Foundation for Success
A lot has been said about how the ITIL guidelines are applicable and adaptable to any service based industry not just IT. When Megan Pendlebury (Head of Service Management at itSMF UK) offered me the chance to prove it...how could I resist? The itSMF UK full time staff are obviously employed for their ability to run events, administer membership, publish books, market services and so on. Could ITIL guidelines be applicable to them in a pure service environment?
Megan set the objectives for the event:
- Nine people to sit the ITIL v3 Foundation
- Only 1 staff member had a IT Background
- They need to have a better understanding of what our members do
- It needs to be relevant to the services we deliver
- Can you do the 3 days over 3 weeks?
- Will you do it for FREE?
I agreed. Now I'd had experience of a course over separate weeks before for an NHS client in North West England so that wasn't a big deal. Little or no IT background...a little trickier but needs must and I'd managed a course for Transport for London some years ago where all the examples needed to relate to the arrival screens at London bus stops! I had experience of the bizarre. Relevant to itSMF UK services...conference, events, membership...in fact the services offered from Wokingham lend themselves quite well to the situation. Free!! The chance to get to know the staff a little better...I could do that. A phone call or two and Wardown Consulting Ltd provided the courseware and as an existing lecturer just added me to their team. One extra condition was that I needed to add Seimone Manuel from Wardown to the course. What was Seimone's background? Non-IT naturally...no problem.
On February 17th I launched into "Service Management as a Practice". I don't know who was more fearful me or the class. As Day One wore on it actually became quite easy to take the principles of ITIL and mould them around itSMF UK delivery. "I can relate a lot of the Strategy principles to the business degree I'm working on" commented Seimone. "Relating Service Strategy to decisions made by our Management Board really helped us to understand" was the over-riding feeling of the full timers from Wokingham.
Day Two was set for February 22nd . Despite the break, recall during the revision session was pretty good and the "Services provide VALUE" mantra was etched indelibly on peoples' souls. Regular injections of coffee helped us through the bewildering array of acronyms...now the CMDB is part of the CMS which in turn feeds the SKMS and that relates to decision making and DIKW!!!" Editor's note: Anybody who doesn't know what they mean is reading the wrong publication!
A mock exam was given for homework and I set expectations about the score. "Over 18 and we can get you there" I said in a confident manner.
I returned to Wokingham on 3rd March to discover mock scores ranging from high teens to low 30's. Plenty to work on and not actually a lot different from a regular class despite the split course timetable and lack of IT background. In a lively session on Continual Service Improvement we used our own conference as a classic example of how to use Plan, Do, Check, Act. Katie Murphy, Events and Marketing Manager at itSMF, gave super examples helping the whole group relate to the concepts of continual improvement. After lunch, the second mock of the course came and went with tensions mounting as we approached the real exam. APMG had sent an exam 'spot checker' just to add to the fun and ratchet up the pressure a notch. I took off my lecturer's hat and put on the Chairman's one to reassure everybody that the interest and enthusiasm shown during the event completely justified the decision to run it. Passing was a bonus.
The outcome...? Nine out of ten hit at least the required 65% with just one mark separating us from a full house of passes. From my perspective, I must have delivered nearly 200 foundation courses in the last 10 years. None has given me greater satisfaction in terms of the outcome. What did the others think?
Course sponsor Megan commented, "The main reason for organising this training course was to help our staff to understand what our customers do to enable us to improve the services that we provide to them. At the end of this exercise not only has this been achieved but also the added benefit of everyone working with our Chairman for the three days has built relationships which probably would never have been forged otherwise. A hugely beneficial exercise which everyone involved enjoyed."
Chris Roberts, Member Services Manager, added "This was a well run course which helped staff with minimal knowledge about the Service Management processes, fully understand the difference between an Incident and a Problem for example. With my work with both Special Interest Group and Regional Chairs this has helped backup my own direct IT experience, in Networks and Operations, from the 1990s, as well as more recent Business Relationship Management roles"
So is ITIL relevant outside of the IT environment? We'll leave the last word to Keith Aldis, CEO of itSMF UK "Absolutely! My people are not necessarily carrying out the activity of IT Service Management but they are delivering a service to the members. Service Management is what working with people is all about".