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Reducing the miles, reducing the distance

Posted By Matt Hoey, 20 July 2015

The University of Nottingham may not sound like the most likely place for the meeting of the itSMF UK’s Service Transition and Improvement SIG to talk about managing transition projects across the miles.  Perceptions can be misleading. With campuses not only in Nottingham, but on the other side of the world in Malaysia and China, 600 members of staff and students from 70 different countries it was in fact the perfect place to discuss ‘reducing the miles, reducing the distance’ in transition projects.


Once we’d recovered from the excitement of finding out the campus building we were in was once the old Carlton TV studios where such ITV classics as Catchphrase, Family Fortunes and The Price is Right were filmed, it was time to come on down for the main business of the day.


The day, superbly organised and hosted by Jon Morley from the University of Nottingham and also SIG vice chair, followed the typical interactive format for our meetings where we heard from a speaker and then rolled up our sleeves and worked together exploring the topic further.


We heard first from Phil Green, Service Management Specialist at GE Capital on thinking global and acting local with process and tools.  Richard Josey, ITSM Solution Architect at Unisys, took us through the topic of people and culture.  The day was finished off exploring maturity and improvement with Sue Cater, Service Acceptance Process Expert at Atos and SIG member.


The day was very different from typical ITSM meetups.  There wasn’t a single process flow seen all day!  It was all about the skills, concepts and approaches that don’t always appear in the best practice books… how people think, consideration of local cultures (both within different parts of the UK and worldwide), building trust and persuading people to do what you want them to do when there are physical constraints such as distance involved.


ITIL did of course get several mentions throughout the day, most notably as a useful vehicle for establishing common language and terminology across different cultures and locations.  This can aid breaking down the barriers as conversations about an ‘incident’ can therefore be conducted with the two parties talking about the same thing.  It did come with a health warning though… not to rely on translation engines to translate phrases for you.  Phil gave us a great example of a misdemeanour that arose when using translation engines from English to Japanese.  The reverse English translation was something completely different!


We explored the situations where locations or remote units came up with the common phrase of “that won’t work for us, we’re unique” or simply don’t do the process.  The importance of understanding the local culture, local regulatory requirements, accommodating nuances and managing the change, not simply treating it as some tasks on a project plan, and how using tools such as the “Purpose, Picture, Plan and Part” model could help with the successful adoption of best practice in transition. 


Building trust was a major part of the discussions.  We explored who we trust in our businesses and why that was.  Richard presented a formula for building trust and stressed the fact, whilst respect comes from rank we need to earn trust.  Trust is built through being reliable and credible over too much self-orientation.  In the break out groups the attendees came up with some great ways to try and build trust from making the effort to physically attend, ensuring we aren’t driven by perceptions of the world and understanding where you are and who your audience is.


Sue stressed the importance of engaging with those involved in transition to get feedback and make improvements.  Whilst things may look right on paper are they being used?  What are people saying about them?  Sue took us through how she improved Atos’ service acceptance and the workshops explored how we can use tools such as surveys, sandboxes and social media to help drive improvement over the miles.


All in all, an enjoyable day full of lively debate and discussion and our thanks go to the University of Nottingham for hosting us and our three great speakers.


The slides from the presentation and output from the break-out sessions from the day are available in the Service Transition and Improvement discussion forum (available to logged-in ITSMF UK members).  You can also see the activity from the day on Twitter by searching on the hash tag #reducedistance.


Whether you’d be keen to get involved with the SIG, come along to an event or simply learn more about the SIG we’d love to hear from you.


Matt Hoey

Service Transition and Improvement SIG chair

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