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ITSMf UK 2016: the Highlights

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Aleks Yenin
Posted by Aleks Yenin
November 23, 2016

The sessions of the conference were grouped into four main areas:

ITSM Fundamentals – classic ITSM topics and case studies about generally recognized processes and themes.

Leading Edge ITSM – new approaches and ideas, such as DevOps, SIAM, IT4IT, CX. ITSM pioneers sharing their experience on how to make them work.

People make ITSM – the topic about a human element in ITSM success: communications, leadership, people development etc.

Enterprise Service Management – practical case studies and success stories on how to merge ITSM with non-IT areas, as well as how to use Service Management beyond IT.

Dr Sue Black at ITSMf UK

We couldn’t but visit the speech of a Conference KeynoteDr. Sue Black who was named one of the top 50 women in European Tech world in 2015. She is a computer scientist, known for her social entrepreneurship activities.

The speech was called “If I can do it, so can you” and it served the true source of inspiration for everyone as Dr. Sue Black told the story of her life, how she managed to fight all the obstacles on her way to the top and now she does all she can to share her success with other. Her recent book “Saving Bletchley Park” became the fastest crowdfunded book of all time and now is number one on Amazon UK in Tech category. If this is not inspiring enough, how about #Techmums, the organization that empowers women with the help of technology. The most valuable lesson we’ve got is very simple but very inspirational:

“If you work out what you’re passionate about & you keep moving forward then you can achieve anything you want to”.

The Phoenix Project Business Simulation at ITSMf UK 2016

The next sessions we were lucky to attend was “The Phoenix Project DevOps Business Simulation” delivered by  Jan Schilt & Paul Wilkinson, GamingWorks & John McDermott, HPE

DevOps has proved to deliver great results in the organizations that implemented. However, it is till relatively new and some companies are struggling to adopt and deploy DevOps. The reasons are being it requires a lot of effort as it presupposes a mindset shift, acquiring new behaviors and a great cultural shift in Development and Operations.

The simulation game is based on the book that made a small revolution in ITSM society “The Phoenix Project”. The book describes a company “Parts Unlimited” and this company is in huge trouble. Its financial performance is a total disaster. The only savior is the “Phoenix Project” which stands for IT-enabled business transformation and where Retail Operations acts as the business owner of the project. In the simulation, you are given a role within “Parts Unlimited” organization. The challenge that every player faces is to use DevOps principles and apply them in this Business simulation game.

The speech was a major success. The speakers not only explained the main reasons for DevOps failures but demonstrated how Business simulation can actually help battle them.  We went the road from process chaos to process success and gained valuable knowledge on our way. The most interesting part was the look on how communication and people interaction can make all the difference. Sophisticated tools are very important, it is hard to argue with that. But we must not underestimate the impact of effective communication.

Some of the main things that we learned during the simulation:

  • How to apply DevOps principles in a real life situation?
  • How to find the right balance between delivering your SLA requirements and your IT projects according to plan?
  • How to experience how DevOps can bring serious value to your business?
  • How to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your IT Department?
  • How to create better flow in your teams?How to develop people’s skills to act in a DevOps environment?
  • How to show business their responsibilities in making IT Projects more successful?

Stuart Rance about Heroes in ITSM at ITSMf 2016

“Unhappy is the land that needs a hero” by Stuart Rance. If you want to matter in ITSM world – don’t miss the sessions with Stuart Rance, we get it and listen attentively all that he has to say.

This speech was very important to our company. As an Atlassian partner we share its values and principles and one of them states that heroes are usually those who had a strong team behind them and now we create tools that celebrate teams and not individuals. Now the best of ITSM society speak out that ITSM implementation does not need heroes as well anymore, what it needs are effective solutions and strong teams.

People that make ITSM happen are the most overlooked area, however, one of the most important. As an organization, it is vitally important to get this aspect of service management right. In the speech Stuart mentioned that it is not the heroes that are the problem it is the environment that needs them – this is the main idea of the speech and in a way it is revolutionary.  We are always expected to find a person responsible for a process or service, these people often become heroes. They usually fix things when a disaster happens, they understand how the whole IT department works together and teach the others, they are the ones who can find the solutions to almost every issue. They are the ones who come to the rescue in time of need.

However, why don’t we ask why do these times of need happen at all, why do we need those heroes?

Stuart admits that sometimes ago he was this hero himself, but then he understood that his role was in establishing the right culture, behavior, and attitude in the company, so it would no longer need anyone specific to rescue it. These are some of the ways to tackle the issue:

  • The first step would be recognizing a hero in your company, identifying him and understanding that this is no good for your company.
  • Managing technical debt – remove all the outcomes of those times when you were ready to accept when something is not right, something that can potentially get out of control. Get read of the reasons to need a hero.
  • Designing solutions that don’t need heroes – create IT solutions that are able to recover fast or automatically. Try to work on your ability to recover (IT Continuity). In this case, you can get your hero busy with finding the automatic recovery solution. As a huge bonus, you might receive higher customer satisfaction as they won’t wait until you ask your hero to help you to recover.
  • Bringing DevOps into your organization – make your teams work collaboratively and solve the problems together. Depending on one person is not wise, however depending on your team is a safe and great choice.
  • Measuring and rewarding teams, not heroes – measure and reward the behaviors and attitudes you expect. Set targets at the team level rather than an individual level. Recognize and encourage people who work quietly but effectively.

And one of our favourite phrases of the session (totally out of context): “Some people use standards they way a drunk uses a lamppost”.

Roy Atkincon on Customer Excellency at ITSMf UK 2016

The next day of the conference started for us with the speech of Roy AtkinsonCustomer Service Excellence: Now More Than Ever”

A lot happened since IT fundamental principles were formed. And though the definition of customers has not been changed, the services and the levels we provide our services at have changed. The usual customer satisfaction measurement with the help of service desk also appeared to have some flaws as the IT satisfaction performance is lower than expected.

The customers become more involved in Shadow IT when they are purchasing systems and services from cloud providers without any involvement of IT department.

Service desks have been measuring customer satisfaction for about as long as there have been service desks. If their reports are to be believed, satisfaction with individual transactions has been consistently quite high, while overall satisfaction—when measured—has been somewhat lower. One reason for this is the lack of satisfaction in IT performance as a whole. IT has been slow to deliver the systems and services businesses need.  

What have remained are the five elements of customer service excellence:

Service desk is still the place for customer support. And those five elements play a huge role in the response of service desk:

1) Insight – understanding what your customer needs, and stating clearly what you are capable of. Write the policies showing them what the can do and not what they cannot do.

2) Culture – directing the company’s way of providing services

3) Information – transparency is the key, as well as free exchange of information with customers

4) Delivery – meeting and exceeding customer expectations, delivering according to targets.  Our SLAs and OLAs is the bare minimum. Hitting 80% of your SLA is not something to celebrate, let’s set the bar higher.

5) Quality – being consistent in delivering value to your customer at the agreed levels,  it is one of the most important elements of customer service

Communication, knowledge sharing and collaboration may become a bridge over the misunderstanding gap between service desk and its customers. Make sure to monitor the feedback and make use of it!

Automation may help when the relationships between the service desk and its customers become more complex. Work on your self-service knowledge, adopt it to customer’s viewpoint. Cognitive systems are proven to be successful in providing the right kind of information to the customers. Moreover, a mobile app is the fastest growing contact channel with service desks.

As an automation tools partner, we help to implement smart service desk systems that will help you raise customer satisfaction.

The customer service becomes more of a way of thinking and we definitely want to think this way.  The main inspirational takeaway that we got was “to strive for excellence and not settle for”good enough” when it comes to customer service”.

The two main themes that we caught going around the conference this year were probably professionalism and supporting people. How to give the people the right tools and help them thrive in their roles. It is also great to see that ITSMf UK acknowledges that we need a consistent multi-level approach in order to battle the issues that arise and not merely looking for a silver bullet.

Thank you for having us this year, thank you for the experience, your knowledge, and great atmosphere!

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