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Check out these CHECKLISTs for SITS

SITS15-Banner-600x175-Barclay-Rae

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!

SITS15-Banner-960x280-stand817

ITSMG Logo low res

 

The expanding world of Service Management + collaboration

I was at the UK itSMF conference this week – presenting and also with an exhibitor booth. The show was smaller (less attendees and exhibitors) than previous years although the consensus was that there was a good mix of people and that it was a good networking event. There were still a large number of presentations in streams.

Debate in the plenary sessions focused on next years ‘big 4 ‘ agenda, which I’m pleased to say included Customer Experience..! Also Axelos made some noise both in terms of physical presence in the exhibitor area and also to announce a new Agile/Prince2 initiative, Cyber resilience program and also some words around what might happen with ITIL.

For this in the next period the word(s) seem to be ‘ITIL and…’ – IE so rather than try to rebuild the somewhat creaking edifice that is ITIL at present, the current focus will be on how it relates and interacts with other areas.  I hope there will be more on this in a variety of forums around one key area – collaboration, particularly with the development and increased visibility of DevOps and agile/fast methods – which were mentioned at the show but not enough to be honest.

My session looked a the dichotomy between talk of such new areas (as well as social/cloud/mobile etc) and also the need to focus on basics. I asked the attendees who considered their ITSM to cover the basic functions (which I define below as Service Desk, Service Catalog/design, ITSM Engine (Incident.Problem/Change) and CSI)

geometry

Amazingly only about 5% of the room admitted to being able to do this..! So we clearly have a problem around basic functions, that makes us even more stretched when thinking about new areas to focus on.

However my point is that we really need to do both.

We need to do the basics, yet we also need to move forward, faster… and collaborate for success..!

 

You can view the presentation slides here

http://www.slideshare.net/barclayrae/it-smf-conference-2014-ppt-barclay-rae

 

Moving forward it would be good to see more real positive discussion in ITSM circles about how to collaborate – both across IT organisations (Dev and OPS) and of course the wider picture of how Enterprises beyond IT are using ITSM and ITIL concepts to achieve success,automation and real ‘supply chain’ service delivery. Until recently only one or 2 of the ITSM vendors had really picked this up, but no there are many more who are changing their marketing and sales approaches to meet this new exciting demand. See my recent report for ITSM review on Outside IT.

DevOps still remains a hugely mis-understood term (certainly for marketeers) as we see adverts for ‘DevOps teams’ and articles about ‘DevOps systems’ – its an approach and culture, not another system or standard…

Another term that gets mis-interpreted is SIAM (Service Integration and Management). This in theory is a single approach to supplier and IT supply chain management – usually the need to co-ordinate a number of suppliers to deliver co-ordinated services.

This is an area I’ll be exploring more in future and also it will be the key topic a the next itSMF SLM SIG (special interest group) event on 13th January 2015 – in Central London (details TBA).

I’m delighted to be taking over as chair of this group and will be driving involvement and engagement around SLM topics, as well as hopefully publicising and sharing these with the wider itSMF community in due course.

To follow that I was delighted that my colleague and predecessor Karen Brusch won the itSMF contributor of the year award at the conference – this is much deserved as Karen’s drive and leadership has made the SIG a success over the years – Thanks Karen…!

Delighted also to see Rob Spencer win an award for his submission of the year – Rob also presented the ITIL Manifesto project at the conference and hopefully this will continue to gain traction and more…………. COLLABORATION.

How will you be working to collaborate more and achieve ‘joined up’ success…?

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..!

 

 

 

 

Service Catalog is Simple…or Should Be

I presented a webinar on Service Catalog and SLM for BrightTALK webinar – available here. The slides on their own are available here.

This presentation was aimed to try and present some simple advice on how to use and develop SLM (keeping it simple) for business benefit. This is based on a wealth of experience, particularly with recent projects, setting up and guiding organisations to achieve success and value from SLM. Key points are summarised below – what do you think? Your feedback is most welcome.

Key Points Re Service Catalog

  • (SC) is not one single document or tool
  • SC has a number of stakeholders and outputs, so can be manifest in many forms
  • The value is achieved from engaging with IT customers and IT departments – to work towards demonstrably common goals
  • Customers should be engaged to discuss service improvement, not SLAs or Service Catalogs
  • This (SLM) is a process and approach rather than a single document or tool – which is what tends to be focussed on
  • ‘Service Catalog’ is lots of things and definitely not just ONE thing or ONE type of document or system
  • There are a number of quite different types of content that can be called a ‘Service Catalog’, or part of one
  • This is because organisations and individuals have different needs, different focus and also different starting and entry points

What Does a good SC look like?

This will vary, but in essence there are several main types of content, with 2 initial key documents:

  • Service structure
  • Service database

These first 2 documents provide the basis for a variety of documents, depending on requirements and maturity.

What other documents?

What can we achieve in 10 – 20 – 30 days?

  • Run a workshop
  • Hold meetings with Customers
  • Engage with IT
  • Define the Service structure
  • Build the Service Database
  • Produce a service ‘brochure’
  • Define the service (process) supply chain
  • Clearly define service owners
  • Get customer feedback
  • Build business metrics model
  • Reduce cost of service request handling
  • Use simple Customer feedback and NPV

Tips for ITSM Goodness

I presented a big list of little tips at the recent OVUM conference on ITSM in London:

Here’s the slides  OVUM presentation 20 tips

 

Plus Some additional short tips

  1. If you are going to do an ITSM project, clarify what it will deliver for your organisation
  2. Somehow the myth that ITIL  is a panacea still prevails – dispel it
  3. No matter what anyone says, you can’t just buy ‘ITIL’ / ITSM off the shelf + do it in a few weeks
  4. You can achieve a lot of small targeted incremental service improvements in 30 days
  5. Getting a system running quickly isn’t a new cure-all, ITSM goodness takes time
  6. If you need funds for ITSM then define what this will deliver in simple business terms (1 slide?)
  7. Don’t be too ambitious for your ITSM project in terms of cost savings – it’s hard to quantify
  8. You can define benefits in terms of service quality + risk reduction, as well as cost benefit
  9. The way you set up your ITSM project is as important as how you deliver it – objectives, outcomes, project – people, skills, realistic planning
  10. If you don’t have a clear definition of what you do in IT, how can you know if you’re doing a good job?
  11. ITIL training will help staff to learn ITSM + use the same language, but won’t change the organisation
  12. There’s a whole group of people who just need an ITSM overview session rather than a 3 day foundation course
  13. The tech guys just need to be told what to do + what’s in it for them, don’t ask them to define strategy + processes
  14. For your Service Catalogue think (internal) IT services like email + support, + (external) business services that do what the organisation does
  15. SLM, SLAs + Service Catalogue – all must be done with customers – otherwise it’s old IT arrogance
  16. Let’s move our IT organisation from providing systems to delivering Services
  17. IT is + should be part of the business not a separate (necessary evil) function
  18. Let’s not think of running IT ‘as’ a business but ‘like’ a business – + part of it
  19. It’s the (project) process that counts with SLM – i.e. talking/listening to your customers
  20. ‘We did SLAs before + no-one was interested’ – no wonder if they were IT-only driven
  21. If your SLA document is more than a couple of pages then it’s an SLD – service level disagreement
  22. Don’t write SLAs as if you are writing a legal document – keep it simple + avoid IT jargon
  23. Don’t bother trying to do CMDB unless you are really sure why + for what result
  24. If you must do CMDB then don’t give the project to a tech person
  25. CMDB – be clear on your criteria for defining + storing CIs
  26. Too many well-meaning CMDB projects have failed by trying to do too much – ‘boiling the ocean’
  27. Actually, the whole concept of a single CMDB/CMS is flawed + in reality doesn’t exist
  28. Metrics in isolation are dangerously misleading – its an eco-system which needs balance
  29. We need services/SLAs to give our metrics + KPIs relevance, otherwise we get what suits us in IT
  30. KPIs without balance + business context simply drive compliant behaviour – maybe at cost to the business
  31. Don’t think that anyone cares about blanket 99.9% ‘availability’ – 100% when it matters is what matters
  32. If you are going to talk about 1st/2nd/3rd levels of support, you need to define what these mean
  33. Generally it’s faster, cheaper + better for the customer if incidents are fixed at the first contact
  34. Change + release management really are ‘no-brainers’, although doing them with common sense is still rare.
  35. Problem management is more about ownership than just process – give the right person the job
  36. The Problem Manager is part analyst, part investigator, but mostly project manager completer-finisher
  37. In IT we like to build models, tools + processes rather than just managing people + issues
  38. ITIL is documented common sense, which is stilll a rare commodity. It also needs good management to make it successful
  39. Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner’

 

 

SLM Maturity Assessment Tool

This is a quick and easy tool that I designed for Hornbill. It’s got 15 questions in total and takes just a few minutes to complete. The results will provide you with a SLM maturity score between 0 – 5 enabling you to:

  • Identify and understand the SLM maturity level your IT department is currently operating at
  • Discover where to focus your IT effort to realize the benefits of SLM
  • Download some of my recommended practical resources based on your SLM maturity score

Click on the image to be taken to the tool on the Hornbill website.

I hope you find it fun and easy to use – leave a comment and let me know what you think.

SLM – The heartbeat of ITSM

SLM – The heartbeat of ITSM

This was my recent presentation topic at the itSMF UK event on Service Level Management held on 7th December. For me its a huge topic at the moment, particularly as it’s an area I know well, but also because there seems to be such a demand for basic information, knowledge and guidance in this area.

My reference to ‘heartbeat’ is aimed at showing that what SLM does is provide a living pulse to the rest of the ITSM processes and working practices we all know and love (or maybe hate..). In other words SLM is both a driver and regulator of what we do and deliver. Without the living business mandate we get from defining services and SLAs, our ITIL/ITSM processes have little direction or value – certainly to our customers and also to our staff, who need to see a clear relationship between what they are doing and the businesses that pay their salaries.

In IT we like having systems and models, methodologies, frameworks and lots of acronyms – ITIL gives us plenty of that. What we seem to miss however, is the simple fact that we need to start by talking to and working with our customers, to understand what they need from us and then build our models etc around this – not the other way round. I know that’s not the intention or the stated content in our ‘best practice’, but that’s the way it often seems to be interpreted and used. So the messge is getting lost in the methodology.

Many organisations are still resistant to the whole idea of SLM, SLAs or defining services, often using the excuse that the ‘business isn’t interested’. No wonder, if the nature of any previous SLA project has resulted in IT-centric techno-babble and what IT thinks or judges to be important or interesting… Often this is seen by customers as arrogant and patronising. See my previous presentation on value from IT – are SLAs a waste of time?

However if you are going to do proper SLM then its essential to start by engaging with your customers and investigating and agreeing on what their important outcomes and ‘moments of truth’ are – i.e. how and when the technology is needed to deliver. We then work back from there to build our ITSM processes and structure – or in reality re-adjust our existing structure to support this.  I’ve recently written more practical guidance on this in a white paper on Service Catalog, (sponsored by Hornbill Systems).

I’ve had conversations recently where SLM/SLAs have still been rejected by the IT department, yet they also want to improve the quality and value of their reporting and how they are perceived by their businesses – there’s a direct connection there…! What I do also see, fortunately, are many more organisations now waking up to the reality that SLM is vital to their success and how they can demonstrate their value – pity this has taken so long.

One reason for this is that SLM is (rightly in some ways) perceived as being low level and operational – i.e. how we respond to things going wrong. The introduction of BRM (Business Relationship Management) into the framework at a more strategic level is therefore a positive move (although the concept of good account management has been around for many years).

However both BRM and SLM to me should be seen as the central nervous system of IT and ITSM – otherwise we are simply running complicated corpses rather than fully functional beings.

More on this on ITSMTV – ITSM in practice