Service Transition – the key to successful services

September 26th, 2008

I went to the itSMF Central London regional group meeting the other day; the theme of the meeting was “Service Transition Lifecycle: a Balancing Act”.  I’ve been to several regional group meetings over the years, and I’ve given presentations at a few, but I think this was the best one I’ve attended.  There was a good mix of people there – representing public and private sector, vendors and consultants – which made for a great deal of healthy debate.  The “spine” of the day consisted of two good presentations – one from Jack Robertson-Worsfold of iCore and the other from Greg Downing of Atos Origin (the hosts for the meeting).

The part of the day that really got the discussions going was a breakout session where, in small groups, we discussed our experience of introducing services into live operation – the hand-off from Service Transition to Service Operation.  Everybody had horror stories of problems they had encountered – and there were some excellent ideas discussed for ways of ensuring the transition is as smooth as possible.  Having just spent a year working in this type of role for a large retail organisation, many of the points raised echoed my own experiences.

I’m not going to go into the details of what was discussed here – this is a subject that I’m sure I will return to many times in my blog – but the overwhelming view of everyone present was that the transition of a service into operation needs to be planned as early in the service lifecycle as possible, and if you get it wrong, it doesn’t matter how good the service is, it will not be a success, and it will cost more in time and resource to put it right afterwards than it would have taken to get it right in the first place.

Congratulations to itSMF Central London Region for this session – well done to Michelle Hales of Connectsphere who facilitated the day, and thanks to Atos Origin who provided an excellent meeting space (with very comfortable chairs) and a decent lunch.  Central London is not my “home” region, but I’ll certainly try to attend their meetings in the future.  If you’re an itSMF UK member, you can see the presentations on the regional group web page.

Back after a break, and the wonder of LinkedIn

September 24th, 2008

Well, I’m finally back after a break of a few weeks from this blog – the reason is that life has been a bit hectic recently, because I have just left Fox IT and joined TeamUltra, so I have had lots of handing over of my Fox IT stuff, and getting up to speed with the TeamUltra stuff.  See the “Useful Links” in the sidebar for a link to the TeamUltra web site.

That brings me on to “the wonder of LinkedIn”.  I changed my LinkedIn status to indicate that I was about to leave Fox IT, and I had loads of responses from my LinkedIn contacts wishing me luck, and asking where I was going – many of them from people I haven’t seen or spoken to for a long time.  This has demonstrated to me the power of social networking tools such as LinkedIn, and I will definitely use it as much as possible in the future.  So, to all my LinkedIn colleagues, thank you – and to anyone reading this who isn’t a member, go to and sign up.  You can link to my profile from the sidebar or the “Welcome to my web site” page.

More posts to come soon – promise!

Carnegie Mellon University to offer degree in Service Management

July 23rd, 2008

Carnegie Mellon University have announced that from later this year they will be offering a 14-month intensive on-campus masters degree programme – Master of Science in Information Technology in IT Service Management (MSIT-ITSM).   The university’s Institute for Software Research, part of its School of Computer Science, will be delivering the programme.  You might be familiar with Carnegie Mellon as the developers of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and its variants.  Details of this new degree are given in a press release from CMU.

Although the title of the degree is IT Service Management, the curriculum comprises 4 core areas:

  1. IT, Computing and Software Engineering
  2. Behavioural and Management Sciences
  3. Quantitative Methods
  4. IT Service Management

Although this is a post-graduate degree, which implies a rather academic approach, there is a practical element to the course – although I’m not sure how much hands-on learning it is possible to achieve in a 14-month course.  The requirements for candidates also includes 3-5 years of relevant industrial experience.  I think you would need a very understanding employer to allow you 14 months off work to attend this course – either that or a pot of money that would enable you to fund yourself.

Intriguingly, there is no mention of industry best practice frameworks such as ITIL or MOF, so it would be interesting to know whether they are included in the curriculum.  It would also be useful to know how this qualification would fit with the existing qualification and certification structure for IT Service Management offered by APM Group (for ITIL v3) and ISEB, EXIN and other examination bodies (for earlier versions of ITIL).  The fact that it takes 14 months suggests that it is more thorough than the ITIL Managers course!

The press release doesn’t include a link to a more detailed syllabus, only an email address for additional information and application forms.  If anybody has obtained this additional information, I’d appreciate it if you could share it with me!  The CMU web site does include it in a list of “Professional Masters” programmes, but there is no further information provided.  In case you’re interested in signing up for the course, Carnegie Mellon is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

ITIL Live demo

July 21st, 2008

TSO has made available a demo of its online ITIL v3 offering, ITIL Live.  Those who have registered an interest in being kept up to date with the development via the TSO ITIL web site will have received an email asking them to view the demo and complete a short survey.  Actually, this posting is a bit late, as there was an incentive offered by TSO that all surveys returned before 1st July 2008 would qualify the sender for a 10% discount off their first year’s subscription – I don’t know how much this would be worth, as there are no published prices; also, at the bottom of this notification email, in very small text, is a paragraph that begins “Assuming the product goes ahead…” so it sounds as though it is not yet a done deal that ITIL Live will ever go live!

The demo is not accessible from the TSO home page, so use this link to go directly to the ITIL Live demo.  You will see from the introduction that the content of ITIL Live is organised such that it can be accessed in 3 different ways, depending on which particular aspect of ITIL you are interested in.  The 3 ways are, basically:

  • via processes.  The 27 processes described within ITIL v3 are mapped against the lifecycle stages, with a view of how the process operates.
  • via the lifecycle stages – or at least what is referred to as Main Practice Elements (MPEs) which are the building blocks of the lifecycle stages, and describe the tasks that need to be performed, who needs to perform them, what tools might be required, etc.
  • via roles.  The main Service Management roles are described, along with details of where they fit within the lifecycle.

The system lets you drill down through a hierarchy of information, from lifecycle stage to process to task, then the “knowledge base” gives details of each task – work instructions, roles involved, and even templates for the documents that are generated or used by the task.  However, I think it would be more useful if the process flowcharts used swim lanes so it is clear who carries out which task, and RACI charts to indicate the responsibility and accountability for each activity within a process.

The demo itself is pretty static – a few screenshots of the system, with just one or two active hyperlinks, and text boxes to instruct you where to click.  There are only 4 screens in the demo, which demonstrates only one path down the hierarchy of information – so overall, it is difficult to get a real flavour of how the system will operate, or what level of detail will be contained within the knowledge base.  I’m left wondering why the TSO released a “demo” with such limited functionality – admittedly it could be in order to get feedback from prospective customers at an early stage in order to guide the future development – or maybe it is to gauge whether it is worth continuing with the development at all.

TSO have not yet announced how much this service will cost – presumably it will be comparable to the licence fee for the electronic version of the ITIL v3 books.  Being familiar with similar ITIL process tools such as FoxPRISM, I will be very interested to see how this new service compares both on price and in functionality.

International standard for IT Governance

July 16th, 2008

The International standards organisation (ISO) has recently published an International Standard for the corporate governance of information technology.  This standard is the result of several months of work by the ICT Governance Study Group, within the bit of ISO known as ISO/IEC JCT1/SC7.  Although I was nominally a member of this working group (which meant that I got included in all the communications, drafts, meeting minutes, etc.), I have to admit that I was something of a “lurker”, mainly because this was my first involvement with ISO and I wanted to see how things worked before chipping in with my opinions.  I also couldn’t quite justify the time and expense of attending the occasional meetings, as they were held in Seoul, Moscow, Montreal, Berlin,…

Anyway, the group finally achieved a consensus from the representatives of the many national bodies involved, and the result is ISO/IEC 38500:2008.  The standard can be purchased in paper form or as a PDF download from the ISO web site; the price is 84 Swiss francs (about £42).  I’m not going to go into any great detail of the content of the standard here – you’ll have to invest your 84 Swiss francs to get the full thing, but I’ll give a very brief overview.

The document has 3 main sections.  The first explains the scope, application and objectives of the standard – what it is trying to achieve; the second describes a framework for good corporate governance of IT; and the third provides guidance on how the framework should be used for the corporate governance of IT.

The framework consists of a set of principles for good corporate governance of IT, and a model that indicates how the principles should be applied.  The six principles are:

  1. Responsibility.  To ensure that individuals and groups within an organisation understand and accept their responsibilities
  2. Strategy.  To ensure that the business strategy takes into account the current and future capabilities of IT
  3. Acquisition.  To ensure that IT acquisitions are made for valid reasons
  4. Performance.  To ensure that the IT services delivered are fit for purpose in supporting the organisation
  5. Conformance.  To ensure IT complies with all mandatory legislation and regulations
  6. Human Behaviour.  To ensure that policies, practices and decisions demonstrate respect for human behaviour

The model describes the 3 main tasks that directors should perform to govern IT:

  1. Evaluate the current and future use of IT
  2. Direct preparation and implementation of plans and policies
  3. Monitor conformance to policies and performance against the plan

The Guidance section of the standard describes how each of the 3 tasks is applied to each of the 6 principles in order to achieve good governance of IT.  This is the bit that goes into the detail of what things should happen within an organisation in order to achieve an acceptable level of governance of IT.  Although called a “standard”, the guidance is presented in terms of what “should” happen, and is therefore more a “code of practice” – a standard that could be certified against would use the term “shall” in order to indicate the activities that were mandatory.  Whether there will ever be a certification scheme for this standard is open to speculation – of course, I’ll keep my eyes and ears open on that subject.

My opinion of the standard is that it does what it claims to set out to do – to provide a framework of principles to assist directors of organisations in the achievement of good corporate governance of IT.  How useful it will be remains to be seen; I think the value of the standard will be in shaping the development of lower level standards and guidance, and it will only really come into its own when it can be mapped to practical “best practice” guidelines such as COBIT and ITIL.

Welcome to my IT Service Management and IT Governance blog

July 12th, 2008

Well, after a few weeks of experimentation and finding my feet with registering my web domain, getting the web hosting sorted out, and familiarising myself with WordPress, I think I’m just about ready to launch this blog on to an unsuspecting world.  My main areas of interest are IT Governance and IT Service Management; these areas are very dynamic at the moment, and they are continuing to rise up the agendas of many IT Directors and Board members.

In the area of IT Governance, a new international standard – ISO/IEC 38500 – has recently been released, and the emerging global best practice framework – COBIT – is growing more popular.

In the IT Service Management world, the refresh of ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), commonly known as ITIL v3, is now a year old, and the anniversary has attracted a lot of comment and opinion about whether it is better or worse than the previous version.

In this blog I will aim to give my views on the latest events in this sector of the IT industry, and to provide links to the views of other commentators in the industry (even if I don’t agree with them).  It would be nice to get feedback on my postings (even if you don’t agree with me), so please feel free to leave a comment to give your views on the subject.