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There's a Shift Needed in ITSM

Posted By Paul Wilkinson, 28 November 2017

This is the most exciting time EVER to be in IT….but are we up to IT!?’ was the theme of my session at the annual itSMF UK conference - ITSM17 – last week, in a very grey and wet Manchester. The weather reflecting the mood in my session title. However, although the sun didn’t break through in the Manchester weather, it did break through in the conference. There was a real buzz and I felt a positive shift in attitudes, awareness, and focus. There was more content around an increased desire to shift IT from being a service provider to a strategic partner, and a desire to shift from process outputs to business outcomes. In fact, the twitter cloud tag revealed that ‘Business’ was the most tweeted word!



This buzz was specifically evident on day two of the conference with the announcement of the new VeriSM approach and the update to ITIL. Both of these initiatives aimed at shifting the focus from frameworks to value and outcomes, and as Claire Agutter mentioned in her VeriSM announcement ‘It is time for IT to take the lead’.  This also mirrored the mood shift I wanted to create ‘No more victim, poor us, the business doesn’t understand us’ to taking a more pro-active lead.


In my session I quoted Brian Johnson ‘IT is too important to be left to IT’ but I went on to add, ‘But the business isn’t mature enough either’! Here is a link to my pre-conference article explaining the background to my statements. Business and IT have a rocky relationship. Digital Transformation is the latest industry buzzword, which is a reason that ‘Business and IT-Alignment’ is once again a C-level concern. Yet it appears that neither IT nor the business is mature or capable enough to capitalise on this. However, this growing strategic role for IT means we can no longer afford to fail, which is why a marriage guidance counsellor is needed to heal the relationship and give both parties a roadmap for moving forward. 

Who needs to play this marriage guidance counsellor role? Back to what Claire said ‘It is time for IT to take the lead’. Enter the business relationship management (brm) role and capability.


I was honored to have been asked by itSMF UK to participate in the Conference Analysis Team (aka CAT team), to visit a number of sessions and to take notes. There were indeed some cool CATS in the team, I represented one of the Dinosaurs. This short article sums up some of my observations and feeling for optimism.

IT and Business Behaviour

The first session I attended was ‘Behaviour and Relationships in Professional Service Management’ facilitated by Mark Smalley. The session focused on the shift of behaviour required from both the business and IT. ‘Behaviour is the weakest link in realising business value’. Some key behaviours being:

IT needs to: 

Understand the business and IT’s impact (which is the same as our top scoring Attitude, Behavior, Culture (ABC) card, worldwide from more than 4000 organisations).
Engage with the business and follow shared goal(s)
Talk benefits costs risks not technology
Suggest innovation (to solve business problems, not sell new technology)

The business needs to:

Articulate strategy and needs clearly, and keep IT updated
Determine risk appetite and priorities, and take decisions (which is the same as our number three ABC card – everything has the highest priority according to the business)
Engage and participate with IT
Invest in digital skills
 
‘Trust’ and the ‘co-creation of value’ were stressed by Mark. We won’t get the trust so long as these behaviours persist, and without the trust we won’t be seen as a strategic partner – helping the business ‘co-create’. But these behaviours have been around for the last 20 years or more! These represent deep routed cultural challenges between business and IT. Another top scoring ABC card is ‘The them and us culture’! (These are the top scores from Mark’s workshops so far).
 
All of this supports my call for BRM as a CORE capability to tackle these relationship issues. Which perhaps is why this is a fast growing best practice.
 

The Role of BRM

The next session I attended was ‘Getting a seat at the Decision Making table’ with Jon Baxter which stressed the need for becoming a strategic partner using BRM capabilities. Jon explained that his first BRM role was like ‘Triage in an A&E’ unit. Fielding complaints from the business, IT, and suppliers. Jon hit the nail on the head for me stating ‘Application is what counts’ which Roy Atkinson echoed in his closing keynote – it doesn’t matter which framework or practice we adopt ‘It doesn’t work if it is not applied’. Which I also covered as an issue in my session ‘the need to translate theory into practice’ is something we are poor at, and then we blame the best practice!

Jon stressed that our first goal must be to ‘build credibility’ and at the same time ‘leverage credibility’ to become a trusted advisor and ultimately a strategic partner. This built upon Mark’s story. The need for ‘trust’, trust coming from credibility. Start with relationship management and value management capabilities urged Jon.

Alignment vs Convergence?

My third attended session was ‘IT-‘Alignment’ – It doesn’t work’ by Simon Kent. I often get accused of being hyper active and leaping around the stage. In comparison to Simon I look like I’m on sedatives. Simon gave a passionate plea for dropping ‘alignment’ which has been around for 40 years! And obviously isn’t working! He said we should shift the ambition to ‘convergence’. 

One of Simon’s suggestions was then picked up and referred to in a number of sessions. ‘Stop using the words ‘the business’ – we ARE the business!’ He called for dropping the ‘service provider - alignment mentality’ of being an order taker and follower to becoming a strategic business partner helping lead and shape business strategy and demand. Nice ambitions! But let’s not start trying to run before we can walk.
 
In my session I countered part of Simon’s plea for convergence. I totally agree with this as an ambition. However, I revealed some current issues which show the need for alignment in certain areas before we can start talking about ‘convergence’ and being a ‘strategic partner’.

I showed a dictionary definition of Alignment: ‘Change something so that it has a correct relationship to something else’. We certainly don’t have the correct relationship at the moment!

As Mark and Jon had already explained. ‘Trust’ and ‘credibility’ are barriers to becoming a strategic partner. Here are some key trends and challenges from a series of global simulation workshops which clearly reveal that IT service management (ITSM) capabilities are a barrier! Jon revealed in his study that the majority of organisations are still either a service provider or still struggling to deliver on the service provider promises. I revealed in my session that 70% of IT investments don’t deliver business value – billions are lost every year because of downtime. Communication between IT and non-IT is in a state of crises. There is talk of a chasm. This is not the basis for ‘convergence’. But it isn’t just IT that needs to up its game. An Isaca study revealed ‘More business involvement in the Governance of Enterprise IT (GEIT) is required’ and highlighting a low maturity score on benefits realisation’. Jon’s survey also revealed that ‘‘Value management is unfortunately the least skilled competency in the IT business partner domain’. Here is also another article explaining the ‘Value’ challenge.
 
It is my opinion, that until we can align our ‘language’, align our understanding of goals and ambitions, align our behaviours and thinking, we will not be able to converge. Both business and IT will need to change. Here is an example of the language challenges we in IT must overcome.
 

Key Findings

In the panel session led by the CAT team, we gave back some of the key topics and findings from all of the sessions. I won’t go into those here. I will however say that one delegate challenged the panel, in fact in my mind he challenged itSMF UK, AXELOS and all of the ITSM framework owners ‘How to get a session at a business conference or with a business team to convince them of the value of ITSM….because they don’t care about it. They’re not interested’. Here is one example from my own experience, not at a business conference, but to the board of Directors for gaining commitment to ITSM AND for changing business behaviours. 

In the panel we asked ‘how many people have gained some concrete takeaways they can use’? Then ‘How many will ACTUALLY go back and use them’? We also challenged the people who put their hands up to nominate themselves for a speaking slot at #ITSM18 to come and explain what they did to help shift ITSM to the strategic partner role we’re all looking for.  
 
James Finister in one of his his panel statements said ‘If you only take one thing away from #ITSM17: go back to the office and start challenging what you do, just because you've always done it doesn't mean it's still providing value’.
 
Finally, Roy Atkinson closed the conference with his keynote and added a slide from one of my 2017 sessions. ‘The fact that business and IT-alignment has been a top issue for 15 years clearly shows that current approaches to closing the gap are not working’. 

I am curious to see how many people will use the takeaways and how many will come back and present next year. Me being a #Gromit ‘Grumpy Old Man in IT’ I’m cynical. One of the top scoring ABC cards chosen in world-wide workshops = ‘Not my responsibility’.

 
 

 

 
 

 


 

 

 

 
 

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SIAM: the good, the bad … the obligatory and the virtuous

Posted By Conor Mckenna, 15 November 2017


This is a guest post, contributed by Michelle Major-Goldsmith, Manager, Service Management Capability at Kinetic IT; and Simon Dorst, Manager, Service Management Service, Kinetic IT

In the last few years, service integration and management (SIAM) has become ‘the new black’, high on the hype-curve. Despite the publication of white papers, blogs, and twitter hashtag feeds, providing various flavours of commentary and opinion, until recently there’s been no formalisation of the term SIAM, nor a standardised methodology. As such, practitioners were left lacking when looking for answers to the questions of what is SIAM? and ‘can it help manage complex IT environments?.

In order to try to bring commonality of purpose, we joined a collective of IT consultants, trainers, and practitioners (now known as the ‘the SIAM Founder Member Architect Group) who embarked upon creating a foundational Body of Knowledge (BoK).

As we’re on the verge of revealing the next step, the SIAM Professional BoK, this is an opportune time to provide you with an insight of the good, the bad … and other traits of SIAM.

A brief history of time – or at least of SIAM

The term service integration and management or SIAM, and the concept of SIAM as a management methodology originated in around 2005 from within the UK public sector. In 2010, the UK Government published a new information and communications technology (ICT) strategy, which included moving away from large prime supplier contracts to a more flexible approach using multiple service providers and cloud-based solutions.

SIAM interest became global when in 2015 AXELOS published several white papers on SIAM, and in 2016 the SIAM Foundation Architect Group was formed by Scopism. The objective was to bring the giants of the SIAM world together and create a consolidated view of their knowledge and experience. This culminated at last year’s itSMF UK conference with the release of the Foundation Body of Knowledge, providing common terminology, a standardised description, and practical guidance (as well as winning the Thought Leaders of the Year award from itSMF UK).

When writing the SIAM Foundation Body of Knowledge, we came across some great material, too much and perhaps too practical to put into the Foundation BoK. So, this year we continued by writing a Professional-level Body of Knowledge. We expanded our team to more than 40 global practitioners to make sure the new BoK would reflect current practices, but also pitfalls and successes.

In this BoK we take the theory of the Foundation BoK and put it into the reality of the roadmap that we’re all on, and which is also the basis for our presentation at the upcoming itSMF UK event (ITSM17). The SIAM Professional BoK will provide more in-depth guidance, accompanied by examples of how to, or how not to, apply this into practice.

But we also want to make sure that SIAM is considered as part of modern-day ITSM, as is the undeniable reality of having to deal with multiple suppliers. We’re hoping that SIAM can step outside of the IT arena, and play its part in Enterprise Service Management (ESM), managing business services across multiple domains and providers (although this may need an additional integration layer).

So, what is SIAM?

Simply put, it’s in the name: service integration and management, and in particular service integration across multiple providers. The management of multiple service providers by a single organisation provides significant challenges in overall administration. SIAM seeks to address the need to provide a standardised methodology for integrating and managing multiple service providers and their services. It enhances the delivery of the end to end supply chain, it provides governance, management, integration, assurance, and coordination to maximise the value received from multiple service providers.

SIAM is not just a methodology for the management of services by a single organisation or governing body. It supports cross-functional, cross-process and cross-provider integration, in a complex sourcing environment or ecosystem in which all parties understand their role and responsibilities, are empowered to deliver, and are held accountable for their outcomes. As such it’s more than a rigid contractual performance structure, but an organisational change that includes collaboration, and end-to-end focus into the core of every stakeholder involved.

More tangible than this collaborative, end-to-end culture (as important as it is!) is the structural and functional organisation that SIAM provides to a multi-provider environment. The SIAM model provides a single logical entity with accountability for the end to end service delivery, known as the service integrator. The customer organisation has a single management relationship with the service integrator, and the service integrator manages the relationships with the multiple service providers supporting the organisation.

The definition of this structure also allows for a clearer definition of a process model (tooling strategy, and governance, reporting, and performance framework) and then the allocation of mandated or directive practices. So, whilst in some case the service providers may have to use the same practice (for instance ITIL), in most cases they can use their own preferred one (for instance Agile), as long as the interactions between the providers and with the service integrator meets the predefined outcomes (i.e. the WHAT and not the HOW).

That’s the good, now the bad …

Like many practices there are some wild stories out there regarding SIAM. In fact, that was part of the reason why we got into writing blogs, white papers, and then the Foundation Body of Knowledge, and now the Professional BoK. We want to present SIAM as a coherent framework, to make sure that people understand what it is and how it can help them.

So, SIAM is NOT …

  • The former name of Thailand … well it is, but not for our purposes ;-)
  • A silver bullet – it will not solve all your issues (you know … the ones you’ve been trying for decades to have ITIL resolve, and then you thought DevOps would take care of them, and now you’re looking for the next best thing…)
  • A replacement of ITIL either. Whilst there are similarities and overlaps to the basic principles of both (but then again, that would be the case for most service management practices), SIAM is not meant to take over where ITIL left off. But neither do you need to choose between ITIL or SIAM (or any other practice for that matter). SIAM is unique in offering a structure, culture, principles, and practices for managing a multi-service provider environment, which then allow the use of your framework-of-choice!
  • A fad, something those consultants came up to sell some books, training and consultancy … wait a few years and they’ll be singing a new song! SIAM has actually been around for more than 10 years and there is already a treasure trove of tried-and-tested SIAM practices out there. The need to build an agile ecosystem of multiple service providers and utilise best-of-breed, collaboration, and coordination is not going anywhere!

The SIAM Roadmap

The basis of our presentation at ITSM17 is centred around the SIAM Roadmap, which has four iterative stages:

  •   Discovery & Strategy
  •   Plan & Build
  •   Implement
  •   Run & Improve

A keen observer will notice how these stages are aligned to the ITIL Service Lifecycle and many other lifecycle models, which is of course not by coincidence as those models are tried and tested, plus it allows for an easier alignment with those practices.

Find out more at ITSM17

If you’re attending the event then hopefully you’re able to join us for our sessionSIAM - The Good, the Bad, the Obligatory, and the Virtuous’ (20th November at 11.30am) where we’ll expand on this, and the roadmap, by providing some best and not so good practices. We’ll be presenting together with Claire Agutter from Scopism

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Why Key Risk Indicators Trump KPIs for Problem Management

Posted By Peter Norris, 08 November 2017

When conversations turn to measurements, key process indicators (KPIs) always get raised as a mandatory requirement for anyone running a process. KPIs really are a “must have” if you want to see how your process is performing, and to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and compliance to it. 

But what are the real goals of any process, and can KPIs help us ensure that we achieve these goals? Well, yes they can – however, in the case of problem management, the key measure for our senior management at Nationwide is not how many problem cases are open, how many root causes are yet to be uncovered, or the percentage of incidents associated to a problem record. What most concerns them is whether a priority 1 (P1) incident has a real likelihood of recurring. 

Identifying and Managing Risks

So for us, at the highest level, key risk indicators (KRIs) are more important than KPIs. Our KRIs give our senior management a snapshot of our exposure to being headline news. And then having to respond to additional information requests from regulators in addition to our staff being unable to help our members in a branch, and to our members being unable to open a new mortgage or pay a bill.

Our Problem Management Journey

At the start of our problem management journey we had simple KPIs to track our process. Knowing that we generally did not complete actions agreed at the post implementation review as quickly as we should, we focussed on how long it took people to complete their tasks.

However, as it became clear that our senior business stakeholders viewed each unaddressed P1 incident as a risk to service, we knew that we needed to really focus on the actual risk to IT services. 

To address this we introduced very simple KRIs (for example, volume of P1 incidents where root cause is not found and volume of P1 incidents where all activities have not been completed). In fact, they weren’t really indicators of actual risk but, as our process was immature, they gave us a basic indication of exposure to recurring P1 incidents.

Then, as the process has matured, and we really started to understand where we needed to focus our resources (“I need to know you’re addressing the things that keep me up at night” is a statement from the Head of IT Service Delivery that we keep reminding ourselves of), those two KRIs became KPIs, and two new KRIs came to the fore – the volume of P1 incidents with a material risk of recurrence and the volume of critical problem tasks outstanding. 

Reporting KRIs and KPIs

These simple KRIs now get the headlines at our regular forums and on balanced scorecards – whilst KPIs help us internally ensure that the process is moving as quickly and efficiently as possible, these two KRIs are the first measures we cover when we’re talking to any senior stakeholder about the problem management process. 

Because they’re ultimately concerned about a P1 incident happening again, rather than whether we’ve reached the “green” threshold on any particular KPI report.

Want to Know More?

If you’d like to know more about reporting KRIs and KPIs then please join me at the upcoming itSMF UK conference (ITSM17) in November, where I’ll be presenting with my colleague Ian Porter on “Solving your Customers Problems at the PUB”.

We’ll be discussing the overhaul of our problem management process and how focusing on our internal and external customers helped us to: focus on what was materially important; change perception of the process as quickly as possible; use scarce resources most effectively; ensure our stakeholders were aware of the investigation progress (and its achievements); implement measures to ensure progress was made; and ensure senior management didn’t lose sight of exposure to recurring incidents.

It will be a very practical session covering our service management journey, mistakes we’ve made, things we’ve learned, what’s worked well, and how you can use these learnings to kick start or improve your own problem management process. I hope to see you there.

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Has the core concern of ITSM changed in 20 years?

Posted By Ivor Macfarlane, 01 November 2017

Do I need to tell you again? That was a favourite phrase of my mother’s and a sure clue I had forgotten to do something, usually something she’d already told me about more than once. It meant I was in some degree of trouble.

Now – in a professional capacity – I find myself asking, rhetorically at least – that same question. I’ve been presenting at itSMF events for some time now, since the Brighton conference in 1993, and I reckon I have clocked up 84 annual conferences in 28 countries. Take out some of the really boring ones about ITIL itself, especially what V3 will and did contain, and most of the rest shared a common theme: “you need to understand the people you are doing all this IT service management (ITSM) for – your customers”.

After 20+ years banging on about this, you might think I should shut up – even I think that maybe I should shut up. But instead, at the upcoming itSMF UK conference (ITSM17) in Manchester in a few weeks I’ll be at it again. Maybe for the last time, but that seemed a good reason for a small retrospective.

We all see the same world, but in different ways 

The real reason for looking back though is that too many organisations still haven’t ‘got it’. In the best tradition of the BBC therefore, my purportedly new talk will contain a few healthy chunks of repeats. Specifically, I plan to re-run elements from talks I delivered for itSMF: UK, US, and others, in 2004 and 2009. The main theme is “Understanding the Business Perspective” – that was the 2004 title, and it uses iced buns, childlike perceptions, dolphins, and washing machines to make a point; along with quotes from great literature (Thomas the Tank Engine) and the wisdom of John Lennon.

It won’t be all doom, gloom, and the cynical rantings of old age though, (some of course, but not all). I think there’s been real progress in the 15 years since I first wrote and delivered the content. We’ve seen business relationship management (BRM) become high profile and for many it’s now a must-have concept within their organisation. What we don’t universally see yet though is how BRM can be a universal bottleneck to every aspect of successful ITSM if it isn’t done effectively. 

BRM: the new bottleneck?

When I deliver ITIL Foundation courses I lose track of the number of times we say “And of course if BRM isn’t working properly, you’ll not be able to get this right, because you won’t know what you’re aiming at”. I guess the flow we need goes something like this:

· We need to understand our customers and relate to their desires and concerns. For that we need to talk their language, share their concerns, and empathise with their attitudes

· That knowledge has to be translated into terms our service provider folk can understand. In terms of what success would look like – when it’s ‘done’ to borrow some Agile terminology

· Then we have to actually do it.

Without those first two steps though, we often have no alternative but to fall back on to the traditional IT behaviour: we put all our efforts into getting better at what we’re doing now. That enthusiasm and determination to improve is good, positive stuff. But if we can combine that with some understanding of how our customers think and what they actually need … well then we can start actually being useful. 

And shouldn’t we always have been useful?

And that’s the other talk I will be sampling, as delivered to itSMF UK and USA in 2009: “Is your service management useful?”

When I wrote that ’useful’ talk and started delivering, there was no question that the answer was always going to be ‘Not really’. Has that changed? Are we now working as part of the business, attuned to their needs and desires? Or have many CIOs fallen back on protecting their empire and gone for keeping the IT unit at arms’ length rather than feeling part of the bigger organisation with one set of shared metrics? Maybe there’s one test to help you answer that question:

If your customers and users start using their own software (spreadsheets and the like) to do critical business work, do you shout ‘Shadow IT’ and complain? Or do you realise that they are doing it because they need more than you are providing, and then go sit don with them and work out what they need and how you can help them?, If you just see it as Shadow IT, I think you are missing the point I’ve been trying to make for 20 years.

Personally, I think there’s still enough mileage on those old ideas to warrant bringing them out for another run in Manchester. Fancy a trip backwards in ITSM to look forwards? I hope you’ll join me at ITSM17.

 

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All go in ITSM...

Posted By Mark Lillycrop, 01 November 2017

by Barclay Rae, CEO, itSMF UK

It’s certainly all go in the ITSM world right now – with the major conference season upon us. New ideas, models and publications, plus a healthy dose of classic themes and events. We have seen the announcement of a new framework for Service Management, plus some new events for 2018. We have FUSION this week in Florida and ITSM17 later this month in Manchester to look forward to, where we can debate all of this as an industry.

I attended the recent NOW FORUM event in London recently – this is a free event run by Service Now to update its customers and the industry on new product and corporate developments. There is also a flourishing partner exhibition which is a great networking opportunity. I was pleased to hear some positive references to traditional ITSM terms such as ‘Customers’ and ‘Services’ in the keynote sessions, and a good focus on practical solutions.  

We have also seen the announcement of a new ITSM framework – VeriSM  (check out the details, including an excellent introductory video, at www.verism.global). This has been produced via the same approach and team that brought together the recent SIAM Foundation BoK and Training programme, which received good industry feedback. On the basis of this, the output from the new VeriSM product should be of a good standard. We are pleased to see competition and new ideas being promoted in the marketplace and look forward to commenting further on this once more details are made available.  

It’s FUSION time – I will be presenting with our Chair, Rosemary Gurney at the itSMF USA / HDI joint conference this week. The topic will be Service Management professionalism and we will discuss the need to develop a wider and more holistic view of how we view, recruit and reward our ITSM practitioners. We have gained valuable insights through developing the PSMF framework and look forward to the session and sharing our approach.  

This year is the last FUSION joint event and we also saw the announcement last week of a new ITSM conference in the US run by HDI. We also await news on the next itSMF USA conference in 2018. At the same time we are planning out our whole schedule of events and activities for 2018 – this will be available shortly and we look forward to the reaction to this and to our new website, which will be launching very shortly.

No doubt there will be further industry announcements and discussions forthcoming at both FUSION and ITSM17. At our conference we will be playing back practical feedback from all delegates in real time, to keep the discussions flowing.

There’s lots to discuss and I look forward to seeing you at one or other event soon!  

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