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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Service Asset & Configuration Management (SACM)

Service Asset & Configuration Management (SACM) is the one process that touches all of the other ITIL processes. SACM’s purpose is to deliver accurate and up-to-date data and information to every other process across the lifecycle.  The fascinating fact about SACM is that in many cases it depends on those other processes through their defined, documented and agreed to activities, to insure that the data and information about those assets is up to date, accurate and properly recorded through the Configuration Management System (CMS),  No organization can be truly efficient and effective without having a configuration management process to insure we understand how and where that infrastructure, application, tools, documentation and sometimes even people are being utilized in delivering business outcomes and creating value.

SACM ensures that CIs (configuration items) are properly identified; baselined and that changes made to them are properly controlled and recorded.  This is accomplished by closely integrating Change, Release and Deployment and SACM.  Most organizations have a process that will track and report on the value and ownership of fixed assets throughout their lifecycle.  Much of this is done by a part of the business known as fixed asset management or financial asset management. Their goal is to keep financial information on these resources. In most cases they are not usually within the same business unit as Information Technology.  For the most part they are not concerned with the relationships between these resources and how these assets are being utilized and what IT and business services they support.  SACM must ensure the proper care and maintenance of these CIs that are under the control of IT services.  There should be well established intersections between these groups in order to provide the overall business a more defined and detailed view of these capital assets.

By having an accurate representation and clear visibility to your service assets:
  • Staff is better able to forecast and plan changes.
  • IT staff have a better understanding of the relationship between CIs and the services they support
  • Assessments are more accurate for Availability, Capacity and Continuity planning.
  • There is a greater effectiveness in delivery of service levels.
  • You have the ability to precisely identify the costs of a service.
  • You can provide greater flexibility to the business in meeting market opportunities.
  • As technological changes happen it allows SACM to create more effect CIs and CI definitions to meet the new reality.
For more information:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Purpose and Value of a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

I am often asked the purpose and value of a Business Impact Analysis (BIA).  The purpose of a BIA is to quantify the impact to the business (in dollars and cents) that the loss of a service would have.  It is a valuable source of input when trying to ascertain the business needs, impacts and risks that the organization may face in the delivery of services.  The BIA is an essential element of the overall business continuity process.  It identifies the most important services to the organization and therefore will help to define the overall strategy for risk reduction and disaster recovery.  At a more granular level this analysis enables the mapping of critical service applications and technology components to critical business processes.  It is an invaluable input for Continuity, Strategy, Availability, Design, and Capacity Management and can have a significant impact on the cost of designing, delivering and maintaining these services based on their criticality as defined by the business. 

The BIA’s strategic purpose is to show which parts of the business will be most affected by a major incident and what affect it will have on the company as a whole.  The form these damages or losses may come in are:        
  • Loss of income
  • Additional costs
  • Damaged reputation
  • Loss of goodwill
  • Loss of competitive advantage
  • Breach of law, health or safety
  • Immediate and long term loss of market share
  • Political, corporate or personal embarrassment
  • Loss of operational capability
As part of the design phase of a new or changed service the BIA should be conducted to help enable a greater understanding about the function and importance of a service.   Working with Service Level Management, this will allow the business to define:
  • Acceptable levels and times of a service outage.  How the degree of damage is likely to escalate after a service disruption, and the times of day, week, month or year when a disruption will inflict the greatest damage.
  • The staffing, skills, facilities and services necessary to enable critical and essential business processes to continue to operate at minimum acceptable levels.
  • The time within which all required business processes and supporting staff, facilities and services should be fully recovered.
  • The cost the loss of a service has to the business. This is critical for Financial Management.
  • How to appropriately develop a budget for being able to institute the appropriate countermeasures for any and all services.
For more information please see ITIL Service Strategy and ITIL Service Design

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Role of Process Practitioner

The role of the Process Practitioner is by far one of the most critical, and is sometimes overlooked in lieu of others such as Process Managers and Process Owners.  Don’t misunderstand, Managers and Owners are important and are key success factors, but the Process Practitioner role is where the rubber meets the road.  This is the role assigned to individuals who will be performing the work on a day to day basis.  ITIL has always emphasized the need for clearly defined roles for Process Owners and Process Managers. ITIL also speaks to the role of Service Owner, an individual who is accountable for and represents the end-to-end service.   Within each process, there may also be roles that are designed to carry out certain process activities … these are the “Practitioners”. Without this role and skill set everything else becomes a moot point.

Successful service management dictates that specific individuals are assigned to specific roles with specific responsibilities for one or more processes.    But what about the rest of us?    Where do we fit into the service management program?  What role do we play? 

ITIL defines a key role for anyone that executes any activity within any process – the Process Practitioner.   
The Process Practitioner:
  • Carries out one or more process activities
  • Understands how his or her role adds to value creation
  • Works with other stakeholders to ensure contributions are effective
  • Ensures inputs, outputs and interfaces for activities are correct 
  • Creates or updates activity-based records
Process Practitioners can be internal or external staff, suppliers, consultants - even potentially users and customers.  They are the "doers" of the process and their activities may cross into multiple groups and multiple processes. 

However you choose to define your Process Practitioners, this role must be considered when designing, implementing and managing your processes.  The inclusion of a Process Practitioner role should also help organizations build and manage a RACI matrices. If you recall, a RACI model maps roles and responsibilities to tasks or activities.   Leveraging the Process Practitioner role at the highest RACI level can determine workloads and potentially identify process bottlenecks.  The feedback that is provided by the Process Practitioner is crucial for any organization that wants to continue to evolve and emerge with the ever changing business requirements and customer needs.

Practitioners must be able to apply their knowledge.  The ITIL Foundation course enables IT professionals to learn the basics of IT Service Management (the what) and the business value of well-designed and delivered services (the why). Leveraging candidates’ existing ITIL knowledge, and based on a new publication – ITIL® Practitioner Guidance – the ITIL Practitioner course goes beyond the what and the why and provides practitioners a methodical way (the how) to use the ITIL guidance to improve whether by introducing new or by changing existing services or processes.  Throughout this sixteen (16) hour case study-based course participants learn about and then apply nine guiding principles to the planning and implementation of service improvements. Participants also gain a practical understanding of how three critical competencies contribute to improvement.

For more information on ITIL Foundation please click here and for ITIL Practitioner please click here.   

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Strategy - Are Service Models Required?

A recent question came from an ITSM practitioner who asked “Just what is a Service Model anyway?” Within the context of service management, you will likely here reference to the “Service Model” in every lifecycle stage but none more so than in the Service Strategy lifecycle.

A little background:
Within the context of best practice, it is in the Service Strategy lifecycle stage that a proposal is submitted.  This proposal is a formal request for a new line of business or service and will be processed through the pipeline of the service portfolio to be defined, analyzed, approved and chartered.  This approval is the executive authorization and will result in the service being chartered.   The proposal will include a high level “Service Model” and be accompanied with a full-blown business case. Once a service is chartered it will generally move to the Project Management Organization (PMO) where the chartered project is initiated for design.

Service Model:
A Service Model should begin with the defined customer outcomes or business process.  It is a model or a blueprint that shows not only the business/customer outcomes expected but more importantly the model shows which resources and capabilities will be required by the service provider to deliver those outcomes.  The Service Model describes the structure of the service and what it is going to take to deliver value to the customer.   The Service Model must always focus on customer value and outcomes as the main target.    The details for the Service Model get added in Service Design and the deployment of the service will be fulfilled in Service Transition.  There is no end to the evolution of a Service Model as long as the service is still being delivered.  The service will continually evolve based on external feedback from the customer but also from internal feedback from the service provider.   If the service is constantly evolving (and we know they do) then the service assets that we use to provision it and the Service Model will also evolve.

To learn more about Service Strategy training and certification for you and your staff click here

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Service through Knowledge Management

I believe that a service provider can improve by choosing to follow best practices from ITIL, Lean, Agile and more.  That said I also believe that Knowledge Management will be the glue that ties in all together. Knowledge is required to deliver maximum results.  Knowledge Management ensures the right knowledge to the right people at the right time.  Think about yours or your customers service provisioning model.  How much time, money and resources is spent because of the lack of knowledge at the right time?  How frequently do we need information or access to the information and it is NOT available?  Not only is information not available when we need it, but sometimes it is replicated in many ways in many different places so that there is no real way to determine the definitive source.  It is difficult to get management control over the outcomes of an organization when the knowledge is out of control.  Knowledge Management is required throughout the Service Lifecycle.  A few examples include:

Service Strategy:  Current and historical information regarding major change proposals, business cases, high level service models, Demand management information such as current and projected patterns of business activity, meeting minutes and information from business cases for analyzing and approving strategic changes, Business Relationship Management information and more. 

Service Design:  Details of the full designed solution for a new or changed service.  Details of the service model mapping service assets to business and customer outcomes.   Service Catalog information including business views and detailed technical views for the service provider.   Let’s not forget the metrics, and processes in Service Design and all the knowledge and information that make them work.

Service Transition:   Knowledge and information will be key as both inputs and outputs from planning, building, testing and deploying a service.  Change models, data structures and policies for Service Asset and Configuration Management, the definition design and details for Configuration ITEMS and most important the relationships of this data and information to determine the impact to business outcomes.

Service Operation:   Here we need to manage Incidents, problems, requests and to get a grip on the management and control of events, auto actions and results of automation.   Reports for daily weekly monthly, statistics and information will be a big part of Knowledge Management.  Using knowledge to break down silos and improve communication between all stakeholders in the value stream could be the differentiator that thrusts your organization above all others. 

Continual Service Improvement:   This is by far the most important area for Knowledge Management.  Whatever you are doing today, can be done better.  Agreed?  We can always improve upon where we are now with any service or process and the same is true with Knowledge Management. We can all look to where we know we have siloed discrete facts or data and then correlate that data together for a common purpose to create information.  Once we give this data some context the next step is to look for ways to optimize.  Knowledge will require experience too.   From this correlated information and experience we can glean wisdom to make wise business decisions. 

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head.   What would you add?  What data, information and knowledge is key for your organization? Knowledge Management is POWERFUL! 

For ITIL education and certification or for more information regarding the Service Lifecycles visit http://www.itsmacademy.com/itil

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Service Test Models

Quality: The ability of a service or product to meet customer requirements and create value for that customer.  Perceived quality affects customer support more than any other element.  Products and services must attain a certain minimum level of quality.  No other components can make up for a significant shortfall on this one and the perceived loss of value this can create.

In business today, “Time to Value” has increasingly become one of the most significant measures an organization reviews and reports on.  Today’s ever more progressively shorter time scales for this cannot be met without being able to incorporate such practices as continuous delivery (CD), continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD), which all are dependent on our ability to do continuous testing. As many of you have certainly experienced, this need for speed continues to be a clear and present danger in our ability to create a high trust culture where testing and learning from failure is allowed and the time for this is appropriately built into the project lifecycle.

In order to meet this demand of higher release cadence, we can incorporate from the best practice discipline of Service Validation and Testing, the use of test models.  These test models will include a test plan, what is to be tested and test scripts that define how each element will be tested. This will ensure that testing will be executed consistently and in a repeatable way that is both effective and efficient. A vital concept is that we will be able to easily automate these test models which is a crucial component in being able to achieve CD, CI, CD.  Test scripts help to define the release test conditions and the expected results and test cycles.  Test models are well structured, so they provide traceability back to the stated requirements (from both a business and IT perspective).  They enable auditability through test execution, evaluation and reporting while ensuring test elements can be maintained and changed in a controlled and documented manner.

Some examples of service test models follow:
  • Service contract test model: Validates that the customer can use the service to deliver the appropriate value proposition.
  • Service contract test model: Validates that the service provider can deliver the service required and expected by the customer.
  • Service level test model: Ensures that the service provider can deliver the service level requirements, and the service level requirements can be met in the live environment.
  • Service test model: Ensures that the service provider is capable of delivering, operating and managing the new or changed service with the appropriate set of resources.

By engaging in the use of these models we can ensure that the IT staff requirements can be delivered before the actual deployment of the service.  In this way we can ensure that we have the right technological facilities in place and skills, knowledge and resources are available.  Supporting processes and resources are at the appropriate levels and that business and IT continuity has been considered.

By engaging in these best practices we can speed up our release cadence while continuing to ensure quality, reliability and agility in meeting today’s demands. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Whitehouse - Transitioning of Power to the New Administration

So the election is over and we move into the transitioning of power to the new administration. This doesn’t officially happen until January 20th 2017. President elect Trump met with President Obama and so begins the transfer of Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom. So with such a short time the transfer between the transition teams and the operational teams has to happen quickly, efficiently and effectively.  This transfer of power has happened 43 times in our nation’s history with 11 happening so far in the postmodern era and the Obama to Trump administration being the twelfth. Can you say change model?

The ability to have this smooth transition rests to a significant extent on the ability of those involved to be able to respond to existing circumstances, their ability to understand the situation as it currently exists along with any options that may be available, along with the known consequences and benefits.  The quality, relevance and accessibility of this knowledge, information and data is critical to this smooth transitioning of power.

The purpose of this knowledge exchange (management) is to be able to share perspectives, ideas, experience and information and to ensure they are available to the right people at the right time. In this world of the IoT (internet of Things), and especially at the highest levels of government, reducing the need to rediscover important information is critical to our national security and continuity.

By safeguarding that the appropriate level of knowledge transfer takes place we can help to ensure:
  • That high quality decisions can be made based on reliable, secure, accurate and up to date information and that it is available throughout the transition period.
  • The continuation of government services without the interruption to those vital services that keep our country moving and secure.
  • That the staff of the incoming administration have a clear and common understanding of both the domestic and international circumstances that they will be leading us through and the options and constraints they will be facing.
  • They will have continued and controlled access that will allow them to feed forward the knowledge, information and data that will be needed to make strong wise judgments.
  • That they will have the systems and tools to be able to continue to gather, analyze, store, share, use and maintain data, information and knowledge that will allow us to continue to be the great nation that we have been in the past and will carry on to be in the future of this rapidly changing world.
And you thought that Knowledge Management was for IT professionals only!

For more information please see ITSM Academy's Service Transition and  Organizational Change.