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This blog, written by itSMF UK leaders and guest contributors, offers service management thought leadership and discussion of industry trends. Please feel free to comment on these posts (you will need to be logged into the website as a member). We look forward to hearing from you.

 

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Supercharge your support teams – reward and recognition that really works!

Posted By Sally Bogg, 25 October 2017

 

At the upcoming itSMF UK conference (ITSM17) this year, I’ll be presenting on how you can use reward and recognition to motivate your support staff and build strong, customer-focused teams. Studies have shown that there is a huge difference in the performance of motivated and non-motivated staff, and as such it’s highly important to invest time and effort in the people that are responsible for service delivery. People that feel valued and appreciated are better able to deliver excellent customer service and it makes sense that happy people give great and/or better service, so if you want to improve your customer experience then you should start off with employee experience.

Sounds easy doesn’t it?

The reality is that this can be quite a difficult thing to do – most people are simply not motivated by money alone, but want to be able to feel that they’re making a difference, after all nobody deliberately comes to work to do a bad job. So if you want to supercharge your support teams here are my top tips for successful reward and recognition:

  • Make sure that your teams have a strong sense of direction and purpose – help them understand their fit in your organisation, and how the work they do supports the overall organisation.
  • Invest in professional and personal development – it can be a great motivator for people, so develop a culture and working environment that gives people the opportunity to learn new skills and improve their knowledge, and invest in staff training and development. 
  • Collect customer feedback – using customer feedback and customer compliments can also be a great way of recognising excellent customer service. Make sure that you take the time to share customer feedback with key stakeholders including the senior management team.
  • Arrange “team time” – a team is not just a group of people that work together but also a group of people that respect, trust, and care for each other. Make sure your teams get the opportunity to spend time away together; regular team meetings are essential, and you might also want to consider team building events and away days.
  • Recognition – this is an essential ingredient in ensuring that people feel valued and motivated. Make sure you take the time to recognise good work and celebrate success. 

My experience is that different people are motivated by different things so it is important to use a wide variety of reward and recognition initiatives, enabling you to demonstrate the value that you place on the staff involved in service delivery. 

So when should we reward people?

Sometimes, this can be the most difficult part of a reward and recognition strategy. Should we only reward people when they go above and beyond what is required of them and when they have put in the extra effort to get the job done? That might sound like a good idea, but what about the people who go about their jobs diligently and deliver excellent service every day? Should we not reward them too? Simple answer – reward the behavior you want to see more of! Recognition should be always be timely. When there is a reason for praising someone don't put it off! Promptness equals effectiveness. Praise people when the achievement is fresh on everyone's mind, and don’t be shy about it, simple thank you emails are nice, but don’t necessarily have a big impact – it’s much better to deliver recognition face to face with a big smile and a warm handshake.

The Results

My approach to reward and recognition has enabled me to create team cultures where there is a real sense of fun and joy, and joyful people do remarkable work. But it’s worth remembering that once you’ve created this culture it will need to be cultivated and nurtured. This isn't a one off piece of work but an ongoing and continual process.

Service improvement is not just about processes, procedures, tools, and technologies! It starts with the people! A good service needs good people and a strong team. If you focus on improving employee experience the result will be an improved customer experience, and so as a result you should create teams that can stand tall and be proud of the service that they deliver.

You can find out more about this at my upcoming session at ITSM17. I’m really looking forward to presenting, it’s my first time at this event and I’m excited to not just be attending and learning, but also to be contributing.

 

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You are Antifragility - not a Weeble

Posted By Andrew Vermes, 18 October 2017

Stuff happens: An important upgrade goes wrong, causing a two hour outage. It turns out that the preparatory checks weren’t all completed before the upgrade. Note to self..

We’re all pretty good learning machines, and have a certain amount of ability to bounce back. Sometimes, though, we turn ourselves into Weebles*

In an attempt to bring some order to sometimes chaotic IT environments, we surround ourselves with process: change management, incident management, release management.

All of these have the same purposes: to avoid mistakes or to return the system to equilibrium; and they can all have the same problem: as we weigh ourselves down, it gets harder and harder to learn and adapt to new circumstances. At a certain point the process stops being an aid to effectiveness, and starts to become our enemy….

The other point is that the protection that a good process affords us does depend on the durability of the assumptions we made when we designed it. Put another way, every process can only deliver what it’s designed for, and we cannot (sensibly) build processes that cover every possible eventuality. All in all, too many processes we work in are turning us into Weebles, only able to return to the prescribed position, and unable to flex and grow from the disorder around us...

What is Antifragility?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes the point that some things gain from disorder. You can see this principle when you encounter cross training: top athletes will usually exercise muscle groups in odd and apparently disruptive ways, to build their ability. One example of this is golfers who will deliberately practice their swing the wrong way round: left handed if they’re right handed or vice versa. The same applies to athletic field events such as discus, shot putt, and hammer throwing.

One of the criticisms levelled at the concept of antifragility is a lack of practical application, so here’s an example of building your agility in the field of incident management. We almost always start by asking the user (or the monitoring system or event management tool) “What is the problem?”. Everyone’s used to that, and if you’re an Incident Manager, you’ll be accustomed to getting deeply misleading responses. Now let’s try to do the job in reverse:

“Before we go into details, can you tell me which colleagues nearby (if any) are still able to access the system?”

And “when you last used it successfully, when was that exactly”

So instead of looking for details about what the problem IS, I’m asking about what it IS NOT. One interesting thing about doing this is that I get far fewer inventions, exaggerations, assumptions and downright lies, when I start from this angle.

I’ll be looking at all sorts of ways to make you and your processes antifragile at the upcoming itSMF UK conference to help you

  • Uncover processes and practices that are already antifragile
  • Build on your existing skills
  • Reduce the complexity of your working environment.

 See you there!

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Everything You Need to Know About ITSM17

Posted By Barclay Rae, 12 October 2017

 

As I’m sure you’re already aware, this year’s annual itSMF UK conference (ITSM17) is taking place in Manchester 20th - 21st November. And as you’ve probably seen, we’re planning a wide range of improvements and changes to the event (not least the change in venue).

 

What You Can Expect

 

With all of our planned changes (more on this below), we can promise you that by attending ITSM17 you’ll:

 

  • Gain new and advanced knowledge on service management topics, trends, and best practices.

  • Take away practical ideas, solutions, and techniques related to topics such as DevOps, knowledge management, cloud technologies, SIAM, customer experience, and the people challenges of service management.

  • Learn not just the “what you should be doing” and “why you should be doing it” but the practical side of “how to get started” and “how to improve”.

  • Build your network of peers and resources, collaborate on ideas, and discuss mutual challenges.

  • Meet with the leading vendors of service management tools, and other complementary service management offerings.

  • Learn more about the direction in which the industry is heading (the future of ITIL, how to cope with increased business expectations, etc.).

  • Discover new ways to encourage personal and professional development by learning more about the Professional Service Management Framework (PSMF) and accessing related case studies.

 

Essentially, everything you need to start you on a journey of service management improvement in 2018.

 

Getting Practical

 

To give you a little more insight, our primary goal for ITSM17 is to make it as practical an experience as possible for delegates with a strong focus on collaboration, relationship building, and peer support. This will be supported by three discussion zones (Future of ITIL, Practical ITSM, and Beyond ITSM) that will provide delegates with the opportunity to engage, debate, and contribute ideas, questions, and input.

 

The above will be facilitated by a select group of people, who in addition will be:

 

  • Attending sessions and providing key commentary

  • Discussing the key takeaways and feedback from sessions

  • Discussing other inputs e.g. there will be various industry announcements taking place

  • Discussing in a group what is useful and valuable, new, contentious etc. – working as a team to produce content that will be presented at the plenary panel session in the afternoon on day two.

 

We’ll also be encouraging and providing as much networking time as possible – e.g. via the discussion zones. Also the removal of the awards dinner opens up the Monday evening for an informal drinks, food, and networking session – this will run from 5pm to 8pm. Following this, delegates will be free to enjoy the Manchester nightlife, or for those that prefer something quieter, we’ll be reserving tables at local restaurants for those who wish to join.

The Presentations

With four presentation streams (ITSM and Beyond; DevOps and Service Management in the Cloud; People, Customers, and Relationships; and Practical and Experiential Learning) and over 50 educational presentations, there’s something for everyone.

 

With a concentrated focus on practical advice, here are just some of the “how to’s” you can expect to learn by attending:

 

  • How to use Scrum to design and/or improve your ITIL processes.

  • How to successfully adopt SIAM in your organisation.

  • How to kick start or improve your problem management process.

  • How to improve your self-service initiatives to achieve better benefits and results.

  • How to build a CSI function, including workflows and a CSI register.

 

You can view the event agenda here.

Plus, for a sneak peak at the content on offer, why not check out some of our ITSM17-related blog content? Those published so far include:

 

You can also expect to see even more content in the run up to the event.

A Helping Hand

It might all sound great, but if recent years of conferences have taught us anything, it’s that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to get management to approve conference attendances. After all, it’s a significant investment of time out of the office (whether it be for ITSM17 or any other service management event). So if you’re interested in ITSM17, but struggling with this particular challenge, we might be able to help.

Our teams have created some useful resources to help you make the case for ITSM17. These include:

Hopefully you’ll find these helpful.

In Summary

 

At itSMF UK HQ we’re really excited for this year’s event, even more so than normal. We anticipate that our planned changes for 2017 are going to make a significant difference to how the conference is perceived and the value it provides to delegates. We hope you’ll join us and agree.

 

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2020 Vision – What the Future of ITSM Holds

Posted By Stephen Mann, 05 October 2017

This is a guest post, contributed by Stephen Mann, Principal Analyst and Content Director at ITSM.tools

There’s so much business and technology-related change surrounding IT service management (ITSM) right now, that it’s easy to feel like a small feather being blown around in the wind. Your long-term direction might feel both random and unknown – as different industry “winds” push you in different directions – and your relative elevation can change at a moment’s notice. Or, alternatively, you might be holding on tight to the status quo, refusing to let the winds of change take you anywhere just yet.

With so much change (and wind) at hand, it’s good to get wider opinions on what’s happening and will happen. And, while understanding (and perhaps predicting) the future has its risks, it’s usually not as risky as allowing the winds to continuously blow you and your organisation about – with “hope” the only strategy employed.

Looking to recent ITSM survey stats

So, what are ITSM professionals currently focused on (and perhaps a little overwhelmed by)? The easier question could almost be “What aren’t ITSM professionals thinking about right now?” as there are so many future-affecting jigsaw pieces in play.

To start, IT organisations don’t operate in a vacuum – with greater business demand for IT and higher customer and employee expectations, driven by consumer-world experiences, two key pressures on current and future IT services.

Technology advances – from cloud, through better IT management tools, to the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) – all have a part to play in helping IT organisations to better meet these changing business demands. But how well-armed are ITSM professionals to leverage new technologies and new approaches to IT service creation, delivery, and support?

Recent ITSM.tools survey data shows that we’re still running towards public cloud with no signs of growth slowing down, even when high-profile cloud outages make the news. And we see AI as more “friend” than “foe” – with it a way to make ITSM and its outcomes better for all involved, from end users to ITSM professionals.

However, this is the good news. There’s other stuff to be concerned about:

  • 82% of survey respondents believe that working in IT will get harder over the next three years
  • Only 24% of respondents think that existing ITSM best practice has kept up with the changing IT and business landscapes
  • 70% of respondents think that there has been insufficient involvement of ITSM personnel in their company’s DevOps activities and ambitions
  • 77% of respondents think that there is still more to be done to meet the expectations of Millennial employees.

These and other things offer a wide spectrum of future challenges for ITSM professionals that make it more difficult to deliver against the aforementioned increasing business demands and expectations. But such challenges aren’t only future-facing.

Never mind new things, we still struggle with "old things"

IT self-service is a great example here. It’s long been touted as THE solution for a variety of IT-support woes in particular. But, even after many years of trying, IT departments still struggle to get self-service capabilities right – only 12% of organisations have received the expected ROI on their self-service investment. Usually because many still see it as a new technology-solution rather than the eliciting of employee change (in terms of their way of working).

So, money is still being spent on self-service technology, while employees continue to avoid using it. If you keep reading, I include some of the things you can do about this at the end of this blog.

Find out more at ITSM17

If you want to find out more about, and to get involved in discussions related to, the opportunities and challenges the future holds, Scarlett Bayes of the Service Desk Institute (SDI) and I will be presenting on “What the Future of ITSM Holds and What Should You Do About It” at the itSMF UK annual conference (ITSM17) in Manchester 20-21 November.

We’ll be reporting on the ITSM.tools survey results and what they mean – tying in complementary SDI statistics where appropriate – plus, importantly, outlining what your IT organisation should be doing in light of these. In addition, we’ll be providing practical advice in line with the survey topics, for example with regards to low self-service ROI and how to instead succeed, including:

  1. Don’t focus on cost reduction above all else. Cost reduction could instead be viewed as an aspirational outcome driven through less tangible value-based motivations. Organisations with a higher ROI achieved other motivations and, in the process, have reduced cost.
  2. More successful organisations have a greater degree of focus on specific motivations, the ones that provide the most value to them.
  3. The most successful organisations are those who benefited from a self-service solution designed with the customer at the heart of the service and thus realised higher use rates.

Piqued your interest?

If you’re planning on attending ITSM17 then please attend our session to:

  1. Understand what your ITSM peers think will happen in terms of topics such as future working environments, the ability to recruit suitably skilled staff, cloud and AI adoption, the applicability of available best practice, and providing a high-quality service experience in the long shadow cast by end users’ consumer-world-driven expectations.
  2. Receive opinions and advice on what this all means and what your IT organisation should be planning to address and when.
  3. Takeaway a number of practical to-dos that will help you to futureproof your organisation’s ITSM operations.

We hope to see you there.

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How relevant is the Service Design Package in the age of Agile?

Posted By Anthony Oxley, 27 September 2017

 


For many years in IT service management (ITSM), we’ve been extolling, nay evangelising, about the importance of the Service Design Package (SDP) when delivering and running IT Services in an organisation. With the increased adoption of agile techniques and minimum viable product (MVP) as a “thing”, many are asking whether Service Design Packages are still relevant (if they ever were), and if so how can we make best use of them to enhance service delivery rather than burdening delivery with unnecessary bureaucracy, or worse still the creation of “shelf-ware”.

The Service Design Package 

Let us first look at the core elements of a SDP and the value they give in the traditional service delivery model. The SDP consist of four core pillars that underpin the delivery of services, as follows:

 

The Requirements pillar includes our business goal, service contacts, and service applicability – the why, for whom, and from where we deliver the service. The Service Design pillar is more than the name suggests and covers the functional management, operational, and service level requirements alongside an approved design topology to satisfy all of these requirements. This is the basis for agreement of what is to be delivered. The Readiness Assessment pillar makes sure that the business is prepared financially, technically, and organisationally to receive the service, and is resourced to make the most effective use of the service. In Rugby terms, they’re “eyes up, and hands out ready to receive the ball”. Finally, we have the pillar that represents the Service Lifecycle Plan. This covers, how a service is delivered, and how it will be used throughout its lifecycle.

Agile Service Delivery

Now, let’s think about Agile Service delivery using the principal of MVP. The end customer still has a vision that they want to realise, however rather than spending an inordinate amount of time gathering “finger-in-the-air” requirements and waiting for a single delivery of the final all singing and dancing product – as we did traditionally – the MVP model focusses on validated learning using the least amount of time and money to satisfy a specific customer requirement. Couple this with the fact that Agile is about iterative and incremental delivery, and we can start to see how services can be delivered in this way and how, by adopting this approach, we can ensure that we’re building the right thing by validating the design as each incremental part of the service is delivered, as well as minimising the impact to the customer of receiving the service.

Delivering services in this way can mean that the final service offering may differ quite considerably from that which was originally scoped, having been through numerous iterations and requirements reviews before the whole service is finally provisioned. So how are we expected to record this build journey so that the service offering is supportable? We do this simply by ensuring that all design features, changes in scope and/or functionality, and agreed delivery milestones and accepted elements of the service are fully documented in parallel with the incremental delivery of the service. 

Put simply…

Delivery of services in the Agile age does not negate the need for a SDP, but in fact, due to the evolutionary nature of services being delivered in this way, the need for a comprehensive source of knowledge, detailing what was, what is, and what is to be for the service continues to grow.  And, as demand for this information grows, the requirement to provide it in a useful and usable form will grow also. This demand is not going to diminish as we move further in to the digital age, and indeed new sub sets of data or information may be asked for in the support of service delivery, and the logical place for all of this remains the SDP. In conclusion, as ITSM develops and matures through new technologies, processes, and frameworks so does the relevance of the Service Design Package.  The Service Design Package is just one of a range of tools available to Service Level Managers and its importance cannot be underplayed.  Join us at our session to explore the challenges currently being faced in Service Level Management (SLM), and what tools and approaches we can use to address them in the digital age.

Join me at the itSMF UK Annual Conference

Interested in learning more? At the ITSM17 conference I’ll be exploring the rise of Digital and Enterprise Service Management and how Service Level Management needs to evolve to meet the changing needs of the Digital Age.


There is a growing trend of organisations changing their focus, from products to services, even in the most traditional of manufacturing companies. To be successful, they’ll need to start viewing the supply of a product as the result of a combination of processes and services, not as the creation of a specific item. This is especially true for digital products and services where often the final consumed “product” is nebulous. In my presentation, I’ll examine the traditional model and focus of SLM; and question whether it’s still relevant, and what new elements need to be considered to ensure that the function and the service as a whole deliver business value. I hope to see you there.

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