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David Ratcliffe, President, Pink Elephant

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    Thursday, December 21, 2006

    Pink Going in to 2007

    Today we’re a very stable, successful and growing company with our HQ in Toronto and operations in the USA, Mexico, Brazil, UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. We also do business through partners in China, South Korea, Japan, the middle east, and central & south america. This coming year we plan to make greater forays into China, and we’re also working on a start-up in Dubai.

    When people ask me “... where do you see the Company in 5 years?” I always say “I don’t know, let’s see what happens!” That’s not because we don’t care or don’t have ambition. We just don’t think you can plan that far ahead. We have to expect that there’ll be new opportunities and that will mean change. In the meantime - we promote and protect the Pink Elephant brand.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/21 at 09:41 PM
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    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Pink in the New Millennium

    The RCC operation in the Netherlands continued to enjoy great success through the 90s. There were, by now, a growing number of businesses being acquired and initiated - each with their own brand and market, but all in the areas of IT outsourcing and related services such as consulting & education. Then in 1999 the RCC owners decided to take the Company public. As part of this process they decided to create a single brand for the whole group. The two biggest parts were Roccade (outsourcing) and Pink Elephant (infrastructure management services), and so they decided to rename the consolidated business - PinkRoccade!

    A plan and timetable was quickly developed for re-branding all entities within the group. However, before the switch was made in North America another important and far reaching decision was made. The PinkRoccade management decided to divest of all businesses outside their home markets of the Netherlands and UK. To cut a long story short, Fatima and I decided to buy back the North American business along with rights to the (seemingly defunct) Pink Elephant brand in all other territories. So Pink Elephant was saved (by the skin of it’s teeth!) and since then we’ve continued to grow as an independently owned and operated Company and brand completely separate from PinkRoccade.

    To close the door on the PinkRoccade era, in early 2006 the PinkRoccade company itself was bought out by its biggest Dutch competitor - Getronics.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/14 at 09:40 PM
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    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Pink in the Pacific Rim

    The old Mayflower International business had developed many relationships and customers in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia in the early 90s, and soon after we became a Pink Elephant company we took the opportunity to discuss the potential for these markets with our Dutch parent. As a result, a new Pink Elephant business was started in Sydney, Australia in 1998, and a branch was opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia just over a year later.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/10 at 09:39 PM
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    Pink Elephant and itSMF

    Just before that first NA conference in 1997 we got a call from a gentleman named Ken Hamilton who said that he was planning to launch itSMF in the USA. We invited Ken along to make his pitch to the Pink attendees, and a number of organizations ended up joining itSMF as a result.

    Since then we’ve always been happy to do what we can to promote itSMF (http://www.itsmf.org). In the UK, Holland and Canada there were Pink folks directly involved in helping start up itSMF entities. But in each instance they stepped aside once things had gained momentum. That’s because we believe that itSMF should be dominated by the practitioner community, not the vendor community. We’ll always support a healthy itSMF - we’re just not so keen on vendors playing key roles in setting policy and direction. So if you’ve detected any tension between Pink and itSMF - now you know why!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/10 at 02:09 PM
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    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    IT Governance and Employee Compliance

    Last August we presented a special Symposium focused on IT Governance. One of the speakers was Lisa Welsher from Right Process. She talked about the challenges of getting people to take accountability for policies and procedures, especially when legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is requiring organizations to do the same. Lisa’s company has developed a method for taking policies and procedures (P&Ps) through an implementation lifecycle. The premise being that it’s not enough just to communicate to staff that P&Ps exist, or have changed. You really need to be sure that what’s written down as intention really is happening.

    So, how d’ya do that?

    According to Lisa, P&Ps and their associated documentation are not going to add value unless you do 4 things on implementation:
    1. Get people to accept the documentation by having them sign-off once they’ve absorbed it.
    2. Then test them on their new knowledge; thereby validating that the sign-off was done in good faith.
    3. Going forward, require them to provide feedback and improvements from their ongoing work experience; again, validating that they have bought-in and are committed enough to embrace continuous improvements.
    4. Regularly audit the application and validity of the P&Ps within the operation.

    Can you imagine going through all four steps and still having documentation, policies & procedures that no one respects?

    This all sounds like a great idea to me. We’ve already seen at Pink that cultural issues are one of the critical success factors for deploying change in IT. Just writing down and even communicating new policies and procedures is never going to be enough. We need something to help follow-through, because people are always likely to fall back to more familiar ways of working - it’s human nature.

    Sometimes you just have to take the horse to water and MAKE it drink!

    Anyway, the folks at Right Process have developed a tool containing activities and KPIs to help make the concept of “employee compliance” a practical reality. If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch with them and ask for a demo of their web enabled solution (you’ll find Right Process at http://www.rightprocess.com). I really think they’re on to something.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/07 at 05:06 PM
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    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    Pink in North America

    I need to go back a little bit to set the scene for this new phase. During the 1980s I worked in the UK for a now defunct IT education & consulting firm. My colleagues there included Alan McCarthy, Ron Beales, Ken Wilson & Malcolm Fry. One of our customers at that time was CCTA - who invited us to contribute to the ITIL project. But in 1991 the wheels began to fall off the business and we ended up going our separate ways. Malcolm went independent; Alan, Ken & Ron formed DCMS which, as I mentioned earlier, morphed into Pink UK in 1992; and I moved to Canada.

    In Toronto I started a new IT education & consulting business - Mayflower International - with Fatima Cabral. Then, in late 1996 we got a call from the Pinkers in Holland asking if we’d like to start Pink Elephant in North America. Remember, they’d already acquired my old buddies in the UK and now they wanted to expand even further afield internationally.

    To be honest we were not really sure how North Americans would take to an IT process framework developed in the UK. Nevertheless, one of the first initiatives we took on was to promote ITIL certification courses. It might not seem so now - with the benefit of hindsight - but at that time we thought it was quite a risk. So, in mid-1997 we began delivering the very first public ITIL Foundation classes in North America. Later that year the first IT Service Management Conference was presented in Toronto, and it’s been an annual fixture on our calendar ever since. There were only just over 60 attendees at that first Conference, but it quickly became clear to us that this was the start of something which could be very, very big. Now, our 11th Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition is coming up in Las Vegas this February, and we’re on track for around 2000 attendees.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/06 at 09:38 PM
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    Saturday, December 02, 2006

    Pink Joins the ITIL Bandwagon

    The CCTA in Norwich (UK) initiated the ITIL project in the mid-80s. But even before Pink had expanded into the UK in 1992 (see my previous post) Pinkers in Holland as well as the “pre-Pinkers” in the UK had been independently contributing to the ITIL body of knowledge. Once the UK company was established, Pink Elephant began demonstrating more significant commitments to ITIL. A couple of initiatives that immediately spring to mind and which have had far-reaching implications since then are:

    1. UK Pinkers helped start up what is now called the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF). In fact, this not-for-profit networking forum had Alan McCarthy and Brian Johnson as founding members and officers. (Brian was a CCTA employee at the time who later worked for Pink in the early 90s and again in Canada in 2003-2004).

    2. In that same year Pink Elephant was chosen to develop the very first certification course in ITIL - the Service Manager. This task became the responsibility of my very good buddy, Ron Beales. Ron has the proud distinction of being the world’s first ITIL certification Trainer. Ron did a great job, and obviously liked the work - because he’s still working for Pink today and doing the same thing 15 years later! I like to introduce him as - “Ron Beales, The Father of ITIL Training!”

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/02 at 02:34 PM
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    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Pink Goes International - to the UK.

    By 1992 Pink Elephant had expanded the scope of operations to include education and consulting services.

    And that same year the Pink Elephant brand was introduced into the UK through the acquisition of a small education business called Data Centre Management Services (DCMS), owned by Alan McCarthy and Ken Wilson. This new Pink Elephant UK company played a significant role in introducing Pink to the English speaking world.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/01 at 09:38 PM
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