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Showing posts from 2015

Agile / DevOps: (_____) as CODE #DevOps

Infrastructure as Code – is a common term among developers, architects, and operational staff and the practice has evolved in response to demand for quality and efficiency in the industry.  Over the last decade many organizations have come to realize that the essence of Infrastructure as Code is to treat the configuration of systems the same way that software source code is treated.  Frequent code integration, automated builds, and integrated testing have resulted in stronger IT performance and therefore business value.
Security as Code – An increase in security breaches across all industries has brought forward a similar concept, and that is to look at “Security as Code”.  This concept would include the usage of repeatable algorithms to integrate security checks with each code check.  This expands the scope of traditional “Continuous Integration” and automation.  Organizations realize that security is no longer a second thought and must be addressed at the front of the value stream.  …

The Customer Experience

We are all customers of someone right?  What was your last customer experience like?  Was it so good that it completely changed how you thought about the product or the organization you were receiving services from? On the other hand was the service you received so poor that you vowed never to use their products or services ever again.  We have all been in those situations. You may not have realized it, but how that interaction was designed can have a huge impact on the perception you, the customer, walk away with.  I recently read a series of articles in the September issue of Harvard Business Review magazine.  The entire series was titled “The Evolution of Design Thinking” - It’s no longer just for products. It speaks to how executives are using this approach to devise strategy and manage change.  I can’t tell you what an absolute must read this is for all.  It will make you take a second look at how you design, deliver and support the services to your customers. For me personally …

Designing a Service Design Package

I was recently asked what the compliance requirements, architectural constraints and interface requirements are in designing the service design package for a new app.

The short answer is that the Service Design Package (SDP) would have ALL of the documents and information related to how the app was designed and developed including any policies or known compliance or other constraints.  The purpose of the SDP is to provide a living set of knowledge assets that can be passed around the lifecycle for use in each stage (e.g. deployment, operations, support, updating, etc.).

For more information the the SDP please use this link:  http://www.itsmacademy.com/itil-sd/

Resilia - Cyber Resilience Best Practices

Operating under a constant threat of cyber attacks is the new normal for many organizations in today’s virtual business environment.  These attacks can come from anywhere, from anybody and at any time.  It is no longer a question of reacting to and then fixing the problem.  Today the question is “How do we prepare the entire organization to be prepared and vigilant to deal with cyber security threats each and every day.
A defensive approach is no longer adequate.  A proactive strategy by cyber security teams with the appropriate expertise, capabilities and best practice processes and policies is an absolute must have in order to meet the challenge of recurring engagement with those whose intent is to harm the organization in some way. There must be well defined and documented processes to prevent, where possible, detect and respond with control and countermeasures as quickly as possible while predicting what will happen next.   The introduction of effective cyber resilience requires …

Product Backlog + Process Backlog = Success!

Flexibility and agility are key to success and business performance.  Many Service providers have adopted Agile methods to ensure that they can meet demand for increasing changes in business requirements.  Product Backlogs are common and are generally understood; but what about Process Backlogs?
Product Backlog – In the “Scrum Guide” Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland describe the Product Backlog as an ordered list of everything that might be needed in the product.  It is the single source of requirements for changes to be made to the product. The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, including its content, availability, and ordering.  A Product Backlog is never complete. The earliest development of it only lays out the initially known and best-understood requirements. The Product Backlog evolves as the product and the environment in which it will be used evolves. The Product Backlog is dynamic; it constantly changes to identify what the product needs to be appropriate, …

Agile – My Product Backlog is Out of Control!

If a product backlog is growing faster than you deploy, if it cannot be prioritized properly, and business outcomes suffer, are your “Agile” efforts really working?  
Agile software development is a group of software development methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continuous improvement, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.
A broken product backlog is only one of many symptoms that something is broken. If there are bottlenecks in change, delivery and deployment than what real value can evolutionary and faster development bring to the business?  It is time to consider “Agile Service Management”.
Agile Service Management ensures that agile principles and methods go beyond software development to ensure the product backlog is in control and that we, as service providers, can meet the speed of delivery while producing…

Change Proposals

When an organization is planning on a major change that will incur significant cost, risk, time and engagement of resources along with organizational impact, it is best practice to initiate this activity through the Service Portfolio process.  Before this new or significantly changed service is chartered, it is important that it be reviewed for how it may impact the short, medium and long term support of other services currently being delivered, the pool of limited resources that will be utilized for this undertaking and on the change schedule itself.
The Change Proposal is used to communicate a high level description of the change and is normally submitted to Change Management for authorization.  Authorization, however, is not an approval for implementation, but is a measure to allow the service to be chartered so design activity on the service can begin. In some cases the proposal may be created by someone other than Portfolio Management, such as the PMO or SMO.
This high level des…

DevOps - Cadence vs Velocity

A developer recently asked me “What is the real difference between Cadence and Velocity?   Aren’t they both just talking about speed?”   Hmmm…  Good Questions.
Cadence
Generally thinking cadence can be tied to rhythm.  One thing to remember is that the DevOps value stream is much broader in scope than just Dev and Ops.  So what are we looking at here?  The rhythm of code integration, and how we align with that things like integrated testing?  Yes, but also consider that the code development integration and deployment has to be in rhythm with the demand that is coming from your Customer and Business side.  If we are not in sync or have the same cadence as the business demand all other measurements may not be beneficial.     Alright, now let’s consider that your design and development teams work diligently to implement Agile Software Development principles to align and sync with the business.  If the cadence in test and deployment is not in sync then you have a potential bottleneck an…

Process Maturity

So unlike the Billy Joel lyric “Love you just the way you are”, we can never be satisfied with our processes being just the way they are.  As the organizations that we are engaged by continually change and mature to meet customers dynamic requirements, our processes must be continually assessed, measured and matured to ensure that they stay relevant and deliver value long into the future.  This takes real time, effort and resources.  Organizations cannot possibly move from being informal or ad-hoc to having a fully integrated ITSM program in a short period of time.  Just being able to gather the correct components (people, process, technology and information) can be a lengthy process and, of course, there is the decision of which processes do I begin with.
The saying “Rome was not built in a day” really applies in this situation.  We must begin from the perspective that each level of maturity forms the foundation for the next level of maturity. Trying to jump over levels will almost al…

The Agile Process Owner

Let’s face it, IT service management (ITSM) processes get a bad rap. Sometimes deservedly so. Bureaucratic and overly risk-adverse processes can be a real constraint in the IT value stream; particularly in organizations that are adopting agile, lean and DevOps practices. To keep pace, today’s IT organizations must be built on ITSM policies and processes that facilitate speed and change. So who ensures that ITSM processes are designed with ‘just enough’ control to meet an organization’s needs? Here’s where the role of Certified Agile Process Owner comes into play. A Certified Agile Process Owner (CAPO)SM adapts agile and Scrum values and practices to ITSM processes and process design and improvement activities. Much like a Scrum Product Owner, a Certified Agile Process Owner manages stakeholder requirements and strives to translate those requirements into process activities and features that deliver value. What’s different is that CAPOs and Process Improvement Teams use Sprints to de…

Creating and Supporting Services – Plan, Protect and Optimize!

Would you buy a product or service that did not include some type of warranty?  If the manufacturer or reseller does not explicitly set the expectations, then you will form them for yourself.  It is the same with the customers of your IT services.  Either IT clearly sets the expectations, or end-users will develop them on their own. Best practice tells us that during the negotiation and acceptance of Service Level Agreements, IT commits that services not only meet business and customer outcomes but also that they will meet requirements for availability, capacity, continuity and security. 
Ok… that is good.  Best practice tells us to include these so called “non-functional” requirements early in the lifecycle of a service.  In reality these warranty requirements are often considered somewhat in the Strategy/Design stage but more often than we would like to admit the majority of the work and effort for security and availability are performed reactively in the Service Operation lifecyc…

User Stories / Story Points

User stories are one of the primary development artifacts for Scrum teams.  They are a short description of the feature as told from the perspective of the person (stakeholder) who desired some new capability from a current service, system or application.  Many Scrum teams have adopted the user story template developed by Mike Cohn, which identified who the end user is, what the end user wants and why in a single sentence.  This template is most often written like this:  "As a (type of user), I want (some goal) so that (some reason)."  Example: As an Incident Process Owner, I want to see a release of known errors in order to do appropriate service desk staff training. In this way team members are encouraged to think of their work from the perspective of who will use it, ensuring requirements get met and value is delivered. 
User stories are narrative texts that describe an interaction of the user and the service.  It focuses on the value that a user gains from utilizing the s…

Service Offerings and Agreements - Service Catalogs

What is the difference between a Business Service Catalog and a Request Fulfillment Catalog?  One clear way to distinguish the type of service catalog that is required is to ask yourself, who is your audience?  I have found that when a lot of IT organizations say that they have a Service Catalog many are talking about a service catalog for end users.  Another very important service catalog is one that is mapped to your business customer needs.  In this blog I will briefly discuss some characteristics of service catalogs for these very distinct audiences and for the purpose of clarity I will refer to them as Request Fulfillment and Business ServiceCatalog.

Request Fulfillment Service Catalog

Service providers today are striving to automate the first line support for user request fulfillment by providing self-help and also more importantly self-serve end user request fulfillment catalogs.  This self-serve catalog is the most common and allows users to fulfill requests directly from a web…

Assessing and Evaluating the Change

All changes need to be assessed and evaluated.  Changes that are considered significant should be subject to a normal change evaluation in which we have well defined criteria for making this determination.  In this blog we will focus on the assessment side of the equation.

A logical place to begin assessing the impact of changes on services and configuration assets would be the use of the "Seven Rs of Change Management".  Without these questions being answered a proper impact assessment could not be completed.  When leading an impact and resource assessment several items should be considered.  At the top of the chart we need to determine if there will be an impact to the customer's business operations.  Next we might want to know what the effect will be on infrastructure, individual customer services and their performance, reliability, security, continuity and ability to handle various levels of demand.  Additionally we will need to understand what the current change sc…

Release, Control and Validation (RCV) – Service Management Secret Ingredients

In today's dynamic business climate, service outages cause real bottom line impact to the business. There are documented best practice processes and known critical success factors and yet outages that throw support organizations into reactive firefighting turmoil are far too common. Mature processes with just enough control are needed to smoothly transition new and changed services into production, helping to ensure stability for IT and the business.  Most organizations will confirm that they do have Change and Release Management processes in place.  Service Providers will usually have some level of Service Asset and Configuration Management control.  There is generally a lot of buzz and focus on three core processes for Service Transition and the success and integration of these three are critical to business success.  Three Core Processes for Service Transition are: Change ManagementService Asset and Configuration ManagementRelease Management Most IT organizations recognize the …

With Agile and DevOps, Why ITIL?

A systems engineer recently asked “With all of the buzz around Agile and DevOps, is ITIL Foundation training and certification still relevant?”   The short answer is yes and its relevance is directly tied to the success of strategic initiatives and the outcomes of the organization.  There is direct benefit to the learner/candidate also.  It has been a while since this has been discussed so let’s revisit this once again.
For the Consultant or Third Party Vendor: Gets you on the short list! -  ITIL Foundation training gives those who are consulting in any area of “Service Management” a standard set of vocabulary critical to communication.  Also, knowing the terms and basic concepts is crucial to the credibility of the consultant.  The improper use of a single term that is known by your customer could give the impression that you as the consultant do not know the industry and omit you from the short list.  Some organizations will not even consider a vendor without the proper certificatio…

CSI & Knowledge

Stuart Rance wrote in a blog “Knowledge only has value when it is available to someone, either because they remember it or because they are guided towards it at the time they need it”.  One of the key elements in support of CSI is Knowledge Management. An organization must continually gather knowledge about its services and support processes in order to look for trends, find improvement opportunities and develop strategies that will move them into the future.  The philosopher and essayist George Santayana wrote, “Those that cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”.
In today’s reality of increased rates of change, increased employee turnover, increased access to information and greater market completion it is ever more critical to build meaningful knowledge bases that allow an organization can create and capture value by insuring that data, information, knowledge and wisdom are being brought forward to benefit how and what the ITSM organization does to support business outcomes…

Managing Across the Lifecycle

As the current IT organization has grown from a provider of technology to the Service Provider of choice we have had to incorporate the principles of service management to ensure that we deliver the outcomes required by our customers.  Given that, we have to ask ourselves a couple of strategic questions: What outcomes are we trying to provide?How do we as a service provider facilitate that?
Delivering an outcome based definition of services will allow the IT organization to move beyond just business / IT alignment to towards business / IT integration, which really should have been the goal from the beginning.  Supporting customer / business outcomes should be the ultimate focus of the IT organization thus creating value through the delivery of services. A focus on business outcomes is both a critical and in most cases a cultural shift for IT service providers.  As customer’s preferences and perceptions change over time so does the value statement that a service provider needs to remai…

Service Design - Ouch!

What is hurting the capability of service providers to design and deliver service at the rate of speed and at a cost that is viable to the business?  I asked a group of IT managers and practitioners in a recent training class and all agreed on these common causes: Lack of upper management strategy and direction.Lack ofadequate or accurate informationResistance to changeCultural issues / Agenda’sInadequate funding
I am sure you can add to this list.Many service providers are suffering from the same pain.What is causing this?One area that most will agree upon is the fact that a lot of challenges for a service provider to deliver come from silos.A classic silo and division that some organizations are addressing are those that exist between development and operational teams. That will help, but it’s not only siloed teams that are hurting this industry.It is the fact that ITSM processes are also siloed.If your processes and data are siloed even the best of intentions will not result in the t…

Application Management Lifecycle

From an operational perspective, we are primarily interested in the overall management of applications as part of IT services.  These can be developed in-house or purchased off the self from third party developers. Because of our operational point of view, and the focus on ensuring these services/applications are delivered with both utility and warranty, we look at their support from a more holistic approach and use what is referred to as the “Application Management Lifecycle”. It sequences through six stages or steps which are: Requirements, Design, Build, Deploy, Operate and Optimize. 
Requirements: Requirements for new applications are garnered, based on business/customer needs and takes place primarily during services design.  There are six types of requirements for any application Functional requirementsManageability requirementsUsability requirementsArchitectural requirementsInterface requirementsService Level requirements
Design:  At this point the requirements get transformed in…

Perspective

About two years ago I wrote a blog on the four “Ps” of Service Strategy.  Today we going to expand on Perspective, the 1st of the four “Ps” of Service Strategy.   Perspective is the vision and direction for the services you will provide, and is realized through conversations with your stakeholders.  A well-defined vision and mission statement allows a common goal to be pursued by both the business and IT. This enhances the organizations ability to focus on the customer perspective and the business outcomes that the customer desires, and to implement a continual service improvement approach so that you are regularly enhancing and differentiating the services you provide. In this way the business stays relevant to the changing business environment.
The perspective describes what the organization is, what it does, who it does it for, how it works and enables this to be communicated easily to both internal and external stakeholders.  It defines the overall direction for the organization a…

Why ITSM and DevOps? Ask NYSE, United Airlines, Microsoft…!

The NYSE reportedly told floor traders the exchange had to suspend trading due to an error with a systems upgrade that was rolled out before the market opened.  Early in the morning the NYSE sent out a message alerting traders that there was a reported issue with a number of the exchange’s gateways.  It appears that performance degraded from there and a few short hours later trading halted! ( http://fortune.com/2015/07/08/nyse-halt/for full story)
How does this happen?  Other issues reported that same week included United Airlines who closed all flight bookings due to what was labeled a “Router” issue.   Microsoft GoToTraining impacted several business owners and customers due to a suspected “Citrix” upgrade.   If ever a case for why do we need Service Management processes that are aligned with business outcomes can be made, one only needs to listen to the news.  Just yesterday a computer system outage disrupted Spirit Airlines flights at Chicago O'Hare, forcing the carrier to canc…

Utility and Warranty

If you are in the position of providing IT services to customers then you know the importance of the statement: Utility plus Warranty equals Value (U+W=V).  So when we talk about value, we must consider who determines that value and what are the components that go into making up the agreements that will define how value gets created and delivered.  The value of a service is normally defined as “the level of service that meets customer expectations” and is often measured by how much the customer is willing to pay for the service. An industry trend today that may have been excluded in the past is the ability of the service provider to be able to define and document the costs involved in providing that service beyond its core value.
Services being intangible and unlike products do not have much inherent value.  This value does not get realized until the service is actually utilized and enables someone to create the desired business outcome, which means that the provider of the service d…

Improvement / Transformation As a Result of Disruptive Processes

I was recently asked about companies that have made improvements and/or had significant transformation as a result of disruptive processes.  The one that I am familiar with is Netflix and their philosophy of injecting failure into the production environment to ensure systems are fault-tolerant and how they continually test their ability to survive “once in a blue moon” failures.
Introducing Chaos Engineering - Netflix Simian Army http://techblog.netflix.com/2014/09/introducing-chaos-engineering.html
I did some additional Google searches:  “Disruptive improvements” & “Improving your IT services in a disruptive way”.  I think the following sites and resources provide more insight: Disruptive Business growth steps – Dow Corning
https://www.dowcorning.com/content/publishedlit/solarticles/simple_steps.pdf IPhone success: Disruptive innovation and continuous improvement
http://businesstheory.com/apple-teach-product-development/ Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, busines…

Service Operation and the Service Lifecycle – Yesterday and Today

ITSM Best Practice will align five main process with the lifecycle of “Service Operation”. Incident ManagementProblem ManagementEvent ManagementRequest FulfillmentAccess Management
 It was not too long ago that the idea of some of these processes were new to service providers. Most will find them to be common in today’s market place.  An organization may not literally follow the best practices for the service operation processes but most likely have some close facsimile when executing Incident, Problem, Request Fulfilment, and Event management processes for provisioning IT services and support.  In order to ensure identity management and authorization for access, some form of “Access Management” will also be needed to support an overall security policy in Service Operation.  I would like to focus on some thoughts for “Event Management” and early engagement of operational staff in the service lifecycle.
As organizations mature they begin to realize the value of taking these process ac…