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.”
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.
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.
- ITSM can contribute to the community
- ITSM Extreme Makeover – Have you been following?
- Get a Feel For the ITSM Extreme Makeover
- Jack writes about the 4Ps
- An interview with the UTHSCSA CIO, Jerry York.
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.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Some of us get a lot more excited than we should about the latest Pink Elephant conference mascot. Me for example. Every year I wait with bated breath, and pester David Ratcliffe for hints. So here is he is for PINK13: Astro Pinky
Astro Pinky has his own Twitter account where you can follow all the news about this years conference, live, real-time, right through the conference. So this is an essential account for all you twitterati to follow. And of course, keep watching the hashtag #Pink13.
The ‘astro-connection’? Why, one of the keynote speakers is Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson!
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Some ITSM Christmas Carols
To celebrate Christmas the ITSM way, here are some suggested carols and Christmas songs:
- O Come All Ye Faithful
An ITSM conference
- Silent Night
The peace that only a silent phone can bring
- Hark the Herald iPhones Sing
The opposite of Silent Night
See also It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
- O Come, O Come, a Manual
The last resort of technical support
- We Three Kings of Orient Are
HTC, Huawei and Samsung
- How much is that iPad in the window?
The joys of BYOD
- Root Cause the Red Faced Vendor
Blame the vendor, that’s what they are for.
- While Shepherds Watched
The night shift operators
- Christmas is Coming
A real project milestone
- Go Tell It on the Mountain
- The Little Drummer Boy
How ITSM consultants feel sometimes
- Let It SNOW
The cries of one particular service desk vendor
- The 12 Days of Christmas
We already did that one
Happy Holidays everyone!
Monday, October 22, 2012
One of the primary messages in recent times from David Ratcliffe, President of Pink Elephant, has been Seff-Empowered Leadership. He spoke about it at PINK12, at the Pink conferences in Mexico and Asia, at the ITSM Leadership Forum, and in his blog earlier this year.
The first ITSM Leadership Forum was an event run by Pink Elephant in Scottsdale, Arizona in August this year, and equally it is a community discussion, right now, online. The event and the discussions intersect on the session descriptions. Read that sessions page: it is structured as a set of key questions for ITSM leadership.
The theme of leadership can be expected to re-emerge just as strongly for PINK13, so I took an opportunity to talk to David about ITSM Leadership.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Evolution in IT Management
IT Management doesn’t stand still. If tracking the current directions in IT Management is part or all of your mission at PINK13, here are some sessions to attend.
Over the three or four decades of the IT sector, we have matured as an industry and a profession. We have had some step changes and some evolution.
Service Management was a very influential concept which took decades to take hold in IT. It brought exciting concepts from the service industries.
Quality management ideas like Deming, Six Sigma and Lean come from the manufacturing sector and also slowly took hold.
We’ve also hatched a few ideas of our own in the IT sector, such as Corporate Governance of IT (ISO/IEC 38500), Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and Knowledge Centered Support (KCS). The first of those - Governance - is having a huge influence on IT Management at the moment as we come to better understand the political and organisational requirements to realise value from IT
And of course we have developed our own bodies of knowledge such as ITIL and COBIT, which now become world leaders and offer value back to the other business sectors.
The other great area of growth in our sector has been our maturing of understanding of “People Process Technology”. We started as a tech-obsessed industry sector, then ITSM led us to understand the importance of process as well. Finally - FINALLY! - in recent years we have grasped that IT is all about people. In this decade the people message is coming through strongly in many areas, e.g.:
- Karen Ferris wrote the seminal book Balanced Diversity which pretty much nailed the practice of cultural change in IT for me.
- David Ratcliffe, the Pink Prez, talks of Self-Empowered leadership.
- BYOD and social media aren’t technical issues or process issues.
So Governance and People are the huge tectonic shifts in IT Management at the moment as we continue to grow as a sector. Look for a number of sessions on these topics at PINK13, including:
- Leadership: Helping Others To Succeed :- Bernardo Tirado, CEO and Founder, The Project Box, LLC, Six Sigma Black Belt
- ...in fact the whole of Track 1 – Leadership & The ABCs Of ITSM
- The LOE Index: A Quantitative Tool For Measuring The Individual Response To Organizational Change – An Overview :- Dr. Victoria M. Grady, PhD, Assistant Professorial Lecturer, Department of Organizational Science, Columbian School of Arts & Sciences, George Washington University
- Business & IT Alignment: What It Really Means :- Paul Wilkinson, Director, GamingWorksBV
- Tips For Cementing Organizational Change :- Troy DuMoulin, Vice President, Professional Services, Pink Elephant
- Align IT – For Free! :- Niel Nickolaisen, CIO, Western Governors University
- Linking Company Strategy To Portfolio Management :- Marc van der Heijden, Vice President Global IT – Competency Center Sales, Adidas-Group
- Organization Change & ITIL Service Improvement Initiatives: A Look At 3 Models :- Rae Garrett, Principal Consultant, Pink Elephant
- The Neuroscience Of Leading Change :- Samad Aidane, Founder, Guerrilla Project Management
- Using Myers-Briggs To Manage Your IT Project Team :- Bernardo Tirado, CEO and Founder, The Project Box, LLC, Six Sigma Black Belt
- ITSM Parenting: Raising Empowered & Self-Sufficient IT Staff :- Andy White, Principle Solutions Marketing, BMC Software
- Mavens, Connectors, Salesmen – What Every ITSM Leader Needs To Know About Them :- Jack Probst, Principal Consultant, Pink Elephant
- Navigating The Cultural Silos Of The IT Value Stream :- Troy DuMoulin, Vice President, Professional Services, Pink Elephant
- What IT Governance Isn’t :- Rob England, The IT Skeptic
...and many more. These are presentation topics we would seldom have seen five years ago, related to People or Governance. In 2013 there are too many to list.
In addition to these really big shifts, there are some smaller “quakes’ going on, lesser step changes in IT Management, such as
- The Service Management Office 2.0 :- Troy DuMoulin, Vice President, Professional Services, Pink Elephant
- ...and my own humble contribution to ITSM step-change, which I am really really excited about: Applying Adaptive Case Management To ITSM: The Standard+Case Approach
Please indulge me while I rant about that last one, as it is my own personal passion. Not many things get The IT Skeptic all fizzy and enthused, but this does. I think it is a really important change to the way we think about ITSM. Standard+Case is about applying a body of knowledge called Adaptive Case Management to ITSM, synthesising it with your existing process approach. Standard+Case (S+C) applies to anything that requires a human response: there’s either a standard response or there isn’t. If you only look at one new idea this year, look at this one. It is an ITSM game-changer.
If you want to keep tabs on the current evolution of IT, these are all sessions to attend at PINK13.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Interviewing Brian Newcomb, Pink Elephant Practitioner of the Year
A year ago I interviewed Brian Newcomb, on behalf of Ohio State University who won the Pink Elephant ITIL Project of the Year last year. Now Brian’s back in another interview, but this time because he personally won Pink Elephant ITIL Practitioner of the Year this year. Which is great, because we get a second snapshot of where OSU and Brian are at on their ITSM journey.
My favourite quote from the interview: “Fundamental questions, and when you ask them you get the crickets”.
You can hear more about Brian’s work at OSU at the 17th (SEVENTEENTH!) Annual ITSM Conference and Exhibition next year, where Brian is presenting on Balancing Continual Improvement At Ohio State University:
So, you’ve implemented Incident, Problem and Change management. OK, you’re done! Right? Well, wait a minute…not so fast! IT Service Management initiatives are not about being “done” but about what’s next? Not satisfied to rest on the laurels of their 2010 Project of the Year win, OSU embraced a Balanced Scorecard as a means to measure process performance, and maintain momentum to implement additional processes and drive continual improvement; not an easy task when you are one of the largest US universities with over 100,000 users. Join Brian, the 2011 Practitioner Of the Year as he shares practical and proven tips on how OSU maintains the passion to drive its ITSM initiative.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Incident, Problem, and Change Management Metrics Benchmark - July 2012
The Pink Elephant IT Management Metrics Benchmark Service collects, analyzes and presents IT management metrics benchmarks. This Incident, Problem, and Change Management Metrics Benchmark update presents an analysis of voluntary survey responses by IT managers across the globe since early 2010. The surveys have thus far been limited to simpler metrics and the processes most broadly practiced.
Key points in this analysis:
The number of Incidents is most influenced by (in order of influence)
1. The size of an IT organization (measured by quantity of IT Full Time Equivalent workers (FTEs) of all kinds (employees, contractors, and direct service providers’ workers))
2. The number of users, and
3. The number of years that formal Incident Management has been in practice
At least a quarter of all respondents have no documented basis for any Incident Resolution Interval.
The number of new Problems recorded every month is just below the number of Active Problems already in progress (Problem WIP). This implies that the exit rate (rate at which Problems get resolved – or at least closed), must be pretty close to the number of new problems recorded every month. The 4.4 month average problem average age at closure implies that some Problems are being closed very quickly – perhaps too quickly.
Among the several interesting metrics here is an average 90% Change Executed Right First Time (no rollback or cancelation, and as scheduled). This appears to indicate that 10% of all changes fail in at least 1 of the 3 ways - a quite disappointing benchmark.
This is an update on the Pink Elephant IT Management Metrics Benchmarks Service. Please submit your organization’s data! The more participants in our on-line metrics benchmark surveys, the better! The surveys are available at https://www.pinkelephant.com/MetricsSurvey/.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Talking with Cathy Kirch about her award-winning ITSM work at AllState
Congratulations to Cathy Kirch of Allstate Insurance Company for winning Case Study of the Year at the 2011 Pink Elephant ITSM Conference. The award was for Cathy’s presentation Application Management As Part Of The Overall Service Management Lifecycle: how Allstate Insurance tackled Application Management under the ITIL framework while avoiding the creation of redundant support silos and new processes to what are already in place on the Infrastructure side.
Since Cathy has won a couple of awards at the ITSM Conference now, I thought it was time we learned more about her and what she is up to:
What is your role at Allstate and background?
My role is as an internal consultant for Allstate Insurance with a focus on Information Technology Service Management (ITSM). My position is mapped to a job family called Service Manager. My key responsibilities currently include Service Transitions focusing on Release and Change Management integration and moving the process adoption and improvement forward. I am also the coordinator and subject matter expert for IT Service Management training. Along with my primary roles, I provide consulting services for the various leaders in our organizations, this is how I got involved with Application Management. Two years ago an organization was forming to support various applications. The leader reached out to me to ensure that they aligned with best practices. We conducted a workshop and were able to draw out the scope of their organization by aligning it to Application Management. Since then additional organizations have been created and align to do the support in a centralized way for many applications in our various business verticals.
My Background- I have 35 years experience in different areas of Information Technology and have served in almost every aspect defined in IT Service Management. My earlier years were spent in application development in areas of Claims Reserve systems, branch office accounting, and a Technology component inventory system. I did both development and systems design work in those years and then moved into Technical support providing support for transaction management, database design, implementation and support. Then, I began focusing on the Data Warehouse implementation to provide program and project management services bringing server, database and storage together with the warehouse analysts and developers.
In 2004, we formalized our approach to IT Service Management leveraging ITIL, CobiT and PMBOK. I have played various roles in this space and am currently titled an ITSM Consultant. Our roles in ITSM have evolved as the journey has moved forward and ITSM has become a way life in the technology area with a focus on how to support the broader Allstate Insurance Corporation.
For me personally, I am currently active in the industry in roles such as Chair for priSM America’s; and president of itSMF Chicago LIG. I have also been a previous examiner for APMG. And, I was the Pink Elephant ITSM Practitioner of the year in 2007. I just recently was awarded the Case Study of the year in 2012, I will be joining Pink Elephant at the PINK ASIA Conference this summer.
What was the scope of Application Management? In particular, how much did you bridge that traditional divide between Solutions/Development and Operations/Production?
Application Management teams have evolved and been created as a result of applying efficiencies. This was not started as a form of a project or organizational direction which made this journey even better to watch! As I mentioned earlier, one group realized the tie to the ITIL Framework and leveraged what was written around Application Management. Being able to tie those concepts with the design and direction of the ITSM processes made it clear on how to construct the new organization.
Today the groups who are performing Application Management roles sit with the functional or application organization verticals. They have become the conduit to almost every touch point of IT Service Management with the exception of Release Management. The organizations followed the same path as ITSM implementation. For example, in the beginning, some focused on Incidents, then Change impact, then Problem Management followed that and now pretty much the entire lifecycle.
How good was ITIL as a reference for Application Management?
The ITIL reference was just that – a reference. There is a lot more that could be written in this space for startup, scope, activities, efficiency and approach to maturation. For us, we created a workshop with an external partner to walk the first group through the understanding of the general ITIL framework and understand what their goals and objectives were. After that the outputs from various ITSM processes were understood and how an Application Management area can provide value by being the one stop shop for the various applications that support our services. Finally, it was about expectation setting and managing everything from application mapping, environment design, operational readiness, disaster recovery, procurement, deployment and change evaluation.
How did you avoid having redundant Infrastructure and Application Management processes, policies and support?
At the beginning of the ITSM launch, one of our Sr. Vice Presidents had a sign in his office that said, “Enterprise spoken here” and that has been a cornerstone of delivery ever since. We have had to reinforce and ensure that the ITSM processes were built for both Infrastructure and Application. This was not an easy task as the two areas have been separated since the 80s. We have had to ensure everyone executes one process and does not build their own version so that we avoided redundant processes. Since the processes started in Infrastructure a keen eye had to be understood on how it impacted the Application areas. We always start by identifying roles, then the activities and lastly the tasks for a given process. From there it was our leaders on the Application Management side that realized the value of consolidating into an Application Management group to ensure proper support with clear accountability.
Tell us about the holistic across-the enterprise strategies for all Application Teams.
Our Application Management teams have formed their own council to synergize and ensure alignment for the applications they support and the overall enterprise view. With so much middleware today and integrated applications, even application management cannot work in a silo. The Application Management teams then live into the mandates and standards of ITSM processes but also keep an eye on the business needs and perceptions.
Are there any new developments since the conference, and where to from here with Application Management?
Each of our Application Management organizations have been aligned to have direct line of site to the business. This establishes accountability and creates a better partnership with the business. The division organization now owns both solutions /development as well as application management. This construct allows the application management organization a seat at the table and positions us to be more proactive with input in the Service Strategy and Design lifecycles. For example, during the Software Delivery Lifecycle SDLC phase, input is provided around operational readiness requirements which has the advantage of past lessons learned to be input to future success.
What is your next challenge?
I am not sure we have any real identified challenges in front of us. However, there will always be a positive challenge to keep everyone focused on the journey we have started. I am excited to share that there is work going on to bring Release and Change together as well as expand Change into more of a management process. Each step of the way we will continue the ITSM journey, looking for improvements based on metrics, business needs and enabling solutions in the most cost effective way possible. There is excitement throughout the organization as we embrace service management as a way of doing our business and cope with the natural challenges of organizational and human change. Stay tuned as we advance the organization and share our lessons learned as we move forward.
Cathy will be back at Pink13 with two sessions:
priSM – What Is It & Why You Should Care (as mentioned above, Cathy is the Chair of priSM America)
An ITSM Journey – 10 Years Later, where Cathy will profile her organization’s Service Management journey, and how they have kept the momentum going into their 10th year and integrated the processes beyond Service Operation and Service Transition.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Talking with Jerry York of UTHSCSA about the ITSM Extreme Makeover
Recently we took the opportunity to talk to Jerry York, the VP and CIO of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio. The Health Sciences Center were the organization chosen for the ITSM Extreme Makeover. I’m assuming that most listeners to this interview will be familiar with the ITSM Extreme Makeover. Briefly, it was a collaboration between Pink Elephant, Hornbill, GamingWorks, LCS, HDI & TSO to do an extreme makeover in a very short period of time to help an organization improve their service management.
Embarrassingly, I never quite got to interview Jerry throughout the process, even though he was the guy on top of the whole thing, answerable for the results. Recently I moved to rectify this oversight, since by the time you read this Jerry will have retired (said I wistfully). Fortunately Jerry will still be part of our community now and then, nevertheless it was high time I interviewed him for this blog.
So here is a conversation with Jerry about the experience of ITSM Extreme Makeover, with some great insights into what it took and what the effects were.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Pink President, David Ratcliffe, called it out earlier this year: we in ITSM are not doing enough to deal with the risks and opportunities that the changing IT landscape presents. It is time for more ITSM people to step up and take a leadership role. There is too much laissez-faire abdication of control of IT. We can’t sit back and watch BYOD, social media, the Cloud and so on change our organisation’s IT. We must do more to play a part in steering the organization, helping manage the risks and exploit the opportunities:
These services are out there in the ether, on the Web. Being dreamt up by innovators who don’t work for us and who sometimes don’t even know where they’re headed! These new services are being tried out by everyone – often without a goal in mind. They’re just experimenting. Much falls by the wayside, but some of it sticks.
The other key point David makes is that people from all levels of IT can help lead:
Don’t confuse authority with leadership, or leadership with management. Anyone can lead, you don’t need approval, or a title. Good leadership is about influencing and helping others to achieve a common goal. A vision can come from anywhere, but a good leader communicates and reinforces the vision; and helps others to act in accordance with it.
So Pink Elephant are doing some interesting stuff to address this need for more ITSM leadership, with the ITSM Leadership Forum. It is an event, in Scottsdale in August, and equally it is a community discussion, right now, online. The event and the discussions intersect on the session descriptions . Read that sessions page: it is structured as a set of key questions for ITSM leadership. It will get you thinking and hopefully joining in the forum!
I reckon Pink have really spotted a need here and done a nice job of addressing it.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
COBIT 5 is here: essential reference for everyone in IT
You may recall Pink12 gave you 10 things to do when you got home, and my own recommendation was
Read ISO/IEC 38500 Corporate Governance of IT and dip into COBIT 5 Process Reference Guide (Draft) - you need to be aware of these
COBIT 5 is no longer in draft: the final public version is out and you can download it here (46,000 downloads as of April 26th). As ISACA says on the website
COBIT 5 is the only business framework for the governance and management of enterprise IT. This evolutionary version incorporates the latest thinking in enterprise governance and management techniques, and provides globally accepted principles, practices, analytical tools and models to help increase the trust in, and value from, information systems. COBIT 5 builds and expands on COBIT 4.1 by integrating other major frameworks, standards and resources, including ISACA’s Val IT and Risk IT, Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) and related standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
That sounds like something everybody in IT should at least be aware of.
Personally I think it is something that everybody in IT should have in their toolkit.
In fact I go even further than that and say it should be the default best practice framework which we reach for first (as you know if you went to my “ITIL vs. COBIT: showdown of the methodologies” presentation at Pink12).
But even if you don’t buy that last premise, it is hard to argue with the first one: everybody in IT should at least be aware of COBIT 5.
ISACA want your registration to get the core COBIT 5 content (but they don’t want money).
They want your membership to get all the associated books in digital format for free as well, but personally I think that is a good deal. I pay it. I buy the hardcopy versions too, but I’m like that: I still prefer paper to bytes.
If all you want is overall awareness, then you don’t even need to register. You can download a few documents without registration that will give you the picture:
- Executive Summary (powerpoint)
- COBIT 5 Introduction (powerpoint)
- Framework Overview, the main diagrams describing COBIT 5’s structure (pdf)
- Toolkit, a zipfile of articles, presentations and a spreadsheet.
I would encourage everyone to have a copy of COBIT 5 at hand. I use COBIT as
- a structure for framing any IT management thinking
- a checklist for any form of review: process capability assessment, current state review, document audit, process audit…
- an input to role descriptions, especially the RACI responsibility matrices
- a reference for process best practice (fleshed out when necessary with other sources such as ITIL)
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Leading The Way To A LEAN Problem Management Culture
The Pink Elephant 2011 ITIL Project of the Year Award winners were Deutsche Bank. This award “recognizes an organization that has demonstrated significant commitment to ITIL and ITSM best practices with involvement of certified staff, and visible positive outcomes.” The 2011 runners-up were Adobe and Air Canada Jazz.
You can learn more about this interesting initiative next year at PINK13, when Joseph Gallagher, Vice President, Global Problem Management Process Owner at Deutsche Bank will present Leading The Way To A LEAN Problem Management Culture
I talked to Joe about the project.
Joe, for those readers who weren’t at the ceremony at PINK12, please tell us a little about Deutsche Bank’s winning project
The DB project was called “Problem Management Transformation Program” - at the end of 2010 we realized that, although we had a nice, repeatable problem management process, we were not working very efficiently, nor were we providing our clients with consistent quality. At the beginning of 2011 we initiated this program to address both of these weaknesses, by conducting a LEAN 5D review of our process and implementing higher standards for producing a quality problem analysis. LEAN helped us to identify various types of TIM WOOD [Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-processing, Overproduction, Defects] deficiencies in our process, which we drove out through automation, consolidation, industrialization (moving very repetitive tasks to a support organization that focus on those tasks and become very efficient at it), and elimination. By Q4’2011 we had removed close to 40% waste from the process, allowing our problem managers to focus on the two areas where they add the most value – root cause determination, and remediation determination. As part of the LEAN component we “went back to the drawing board” as it relates to the proper way to implement program management as detailed within ITIL v3.0. We found that over the years we had “over engineered” the problem management process, making it cumbersome and slow, with lots of “cool steps” in the process that really added no value to the client. Finally, we improved our overall quality by aligning our problem managers to specific business areas, giving them a better understanding of the applications/infrastructure they support, which made them much more effective over time. We also trained all our problem managers (and all were certified) in Kepner Tregoe Resolve, giving them the foundation of a rational and consistent thought process.
What have been the consequences or impact of winning this award?
Consequences – I believe we have set the bar very high and expectations for problem management in 2012 will be well above that bar. But we are up to the task and looking forward to really extending the value we add throughout the organization. One of the consequences of the project itself, is that it has allowed us to shift a portion of our problem management resources to focus on more proactive problem management – driving problems out of the organization before they lead to serious incidents
You are presenting next year on LEAN Problem Management Culture. I’m willing to bet not too many organisations have applied LEAN principles to problem management in particular, especially on a global scale. You had difficulty sourcing expertise?
We were fortunate at the beginning of the project to have an outside firm come in and teach us the LEAN concepts and help us with the initial Define and Diagnose phases. From there, it became fairly straightforward to identify and address the various types of waste we discovered.
And did you find any resources at all pertaining to LEAN and problem management?
We found no resources externally or internally that had experience using LEAN within a problem management process. Although the LEAN methodology seems to be very easy to apply to any process.
Were there peculiarities to problem management when applying LEAN to it?
Measuring waste was a challenge at first, as we were using 2010 baseline, which was filled with hazards related to data quality. We saw the LEAN program coming in early Q4’2010 so we paid particular attention in Q4’2010 to provide as accurate a reflection of our workload and process as possible, so that could serve as the baseline for 2011 measureable improvements.
Can you expand on what that was about please?
One of the issues we recognized in 2011 is that the quality of our data was not great. This was due to the lack of strong governance and quality controls around what we were entering in problem records. It wasn’t as bad as garbage-in-garbage-out, but it was inconsistent (an artifact of having problem managers coming together into a single organization in 2010, each bringing their own “unique” perspective on what was required to be documented in a problem record). We started to change this in Q4’2010 just as a matter of good practice, but also recognizing the fact that in order to measure 2011 improvements we needed to have at least one quarter of reasonably good data as the baseline.
Another peculiarity with problem management is that you really can’t remove “waste” from the actual root cause investigation itself. Sure, we can streamline our root cause sessions, and provide more consistent results (KT), but you can’t “squeeze” much waste out of this part of the process, which by its nature, has lots of variability due to the different levels of investigation required. Thus, we set out to remove all the waste before and after the actual root cause investigation, and that’s where we reaped lots of benefit.
What tools or techniques helped you with the cultural change over 73 countries?
There was lots and lots of training, communication, and awareness throughout the year. I cannot understate the importance of this aspect – updates were provided to the problem management staff and senior management at least monthly, and sometimes more often. We also made LEAN improvements part of all the problem manager’s objectives – they were all required to provide at least two LEAN improvement initiatives that made it to production. Finally, we governed the process very well – we had daily health checks to ensure we were on target with our objectives, and weekly trend reports to see where we needed to shift resources.
Watch this blog for a future discussion with Joe and George Spalding of Pink Elephant about the judges’ views on this project and why it won the Award. And go hear Joe at PINK13.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Governance sessions at PINK13
Governance is an important topic to everyone in IT. Of course it is of greatest interest to IT managers - those accountable to the governors - but we should all have a general understanding of it, just as we do with say security, whether we are directly involved with it or not.
We’ve talked about governance often enough on this blog before and seen a rising tide of posts and presentations about governance. Next year at PINK13 I’ll be presenting some more.
Past discussions on this blog include
- This useful Intro to IT Governance from George Spalding
- This excellent series on IT governance podcasts by Troy DuMoulin
- An interesting interview with Dr John Beachboard
- More here from Troy on governance strategy-setting
- and this from me about service, governance, and assurance being key themes
Next year I’ll bring you more on Governance of IT (I much prefer “Governance of IT” to “IT Governance”: it makes it clear than governance happens to IT not by IT).
- What Governance Isn’t and thereby developing an understanding of what governance is.
- Plug and Socket: Preparing IT For Governance, the practical application of governance to IT
You will of course find discussion of governance in a number of other sessions too (don’t miss Jennifer Wels on COBIT)