Monday, 17 December 2007

Are you a Zapper or a Sapper?

I've seen a couple of recommendations for 'Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment' by William Byham with Jeff Cox and thought I'd give it a read (1999 2nd edition). Normally I dislike fable-style business books and prefer something with a little more meat to them. However, in this case, I am glad I made an exception. It's a very quick read and is as relevant today as it was back in the eighties. Much of the content is what we recognise as good common sense leadership and effective management - yet recognising it in our own workplaces is that bit harder.

One of the employees goes behind his supervisor's back and creates the 'Ralpholater' which transports he (and eventually his supervisor) to the 12th dimension which is a fantasy world version of the real world where fighting fires is really fighting the fires made by dragons, the manager is a huge green troll, etc. This appealed to the fantasy fan in me so I kept reading.

Using this contraption they identify two concepts: Zapp and Sapp.
The remainder of the book is spent figuring out what zapps, what sapps, how to zapp, and how to avoid sapping. The approach shows what is being done incorrectly then suggests an alternative approach to turn sapp into zapp. Useful at reinforcing those common sense messages.

Zapping is a 4 step process as follows:
1. Maintain or enhance self-esteem
2. Listen and respond with empathy
3. Share thoughts, feelings, and rationale
4. Ask for help and encourage involvement (Seek ideas, suggestions, and information)

These help you achieve the soul of zapp which is 'providing support without removing responsibility for action.'

The book goes on to reinforce the importance of support, feedback, coaching, and delegation. In many ways it made me think of the podcasts from Manager Tools which espouse the same key messages about changing behaviour to achieve results. Nip down to your local library or pick up a copy from Amazon - it's worth an evening of your time :)

Friday, 30 November 2007

Where next for transformational government?

I've been re-reading some information on Transformational Government as it's now two years since the original strategy was published back in November 2005. Amongst implementation and progress papers I found a really interesting one in the Work Foundation's 'Public Services & ICT' series entitled: 'Where next for transformational government?' by Alexandra Jones and Laura Williams. It's dated September 2006 but the content is still very relevant to where I work over a year on. After giving some background it details the challenges that we continue to face:

  • Lack of link between project and organisation's key strategic priorities
  • Lack of clear senior management (and ministerial) ownership and leadership
  • Lack of effective stakeholder engagement
  • Lack of skills and proven approach to project and risk management
    • Scope Creep
    • Unrealistic Timescales
    • Perfection tomorrow rather than compromise today
    • Not enough attention paid to risk profiles

  • Lack of understanding of and contact with supply industry and senior levels
    • Avoid over-design of the procurement specification
    • Create genuine partnerships
    • Be realistic about risk transfer
    • More honesty from suppliers

  • Evaluation of proposals driven by initial price rather than long-term value
    • Business benefits should be the real measure of success
    • Not just time and cost

  • Too little attention to chunking project into manageable steps
    • More projects need rigorous piloting
    • Lack of Communication between policymakers and deliverers, and IT managers and senior managers

  • Inadequate resources and skills to deliver the total delivery portfolio

And conversely, it also highlights what makes a successful project (nothing really new here):
  • Clear and realistic business strategy with ICT as enabler
    • Keep it simple
      • Simplify transactions
      • Incentivise cheaper options
      • Different solutions for different services
      • Design services around customers
      • Do a pilot
      • Have a safety net

  • Processes redesigned to be more effective
  • Leaders engaged in project and visibility committed to success
  • Change management strategy engaging staff
  • Investment in capacity of staff
  • Customer segmentation - Understanding different customer needs
  • Good relationships with suppliers
  • Risks identified and managed

The report finishes with 10 recommendations. I won't detail them here though, go and have a look for yourself. It's actually a really good report (unlike some I've read).

Do you see these challenges for you and your organisation (if you work in government anyway!)?

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Chartered IT Professional? What do they know anyway?

This is the question that the British Computer Society are seeking to answer. Are an IT professional and have thoughts on the charter mark for the IT profession? Or perhaps you are simply curious about the 'Body of Knowledge' that all Chartered IT Professionals will be expected to demonstrate.

Currently is is split into 'Knowledge and Understanding' and 'Skills'. They will structure into topics towards the end of the consultation to make it easier to navigate. I've started to add my penny worth... from what I can see so far it seems to be too detailed at all levels. However, I've only just skimmed the surface.

Head over to the website and have your say.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

itSMF Conference, v3 Qualifications and News

Well I've just returned from this year's itSMF conference '[R]evolution?'. I've mixed feelings about it this year as I felt that the quality of some of the seminars wasn't as high as last year. Perhaps I was unfortunate in my selection of which I chose to attend. That said, there were some excellent seminars and I shall endeavour to write my thoughts and share some useful nuggets from those in the coming weeks. As always, I'm sure it won't be long before the itSMF publish all the presentations on their website. Incidentally, we're supposed to be seeing a brand new design for their website launching at some point in Decemeber. About time too!

Today I just wanted to bring two things to your attention:

1. The ITIL v3 Qualification Scheme has been finalised (well, according to the website, but at the conference Rosemary Gurney did put in a little caveat). You can read the full qualification scheme information on the OGC's Best Management Practice website.

2. The final edition of the ITIL Refresh news is out (picked up a copy at the conference and now see it online).

That's all for the moment, more to come soon!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Dream, Think, Act!

For awhile there I forgot that my blog is also about personal development but today I was reminded that there's more to life than IT Service Management (hard to believe, but there you have it!

I came across an inspirational blog, the content of which is consistent with the things I like at sites such as Manager Tools and Mind Tools, i.e. Clear, practical, effective advice for personal development. It's called 'Dream, Think, Act' by Edith Yeung.

Among the many posts that picqued my interest was one about PCS - Personal Credibility Score. Credibility is crucial to my personal brand, particularly in the workplace.

Her post covers the following key points:

First Impressions
  • Confident
  • Approachable
  • Articulated
  • Clean
  • Punctual
  • Authentic
  • Available
  • Passionate
  • Under Promise Over Deliver
  • Honesty

Maintaining Your Creditability
  • Consistent
  • Say No

Take 5 minutes to read the full article, you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

ITIL Manager Bridge Delayed

When you get out of the habit of something it's very easy to let things slide. Had a great holiday so now it's time to pick up the blog habit again. If anyone's still reading - thanks for sticking around!

This month the APMG has announced that the ITIL Manager Bridging v2-v3 Qualification will be delayed until next year due to an imbalance in the syllabus regarding coverage of certain topics.

They are also reviewing the Foundation v3 exam because training providers believe there is too much focus on Service Strategy and Continual Service Improvement.

I haven't got funding to do the bridging exam yet so chances are that I will do a different version of the exam to that some of my friends have completed.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

ITIL v3 Launch Video

If you didn't manage to attend the ITIL v3 launch in London and the presentations weren't enough for you, you can now view the morning and afternoon sessions on your pc. Thankfully there are bookmarks to skip to the sections that you may be interested in otherwise it's a seriously long slog!

Monday, 13 August 2007

Little v2 vs v3 presentation

I came across a little presentation video today on the ILX website which I think nicely summarises (at a high level anyway) some of the differences between v2 and v3. If you don't have time to explain them to someone, just send them the link then let them ask you the question about the conversion points not adding up afterwards ;)

NOTE: This is in no way a recommendation for the ILX group or their products as I have no personal experience of them, I just like the presentation :)

Friday, 29 June 2007

ITIL v3 Launch Presentations

Once again I must apologise for the lack of posts. I've not even had time to read my brand new ITIL v3 books. Off on holiday for a few weeks so I should come back refreshed and ready for blogging action!

In the meantime, the itSMF have published the slides that were presented by the ITIL v3 authors at the launch events. You can download them here.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

ITIL Refresh v3 - Qualification Scheme

Bruce: And what do points make?
The ITIL Imp: One small step for the individual up the career path for IT service management professionals! (Doesn't quite work does it? ;) )

Today I attended the ITIL v3 Launch in London and I promise to write up my thoughts on what was said and my 'concerns' regarding the deployment of the books and online service (Read: "I'm annoyed my books still have not arrived and my online access does not work!"). However, there is far too much to put into one blog entry so I'm kicking off with the area which particularly interests me - the qualification scheme.

Today the APMG released a press release regarding the proposed ITIL v3 Qualifications Structure. Sharon Taylor gave a half-hour presentation on this and for me personally it was the most worthwhile part of the day. She stressed that most of the structure (a modular points-based system) has not yet been signed off by the Qualifications Board so it IS all subject to change.

First of all, the proposed structure:
Everyone needs an ITIL Foundation in Service Management worth 2 points before progressing onto either:
- The lifecycle stream (built around each of the 5 core books. Each module is worth 3 points)
- or The capability stream (built around job roles - service portfolio & relationship management; service design & optimisation; service monitoring & control; and service operation & support. Each module is worth 4 points).

If you wish to progress (and it seems that as career-oriented service management professionals we are expected to want to) you will need to complete a 'Managing Through The Lifecycle' which will be designed as a 'normalisation' exercise to ensure that anyone who holds an IT Diploma has a baseline of knowledge. This qualification is worth 5 points but is not anticipated to be available until the end of this year.

It IS possible to mix and match modules from both the lifecycle and capability streams to achieve a total of 22 points which, on completion of the normalisation course, will automatically qualify you for the 'ITIL Diploma'. It wasn't stated what the process would be for actually claiming the ITIL Diploma but I expect this to be announced within a few months. It would be great if this were automated rather than the burden being on us to claim it. It also isn't clear whether there will be a published certification register as there is for Prince 2. If there were then I think they could automate sending diplomas out.

Beyond the ITIL Diploma will be an 'Advanced Service Management Professional Diploma'. It sounds like not much has really been done around this yet but reference was made to "tapping into other professional certifications". As you may have read I recently covered the BCS ISEB qualifications change as well as the new IT Professional Competency model. It sounded rather like this proposed qualification would align nicely with the 'ISEB Professional Level qualification'. Whether it does or not remains to be seen.

All that's very well, but how about those of us who have v2 qualifications. Is all the investment wasted? The answer is a firm "No". Sharon mentioned 2 types of bridging qualification: 1. Foundation 2. Managers. At this stage it seems it is not required for practitioners. This diagram summarises the routes from v2 to v3.

I think it is pretty self-explanatory except... are they really expecting those qualified to Manager's level to pay for a Foundation bridge AND a Manager's bridge? That doesn't make sense. Yet based on the points scheme if you don't then you end up short 1/2 point for the ITIL Diploma. By my calculations the Manager Bridge should be worth 5.5 points; am I correct or is my maths asleep on me?

My final word on qualification issues today is that of syllabi. There is now more guidance in these broken down by categories covering detailed learning objectives, section links to the core books, and even how long should be spent teaching those learning objectives.

No mention was made of if/when prometric exams will be available at all levels (or even just foundation). Sharon did stress that they are keen that a wider range of delivery mechanisms be used but it sounded to me like the burden is on the Exam Institutes and Accredited Training Providers to come up with these.

DISCLAIMER: As Sharon reiterated the above information is subject to change. As soon as I become aware of any such changes, I'll let you know.
Diagrams are (I think) copyright by APMG 2007 so I may get asked to remove them.

Sharon Taylor presentation at the ITIL v3 Launch (London)
APMG Press Release

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Women and the long hours culture

Unfortunately I wasn't unable to attend the "Raising your profile for a successful career in IT" event hosted this week in London by WIT (Women In Technology) in association with Microsoft. If any of you did I'd be interested to here what you thought of it.

What interests me is one of the statistics from the survey carried out earlier this year which indicates that 75% of respondents felt their employers had a 'long hours' work culture. Apparently this is one of the factors discouraging women from working in technology and leaving it never to return. Personally I don't mind putting in the hours when it is needed. However I fully expected to be compensated for my time. Is the issue really the long hours, or is it about being adequately compensated to make up for time not spent with family? As a 30-something woman myself, I wonder if in a few years I'll be one of those statistics who want to work in technology but find it women-unfriendly.

Source articles:
Women In Technology

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

ITIL Refresh v3 - Complementary Guidance

Apologies for the lack of posts this month. Suffice to say it's been a tough one and I'm back.

I last wrote about the changes to qualifications which I came by through a presentation from Sharon Taylor, Chief Architect of ITIL v3 hosted by Axios. I meant to follow up a little sooner for you on the other area that I thought particularly interesting - complementary guidance. If you're feeling cynical read: 'cash cow'.

Sharon gave an overview of the 'Complementary Portfolio' and reiterated quite strongly that it was not being written just by the OGC. The portfolio is to have the ITIL brand, be supported through formal research and be 'industry developed and owned. 'All stakeholders' (I wonder who defines a stakeholder in this case?) will have an opportunity to contribute content which must naturally support the core of ITIL v3. A phrase she used frequently was 'living library'. It appears that the new core material is expected to have a shelf life of about 5 years and that the complementary portfolio will help to ensure it stays fresh in the meantime.

As for the anticipated content of this living library; Sharon mentioned the following:

- Official study aids
- Case studies & templates
- Key element guides to replace the current pocket guides
- The book 'ITIL small scale implementation' is to be updated
- Industry specific guidance for public and private sectors
- Business sector specifics, e.g. Financial, Manufacturing, etc.
- Integrated Service Model to be published online including integrated process mapping (I wonder if this was inspired by the excellent Computer Associates Tube-style maps?)
- Available in multiple languages (apparently books are currently available in 17 languages and they are looking to expand upon this.
- Online content / books with supporting material around qualifications

She suggested that we will see the first additions to the living library in June 2007. I don't recall her saying exactly what this will be. However, I'd be personally very surprised if as a minimum it didn't include the study aids and online templates for download to those who take up the online subscription option.

Time will tell... just a week until the official launch!

Friday, 4 May 2007

ITIL Refresh v3 - Qualifications Update

I attended a webinar hosted by Axios systems yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to hear some information direct from the horses's mouth (Chief Architect Sharon Taylor) that I had not heard previously. Today I will focus on the key qualification related points.

Existing qualifications will remain valid and recognised by each EI (Examination Institute). You should not end up in a situation where taking the Foundation exam with one EI does not qualify as the pre-requisite for the next stage of examination with another EI. v2 exams will be phased out at some point in 2008.

There will be 'Upgrade / Bridging' qualifications for those that wish to take them. As the v2 qualifications remain valid there is no requirement to upgrade.

Focusing on v3 qualifications Sharon provided an overview of the Global Panel of Examiners who are appointed by AMPG. The panel is responsible for setting competency standards and actively auditing the EIs and TPs (Training Providers). Membership of the panel includes:
Training providers
End Users

One of the key points Sharon made was the creation of a single-exam standard. All the EIs (currently ISEB, EXIN, APMG) will draw their questions from a single exam bank. It is hoped that this will help maintain the quality and consistency of the certifications.

Examinations will be available in multiple languages although no date was provided.

This is where it began to differ from what I have heard (and published here) previously. The progression through the exams in no longer the old 3 levels (which we knew already). What I didn't know is that they are changing to a 'career path' oriented system. There is a desire that ITSM be seen as a valid and worthwhile profession within the IT industry and it is hoped this may go some way to achieving this.

There will still be a foundation exam introducing the lifecycle approach. The first ITIL v3 Foundation exam will be available for sitting on 13th June 2007.

Following the foundation it sounds like there may be two streams of 'Intermediate learning'.
1. Service Management (aka Manager)
2. Service Capability (aka Practitioner)

To this end a modular system will be introduced. This will enable us to customise career paths to our own needs. Sharon said that there will be a phased delivery on examinations at these levels, no dates as yet.

The other major change is the approach to training itself. Instead of training being primarily the domain of the classroom there are going to be self-paced online e-learning courses and virtual classrooms. Exams will be available on demand and we are waving goodbye to the long handwritten 3 hour examinations (maybe I don't want to take the ITIL v2 manager's after all!).

Finally, ITIL v3 revision guides will form part of the complementary publications suite.

The title of her presentation was 'ITIL v3, The Future is Now.' I'm certainly encouraged by the changes (implementation of them remains to be seen of course). The future is just 25 days away!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

ITIL Refresh v3 - Qualifications

At the BCS SMSG Carol Hulm mentioned a possible 3 tier structure for ITIL v3 examinations. Today this has been confirmed in a statement from Richard Pharro of the APM Group.

The levels proposed are:

* Basic Level equating to V2 Foundation
* Management and Capability Level replacing the V2 Practitioner and Manager
* Advanced Level

Apparently this has been inspired by Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning where:
* Basic Level - assess knowledge and comprehension
* Management Level - assess comprehension and application
* Advanced Level - assess application and analysis

They have also confirmed that there will be 'upgrade' examinations for those already certified in ITIL v2.

The hope is that the foundation exam will be out shortly after the books as work on the examination questions is in progress. However, it is likely to be some time before the qualifications at management level are agreed and syllabus determined. I suspect that the advanced level may cover the entire lifecycle; I look forward to hearing what the examination panel decide.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

BCS Service Management Specialist Group Event

Apologies for the lack of posts last week. Just when I thought I had the habit as well!

Last Monday I went into London to an event run by the BCS Service Management Specialist Group as the title of the event piqued my interest: 'IT Service Management, ITIL, ISEB and the BCS '. The group does what it says on the tin. It gets together to discuss and share best practice in Service Management which is MORE than ITIL. Events are normally every month or so at the London BCS offices. If you are interested in joining visit the BCS SMSG website and let them know where you came from ;)

There were nine of us in attendance including the presenter Carol Hulm, Special Project Manager at the BCS.

The main topics of her presentation were:
- ISEB qualification framework evolution
- ITIL v3
- Book launch on 11th May of 'World Class IT Service Delivery' by Peter Wheatcroft
- IT Professionalism

Over the next few blog entries I will address coverage of each of these areas in turn. There were some great questions and answers particularly around ITIL examinations going forward and other ITSM offerings that ISEB may include going forward.

Before leaving I felt compelled to point out that the ProfIT website leaves a lot to be desired and that in my view the BCS professionalism pages were better. Hopefully this will be fed back and we may see some improvement (just call me an optimist!).

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Mind Tools - Kickstart your career

I've been a fan of the work that has been going on over a Mind Tools for many years now and when they launched their 'Career Excellence Club' I had to register to check it out and see whether it would be worth the monthly fee. After 6 months the answer in my view is 'yes'. Being a member gives you access to premium versions of the tools (problem solving, decision making, team leading, etc.), book insights, interviews, etc. The community forums are excellent as members support one another, stimulate new ideas, provide new slants on old ones, motivate one another, etc. It really is one of the best communities out there to my mind for anyone serious about taking a structured approach (or not) to personal development.

The monthly fee is worth it for the weekly Bite Sized Training booklets (usually around 15-20 pages) designed to be worked through within an hour's lunch break that take you through a tool in detail , e.g. providing feedback.

No, I'm not on commission - but perhaps I should be ;)

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Girls and Women in ICT update

It's almost a year since I posted about girls and women working in ICT. Not much seems to have changed in that time from my relatively uninvolved perspective, but things certainly haven't stood still.

It isn't only the UK that has a shortage of girls going into IT careers (we're comparably well off compared to some countries); the European Union are also doing their bit to try and encourage a change. I watched the shadowing video with interest but felt that it really didn't succeed in the way that I think the one over on e-skills UK does.

Speaking of e-skills, the CC4G (Computer Club for Girls) website has had a much needed makeover and there is now some improved content in the way of case studies and links to other sites as well as information for employers who may want to get involved.

Finally, I wanted to mention that from 6th - 8th June in Tunis there is an 'International Colloquium on Empowering Women in Engineering and Technology'. The programme looks quite interesting although I do wonder just how you become one of the 'selected women' :)

Friday, 6 April 2007

IT Profession Update

It's been awhile since I posted about the work of the ProfIT Alliance (partly because things have been a little quiet on the public front). For those who have not heard of the alliance before it is formed of the BCS, e-skills UK, Intellect, and the NCC. They started working together with the primary of creating an IT Profession that is recognised as such in the way that accountants and surveyors are.

In the past week the e-skills sector council published the all new 'IT Profession Competency Model'. The fundamental idea is to recognise areas of specialism in which people can progress without necessarily having to move into management as is normally the case (certainly where I work). There are some staff who really deserve to be renumerated for their level of specialism and currently the only way to achieve this is to apply for a management role for which, in most of these cases, they are not suited. Providing options has got to be a good thing in my book.

For some background read the 'Validating the IT Professionalism Model' report and browse the 'Creating the IT Profession' section on the BCS website.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

On Opportunity

Warning: non-ITIL related reflective post today to match my mood!

What do you do when you are at a crossroads and there is no right or wrong choice, yet one potentially leads to the dark side of the force? How do you decide?

There are lots of useful tools over on Mind Tools to help you with decision making beyond the standard 'Pros vs Cons'.

In my case, today, I chose what I hope is the light. My tool of choice? My gut instinct. I've always been a believer in not simply grabbing opportunities as they arise, but CREATING opportunities for yourself. However, sometimes it is necessary to pass up an opportunity, even one a year in the making, to stay true to yourself. Although hard, remember those old chestnuts:

'Whilst one door closes, another is opening.'
'If opportunity doesn't exist; build a door ...'
'Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly.' H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Today I go forward holding fast to the belief that:

'Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.'

I am preparing...

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Management Experience more valuable than qualifications?

According to a survey by the BCS, management experience is more important than qualifications in the IT sector. So why is it that so many job descriptions still state certain levels of qualifications as mandatory instead of desirable? It strikes me that there is a slight disconnect between what is being said and the reality in practice. However, maybe this is peculiar to local government.

There's a nice summary over on and the actual survey results are published on the BCS website.
Addendum: BCS Article

In other news, I've mentioned the number of new online Mind Mapping tools that seem to be springing up of late. Chuck Frey over on Innovation Tools has done the hard work and put together a feature comparison of some of them. Personally, I'm still a Mindjet Mindmanager fan - the web versions just don't have the breadth of functionality I use... yet ;)

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Overworked? Don't complain, do something about it!

This is a short post because I'm working an awful lot of hours right now. Rather than complaining about my workload, over the past few months I have been taking steps to improve things by providing my line management with potential alternatives and encouraging them to prioritise work rather than expecting me to deliver on everything. I have to keep reminding myself it is not physically possible if I want to actually have a life. Today I came across an article on ('How to talk to your boss about being overworked') which reiterated the same approach I've been taking and thought I'd share it with some of you who may be in the same boat.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Service Catalogues - have you got yours?

Those who have already been down the ITIL path recognise the benefits that creating, publishing, maintaining, and promoting a service catalogue can bring. The most cited according to attendees of the 3rd world Service Catalogue conference is that it helps you to manage your user expectations. It's impossible to deliver a service if your user expectations are higher than your caapcity to deliver. The visibility that a catalogue brings to IT services becomes the first line of defense preventing some of those calls to the service desk where the operators have to deliver surprises to users such as 'Sorry, that is outside our remit' or 'that will cost X'.

Increasingly, there is help at hand when it comes to creating these.
New Scale
have been in the ITSM press a lot as they spotted the niche and become market leaders in Service Catalogue management software.

The nice thing about them is that they are willing to share their knowledge to further the cause, rather than holding on to it. Although it is still in early days, I think that the Open Source Community for Service Catalogues could become a really useful resource. Do check it out, and if you have experience of creating a service catalogue, share your story!

Another useful resource for those starting out is the SLA Catalog Toolkit by Musab Qureshi.

Finally I wanted to draw your attention to a book: Defining Success through the IT Service Catalog (read sample | Buy now).

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Crucial Conversations - buy it, read it, do it!

Given the publication date of 2002 I'm late to the fold on this one, but I found reference to 'Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high' whilst reading a report called 'Silence Fails: The Five Crucial Conversations for Flawless Execution' and thought it would be worth a read. It was.

Fundamentally the book teaches you how to:
1. Recognise a crucial conversation - "A discussion between two or more people where stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong." (Get Unstuck)
2. How to analyse what is happening (Start with the Heart, Learn to look)
3. What to do about it (Make it Safe, Master my Stories, STATE My Path, Explore Others' Paths, Move To Action)
This is then summarised as a visual 'dialogue model' at the end of the book (which makes much more sense if you've actually read the book first!).

The style of the authors is an easy going conversational one which makes for quick reading. However, it's one of those books that you absolutely have to absorb, practice, go back and re-read, practice, etc. There are also supplementary materials (videos, self-assessment questionnaires, group questions) available on the vitalsmarts website if you register.

Much of what they say resonates for me with that which Mark and Mike teaching over on the Manager Tools podcast series.

If, like me, sometimes you get in a mess in a crucial conversation - then get this book and practice what it preaches. I certainly will.

Friday, 9 March 2007

ITIL Refresh v3 - Pricing

[rant on]
I've been silently fuming about this to myself and figured I might as well share my views. I don't know what the justification is for the pricing scheme that the TSO have come up with is, but I sincerely believe it isn't geared to its entire customer base.

The price of each book is expensive enough, but why should we be paying more for an electronic copy? Surely any additional publishing and distribution costs involved with selling these doesn't justify the extra money you have to pay (i.e. VAT - so why not lower the cost of each unit?)

Furthermore, although I like the idea of an annual subscription; why on earth would I pay more than the cost of a hard copy to have access to it for only 1 year? I mean, really! At the end of the year am I seriously going to fork out another £300 pounds? I think not.

Of course, I'm writing this from the viewpoint of the individual person who is is interested in practicing ITIL within the workplace. For consultants who make their living this way, it's probably a reasonable sum to pay; likewise for organisations.
For the individual - it's simply just too expensive. I've tried explaining to my other half that it's a good investment for me, but when £300 can buy a rather nice new graphics card... you see my point?
[/rant over]

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Silence Fails and Crucial Conversations

I recently came across a fascinating report called 'Silence Fails: The Five Crucial Conversations for Flawless Execution' . If you involved in projects at all, be it as a team member, a project sponsor, project manager or otherwise, I highly recommend that you register and download a copy of the report. To summarise those 5 crucial conversations:

Problem 1: AWOL Sponsors.
65% of project leaders work regularly with sponsors who fail to give the required support, leaving projects stranded and exposed.
Conversation: Project sponsors must communicate, providing leadership and political support.

Problem 2: Fact-free planning. 85% of project leaders are given parameters such as deliverables, budgets and timelines with no opportunity for input.
Conversation: Project leaders must be involved in the earliest stages of planning.

Problem 3: Skirting. 83% of project leaders say their effectiveness is undermined by powerful stakeholders and managers who attempt to skirt decision-making, planning and prioritization processes.
Conversation: Project managers have to stand up and maintain project discipline.

Problem 4: Concealing risk. 50% or more of project managers say team members regularly fail to honestly report project risks. As a result, the team loses opportunities to respond with revised goals, shifted resources or reorganized plans.
Conversation: Team members must be encouraged to speak up.

Problem 5: Team failures. 80% of project leaders are hobbled by direct reports who don't show up to meetings or fail to meet schedules or goals.
Conversation: Project leaders must insist on picking their teams, and they must confront inadequate performers.

I've ordered the book Crucial Conversations and will post my thoughts on it once I get around to reading it (doing a great job of adding to instead of reducing my reading pile right now!).

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Mind Mapping - web service on demand?

I've not written about one of my favourite techniques (and software which is Mindjet's Mind Manager Pro v6) in a long time. Increasingly my handwritten notes are multicoloured spidery diagrams that mean something to me but very little to anyone else. However, the phenomenon of what we call 'mind mapping tools' (which Tony Buzan would most likely say are not mind mapping in the true sense but simply computerised information organising tools) has thus far really remained the domain of desktop software publishers such as Mindjet, MindGenius, et al.

Enter on the scene a new boy in town, 'Mindomo' (currently in beta). A flash-based web service which requires NO installation whatsoever (unless you don't already have flash in which case the applet would be the minimum install and that hardly counts), I can see that there is a market for it. You can set up an account for free and all data is stored on their servers. If you wish, there are pay-for-the-service options with added features. After a quick play with it, I'd say it is fine for those who wish to create the occasional mind map, but for those using it every day for project work, etc. I still prefer a desktop based version. It does include a feature to import mindmaps from Mindjet's Mind Manager, but this is limited to content rather than format, e.g. I lost coloured lines, pictures, and map markers. Small maps imported were very quick, but my larger project related maps just went on for what felt like forever so I gave up.

In conclusion, for those new to computerised mind mapping tools, it's a great no-hassle way to try it out. I, however, still recommend that you go and download the 30 day trial from Mindjet due to the extra functionality it gives you.

P.S. Thanks to Nick Duffill of Beyond Crayons for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Where is that process anyway?

The question on a lot of people's lips now that the publication date for ITIL v3 has been announced is 'Which book do I need to buy if I am interested in ?' At £85 each, you don't want to buy the wrong one.

As yet, there is no definitive answer in the public domain and I am keen that the authors should put us out of our misery. Until such time I'm trying to compile a list of which v2 processes exist where. For some of the processes, although they primarily align with one book, elements of the process may appear throughout other books as and when they occur during the service life cycle. I've also noted some of the new processes that were mentioned at the itSMF conference.

Service Strategy

Service Level Management - elements become Service Portfolio Management
Financial Management for IT Services
Business Relationship Management

Service Design
Service Level Management
Capacity Management
Availability Management
IT Service Continuity Management
IT Security Management element of becomes Information Security Management
Supplier Management

Service Transition

Change Management
Configuration Management (will include service assets)
Release Management
  (to be split into separate processes:
    Service Release Planning
    Performance and Risk Evaluation
    Acquire Assets, Build and Test Release
    Service Release Acceptance Test and Pilot
    Deployment, Decommission and Transfer)
NEW: Knowledge Management

Service Operation
Incident Management
Problem Management
NEW: Event Management
NEW:Request Fulfillment
NEW:Access Management

Continual Service Improvement

Service Reporting and Measurement (maybe broken down into sub-processes and include elements of SLM)

If you know any different to the list above, please drop me a line! NOTE: I saw that in the ITIL Refresh 2nd editions it said change was in Service Operation, but I recall them saying it was going to be in Service Transition - who knows the truth?

Friday, 16 February 2007

ITIL v3 release date confirmed!

Well it's official. The core titles of the ITIL v3 Refresh are to be published on 30th May 2007 (english only, other languages to come later), orders can be placed as of 21st February 2007.

There will be a number of ways to get your hands on a copy of the new material. For traditionalists there is the hard copy, or for those that prefer the books will be available as PDFs. Both at a price £85 (compared to the current £65 standard) but if you buy all 5 you can get them at £299 (saving of £126 - which even for individuals begs the question as to why you'd buy them any other way...)

They will also be offering an Online Annual Subscription which is quoted as £265.

NOTE: Electronic copies are not VAT zero-rated so the PDF ends up costing you a lot more money (VAT @ 17.5%), is it worth it - the jury is out on this one.

Also available will be a new 'Introduction to ITIL' book covering the introduction to the lifecycle approach etc. priced at £30.

There is also mention made of an official ITIL Portal which sounds like a cross between current forums and the Pink Elephant Atlas offering.

For more details (including the official word on some thoughts I've aired in recent months), check out the 2nd edition of the ITIL Refresh newsletter.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Fox IT join the podcast revolution

Awhile ago I commented upon the PinkCast series from Pink Elephant which tend to take an issue and give a mini-training session in ideas as to how to resolve it.

Another training/consultancy provider (and the one I took my foundation certificate with awhile back) Fox IT has also realised the benefit of joining the podcast revolution and already have five in the series (approx 5-7 mins each). Thus far topics are an explanation of current concepts but more of a marketing vehicle to learn about how they can help you rather than providing much real value from the cast itself - but I'm hopeful that this may change. So far topics include:

  • The ITIL Refresh, training and qualifications

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

  • The ISO/IEC 20000 Standard

  • ITIL Refresh with Vernon Lloyd (one of the ITIL v3 authors)

  • What is IT Governance?

If any of those appeal, go and have a listen.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Shared Services - Outsourcing by Insourcing?

As I work in local government I found the article about shared services over on CIO Update an interesting read.

There is a great drive from central government encouraging working in partnership with other organisations and this is something that is very much happening where I work (and has been for the past three years). In particular we have been developing shared services around ICT and other areas.

The article pinpoints some key success criteria that need to be in place to make such partnership working to create shared services a reality. In particular the need to put sufficient time and money in up front, in order to see the financial gains later. When this (on the face of it) appears to be in conflict with Gershon's efficiency saving agenda it highlights what a hard job local government have of getting the balance right.

Which end of the seesaw are you? For us, I see ourselves having learned lessons the hard way and slowly bringing things into balance.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Introducing ITIL - first steps

I recently came across a rather nice summary 'The ABCs of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)' by Lynn Greiner on Normally when people ask me about ITIL I usually follow up with a PDF of the booklet 'Introductory Overview of ITIL' available free of charge from the itSMF site. In the future I'll also be including a link to this article as well.

Monday, 29 January 2007

APMG agreement with ISEB and EXIN!

We've all been wondering about the status of EXIN and ISEB since APMG came onto the scene, and it seems we're finally getting a little clarification. Check out the article on ITSM Portal for the latest (and also see the original press release).

I was wondering what this meant, if anything, for the ISEB when I read another take on things over at the itSMF.

Press releases:

Saturday, 13 January 2007

More on APMG and Accreditation

If you haven't already, stop by the ITSM portal today for some breaking news regarding the APMG and training accreditation.

Also read the article regarding a hypothetical impact that the UK government's transformational strategy when it comes to information sharing may have on ITIL and Prince 2.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

APMG and Approved ITIL Trainers

I came across a post that drew my attention to the new criteria from APMG for people to be "Approved trainers". It may be that I'm misinterpreting what is written - but from the looks of it to train someone at Practitioner level you have to have qualified at that level to 70% or over yourself. Having a distinction at Manager's Certificate level apparently doesn't cut it. I don't know who thought that one up but I don't much care for it and I'm not an ITIL trainer!

Friday, 5 January 2007

ITIL Refresh v3 - Public QA

It's official. The selection for public QA reviewers has taken place and the review is scheduled to start on 8th January and finish on 22nd January. It reassures me that we may indeed see the published core books by the end of spring as promised.

I noticed an article on the BCS website about the IT departments in motor insurance companies using ITIL to streamline their operations. The thing that struck me was the comment about the 'need' to reorganise the department into 2 streams - support and delivery. ITIL v2 does not actually state there is a need to do this. I know the ITIL v3 authors have stated they will address the structure of IT departments and I am curious to see what the results of this will be. Especially given we are due to undergo a restructure where I work anyway due to partnership working. It would be nice if we could kill two birds with one stone as it were! *waits impatiently for v3*

Also of interest may be the article about FITS (Framework for ICT Technical Support Operations Management). British Educational Communications and Technology Agency's (Becta) answer to ITIL for educational establishments. I think I've blogged about it before as it's a really great resource for templates.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays (for those of you that got some time off) and I wish you all the best in 2007 both at work and at play.

It should be an interesting year for IT Service Management. Will ITIL under APMG fall into disrepute? Will more companies look towards attaining ISO20000 accreditation? Who will fill the rather large footprints left behind at itSMF by Aiden Lawes? Will I get funding for my manager's certificate before the ITIL v3 examinations are ready?

All this and more to come in 2007 ;)