Everything concerning our IT Consulting services to business

Happy New Year for 2016  !! I wish you success and happiness

Its been a busy year in 2015 ITSMG Logo low res

The ITSM world continues to rock daily between inspiration and opportunity, to introspection and despair – at least in terms of visible hype. The reality for most organisations that actually deliver IT services is often simply confusion.

For me the key is in ensuring that we are constantly working to deliver value, based on our customers’ and supported businesses’ needs. The concept of ‘customer experience’ (CX) isn’t new, but is at long last taking hold and precedence over blind adherence to ‘best practice’ and death-by-process.

DevOps continues to hold sway as the big idea that won’t go away – again there’s nothing particularly new here except the context, as it talks to a younger workforce than those who might still see ITIL as their mantra. Of course there is no real clash between those two worlds and both can learn from and live with each other. In 2016 I’ll be pushing out more practical ideas about how to achieve success using both (and together) – particuarly in relation to Service Design and Service Catalogue – so look out for that.

What is interesting is the actual level of interest in DevOps and other new and formative ‘-oligies’, inclduing SIAM and IT4IT – this will continue to grow and we shoudl see more variety and creativity being exercised in delivering new approaches to IT services…

If you want to catch up on more detailed throuights, please see my recent webinar (reviewing 2015 and looking forward to 2016, sponsord by BMC).

From a personal work perspective this has been a busy year, being involved with a number of complex procurement and ITSM implementation projects, as well as my ususal regular dose of workshops, operational reviews and audits. I have worked with some great people and organisations and am pleased to say that the interest and take-up level around short practical consulting work has been good.

I’ve also been involved as an architect of the new ITIL Practitioner scheme, with Axelos. I’m really pleased and proud of what we achieved as a team on this, whch has brought finally a new set of ideas and practices to the forefront of Service Management training and best practice. These include communications and organisational change management, as well as CSI and metrics.

As ever I continue to work with my long term partners, SDI – as a consultant and auditor, as also recently to review and update the SDI Standards and Service Desk Certification scheme. To me this is still one of the best and most practical tools to use for assessment, benchmarking and to drive service improvement.

In the last few months I’ve taken on the challenge of interim-CEO for the ITSMF UK – this is a great honour, which I’m relishing. There’s plenty to do to develop the service offerings and value proposition for this organisation, as well as freshening the brand image and re-asserting its position as a key independent voice at the centre of our industry. We had a great annual conference and my and the team’s taskBRITSM15 is now to move on with this positive momentum to transform and re-invigorate the organisation. We have some xciting plans for new services and industry content, so watch this space…

Of course my own independent business still continues and I’m delighted to have worked with some very supportive partners over the last year to write and present ITSM content, including, Sunrise, Cherwell, BMC and Sysaid.

 

2016 is looking like a fascinating year already, particuarly with plans for ITSMF – so I’m looking forward to that. I hope that its a really great year for you too..!

Please contact me directly if you’d like to discuss any aspect of the world of ITSM

 

SITS MF MH

Fav pic from this years SITS show with Matt Hooper and Malcolm Fry.

How to Create a Culture of Effective Management Collaboration

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Management Collaboration…like trying to spin too many plates?

Successful IT delivery requires requires the spinning of many plates. Collaboration, team building, mutual trust and personal confidence are essential to your management team in order to ensure its smooth running but these are all tested in times of change.

Without them, projects and initiatives fail to deliver value, and this in turn can have serious consequences for IT customers’ business, as well as for IT itself.

Many IT organisations struggle to balance the conflicting demands of efficiency, agility, control and perpetual change that are constantly heaped on them. How can an established IT organisation, built on structures and processes from the 1970-1990s, cope with these ever increasing challenges?

Effective management collaboration enables teams to have healthy debates, develop and maintain trust and encourage innovative thinking.

Here are my tips on creating a culture to encourage effective management collaboration:

1 – Why work together?

It has amazed me during my years as a consultant the numbers of groups of people I have met with a leader in common that think they are a team. Many of them have their own agendas and are only working towards their individual goals. Yet many still believe they are part of a functioning team.

As a management team it is vital that individuals understand the greater aims and goals that the team is striving for. There will of course be individual tasks to achieve the team goals but the bigger picture should never be forgotten.

Set team goals. Create simple clear plans that define current and future goals for the team. There can be a danger that individuals will be protective of their areas. It can be damaging if just one or two members of the management team concentrate on their individual area and not the team as a whole. Aim for clarity over complexity with simple team plans and goals.

Sharing the goals for the team rather than just concentrating on individual tasks means that all team members support and promote a single point of view.

I would also recommend focussung on means and methods of communication. Establishing a distinct set of priorities can help all management team members to feel included. Keeping everyone on the same page will enable the management team to focus and flourish.

2 – Develop a Personal Understanding

Managing a team of people that don’t trust one another is challenging and draining. In fact a team without trust isn’t a team. Individuals may battle over information and responsibilities. Progress can be slow. Before long you may feel yourself climbing into the fetal position and reciting the “Cooperation song” from Sesame Street.

It doesn’t matter how capable the individuals within your team are, they wont be working to their full potential if there’s no trust. Team members who trust one another are far more likely to share knowledge, and communicate openly. Pre-requisites of an effective team.

In order to start to gain trust within your team the individuals need to understand each other. Knowing what excites and inspires your team mates will help to understand their motives.

Gather intelligence. Learn what defines the strengths and capabilities of your colleagues. What are the real skills that each member brings to the table? What skills are they missing? Can these be filled by another member of the team?

Make it clear that it’s time to be honest. No game playing or posturing. You want them to be themselves.

Remember, not all team members have the same drive to succeed or willingness to sacrifice. Everyone is different. Be mindful to embrace the differences.

3 – Overall Performance is an Individual Responsibility

A team’s success depends on all the team members. Individuals often accept mediocrity in other team members because they believe there is nothing they can do. It’s seen to be the team leader’s responsibility to deal with this – often noone wants to step on anyone’s toes.

In fact, an over reliance on the management team leader can prevent the team from reaching its potential.

It is important to create a culture where individuals recognise that the team’s performance depends on each of them. To do this there needs to be a common understanding of the team’s purpose. Each team shares responsibility for success and this includes the need to raise issues and help out thier colleagues in order to get things done.

Avoiding dealing with individual issues of performance can create a sense of dissatisfaction and resentment. The key is to create an open and honest forum for communication in a non-judgmental way.

Successfully resolving conflict helps to develop trust, appreciation and understanding of one another.

 

Moving Forward with Management Collaboration

There are many new thoughts and approaches on how to deliver seamless technology solutions in a constantly changing market. As opinions may be divided on strategy and tactics, it’s vital to have a solid sense of teamwork, shared goals and trust across the leadership team.

Success depends on your ability to work together…

 

Barclay Rae Consulting runs a short programme of individual mentoring and group workshops for management teams.

If you would like to know more about how your management team can develop trust and confidence in order to achieve synergy of approach and improved co-operation and collaboration then get in touch or for more information visit our workshops page.

 

Check out these CHECKLISTs for SITS

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If you are going to SITS15 – I hope to see you there… I’ll be on my (ITSMGoodness) stand, as well as presenting and facilitating on ITSM/ITIL/DevOps. Mostly I’ll be talking shop with practitioners and other industry bods about how to improve and achieve success with ITSM.

I’ll also be on hand to discuss the new ITIL practitioner programme, of which I’m delighted to be one of the architects. The (globally dispersed) team working on this will be meeting around SITs for planning and discussion – plenty to do.

As ever I expect this to be a busy bustling and practical event where ‘the industry comes together to do business’ – as the blurb goes. Its a practical and productive event for most, as well as being a great convergence of people across the industry.

Last year I was honoured to be voted ‘SITS contributor of the year’ and I look forward to seeing who is taking that mantle this time. SITS14

I’ve recently been very busy working on a number of client projects – particularly looking at tool selection and implementation – so if you are looking for practical guidance on any aspect of ITSM approach, tools, processes, etc, please come for a chat to my stand.

 

ITSMG Cap

We’ll also be dishing out ITSM Goodness cakes (yes) and some fetching caps..

Guidance and Checklists

I am often asked either before or during SITs to provide advice and guidance on selecting ITSM tools as well as running ITSM projects – as a support for that I’ve created a couple of checklists that you can download here to help to guide your thinking and planning. These are not detailed or definitive, but give you a simple aide memoir for:

ITSM Project Implementation – Service Improvement Service Improvement Checklist

ITSM Tool – Specification and Selection ITSM Tool Checklist

Please download these and use them as you need – they might just help you to focus your thoughts on what you are looking for at the show. Please of course feel free to come to discuss any aspect of this at my stand.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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From Kafka and ‘Whack-a-mole’ to real Customer Culture

A few thoughts on the last day of 2014 – hopefully avoiding the ‘5 trends to look for in 2015’ and ‘what we learned from 2014!’ shtick…

There’s so much negative and depressing world news and also mixed hype swirling around in IT/tech that I thought I’d just mention some real moments of positivity from the last year – hopefully there will be many more in 2015…

To begin however I wanted to mention my favourite quote from this year – this was during an interview at a client site with a customer of the IT department. This was someone who was quite senior and in some ways a bit scathing about the IT guys, but also quite positive and constructive – it was the language that got me however…

He described the IT department as ‘now starting to shake off their Kafka-esque image (in terms of being approachable), but they now seemed content to simply play ‘Whack-a-mole, rather than actually try to solve stuff…’.

So, have a think, does your IT department present a ‘Kafka-esque’ image (or does it need a ‘metamorphosis’) – ie is it process-driven, autocratic, faceless and unapproachable. Also is your support operation simply playing ‘Whack-a-mole’ and being good at spinning plates rather than getting on with improving service quality..? ‘Whack-a-mole’ to me is a great way to describe too much focus on Incident management rather than CSI and Problem management.

So, to some positives..

  • I’m pleased to say that I’ve once again visited/audited/consulted for several organisations where they have long shaken off any of these associations, and built truly enlightened cultures – with great leadership, management and governance, transparency, support and encouragement. empowerment and people focus, that all of course then delivers an excellent customer experience – a real customer culture.
  • I’ve been really delighted to see several people I’ve known over the last few years in various client and partner companies develop into good managers and other new roles – there’s frankly nothing so rewarding as a consultant and mentor to see people achieve things they previously hadn’t thought they could do and (without sounding too Californian here :-)) – grow
  • I’m also happy to say I’ve had some great feedback on projects and assignments from the year, where I’ve helped people and organisations to achieve their goals or move to new levels, buy the right tools etc. I was also delighted to receive the SITS show ‘contributor of the year’ award…
  • I’ve also worked with some great colleagues, partners and of course customers – we talk all the time about ‘collaboration’ right now as if it were something new, but actually real collaboration is what makes organisations and projects successful. In particular its been great to continue working with SDI, ITSM Review, plus also doing bits and pieces for Axelos, itSMF and others. Also many thanks to all the companies and vendors who have trusted in me to write content for them in 2014.

So for me its all about people and teams getting on and doing the right things – technology and the market will change and be disrupted, but at the centre of it all are people  working with people, so – at least until the robots take over – lets celebrate that and continue to move from the Kafka to Customer culture..!

Happy New Year and I wish you success in 2015..! 

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Consultancy Guidelines – updated

 

Many thanks to all of those who contributed to the initial draft of the Consultancy Guidelines – I’ve now updated the document with your comments and suggestions – some great additions there so please download a copy below and use this as you need it.

There is more content on clarification between consultants and contractors, more details on Proposals and Statements of Work, plus a short reference section which includes some suggestions for further reading… Thanks!

Any further comments please add here or email me at bjr@barclayrae.com

Consultancy guidelines REVISED v 0.2

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Do you have an SLA with your spouse..?

Whilst reflecting (see below) on my time in the ITSM industry in particular, it’s clear that there are still many of the same fundamental issues and questions coming up that have been around for 20+ years.

 

 

In my experience the same old questions keep coming up – questions like ‘where do we start? how do we make ITSM work? what practical steps do we take? what tools and processes do we need? etc.

 

It’s good to see several different ‘back to basics’ initiatives happening (e.g. itSMF UK) to focus on core activities – (including ITSMGoodness of course…).

 

One area that really has changed however, in answering these basic questions is simply this:

Relationships…

 

This was a key topic at the recent SDI and UCISA conferences that I attended, and is also on the lips and key pads of industry leaders, analysts, bloggers globally.

At last! – and this is not just some mad post-modern hype dreamed up by idealists or marketeers. This is about real human interaction and how that is the way to build and maintain successful service relationships. It’s really refreshing to see this and hear people talk about this as the way forward.

The simple idea is this:  in the scheme of things – customers, service providers,  ‘portfolio’ of services and how these are managed etc – the relationship is the glue that holds everything together, regardless of issues, problems and mishaps.

The relationship is more important then SLAs or KPIs etc and will survive issues if they are managed properly and satisfactorily, based on the fact that the relationship works towards some common strategic goals. For too long organisations have focused simply on hitting SLAs and thinking that this means – job done…!?

And as an example, try this question…

 

Do you have SLAs with your partner/spouse/lover?

Does your family work to KPIs and do these form the basis of your familial happiness and success?

 

I really hope that the answer is no to this..!

The serious point is this – successful relationships do not work on the basis of contracts or SLAs or other formal metrics and targets, they work because both parties are engaged and work closely together to make it work. Minor issues are tacked as part of the ‘bigger picture’ and should not cause the relationship to break down.

There are 3 key points to consider as fundamental here:

Common/Shared goals – both parties need to have a shared view of what the relationship is trying to do and achieve – and they have to care about it – that way they can make it work regardless of minor issues

Intimacy – relationships need both parties to share secrets and confidential information and ideas in order to work successfully and for mutual benefit

Proximity – it is vital to be physically close as this cuts down the needs for explanation and formality – if you are in proximity you know whats going on…

Relationships that do break down are dysfunctional in one of more of these areas – e.g. either not working to a shared goal or not honest or not close enough. No-one breaks up really because of the toilet seat or the lack of shared washing up duties – these are ultimately symptoms of a lack of understanding, or a lack of honesty or just not enough synergy..

So, what does this mean for IT Service Management?

Well we are definitely too obsessed with SLAs and target metrics and thinking that these are the success criteria for our service delivery. Our relationships with internal and external customers and partners should be based on solid human relationships – where purpose, goals, communications and regular (face-to-face ideally) interactions are clearly defined, managed and maintained – much like we need to do with our our family and relationships.

Our definitions of things like Business Relationship Management (BRM) are useful and key elements, however the relationships must extend across all participants in the relationship and service ‘supply chain’ – i.e. so including front line and back office internal and external staff too.

Sure we need guidelines with SLAs but these should always be second to the needs of the customer and their service experience – the relationship is the framework to let this happen, not the straight-jacket that stops it…!

Ultimately we keep going in relationships because we choose to do so, for whatever reason – ideally that should be the goal for Service Delivery too… 

Keep talking…

 

It’s nearly holiday time and I’m in reflective mode – as a number of ’round numbers’ are showing up for me…

  • 30 years since I first left my hometown Glasgow  – I’ve moved around a lot in UK, Europe and beyond since then
  • 20 years since I started Consulting – running 2 companies (e2e customer services and current BRC) plus time at, HDI/SDI/Axios,  500 projects,
  • 10 years married – now have 2 fantastic kids!
  • 5 years since I started on Twitter – 15,000 Tweets and c 3,000 followers

Right now it’s all go and lots of exciting things developing behind the scenes, particularly around ITSMGoodness – watch this space…

Have a great Summer..!

 

 

 

 

Have you forgotten something – the Service Desk?

I recently worked in an office where there was a large area of empty desks – there was an air of loss and abandonment in the room.

All around there was building work going on and a sense of activity, although hidden away and forgotten in one corner sat a few stoic people, manning a serivce desk – it reminded me of a current issue I have…

 

As ever there is a lot of talk on Social Networks about the direction for ITSM industry, including whether there is even such a thing as an ‘ITSM industry…

Gartner are now saying that its called ‘ITSSM’ and there is no Help/Service desk software industry. There  is the discussion around what happens with ITIL/Devops/Agile etc. Should organisations go for COBIT and or ITIL as well as other standards and frameworks? Do we need meta-models and ontologies for ITSM and ITIL? We need more community involvement – where is the ITSM community? Also we need practical advice on how to do the basics – at a pragmatic and practitioner level.

At the same time we are in the hype curve of the ‘customer experience’ movement in IT and ITSM, which (finally) recognises the value and relevance of looking at IT delivery from the customers point of view – not the IT perspective. This has been very much business and consumer driven, due to the changes in technology and commercial models over the last few years. The focus of this has of course moved discussion away from process and tools and SLAs/KPIs to human interaction (H2H not B2C!) – which of course is a hugely valid and laudable development that we should all welcome and support.

 

However, whilst I support, understand and contribute to all of the above discussions and developments (e.g. I’ve recently done ITSMF UK BIG4 chat, I’ve just written the White Paper for SITS 2014 on Customer Experience, plus created some value proposition content for ITSM/ITIL for AXELOS) – there is one aspect of all of this that stands out as a major omission – and it really quite bugs me…

 

[warning]WHERE IS THE SERVICE DESK??[/warning]

 

Why is the Service Desk not included and seen to be at the centre of these discussions? Are we not guilty of recreating the old IT problem of overlooking/bypassing/patronising this operation and the associated industry around it, when it is to me fundamental and central to all of these discussions? Consider:

 

  • Service desks are part of the IT ‘supply chain’ which includes engagement, development, design and transition, but we all constantly complain about how new services don’t get properly handed over and given early life support – yet we don’t see much discussion around the importance of involving service desks in these debates. Service desk is almost seen like a separate industry, compared to ITSM, when in fact it’s at the centre of what we do.  We spend a lot of time talking about agility and efficiency of development – yet the handover and release/introduction part of our lifecycle is rarely mentioned.
  • Service desks are at the forefront of delivery and customer experience – effectively that’s what they do manage the perception of the whole IT organisation. Of course nowadays we are talking more around touch-points where people interact with portals and logging and knowledge systems as well as their actual interaction with tools, but this is now in the domain of the service desk. Certainly the human communications factor has been the central core of service desk for many years – maybe just not noticed or fully appreciated by the rest of the industry.
  • Service desk already has a strong community – or communities – based mostly around the SDI / HDI organisations, (plus some other local country-based groups), which also have robust and proven standards, accreditation and practical training and research frameworks. I don’t know why these organisations don’t get invited more to the table when discussing the way forward and big issues – like the service desk in the IT department, it seems to be an afterthought…

[notice]OK I might have an interest here, as SDI are a long term partner of mine, and I’ve got good connections with HDI folks too. However as I also move and work in other ‘ITSM’ circles I can plainly see that the Service Desk perspective and input is often not taken into account – at all levels.[/notice]

Maybe this is a marketing and message issue – both SDI and HDI are very good at marketing to their own captive and well-defined target audiences – maybe their messages just doesn’t get out to the wider IT and ITSM community. I do regularly find myself explaining the history, status and capability (standards etc.) of these organisations to experienced, capable and knowledgeable people in the wider ITSM ‘community’  who just weren’t aware…

Of course I completely get the whole point that ‘service’ is a wider concept and that technology design and development are huge parts of the delivery process. We need to improve our customer engagement and how we turn that into useable technology that our customers want. All of that requires a significant set of disciplines and skills that are beyond the reach of most service desk teams and people.

The point here is however that the role and early engagement of service desk/front line support is absolutely critical to the customer experience and perception of the wider service provider, not just the individual service or piece of technology, so it must be seen as critical to success.

Certainly the traditional ‘break/fix’ role of the service desk is changing and declining – however there are many new areas of human interaction and support that are needed and  service desks that will survive need to keep up with those.

Moving beyond the deserted rooms I mentioned earlier, I have recently also visited and worked with some really excellent service desk operations and guess what? – in these places the service desk is valued and supported by its management, yes, but also this is seen as a vital part of the business as a whole.

So, the other ‘loftier’ aspects of service management actually work and work well in these places where the service desk is far from deserted and abandoned – rather where it is celebrated, respected and admired. 

So actually to get ITSM or ITSSM working, we need to put the service desk at the centre of our thoughts and make it an aspirational and highly professional centrepiece for our frameworks, meta-models and customer experience ideals.

 

Let’s also keep a focus on what is already out there and useful and valuable and worth engaging with – if we are serious about ‘customer experience’ then we need to get involved with the people who know how to manage it…

 

service desk triangle

 

Do you agree?

ITSM in 2014 – Getting ‘Hands On’

 

 

It’s another new year and of course there are many reviews and predictions for our IT and ITSM industries. See these recent ServiceDesk360 and Cherwell blogs of mine…

For me the most positive thing to emerge over the last year or so is the absolute and comprehensive confirmation around the 2 key goals of Service Management :

Successful business outcomes

and

Positive customer experience

We’ve moved on from process and other internal components of Service – important as they are – to celebrate and confirm successful business outcomes and positive customer experience as the over-reaching aims of our work. Of course these have always been the ultimate aspiration and have been delivered in many successful projects over the years, but there is now an ineluctable consensus and concerted voice that is shouting this out.

This time last year I blogged about the need for ‘practical unity’ in our industry and this is the most tangible evidence of it that I can think of…

As an industry we are of course waiting with some anticipation to see what happens next with the development of ITIL via AXELOS. There’s also a refreshing increase in activity around tooling and new product procurement as well as increased focus on new operating models such as Service Integration and Management (SIAM).

For me however on a personal and very pleasing note, the real activity and demand in the industry has continued to move towards more practical and ‘hands-on’ ideas, advice and knowledge. My own ITSM Goodness output has been well received and used (it has more than doubled activity on my website); there are many organisations using some or all of the content, and the content has been developed and used by vendors and industry people alike. I’ve also delivered workshops and webcasts to a number of people e.g. at SMFusion in the US as well as in the UK and delivered the ‘Goodness’ message via a number of conference presentations and workshops.

I’m going to continue to develop this over the next year, so look out for more activity in this area and opportunities to engage with the ITSM Goodness approach and simple message. The first initiative is an ITSM Goodness series of webcasts on my BrightTALK channel starting Wednesday 15th at 1:00 pm GMT. Over the course of the series I will be delivering the equivalent of a full day-long ITSM Goodness workshop, via 8 individual monthly webcasts, covering the 7 Steps, plus practical feedback from practitioners.

[important]As part of this series, I will be encouraging practitioners to participate as they work through the 7 Steps and send me updates on their progress. I will in turn share this real practical progress in the webcasts.  If you would like to participate, please contact me. The first webcast focuses on the 1st Step – Engage and Listen to Customers. [/important]

Finally I will be embarking on a new project with the ITSM Review to re-ignite the now defunct ITSM podcast and other media over the next few months – I’m excited about that and will provide more information in due course, so look out for more info.

Of course, I will continue to do mostly what I’ve been doing for years (celebrating 20 years of consulting this year…!) – that is real, practical ‘hands-on’ consulting and projects with client organisations. This has formed the basis of things like ITSM Goodness and the input I’ve brought to ITSM media in recent years – and for me it’s essential for currency and credibility that I continue to do that. I’m just embarking on a few really exciting new projects so watch this space for more lessons learned, feedback and practical ideas…

Have a great year.

 

AXELOS

I’m going to the first AXELOS workshop

So, the first phase is heating up – the charm offensive has generally been good and well received, although now it’s time to start doing something…

I’m referring of course to the progress of the ITIL JV (now called AXELOS), which is the new company formed jointly by TSO and Capita to run the SWIRL IP, business and approach. To date there has been a positive and engaging level of communications from AXELOS – for me far more (for whatever reasons) than there has been in the last 20 years or so from the various manifestations of  ‘Castle ITIL’. (I really hope that’s the last time I use that term..). However it’s now time for action!

So there are initial workshop meetings being held in London 16 – 18 July, to discuss PPM and ITIL. I’ve been invited re ITSM and I will be there. I’m looking forward to it, to debate the future of our industry and hopefully be able to contribute something to that.

I’ve contributed a lot to standards and models for SDI/HDI over the years, but (apart from some document reviews), not formally been involved with ITIL in any significant form – to me it has long been a bit of an ‘old boys club’ and I’m pleased to see the barriers coming down. I’ve shouted from the outside for too long and would now prefer to contribute positively to the industry I care about and believe I believe something to say about…

I did have some initial  reservations and thoughts about attending, how and who might be invited and attend this, and how this would be received, so here are some thoughts:

  • Why have I been invited? I guess I’m pretty visible and active in the industry and social media, as a pundit/watcher/analyst type as well as a consultant, plus I submitted a document with my thoughts and ideas for the development of ITIL Barclay Rae Consulting input to ITIL JV
  • Whilst being delighted to be invited, I did (probably like others) wonder who else was invited, what was the criteria for this, is this public knowledge etc. There’s an uncomfortable moment when you wonder if you can/should talk about this when you don’t know who has or hasn’t been invited. However the agenda has come out quickly and the list of attendees looks to be a good cross- section of views and experience, with a definite leaning I’d say towards the slightly radical…
  • AXELOS have also made it clear that this is the first of other meetings and there is no intention to exclude anyone – they knAXELOSow the stakeholders who should all have an opportunity to contribute. For now Educational Institutes (EIs) are not invited, due to the sensitivity around potential changes to the operating model, although once this is clear they will be involved.
  • Personally I think this is a difficult situation, where there is a need to move forward and do something practical, whilst at the same time taking note and consulting with all areas of the industry. So however this is played will probably result in some criticism across the industry. From a purely practical point of view you can’t have the whole industry at a meeting and make progress. So I believe and expect that anyone who wants to contribute should have the opportunity to do so.
  • My view on the progress of this is that the JV needs to make some brave decisions, otherwise it may get mired in trying to please or appease everyone across the industry – a bland compromise will help noone. Hopefully the process will result in some fairly radical changes to both content and format of what ITIL is and does. The real test of value must be to the ‘customers’ of ITIL out there – organisations and practitioners – who I feel are now being let down by the current nature of the framework and training programme.
  • So I am going to the workshop to air my views on this – not just from my own perspective but on behalf of and based on the feedback I get every week from my clients. They want practical help and frankly don’t care about how this is achieved, but right now they are not consistently getting it. 

[notice]What do you think? If you have questions you want to be raised I’ll be happy to take them along and raise them – please leave a comment or email me at bjr@barclayrae.com  [/notice]

 

Service Desk Triangle – can you see it from my (SDM) angle?

One thing that strikes a chord with many of my clients is a simple concept that I’ve used for some time, although only recently defined more explicitly. This centres around the role of the Service Desk Manager (SDM), which for me is still the pivotal role in ITSM. I act as a mentor for this role with some clients and help them to put theory into practice for success in the job.

The idea is around the communications and stakeholder ‘juggling act’ that the SDM has to carry out daily – I call this the Service Desk Triangle. This refers to the 3-way pull on the SDM that can potentially result in them disappearing without a trace – i.e. like into the ‘Bermuda triangle’…

service desk triangle

 

Basically there are 3 very distinct stakeholder groups that they have to manage and keep happy and on-side, namely:

1 The Service Desk team – who need specific management and TLC, as they operate in a front-line service role with specific time demands and a daily dose of negative interactions. These people need a mixture of clear and structured management with supportive staff coaching and support, to keep motivated and maintain quality.

2 Customers – who obviously have a different set of expectations and requirements which need to be met and managed professionally and effectively, as the service desk is the ‘shop front’ for the whole of the IT organisation.

3 The rest of the IT organisation – i.e. part of the service desk’s team, but often its biggest problem area. Successful and integrated service delivery requires seamless teamwork across IT teams in support of the service desk and its customers, but this doesn’t always happen…!

The SDM needs to build effective relationships and get agreement from their colleagues across IT to make service an effective ‘supply chain’. So they have to be parent, coach, service provider, diplomat and negotiator, to name but a few roles, as well as of course marketer, salesperson, tough manager, mentor, analyst and master of ceremonies…!

I know from experience how tough it is when all three of these areas are out of sync and bearing down on the beleaguered SDM. On the other hand it’s very rewarding when the juggling is working and all three stakeholder groups are content.

It is a good practical approach if the SDM does some analysis and ‘stakeholder mapping’ to keep tabs on what each area’s requirements, issues, preferences and idiosyncrasies are – this can help by providing an ongoing pain and/or satisfaction barometer for the SDM to monitor and act on accordingly. The SDM also needs to have a deep portfolio of communications and influencing skills to be able to understand and satisfy each different agenda.

 

So, if you are engaged in some way with the Service Desk from the outside, it does no harm to consider the SDM’s daily challenge, keeping disparate sets of people and teams happy simultaneously – give it some thought, put yourself in their shoes for a while and ‘see it from their angle’… 

Maybe also if you do this you could see and act on ways to make the triangle a bit less of a challenge for the SDM? What do you think?