AXELOS plans, challenges and expanding team (Video)

This interview was filmed at the Pink Elephant Conference and features Kaimar Karu, Head of ITSM and Kelvyn Lien-Hicks, Sales and Marketing Director, discussing their newly appointed roles at AXELOS.

In Summary

In addition to explaining his role as Head of ITSM, Kaimar talks about:

  • ITIL culture differences
  • Changing perceptions of ITIL
  • Training provider challenges
  • Biggest challenges to success for AXELOS
  • Plans for the next 6-12 months

In the second part of this video, Kelvyn explains:

  • What AXELOS will be selling
  • The ITIL and Prince2 value proposition
  • AXELOS partner programme

Please note that owing to this interview being filmed live at the Pink Elephant event, there are some minor volume issues and background noises throughout this video.


About AXELOS

AXELOS is a new joint venture company, created by the Cabinet Office on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) in the United Kingdom and Capita plc to run the Best Management Practice portfolio, including the ITIL® and PRINCE2® professional standards. Its goal: to nurture best practice communities, both in the UK and on a truly worldwide scale, establishing an innovative and high quality, continuous learning and development destination that is co-designed by and co-created for those who use it. Visit www.axelos.com for for more information.

About Pink Elephant

A global company with a proud and pioneering 30 year history – the world’s #1 supplier of IT Service Management and ITIL® education, conferences and consulting.Visit www.pinkelephant.com for more information about the company, services and products.

This video was filmed at the 2014 Pink Elephant Conference. The 19th Annual Pink Elephant International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition will take place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, February 15-18 2015. Registration is now open.

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.

Culture, value and astronauts, what more could you possibly want?

Chris Hadfield
Chris Hadfield

I love conferences.  What could be better than going to a place filled with people that want to share their knowledge and experiences with you?

Looking at the conference schedule for PINK14 what occurred to me were just how many people there are out there that want to relinquish ownership of their insight and experiences to help others and their organizations to grow, develop and thrive.

My Favourite Keynotes

The opening keynote from celebrated retired astronaut and social media superstar Cmdr Chris Hadfield was awe-inspiring.  I thought that Jo Salter, keynote at ITSM13 was the most fearless person I had heard speak for flying a fighter jet, but I think being shot up into space sat on a rocket kind of takes the biscuit.

Cmdr Hadfield’s messages were simple:

  • The right team can achieve anything.  Even when there are cultural and language divides if you work together with a good leader then anything is possible

 

 

  • Plan to fail not succeed.  In order to be ready for anything that is thrown at you it has to be planned for and you have to learn from those potential failures.  It’s no good being stuck not knowing what to do 220 miles above the earth.
    • Even the most complicated and dangerous of changes can be implemented quickly AND safely.  If they can organize a spacewalk in a day I’m pretty sure we can get our changes turned around faster!

Inspirational speaker and social entrepreneur Caroline Casey gave an impassioned and thought provoking keynote on disability and how differences in people should be valued and respected.

Being diagnosed legally blind at a young age Caroline relived her experiences of being treated differently once those around her knew the truth and about her personal struggles functioning after admitting to herself that she had a disability.  I am positive to the point of being irritating and yet I am unsure whether I would have stayed this way had I had to overcome the difficulties Caroline has experienced in her life.  I left the keynote feeling humbled and determined.

Caroline’s challenge to attendees was to change the mindsets and behaviors surrounding disability for yourself, your organization and those around you. Takeaways from this highly motivational session are that failure should never end you or define you and positivity can get you through anything.

 

A Selection of Sessions I attended

Expanding ITSM Beyond IT: Providing Real Value to the Business – Joshua Smith, Mohawk Industries

Widening the scope of ITSM into other areas of the business interests me greatly and having experience of accidentally achieving this at a previous company I was interested to see how Mohawk Industries had actually planned and succeeded in this.

Joshua’s session was a case study into how they had first searched for the teams/departments using spreadsheets and notepads to record what they do in order to make the most impact and show other areas of the business what could be achieved.

If this is an area you are interested in I recommend checking out the slides via Pink Elephant when they are available.

The Clarity Principle: How Great Leaders Make the Most Important Decisions in Business (& What Happens When They Don’t) – Robin Hysick, Pink Elephant

Robin’s session was based on a book of the same name authored by Chatham Sullivan.  The principles of the session were that your organization must find purpose and clarity to create your guiding path and succeed.

 

This session was coded as Beginner and although I think that the information contained gave an interesting overview to practitioners on how a business or organization should be run to succeed there wasn’t much in the way of salient advice on how to achieve this from a lower position of authority.

Perhaps a section on who each session would be most suitable for could be added to next years schedule?

Change the Culture, Change the Game – Troy DeMoulin, Pink Elephant

Another session based on a book of the same name, this time by authors Roger Connors and Tom Smith.

I’m going to hold my hands up now and say that I didn’t look online for the full session descriptions.  Next time I will as I think I would maybe have chosen different sessions as I am an avid reader and everyone knows that movies are never as good!

I have to say though I really did enjoy this session.

Troy started the session with a confession that until he read this book he believed that you could change behavior but not culture – something that I was inclined to agree with.  By the end of the session however I could see that by not treating being accountable as something that happens to you and your team when you mess up, but as a necessary and positive step towards growth, both the behaviour and the culture of the organization can change.

I can’t wait to dig deeper by reading the book.

Conclusion

On a general note I have to say that the speakers were of a very high calibre with good content.  The session rooms were generally heavily undersubscribed and several attendees noted that it would have been better to have fewer sessions and fuller rooms.

As a testament to Pink and The Bellagio it was only when the conference had finished that I noticed I had not complained about uncomfortable chairs, sun shining in my eyes or not being able to hear speakers properly.  Praise indeed from me.

My only real issue with the conference was the lack of a set lunch period.  I understand completely why this was done but found that on certain days I could go to a much looked forward to session or have lunch, not both.  Sorry Karen Smith but a girls got to eat!  Hope to catch another session soon.

All in all a fabulous experience which I hope to repeat.

Thank you to everyone that took part in making PINK14 such a wonderful experience.

Image Credit

 

 

Pink14 Preview: The Phoenix Project

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IT needs to embrace the “3 Ways”

Ahead of his presentation at the 18th Pink Elephant Conference and Exhibition (PINK14)Jack Probst, Principal Consultant at Pink Elephant talks about The Phoenix Project: a novel about IT, DevOps and helping your business win

In May 2003, Nicholas Carr wrote a Harvard Business Review article entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter”. In it Mr. Carr proposed that IT was, and remember this was just after the dot.com bust, being marginalized and could be thought of as a commodity.

Seems that thinking hasn’t changed much in the past 10 or so years. IT is challenged daily to just keep the lights on, at best, and, if all goes well, maybe try to keep up with the needs of the business much less get ahead of the game.

For those of us who are immersed in IT Service Management, that thought, at times, is a bitter pill to swallow. It is true to that the table stakes for IT is to maintain and manage operational stability but there is more to a day, week or month in the life of IT than KTLO. If we truly embrace the notion of a service – “delivering value by facilitating customer outcomes” – then staying abreast of or anticipating and preparing for the future of the business is or should be the IT mantra. The question is can IT do both? 

Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford recently published The Phoenix Project. Their book develops a landscape of principles and practices that attempt to answer that question. The book, written as an allegory, focuses on the trials and tribulations of Bill Palmer, recently named VP of IT Operations at Parts Unlimited Inc.. From day one on the job Bill is challenged to first stabilize operations AND deliver on a mission critical project – a project that could spell disaster if it fails. As the story unfolds the authors highlight ideas that should be on every IT managers improvement opportunities list. I would think everyone would like to get a peek at practical advice for how to deal with:

  • Demanding business leadership
  • Major incidents
  • Uncontrolled changes
  • Failed deployments
  • Security/audit issues
  • Overwhelming project list

At PINK14

At the upcoming Pink Elephant IT Service Management Conference, I will be presenting Sunday afternoon and again Wednesday morning some of my insights from the book.

There are many great discussion topics interlaced throughout the story. My focus during the session will be laser in on the results of when Bill reluctantly falls under the guidance and tutelage of Eric Reid, a candidate for the Board of Directors. Eric leads Bill through a set of hands on exercises to learn some key principles instrumental to elevating IT’s overall performance. Of the many insights, Eric continues to hammer home the need to focus on Bill finding ways for IT embrace the “3 Ways”.

  • First Way – Create a fast flow of works as it moves from Development into Operations”
  • Second Way – Shorten and amplify feedback loops to fix quality at the source and avoid rework
  • Third Way – Create a culture that simultaneously fosters experimentation, learning from failure and understanding that repetition and practice are prerequisites to mastery.

So why read The Phoenix Project

I have been recommending to my Pink Elephant clients to pick up a copy of the book and add it to their nightstand reading. Several reasons for this:

  • I’m sure you will find yourself at some point seeing your own situation through Bill’s eyes. I found the experience of reflection on the challenges Bill was having and some “ah-ha” solutions the authors brought forward would highly instructive, especially as conversation starters for ITSM teams at various stages of their program.
  • Many of the ideas that are being kicked around today in the blog-o-sphere and water cooler talk are fleshed out in a practical setting. Granted the circumstances don’t exactly match what my clients are dealing with but it isn’t a huge leap to find resonance with how the practices can be incorporated in their own ITSM program.
  • Lastly, it is a story after-all. One that we have all lived through to some extent. An entertaining read and, as one side note, there is some visceral pleasure in seeing the antagonist getting her comeuppance.

Why attend my session?

My focus for this session was to distill the many points and concepts that Bill and his team use to solve their challenges into a pragmatic approach for your ITSM program.

During my sessions I will dig deeper in to each of the three ways. For instance the in the First Way we will learn how IT must understand the 4 types of IT work and how that work is managed through what I call “the Funnel and the Pipe” or the IT Value Stream. In the Second Way we will talk about the “Tyranny of Technical Debt”, its sources and potential ways to avoid it. And finally my discussion of the Third Way will encompass Improvement Katas and DevOps.

I hope that you will add one of my sessions to your Conference Optimizer. If we don’t get a chance to connect during my workshops, then look for during the networking events each night.

This will be the best Pink Elephant Conference yet! I look forward to meeting you in Vegas – see you there.


Jack Probst
Jack Probst

To learn more find Jack at PINK14:

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Pink14 Preview: 2-Speed ITSM – 2-Speed conferences?

retro
“I often go from some futuristic and visionary discussions at conferences, to a ‘retro’ experience of 80s and 90s computing in some client organisations”

I am heading to the US this week to visit Las Vegas for the Pink Elephant Conference and Exhibition – going via San Francisco to present at an “ITSM Meetup” event, but the main event will be the annual Pink-fest in Vegas.

I will be interviewing a number of key ITSM industry people at the event for ITSM Review, so look out for that content in the very near future. As ever I will try to a cross section a number of views on the issues and challenges for the industry, with their take on what will be happening and developing in the next year or so.

I myself will be speaking on the subject of ‘2-Speed ITSM’ – a topic I first raised in a previous blog. The gist of this is that there is often a vast gulf between what we see, hear and talk about at these big industry events and the reality of working as a ‘hands-on’ practitioner in a delivery organisation.

 Practitioner vs. Industry View

Of course I’d expect that new ideas, analysis and strategic thoughts are aired at these type of events – although in recent years I’ve often found that there are some big gaps between both what practitioners want from these events and what the ‘industry’ presents as important. This seems to work in two opposing directions – maybe it’s because I’ve contributed and been exposed to a lot of industry discussion over the last few years, but I am still amazed at how much ‘standard ITIL fare’ is presented at these shows – SMFUSION last year was the same, with only a small coterie of people in the ‘thank tank’ providing the insight into new ideas and ways of working. However there are also online events like TFT which generally portray a far more revolutionary and challenging approach to the status quo, perhaps at times at odds with the realities of practitioner life…?

I know from my own working experience that I often go from some futuristic and visionary discussions at conferences, to a ‘retro’ experience of 80s and 90s computing in some client organisations. There is also a regular challenge to the nature and value of ‘the conference’ experience itself – so much is online, so much can be done for communications and collaboration using digital media without leaving your home of office – what’s the point of going to these events at all?

I think its valid to question the nature of conferences, particularly those that still might follow traditional lines – with multiple streams, plenary sessions, workshops, training and of course a vendor exhibition. It does often feel like 2-speed conferences, serving a 2-speed industry…

However…

I do feel that conferences can be really valid and valuable experiences, for all areas of the industry. There is really no substitute for face to face meetings and conversations, networking and group discussions (often in the bar) that help to forge business relationships, develop peer groups and expand knowledge and ideas across otherwise disparate groups of people.

I think our notion of what we can expect to gain from a conference does vary considerably in terms of our experience and expectations, place in the industry, plus also in relation to our view of what a conference actually is.

So it’s useful in advance to reflect on and revise our expectations of what we will want and get out of the event. If this is about learning or hearing some new stuff, then we need to research the programme to ensure we find the right sessions. If we are going to network and develop our contacts, maybe with some socialising, that is also completely valid. I do think that the buy/sell expectation is less and less valid these days, particularly since so much information is online – for many vendors it’s now more about making sure that you are seen and associated with central industry activity, rather than direct selling. I think ultimately for many practitioners these events are a great opportunity to meet other people like themselves and share experiences and ideas.

Overall whilst there is very little about a conference that you can’t do somehow elsewhere, it is in fact the multi-level activity and cauldron experience that is the real USP and makes the experience worthwhile.

So we’re not talking about just 2-speed but multi-speed, which is of course a real reflection of what working life is actually like. Our ITSM industry actually functions at both basic and advanced, simple and complex and futuristic and ‘vintage’ levels – all are valid and, when you attend one of these events, you can experience all of these in condensed form – all life is here…

Look forward to seeing you there – if you have a view or opinion you’d like to share, please search me out and we can have a chat or interview if that suits… You can also contact me in advance. ITSM Review’s Rebecca Beach and Sophie Danby will also be in attendance. If you would like to schedule a meeting with either of them at the conference please contact ITSM Review.


Find Barclay presenting at PINK14:

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Pink14 Preview: What’s the big idea?

"Sometimes you're so busy putting out fires that you don't have time to improve fire-fighting or fire-safety"
“Sometimes you’re so busy putting out fires that you don’t have time to improve fire-fighting or fire-safety”

Do you ever get a Big Idea?  You’ll be talking or reading about ITSM and the proverbial light bulb comes on.  You see a connection or an underpinning concept that you hadn’t seen before.  Sometimes it appears to be an original insight, one you haven’t heard expressed exactly that way before.  And very occasionally it really is novel and it really is right: you subject it to the scrutiny of others and it stands up.

It happens to me.  Because I’m privileged to spend so much time interacting with some of the best minds in ITSM worldwide – and thinking and writing about what I learned in those discussions, and applying that knowledge as a consultant – it happens to me quite often, about once a year. In fact I will be presenting on some of these big ideas at the upcoming Pink Elephant IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition (PINK14).

Standard+Case

A couple of years ago my Big idea was Standard+Case, a topic which I will be running a half-day workshop on at PINK14.

Standard+Case is a synthesis of our conventional “Standard” process-centric approach to responding, with Case management, a discipline well-known in industry sectors such as health, social work, law and policing.

The combination of Standard and Case concepts gives a complete description of ticket handling, for any sort of activity from Incidents to Changes.

  • Standard tickets are predefined because they deal with a known situation. They use a standard process to deal with that situation. They can be modelled by BPM, controlled by workflow, and improved by the likes of Lean IT and ITIL.

  • Case tickets present an unknown or unfamiliar situation. They rely on the knowledge, skills and professionalism of the person dealing with them. They are best dealt with by experts, being knowledge-driven and empowering the operator to decide on suitable approaches, tools, procedures and process fragments.

ITIL and Lean do fit this S+C paradigm, if you use them in the right situation: Standard responses. S+C extends them with better tools for non-Standard cases: Adaptive Case Management, Kanban, Knowledge Centered Support(KCS)… Better still, this S+C approach might let the ITIL and anti-ITIL camps live in peace and harmony at last.

Slow IT

Last year it was Slow IT.  Slow IT is a provocative name.  It doesn’t mean IT on a go-slow.    It means slowing down the pace of business demands on IT so as to focus better on what matters, and to reduce the risk to what already exists.  Think Slow Food, and more recently Slow Business and mindfulness etc.

The intent of Slow IT is to allow IT to deliver important results more quickly.  It does this by concentrating on the interfaces between business executives and CIOs.  Slow IT highlights the importance of Governance of IT and of Service Portfolio in order to make the right decisions to do the right things in the right way at the right time, to maximise benefit and minimise risk.

Right now the pace of change in IT is approaching human limits.  Many IT shops are overwhelmed by change, drowning in projects.  More are overheating: working at lunatic pace because the IT community convinces us we have to.  Slow IT challenges the hysterias and fads of IT to ensure that these results are really needed as quickly as we think they are.  Slow IT is about trying to introduce more measured responses, to bring some sanity to the current dangerous madness that is organisational IT (you can read more on this here).

I’ll be presenting on Slow IT at PINK14.  In addition we’ll talk about my Meet-In-The-Middle strategy to address the Slow IT issues by offering a quid pro quo: Fast IT.   If the organisation will slow down the demands on IT, IT will have the breathing space to implement approaches to respond faster, such as Lean, Agile, DevOps, and good old CSI.  Right now too many IT teams are so flat out serving the business they don’t have the bandwidth to introduce better methods properly.  It’s the old catch-22 of being so busy putting out fires that you can’t improve fire-fighting or fire-safety.  Slow IT takes off a bit of pressure, giving the team some headroom, to make improvements.

I hope to see you at the Pink Elephant ITSM conference.  I’m honoured to be assembling some of those great ITSM minds at the Pink Think Tank, to address one of the biggest issues facing IT today: how to manage a multi-sourced IT value chain.  We’ll be looking to produce tangible actionable advice, so look out for the results.  I have a feeling it may be the catalyst for my next Big Idea.

What do YOU think the next “big idea” will be?


Find me at PINK14:

Secrets of Request Fulfilment

 

Peter Hubbard
Peter Hubbard

This article has been contributed by Peter Hubbard, Principal IT Service Management Consultant at Pink Elephant EMEA and is based on a recent presentation that he delivered at the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition.

Request Fulfilment is one of the most useful, yet underrated, areas within IT Service Management. It has been widely recognized for many years that the ‘Front Face’ of IT is the service desk, and so how the service desk performs colours the whole perception the business has of the entire IT Department.

But what is Request Fulfilment? Request Fulfilment provides a channel for users to request and receive standard services for which a predefined approval and qualification process exists. It simple ensures that each request doesn’t have to ‘reinvent the wheel’.  A request model is a way of predefining the steps that should be taken to handle a process.

So how do you implement it?

Getting the basics right

The first thing that you need to do is create a Service Request Catalog. At its most basic level this is simply a list of all the Service Requests it’s possible for the business to make of an IT department.

The easiest way to do this is to ask your service desk staff, after all they spend all day dealing with these very issues. Ask them to write a list of their most frequent service requests, and use this as your starting point to turn an entry in the Service Request Catalogue into a fully mapped and automated Request Model.

The second major thing to do is to make sure that you separate your incidents from your requests in the toolset. After all, they are separate things! Telling a business that 10,000 incidents were received to the service desk sounds like the world is ending. Saying that 1,000 incidents were received, and 9,000 service requests were made for new kit is a very different story.

Build a request model

You MUST do this. Request Fulfilment without Request Models is just mucking about. The whole point of Request Fulfilment is to work out in advance the steps that are required, the information that you need to collect and when, and who performs the required actions & authorizations. This is the soul and centre of Request Fulfilment. Collecting all that information and not transforming it into a model, either as an established manual procedure, or ideally, within an ITSM toolset is just plain silly!

In order to build a request model the simplest method is to bring the people who are involved in fulfilling that request together.

Ask them to verbally walk through the activities involved using post it notes to build a basic flow on the wall. Once the steps have been agreed, and are in the right order, go back and detail what happens at each step: who does it, what information they would need to fulfill that step, any agreed timescales or authorizations required etc. I find this takes about half a day for a moderately complex request like building a new starters laptop and delivering it to them. Once you have the model capture it in a formal document (Visio flowchart with explanations is best) and then use this to configure your chosen ITSM toolset to automate the request.

Request Fulfilment is simple, but that’s not the same as easy?

Many people are often make the mistake in being under the impression that ‘doing’ Request Fulfillment doesn’t take more than a week or two, but let’s say you haves 800+ known types of service request. The rule of thumb is to allow half a day to map a request model as you work out all the steps involved and who does them. Then allow another half a day to document that flow into a format that can be saved, understood, and shown to others. Then add another half a day to put that flow into the toolset. So that 2 weeks worth of work was actually 1200 days work!

My best advice to keep things simple is to start with an easily understood, and not too complex request. Avoid starting with the ‘new starter’ request as a typical new starter request will involved multiple actions crossing HR, Security, Access Mgt, Facilities and IT. I am not saying don’t do it at all, just make sure you start with something simpler to get the feel for the process first.

The most spectacular mistake I have ever seen made with regards to Request Fulfilment was when I saw a CIO promise to his executive board that 95% of all service requests would be completed within 5 days.

It’s safe to say that I almost fell off my chair. I very quietly sidled up to him afterwards and said that it was very courageous promise he had just made…would he mind if I asked a few questions?

Question: Have you defined what a Service Request is as opposed to an Incident?

Answer: No, is that important?

Question: Have you worked out a complete list of all the types of request that you support?

Answer: Not as such 

Question: What is the most common type of request you receive at the Service Desk?

Answer: A request to build a new laptop

Question: Have you worked out the steps involved in fulfilling that request and the timescales involved?

Answer: No, but I know it can’t take long to simply build a laptop!

I went off and built the request model for that request. It turned out that the process to build a laptop took 37 separate steps, across 4 teams, and went to 2 external organizations who had their own response times in their contracts. If everything worked as it was supposed to then it would take 10 days to complete the cycle. Essentially the CIO had just set himself up to fail and the board hammered him for the next 6 months every time they had a meeting.

The moral of the story? Know the steps, and timescales involved before you start committing to SLA targets!

Benefits to Request Fulfilment

I always tell people ‘never keep a dog and bark yourself!’  Most ITSM toolsets are built around perfectly good workflow engines with associated notification rules. Well… guess what…that’s how Request Fulfilment works too.  You work out ONCE what a particular request needs to do, who it should go to, what they should do and so on. Then you take that hard won information and enter it into the toolset as a Request Model. From that point on the tool does the hard work for you. It moves the requests to the right team(s) automatically. It makes sure they have all the information they need on a silver platter, and it even escalates the issue to the relevant authorities if pre defined criteria are breeched.

Someone has to do all of the things I have just listed, and unless you have the tool doing it (supported by your processes of course) then your service desk agents have to do it by hand, which means you’ll soon have your agents tied up manually shepherding requests and explaining to irate users why their laptop is not ready yet. By using Request Fulfilment most of this is done for you by the tool through the Request model; although you should always make sure the final ownership of the requests sits with the service desk as normal.  Trust…but verify!

A final note

Tackle Service Request Fulfilment head on. Handling Service Requests manually is major drain on your resources on the service desk at the moment and the single largest cause of user dissatisfaction.

Do comments such as ‘we never get told what’s going on with our requests?’ or “why does it take so long to get anything done by IT?” sound familiar?

Well, you can either deal with each issue as it arises on a one by one basis, or you can invest some start-up time into identifying the top 10 requests that get made to your service desk, and create them as request models. Then put them in your toolset and automate the notification and assignment rules.

Request fulfilment frees up your service desk, and technicians time from endlessly chasing their tails as they try to find out what the next step in the chain is and who they should be talking to. By automating the basics you free your staff up to concentrate on other areas of greater interest.

Pink Elephant 18th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition

Fatima Cabral and George Spalding delivered the opening keynote at PINK 2013
Fatima Cabral, CEO and George Spalding, Executive Vice Preseident at Pink Elephant delivered the opening keynote at PINK 2013

We are excited to announce that we will be a Media Partner for Pink Elephant’s 18th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition (aka Pink14), 16-19 February 2014, at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

The event brings together 1,500 like-minded IT professionals, with over 160 sessions spread over 14 tracks – covering a vast array of subjects from all across the ITSM spectrum.

What you can expect

  • 14 tracks of educational, strategic, tactical and operational content. Tracks include: The 3 I’s of Leadership; CIO Forum; ITSM Winner’s Circle; ITSM Project Management; Service Support and Operations; How-to ITIL Clinics and Workshops; CSI – There Is No Finish Line; Using Frameworks and Standards to Achieve Business Value; Pink Think Tank; Tools and Technology; Breakfast Clubs; Discussion Forums; Half-day Workshops; Platinum Sponsor Stream – BMC Software. You can find out more information about all of these tracks here.
  • A various array of pre-conference courses covering ITIL and Lean IT Certifications; and post-conference workshops covering COBIT and ‘how-to’ instructional workshops.
  • Presentation of Pink’s IT Excellence Awards, with awards for: Project of the Year; Practitioner of the Year; Case Study of the Year; Innovation of the Year; and IT Leader of the Year.

Both Rebecca Beach and I will also be in attendance. If you would like to schedule a meeting with either of us at the conference please email me. We are interested in hearing from all attendees whether you are a vendor, practitioner, consultant or other!

We hope to see you there!


Event Summary

WHAT

Pink Elephant Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition (aka Pink14)

WHERE

Bellagio Hotel

WHEN

The conference runs from Sunday 16th – Wednesday 19th February, with pre-conference courses running from Wednesday 12th – Sunday 16th February, and post-conference courses from Thursday 20th February to Saturday 22nd.

BOOKING

Booking rates are available online