Skip to main content

Posts

Perspective

About two years ago I wrote a blog on the four “Ps” of Service Strategy.  Today we going to expand on Perspective, the 1 st 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 organiza

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 carrie

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 servic

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  -  Netfl ix 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 technolog

Service Operation and the Service Lifecycle – Yesterday and Today

ITSM Best Practice will align five main process with the lifecycle of “Service Operation”. Incident Management Problem Management Event Management Request Fulfillment Access 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

Transition Critical Success Factors (CSF’s)

IT is a large and growing slice of the overall budget for many companies. That money spent on IT is anticipated to create business value and support business growth. However in many IT organizations, a considerable percentage of this budget and IT labor is consumed on managing of incidents. First, second and third tier levels of support along with support technology and tools can become expensive to retain and maintain. In fact this is unplanned work which inhibits value creation and business growth. Many people will advocate a solid proactive problem management process to eliminate the root cause of these incidents and I am right there alongside them. However, I think we need to look even earlier in the service lifecycle. The standard statistic that I see most often quoted is that up to 80% of all incidents are cause by undocumented and unauthorized changes.  So for the sake of this argument let us take that as our baseline and discuss critical success factors facing service tran

Thoughts on People and Process

The “ Agile Manifesto ” states that “We value Individuals and Interactions over processes and tools”.  What? Some have taken that statement and interpreted it to mean that when it comes to design and development … “No Process” is required!  In fact if we look further in the manifesto we see clearly that the value of process and tools is indeed recognized.  The manifesto is trying to impart the importance of people and interactions.  If we have a brilliant process that is defined and documented and yet drop the ball when it comes to people and interaction we will surely miss the mark every time.  Therefore, while there is value in process and in tools service providers must value the people and interaction with them more. In her book titled “The ITSM Process Design Guide” Donna Knapp stresses the importance of “Just Enough Process”.  When designing ITSM processes such as Service Level Mgmt, Change Mgmt, Incident Mgmt and others, service providers could miss the mark and over design

The Agile Service Manager

A core principle of popular Agile methodologies is to limit “Work in Progress”. Self-organizing Scrum teams, will only take on a small piece of work from the overall backlog that can be completed within a timeboxed period, normally between 2 and 4 weeks. By limiting their focus and attention to what is most important (priorities are set and agreed to) you enable the team to complete the agreed to work and by limiting work in progress we train teams to finish work, rather than begin added work. With this focus to customer requirements, a higher level of quality and more satisfied customers is the result.  Additionally, because the work is done in smaller increments, there is much less risk to our environment. In order for our ITSM teams to move from the methodologies currently being used to Agile methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban to name a couple, we must have an advocate for our teams to be able to engage in this new way of developing and maturing our ITSM/ITIL processes. T

Operational Support and Analysis (OSA)

What if we did not build an operational support system to meet current business requirements?  That might sound a bit outrageous and contradictory to everything we have learned. If you are a service provider than you are aware that what we consider premium service support today could be accepted as the norm and sometimes can be outdated before it becomes a reality.  The key to sustaining underpinning operations for any industry is in the constructs of the system.   If we build a system to provide what the customer and business outcomes require now then that is what we will have.  The likelihood is that we will have a system that provides for a service that will render itself less than optimized in a shorter time than we would like to think. What is required is an operational support system that can deliver fast but also one that is able to shift, bend and weave with the ever-changing environment and outcomes that it supports.  We need a growing living moving system that can ad

Service Transition: Release Unit vs Release Package

A “Release Unit” describes the portion of a service or IT infrastructure that is normally released as a single entity according to the organizations release policy. The Release Unit can be thought of as a collection of infrastructure items that when packaged together could perform a useful function. The unit may vary depending on the type or item of service asset or service component.  The actual components to be released on a specific occasion may include one or more release units, or may include only part of a release unit.  Release Units should contain information about the service, its utilities and warranties and release documentation.  These components can be grouped together into a Release Package for a specific release.  In general the aim is to decide the most appropriate release unit level for each service asset or component. A “Release Package” is a set of configuration items that will be built, tested and deployed together as a single release.  Each release will take th

Continual Service Improvement (CSI) - Thoughts on Measuring, Value and Risk

The best practice approach and the Seven-step Improvement Process for Continual Service Improvement (CSI) begin with identifying the vision, mission, goals and objectives of the business.  In order to measure with appropriate targets these outcomes and objectives must be quantified. If you cannot measure it you cannot improve it.  First and foremost in order to perform ongoing CSI for a service we must identify the service.  That is just common sense right?  Yet how many discussions take place in Sales, in Development, and in Operations about whether something is or is not a service.  Collectively everyone in the lifecycle has a mission to meet the outcomes of the service or services that are being provided.  Measuring and Reporting For CSI to be successful we measure and monitor and report upon a service end-to-end.   When measuring and reporting IT managers will generally report availability in terms of percent with such things as 99% availability on a server or other c

The Importance of Demand Management

I was recently asked to comment on the importance of Demand Management for IT Services as it relates to the IT Business organization. Demand Management Demand Management is tied to the “Customer” or consumer demand. It is more about the market and what is the demand from that level. Strategic Example Strategic Demand Management might be a business strategy for how to influence user behavior. The telecom industry a few years back offered “Free nights and weekends”. This was a “Strategy” to manage the “Demand” until the provider could get all of the infrastructure laid down to support the demand for service. Tactical Example Within the activities of “Demand Management “ are those that are defined to monitor, manage, and report upon the patterns of business activities (PBA) and the activities of the varied user profiles (UP’s) . Demand Management would provide the UP’s and PBA’s and work very closely with Capacity management (managing workload at the component level to meet

What is the difference between Process Owner, Process Manager and Process Practitioner?

I was recently asked to clarify the roles of the Process Owner, Process Manager and Process Practitioner and wanted to share this with you. Roles and Responsibilities: Process Owner – this individual is “Accountable” for the process. They are the goto person and represent this process across the entire organization. They will ensure that the process is clearly defined, designed and documented. They will ensure that the process has a set of Policies for governance. Example: The process owner for Incident management will ensure that all of the activities to Identify, Record, Categorize, Investigate, … all the way to closing the incident are defined and documented with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, handoffs, and deliverables.  An example of a policy in could be… “All Incidents must be logged”. Policies are rules that govern the process. Process Owner ensures that all Process activities, (what to do), Procedures (details on how to perform the activity) and th

Visible Ops & Agile Service Management

I highly recommend The Visible Ops Handbook by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford. There are a lot of intersections between Visible Ops (VisOps) and being Agile.  In fact, following Visible Ops practices allows you to achieve an Agile perspective in a shorter time scale.  There is an area in particular where I think alignment between VisOps and Agile is very strong. One of the four tenets of the Agile Manifesto is that we value “Responding to change”.  This is further underpinned by the principle “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development”.   Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.   This also ties us to the goal and objective of Agile Service Management in “Improving IT’s entire ability to meet customer requirements faster”. Responding to change does not equate to bypassing process or controls.  Every business decision triggers an IT event.  Industry statistics tell us that 80% of outages are a direct results from poor

Visible Ops

Anyone who has worked in Information Technology knows that today, there is and always will be improvement opportunities available to our organizations.  This is especially in light of the pace of change that is taking place in all market spaces and the level of customer expectations that accompanies that change. If you have worked in IT for a number of years, you may remember when change was not welcomed. Well the good old days weren’t always that good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems (Billy Joel).  The challenge is in getting started. If……. ·        the processes that are currently being engaged are not as efficient and effective as you would like ·        you are finding that your environment isn’t as stable and reliable as it should be ·        that when you make changes to your environment it generally results in an outage and prolonged and repeatable firefighting then ……. I recommend that you read The Visible Ops Handbook by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and Geor

Service Management - Education vs. Training

Although these terms are frequently used synonymously, “Training” is not “Education”.   This is not to say that training is not important because without training, education would be incomplete.  When investing your capital to increase performance and change behavior it could be beneficial to understand the distinction. Education When we are educated we learn facts, theory or required details about the who, what, where, when and why of a particular subject.  Sometimes education will build on a foundation of knowledge so that you may become more expert in that area.  A simple example is given with the idea of a language.  You may know how to speak it.  When you go to school and are educated you learn what a verb is, and how adjectives are used.  We learn the syntax and constructs of the language.  Some move on to be expert linguist. They become educated and highly skilled in the subject of language. When you are attending a Service Management or DevOps course you are learning

Asset Management or Configuration Management - Which Do I Need?

I once heard an IT manager say… “We do not need Service Asset and Configuration Management”!  We have Asset Management and we can add a few more fields of information for IT in that database.”  Is this true?  Would this give the service provider the same value as a Service Asset and Configuration Management Process and System?  Asset Management Most organizations have a process that tracks and reports the value and ownership of fixed assets throughout their lifecycle. This process is usually called Fixed Asset Management or Financial Asset Management.  Activities in traditional Asset Management include such things as documenting the cost of the asset and projected life of the asset.  Other bits of data captured might be the cost of maintaining the asset.  For the most part this is financial information.  Being able to determine the depreciation of an asset is year over year, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Return on Investment (ROI) are key.  Fixed Asset Management maintains

Agile Service Management – Techniques and Methods

Most of us are aware that Agile can be used to improve the effectiveness and efficiency needed for software development.  Agile core values and principles are defined in the Agile Manifesto . But wait!  There is more! While there are many techniques, methods and frameworks that can be utilized to ensure agility within your organization, what is important to note is that they can and should be expanded beyond software development.   Agile Values are realized via many different techniques and methods including: Continuous integration - A software development practice where: Members of a team code separately but integrate their work at least daily Each integration goes through an automated build and test to detect errors and defects The team collectively builds the software faster with less risk Continuous delivery - Continuous delivery does not infer that you are deploying every day or every hour. It means that you COULD release when needed.  It is a softwar

Agile Service Management – Roles and Responsibilities

Agile Development is an umbrella term for several iterative and incremental de velopment   methodologies.  In order to achieve Agile Development, organizations will adopt frameworks and methodologies such as SCRUM and LEAN. Being Agile and using SCRUM, LEAN and other methodologies in development is good!  What happens when development starts adopting this culture and becomes more agile and begins to move faster and leaner than ever before, only to come up against laborious and bureaucratic change management and Service Operation processes?  One example that I heard lately is that it is like pushing more and more paper into a printer and expecting it to print faster!   It doesn’t work! The Agile Principles and the  Agile Manifesto  are applicable beyond software development. Therefore, service providers not only need Agile Development we also need to adopt Agile principles throughout the entire Design, Transition, and Operation lifecycles.  Agile Service Management (Agile SM)

Agile Self-Organizing Teams

“Knowledge workers have to manage themselves. They have to have autonomy”, leadership guru Peter Drucker states in his   Management Challenges for the 21st Century . So what is a self-organizing team?   In many situations teams will be comprised of a group of people working together but not really dependent on what the others do to complete their individual tasks.   Teams should have four main qualities: Collaborative tasks to fulfill a  defined mission . Tying it to the overall vision, mission and strategy. Clear boundaries  in terms of information flow and alignment with other organizational teams, resources or decision-making policies. Roles, responsibilities and interfaces must to be defined. Authority to self-manage  within these boundaries. Must adhere to the overall organizational governance. Stability  over some defined period of time. Possibly defined in a project lifecycle or some other overarching documentation. In addition to these qualities, five essential