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David Ratcliffe, President, Pink Elephant

If you're interested in what we're doing here at Pink Elephant, then feel free to post a comment - I'll do my best to respond as quickly as I can.


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    Recent Entries

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Is There Such A Thing As “GreenIT”?

    I’ve been tweeting the past few days to try and solicit experiences about “GreenIT” - with no response.

    So I’m wondering - is there really such a concept as “GreenIT”? Or is it just “green business”? IT being a part (department) of the business means that whatever greens the business can green IT.

    Surely there must be specific activities in IT that fall into this bucket. I’d appreciate a few minutes of your valuable thinking time:

    1. How do we reduce/re-use/recycle resources in IT?

    2. How do we cut back on energy in IT?

    3. How do we get each other to think “sustainability” in IT?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.


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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/23 at 09:21 PM
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    Registrations For the 14th Annual Conference Are Exceeding My Expectations!

    I would have thought that the difficult financial situation for many organizations would result in reduced - or at least very late - registrations for the world’s biggest ITSM conference. But no! The total registrations we have right now for Pink’s 14th Annual ITSM Conference & Exhibition is ahead of the same date last year. They have just been piling in during the last week or so as the final early bird offer rapidly expired. So far we’re at almost 900 confirmed registrations, and experience tells us that about half of the total registrations come in after January 1st. So, if history can be trusted, we’re expecting a bumper attendance in 2010.

    There’s two schools of thought within Pink for why we’re seeing such an encouraging response from our customers:

    1. The incredible special offer on hotel rates we’ve managed to negotiate at the Bellagio.
    In fact, if you booked early enough your room would have been free! (Can’t get lower than that, folks!) Even if you book today the rate is lower than ever. Although don’t wait too long, Bellagio rates are just going to go higher as we get nearer to the event. That’s because we’re close to filling the hotel on the dates we’ll be there - and so there’s no incentive for them to keep dropping room rates any lower.

    2. The quality of the Conference program.
    Our Conference team have done a great job - yet again. I believe that every year our customers have come to expect that the Pink event will be great - so that gives them the confidence to take advantage of the early bird offers. They just know they’ll be coming anyway, so why not get the best deal?

    On a side note, I’ve noticed over the years that other entities who produce IT conferences can get quite carried away with describing their attendance levels. The numbers they talk about often bear no resemblance to the actuals! I can understand that they want to talk-up their event and project a positive image, but at the end of the day we can all see how many chairs they set-up in the main meeting room! In fact, just last week one organization proudly declared that they’d had “1100 attendees over 2 days”. Really? So 1100 badges were printed? Er, no, around 500 badges were printed and the same person attending the whole 2-day event was counted as a day 1 attendee PLUS a day 2 attendee. Ah - so that’s how 500 people can get rounded up to 1100!

    Anyway, I find this all a bit humourous and don’t get too excited about our competitors using “creative counting” techniques - that’s their business. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting regular updates on Twitter regarding the registration trend for #PINK10 (#PINK10 being the Twitter hashtag for Pink’s 14th Annual ITSM Conference & Exhibition). And, for the record, I’ll be using the “Pink counting” method - 1 person = 1 person!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/23 at 12:13 PM
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    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Funny How The World Turns!

    So here I am working on fleshing out a talk about how web 2.0 and social media can be exploited at the Service Desk when a Pink Buddy emails me something totally out of the blue. It’s the latest newsletter from the Rocky Mountain (Denver) Chapter of Help Desk Institute. Right there, in black and white, is an article by Chris Dancy about the very same subject I’m working on! How about that!

    It’s a good article too. I’m sure the folks at the Rocky Mountain Chapter, and Chris, won’t mind me sticking it here for others to review.


    BTW - any Chapter that holds its meetings at Morton’s Steak Restaurant gets my support!

    (1) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/11 at 02:13 PM
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    Monday, November 09, 2009

    How Can There Be A #1 Metric For Service Desk When There Are 3 Primary Criteria For Success?

    In our collective desire for quick fixes and easy step-by-step solutions I’m reading more and more every day about metrics for Service Desks, and particularly how to identify the most important metric of all. Well times change, of course, but I think our overall view for what makes good service hasn’t altered since we first paid serious attention to this important business function well over 20 years ago.

    To illustrate my point, I can’t helping drifting back to the early days of Help Desk Institute when Malcolm Fry and myself were co-presenting sessions on call handling, problem solving and trying to get people to think of “service” instead of “systems” (In fact Malcolm’s original books - that pre-dated ITIL - were called “The Service Culture”, constituting a set of 4 volumes: “Help Desk”; “Problem & Change Management”; Service Level Management”; “Quality Control & Assurance”). And it was at the 2nd HDI Conference in San Diego in 1991 that we first introduced the idea of the “3 Rs” for Help Desk service quality:

    1. Response (answer the request for help quickly)
    2. Resolution (fix whatever’s wrong)
    3. Respect (do both of the above in a way that left the customer feeling happy about the way they’d been treated)

    That’s it. There wasn’t - and still isn’t - a third R (or anything else) to worry about.

    Do whatever you do; do it promptly; and be respectful the whole time.

    So if that’s what’s at the heart of good support service - you’re need metrics to measure each of those. In the early days it was:

    1. Speed to answer the phone (3 rings?)
    2. Resolution rate (75%+?)
    3. Some kind of “satisfaction rating” (8+ out of 10?)

    Fast forward to 2009 and now we’re a lot more sophisticated in what we support, and how. So the metrics are more precise and varied, but they still come down to the “Three Rs”. so there can never be a single, overall measure - you gotta start at least at 3!

    (1) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/09 at 10:26 AM
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    Wednesday, November 04, 2009

    Don’t Re-build ITIL - Just Fix The Cracks & Paint It

    Do we really need a new edition of ITIL V3? If you really believe continual improvement is a good thing, then how can you answer with anything but a “yes”?

    I think a lot of the furore (is that a real word - “furore”, or should it be “fear”?) is borne out of the frustration many people have with the huge number of errors in the first edition (of Version 3). As my grandmother used to say “two wrongs don’t make a right” - and that’s exactly what would happen if we backed away from the opportunity to improve on the first edition. The first edition was a “wrong”, and not fixing it would be a second “wrong”.

    But hold on a second ....

    Let’s fix the errors - it’s the least we can do, and I’m happy to provide Pinkers to assist with thorough proof reading leading to a much improved Version 3. But that’s all I think we should do - correct what’s already there. Yes I know ITIL could do a better job of describing this and that, but adding more to ITIL is going to be like painting the Golden Gate Bridge - it’ll never be finished. So I’m not so keen on lending resources to a project where Version 3 gets re-invented with new concepts and “better” explanations, etc. (but I’ve already blogged on this before, here, here and here).

    Keep it simple. One step at a time. Don’t re-build the bridge, just fix the cracks and paint it.

    Unfortunately, the way I’m seeing this update described, I think it’s going to be a sledge-hammer to crack a nut. Or a re-invention of the wheel. Pick your own cliche.

    (1) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/04 at 04:36 PM
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    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Project Planning v Annual Business Planning

    Make sure you do a good job of project planning - how can you argue against that? Absolutely - don’t go into major infrastructure or service changes without a plan that will contain risks and guide you to a successful conclusion. OK.

    But annual business planning? The text books will tell you this is important and valuable too. But my experience in this millennium is far from consistent with that view. At Pink we start our annual business planning in earnest in early September and usually have most important decisions and a budget wrapped up by late November. Of course, come January the real work starts as we then manage the business with the annual business plan front and centre as a reference. Sounds straight-forward, eh? Let’s look at the reality ...

    In 2001 we showed up one Tuesday morning to have our first group management meeting on business planning for 2002. After about 30-40 minutes we broke up the meeting and spent the next couple of hours watching TV. Oh, I forgot to mention - that was Tuesday September 11, 2001. The next few weeks and months we had no idea what to expect in 2002. All we could do was focus on what we could control (the Strengths & Weaknesses of the SWOT), but we had no idea what the world was going to be doing around us. What we did see quite quickly was that no one was keen to travel to public classes. And some competitors in our industry either went to the wall or booked heavy losses.

    Things were relatively predictable and manageable in the 4 years following 2004. But then in 2006 we started our annual business planning around the same time of year again, and in the back of our minds was the fact that we were in the middle of a major re-write of ITIL. Little did we know what to expect closer to the launch date. But we were going to find out, rather inconveniently, right after we finished our annual business planning. In January 2007 we started to hear whispers about a new ITIL certification scheme, and it was going to be launched at the same time as the new books - in June. Thanks for the heads-up, you guys! We were well into the new year before realizing (being told, actually) that we had to re-develop most of our education portfolio, and start launching it at the end of Q2! Just in case you’re not following me here - 2007 was a bit of a dog’s breakfast compared to what we had planned.

    Then, within a few months of the launch of ITIL V3 we started our planning for the following year. Problem was, we were now in the middle of “The Great ITIL V2-V3 Transition Scare of 2007”. Trying to predict levels of business for new products that The Powers That Be hadn’t even fully defined yet was “think of a number time”. We’d have done just as well with a dart board or even a stray dog barking out numbers. Funny? No.

    Fast forward to September last year and we started planning for 2009. The economy is in meltdown and .... well you know the rest.

    What’s the point!!

    Of course annual business planning involves not just making decisions about what you want to do - things within your control. But also trying your best to be ready to navigate around the outside forces - which are beyond your control. In the years I’ve mentioned it’s clear that outside forces enjoyed a disproportionate amount of our attention. That was 4 out of the last 8 years we were thrown serious curve balls. A ratio like I’ve never seen over my 30 years in the business.

    So here’s my plea to that Great Program Manager in the Sky. For 2010, please, please, give us a break!

    (2) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/03 at 05:57 PM
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    Monday, November 02, 2009

    Pick A Cliche: Is It “I’m Only Human After All” Or “No Rest For The Wicked”?

    After a couple of weeks being under the weather (no H1N1 - thank goodness!) I’m back in the office today. Looking at my diary for the next few months it looks like I’ll be bouncing around quite a bit, so I’d better get my immune system firing on all cylinders.

    December 2: Tagging along with George Spalding as he speaks at the HDI Orange County Chapter.

    December 3: Carrying George’s bags again at the itSMF LA LIG before we fly off to Singapore together.

    December 7: “Pink Perspective Singapore”.

    December 8: “Pink Perspective Kuala Lumpur

    December 9: Socializing with our customers at the Regional Education Symposium in Kuala Lumpur.

    December 10: itSMF Singapore evening meeting.

    January 19-20: “Pink Elephant IT Management Expert Briefing” in Kuala Lumpur with George, Troy & Gary (details to be posted soon)

    January 21-22: “Pink Elephant IT Management Expert Briefing” in Singapore with George, Troy & Gary (details to be posted soon).

    January 26-28: On to Dubai for our “1st Annual IT Management Conference” in the middle-east; in collaboration with our partner - Trillium Information Security Systems (details to be posted soon).

    February 20-26: Pink’s 14th Annual ITSM Conference at the Bellagio, Las Vegas.

    March 10-12: “Pink Elephant 6th Annual ITSM Conference in Mexico City”

    Hope to see you at one of these events, or at least in an airport somewhere. Say “hello”!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/02 at 06:39 PM
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