The Future of ITSM – itSMF Norway panel

Published on Sunday 16 March 2014 by in News with no comments

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As ever the itSMF Norway lived up to its own self proclaimed marketing message – ‘Probably the best itSMF event in the world’ . A blend of high value and innovative content, a great networking area that naturally stimulated dialogue and a memorable gala dinner – at least I shall certainly remember the people outside my room at 04:00 who were still loudly engaging in the ITIL Networking and discussions.

What were my take aways and recommendations.
One of the key takeaways was obviously the growth and relevance of DevOps. Gene Kim  co-author of the Phoenix Project  book – presented some powerful arguments for DevOps, however I am pleased to say with some ‘Buts’!
I hope the ‘But’s’ are what people take away rather than simply leaping onto the DevOps band-wagon expecting a magical return on their investment – if they do this there will be a danger of repeating some of our historical ITIL mistakes – ‘A FOOL with a TOOL is still a FOOL’ as many have found out – not gaining a return in VALUE of their ITIL investment. More about that later in the panel discussion.

Some of the key messages from Gene Kim:

  • 95% of all capital projects have an IT component but….The business sees that IT is in the way. When IT fails it can hurt BIG TIME.  Knight change fail cost $440 million and resulted in a sell out.
    Countermeasure – From bureaucratic change approval to peer reviews of changes – a shift towards the DevOps philosophy.

What makes a high performing IT org successful? Findings from Gene’s research reveal:

  • Rigor & Disciplne’
  • deploying smaller changes dramatically reduces risk and mttr
  • high performing orgs behavior: version control and automated code
  • KanBan make work visible – awesome tool. Reduce lead times
  • hand back clause to Dev…must manage code for 6 months
  • DevOps is NOT a replacement of ITIL but can use some of its best practices

The conference not only had a blend of sessions,  such as a CIO session; presentations; panel discussions; and a  workshop stream containing experiential learning (simulation) and practical hands-on activities, but also had representation from itSMF ‘International’, Isaca and Axelos – These 3 in my mind represent 3 key players who can work together to help reshape the ITSM industry, drive it forward and fix some of the things that are ‘Broken’.

The Future of ITSM – itSMF Norway panel

Dagfinn Krog (Chairman ITSMF Norway conference program committee) also seeing the opportunity for using the conference to spring-plank some significant new thoughts and transformation in the ITSM landscape organized a panel discussion, focusing on the Future of ITSM. Panel representation from the SM Congress ‘Call to Action’  initiative – (Robert Stroud, Carlos Casanova, Paul Wilkinsion), Isaca (Robert Stroud wearing another hat), itSMF(international – Colin Rudd) and  Axelos (Kaimar Karu). However before getting to the future it was necessary first to look at what happened in SM Congress and why this initiative stated that things are broken.

It was interesting to see the panel trying to avoid using the word ‘Broken’ and phrase this more as something like ’challenging opportunities for moving  forward‘. I asked ‘how many people knew the definition of a Service’? hardly any.  No surprise for me there! ‘..Most people attending training have NO idea of WHY their organization is ‘doing ITIL’ and hardly any have read ‘Planning to implement IT service management’ which is why so many fail to gain the value and struggle to deploy best practices’ – I call this broken, but if we would rather call this ‘challenging opportunities’ that is fine by me.  Kaimar Karu from Axelos agreed some things in ITSM are broken and Axelos will be seeking to drive change and improve the value of best practices.

Was the panel useful? These are my personal memories of some of the outcomes of the panel discussion. My apologies if I have missed some out. In the heat of the passion of the discussion, my finger wagging and rantings I may have missed some items.

  • Some things are clearly broken (challenging opportunities for future growth).
  • There was an agreed ‘recognized need for change’.
  • Need to focus on more on business Value, business Outcomes
  • It is not the frameworks at fault – it is the way we (mis) apply them.
  • Need for more practical guidance, need to change the way we train and certify. From theory to PRACTICE (see small example at the end of this blog).
  • It’s a PEOPLE thing. Changing attitudes and behavior and culture. This takes time. However it should be consciously addressed.
  • ITIL training and certification and ITIL guidance – too much focus on theory, need for more focus on practice and practical guidance – Axelos will be focusing on this and itSMF too. Isaca is already on this path.

The panel was asked for their advice for the future. My answer was this:

  • Send everybody in IT into the business for 1 day to start shifting the attitude towards ‘business focus and understanding’.
  • Make the current ITIL expert certificate an ’ITIL expert in THEORY’, make a new one ‘ITIL expert in PRACTICE’ – to be obtained after submitting a case study (less extensive than the broader ITIL Master certificate) showing what the problem was, which bit of ITIL you used, what challenges and setbacks you had, how you overcame them and have the case signed off, preferably by somebody in the business – demonstrated impact on VOCR (Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks).
  • Gather these and make an annual book – give prizes for top 12 . make all cases available in a knowledge base for practical sharing and use, and use these also as possible input for reshaping the core guidance.

I am sure Dagfinn will be posting the advice from the rest of the panel discussion.

A question from the audience: ‘Will things change? Whose responsibility is it to start making change happen’?

My answer: ‘It is EVERYBODY’s responsibility to make change happen. Your boss isn’t here today, your business isn’t here today, you are the only one in your organization that knows the future of ITSM is that we change the way we do things, change starts today and it starts with each of us‘.

From Theory into Practice – a small case presented at the itSMF Conference.

Finally. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this (considering the findings of the panel about the need for practical application of theory).  Steria, one of the sponsors of the itSMF had a customer present a case at the Conference.
Sykehuspartner (An organization providing services to the Norwegan hospitals, including IT services)

The organization had initiated an ITSM improvement initiative. The training program was not only ITIL Theory but also included a business simulation game  (Translating theory into Practice) and a series of  ABC of ICT workshops to help change attitude, behavior and culture.  Why did I want to mention this? Primarilty because I am frustrated at people saying that business simulations are ‘ awareness’  instruments to help create buy-in to an ITSM improvement program. That is probably the least value of the investment. Sykehuspartners gathered 900 personal and organizational improvement suggestions (empowerment and ownership). After having applied these direct learning points 1st call resolution went up from 65% to 75%, representing 40000 additional calls resolved, saving 2 Million Koner and the business outcome? improved patient care and patient safety.

My final thought: I can only hope that The big 3 (Axelos, itSMF (International) and Isaca) will  take away some of the panel discussion findings and consolidate their efforts to drive ITSM forward.

itSMF Finland directly stated at the end of the conference to organize a similar panel discussion to their members.

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