for doing your day job but is was a brilliant way to explain how the model works.

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John’s session was dedicated to his colleague Mike Baker who sadly passed away this year. John, your session was excellent and you did Mike proud, a sentiment that was echoed by the audience and all the session posts on Twitter.

 

Onwards and upwards – Stuart Wright, Severn Valley ITSM

Stuart was next in the hot seat talking about his experience of what works best when doing CSI. This was also the session that got #stewiesteam trending briefly on Twitter (more on that shortly). Stuart advised us to look to the results of our customer satisfaction surveys when looking for improvement opportunities.

Stuart also talked about the importance of promoting CSI wins telling the audience “ we’re good at what we do but we don’t tell anyone, we must promote CSI wins, we need a flag to wave that shouts “we’re better than everyone else!”

Stuart advised us to “stop writing policies on the back of fag packets, it’s not professional”. Thanks Stuart, that’s me told 🙂 He went on to explain how sometimes the things that give us the most pain are the things that can give us the most solid base to build improvements from, talking about the importance of baselining (gives us a solid starting point) and SLAs (if we don’t have them, the customer perception is “we can have anything we want, whenever we want”).

It was at this point in the proceedings that Stuart mentioned that he needed to do a bit of rebranding on his team as it was known as Stewie’s Team and not the CSI Team. Of course being in Dublin, no one was going to miss out on a golden opportunity for acting the maggot* and within minutes #stewiesteam was trending on Twitter. If I were to list the funniest tweets tagged #stewiesteam we’d be here all day but suffice to say there were lots of references to the A-team and a message may have been sent to the team back at ITIL towers (AXELOS) if we could introduce the term “pulling a stewie” for delivering CSI projects successfully if we ever move to ITIL 4.

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Stuart talked about the need for keeping the show on the road and ensuring that CSI sponsors remained committed. He also talked about differing approaches and that sometimes we need to slow down the hares in our team and to get the tortoises to speed up.

Stuart’s final piece of advice was to use simple the simple things to keep momentum going – on one engagement the staff canteen had menu holders with space for additional pages. Stuart used the outside covers to hold leaflets promoting the CSI wins of his department – a move that publicised to the world and it’s mum all the fantastic work being achieved.

 

Practical CSI: Getting started with Continual Service Improvement – Stuart Rance, Service management & Security management consultant, Optimal Service Management

Mr Rance had the first post lunch slot and was quick to bring in some ground rules: “House rules, do not fall asleep, I will see you and I will point it out whilst laughing at you”. We wouldn’t dare Stuart 🙂

Stuart explained that in it’s simplest form, Kanban is “stop starting things and start finishing things”

and that CSI all about driving Attitudes, Behaviors & Culture, or ABC:

Stuart explained the ITIL approach to CSI using practical examples:

  • Vision – “a lovely big picture of what the future looks like
  • Where Are We Now – baselining
  • Where Do We Want To Be – measureable targets: “never believe something can’t be measured. If you care about something enough, it can be measured because you will find the extra resources and money.”
  • How Do We Get There – the plan
  • How Do We Measure The Milestones – in short:
    • Don’t focus on process maturity, focus on what your customers care about
    • Don’t confuse technical targets with business targets
    • Use Critical Success Factors (CSFs) instead of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to demonstrate performance in customer service reviews and you can have a real conversation about value rather than arguing over numbers.
    • Don’t use numbers to tell your customers they’re happy, it will only lead to disaster

(I may have heard this last point delivered in the style of Craig Revel Horward from Strictly “that was a disaster darling”)

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  • How Do We Keep The Process Of Improvement Active – the CSI register is a place to write down things you ought to be doing; it’s also a great way to promote success.

On a personal level, my favourite part of Stuart’s session was around achieving culture change. Stuart chose a very zen approach : “If you want to make a culture change, change yourself because it’s the one thing you have under your control.”

On one particular engagement, Stuart change the culture from “lets have a witch hunt and fire people” following each failure to a no blame culture by, in his own words “ostentatiously crowing about my own failures.” It reminded me of when I was a baby techie, I worked for an organisation where in the Server team, you got handed the sword of grayskull from He-Man / She-Ra as a reward for bouncing the most live servers that week.

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Stuart finished on a strong note by reminding us all that: “the biggest enemy for CSI is complacency and doing too much. Just start with the little things and keep going”.

 

CSI: Taking a Different Perspective – Michael Brophy, CEO, Certification Europe

Michael had the penultimate session of the day and started by reminding us to “never try anything for the first time when you’re up on a podium in front of a room full of people.” Mile’s perspective focused on 3 areas:

  • Standards
  • Marginal Returns
  • Lean

Starting off with a discussion on standards, Mike used ISO 27001 (Information Security), ISO 22301 (Business Continuity) & ISO 31000 (Risk Management) to demonstrate that we don’t have to be afraid of using standards: “you don’t need to be an expert to read ISO 27001, but if make some improvements to your information security based on what you’ve read, you’ve made your organisation more secure and that’s CSI.”

Mike also advised us to look at some of the less well known standards for improvement ideas. A personal favourite of mine Mike, is ISO 3103 also known as “how to make the perfect cup of tea”.

The next section of Mike’s presentation dealt with the doctrine of marginal returns perspective. As the man himself explained it “ if you keep making small improvements, you will get there.”

Mike was fantastic at making his subject matter relatable using exam preparation as an example

https://twitter.com/lizmcbride68/status/652121473163857921

The final part of Mike’s presentation looked at how using Lean could make big savings in efficiency, enabling you to do more with your existing resources without having to negate gains with additional overheads. Mike also encouraged the audience to ask for an independent perspective “we had got to the point where we couldn’t see the wood for the trees”

 

Measures That Matter – Andrew Vermes, UK Practice Leader, Kepner-Tregoe

Andrew was last up talking about making sure our measurements are appropriate telling us if we get it wrong “it’s possible to be the best by gaming the system”

Andrew got the audience energised with an interactive exercise designed to make us realise that focusing on quantity over quality isn’t necessarily the best thing and that we need to focus on people rather than just looking at the numbers and the KPIs

https://twitter.com/lizmcbride68/status/652125597536251905

Andrew reminded us that we need to be prepared:

The final part of the presentation looked at how to use white space effectively:

Andrew made the point that every process has white space, it’s how you manage it that matters. Andrew suggested having rules to manage white space for example the technician has one chance to guess at root cause and then has to follow the full process.

 

Final Thoughts, preview of forthcoming attractions and award winning tweets

Before we knew it, it was 4 o’clock and it was time for Fran to wrap things up with a preview of forthcoming attractions:

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There was also an award for the best tweet that day with the prize going to the very deserving Niamh Armstrong:

https://twitter.com/NiamhieA/status/652121447142432769

Nice one Niamh!

All in all it was a great event with some fantastic content. There were attendees from all sorts of organisations from the financial services industry (AIB), utilities (ESB) and third level education (Institute of Technology, Tallaght – again – not that I’m biased but a big shout out to ITT and to Lorraine Carmody). For my money, the itSMF Ireland is one of the friendliest itSMF chapters, everyone had a good time and everyone went away with something be it new friends / work contacts, a new enthusiasm for CSI or new things to try back in the office. Thank you to the itSMF Ireland for inviting us along and we’ll be back next year. Oh and just in case you’re wondering, Ireland won the match (1-0 #thanksshanelong #COYBIG).

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That’s all folks, go raibh maith agat agus slán abhaile.

*Acting the maggot – messing around

itSMF Ireland Conference preview – Keep moving forward!

CSI - Keep moving forward
CSI – Keep moving forward

Ahead of the itSMF Ireland conference on the 8th October in Dublin I speak with Colm O’Shea and Vawns Murphy from itSMF Ireland to discuss their theme for the conference – Continual Service Improvement (CSI).

ITAM Review and ITSM Review Feeds

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ITSM14 Preview: Simon Durbin with "Don't let SIAM cloud your judgement"

Simon Durbin of Information Services Group
Simon Durbin of Information Services Group

In the run up this year’s itSMF UK conference ITSM14, I chatted with Simon Durbin about his upcoming session entitled “Don’t Let SIAM Cloud Your Judgement”.

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

I am going to be demystifying some of the hype that surrounds SIAM. As with any new management or technology ‘trend’ there is always of lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt as people grapple to understand what is really new and unique and what is simply the re-badging of familiar tried and tested concepts.

If you peel away the layers SIAM is actually rooted in some very well established management disciplines, but with the continued evolution of sourcing and service delivery models (such as Cloud) we need to re-frame and adapt these techniques to the realities of our modern complex, multi-sourced, mixed-sourced world.

Q. What impact does SIAM have on an organisation?

One of the greatest impacts that SIAM can bring is control. This is achieved by focusing on robust processes, clearly delineated roles and responsibilities between internal customers, internal functions and service providers; strong governance, all underpinned with quality data and information flows. All too often service providers give clients the ‘run around’ because they know more about your business than you do. SIAM establishes the mechanism to manage the complex interactions between supply and demand for IT services.

Q. What are likely to be the potential pitfalls and/or benefits an organisation may experience with implementing SIAM as a framework?

One of the big pitfalls with SIAM is to try and bite off more than you can chew. As with any process or service improvement initiative, focus and prioritisation is essential. Identify where the biggest pain points are and the critical business drivers and objectives. Align your SIAM efforts to business goals and addressing the pain. Pick your battles and don’t try to boil the ocean (apologies for the overused clichés!)


Simon Durbin is a Director with Information Services Group (ISG) and leads the SIAM practice in the UK, working as a key member of the global ISG SIAM team. He has more than 25 years’ experience in IT service and supplier management working as both a practitioner and consultant. Simon advises both public and private sector clients, across many industry sectors, on Service Integration strategy, operating model design, sourcing strategies and transformational change management

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

Connect with Simon via LinkedIn

BYOD concerns? It's time to dust off the ITIL service strategy book!

It's time to grab the duster to dust off your ITIL service strategy book
It’s time to grab the duster to dust off your ITIL service strategy book

At this year’s itSMF Australia LEADIT14 Conference I am speaking about what the BYOD revolution means for ITSM evolution. I will be looking at each of the 26 ITIL processes and how they will need to change or adapt in the face of BYOD.

Whether we like it or not, BYOD is here to stay

Recent research by Gartner states that by:

  • 2016, 38% of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers
  • 2017, half of employers will require their employees to provide their own devices
  • 2020, 85% of companies will provide some sort of BYOD program

Despite the challenges that BYOD brings, the proven benefits of BYOD can be recognised with a sound BYOD strategy. Increased productivity, increased staff satisfaction, attraction and retention of talent are some of the benefits that can be realised.

The ITSM processes within the ITIL Service Strategy are pivotal in ensuring that you get your BYOD strategy right.

Start with Strategy Management for IT Services

Is the driver for BYOD within your organisation the result of senior managers wanting to access corporate data on their latest device? Or does it align with the organisational strategy and business drivers such as cost reduction, increased productivity, increased mobility, talent attraction and retention, competitive advantage etc?

How will BYOD enable the organisation to achieve its business outcomes?

Once it has been decided that BYOD is an integral part of the organisational strategy, the strategy for the BYOD service can be defined during the Service Portfolio Management process and documented in the Service Portfolio.

Service Portfolio Management

The Service Portfolio Management approach of ‘define, analyse, approve and charter’ applies to the BYOD service as it does to any other service under consideration as an offering to the organisation.

Questions that need to be asked during ‘Define’ include:

  • Which employees, employee groups or user profiles need access to BYOD?
    Does BYOD extend to consultants, contractors, partners etc?
  • What sort of mobility is required and by which employee groups? Are they home based, office and home, on the road?
  • What types of devices will they want to use?
  • What privileges or permissions do they need?
  • What data will they need access to?
  • What is the risk profile of the data?
  • What applications do they need?
  • When will they need access to resources and which resources?
  • What functionality will they need e.g. initiate web-conferences, run reports on corporate data, access HR systems etc?
  • What integrations will be needed e.g. CRM, ERP etc?
  • What is the best way to engage employees to accommodate modification necessary to their devices for security such as encryption or authentication?
  • How will devices be supported? Do we outsource support? Do we ‘time-box’ support in that support only spends so long trying to resolve an issue and after that the user is on their own? Do we only support commonly used devices?

The list goes on.

Service Portfolio Management will also need to look at what will be contained within the BYOD policy. The trick – and easier than it sounds – is to come up with a common-sense policy that allows employees to use their devices without jeopardising security.

The reason I say this is that recent research of 3,200 employees between the ages of 21 and 32 (the Gen Y demographic) revealed that more than half (51%) of the study’s respondents stated that they would bypass any BYOD policy at work. We have to recognise that these workers were raised to consider access to information a right, not a privilege. They are accustomed to being connected to information – and one another – at all times.

There is not enough space in this article to go into detail about what should be included in a BYOD policy but there is much available on the subject via the Internet.

When the BYOD service has been defined, analysed and approved, it can then be chartered. Service Portfolio Management will need to ensure that the provision of BYOD as a service remains viable and where it is not, consider whether elements of the service can be retired.

Financial Management

You’ll need Financial Management to investigate the cost of providing a BYOD service including the Return on Investment  (ROI) and Return on Value (ROV). Whilst organisations may realise cost savings through reduced hardware purchases and perhaps support costs, there may be increased costs in additional security and administrative systems and infrastructure investment.

Organisations may have to provide equipment allowances such as employee interest-free loans for new devices, stipends etc. and allowances for applications purchased for work-related purposes. These additional costs need to be weighed up against the inherent purchase and support cost savings of BYOD along with the ROV of employee engagement, retention, satisfaction, and productivity.

Financial Management needs to consider aspects such as – who pays for the device usage? If an organisation only wants to recompense for work related calls and data, this could put a large burden on the financial team who will have to validate all claims. This poses a challenge to forecast and manage cash flow.

Business Relationship Management (BRM)

BRM is crucial in the establishment of a BYOD service and determination of the business need behind why people want to use specific devices. Is it just a new fad or is there a real business driver? BRM should work with the business to look for business efficiencies and technology advances that can make jobs easier or provide benefit to the organisation.

Demand Management

This will be pivotal in determining the demand for the service? Where and when will the demand come from?

At itSMF Australia 

So that is just a taster of how the Service Strategy processes will need to operate to support BYOD. If you want to hear how all the other ITSM processes will have to adapt for BYOD, come and hear my presentation at LEADIT14. We haven’t even touched on Information Security yet!! You can find out everything you need to know about the conference here.

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itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit)

This year's conference will be hosted in Melbourne
This year’s conference will be hosted in Melbourne

It is with incredible excitement that we are able to announce that we will be the Media Partner for the itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit), 13-15 August 2014, at The Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel in Australia.

This ITSM event, which is the largest in the southern hempishere, brings together more than 500 IT professionals, with over 50 keynotes and breakout sessions  – covering a wide range of subjects that are at the heart of our industry.

What you can expect

Generally regarded as one of the best itSMF-hosted conferences in the world, you’re in for a treat with this year’s agenda which includes (but is not limited to):

  • A fantastic series of keynotes featuring ITSM greats such as Rob England and James Finister, as well as motivational speakers such as Jason McCartney
  • A broad selection of breakout sessions featuring an array of speakers including the likes of Robert Stroud, Harold Petersen, Paul Wilkinson, Mark Smalley, Karen Ferris, Rachel Pennings, Stuart Rance and plenty more. Covering topics such as: cloud, continual service improvement, IT governance, ITSM process best practices, mobility, service lifecycle, IT asset management, agile, BYOD, customer experience etc.
  • A choice of 7 pre-conference workshops including “building agile virtual teams” and “real techniques to achiever a successful ITSM implementation”
  • A jammed pack social programme providing an array of opportunities to connect with your peers and the service management community, from the standard welcome drinks and networking evening to gala dinners, a social dinner and games night and a post conference winery tour through the Yarra Valley.
  • Ceremony for the 2014 itSMF Industry Awards

Join in the fun

Considering attending but not quite sure yet? Or crying that you can’t go and are going to miss out on all the fun? Why not get involved with one of the Twitter chats that will be hosted by itSMF Australia in the run up to the event?

Date Name Twitter handle Topic
Wed 02-Jul-14 Rob England @theitskeptic Big Uncle: Benevolent Security and The End of Privacy
Wed 09-Jul-14 Stuart Rance @StuartRance Getting Started with Continual Service Improvement
Wed 16-Jul-14 Ian Jones @Jonesyianau Leading ITSM from Scrum to Kanban
Wed 23-Jul-14 James Finister @jimbofin Service Integration and Management: SIAM 
Wed 30-Jul-14 Peter Doherty @ITILNinja Working Smarter at the Service Desk to Engage the Business
Wed 06-Aug-14 Sophie Danby @SophieDanby Get the most out of #Leadit

ITSM Review is flying longhaul!

Two of our team will be in attendance (we haven’t yet finished arguing about who gets to go on such an amazing trip), and if you’d like to schedule a meeting with us whilst we’re out in Australia please email me.

We also intend to make the most of our trip across to the other side of the world and in conjunction with the wonderful James Finister and Stuart Rance we are hoping to be able to run a series of ITSM community initiatives whilst we’re out there (let me hear you cry “the Brits are coming”). Not just in Melbourne, but potentially anywhere in Australia (within reason – it’s a big country) and even potentially en route as well. We’ll provide more information on this as/when things get confirmed, but in the mean time please let us know if you have any ideas related to this or would like to see us whilst we’re visiting.

The ITSM Review team will also be making a trip to India in conjunction with our visit to itSMF Australia, so we urge our readers in that part of the world to also get in touch.


Event Summary

WHAT

itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit)

WHERE

The Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel, Australia

WHEN

The conference runs from Wednesday 13th August to Friday 15th August, with a range of pre-conference workshops taking place on Tuesday 12th August.

BOOKING

Booking rates are available online

Please note that all social activities are included in the 3 / 4 day conference pass, except for the post conference tour, which will need to be purchased separately.

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Change Management – Surviving Implementation

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The super power of a change manager is an “invisible shield”, just like Violet from The Incredibles

One of the things I’m getting asked about most this year is about getting the basics right – how to actually do change management in the real world. We all know that having good processes in place protect us all, ensures we meet regulatory guidelines and are generally just common sense, but what about using them so that we can build a better, stronger IT organisation? In this article, I’m going to talk about getting started and surviving the implementation phase. I’ll then follow it up with another article on how to actually run your change management process.

Let’s start from the beginning. change management sits in the transition stage of the service lifecycle. ITIL states that the objective of change management is “to ensure that changes are recorded, evaluated, authorised, prioritised, planned, tested, implemented, documented and reviewed in a controlled manner. In a nutshell, change management is about putting things in, moving things round or taking them out, and doing it safely and without setting anything on fire.

When describing the change process, I call change managers the guardians or protectors of our network. They ensure all changes are sanity checked, tested, reviewed, approved and scheduled at a sensible time. Their super power is an invisible shield (like Violet in “The Incredibles”) that protects the rest of the organisation from the adverse impact of change.

Getting started: Common Excuses and Ways Around Them

Change management is an incredibly important process because it enables you to manage, control and protect your live environment. Since the credit crunch, I’ve had more and more people coming to me saying that their change departments would either have to endure massive cut backs or stop improvement works. Here are some of the most common excuses I’ve come across for this along with some possible ways around them.

Excuse number 1: “We don’t have the time”. Ok, what about all the time wasted dealing with the impact of failed or unmanaged changes, firefighting incidents and dealing with the big angry mob camped outside the IT department waiting to lynch us for yet another mistake? Let’s be sensible, having a strong change process in place will lead to massive efficiency savings and the use of standard changes, models and templates will make the work involved repeatable.

Excuse number 2: “We don’t have the resources”. What about all the time spent going cap in hand to the rest of the business explaining why a key service was unceremoniously taken out by a badly executed change? Spin doctoring a major incident report that has to go out to external customers? I’d argue that you’re wasting resources constantly firefighting and if you’re not careful it will lead to stressed out departments and key individuals burning out from the stress of trying to keep it all together. Instead of wasting resources and talent – why not put it to good use and start getting proactive?

Excuse number 3: “We don’t have the money”. What about all the money spent on service credits or fines to disgruntled customers? Then there’s the less tangible side of cost. Reputational damage, being front-page news, and being universally slated across social media – not nice and definitely not nice having to deal with the fall out. Finally, what about compliance and regulatory concerns? Failing an audit could be the difference between staying profitable or losing a key customer.

Excuse number 4: “We can’t afford expensive consultants”. Ok, hands up. I used to be a consultant. I used to work for Pink Elephant UK and for anyone out there looking for an amazing consulting / training company then go with Pink – they rock. That aside, if you can’t afford outside help in the form of consultancy, you still have lots of options. Firstly, you have the itSMF. Again, I’m biased here because I’ve been a member, as well as a speaker for, and chair of, various sub groups and committees, all in an attempt to champion the needs of the IT service management community. Here’s the thing though, it’s useful war stories, articles, white papers and templates written by the members for the members. There’s also ISACA which focus more on the governance and COBIT side of things. There’s the Back2ITSM movement – lots of fantastic help support and information here. There’s the ITSM Review and blog sites from the likes of The IT Skeptic – lots of free resources to help you sort out your change Management process.

Excuse number 5: “I’m probably going to be made redundant anyway so what’s the point?” Yes, I am serious, this is an excuse I’ve come across. There’s no way to sugar coat it, being made redundant or even being put at risk is (to put it mildly) a rubbish experience. In that situation (and believe me, I’ve been there) all you can do is keep doing your best until you are told to do otherwise. Having a strong change management process can be a differentiator on responses to bids. Tenders as SOX compliance, or ISO 20000 accreditation can set you apart from competitors. Bottom line, we have to at least try.

Planning for Change Management

So how do you get started? First things first: you need to get buy in. Most management guides will tell you to focus on the top layer of management as they hold the purse strings, and that’s very true, but you also need buy in from your guys on the front line – the guys who will actually be using your process. Get their buy in and you’re sorted, because without it you’re stuffed.

So, starting with the guys at the top, you need to speak to them in their language and that means one thing – a business case! This doesn’t have to take forever and there are lots of templates out there you can use. The key thing is to explain clearly, in their language, why change management is so important. Things to cover in your business case are introduction, scope, options, deliverables and benefits. Now get your techies on board. There’s no “right” way of doing this. As someone with a few war stories to tell, things that have worked in the past include:

  • sitting down with your techies
  • templating everything
  • using the umbrella argument (more on that later)
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Krispy Kremes can help

I’ve also found that bribing support teams with doughnuts can be very effective, as a former techie I can confirm that Krispy Kreme ones work particularly well.

Once you’ve got your buy in, gather and confirm your requirements.  At the risk of playing management bingo here, a good approach is to set up workshops. Engage with both IT and the rest of the business so that there are no surprises. If you have an internal risk or audit department now is the time to befriend them! Using the aforementioned donuts as bribery if necessary, get their input as they will have the most up to date regulatory requirements you need to adhere to such as SOX or Basel 3.

Define the scope otherwise it will creep! Plan what you want to cover carefully. Do you want to cover all production equipment? What about test and DR environments? Whatever scope you agree, make sure it is included in any SLAs, OLAs or underpinning contracts so that you have documented what you are working to.

Keep your end users in mind

When writing your policy, process and procedures, keep your end users in mind. Don’t try to cover everything in red tape or people will find ways to circumvent your process. Let’s start with your policy. This is your statement of intent, your list of “thou shall” and  “thou shall nots”. Make sure it’s clear, concise and is in alignment with existing company standards. I know this might sound counterintuitive but also, prepare for it to be broken. It might sound strange but there will be times where something will need to be fixed in the middle of the night or there will need to be an urgent update to your website. It’s important that changes are raised in enough time for them to be reviewed and authorised, but exceptions will pop up so plan for them now when you’re not under pressure. Examples of when an emergency process could be used are:

  • Something’s broken or on fire (fixing a major incident)
  • Something’s about to be broken (preventing a major incident)
  • Major commercial reasons (in response to a move by a competitor)
  • A major risk to compliance has been identified (e.g. base rate changes, virus patches)

When looking at your process, make sure you have all the bases covered. This will include:

  • Recording and processing the change
  • Change assessment
  • Change Advisory Board (CAB)
  • Build and test
  • Implement
  • Review and close

I’ll talk about these in lots of detail in part two of this article.

Training & Communications

You’re about to go live with your sparkly new change management process and you want it to be a success so tell people about it! First, attend every team meeting, management huddle and town hall that you can get away with! Get people onside so that they know how much help change management can be and to reassure them they won’t have to go through lots of red tape just for the sake of it. Another way of getting your message out is to use posters. They’re bright, cheerful and cheap – here is one that I’ve used often.

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Pelt front line teams with coloured balls if necessary! Not too hard though!

In terms of training you need to think about your change management team and your stakeholders, the people that will be raising changes using your process. For your change management team there are lots of practical courses out there that can help – a few examples could include:

  • ITIL Foundation
  • ITIL – Service Transition
  • ITIL – Release Control and Validation (RCV)
  • COBIT
  • SDI Managers Certificate
  • ISO 20000

Other important considerations include:

  • On the job training
  • Shadowing

But what about your front line teams who will be raising the changes and carry out the work? Again put some training together – make it interactive so that it will be memorable – in the past I have been pelted by brightly coloured balls by a colleague in the name of explaining change management so there really is no excuse for death by PowerPoint!

Things to cover are:

  • The process, its scope and the definition of a change
  • Raising a change record to include things like implementation plans, back out plans, testing, risk categorisation (“no it is not ok to just put medium”) and DR considerations
  • Templates & models
  • Benefits

I’ve done a fair few of these in my time so if you would like some help or examples just ping me on my contact details below.

Go Live

So you’re good to go. You’ve gathered your requirements, confirmed your scope, got buy in and have written up your policy, process & procedures. You’ve socialised it with support teams, ensured everyone has been trained up and have communicated the go live date. So deep breath time, go for it! Trust yourself, this is a starting point, your process will improve over time.

Metrics

I’ve written lots about metrics recently and have spoken about the basics in a previous article on availability, incident and problem management but in short:

You need to have a mission statement. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it does need to be a statement of intent for your team and your process. An example of a change management statement could be “to deliver changes effectively, efficiently and safely so that we put the customer at the heart of everything we do”.

Next come the CSF’s or critical success factors. CSFs look at how you can achieve your mission and some examples for change management could include:

  • To ensure all changes are carried out effectively and safely.
  • To ensure all changes are carried out efficiently, on time and with no out of scope emergency work.
  • To work closely with our customers & stakeholders to ensure we keep improving while continuing to meet their needs

Finally, we have Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. These give you the detail on how you are performing at the day to day level and act as an early warning system so that if things are going wrong, you can act on them quickly. Some example KPIs for change could include:

  • More than 98% changes are implemented successfully
  • Less than 5% of changes are emergency changes
  • Less than 10% of changes are rescheduled more than once
  • Less than 1% of changes are out of process

So you’ve survived your change process implementation – smile,  relax and take a deep breath because now the real work starts! Come back soon for part two of this article which will give you some practical advice on running your new change management process.

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Availability, Incident and Problem Management – The New Holy Trinity? (part 2)

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Following on from part one, here are my next seven tips on on how to use availability, incident and problem management to maximise service effectiveness.

Tip 4: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it

Ensure that your metrics map all the way back to your process goals via KPIs and CSFs so that when you measure service performance you get clear tangible results rather than a confused set of metrics that no one ever reads let alone takes into account when reviewing operational performance. In simple terms, your service measurements should have a defined flow like the following:

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Start with a mission statement so that you have a very clearly defined goal. An example could be something like “to monitor, manage and restore our production environment effectively, efficiently & safely”.

Next come your critical success factors or CSFs. CSFs are the next level down in your reporting hierarchy. They take the information held in the goal statement and break them down into manageable chunks. Example CSFs could be:

  • “To monitor our production environment effectively, efficiently & safely”
  • “To manage our production environment effectively, efficiently & safely”
  • “To restore our production environment effectively, efficiently & safely”

KPIs or key performance indicators are the next step. KPIs provide the level of granularity needed so that you know you are hitting your CSFs. Some example KPIs could be:

  • Over 97% of our production environment is monitored
  • 98% of all alerts are responded to within 5 minutes
  • Over 95% of Calls to the Service Desk are answered within 10 seconds
  • Service A achieves an availability of 99.5% during 9 – 5, Monday – Friday

Ensure that your metrics, KPIs & CSFs map all the way back to your mission statement & process goals so that when you measure service performance you get clear tangible results. If your metrics are linked in a logical fashion, if your performance goes to amber during the month (eg threat of service level breach) you can look at your KPIs and come up with an improvement plan. This will also help you move towards a balanced scorecard model as your process matures.

Tip 5: Attend CAB!

Availability, incident and problem managers should be key and vocal members of the CAB. 70%-80% of incidents can be traced to poorly implemented changes.

Problem management should have a regular agenda item to report on problems encountered and especially where these are caused by changes. Incident management should also attend so that if a plan change does go wrong, they are aware and can respond quickly & effectively. In a very real sense being forewarned is forearmed so if a high risk change has been authorised, having that information can help the service desk manager to forward plan for example having extra analysts on shift the morning of a major release.

Start to show the effects of poorly planned and designed change with downtime information to alter mind-sets of implementation teams. If people see the consequences of poor planning or not following the agreed plan, there is a greater incentive to learn from them and by prompting teams to think about quality, change execution will improve, there will be a reduction in related incidents and problems and availability will improve.

Tip 6: Link your information

You must be able to link your information. Working in your own little bubble no longer works, you need to engage with other teams to add value. The best example of this is linking Incidents to problem records to identify trends but it doesn’t stop there. The next step is to look at the trends and look at how they can be fixed. This could be reactive e.g raising a change record to replace a piece of server hardware which has resulted in down time. It could also be proactive for example “ we launched service A and experienced X, Y and Z faults which caused a hit to our availability, we’re now launching service B, what can we do to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes? Different hardware? More resilience? Using the cloud?”

You need to have control over the quality of the information that can be entered. Out of date information is harmful so make sure that validation checks are built in to your process. One way to do this is to do a “deep dive” into your Incident information. Look at the details to ensure a common theme exists and that it is linked to the correct Problem record.

Your information needs to be accessible and easy to read. Your audience sees Google and their expectation is that all search engines work in the same way.

Talk to people! Ask relationship and service delivery managers what keeps them awake at night and if there is know problem record or SIP then raise one.  Ask technical teams what are their top ten tech concerns. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Forewarned it forearmed. If you know there’s an issue or potential for risk you can do something about it, or escalate to the manager or team that can. Ask the customer if there is anything they are worried about. Is there a critical product launch due? Are the auditors coming? This is where you can be proactive and limit risk for example working with change management to implement a change freeze.

Tip 7: Getting the right balance of proactive and reactive activities

It’s important to look at both the proactive and reactive sides of the coin and get a balance between the two. If you focus on reactive activities only, you never fix the root cause or make it better; you’ll just keep putting out the same fires. If you focus on proactive activities only, you will lose focus on the BAU and your service quality could spiral out of control.

Proactive actions could include building new services with availability in mind, working with problem management to identify trends and ensuring that high availability systems have the appropriate maintenance (e.g regular patches, reboots, agreed release schedules) Other activities could include identifying VBFs (more on that later) and SPOFs (single points of failure).

Reactive activities could include working with incident management to analyse service uptime / downtime in more granularity with the expanded incident cycle and acting on lessons learned from previous failures.

Tip 8: Know your VBFs

No, not your very best friends, your vital business functions! Talk to your customers and ask them what they consider to be critical. Don’t assume. That sparkling new CRM system may be sat in the corner gathering dust. That spreadsheet on the other hand, built on an ancient version of excel with tens of nested tables and lots of macros could be a critical business tool for capturing customer information. Go out and talk to people. Use your service catalogue. Once you have a list of things you must protect at all costs you can work through the list and mitigate risk.

Tip 9: Know how to handle downtime

No more hiding under your desk or running screaming from the building! With the best will in the world, things will go wrong so plan accordingly. The ITIL service design book states that “recognising that when services fail, it is still possible to achieve business, customer & user satisfaction and recognition: the way a service provider acts in failure situation has a major influence on customer & user perception & expectation.”

Have a plan for when downtime strikes. Page 1 should have “Don’t Panic” written in bright, bold text – sounds obvious but it’s amazing how many people panic and freeze in the event of a crisis. Work with incident and problem management to come up with the criteria for a major incident that works for your organisation. Build the process and document everything even the blindingly obvious (because you can’t teach common sense). Agree in advance who will coordinate the fix effort (probably Incident management) and who will investigate the root cause (problem management). Link in to your IT service continuity management process. When does an incident become so bad that we need to invoke DR? Have we got the criteria documented? Who makes the call? Who is their back up in case they’re on holiday or off sick? Speak to capacity management – they look at performance – at what point could a performance issue become so bad that the system becomes unusable. Does that count as down time? Who investigates further?

Tip 10: Keep calms and carry on

Your availability, incident and problem management processes will improve and mature over time.  Use any initial “quick wins” to demonstrate the value add and get more buy in. As service levels improve, your processes will gather momentum as its human nature to want to jump on the bandwagon if something is a storming success.

As your process matures, you can look to other standards and framework. Agile and lean can be used to make efficiency savings. COBIT can be used to help you gauge process maturity as well as practical guidance on getting to the next level. PRINCE2 can help with project planning and timescales. You can also review your metrics to reflect greater process maturity for example you could add critical to quality (CTQ) and operational performance indicators (OPIs) to your existing deck of goals, CSFs and KPIs.

Keep talking to others in the service management industry. The itSMF, ISACA and Back2ITSM groups all have some fantastic ideas for implementing and improving ITIL processes so have a look!

Final thoughts

I’d like to conclude by saying that availability, incident and problem management processes are critical to service quality. They add value on their own, but aligning them and running them together will not only drive improvement but will also reduce repeat (boring) incidents, move knowledge closer to the front line and increases service uptime.

In conclusion, having availability, incident and problem management working together as a trio is one of the most important steps in moving an IT department from system management to service management as mind-sets start to change, quality improves and customer satisfaction increases.

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The Kitchen Nightmare Approach to Continual Service Improvement

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Gordon Ramsey

Following on from my trip to itSMF Norway last week, I wanted to share with ITSM Review readers my thoughts on Rae Ann Bruno’s presentation along with some of the key pieces of advice that she presented.

Believe it or not this presentation focused on the well-known chef, Gordon Ramsey. “What on earth can Gordon Ramsey teach us about ITSM?” I hear you all cry! Well as it turns out… a lot.  Rae Ann focused on the programme “Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares” where Gordon Ramsey takes failing restaurants and turns them into successful ones and how his recipe for success (sorry I couldn’t resist) is the perfect model for IT services.

The Gordon Ramsey approach

The approach that Gordon Ramsey takes in this programme is as follows:

  • He goes to the restaurants and puts himself through the customer experience (he orders and eats like any other paying customer)
  • He speaks with other customers, the staff, the owners and the chef to understand different perceptions (helping him to understand the full impact of the problem, gathering data from all sources)
  • He looks at: process time, wait time, defect rates, root causes and other information that can lead to targeted improvements
  • He defines the quality required to staff and the chef (trust me, it’s not frozen lasagna)
  • He gets the team onboard with his plan and remodels the restaurant
  • He helps bring the team together to communicate better and provide more effective service

Where does ITSM fit in?

Rae Ann explained how this exact approach should be taken for continual service improvement when it comes to ITSM:

  • Understands customer expectations
  • Defines services
  • Assesses process, people and tools
  • Defines quality
  • Ensures adherence to policy and procedures
  • Manages relationships between teams, people and processes
  • Verifies communication process

As bizarre as the concept sounded at the start of the presentation, she was right. If you are struggling with your processes or your service then perhaps the first thing you should do is sit down and watch an episode of Gordon Ramsey in action.

The need for service catalog

Rae Ann also continued with her restaurant examples to explain why every organization needs a service catalog. To quote her exactly: “An organization without a service catalog is like a restaurant without a menu”. What would happen in a restaurant if there was no menu? If customers could come in and simply order whatever they fancied?

  • There would be an inordinate about of waste (because the kitchen would have to be stocked with every ingredient possible, some of which may never actually be required)
  • The restaurant wouldn’t be able to set any expectations to customers
  • Assumptions would be made by customers that the chef knows how to cook anything and everything
  • It would fail. There is no way this model can succeed

The same is equally true of not having a service catalog.

Additional advice

Rae Ann’s presentation was highly entertaining and laden with lots of other common sense advice such as:

  • Always set customer expectations and ensure that you can deliver a service to match them
  • Be realistic and honest with your customers and yourself. Don’t try to make things look better than they are
  • Always follow the continual service model
  • Ensure that you understand business goals and that your efforts are aligned with them. How can you do your job effectively if you don’t know what you’re working towards?
  • Sufficient and effective communication is critical to success, far more important than your tool and processes
  • CSI is not a process. It is never finished, you cannot complete it

All in all, it was an incredibly practical and sensible session. The only downside to this presentation is that I will probably never be able to watch Kitchen Nightmare’s again without thinking about IT service management.

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Navy 311: Reinventing service and support

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Following on from my trip to itSMF Norway last week, I wanted to share with ITSM Review readers my thoughts on Susan Reisinger’s presentation along with some of the key pieces of advice that she presented.

This was an interesting session, not least because it focused on such a huge organization (the US Navy) that operates globally. I would perhaps say that the session focused a little too much on the “what was done” and not enough on the “how you can do this / fit this to your business”, but nevertheless it was a very educating session.

Susan explained how Navy 311 is not a new program, but a new approach to service and support. The US Navy’s IT operations had been complex, with multiple service desks spread across numerous countries with limited communication between them. They needed both an efficient and cost effective way to fix this problem with no available budget (this is the government that we’re talking about here). This was where the 311 model came in.

What is Navy 311?

The 311 model was adopted by the US Navy for all non-emergency services, from a captain on a ship who had a minor problem to a member of the public enquiring whether the ship they had just seen in a port belonged to the Navy or not (hey they were just wondering!). However, Navy 311 comprises of more than just call center support, it has four key capabilities:

  • Customer interface – ensuring consistency of support from initial service request through to issue resolution
  • Shore-based infrastructure – a network of authorized service providers and call center professionals as well as the IT assets that support them. Previously if there had been a fault on a ship a technician would have had to have been shipped out to fix it. Now technicians can advise via telephone and people on board can carry out what needs to be done to fix the issue. One technician can now be working on several issues at once, versus previously where they would have had to travel and only been able to deal with one issue/ship at a time. The result? Quicker resolutions and a huge saving on travel expenses
  • Knowledge management – a repository of all records to enable data mining to identify trends and thereby enable process improvements and total cost ownership (TCO) reduction analysis
  • Program management ­– business management functions such as information and systems assurance, program execution and financial accountability. All of which provides transparency to the business.

The improvements

Susan explained that adopting the 311 approach can work for any organization regardless of size. The key improvements delivered to sailors and the leadership in the US Navy were:

  • Reactive service delivery
  • Proactive service delivery
  • Predictive analysis
  • Metrics
  • Call center optimization

The presentation with a story

As previously stated it would have been nice to hear more of the “how you can do this” and perhaps a clearer explanation of what the 311 program (adopted by over 400 cities across the globe) is would have been good too. That said, Susan wins the prize for telling my favourite story of the entire conference:

Shortly after the 311 program had been rolled out, when the Iraq war was at its peak, one US Navy call center received a call from a man who was clearly distraught. The man explained that he had heard that the ship his son was deployed on had been struck and that there were numerous injuries and fatalities. He wanted to know if the next of kin had been alerted as he was desperate for news of his son.

The agent explained that she didn’t have the information to hand but she would find out and get back to him as soon as possible. Pre-Navy 311 it might have taken the agent hours, maybe even days, to be able to source the necessary information to get back to that man quickly. However, thanks to the fact that they now operated as a global, multi-functional team with strong communication and transparent operations, that agent was able to quickly reach the closest unit to the attack.

The result? Within 45 minutes of the man contacting the US Navy call center he had a call back from the agent and an email from his son confirming he was safe and well.

Susan finishing on this story, left me in no doubt about the wider impact that IT service can have not just on the business itself, but on external businesses and individuals as well.

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