The Beauty & Simplicity Of Common Sense Business Relationship Management

itSMF 2014

Following on from my trip to itSMF Norway last week, I wanted to share with ITSM Review readers my thoughts on Andrea Kis’ presentation on “The Beauty & Simplicity Of Common Sense Business Relationship Management”, along with some of the key pieces of advice that she presented.

This was a great presentation because it didn’t matter what part of IT you worked in, or even if you didn’t work in IT at all, the message was still applicable to you (even in our personal lives). Andrea explained the importance and benefits of creating a relationship with everyone that you meet. She also discussed how we MUST stop referring to IT and the business as two separate entities.

Advice from Andrea

Key takeaways and advice from her session included:

  • Don’t refer to BRM as a process or a job title. It’s neither, it’s a skill
  • Don’t underestimate how something very small can lead to a much larger problem. One small relationship issue between two colleagues can easily cause much larger issues for your overall service delivery
  • You can’t implement BRM, it’s something you must practice every day
  • The focus must always be on the relationship from the viewpoint of the customer. Just because you think the relationship is working smoothly doesn’t necessarily mean that they feel the same
  • The little things matter. When delivering hard decisions if you have a relationship with the person you are delivering said decisions to it will be easier. They will trust you
  • Always lead by example

The advice didn’t stop there though, and we will shortly be publishing an article on BRM direct from Andrea herself.

Other points of interest

What I found particularly interesting in this session was that nobody in the room seemed to be aware that BRM was in ITIL v2011. This confirmed my belief that we place too much emphasis on what we have always done (incident and change) and too little on new ideas.

Andrea finished off her session by naming the six competencies of relationship building. How many do you follow?

  1. Inspire
  2. Influence
  3. Develop (relationships)
  4. Initiate change
  5. Manage conflict
  6. Establish teams and collaboration

As a piece of bonus advice for anyone reading this, I asked Andrea “if you could only provide one tip when it comes to BRM what would it be?”. Her response was “JUST DO IT. Stop questioning where to start and just do it”.

Think you’re good at relationship management? Did you stop for coffee on the way to work this morning? If so, do you remember what the person who served you your coffee looked like?

What I learned about IT and DevOps from Gene Kim

Gene Kim presents at itSMF Norway
Gene Kim presents at itSMF Norway

Following on from my trip to itSMF Norway last week, I wanted to share with ITSM Review readers my thoughts on Gene Kim’s presentation “The Phoenix Project: Lessons Learned in Helping Our Businesses Win”, along with some of the key pieces of advice that he presented.

Gene kicked off the first full day of the conference with his keynote presentation about IT and DevOps. If you’re not familiar with his book then I’ll start by highly recommending that you head over to Amazon to purchase a copy. If my recommendation alone isn’t enough to entice you to part with your hard earned cash, then read this article by Gene first.

Gene’s article provides a good summary of his session (along with some great tips), but the bottom line of the presentation was that (and to quote Gene) “IT is in a downward spiral, it’s trapped in a horror movie that keeps playing over and over again” and DevOps is a way to help try fix this.

Advice from Gene

Some of the advice that was provided during his session included:

  • Never forget that the best will always get better. Back in 1979 who’d have thought that anything could surpass the amazing Sony Walkman?
  • In order to win in business we need to out experiment our competitors.
  • Be fearless in breaking things. Mistakes and errors are a key source of learning
  • When it comes to DevOps and metrics, measuring lead time (i.e. the time it takes to go from the “raw materials” to “finished goods” is a much more effective metric than measuring deploys per day
  • When creating a DevOps process it’s important to ensure that you include a “handback” stage. This way, if necessary, fragile services can be returned back to development if operations don’t think that they are up to scratch
  • Develop smaller changes frequently to avoid painful large scale deployments in the future

Bonus learning

Other things we learnt in this session that you might not know:

  • 95% of all capital projects have an IT component
  • 50% of all capital spending is technology-related
  • The value of DevOps is even greater than anyone can imagine. Some of the companies doing DevOps include: Spotify, Google, Amazon, Bank of America, H&M, US Department of Homeland Security, Twitter, Gap (and a long list of others).
  • A survey of the room showed that it took most months, and even quarters, to deploy a change request. Did you know that an effective DevOps team can deploy a change request in days, and even hours?

Overall a thought-provoking presentation, and one that I very much enjoyed. Not being a total ‘techie’ I confess to never really, fully understanding the concept of DevOps before. Now thanks to Gene, I think I might even be able to confidently explain the benefits to others.

To learn more about the entire itSMF Norway conference please read: The itSMF Norway Conference: it’s the one that I want!

The itSMF Norway conference – it’s the one that I want!

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itSMF Norway Conference

Last week I had a last minute opportunity to attend the itSMF Norway conference in Oslo, and I have to say the stress of booking a flight, packing a bag and leaving my house within the space of an hour was completely 100% worth it. This was easily one of the best ITSM events that I’ve ever attended, both in terms of quality of content and overall experience, and one that I would highly recommend to others.

It’s also worth noting that I say this without really experiencing the entire event, as there was many sessions in Norwegian that I couldn’t attend (my Norwegian is a little rusty you see) all of which received great praise from the more local attendees. I was particularly sad that I couldn’t attend the session by Henrik Aase as it was literally all anybody was talking about throughout day one. However, the good news is that we are going to work with itSMF Norway to get some of the Norwegian sessions written in English as ITSM Review articles.

I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to share some of the key takeaways, advice and tips coming out from the event, and so I hereby present to you my summary of some of the sessions that I attended along with general thoughts about the conference.

The conference key messages

Bearing in mind that I didn’t attend all of the sessions (my takeaways may differ to other attendees. However, from the sessions that I attended and my conversations with other delegates I found three key reoccurring messages:

  • We can’t keep ignoring DevOps. The benefits are too great to miss out on
  • Be honest in everything that we do, both with ourselves and with our customers
  • We must work on continual service improvement to maintain success

Interestingly, ITIL barely came up in any of the presentations that I attended, nor was I party to any conversations (bar a quick catch up with AXELOS) discussing ITIL. I know it was discussed during the “future of IT service management” panel at the end of day two, but by that time I’d left for the airport and so I only picked it up on Twitter. I found this particularly refreshing, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t get stuck in a conversation going round and round in circles on the topic of ITIL. In fact, I heard ‘COBIT’ mentioned more often than ‘ITIL’. Perhaps this says something about Norway’s adoption of the best practice framework (but I guess not given that the conference tagline was “ITIL – tell me more, tell me more”), or perhaps I just don’t understand ITIL in Norwegian (although I still question that I understand it in English).

However, a topic that did come up on a number of occasions was one that I’d not personally heard being discussed in a long time. Project and portfolio management (PPM) seemed to be a key focus for many of the delegates that I spoke with, with their primary reason being that it helps them make faster and better business decisions.  Again, this could speak more about the country than a new trend, but when I spoke with some of the international delegates they seemed to be in agreement of its new found importance.

Other messages

To avoid this particular article becoming incredibly long, over the course of this week I will publish supplementary articles of the key takeaways and advice from the following sessions:

We have also invited speakers to write articles based on their presentations, which we hope to publish over the coming weeks.

The conference itself

I could easily write paragraph after paragraph about just how good the itSMF Norway conference was, but for everyone’s sake I will try and summarize my thoughts in bullet points:

  • The content overall (granted I can’t really speak for the Norwegian sessions, but talk amongst the delegates leads me to believe that my assessment is fair) was far superior to anything that I have seen at any other ITSM event
  • The atmosphere was much nicer than at any other event I have ever attended. It was relaxed, laid back and fun – there were no stressed out organizers either, they enjoyed every second of the conference just as much as any other delegate
  • The theme was brilliant (although I don’t know how many more days I can take of continuously having “Summer Nights” stuck in my head) and was consistent throughout the event, from the sessions to the entertainment to the roaming hotdog vendors dressed in full 50s attire.
  • The organizers were wonderful, in control and most importantly ­– happy! P.S. Thanks for extending the services of your 50s hair and make up artist to me!
  • The food was yummy (this is huge praise from me, I never touch the food at conferences) – many will tell me this is irrelevant, but it’s all part of the event experience as far as I am concerned
  • The entertainment was fantastic (although there were a few groans from some who could understand the Norwegian “dinner entertainer” – i.e. not me – that he wasn’t on par with the standard of previous years).  Who knew that dancing to Grease tunes with Tobias Nyberg, Kaimar Karu, Dagfinn Krog, Andrea Kis, Rae Ann Bruno and a bunch of Norwegian people that I don’t know could be so much fun?

My only criticism of the event, which I (and others) have already shared with the organizers, and I am already 100% confident will be fixed for next year, was that for those of us who couldn’t understand Norwegian there were often long periods of time when we were left with no English content (two hours and 15 minutes each day to be exact). Whilst, I wouldn’t expect a Norwegian conference to be delivered 100% in English, as itSMF Norway has become a victim of it’s own success with more international attendees each year (I met with delegates from Finland, UK, USA, Italy, and Germany just to name a few), it would be nice to find a way to ensure that we could still benefit from the Norwegian sessions.

This conference easily has the scope to become one of the biggest itSMF events in Europe. It’s inexpensive to attend compared to other ITSM events (even with flights from long haul destinations) and the quality is of an exceptional standard. To be honest, even with the gaps for non-native speakers I will still be recommending this conference to everyone that I speak to.

If you want to learn, pick up practical advice, meet amazing people, and all whilst having a huge amount of fun then make sure you get your tickets booked to next year’s itSMF Norway conference. I know for a fact there is no way that I intend to miss it.

Is there such a thing as the "ITSM Community"?

pink ball
Does a happy, successful “ITSM Community” exist?

As you may know in February Rebecca and I attended the annual Pink Elephant conference in Las Vegas.  Post-event there is always (as you would expect) a lot to talk about, such as how well the event was run, the content, the amazing people and networking opportunities. But I’ve done that already, so now I want to focus on something a little different for this article. I want to talk about the “ITSM community”.

We are a ‘community’

By “we”, I mean members of the global ITSM industry and, by putting the word “community” in quotation marks I’m asking, well are we really?

This topic came up on several occasions at the PINK14 conference (granted it usually involved bar snacks and a cocktail, but then again all the best conversations usually do right?). Not least when the topic of the future of SMCongress came up. There were daily conversations about how to “help the community” (be it in the shape of SMCongress or any other initiative). There were debates, and many ‘aha moments’ too, but one unanswered question remained throughout: What is it that we (the people who refer to said “community”) are actually trying to achieve?

Who is the “community”?

At ITSM Review we consider ourselves to be a “community” where ITSM professionals (and ITAM professionals over at the ITAM Review) gather to consume helpful content, discuss best practice, occasionally meet-up in person, and share opinions.  Furthermore, my job title includes ‘community manager’, which means I manage the content, encourage discussions, arrange meet-ups, and try to get people to share their opinions.

Are we successful in delivering helpful content, encouraging discussions, organizing meet-ups etc.? Yes (our growth certainly doesn’t suggest otherwise). Are we a community? Yes, but we’re only a tiny proportion of the larger ITSM community.

When we (and by we, I now mean the ITSM industry) refer to discussions on social media, whether it be on Twitter, in back2itsm groups, LinkedIn or anywhere else, we refer to them as “discussions amongst the “ITSM Community””.

When we attend conferences such as PINK14 and ‘we’ meet up in sessions, at lunch or in the bar at the end of the day, we refer to ourselves as the “ITSM community”.  Or we have discussions about how to help the “ITSM community”.

I’m the worst offender by the way, I use the term “ITSM community” like it’s going out of fashion. But the question is this: does the “ITSM community” (as we refer to it) actually exist?

Opening a can of worms

So I’m the community manager at ITSM Review yet I’ve just questioned whether or not an ITSM community actually exists. I could quite easily be out of a job by the time I finish this article.

I do believe that the ITSM community exists, I just don’t think it exists in the way that we think it does.  We talk of the ITSM community as an intangible entity made up of people in different ITSM roles from around the world, who want to benefit from, and contribute to, the collective wisdom of other members.

You may disagree with my definition but bear with me while I look at a few issues: Is there really a need? Are we sharing? Are we global?

Then there is the issue with  ‘people in different ITSM roles’. That is where our current “global ITSM community” really falls down.  Consultants, check. Vendors, check. Analysts, check.  Practitioners? Not so much check.  At one point at PINK14 we were a group of 15 people discussing this topic, and only one of those was a practitioner. So that means 6.7% of the group represented practitioners, and what’s worse is that figure is quite high. Often there is no practitioner representation in these discussions at all.

Furthermore, we have to ask, what is the purpose of our community? To help others, right? But currently the vendors, consultants and analysts are trying to help without necessarily understanding demand. Whilst the people who we believe really need the help are usually nowhere to be seen? Do you think that is a fair statement? Probably not, but I think it isn’t far off.

When Stephen Mann kicked off the back2itsm initiative he said it was about “the reaping of the knowledge and experience held within the ITSM community (ITIL’s creators, publishers, trainers, consultants, software vendors, ITSM practitioners, and ancillary roles such as analysts) for the benefit of all.” 

When I asked Charles Araujo what was the reasoning behind launching SMCongress he said “we formed the ‘RevNet’, which ultimately become SMCongress, to bring together some of the brightest minds in the ITSM community to explore where the future of our industry was going and what it would mean to ITSM professionals everywhere.  Our aim was to provide valuable insights and ideas to the entire ITSM community.”

So many questions, so few answers

Thus far, I’ve highlighted several questions, none of which I have specifically answered. This is ironic, because none of us could answer them at PINK14 either.

This is the biggest flaw in any of our attempts to either build a community or serve/help an existing community. We don’t really know what it is that we are trying to achieve. We (i.e. those of us who actively take part in these kind of discussions) might think we know what we want to achieve, but then is what we’re trying to achieve actually of any value to anybody? For example the news announcements surrounding AXELOS was “big talk” in our group of 15 at PINK14, but one of those 15 people wasn’t in the slightest bit interested. Can you guess who? Yes, the practitioner.

You can see that I am going round in circles here with question after question. I’m dizzy, so you must be too. Apologies, but please bear with me.

The main phrase that kept reoccurring on this topic at PINK14 was “how do we help the community?” This was in relation to SMCongress, back2itsm, and the ITSM people active on Twitter. In my opinion, this question cannot be answered in our current position. Why? Because there are so many other questions that need to be asked (to our target audience) and answered first:

  • Do you think there is such a thing as an ITSM community?
  • Do you feel part of an ITSM community?
  • Would you like to be part of an ITSM community?
  • What would you expect to input to and receive from an ITSM community?
  • How would you expect to communicate with an ITSM community?

The only thing that everybody seems to be in agreement on is that we want to help practitioners and that they are our target audience, but even that leads to further questions such as “are we talking about the people on the front line of a service desk say, or IT managers, or both?”

Where on earth do we go from here?

Wow, yet another question that doesn’t have a clear answer. There was a lot of debate at PINK14 about what next steps any community initiative should take, and one thing that was clear is that it’s not a one-man-band job.  There were discussions about involving the likes of itSMF, AXELOS or other high-profile industry names. There was also talk of creating ways to encourage vendors to actively engage their customers on the topic.

I think all of the above are great ideas, and much needed, but I also believe that it is likely to be difficult to pull a united force together to drive any community initiative forward. I’m not saying that such an approach will fail, I do strongly believe said approach is needed and can succeed, but it will take a lot of time to bring it all together. In the meantime there are things that everyone can be doing to help.

Next time you meet with a practitioner (in my view, anybody working in IT who is not a consultant, analyst or vendor), ask them the five questions listed in the bullet points above. Take the answers and share them across any ITSM channel, with us, on social media, in forums etc, or ask them to complete our online form.

If you are a practitioner reading this, pretty please share your own answers with us.

Together we can start to crowd source the answers we need, because without answers from the people we are trying to help, how can we ever move forward and build the existing ITSM community into something more beneficial?

Where does ITSM Review fit in all of this?

A large amount of our readers and subscribers are practitioners and they keep coming to our site because they find it useful. We therefore already have an existing relationship in place with a small proportion of the ITSM industry. They might not all actively engage with us, but it is a huge starting point.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa

We can ensure that we nurture the community that we already have. We can also utilize said community to gain the feedback required to help move any global initiative forward.  We’re going to continue with everything that we already do, as well as push for more continuous feedback. We’ll start by pushing for as many responses to our online survey as possible. We can then feed this back into any larger initiative.

Unfortunately as much as we hate to admit it, we’re a small fish in a very large pond. It’s going to take more than feedback from our readers alone to get enough feedback to start being able to answer the long list of questions. This is why having other institutions and companies involved will be the key to success.  Pink Elephant, HDI, SDI, itSMF’s… they all need to take the same approach.

It’s also worth mentioning here that ITSM Review isn’t looking to build something to go up against SMCongress, back2itsm or anything else. We don’t care what the initiative is called or who owns it – so long as it gets the job done.

In summary

Let me be clear here – I’m not trying to be harsh on the existing “ITSM community” (as we refer to it) and I am also meaning to sound negative. I realize that non-practitioners are always going to be more active in things, and maybe that’s fine? But then when “we” should stop saying that it’s practitioners that we are trying to help. I also want to stress that this post is not an “attack” on SMCongress and I fully support the official announcement (due out shortly) that will be issued about moving SMCongress forward.

Anyway, neither I, nor ITSM Review have all the answers or the power to drive any true global community forward alone. That said, we’re successful in what we’re currently doing in our own community and we plan to continue, because feedback leads us to believe that we are making a difference to multiple people around the globe. In addition to this we will do whatever we can to support any larger initiatives.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what all of this is about? Regardless of who has the answers, or who’s opinion differs to the next persons, don’t we all just want to help make the lives of ITSM professionals easier? You may not agree with all of my opinions in this article, but surely we can all agree on this?

It’s time to stop debating, and time to start gathering answers.

itSMF UK seeks new leadership

Ben Clacy leaves itSMF UK on the 15th November after three years as Chief Executive.
Ben Clacy leaves itSMF UK on the 15th November after three years as Chief Executive.

itSMF UK have begun their search for a new CEO after it was announced that Ben Clacy is to leave the organization after the annual conference in November.

Ben first joined the non-profit organization in 2006 in a business development role and has served 3 years as Chief Executive. Ben is leaving the IT sector to lead operations at the Foundation Trust Network.

The CEO role is currently being advertised on The Guardian website which states that the new candidate must “build upon the success of the current CEO and confidently take us to the next stage of the strategic plan.

Ben’s departure follows Chris Roberts leaving the organization as Member Engagement Manager in July.

The new CEO will certainly face some interesting challenges:

  • Traditional ‘country chapter’ member organizations are still trying to find their role in the world amongst the growth of worldwide digital networks. If I want to discuss problem management, I want to discuss problem management – it doesn’t have to be limited to talking to people in my country.
  • The new owner of ITIL, Axelos, has become an outright commercial operation and has stated it’s intent to be community and discussion led with the ‘Big Friendly Onion’ strategy. This seems to encroach on itSMF’s core purpose (However, whilst Axelos talk a good game we’re yet to see them execute).

Ivor Macfarlane, Service Management specialist at IBM, discussing the news on Facebook said:

“Ben had to guide itSMF through tough times. Under Ben’s guidance itSMF seems to have survived – not without casualties but survived. itSMF has grown up during Ben’s time – a lot of that the sad, end of innocence kind of growing up. In an organisation supposedly occupied with delivering service, Ben understood that it is the service that counts not the visibility or glory of the deliverers. I will miss the confidence of a steady hand on the tiller – especially when often it seems the final destination is not certain.”

The ITSM Review team wish Ben well in his new role. We look forward to giving him a good send off at conference next month (Don’t forget to check out our free conference ticket giveaway).

The itSMF UK 2012 Awards, Real Stars & No Backslapping

As the UK’s largest service management user group with over 12,000 members, the itSMF UK is no doubt resolutely proud to be announcing details of the finalists for this year’s Service Management Awards. The group’s “glittering” awards dinner is held as part of the annual itSMF UK Conference, which will be held at the Novotel London West on 5th and 6th November 2012.

Not (we are told) just an industry backslapping and glad-handing exercise, the iTSMF UK awards are designed to honour the “real industry stars” in Service Management and to recognise the achievements of those who have shown real leadership, imagination and skill in addressing service management challenges within their organisations.

“It’s very satisfying to see people recognised for their hard work and inspiration. It’s also important to showcase real-life projects that have been completed – hearing about the issues that member organisations have faced and the strategies they have put in place to improve customer service can really bring the details to life and indirectly solve problems that other organisations may be battling,” said Colin Rudd, chairman of the itSMF UK.

There are nine categories this year, each of which has been precisely described as “highly competitive” in nature.

Service Management Project of the Year – Finalists: Vodafone, The Co-operative Banking Group, Avis Budget Group

Service Innovation of the Year – Finalists: Stockport Council, Sunrise Software, Fife Council, Telefonica UK Ltd

Service Management Team of the Year – Finalists: The Co-operative Banking Group, HM Land Registry, Foster & Partners

Submission of the Year – Finalists: Ian Macdonald, The Co-operative Banking Group; Kevin Holland, Independent Consultant; Andrea Kis, Macmillan Cancer Support and Matthew Burrows, BSM impact

Trainer of the Year Finalists: Peter Saul, Smatra, Duncan Anderson, Global Knowledge

Contributor of the Year Finalists:  Stuart Wright, Severn Valley ITSM; Jane Suter, Red Tiger Consultancy; Martin Neville, Audit Commission; Mike O’Brien, ILX Group; Alison Cartlidge, Steria; Steve Straker, Fujitsu Services

NOTE: The Paul Rappaport Award for Outstanding Contribution to ITSM Service Management is presented to an individual who has made a sustained and outstanding contribution over a number of years to the field of IT service management. Finalists are not publicised for this award.

Student of the Year – ITIL Finalists: Peter Mullett, Identity and Passport Service (EI – BCS); 
John Hyde, Emerson(EI-APMG); Paul Williamson, RFI Global Services (EI – PeopleCert)

Student of the Year – ISO/IEC 20000 – Finalists: John Griffiths, Fox IT; Richard Stone, Fox IT; Martin Lee Hall, ITSM Consulting; David Lucas, BT;  Paige Lattimer, Capita; Michele Campbell, Capita.

The event’s  dinner is being hosted by Dave Gunson who is a renowned after-dinner speaker “famed” for his confessions of an air traffic controller talks and written work.

Event Listing: itSMF UK Conference, London, November 5th & 6th

Coming of age: The 21st itSMF Annual Conference

This year the itSMF marks its 21st birthday. What a milestone! The ITSM Review will be there – please give me a shout if you would like to say hello.

WHAT

itSMF 21st Annual Conference. Full Agenda here.

WHERE

  • Novotel London West, Hammersmith, West London.
  • Hotel Website
  • Google Map
  • Address: Novotel London West, One Shortlands, London, W6 8DR

WHEN

Monday 5th November – Tuesday 6th November 2012

WHO

The IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) – The premier community for leadership in IT Service Management (www.itsmf.co.uk)

BOOKING & FURTHER DETAILS

http://itsmf.co.uk/Conference/2012Conference/Conference_2012_Information.aspx

itSMF UK Conference

Image Credit

Review: itSMF Continual Service Improvement SIG

Like many who work in ITSM, I am of course aware of the need for, and the importance of Continual Service Improvement throughout the Service Management Lifecycle.

But what does it entail in real terms, and not just what I read on the ITIL course/in the books?

I came along to the itSMF CSI SIG, held in London to find out.

CSI in a nutshell

The purpose of CSI is to constantly look at ways of improving service, process and cost effectiveness.

It is simply not enough to drop in an ITSM tool to “fix” business issues, (of course backed up with reasonable processes) and then walk away thinking: “Job well done.”

Business needs and IT services constantly evolve and change and CSI supports the lifecycle and is iterative – the review and analysis process should be a continual focus.

Reality

CSI is often aspired to, and has been talked about in initial workshops, but all too often gets swallowed up in the push to configure and push out a tool, tweak and force in processes and all too often gets relegated to almost “nice to have” status.

A common question one sees in Linked in Groups is:

“Why do ITIL Implementations fail?”

A lack of commitment to CSI is often the reason, and this session looked to try and identify why that might be.

Interactive

I have never been to a SIG before, and it was very clear from the outset that we were not going to be talked at, nor would we quite be doing the speed-dating networking element from my last regional venture.

SIG chair Jane Humphries started us off by introducing the concept of a wall with inhibitors.  The idea was that we would each write down two or three things on post-it notes for use in the “Speakers Corner” segment later in the day.

What I liked about this, though, was that Jane has used this approach before, showing us a wall-graphic with inhibitors captured and written on little bricks, to be tackled and knocked down in projects.

Simple but powerful, and worth remembering for workshops, and it is always worth seeing what people in the community do in practice.

Advocates, Assassins, Cynics and Supporters

The majority of the sessions focussed on the characteristics of these types of potential stakeholders – how to recognise them, how to work with them, and how to prioritise project elements accordingly.

The first two breakout sessions split the room into four groups, to discuss these roles and the types of people we probably all have had to deal with in projects.

There was, of course, the predictable amusement around the characteristics of Cynics – they have been there and seen it all before, as indeed a lot of us had, around the room.

But what surprised me was a common factor in terms of managing these characteristics: What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)

Even for Supporters and Advocates, who are typically your champions, there is a delicate balancing act to stop them from going over to the “dark side” and seeing become cynics, or worse assassins to your initiative.

The exercises which looked at the characteristics, and how to work with them proved to be the easiest.

Areas to improve

What didn’t work so well was a prioritisation and point-scoring exercise which just seemed to confuse everyone.

For our group we struggled to understand if the aim was to deliver quick wins for lower gains, or go for more complex outcomes with more complex stakeholder management.

Things made a little more sense when we were guided along in the resulting wash-up session.

The final element to the day was a take on the concept of “Speakers’ Corner” – the idea being that two or three of the Post-It inhibitors would be discussed.  The room was re-arranged with a single chair in the middle and whoever had written the chosen topic would start the debate.

To add to the debate, a new speaker would have to take the chair in the centre.

While starting the debate topics were not an issue, the hopping in and out of the chairs proved to be hard to maintain, but the facilitators were happy to be flexible and let people add to the debate from where they sat.

Does Interactive work?

Yes and no.

I imagined that most people would come along and attend a Special Interest Group because they are just that – Interested!

But participating in group sessions and possibly presenting to the room at large may not be to everyone’s liking.

I have to admit, I find presenting daunting enough in projects where I am established.  So to have to act as scribe, and then bite the bullet and present to a huge room of people is not a comfortable experience for me, even after twenty years in the industry.

But you get out of these sessions what you put in, so I took my turn to scribe and present.  And given the difficulties we had, as a group, understanding the objectives of the third breakout session, I was pleased I had my turn.

The irony is Continual Service Improvement needs people to challenge and constantly manage expectations and characters in order to be successful.  It is not a discipline that lends itself to shy retiring wallflowers.

If people are going to spend a day away from work to attend a SIG, then I think it makes sense for them to try and get as much out of it as they can.

Perhaps my message to the more shy members in the room who hardly contributed at all is to remember that everyone is there to help each other learn from collective experience.  No-one is there to judge or to act as an Assassin/Cynic so make the most of the event and participate.

For example, in Speakers’ Corner, the debate flowed and people engaged with each other, even if the chair hopping didn’t quite work, but acknowledgement also needs to go to the SIG team, who facilitated the day’s activities very well.

I have attended three events now, a UK event, a Regional Seminar and a SIG and this was by far the most enjoyable and informative so far.

A side note: Am I the only one that hears CSI and thinks of crime labs doing imaginative things to solve murders in Las Vegas, Miami, and New York?  No?  Just me then.

Gazing deep into the prISM

prISM: 'Dark side of ITSM?' or genuine professional recognition?

At first glance, the new prISM credential scheme seems to be a qualification too far, as I consider improving my ITSM skills by going for the first of my ITIL Intermediate levels.

The take up so far seems to belong to an select group, much like those who piloted the new ITIL Master scheme, and perhaps it is too early for that all important critical mass to make it the “must-have” credential to have.

What is prISM and why is it different?

The aim of prISM is to provide recognition and a skills development structure in the ITSM industry.

It has defined a measurable framework which takes into account an individual’s qualifications, experience and contributions back to the ITSM industry.

So, if you have the ITIL foundation certificate, and a few years in front line roles under your belt, you can get up and running in prISM as an Associate, and use their structured approach to plan your next steps up the ITSM ladder.

But, you pay for the privilege, so why is this worth investing time in?

Industry maturity

Matthew Burrows, Lead for Global priSM Advisory Committee (GAC) explained:

“The real reason for prSIM is that the IT industry is starting to mature and become a bit more of a profession rather than a job.”

Just take a look sometime, in various ITIL and ITSM related Linked In groups, and you will see pleas from people who seem out of their depth.

Think of it in this way.  How many times do organisations send people onto an ITIL Foundation course, and then expect them to be able to implement major ITSM projects?

Matthew continued:

“Nothing ever works like that with a skill.  You have to practice it and apply it.  You have to learn from the mistakes from yourself and others. You have to learn from your successes as well and you refine it over time, and you get better at it by repetition.”

Part of the issue is the lack of a requirement to refresh ITIL qualifications, once gained.

In prISM, each year you submit a Continual Professional Development forms to demonstrate growth and development in order to re-earn your credential.

prISM Credential Levels

  1. Student in Service Management (SSM) – students with an interest in ITSM
  2. Associate (ASM) – entry level professionals
  3. Professional (PSM) – experienced Service Management professionals
  4. Distinguished Professional (DPSM) – senior, well experienced Service Management professionals and leaders
  5. Fellow (FSM) – reserved for those senior professionals who have been recognised for making a significant contribution to the profession and its body of knowledge

 Pros

I see the benefit of tiering the levels like this, and even though my “rock face” experience gives me a broader perspective than if I had only the ITIL Foundation course, this is where the CPD aspect comes in.

The whole point of the profession maturing means that I need to really focus on further certification, but given the cost of courses, I really need to think carefully as to what to pursue.

Cons

I have worked in the area of ITIL/ITSM for 8 years now – I know my stuff. Do I really need to pay for more certification AND a credential to prove it?

Matthew believes that prISM should be a nice to have, rather than a mandatory requirement:

“From an employer’s point-of-view it tells me that they’ve been through the experience and qualifications that they say they’ve got, they’re committed to CPD, they give something back, they take their profession seriously.”

In my opinion, this is hard to prove in the immediate short term, without understanding from recruiters if they put any store in the acronyms above.

The Application Process

1)     Calculator

  • Step One: Education and Experience

The spreadsheet gives you a broad brush stab at the permutations of education and experience.

I tested a couple of elements and opted years of experience, as my degree was a LONG time ago! Recommended Level: PSM

  • Step Two: Required Professional Certifications

Here’s where it started to get confusing.

With an ITIL V3 Foundation Certificate (useful) and a TOGAF Enterprise Architecture L1 and L2 certificate (not at all useful, apparently), recommended level: ASM!

  • Step three: Extra Points

I played about with this out of interest, in terms of ITSM implementation experience, and also in terms of ITSM Review writing – which confused matters even more, because now the summary shows me that I meet DPSM criteria as well!

With the combination of the experience and qualification  I could apply now for Associate Membership but with at least one ITIL Intermediate course, I go up to Professional credentials.

Irritatingly, the comment boxes for the Certification sections stays visible after you have marked an entry, which then obscures the entries below.

2)      Application Form & CV

You also have to fill in the application form and sign the statement to adhere to the profession’s code of ethics, and you will need to cross-reference the handbook as you go for Professional credentials which sounds like a bit of hassle.

There is a bit of repetition here, having to put in the details of your referee, as well as including your reference (with those same details) as part of the package.

You also have to write your own personal statement, demonstrating your interest in the ITSM profession.

If you are serious about going through this process, I think it is worth updating your CV during this process.  It won’t hurt you to pay some attention to your Linked In profile either.

After all, if recruiters are using Linked In more and more, the best way to promote the importance and credibility of this credential is to have it on your online profile.

3)      Reference Statement & Evidence

You will have to get someone to write a supporting statement for you, and also find your supporting evidence to match your calculator entries.

Some issues

  • You need to keep PDFs at 1MB per document, and the whole application cannot be more than 25MB.  Irritatingly my scanned ITIL certificate and itSMF UK invoice are just over 1MB, but everything else is smaller.
  • The pricing is misleading.  The handbook states itSMF membership is preferable (and gives a discount) but not mandatory.  The application form infers the opposite – so those need to be in sync.
  • The handbook encourages you to pay before gathering your references – I would actually get everything together first, then proceed to pay for your appropriate membership, as you then need the proof of payment to zip together to submit.

Ros’s Progress

Matthew very kindly agreed to be my reference, and we decided to let me go through the process (and provide feedback!). so I have sent him a form to fill in and return to me.

I’ll put my (eventual) credential on my LinkedIn Profile, and push out an updated CV to see if there is any immediate change in the type of roles I typically see.

Will it be the prISM credential, or the ITIL Intermediate certification that provides the trigger (if at all!).

Watch this space.

Further Information

http://www.theprisminstitute.org

Event Listing: Service Desk & SLM Seminar, itSMF UK, 12th September 2012, Manchester

What?

itSMF UK Seminar – Service Desk and SLM

The Service Desk is at the frontline to increase service quality, reduce cost and pressed to do more with less. Many are still searching for tools to help move them from their traditional fire fighting roles in-order to free up resources to more spend time on better managing customer expectations and improving service.

What are the best approaches to meeting this challenge?

This seminar is targeted at service desk, service level and service catalogue managers who want to ensure agreed customer expectations and promises are met

When?

Wednesday 12th September, 9am – 4pm

Where?

Museum of Industry & Science, Liverpool Road , Manchester, M3 4FP

Museum of Industry & Science Website

Map and Directions

Museum of Industry & Science (MUSI) in Manchester

Who?

itSMF UK

Agenda

Key learning outcomes of this seminar include:

  • Learn the processes that underpin a good service desk
  • Learn what are the key interfaces between the service desk, service level management and service catalogue
  • Learn how you know if you have got the right people working on your service desk
  • What is the skill profile and roles of a hybrid service desk manager and analyst
  • Learn which service desk structure is right for your organisation
  • Learn the challenges and approaches to managing a distributed or global service desk
  • Learn how to define a service catalogue with underpinning service levels that works for you
  • Learn how to get more out of 2nd line teams by implementing operational level agreements
  • Learn how to improve your workload planning and scheduling techniques to manage the service desk
  • Where will the service desk be in 5 years

Further Info…

Photo Credit