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.