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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pink One Of Canada’s Top ICT Companies!

It’s been a very exciting week here at Pink! Not only have we further expanded our education lineup (more information on that to follow) but we’ve made it to the list of the top 250 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies in Canada in the 2014 Edition of the Branham300!

It’s a great achievement to top off the stellar 2013 we’ve had, which has included the introduction of ITIL Intermediate self-paced online offerings (we’re fast on our way to offering this option for all Intermediate courses), the first ever Pink Think Tank at Pink14 (our 18th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition, February 16-19, 2014), and we’re very pleased to see the growing success of our newest conference, PinkFORUM14 (the 3rd Annual IT Service Management Leadership Forum) which we’re gearing up towards in August.

For more information on the ranking, you can read our official announcement here.

2014 is already looking to be as exciting (if not more so) than 2013! Stay tuned to find out what else we’re up to here at Pink.


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Posted by Mehreen Hasan on 04/30/14 at 09:31 AM

Thursday, April 24, 2014

An interview with the 2013 winners of Project of the Year: the EMC UnITy initiative

As many readers know, each year Pink Elephant presents a set of awards at their IT Service Management Conference in Las Vegas in February.  The Project Of The Year award recognizes an organization that has demonstrated significant commitment to best practice frameworks including ITIL®, ISO, COBIT®, Lean IT, and Six Sigma.  This year the 2013 Project Of The Year award went to EMC’s “UnITy” ITSM implementation initiative.  We talked to Dana Swanstrom, the UnITy Program Lead, about the project.

For those who weren’t at the ceremony at PINK14, please tell us a little about your winning UnITy project.

EMC Corporation’s IT organization (EMC IT) led a major initiative – dubbed UnITy – to deliver the service management foundation and capabilities needed to continually improve its services. The program took a culture entrenched in old technology and habits, and introduced it to a new way of doing business.

The UnITy program addressed four key points within EMC IT:

  • Enhanced the customer experience by evolving IT’s perspective from a technology-focus to a service-focus, allowing the customer experience to drive prioritization and responsiveness
  • Enabled IT to operate as a business by optimizing processes and improving transparency through service metrics and better service quality
  • Aligned IT’s resources with customer expectations and improved capabilities such as self-service and the availability of better decision-making data
  • Optimized IT support to eventually realize millions in annual savings by reducing the use of in-house production support and managed service providers, the decommissioning of redundant IT systems, and the use of self-service to reduce calls to the service desk

The program is uniting IT to enhance the customer experience and was a critical component of EMC IT’s overall ITaaS transformational journey.

How did you drive the cultural change towards a service culture?

The UnITy program’s transformation workstream drove culture change through a comprehensive plan that:

  • Conducted workshops with IT leadership gain buy-in on problem definition and end state vision
  • Collaborated with IT organizations to gain buy in on IT’s core problems and solutions
  • Educated thousands of users on the new platform and processes
  • Communicated changes across IT and EMC

On the communications side, UnITy engaged in a multi-channel campaign to provide information in a number of accessible and understandable ways to EMC IT and the 60,000 EMC employees. Communication resources included:

  • An interactive intranet site where IT could find information about the program and ask questions
  • A regularly published email newsletter
  • Routinely scheduled global town hall meetings
  • A user engagement network that met weekly, championed the program, and provided feedback
  • A series of videos that featured IT and program leaders delivering key messages
  • Team members attended staff meetings of IT leaders to evangelize and educate the IT organization

Tell us more about your self-service capabilities.

A self-service portal was launched for EMC users to browse and order IT services, learn about solutions to common problems through self-help and knowledge articles, and request support for issues.  Prior to launching the portal, 95 percent of customer interactions started with the IT Service Desk, but since the launch EMC IT is trending closer towards 20 percent via self-service. There is massive opportunity to drive more customer interaction to the portal, translating to lower cost and higher customer satisfaction.

What are you doing to expose your knowledge base to users?

We made it easy to request the creation of knowledge from incident forms and the UnITy service catalog. The general knowledge base (KB) is accessible to all of EMC IT users and contains all EMC IT knowledge articles.
We are working hand-in-hand with all our knowledge owners and the service desk to support an effort we’re calling ‘Shift to Left.’ The idea is built around empowering our customers to help themselves and we’ve exposed knowledge articles to them through our self-help portal so they can find solutions to IT issues themselves. By doing so, we alleviate some of the pressure on the service desk to know it all.
Further, we will be building a capability which will allow our customers to request knowledge, thus adding to the KB goldmine. We also have support communities on internal social media sites, so we can crowd source solutions to common problems.

How are virtualization and cloud technologies impacting your IT service management?

Cloud and virtualization technologies not only drove EMC IT’s transformation, but they also presented a challenge and opportunity for the program’s efforts. From a business driver perspective, IT is competing with public cloud and platform offerings as our business looks to take advantage of their agility and lower costs. Therefore, EMC IT needed to put in place services with those same characteristics to be more competitive.
The on-demand nature of cloud and virtualization technologies presented a challenge and required the UnITy team to ensure IT’s processes and platform were aligned with the real-time provisioning and orchestration technologies that are inherent. As a result, the process and platform needed to be tightly integrated with other technologies to ensure data quality.
These were challenges that in the end were turned into opportunities, allowing the UnITy program to become more efficient and drive more value into the service EMC IT is delivering.

[A personal area of interest for me:] To what extent are you able to standardize incident and request responses?  Do you manage the non-standard stuff differently?

From an incident perspective, we are leveraging incident templates to standardize the way in which like incidents are handled.  From a request perspective, we have established service requests to standardize the way in which our most common requests are handled.  For incidents or requests that do not have established incident templates or service requests, the service desk agents are required to log tickets manually, using established configuration items to ensure the work gets assigned correctly. Moving forward, the program will look to standardize more requests.

Do you feel that ITIL-process-by-process is the ideal structure for approaching a transformation like this?  You grouped incident/request/knowledge in one phase, then problem/change/config in another.  Was this a natural division?  Did work cross over between the phases?

A process-by-process roadmap is logical and worked well for EMC IT, but the roadmap and timing of the process roll out was of great discussion. Several factors influenced our approach. First, the risk associated with a few burning platforms and our need to decommission them helped drive our plan. More specifically Knowledge, Incident, and Request resided on the highest risk platform, while Change, SACM, and our CMDB were on a lower risk platform. 
Another item we considered was the learning curve we faced as we moved to a new platform. We wanted to reach a certain level of sophistication before taking on the more complex and ever important CMDB. For those reasons, we first implemented Request Fulfillment, Incident Management and Knowledge and tackled Problem, Change and Configuration Management in the second phase.

What would you do differently if you did this again?

Taking on a project like UnITy is usually a once-in-a-career opportunity, so it’s not very often that you can implement lessons learned, but we’re doing that by taking our service management capabilities to other parts of the enterprise.  So, what would we change? First, we’d make communications and education efforts more applicable to people’s work by helping them understand how the new processes and platform will allow them to be more productive and enhance our customer experience.  Second, we’d spend more energy improving data quality across the program. Lastly, we’d make it more fun for everyone. We had a blast making the humorous video for the Pink Elephant award ceremony and received a great deal of positive feedback within IT.  We plan on using humor more to capture our audience’s attention and help make our messages resonate.

What have been the consequences or impact of winning this award?

Winning the award recognizes the team’s hard work and provides industry validation that the program’s accomplishments are significant, which builds even more credibility for the UnITy program within EMC IT. We’ll leverage the credibility and recognition to both market our initiatives to drive results and career opportunities within the program.

Lori Krikorian, Dana Swanstrom, and Sally Shane of EMC

What’s next for your transformation initiatives?

We aren’t done with our IT transformation. Phase III lies ahead where we plan to continue to improve the ITSM processes we’ve already instituted and introduce a few more processes. On top of adding more Standard Requests and Incidents, we’ll be solving the employee on-boarding challenge, automating the process so that new EMC employees and contractors can hit the ground running.
We’ll also add the Availability ITIL process, while enabling real-time integrations between our CMDB and Systems of Record to keep up with the speed of the cloud. We’ll be to formalizing the Continual Service Improvement process and we’re going to double down on service management education by enhancing it to include more specific use cases and examples of how it can be leveraged to improve EMC IT’s services. We plan to update training on a yearly basis to keep up with challenges and industry trends. In addition, EMC IT is being asked to offer service management capabilities to other parts of the enterprise, like our product development labs.

So there you go: a fascinating and innovative initiative from EMC.  Do you work for or know an organisation doing something equally exciting?  Nominate them for the 2014 awards, to be presented next February at PINK15.

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Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 04/24/14 at 05:48 AM
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Presenting Siddharth Shetty, 2013 Practitioner Of The Year Winner!

We’re already working hard towards Pink15, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not still basking in the afterglow from Pink14!

Just last week the 2013 Practitioner Of The Year winner, Siddharth Shetty, IT Operations Manager, Amdocs, gave a fantastic interview with ITSM India about his win.

In the casual discussion, he talked about:

  • How he heard about the awards (through a Pink Elephant training session!)

  • On the shortlisting process by the Pink Elephant jury: “It was a tough process, they asked tough questions, but then this isn’t going to be easy anyways”

  • The eventful selection interview day (it includes a car breakdown, cake, and a birthday party!)

  • How important it is to get your management team on board to ensure project success

  • He emphasized how the importance of the support of the people in the project are most important to him

  • How things have changed for him after winning this award

  • Resources fellow IT professionals can look up for more information and discussions on ITSM

  • What he thinks the ITSM roadmap in India looks like

  • How Pink14 helped broaden his mind as to the scope of ITSM

    Congratulations again Siddharth!

    Remember, nominations for the 2014 IT Excellence Awards are currently underway. For more information or to submit your nomination, visit our Pink15. Good luck!

    This just in! We can now also confirm that Siddharth will be speaking at PinkASIA14, in Kuala Lumpur, 9-10 September 2014!

    (0) Comments
    Posted by Mehreen Hasan on 04/14/14 at 10:21 AM

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    Choosing my PINK14 Sample Itinerary

    With over 160 sessions to choose from, there’s something for everyone at the Pink Elephant 2014 International ITSM Conference.  If you’re not sure which sessions to attend, Pink provide a number of sample itineraries.  Some are customized to specific roles and focus areas and some are chosen by individuals.  My offering is here (pdf).

    It was hard work making these choices, and some are dependent on where you are on your ITSM journey right now, so i thought it would be useful to publish a rationale behind the choices.  I hope you will find this an interesting discussion to help you in making your decisions.

    The challenge with a content-rich conference like the Pink Elephant IT Service Management Conference is that there will always be conflicts: multiple options you really want to see which are on at the same time.  One strategy is to bring several workmates and ensure you get coverage between you, then allocate a day when you get back for mutual sharing.  For most of us, we just have to make the hard calls.  So these are my top choices in each time-slot, and what tough choices they were. 

    Sunday, February 16, 2014

    4:00pm – 5:00pm: Conference Optimizers

    Go hear Troy DuMoulin.  Not only do I love Troy’s mental models, but cementing behavioural change is what ITSM is all about.  We’ve banged away at “IT as technology” for a decade, then “IT as processes” for a decade.  Finally we have come to the understanding that everything we do to improve is about people, and specifically about changing behaviour (I prefer “changing behaviour” to the more common term “change culture”.  You can change the behaviours long before you can get the culture to shift.)  I forget what year I presented He Tangata: IT Is The People at the Pink conference, I think 2010.  Finally it is becoming commonly understood, and Troy’s session will be foundational.
    This means you will miss Jack Probst reviewing the book The Phoenix Project.  Read the book and read my review of it  … or go to the session repeated at breakfast on Wednesday morning.

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    7:15am – 8:15am: Breakfast Clubs

    The Lean principles are important … for the standardised “half” of your activities.  Manufacturing-derived optimisation techniques only work for repeatable standardised transactions.  The other side of IT is all the variable unpredictable stuff we deal with, where such techniques are less valuable.  I explore this dichotomy more in Standard+Case.  I’m presenting a workshop on it at PINK14, and I wrote a book on it.  I discussed it on Pink’s Practitioner Radio episode 44.
    But not as important as COBIT.  ITIL will dominate the ITSM landscape for some time to come, but COBIT is more important and more valuable.  It is my primary reference framework, as I explained in my Showdown Of The Methodologies at PINK12. Everyone in IT needs to be familiar with COBIT.  I’ve been picking it as a sleeper about to take off… but I’ve been picking it for years now.  I still think it is going to be big. 
    So go to Jennifer Wels’ session if you aren’t familiar with COBIT and go to the Lean session if you are.
    Unless you are highly technical, in which case go to the SDDC session.  This is one of the pillars of DevOps and DevOps is going to rock our world (though not as soon nor as thoroughly as pundits and The Phoenix Project would have you believe).

    8:30am – 9:00am:

    Don’t miss the keynotes.  I’ve missed a few over the years and always regretted it.

    10:30am – 11:30am:

    Now it gets even harder, with so many “coal face” sessions from real practitioners to choose from.  Some will resonate with you because of the particular problems your organisation is wrestling with right now.  If so, go.  Bringing back tangible actionable value is one way to ensure you get to go to the conference again next year.

    The generational issues discussed by George Spalding are important.  As I said already, IT is about people.  You can’t shy away from the “wetware” issues.  I know I struggle with coming to grips with the new generations.
    And Agile is another of those fundamental techniques like Lean that can be applied to ITSM to great effect.  I’ve used it myself, e.g. in my Tipu public-domain CSI method which I presented some years ago at this conference.  I’m a vocal critic of Agile as a software development technique, so if you share my prejudices don’t be put off.  Agile introduces volatility, unpredictability and – frankly – looseness into software that gives me the willies in a production environment.  There are only two states in software: working correctly, or catastrophically wrong.  But people and process are different.  Humans are adaptable and self-adjusting: we work around broken bits, we leap gaps, we correct mistakes.  Agile techniques are far more acceptable for developing practices than they are for software.
    But I’d have to go for James Finister talking about Service Integration (“SIAM”) and Multi-Sourcing.  Jim is of course a lot more evangelical than I am on this topic, but it is nevertheless one of the biggest challenges facing IT now and into the future.  That’s why we made it the topic of our inaugural Pink Think Tank at PINK14.

    Track 9 – Pink Think Tank

    IT Service Management is at a cross-roads. The pace of change of the IT sector is accelerating. We are moving into a brave new world where we lose control of most IT assets; data is hosted, systems are outsourced, users are empowered to self-provision. It is a generally held belief that in future, the role of ITSM will be to govern, integrate, manage, monitor and improve IT operated by external parties. With ITSM being called on to change and change quickly, Pink Elephant is proud to move this discussion forward by bringing together some of the world’s leading ITSM thinkers to form the Pink Think Tank. The Pink Think Tank will gather prior to Pink14 to consider some of the toughest questions in ITSM. They will present their results to you at the Pink14 conference, as well as contributing their expertise with sessions of their own choice in a Luminary Stream.
    Never before has there been such a gathering of ITSM minds to work together. Pink Elephant is proud to facilitate this contribution to the advancement of ITSM.

    11:30am – 3:35pm: Exhibition Showcase Open

    Come and see me in the Exhibit Hall.  I have a sofa – a treat after hours walking and standing on those concrete floors.

    11:30am – 2:00pm: Lunch/Concurrent Breakout Sessions

    You can eat when you get home.  If you are American, you probably eat too much anyway (said the guy carrying 15 extra kilos).  Go to the sessions.

    11:45am – 12:45pm:

    I really like Pink Elephant’s organisational maturity model which Jack Probst is presenting, though the part linking it to the ITSM work required at each level veers a bit close to “ITIL processes as units of work” which I disagree with.
    But I’d pick Douglas Smith talking about The Human Factor as it sounds like actionable stuff I can apply now to behavioural change, and all new ideas are welcome right now. 

    1:00pm – 2:00pm:

    If you have too many IT projects, and/or you can’t meet the organisation’s demand for IT services and changes fast enough, go to my session on Meet In The Middle: Slow IT & Fast IT.  That will apply to all of you.  Every year I come out with one Big Idea that I think is really, really important.  This is it for Pink14.

    2:15pm – 3:15pm:

    Tough choice again.  I’ve worked recently helping a government department think of service management beyond IT.  That helps you show the value of IT and extract more ROI from ITSM investments. So Service Management At CERN – Not Just For IT Anymore is interesting.
    But I’m going for Plan, Build, Operate – The MetLife Way. Because it combines discussion of applications-centric operations – close to DevOps concepts – and managing IT suppliers.

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    7:15am – 8:15am: Breakfast Clubs

    If you have any interest in IT leadership, go to IT Leadership Roundtable Discussions – How To Successfully Lead Change.  If you have an interest in the ITIL body of knowledge go to The ITIL Roadmap: Driving ITIL Forward from AXELOS - the new owners of ITIL.  Otherwise, Chris Dancy is always mind bending: It’s Not Self-Service If It Actually Empowers People.

    10:30am – 11:30am:

    Arrrggg!  For those involved in IT leadership, come to my session Raising IT: Don’t Let IT Fall Victim To Bad Parenting.  If you are coming to my workshop on Standard+Case, go see The Rebirth Of The IT Artist as important background.  Otherwise I’d go to On Time, Every Time, Within Budget & With Zero Defects – That’s The Nationwide Way for more glimpses of the future of ITSM.

    11:45am – 12:45pm:

    If you fancy yourself as an “ITSM philosopher”, its Charles Betz hands down: Semantics Matter: How Mental Models Determine The Possible. And Gary Case is talking about those people and culture issues again with The Biggest Challenges Of Implementing Major Change & How To Overcome Them.  But I’d go to Troy DuMoulin on Dev&Ops: A Tale Of Two Tribes Under One Flag because trying to find the common ground between DevOps and ITSM has been a particular interest of mine over the past year.  I started the Kamu initiative to get people talking about it.

    1:00pm – 2:00pm:

    Hopefully we will come up with something really interesting when some of the best minds in ITSM (and me) get together in that Pink Think Tank before the conference.  We have set ourselves the objective of delivering actionable advice on dealing with (multiple) service providers.  We’ll be presenting the results in the Pink Think Tank Summary session.  But I would understand if you went to Karen Ferris on Balanced Diversity – A Portfolio Approach To Organizational Change.  I consider this to be part of the future of ITSM: a framework for changing people.

    2:15pm – 3:15pm:

    If you aren’t familiar with Kotter’s 8-Step Model, go hear it from Gary Case.  If you are in an IT leadership role, go to The Power Of The Pyramid In Leadership.  Troy is looking at more cultural change issues.  But I always want to hear David Cannon, one of the most respected thinkers in ITIL, so I’d go to Surviving The Business Apocalypse.

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    7:15am – 8:15am: Breakfast Clubs

    Another chance to hear about The Phoenix Project book, but I’d go to the IT Support & Service Desk Forum.  After all these theories and high-performing practitioners, it’s good to get back to coal-face service support now and then, back to the coalface.  It keeps us grounded.

    10:30am – 11:30am:

    If you want to know more and ask questions about the output of the Pink Think Tank, come to our Power Session for a panel discussion.  My pick isn’t a pick: I can’t choose between Rodrigo Flores whose aaS Is On The Line and Mark Smalley who suspects You’re Seeing Someone Else, Aren’t You?, both of whom are talking about a similar thing from different perspectives.  Mark will be entertaining and challenging, and Rodrigo will be a voice from the dark side.  You pick.

    1:00pm – 3:45pm: Half–Day Workshops

    Personally I’d go to The ITSM Leadership MasterClass from David Ratcliffe, who ought to know.  Unless you run a team of responders (e.g. a service desk), in which case come to my workshop on Standard+Case to see service response in a whole new light.

    Remember: go to what resonates with your own reality right now.  And have fun!  See you there.

    (0) Comments
    Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 01/17/14 at 10:08 PM
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    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Breaking Down Process Measurement Silos Part 3: Metrics as a percentage Example 2

    This blog presents the second example describing how to express a process metric as a percentage.  In this slightly more challenging example, there may not be a maximum value possible (or in theory, infinity is the maximum), but it is still possible to produce a result as a percentage to be used in the overall process score or an ITSM balanced scorecard.

    We have a classic ‘Mean Time to Restoration’ (MTTR) metric which is typically calculated in time (hours) and need to express it in a percentage so it can be included in a comprehensive process balanced score card.

    • 1 Incident Management Process with agreed reporting period(s)
    • A way to obtain a time duration between creation and resolution for each Incident during agreed reporting period(s) (or average duration among them)
    • 4-6 data points used to create an equation for a curve that will represent the percentage results
    • 1 PhD in Math or Statistics (or a program like MS Excel that will calculate a trend line or line and display the equation which represents that line)

    The Recipe:
    Start by defining some hypothetical results and what score you feel they should reflect.  Yes, there is a bit of feeling required here, but don’t panic.  While the number purists may cringe, I believe there is still great value in this activity as long as you can gain agreement in how the measurement is made and keep it consistent over enough time to allow trends and changes to be reflective of the process performance.

    Let’s say a Mean Time to Restoration (MTTR) of 8 hours represents a 95%.  Let’s also say that 20 hours would be 80 percent, 50 hours would be 70 percent, and 100 hours would be 45 percent.  We will be plotting the percentage on the y-axis and the time on the x-axis.  As our curve approaches 0 time, the percentage should be nearing 100 and as our time increases toward infinity, the curve approaches 0 percent on the y-axis.

    Step 1: Using a spreadsheet application, plug in x and y values and plot them on a graph as points.  I used the following data points

    Then, add a trend line.  You will need to play around a bit with your data points and the type of trend line to get something that you are happy with.  Once you have a line (well curve) that you are happy with, ask the application to display the equation. This is where you’ll wish you paid better attention in calculus class!  In our example, a logarithmic trend line was chosen and used to obtain the following equation which describes our line:


    This equation can now be used consistently each month to determine our score (as a percentage) for the MTTR reported on our process.

    Step 2: For each Incident, the time period from open to resolution must be calculated.  These values are averaged and a ‘MTTR’ results.

    Step 3: Plug the MTTR into the formula defined in step 1 and obtain your percentage to be used in the scorecard.  For example, if we had an MTTR for the month of 12 hours,

    (0) Comments
    Posted by Brian Newcomb on 09/23/13 at 09:04 AM
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    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Applying ITIL, Lean, and Six Sigma to achieve your goals

    At Pink13 in Las Vegas this past February, Martha Wenc, Process Development Manager at Jazz Aviation LP presented her four year ITSM journey in the session “Using Complementary Methodologies For Your ITSM Flight – A Jazz Aviation Success Story”. Operating scheduled passenger services on behalf of Air Canada, Wenc’s team was tasked with developing and strengthening the service management process within their Information & Communication Services Group. In her session, Wenc successfully demonstrated how drawing upon her experiences as a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, Myers-Briggs facilitator, and Lean Instructor kick-started the IT department’s adoption of successful ITSM practices.

    The audience loved it.  The presentation won Case Study Of The Year, which recognises the individual with the highest overall rating for a case study presentation delivered at the conference.

    So it seemed to me a good idea to find out more about it.  I interviewed Martha recently.

    Tell us about Jazz Aviation

    Jazz Aviation is a regional airline which flies over 800 flights each day to over 80 destinations throughout North America – from Northern Canada as far south as Texas and spanning the breadth of North America from coast to coast.  We operate a capacity purchase agreement with Air Canada to feed their network.  Jazz provides service to and from many smaller communities in Canada and the United States under the brand name Air Canada Express. We also operate to larger centres at off-peak times as a complement to Air Canada’s schedule.

    The Capacity Purchase Agreement (CPA) with Air Canada is the core of our business. Air Canada purchases substantially all of Jazz’s seat capacity based on predetermined rates. In reality, we are a contract carrier for Air Canada and operate our flights on their behalf. The CPA provides commercial flexibility and connecting network traffic to Air Canada, while significantly reducing Jazz’s financial and business risks.  We also operate additional charter services.

    You have a diverse range of skills: Six Sigma, Myers-Briggs, Lean.  Tell us about your IT journey

    I was initially assigned to work with the IT department as a Black Belt in 2007.  Within our Six Sigma team we had been encouraged to use whatever tool was appropriate to get the job done, whether it be an analytical tool from Six Sigma, Lean, or Meyers Briggs.  I did not know anything about IT, however I had done some work with the IT Director on a Customer Satisfaction survey.  There was some curiosity about ITIL amongst the group; so a small team was sent to an ITIL Foundations course in 2007.  We returned from this training very excited about the possibilities and immediately started making changes to improve our Incident Management process – our first ITIL alignment project. 

    Aligning our processes with ITIL best practices became a key part of our corporate strategy for 2008 and it then became my full-time job.  It helped a lot that we had Management support going into the training, and that Senior Managers supported our efforts to train all IT employees.  Initially everyone was given a quick high-level overview and over the next few years a concerted effort was made to gradually send people to ITL training.  By 2012 all of our IT employees had attended foundation-level training, approximately 60 employees.  We also had a core team of individuals trained at higher levels.  Training everyone was important to ensure everyone understands where we are headed with ITIL both to build engagement and to demonstrate corporate support for the initiative and changes which continue to come.  We operate with a lean team of one employee focused on ITIL day-to-day (me) with a small group of others who are interested in making change – however the changes are applicable to everyone.  It has been interesting to see the shift in focus within the ITIL community away from data and analytics to focusing on people and cultural change.  It may be that change is more easily achieved in a smaller organisation like ours as we have the flexibility to be nimble and continue to push change at the pace that the organisation and the people are able to adapt.

    Please tell us about what you achieved at Jazz, for those who weren’t there for your presentation at Pink13

    ITIL was sought out to address low employee satisfaction levels and because it fit well with the work our Six Sigma team was doing.  From the very beginning our goal has been to improve customer satisfaction.  Our customers are all Jazz employees, so we are focused on meeting employee needs.  ITIL and Six Sigma are both very customer-focused in their approach but Six Sigma provides the analytical tools to be able to measure progress.  Our approach has been to focus on making improvements in whatever area is causing the greatest pain.  Prior to focusing on ITIL, 36% of our employees were dissatisfied with the service they received from us.  By 2010, after 3 years of effort, we were able to decrease this to 18%.  At the same time, the number of Very dissatisfied employees dropped by more than half and the number who reported being Very Satisfied increased from 9 to 17%.  I look forward to another survey to validate that our trend is still on track.

    It makes a change to hear a case study of somebody using a diverse range of complementary methodologies to approach the change in people and practices which is an ITSM improvement.  Explain for listeners how they work together to produce a result

    Six Sigma is an important part of what I do, I think of ITIL as providing the goals and Six Sigma as a toolkit which provides the means to get there.  ITIL lays out a direction for improvement although there may not always be a clear path to follow to get there.  We tend to run multiple projects simultaneously and use the tools which relate to the goal—Six Sigma for reducing errors, Lean for waste reduction, Meyers Briggs for understanding team or change management issues caused by different personality types. Six Sigma is great when you have a clear goal to measure and develop a baseline for long-term improvement, however Lean can be faster and more engaging for a team.

    Is it essential to bring in such formalised methodologies or skillsets to facilitate change?

    I don’t believe so, the key point is to focus on our goals and discuss the process with the people who are closest to it, while keeping the customer in mind.  We do a lot of Voice of the Customer work, to ensure that our goals remain aligned with the customer’s needs.

    How was it winning the Case Study Award at Pink13?

    It was a shock!  Pink brings together such a vast range of people who share an impressive knowledge and range of experience related to Service Management.  It is really amazing to be recognised amongst such a brilliant and accomplished group.

    What has happened since winning? 

    Back to work!  The Pink conference is a great rejuvenator that provides us with fresh ideas for where to improve next.  We are always viewing the conference through the lens of whatever is on our plate for the coming year.  This year is project and alignment focused, so for me, that was top of mind.  We do meet afterward to compare notes and ensure that the good ideas are not lost, some are acted upon immediately while others will be incorporated into next year’s plan.

    What is your current or next initiative?  What are you working on?

    We are currently working on a program to improve our project lifecycle flow by combining a variety of methodologies that we use at Jazz.  We are calling it Idea to Operate as it follows the lifecycle of an idea from the conceptual stage all the way through to being used within the operational environment.  The Idea to Operate program merges the various internal processes that we have in place at Jazz to ensure that new initiatives handled consistently.  It also helps us to move service management beyond IT as it is a valuable discipline throughout the organisation.  This way,  we can route all corporate projects through a consistent process, pull in the appropriate talent and the right time, and have cross-disciplinary teams of IT Managers, Project Managers, Continuous Improvement Specialists, Finance, Procurement… everyone speaking the same language and functioning with the same flow.  The goal is to improve our project success rate. 

    Congratulations to Martha Wenc, and to Jazz Aviation, for the recognition of their achievements so far!

    Martha will be back at Pink14 to present “Cleared For Take-Off – How To Implement An ITIL-Centric Service Lifecycle Approach”, so don’t miss it!

    (0) Comments
    Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 09/10/13 at 04:56 PM
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    Monday, August 26, 2013

    Breaking Down Process Measurement Silos Part 2: Metrics as a percentage Example 1

    This blog presents the first of two examples demonstrating how we can express our process measurements as a percentage and use that percentage to track progress toward a goal in support of an overall process and ITSM scorecard.

    An Incident Management process metric counts the number of times an Incident status was changed to ‘Reassigned/Wrong Assignment’. This measurement is used to evaluate errors in assignment (and process quality). The desire is to turn this ‘count’ into a percentage of some total number, but since this status may be assigned multiple times for an Incident (yikes, not a good day to be a customer) the total number of Incidents won’t work well as the total.

    1 Incident Management Process with:
    Agreed reporting period(s)
    A way to count, record, and retrieve mis-assigned Incident functional escalations in a reporting period
    A way to count, record, and retrieve the number of times Incident assignments to a group or individual are made or changed in a reporting period

    A little high school mathematics

    The Recipe:
    In this case, the trick is to obtain the total number of times a change in assignment group was made among all Incidents within the reporting period. Since each assignment group change is an opportunity to get it either right or wrong, this becomes the total. This also accounts for each Incident having a theoretically unlimited number of possible assignments or reassignments – each of which represents a potential opportunity to make an error. Thus, number of times the status of ‘Reassigned/Wrong Assignment’ is assigned for Incidents within a given period, divided by the total assignment group changes across all Incidents within that same period, multiplied by 100 gives a percentage you can use.

    Step 1: Obtain a count of incorrect escalation assignments for a group of incidents in a given period of time (say a month). Most common ways to do this are by querying your ITSM tool to look for an indicator that is appropriate for your organization like setting a particular status, flag, or checkbox. For a hypothetical example looking at 1000 incidents for last month, we find 60 times a status of ‘Reassigned/Wrong Assignment’ status is used.

    Step 2: Obtain a count of the total assignment group changes for a group of Incidents in a given interval (same as used in Step 1). Again, this is data that is likely within the log data for your Incident records. They ease of accessing this data may vary based on your tool or process, however. To continue our hypothetical example, we find that in that same group of 1000 Incidents, there were 1500 assignment group changes made.

    Step 3: Divide the number in Step 1 by the total number obtained in Step 2 and multiply by 100.  Thus in our example,   So, we have 4% of our assignments made in error last month.

    Ideally, the next step would be to use this to calculate progress toward a goal.  In this case, I found it easier to reverse the metric from a percentage incorrect to a percentage correct.  Therefore, our measure of 4% error can be expressed as 96% correct assignments made.  So, our goal is 98% accuracy and our result was 96% and we can determine how close to our goal we finished with the following procedure:
    Step 4: Solve for ‘x’ in the following: So, in our example   may be expressed as and
    Our score is 98% (an ‘A’ if you will) and that will look good on any grade card!

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    Posted by Brian Newcomb on 08/26/13 at 07:27 AM
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    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Breaking down process measurement silos:  How to make them contribute to something greater.

    Measurements come in many different forms.  Sums, time durations, percentages, averages, stars, and ‘thumbs up’ may result from various metrics that have been defined.  These are likely being used within each process to help ensure efficiency and effectiveness while also identifying areas that may need improvement.

    Best practice is that every process be measureable, however, it is important to ensure that IT Service Management (ITSM) as a whole is measureable as part of your overall Continual Service Improvement efforts.  This is also a very efficient way to share ITSM and process health with executives who likely do not have time or desire to wade through countless process metrics.

    To break away from the silo’d approach to process measurement, it is necessary to look at how each process contributes to the overall health of ITSM as an organizational capability.  This is accomplished by using an ITSM balanced scorecard, which combines key measurements from all processes.  However, to do this, you’ll need to express all measures in a common way to facilitate the ‘rolling up’ of individual measures into an overall score.

    The most popular way to do this is with a percentage.  Let’s face it, we are indoctrinated into scoring progress as a percentage from grade school (which can be transformed to a letter grade if you must), but sometimes it is not directly apparent as to how to express a metric as a percentage. 

    Percentages are a common way to measure how much of something exists as a portion of a whole or possible maximum.  For this reason, the potential ‘whole’ must be known.

    In essence, a percentage is a fraction.  If you remember back to elementary school math, a denominator is required to represent the possible whole or maximum (that’s the number on the bottom).  The numerator (or top number) represents the measured amount, and simple division of these two numbers produces your percentage.

    Some measurements present difficulty in identifying the possible maximum, or total, to fill the denominator spot.  This is most common for metrics expressed as a count or time duration where the maximum is not obvious (or may not exist).  In this case, the trick is to obtain (or create) a denominator to use so a percentage can be obtained.

    In my next two blogs, I’ll illustrate this point with example measurements including ‘count of Incident mis-assignments’ and ‘mean time to restoration’ (or average resolve time).

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    Posted by Brian Newcomb on 08/13/13 at 07:22 AM
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    Monday, July 08, 2013

    “Pink Control To Commander Hadfield!” (apologies to David Bowie)

    Yes, it’s now official.

    Colonel Chris Hadfield, Commander of Expedition 35 to the International Space Station, will be the opening keynote speaker at #Pink14, the 18th Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas in February 2014!

    We’re excited, are you?

    If you missed all the buzz in the news when Commander Hadfield left the ISS in May, 2013 - then maybe this will give you a little insight as to what you can expect when he takes the stage at the Bellagio on February 17, 2014 ....

    Can’t wait to hear what lessons we can learn about vision, planning, continual improvement, experiential learning & simulations, leadership, communications, risk management and social media!

    We had some fun with the Twitter competition “Guess The Keynote”. If you guessed correctly then stand by - we’ll be in touch with a special treat for you!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 07/08/13 at 11:05 AM
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    Wednesday, July 03, 2013

    Guess The Opening Keynote Speaker for Pink14!

    Today we’re excited to launch a fun competition linked to Pink14 - the 18th Annual International ITSM Conference & Exhibition.

    Every year we’re proud to feature some great keynote speakers at our flagship Conference. And every year our customers tell us how the keynote speaker line-up just seems to gets better and better. 2014 will be no exception!  The Conference team has been working hard behind the scenes to make sure we meet all of our 3 primary objectives with every keynote speaker we select:

    1. Educational – we need to learn.
    2. Inspirational – we need to be motivated to change.
    3. Entertaining – we need learning to be fun! It helps us to stay engaged.

    The complete line-up is not yet complete, but we’re almost ready to announce the opening keynote speaker. However, before we do, we thought we’d have a little fun! Between now and Monday morning (July 8th) we’ll be tweeting clues about the identity of our opening keynote for Pink14. There’ll be a few more clues over the weekend, and early on Monday. Then we’ll announce the answer - and winners - mid-morning on Monday.

    All you have to do is follow @TheITILExperts and watch for the clues with the #Pink14 hashtag.

    Make sure to RT with the #Pink14 hashtag when you’re submitting an answer. You can have as many guesses as you like!

    If you aren’t using Twitter - yet - it’s easy to get started. Just go to and follow the instructions to sign-up (all you need is your name and an email address).

    While you can have as many guesses as you like, we won’t acknowledge the winners until mid-morning on Monday July 8th.

    While this is all in good fun, we promise there’ll be nice prizes for the winners – maybe even one or two special prizes for excellent speaker suggestions!

    Good luck – and have fun!

    (1) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 07/03/13 at 10:34 AM
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    Thursday, May 02, 2013

    What is your ROI for RCA? (A Key Problem Management Metric)

    The activities of Problem Management are, on the surface, quite similar to those of Incident Management, but the focus of these processes is very different.  Because of this, the type of measurements used to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of these processes are also different.  Most organizations place a significant focus on time-based measures for Incident Management.  This makes sense since the purpose of the process is, by definition, to restore normal service as quickly as possible.

    On the other hand, Problem Management doesn’t have a similar speed statement, so what type of measure is a good representation of the health of your Problem Management process?  Ultimately, the prevention or elimination of re-occurring Incidents is a good indicator and represents savings realized by decreased load on support/operational resources.  But consider the investment made in Problem Management.  A root cause analysis (RCA), which incorporates significant effort by subject matter experts within the organization, can easily add up.

    What measure can be made to ensure the use of these valuable staff time is not wasted and a positive return on investment (ROI) is realized?  Based on the assumption that a good RCA will result in an accurate root cause and change request to eliminate Incidents, I like to measure the ‘trial and error’ factor.

    For each problem that has a RCA activity and resulting request for change (RFC), we are looking to determine if the change request that resulted from the RCA eliminated the error on the first try, thereby demonstrating that the investment in the RCA activity saved future repeated attempts to understand the error and ‘try’ a new potential resolution.

    1 Problem Management process with RCA activity and ability to track RFC’s against the Problem that Initiated the Change Request.
    1 Change Management process with feedback to (and ideally, participation of) Problem Management via post implementation review (PIR)
    1 Incident Management process capable of detecting Incident Trends and linking Incidents to a Problem

    Step 1: Upon closure of the Problem Record with a status of being permanently solved, the number of RFC’s linked to the Problem is counted.

    Step 2: For a given period of time, look at all Problems that have been closed with a ‘resolved’ status and calculate what percent had a count of related RFC’s equal to 1 as shown below.  Let’s call it ‘Percentage of Problems with successful RCA.’  If we are to move away from ‘trial and error’ we should aim for a high percentage.

    (2) Comments
    Posted by Brian Newcomb on 05/02/13 at 08:13 AM
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    Monday, April 22, 2013

    Final thoughts on Pink13

    George Spalding, our ebullient Master of Ceremonies and one of the driving forces behind organising the whole event, gives us his parting thoughts on Pink13.  He and the team are already hard at work on Pink14.  Will I see you there?

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    Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 04/22/13 at 06:13 PM
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    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Project Management and ITIL:  Why can’t we all just get along?


    One of the most common questions I get when teaching the ITIL Foundation course is around how Project Management relates to ITIL.  This question either comes from those currently leading project management or by those feeling the rigor around their organization’s project management practice and wondering how they can leverage some of the best practices from ITIL without ‘upsetting the peace’.  In fact, ITIL recognizes project management as a valuable and important part of IT Service Management and the Service Lifecycle.


    Project management, as defined by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a product, service, or result.  There is a key idea in this definition that a project is temporary and finite – something used to get from point A to point B and then its done.  In a service based IT organization, the majority of projects (if not all) will do one of 3 things:  produce a new service, retire a service, or improve a current service (including any aspect of the service).  The key is to realize this and look at the ITIL Service Lifecycle to see what is happening.  Through the course of the project, many of the ITIL processes are being executed.  The strongest focus is generally in those processes from the Service Strategy, Service Design, and Service Transition phases.  The challenge now is mindset.


    In project centric organizations, planning, funding, reporting, and ultimate value to the business is based on the projects being initiated and delivered.  Therefore, project management takes the spotlight and all other activities are subservient.  In many cases, little is considered in terms of long term support of the ongoing ‘service’ that lives on after the project has completed – at least not until closer to launch, if ever.  In a service centric organization, IT provides value by delivering services to the business that facilitates outcomes the business want to achieve.  IT does this by making strategic decisions, based on business input, around what Services need to be offered, how they will create value, what exactly they need to do and how they will be designed.  They manage the build and transition so as to minimize risk and disruption to the business, support it in operation and continually make improvements to ensure it always has high value.


    Understanding the role of project management within ITIL requires a paradigm shift around the role of project management.  Organizations must think about moving through the Service Lifecycle and understand all of the processes working to take the business need through to a valuable, operational service.  To effectively accomplish this, project management is used manage resources, tasks, risks, milestones, and ensure all the activities defined in the lifecycle processes are completed as defined.  To transition to this level of realization however, the organization must be able to move past the thought that ‘those activities are part of project management’.  This can be difficult because in most cases, project management existed in the organization first.


    Out of necessity, and for lack of any other guidance, many IT organizations adopted project management before ITIL existed or gained mainstream recognition.  Now that there is best practice more specific to guide IT organizations in managing Services, we must thank project management for its years of contribution and transition it to its new role in the organization.


    Once we move beyond the ‘we where here first’ mindset, we can leverage project management in ensuring compliance with and moving us through the lifecycle processes.  The project plan can be built to include checkpoints and tasks tied to various processes.  For example, at the onset of the project, the plan may look to ensure a Request For Change (RFC) has been entered in to the Change Management process.  Before build tasks begin, project management can ensure that the RFC has been authorized (by Change Management) for build.  The project plan may also ensure that, in the design and requirements phase, the Service Level Management process is engaged to discuss Service Level Requirements or Event Management is involved to begin identifying and designing the appropriate monitoring.  At this point, the organization is using project management as their greatest partner and driving the full value of their defined IT Service Management processes.  So just like that sign that hung in my room as a kid, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”





    (1) Comments
    Posted by Brian Newcomb on 04/15/13 at 03:15 PM
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    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    Pink13: another great ITSM Conference

    Pink13 is done and dusted.  All would agree it was a great conference ... again.  The Pink Elephant team do it year after year.  I’m looking forward to the next one - I’ll be at Pink14 next year.  See you there!! 

    Here is a retrospective I put together of Pink13 for those who missed it, or those who just want to reminisce for a moment.

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    Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 03/14/13 at 08:38 PM
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    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    Looking back at the ITSM Extreme Makeover

    Pink Elephant Principal Consultant Jack Probst was the Pink Elephant lead on the ITSM Extreme Makeover, a project we have blogged about before, where several vendors donates resources to the University of Texas Health Sciences Center to “make over” their IT practices.

    Coming up to Pink13, and with almost a year gone since the project wrapped up, it is time to look back and reflect on what went down and what we can take away.


    Here are some pictures from the Christmas party Jack referred to:

    You can see Jack at Pink13 and ask him more about the ITSM Extreme Makeover.

    (8) Comments
    Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 01/29/13 at 09:29 PM
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