Archive for the ‘IT Service Management’ Category

An interview with Stuart Rance

February 12, 2014

Starting 2014 interviews with Stuart Rance, author of the ITIL 2011 edition Service Transition book and a true dynamo on pushing practices and having people discuss what really matters.

Stuart Rance

1. Do share your very best practices on chocolate degustation. Dark? With almonds? Swiss? Belgium?

I’m glad you asked that! I’m very fond of dark chocolate coated brazil nuts, but dark chocolate with hazelnuts or almonds is nearly as good.

2. Lately I’ve observed lots of discussion on incident versus problem. Could it mean ITSM still has lots of concepts not well understood by the community?

I think most people understand the concepts, but very few people seem to be doing a good job of problem management. Part of the reason for this may be because of the way activities are assigned to incident or problem management, which I think could be improved. I’ve written about this in a blog article at http://www.sysaid.com/blog/entry/why-you-should-stop-doing-problem-management – I intentionally made this blog a bit controversial to try and get people to discuss the underlying issues.

There is one area where I think that ITSM concepts are poorly understood, and that is in the area of service strategy. I’ve heard people complain that we shouldn’t include service strategy concepts in ITIL foundation training because they aren’t relevant to most people in ITSM and I find that really scary. Key concepts in service strategy include value creation and how customers perceive value. Sadly many people in IT still think in terms of technology solving problems, rather than in terms of creating value for people. I would love to see improvements to ITIL training so that everyone with a foundation certificate really understood that services are about creating value for customers, not about ITSM processes.

3. Social media is here to stay – as once you remarked, for instance we’ve never met in real life but we share and discuss. How do you think it as influenced Service Management progress?

I think discussions in social media have opened out the creation of best practice to a much wider community. Not very long ago there were only a few people contributing to the creation of best practice for ITSM but I have been involved in debates with lots of really creative people, and some of these have led to us having face-to-face meetings where we continue the discussions. There are some very frustrating forums where people seem to endlessly debate the same sterile ITSM questions, such as “is a password reset an incident or a service request”, but I just ignore those and focus on the places where I see useful things happening.

There is a danger that those of us who participate in social media can forget that we are only a very tiny subset of the people with ideas and opinions. It would be great if we could get more people involved, and to do that we have to create truly welcoming communities where people feel that they can join in and get benefits.

4. Regarding Taking Service Forward initiative with the service meta model Adaptive Service Model… what’s your expectation on how these efforts will benefit the ITSM world?

I know what I would like to see, which is the creation of an open, shared, common architecture and ontology for services that is in the public domain and available for many people to use. Even better would be if the owners of all the different best practices and standards adopted (and adapted) this architecture, so that we could all do a better job of adapting and integrating multiple different frameworks. I can’t really say that this is an expectation, but it is an aspiration. I would like to encourage your readers to get involved, join in the discussions and help us to create this architecture.

5. From your experience can ideas and practices like Tipu, Standard+Case, process mining applied to service management and others from “alien” fields outside ITSM really flourish and gain momentum without Axelos support?

Both Tipu and Standard+Case come from the fertile mind of Rob England, and maybe you should be asking him this question. I really do like many of his contributions to ITSM best practice, but it is hard for ideas like this to compete when hundreds of thousands of people every year are taking ITIL training. It would be really good if we could find ways to communicate developing best practice to a wider audience, and maybe that is something we should put more effort into over the next year.

6. [Mistery question from Aprill Allen!]  If you were putting together a new service management program team, which celebrities—living or past—would you choose?

In general I think that celebrities would be a terrible idea for a service management team. We don’t need heroes and people whose main talent is marketing themselves, but in the spirit of the question I will offer some names.

Overall charge of the program and Continual Improvement:

Eli Goldratt (if you haven’t heard of him then do some research)

Demand management and BRM:

Steve Jobs (tell me what customers will want next year)

Service operation processes:

Rob England (who else)

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one more story – in Denmark

October 7, 2013

Once upon a time in Danmark…

http://denmark.dk/en/~/media/Denmark/Images/Meet%20the%20danes/Traditions/Fastelavn.jpg?w=580&h=372&as=1

Fatelavn – Carnival tradition in Denmark

One day,  surely on a shiny and fresh day, gentle and merry folks of Denmark accepted my humble speaking proposal on Storytelling.

Because of that, I did my best so a meaningful story would come to life

Until finally, in what looked liked just a few days after, at Köbehavn  I found myself in front of people actually looking for a story to be told.

Super-sweet. Felt fantastic. I  missed talking and see people so close, listening, groking, participating – and yes taking photos of what touched them or  in that moment was relevant.

It was a great experience at itSMF Danmark. Thanks to Michael Imhoff and Katja Dollerup!

One week later I went for the itSMF Finland conference. Ah, but that is another story.

[for more on how to use the Pixar story pitch look here]

An interview with Jan van Bon

August 14, 2013

Jan was one of the first ITSM persons I met in real life. I like the pragmatic way he addresses every topic. I learnt a lot and somehow I find it inspiring Jan is never a follower.

image_2013-08-12_222203Here, the full interview:

1 . What you do when you’re not sharing, arguing, discussing and confronting in ITSM arena? What other interests do you pursue during your “spare” time?

Belgian beer and Scotch whiskey is a great hobby. But to be serious, I do have other interests 😉  I am a graduated biomathematician, and when I quit my position as an academic researcher and stepped into IT in the late eighties, I dedicated my training to game management. It keeps me off the street and in the field, close to Mother Earth.

2. You’ve edited more than 80 books, Gutenberg would be proud. Is there a future for printed books?

There is a future, but only in combination with electronic versions. The books I’m involved in are always knowledge carriers, and the demand for knowledge will persist, though the format may change. I’m sure I’ll produce more electronic knowledge carriers than printed work, but the latter will be in demand as long as the current leading generation isn’t extinguished. Electronic carriers offer much more training options than printed material, and the appreciation of these formats is growing. The acquisition of a game provider by Capita is just a symptom of that trend.

3. Can Amsterdam model help understand why it is apparently so hard having top management and IT aligned?

Yes, although I prefer not to refer to the “Amsterdam Model” but to SAME, the Strategic Alignment Model Enhanced: it’s more pure, easier to understand, and it serves the same goal more effectively. You can download it here. By the way – it’s not really hard to align business and IT, once you accept the 3×3 model of SAME and its consequences. The SAME model tells you exactly how responsibilities can be distributed according to the main control paradigm: separation of duties. The Dutch have developed and used this since the mid nineties, but you can’t find it anywhere else in the world in the same position. I’ve published a historical analysis of the development of ‘plane thinking’, as we call it, in 2010 (in Dutch), showing how these ideas have developed over time since the late eighties.

In the Netherlands we now have fully standardized methods for both information domains: the FSM Method for ‘business information management’, covering the guidance of the BiSL framework, and the ISM Method for ‘IT service management’, covering the guidance of ITIL and ASL. Both are fully integrated and prepared to deliver an integrated end-to-end management system for the entire information support domain, using all guidance of the referred frameworks (and much more).

4. ISM is not mainstream yet. What’s missing?

I’d say: ‘awareness’. The ISM Method is only available in the Netherlands. It takes various players in a market to deliver a nationwide support structure for the method: we need providers of standardized BPM tools, providers of standardized ITSM tools, trained consultants, trained trainers, and exam organizations, to create a market, and they need to be able and willing to work together in delivering an effective and efficient, but very simplified system for ITSM. The hype nature of ITIL is a much easier alternative in terms of making money: nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM, so it’s a safe proposition to align your services and products to ITIL. The customer won’t know the difference, because the alternative isn’t familiar enough for them – yet. But these times are changing now, at least in the Netherlands: more and more companies have heard of the astonishing success of companies adopting the ISM method, they want the same, and they adopt the ISM method.

There’s another reason: most consultants are controlled by just two drivers: their hourly rate and the number of hours they sell. This simple calculation shows that most consultants are not interested in a method that will cut their income to the bare essential hours, leaving the customer in the winning position: highest value at lowest cost. Luckily, there are more and more consultants who really want to make a difference by delivering more value at less cost. And they are rewarded for their changed proposition, because the now highly satisfied customer will of course hire them again for the next challenge they can’t face without the help of a real ITSM expert. But as you will understand, such a change of attitude in the consultancy market takes considerable time, and the biggest providers will be the last ones to follow. That’s the face of evolution.

And a third reason is really mean: the ISM Method exposes the manager and his management system as the biggest fail factor, and not the tool, the consultant, the technology, or the customer. The method focuses at improving the quality of management, by following standardized structures for standardized goals of standardized ITSM organizations. This is a real bottleneck: managers tend to ignore or deny that they often are the problem. Of course you can understand that it’s hard for a manager to go to his board and tell them that it wasn’t the consultant, it wasn’t the tool, it wasn’t the technology, but it was due to his own lack of management skills, it was due to the fact that he always had to migrate to new technology and never took the time to get his organization straightened, it was due to all these projects he had to run, it was due to the fact that he actually was a techy and not a manager, and that he would love to get the opportunity to learn how to solve this problem. What do you think he would expect from that kind of exposure? A bonus, a promotion, or the sack? Note: a good board would appreciate it if he stepped forward and confessed this, but that’s exactly what the manager wouldn’t understand….

5. Do you see a fit between Standard+Case and ISM? Could we have a way simpler service management approach than ITIL?

Both S&C and ISM simplify ITSM, compared to the way ITIL describes it, and other approaches do so too (think of FITS). But ISM is a method and has a process architecture, and all others actually miss that. And it’s in the process where all management starts. ITIL has been and still is a great guide to ITSM, but it describes ‘best practices’, and that immediately is its Achilles heel. Best practices are results of a management approach, and you can’t implement the results of someone else – although you can use it for inspiration. It’s like this: ITIL describes the symptoms, and we need a method to cure the patient. ISM is that an example of such a method. It has reformatted the ITIL guidance with a 180 degrees U-turn, and works inside-out, with a true architecture for the ITSM management system. As a consequence, ISM can generate all ‘symptoms’ described in ITIL, and more (if you prefer COBIT, ASL, or any other flavor).

6. TFT brings a new model to conferences. Do you think live conferences need to evolve?

I think we need to keep exchanging knowledge, ideas, inspiration, experiences, instruments, in any way we can. TFT is one of these ways, based on modern community technology. If this works for you, it’s great. Others may want to meet face-to-face, use text-based forums, or any other type of environment. I guess these will all persist and find their place with those who can profit from them.

7. [quite current question from Lynda Cooper] Given the new ownership of ITIL by Axelos, what do you think is the future for ITIL?

Axelos had a bad start by shouting out loud how much money will be made. They then started meeting about the future of ITIL with same parties that created the ITIL market. I don’t know what you think about that, but it seems a guarantee for not aligning to a dissatisfied market. More meetings are planned, as I hear, but in the mean time the market is shifting fast: I hear more and more providers who are completely fed up with the way ITIL is exploited and the money they must pay to join the bandwagon. These parties are eagerly looking for alternatives that deliver more value at less cost. Despite of this trend, I think the ITIL hype cycle will roll on for quite some time. But in the spirit of my original education and profession: I believe in evolution and I plan to give this evolution a helping hand. We shouldn’t forget that ITIL has been and still is of great value to the ITSM market, but I expect to see a forward leap in that market – and as usual with evolution: it will generate a new species.

Change – Initial assessment checklist, anyone?

April 1, 2013

Cuff checklist, by nasa_appel @ Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

Cuff checklist by nasa_appel @ Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

Came up with this initial change assessment checklist for early identification of potential issues that must be taken care of.

The sparkle was a detected tendency that somehow inflicts change analysts to disregard planning and risk analysis. I found this in a customer that relies heavily on a subcontracted service provider for most of its service management activities.

As with all that has real value, it takes work and real thinking. A checklist can be helpful as a kickstarter.

People

  • Does it need specific people in my organization?
  • Does it need specific expertise not available in my organization?
  • Is there a clear potential affected user list?
  • What training for end users will be needed?
  • What training for operational and administration level is required?
  • Does it need multiple teams effort?

Technology

  • Will it need specific resources (not people)?
  • Does it include technology never used within our organization?
  • Does it need additional testing, staging environments?
  • Does it need specific licensing?

Process

  • Is it dependent on other changes?
  • What is the scope of the change? Does it affect only one component or several?
  • Is it possible to fully test the change?
  • Is there a work-around available should things go wrong? If so does it need specific preparation and resources?

Business

  • Do we know what benefits it will bring?
  • Does it have a clear business deadline?
  • How critical are the affected services?
  • What is the duration and scope of possible service disruption? Can the change be deployed within a scheduled maintenance window for services affected?
  • Are there any special circumstances regarding this change?

I am working on testing this set (or a smaller one) on a customer.

Interested in how much meaningful analysis can really be performed early on a change life cycle and what the payoff will be.

Business Service Orchestration

March 18, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leonabuco/3150899866/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Maestrina, by Leo Nabuco @ Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

This paper shared by Jan is good read on service catalog and how one should look at it. For starters we should look from the point of view of the ones using it.

End users and business managers (customers) see and expect different – even if related – outcomes from IT services. As referenced in the paper, Joe Peppard distinguishes two types of value of IT services:

User utility – Which is defined as the benefit a user or community of users attaches to a particular service, based on the usefulness of the service to them in the performance of their jobs.

Organizational benefit – Which is based on the extent to which the service supports the organization in achieving its business objectives.

(more…)

What is the problem with problem management?

January 13, 2012

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes”, Henri J. Kaiser

Problem solving is a very human specific capability that can be honed as time elapses. Most of us are great solvers yet have difficulties isolating what really is the problem. Lets look at the root cause for this and how organizations take it.

Roots by Eva the Weaver at Flickr - Some rights reserved

Roots by Eva the Weaver at Flickr - Some rights reserved

More context for problem management is in order. On Rob England’s Review of recent ITIL studies paper, one of the studies analysed gives this quantitative information:

“problem management – a process that requires organizational maturity and commitment – is the ITIL process most firms are currently [2010] implementing (24%) or planning to implement (24%). Furthermore, 43% currently follow ITIL problem management processes, reflecting a 91% adoption/soon-to-be-adopted rate among those surveyed.”

(more…)

ISO 20000: A strange case of new or changed services

December 11, 2009

20000 squid Nautilus viewbay from Jules Verne masterpiece "20000 Lieues Sous les Mers" at Commons Wikimedia

20000 squid Nautilus viewbay from Jules Verne masterpiece "20000 Lieues Sous les Mers" at Commons Wikimedia

Back to governance and ISO 20000, a rather different one from the previous Service Management System examples can be found within 5 Planning and implementing new or changed services.

This section marshals top management in to play regarding decision on significant changes to existing services or new ones (the last one truly is strategic thus should not be handled like other Changes are).

The idea behind this higher level process is to address a recurrent issue: the adequate handover of in-house development projects final product to the “other side”, the service management domain.

Although project deliverables are usually formally accepted, their introduction into live environment not always follows a similar clear approval path and neither development management or service management are independent advocates on this.

By making new service approval go through this steps, top management becomes an active decision maker. And service management will know about new services of big service changes way sooner.

Here I think ISO 20000 favors [using Peterson’s approach to governance] a combination of processes, relational mechanisms (promoting collaboration between conflicting departments)  and IT structures (like IT project steering committees and IT strategy committees for communication and participation of all interested parties) that lead to a particular governance model.

Interesting example on how IT structures  can tie to processes at various levels (strategical/tactical/operational).

Have the ITIL elephant in small portions

December 8, 2009

One way to do it for a given process is to group its setup and maintenance activities like this:

Startup – Here you can put process description including roles. Don’t go too far – you want people to understand it. Most processes have one or two key well-defined deliverables that can signal the initiative and make it easier both sharing and get momentum for next phase. Here you concentrate on documenting (proof of intention).

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State of the Art of ITIL… It’s the people!

November 26, 2009

Ponte Vecchio - Crowd, by Tom Stardust at Flickr - some rights reserved

According to Hornbill’s study report written by Mauricio Marrone (published September of 2009), the main barriers to ITIL adoption are (barrier with most responses at the top): 

  1. Lack of resources ([people] time or people)
  2. Cultural resistance to organizational change
  3. Maintaining momentum/progress stagnates

These barriers depend on that fundamental little element on organizations: People. Whence, IT management and IT Governance must align execution and responsibility with envolved people to make sure producing relevant outcomes on time does happen. (more…)

Effective Decision – Magic?

June 8, 2009

Conferring after the call - por Jean-François Chénier, Some Rights Reserved - Attribution, Non-commercial

Conferring after the call -by Jean-François Chénier, Some Rights Reserved - Attribution, Non-commercial

Steve Romero, wrote a comment over a podcasted interview on IT projects and initiatives failure, defending how three orchestrated disciplines can address the core People issue:

  • Governance: Making sure the right people are accountable for addressing critical decisions
  • Process management: The decision process is feasible and doable
  • Organizational change management: Assuring people become comfortable and make their own the organization government processes, support business processes and human behaviour changes in order to make the most of technological solutions

Regarding the latter, Organizational change management, I call magic to the moment during a project when people adopt the subsequent change.

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