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Rob England

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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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, 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?

(0) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 04/22/13 at 06:13 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.

(0) Comments
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.

(2) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 01/29/13 at 09:29 PM
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Astro Pinky!

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!

(0) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 01/24/13 at 05:16 PM
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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
    Management reporting
  • 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!

(3) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 12/23/12 at 04:03 PM
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Self-Empowered Leadership

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.

(2) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 10/22/12 at 05:11 PM
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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
  • 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.

(2) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 09/28/12 at 08:41 PM
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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.
(1) Comments
Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 08/14/12 at 02:13 PM
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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.

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Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 06/23/12 at 09:23 PM
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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.

  Interview With Jerry York, UTHSC by Pink Elephant Inc.

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Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 05/17/12 at 06:40 PM
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Monday, May 07, 2012

ITSM Leadership

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.

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Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 05/07/12 at 06:27 PM
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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:

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)


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Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 04/25/12 at 06:48 PM
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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

When Deutsche Bank talks global problem management, they really mean it! A leading global investment bank with over 100,000 employees in 73 countries, Deutsche Bank embarked on a journey in early 2011 to increase the worldwide overall efficiency of their Problem Management process by reducing waste and inefficiency within the process. Unable to find LEAN subject matter experts, Deutsche Bank looked inward for the development and execution of their transformation project. Join Joseph, as he shares his experiences in developing the LEAN charter, mapping the process, classifying value versus non-value add activities, and identifying and reducing process bottlenecks. He’ll reveal how building a LEAN culture has nurtured and sustained their success. If your organization is embarking on a LEAN journey, be sure to attend this session for real-life examples, tips and lessons learned.

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.



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Posted by Rob England (IT Skeptic) on 04/04/12 at 06:44 PM
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