Wednesday, 23 April 2008

How hard is it to run a forum anyway?

WARNING: this post is nothing but a rant from an unwell blogger who is too tired to think up any real content.

I don't normally rant here but I think this is worthy of an exception. I thought it was a great thing when the itSMF uk announced that they were redesigning their website. On the whole it is a significant improvement on the last one which was stuck in the 90s. That said... what is the deal with their forum? itSMF - it Service Management 'FORUM'. A means for us to gather and discuss all matters relating to IT Service Management right? Wrong. The current web forum is actually worse than the old one in terms of functionality. In a web 2.0 world where we expect a lot from our internet browsing experience, how hard is it to give us a web forum with basic features such as the ability to view new posts since your last visit; to bookmark threads that you are interested in, etc. ? Even the itsmfi have a better forum platform!

I think they do a great job at achieving the forum in terms of the SIGs (Special Interest Groups) and conferences... but where is a decent WEB forum to encourage IT Service Management professionals to interact with one another?

Come on itSMF uk... it's now the 2nd quarter of 2008 - get it together for those of us who can't make it to all your face-to-face events! Who's with me?

I should just add that I have years of experience in running web-based forums and just know that you can do better - no, I don't want to do it for you ;)

Friday, 18 April 2008

Women getting back into IT

As a woman working in a predominantly male industry it can be quite frustrating at times. Particularly when I read articles regarding the continuing imbalance between the genders as regards pay-scales for the same job (although I suspect that local government may do a better job of this than the private sector - I wonder if anyone has sent in Freedom of Information requests to find out...).

At the moment, I'm constantly getting jibes regarding my age and how I shouldn't wait much longer before having children. There is a valid argument behind this. However, like many women I'm pretty career-focused and can't help wondering if I were to take time off to bring up a child whether I may find myself in the same boat as other women trying to return to work after a career break, e.g. less likely to get a promotion or even not getting a job utilising your skills at all! The research (2005) reflects a sad truth. If anyone is aware of any more recent studies that buck the trend I would be very interested in them!

This question published in the Guardian last November is but one example of the reality for women in IT.

For those women who are already on the other side of their break, there is some advice available from the likes of Equalitec (see the ITEC Career Opportunities for Women Returners, July 2005) and BCS Women.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Whitepapers and research

I've been catching up on some reading the past week and wanted to share some links with you.

1. Whitepaper: ITIL® V3 and ISO/IEC 20000 by Jenny Dugmore and Sharon Taylor
This outlines the differences between ITIL V3 and ISO/IEC 20000 from 'the perspective of each clause in the standard where the core 5 ITIL books either do not cover it or cover it differently. It does not cover changes that mean ITIL V3 is closer aligned to
ISO/IEC 20000 than was ITIL V2. The table included within this white paper is an ISO/IEC 20000-1 centric document. It identifies clauses where there are notable differences between ISO/IEC 20000 and ITIL V3 that are not simply due to the different purposes of the two sets of documents.'

As it is only 6 pages are we to infer that there aren't many differences? As I have not yet read a fully copy of the ISO 20000 standard I'm unable to comment. I thought this may be useful for those of you who are going down that route though.

2. The Forrester Wave: Service Desk Management Tools, Q2 2008 by Chip Gliedman
Garner have the 'Magic Quadrant' and Forrester the 'Wave'. This report evaluates 16 products from 13 vendors and presents two waves. One for large enterprises (or those with complex requirements) and one for small enterprises (or large ones with simple requirements). The results are pretty consistent with HP, Remedy, CA, IBM, and Axios solutions classed as 'leaders' for large enterprises. What is interesting is that Infra who were only added to the Gartner Magic Quadrant last time around have also made it into the 'leader' class. Also, the software as a service solution from it only just outside as a 'strong performer'. Interesting times for vendors...

3. Whitepapers from EMC (Infra Enterprise)
Normally I'm not a fan of vendor whitepapers as they are generally a major sales pitch. Spurred on by the Forrester Wave I thought I'd take a look at those from Infra and I was pleasantly surprised. Aside from a few typographical errors and a missing word that changes the meaning of a sentence to the exact opposite in one (immediately obvious to anyone who knows ITIL, so much so that you almost put the missing word in without realising) I thought there were some good ideas in there - particularly the service catalogue. I'd only seen this sort of thing in dedicated products like Newscale.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Moving your ITIL Implementation Forward - part 4

It's here, the final part in the series! This covers the question and answer session from the itSMF e-symposium entitled: 'Moving your ITIL Implementation Forward - what are your next steps?' on 18th March 2008.

Round Table - Questions and Answers
I didn't catch the names of everyone who asked questions, suffice to say it was worthwhile hanging on until the end.

Q1. How do we measure the ROI of ITIL v3 adoption?
A1. Rob Stroud observed that the last 60 days have seen a massive move to v3 and went on to say that IT needs to measure things at a different level in a way that the business see as important, i.e. the provision of service. He states that the ROI of ITIL is not necessarily tangible in bankable cost-savings.
Malcolm lightened the mood by informing us that he often thinks of the ROI of ITIL as the 'return on insurance', i.e. the potential cost of not doing it.
Sharon was quick to point out that there are other benefits aside from the financial.

Q2. Can you drive COBIT and ITIL agenda from middle management or does it have to be C-level?
A2. Harvey was strongly of the view that it doesn't need to wait for higher level management. He has been fortunate in his role to take what he needs and get on with it. He did note that for funding senior management do need to be involved.
Georges echoed Harvey's viewpoint stating that you can always start within your own area of responsibility. The organisation can then look at your area as a centre of excellence and adopt in the wider scene (why does Zapp! come to mind?). He did advocate the need to sell to senior management to expand beyond your own area.

Q3. ITIL certification is always on individual basis. Will it ever be organisational?
A3. Sharon sees no need for ITIL certification to go beyond the individual as for organisational certification there is ISO 20000 (ITIL v3 is aligned with ISO 20000). One of the drivers for individual certification is to promote ITSM as a profession within the IT industry. Harvey reiterated that "ISO 20000 is the quality standard for ITSM".
Rob informed the delegates that he often is asked for products that are actually ITIL accredited. (ITILImp: Currently there is only the PinkVerify scheme which has recently been updated to take account of v3).

Q4. Why do you need to know what level something is at?
A4. Georges picked this one up but I didn't make many notes other than the comment that COBIT certification is for the individual only, not the organisation.

Q5. v3 exams are now multiple choice rather than written. Is this a dumbing down of the qualification?
A5. I've heard this comment a lot since the itSMF conference last year and the answer hasn't changed.
Sharon stated that it is not a dumbing down and that there is a misconception regarding multiple-choice. The exam formats have been based upon research into undergraduate and postgraduate university examinations. The ITIL exams will use a blend of simple multiple-choice at foundation level whilst the higher level exames will use gradient, complex multiple-choice (e.g. one answer is the most correct, another is less correct, etc.). Apparently this challenges the application of what someone knows rather than their ability to write a paper. Exam pilots suggested that this format is actually harder than the v2 essay format for the manager's certificate. She also made the valid points that it removes the objectivity in terms of the exam grading and will benefit those writing in non-native languages.

As an academic himself it is not surprising that Georges stressed the benefits of multiple choice commenting upon their adaptability to the complexity of questions you want as well as being easy to mark.

Malcolm isn't a fan of these and believes that they lack the interpretation... the why. I liked his suggestion that for the new v3 Advanced ITSM Diploma candidates could write a white paper or say 30 pages as a way of demonstrating that they are a proven practitioner. The end result could then form part of the ITIL v3 complementary guidance. Sharon interjected to say that something akin to this IS part of the advanced service professional certification.

Q6. Will the business guys be worried that IT want to take over the business?
A6. Rob didn't think so, "Communication is the key".
Georges pointed out that ITSM benefits from the business as it positions IT to deliver capabilities. A service is not worthwhile if it is not delivering what the business needs. He also said that it helps accountability with clarification betweeen business failures vs it failures.
Sharon wrapped up by paraphrasing from a Harvard study, "CIOs have to be business leaders, not IT-centric".

All in all, a good set of questions and answers. Although I'm sure there were lots more questions that didn't make the cut. I put a few in (one being a request for Harvey's full workshop as it was really good stuff) and had one answered but the one that I thought would be a quickie that wasn't answered was: "When will the ITIL Live Portal be going live?" It's mentioned in all the books and it now almost a year since they came out. Since then, on a little adventure this ITIL Imp notices that the address is now redirected to The Stationary Office (TSO) which assures us that it is 'coming soon' (Perhaps that is June, or the next eclipse of the moon, who knows?). Register for updates to find out.

There we have it... the final in this series. I wonder where my next adventure lies...

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Moving your ITIL Implementation Forward - part 3

Before I start, my apologies for failing to get this up on Tuesday 25th March as hoped. I almost wonder whether I should start following ITIL principles for my blog posting regime ;)

Today's post was going to be the final part in this series. However, as I was writing it became longer and longer so I figure you can have a part 4 on Friday!.

Georges Ataya and Rob Stroud - IT Governance for the Real World, Mapping COBIT & ITIL
This presentation started off with a little background about ISACA and the ITGI. One thing that I wasn't aware of is the introduction of a qualification: Certification in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT). Aimed squarely at professionals and management who are responsible for governance in one of the domains, the first exam will be in December 2008.

The presenters reiterated the message that most of us reading on the subject already know: COBIT and ITIL are complementary - they are not competitors. (As mentioned in a previous blog entry, we are still waiting for the updated COBIT 4.1 to ITIL v3 mapping which is apparently close to completion - at the time of writing not published on the ISACA website).

After a high level summary of the content of COBIT (and I mean high-level!) the point was made that, when considering the introduction of IT governance and IT Service Management, a top-down approach should be used, i.e. IT Governance first and IT Service Management next. As with ITIL implementations, they recommend that you select the bits that are immediately relevant to you to solve business issues rather than trying to implement all domains in one go.

There was nothing else that leapt out at me during the presentation other than:
1. Reference to the COBIT Maturity model, level 3 is considered to be 'compliant'.
2. I believe that Rob Stroud (apologies if it is George Ataya) is currently writing a service management guide to 'implementing COBIT in your environment'. It's already on my 'to buy' list :)

The final part of this series will be on Friday as I have already written it (I am testing the new Blogger scheduling function which if it works, may lead to more regular updates).