Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Membership – Should I Stay or Should I Go

Oddly enough hot on the heels of the brexit vote I received an email reminder for renewal for a professional membership. If membership has its privileges what is the value point that tips the scales to renew.

The email I received outlined the usual benefits. Networking, content, discounts to events. However as of late I have been more value focused and began to scrutinize the cost benefit for renewal. From what I could tell most of the ‘benefits’, at least in this organization, were not that defendant on membership.

Here’s how I broke it down….


I would be able to connect with people in the same manner that I would without membership via things like social media. This particular organization did not have an online community that I could access so getting connected with like-minded professionals was pretty well left to me in the first place.


Almost all professional organizations have content that is only permitted to members, which is one of the draws of initial membership. However once you have been to the shop a few times you can see that the way that they are managing their knowledge is not luring you to come back for more. The white papers, slide decks and templates become dated and lowers the value for a return consumer.

Discount to Events

At some events I found that some people even did the math on membership discounts over the year to see if they would come out ahead. While this organization may have great events the ability to enjoy them or participate was not improved with a membership.

Even looking at it from overall not all chapters in these organizations are managed equally. Some countries have a larger resource pool for people volunteering and as a result can be managed in a way that allows for increased value as compared to others.

So what do you do? For me finding a collaborative space within social media allows for a broad networking space while still attending events in a non-member capacity allows me to keep my local connections up to date. A professional organization which from my perspective is a great model is the Business Relationship Management Institute. As a member I find that they have a blend of all things I need at price that right with regularly curated materials including a body of knowledge, blogs and webinars.

So again I pose the question to you, what is a key driver in not only becoming a member but staying a member year after year. Reach out and let me know what you think.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn

Thursday, 9 June 2016

My PINKNorth16 Experience

This past week I had the opportunity to speak at a PINKNorth16 in Toronto. While I have attended a few Pink events in the past, this was my first time presenting there. The event itself is what you would come to expect from Pink Elephant; well organized, fast paced and full of diverse content for connoisseurs of all things service management.

While my presentation was on “7 Top Tips to Start and Sustain Problem Management” there was a wide variety of topics including IT Asset Management, Business Relationship Management and Organizational Change Management to name a few.

Aside from absorbing all the content you could possible handle in 2 days there was an excellent opportunity to network with like-minded professions from all levels. In my opinion, networking coupled with content enables you to get a balance of information at an event of this nature.

The key to get yourself at one of these events is to make a case to whoever pulls the purse strings at your organization. You will need to frame it in a way that will outline the return on investment for attending the conference. Take a look at the sessions and tracks and apply them to your current organizational hurdles. For the most part the session will only be the beginning of the discussion as many presenters like me are available to discuss and answer questions that might apply to your organization.

If given the opportunity to speak at a Pink event again I would jump at the chance.

Until then feel free to reach out and connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn if you have any comments or questions

Monday, 16 May 2016

How to Work on the Right Problems

In some cases the problems with problems are that we isolate the process from the rest of the world. This is a process that should not be a secret and should be working with all aspects of service delivery. So it should come as no surprise that a key to the success of problem management is a strong link with incident management. This needs to be managed at a root level which relies largely on communication and collaboration within all service management processes.

In my opinion one of the challenges is that as incidents are pouring in, we assume (dangerous word) that problem picks them up and works on them. The trouble is that without some solid communications and collaborative work between incident and problem we will not effectively be able to manage the problems we work on.

Here’s why,
Depending on how problem management prioritizes the influx of work, without some solid understanding of things like business impact, we may be working on the ‘wrong things’ from the start.

To fix that ...
Start by ensuring that all stakeholders impacted by the problem management process are communicating with one another right from the beginning. This should include (but not limit) a representative from the service desk, change managers and incident managers. Whether we have people whose role is a problem manager, or it is a role carried out by others, allowing for a touch point to review as a group will allow the problem review to ensure that we are looking at the right incidents in the first place.

When we start to get people with varying perspective on how incidents are impacting the business together we get a better ‘big picture’ sense of what is important to the business. The best way to validate this is to actually ask the business. This is where your business relationship manager might play a role in your review of the incidents.

While in some cases we in IT might see that the more incidents we have the more there is impact but having a representative from the business will provide that validation that we are looking at the right things. In some cases the biggest issues are the ones that are no longer getting escalated because the business has lost hope that we will even look at it, never mind fixing it.

Have these reviews regularly and review what has happened since the last meeting and ground you have covered or need to unblock. This will strengthen not only the ability to create, prioritize and work on problems but also to build out abilities in its related processes like knowledge and change management.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn
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Thursday, 12 May 2016

Tips for Getting Problem Management off the Ground

Growing up, there was an abundance of kids in the neighborhood who were riding skateboards. As would be expected there were some that were really good and others, like me, who were not. One summer the city brought in a half pipe and located it at the local rec center, likely to keep us skating in one place and out of trouble. For those who are not aware a half pipe is a large ‘U’ shaped ramp. The fact that this was in our area was a huge deal so everyone lined up nice and early on the first day it was open. The crowd was enormous; everyone was eagerly waiting to get up there to try it out. The first guy that got on this thing was a real pro, he was able to do things that not only looked good but he made it look effortless. The next 5 or 6 people were epic failures. The second to last guy had to be helped off the ramp by some friends. It was at this point that the line to try it out was getting smaller and smaller. People were realizing that this might not be as easy as it looked and the consequences of failure were somewhat painful.

Problem management can be viewed in a similar light. Some organizations make it look effortless, while others have a more painful experience with it and the rest of us stand there watching on the sidelines not wanting to try at all.

Here are some simple suggestions to get things going

The first piece of advice is that you don’t have to do this alone. You might need to get a subject matter expert to help you coordinate your efforts. This might involve short or longer term engagements but getting things off on the right foot is going to be critical to get you where you need to go. Getting some feedback from people in the IT community is also a good place to bounce ideas around.  

While I listed this tip second, it is equally as important. Keep it simple, we don’t need to boil the ocean, so take an agile approach and make iterative improvements. Having small objectives will simplify the ability to achieve your goals and in return allow you to demonstrate that you are making progress.

In the theme of keeping it simple we also want to ensure that this is cost effective. We don’t necessarily need to hire an army of problem managers or buy a new tool to get the job done in the beginning. While this could be something we look into later we will allow our results and organizational need determine that.  

Tip number 4 is to plan your progression in stages that work for your organization. Getting a cadence of activity will help will allow teams to schedule activities in advance and work on them on allotted time frames. Each organization will have a different appetite for what timing looks like so go with the flow in your organization

Lastly, this is not a ‘side of the desk’ activity so ensure that you allocate the appropriate time to complete activities. In the end it will always come back to helping the business to achieve their goals. The business is not concerned on what ‘problem management’ is, they care about results.

While my career as a professional skateboarder might have never taken off, following these steps will allow your team to get off the sidelines and make some progress to improve or implement problem management.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn

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Monday, 11 April 2016

Get Rolling on Feedback

There is always a desire to continually improve. A key component to this is the ability to collect and share feedback as it pertains to the area that you are looking to improve upon. From our first memories we are getting feedback on how we are performing. From our parents, coaches and teachers we have a history of getting some level of review from those around us on daily activities. So it should be second nature to solicit, receive and take action on professional feedback, right?

Well in some cases, despite our best intentions, we have not built in a strategy to account for particular levels of feedback for defined improvement initiatives.

So, how do we proceed?

First, target an area for improvement. The key word here is target; keep the scope simple to ensure you are able to make incremental improvements. Feedback works best when it relates to a specific goal. Outlining what we want to improve in the first place will better set us up for asking for the right information on feedback forms such as surveys.

Next, we need to plan how we will review and respond to,  feedback provided. People will be far more receptive to giving us information if they know that it is actually making a lasting difference in ways that matters to them. Plan to review and where appropriate respond on a schedule. This provides consistency for those receiving a response, but remember that keeping this simple will allow for you and your team to be able to consistently provide responses. It can be very easy to let this get out of control. Determining a timeline for the process of collection and review will depend on the improvement strategy which you are setting. For example some improvement initiative may revolve around workplace satisfaction which may be conducted annually as compared with a survey on speed of service for a particular customer interaction which may be more frequent

Once we have the feedback, translating it into something we can work with this the next step. In some cases the feedback on a personal interaction may need to be presented in a way which will reinforce the goal we are trying to accomplish in a ‘positive’ way, this is not say we should sugar-coat the feedback. However people may dwell more on a comment with a negative connotation rather than the issue it was meant to describe.

In the end collecting and responding to feedback will allow for your organization to improve not only the service which it provides but improving communication between you and your business as well.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn



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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Importance of Job Shadowing

When a colleague from SAIT (my college alumni) had asked if I was interested in participating in a job shadowing program, I jumped at the chance. The reason for wanting to do this was that this was opportunity I was not afforded when I finished school and wished I had. The students, who are wrapping up their final semester, are getting ready to enter the workforce with all the optimism and uncertainty that they can manage. Given the current economy I felt that I had even more in common with these students as I graduated in a bleak economic period with little on the job horizon as well. Reflecting on that time frame I wondered how different my graduating experience could have been if I was able to bounce questions off someone who had some level of experience in the industry.

The objective for the students, in their three hour window with me, was to observe and to ask questions revolving around how a typical day went and share some advice as it applied. While I could have had the students sitting with the team and watching them work, I decided that the time was best spent in them asking questions and then tailoring the visit based on the discussion

The question that I was asked the most, in fact by all of them, was “if there is one skill that you would say was the top skill, what would it be?”

Interesting, but not surprising, was that the answer to this was likely something that was not going to appear on anyone’s resume - it was networking.

I explained that especially in a tough job market the thing that differentiates people from a pile of resumes was that there is some level of connection to the person filling a position.

With each of the students I identified that there are many lines of networking to consider. There are several places to find connections. They range from professional associations, conferences, campus events, various social media platforms and mentoring opportunities such as this one. When I had finished school this was an area that was lacking to me only because I did not have direction on what to look for. As a result I always felt as though I was pushing a boulder uphill to get some traction on where to start.

I mentioned that getting the ‘foot in the door’ is a marathon rather than a race, and to not get discouraged when they get the sense that people only see them as ‘fresh out of school’. While that will happen, there are many more people who would see their fresh perspective and enthusiasm as a benefit rather than focusing on their lack of professional experience. In many cases, I explained, teams are looking for people who can ask the right questions rather than necessarily giving the right answers.

This experience was as much a benefit to me as it was to them. It provides me a networking opportunity also. After all there is a chance that I could be working with, or for, one of these people someday.

Take the time to connect and mentor with someone today.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn

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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

How You Triage Incidents

Everyone deals with incidents in their own way. At a recent networking event I was speaking with a manager whose main responsibility was to manage the incident process from escalation to resolution. During the conversation he explained that they managed it much like a medical triage. Since I must have had a somewhat confused look on my face he outlined that in a past career he worked in a medical center and that this triage seemed similar since his organization was dealing with a multitude of incidents every day (I will get back to that). He said, "You probably already manage your incidents in a much similar way, but let me break it down for you in this way."

Like an emergency room, escalations will come into the service desk and we need to identify which one of the incidents needs to be managed first.

Red Tag
We need to assess which incident has the most immediate need for restoration based on severity and impact. In a medical sense this might be represented by a red tag. The red tag symbolizes those who cannot survive without immediate treatment but have a chance of survival. In this organization they treat critical applications as priority 1 incidents and are managed by all available resources.

Yellow Tag

After this assessment the triage identifies what incidents are not immediate but will need to be addressed once the resources are no longer working on the priority 1 incident. Much like a medical yellow tag these patients are not in immediate danger of death but do require attention.
Green Tag

Lastly, he explained that there were also escalations which were low on the priority scale. These 'walking wounded' or green tags would represent issues that would get looked at after all other issues were addressed or might have had a workaround that would get them by.

I asked what about the ones that couldn't be saved, the black tag..... he didn’t find that amusing. “We don’t have those.”
Not yet, I thought.

The first thought that I had as he described this method of triage was whether this was improving service delivery long term or not. The issues that are less impactful may in reality be slowly bleeding the organization to death, to follow the medical theme. An initial review of the health of the organization may give us a better picture of what requires improvement to build a long term strategy. This way we do not need to worry about the triage as much as the resolution of the issue at hand

From a continual service improvement perspective it might be time to take a look at the bigger picture and see where the support teams may be spinning their wheels. In this particular scenario the manager indicated that this might be impossible since all hands are on deck every day. The focus of improving the customer experience clearly needs to be changed from a reactive to a proactive perspective. This means we need to STOP, think, and re-focus on how we are providing the support.

From the business angle we can all agree that while issues are addressed quickly they would really rather not have to deal with them at all. Some time and effort must be taken to see what recent issues are in the green, yellow and red tags before the IT department becomes a black tag.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn

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