Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Service Management Reporting is all about Perspective

Reporting, much like anything else, has its own sense of perspective, both from an IT and business points of view. The challenge for IT is to deliver information which enables teams to make informed decisions to improve the delivery of services. The primary challenge is to ensure that the compiled reports are accurately reflecting the customer experience.

Traditionally your IT teams may submit reports to a manager showing the state of IT Operaions, in other cases IT management may do this themselves through a dashboard of some type. Either way, the first challenge with this is that we are still looking at things in a very “IT” way. Remember we are working to improve the customer experience so this method of thinking needs to be addressed

The second challenge is that culturally IT shares its reporting data with its leaders, who in turn share it with more senior IT leaders, who indicate that this is being reviewed by the business in some way. The question that you may need to address here is:

“Are the reports being diluted?”

While not intentional the message is passed on from person to person much like the "telephone game" and through this knowledge transfer something may be lost in translation. The issue here is that the business reviewer may have questions which are not going to be addressed directly as this communication goes back in the other way, or that the key points which the operations teams had identified were missed. The risk here is that this communication gap could impede any sort of service improvement initiative.

It is important to note that we report against from an IT perspective should ring true with the business in terms of how the delivery of services are perceived. For example if we say a particular service has had no disruptions last month our customers should be able to agree with that assessment. if they do not we have identified another gap to work on.

Another challenge, brace for impact, is that your reports will likely look worse before they improve. Keep in mind that as we review this with the business we are going to learn a considerable amount about what is important to the business and how well we truly provide service. Is possible that issues we didn’t even conceive of may exist and were not reported or even gained visibility. This is good, just come to grips that the “numbers” we had prior to business dialog may not be an accurate representation of what the business sees.

Lastly keep these discussions going. While there may only be a few people or teams in the mix at the onset, slowly adding more people, and ultimately insight into service, will only help to improve the ability for your business to achieve its goals

In summary
·         Stop thinking like IT – Think like the business
·         Share reports with IT leaders but validate with your business where appropriate
·         You WILL get worse before you improve
·         Keep at it – Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Keep these principals in mind and you will be well on your way to service improvements

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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Navigating the Sea of Service Management Conferences

Do you find yourself asking the question, “What Service Management conference should I attend at this year?”

This will likely depend on budget and ensuring that the conference you attend has value add to account for budget as well as the time you are away

For me the challenge has been in the grand scope what events are available for me to attend that I may not even realize existed in addition to the ones I know. There are a few highly marketed conferences that we have come to know and love from the ITSM space such as those from HDI, Pink, ITSMF, and of course the ITSM tool vendors just to touch the tip of the iceberg. But unless you are a constant on the conference circuit and know what each of the events offer and when they are scheduled it may be a little more difficult to navigate the sea of choices. Is there a place to see all that there is to choose from with regards to the service management space so that you can make an informed choice on what conference(s) you can attend in the upcoming calendar year. Surely everyone would love to go to Vegas but are there more regional events that we are not aware of? Whether they are physical or virtual online events.

Are these lesser known events looking for volunteers or attendees and are not hitting the target audiences? Would a conference repository help them to promote to those that might not attend otherwise. Remember it’s not always about ITSM specifically. It could apply to governance, risk, BRM, training or even other activities which are driven by IT which impact your business goals

Aside from attending, what conferences can I speak or share at. I can tell you when you have a limited number of conferences to choose from, and they happen to be large, getting a rejection letter is not a surprise given the talent out there that you are competing against. However there are likely many conferences like #TFT which are crowd sourced or others which are smaller from a stage size perspective that may not be getting as many submissions which would improve your chances for sharing. If there was a repository we could see those as well.

If you are aware of any of these repositories in part or in whole please feel free to send me a link at +RyanOgilvie on twitter at @ryanrogilvie or on Linkedin

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Ensuring Service Management Stays Effective

Delivering excellent service to our customers is a priority for many of us. From a service management perspective part of that requires us to review how we provide that service through continual improvement initiatives. The first step for us is to look at where we are today and ask the question "Do we have a strategy to help us further establish service management. 

Established Service Management Program

First you may need to define what “established” really means. This indicates that we are performing several processes which are accepted by IT and the processes have been documented and communicated through some level of training. Each process has an identified owner whose goal is to leverage the process to reach targets set forth to improve the delivery of service to align with business outcomes. Where possible this process may be automated through some form of tool, however the later can only be achieved when the process has reached a reasonable degree of maturity. Remember the tools are only that, they will simply help you streamline what you already have.

If you are still thinking that you have fairly mature processes, start thinking about what the output processes look like. For example once we have a solid incident management process how does that relate to proactive activities such as problem, or event management. Where do things like knowledge come into play to further improve the delivery of services, for example.

It is crucial to remember that this initial look shouldn’t be done alone. Solicit information from several sources. How are these processes improving the operations teams, have you spoken with your service delivery or business relationship managers to see what service improvements these processes are producing. You may find that there are several items to improve in the larger scheme of things. The key is to keep it simple and target the items that will align to the IT and business objectives.

The ‘not so’ established service management program

You are thinking to yourself, “OK, I know we aren’t that established but we are doing some things”. The main difference between the two is the ability to do the processes without much thought. These processes are meant to guide us, so if we spend more time trying to figure out the process as compared to the actual work we are probably on the lower end of the maturity scale. Some key indicators of this is that there are inconsistencies in the way we perform work, people are doing things differently even when they are on the same teams. At the end of the day the delivery of service is happening but how we get there may be the winding trail. There is nothing wrong with that, after all you need to walk before you can run. The first step identifies that you need to make improvements and then actually do just that.

How do I do that?

First at the fundamental level, you should have an identified process owner. In the beginning you may only have one person who might be accountable and responsible to the process, but determine who that is and communicate that information to those who will be impacted by this information. Once you have identified the ‘who’ you need to be able to identify the ‘what’. The process owner should be able to outline how the process works. Sharing the inner working of the process may require training, and a place where people can revisit and review the training or process documentation. This is why keeping it simple is important.

Think of it this way, training someone to build a chair from scratch can be complex and take some finely tuned skills. Building a chair from a store with an Allen key has a consistent process which is simple to understand. Either way the end result is ‘something to sit on’ which is a start.

After this has been established you need to continually review the process to ensure that it is working the way it was envisioned and when there are challenges, as there likely will be, you make the needed adjustments.

It is the act of keeping it simple that I can’t stress enough, doing this will allow your processes to grow over time and will keep them scalable for later iterations of improvement.
Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie and/or on LinkedIn

Monday, 5 May 2014

Why Training Should Include Simulations

Let’s face it we have all attended a course where the hours seem to last for days. I can clearly remember being in a class that had a clock which stated “time will pass, will you?” as if to taunt me. Unfortunately it is true that not all courses or instructors are created equal. This is why I believe that wherever possible introducing simulations could improve ther retention of information and increase overall value of the content being delivered. After all who doesn’t love to play games on some level?

Training is expensive for the most part. In my opinion getting your company to put up the funds in the first place can be the biggest obstacle. The second challenge is that after the course, if your organization doesn’t feel like it provided the value they were hoping for, you might be in for an uphill battle the next time you need training.

Training outfits strive to increase value and reduce cost, so it is important that you as the consumer determine what will ultimately provide the best bang for the buck. Unfortunately the price tag is what typically is the comparison point between your choices. this price point may be driven by whether the coursework can be delivered locally, online or a combination of the two. I think that typically the content isn’t the problem, it is your retention of the information that can be a challenge.
As I mentioned earlier not all training outfits are created equally. At the end of the course it’s likely that you will have a test in which case you, the trainee, experience a heightened sense of anxiety preparing to pass a test. I personally see a flaw in this methodology. I am not simply looking to pass a test, and hopefully that you arent either. What we should be aiming to do at the end of the training is to bring back the information we have absorbed, share with our colleagues and apply it in a way that will improve some component of our work lives.

It has been said that we remember:

·         10 percent of what we read
·         20 percent of what we hear
·         30 percent of what we see and hear
·         70 percent of what we say and write
·         90 percent of what we say as we do

Traditional education focuses on assessment, usually involving a 3 day course with someone reading from a slide deck. (Reading, Hearing and maybe Seeing – 30% retention). Simulations can provide immediate feedback and teach core problem solving skills. This also allows us to change the dynamic in the classroom (Saying or Doing – upwards of 90% retention possibly).

Think about this, have you ever noticed in a class setting when the instructor asks a question there is a deafening silence. Why does that happen? This is a result of years of learning in the same way; you only get one change to get it right. In other words people are afraid to look stupid so they carefully choose when to contribute. In a simulation setting, generally the pace is faster you are able to make some mistakes, try again and make adjustments where you need to. In the simplest of terms LEARN.

Another thing that simulations do is it gets us moving around and out of our seats without us realizing it. Physical movement also has an impact on the way that we remember. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair for 3 days certainly will not make any improvements to what information we retain.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been in a great deal of classes that had engaging and interesting instructors who have presented the information in a way that encouraged group discussion and collaboration. However in my opinion if we were able to add simulations, even in a small amount, this would improve the dynamic of the learning experience in a positive way.

Follow me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie