Do we still need ITIL?

This is a great blog post http://optimalservicemanagement.com/blog/do-we-still-need-itil/. It reminds me of WHY you do ITIL, not because the ITIL book says so on page 32 but to provide value to the business.

If you just follow ITIL blindly then you will create a mess. Engage brain and see how bits can work for you, maybe some won’t work for you or could in future and that is ok. Just look to ‘adopt and adapt’ to make your IT organisation the best value for money it can be to the business.

Thankyou for reading my post. This is my opportunity to blog about a subject I love but am still learning. These posts are my way of showing how I understand the subject, however, I would encourage you to leave comments, did you agree / disagree with the post? Did I not explain something well enough or incorrectly? Do you want me to blog about another subject within ITIL? All feedback helps me to understand more. Thankyou.

Requests, Incidents, Problems and Known Errors in a nutshell

Over the past few weeks I have noticed some talk and discussion around what incidents, problems and requests are and what are the differences between them on some of the ITIL blogs. So here is my take :

Requests

These are requests made by the customer, eg please can you install x software or please can you replace the toner on the sales printer. These types of ‘can I haves’ should be logged as a request. These are separate to incidents, as they will have different SLA’s and priorities associated to them. Installing a piece of software for one member of the sales team has a different priority than someone in the sales team can’t access the network shares.

Incidents

These are for when thing breaks or isn’t working. eg My PC won’t turn on, I can’t access any network shares or none of the print outs are coming out of the printer. These are different to requests as it normally means the customer or team cannot work or a service is degraded so they can’t work as well. The person who picks up the incident will associate a priority eg a whole office who can’t access the network might be a Priority 1 incidents and a customer who can’t print might be a priority 3 call. These priorities should be documented with an SLA associated to them so the business will know roughly how log an incident of this type will take to fix. Again, it is up to you and the business to work out these priorities and SLA’s, ITIL is just a guide. The incident can be closed when the incident is fix permanently or a work around has been put in place which restores the service back to normal.

Ahh, and this is where some will wheel out the old chestnut, is a password reset and incident or a request?

Answer

1) Why is this not automated? Plenty of tools can allow the customer re set their password themselves without needing to log a incidents/request.

2) It is up to you and how you want to define it. All you are trying to do is separate incidents (priority) over a request (sometimes, not as higher priority, as an incident), be able to produce stats on the two to show trends to help with incident and request management and reporting to the business to show how great IT are.

Problems

What happens if all that the person who picks up the incident, can do is produce a work around or doesn’t know why the fix worked or multiple customers are logging the same type of incident eg reboot the PC and the problem goes away or all that can be done to resolve the incident is produce a work around, meaning the issues still exists but there is a sticky plaster to hold everything together? Now, problems come into play. Problems are something where a virtual problem team or an individual can look into the issue deeper, hopefully finding out the root cause and a permanent fix. A problem is also something that can be taken ‘off line’. The service has been restored as the incident has been closed so the danger has past but the problem can be used to investigate over a longer period to find the real issue.

Known errors

Through your diligent problem management and investigation, the root cause is found. However, like most things in life, it is not an easy fix. The fix requires a new server, cabling or the manufacturer of the component has acknowledged there is an issue but there is no driver update so all you can do is stick with the work around. ITIL has rather cleverly thought of this scenario and known errors can be used.

e.g.

An incident was logged and a workaround took two days to come up with but the manufacturer needs to update a drives before a permanent fix can be implemented. If someone logs a similar issues, the wheel doesn’t need to be created again, a known error should of been created after the first incidents work around was found so this can be used to implement a fix/work around quickly for the second incident.

A known error and the known error database greatly reduces the fix times for subsequent and similar incidents which are awaiting permanent fixes or there are other reasons why a permanent fix can’t be implemented, so a work around is as good as it is going to get.

Hopefully, requests, incidents, problems and known errors are a little clear on what they are and what the differences are.

Thankyou for reading my post. This is my opportunity to blog about a subject I love but am still learning. These posts are my way of showing how I understand the subject, however, I would encourage you to leave comments, did you agree / disagree with the post? Did I not explain something well enough or incorrectly? Do you want me to blog about another subject within ITIL? All feedback helps me to understand more. Thankyou.

Categories in a nutshell

Categories

I wanted to write this post to try and explain why we use categories in ITSM tools such as Remedy, Servicenow etc and why I think there is a need to be monitored regularly.

Lets start at the beginning, when logging and incident or request the team categorises the incident or request.

Please can I have Photoshop installed? – Category = Request – Software – Photoshop – Install

Or

I can’t connect to any network shares – Category = Incident – Network – Loss of network connectivity – Desktop

These categories choices are open to debate and discussion, that’s the beauty of ITIL, it is open to debate and a guide. You have to work out what works best for you and your company.

The next step in ITIL, remember you whole reason for doing ITIL is to provide value to the business, is to analyse these incidents in Incident Management. This should highlight trends, eg reviewing the incidents shows 30 calls per week to install photoshop, which is taking an engineer 30 mins per install to do. Maybe, this could be automated and therefore giving 15 hours back to the engineers and providing a better, quicker service to the business. More importantly, you can see trends with incidents, the incident with the network shares, you notice this happens to the same person every week at 2pm on a Tuesday. A reboot fixes this but it keeps happening and is probably a clue that a problem should be raised and looked at this in more detail.

One of the reasons to logged problems is if incidents are trending but the root cause isn’t found, then these can be looked into in more detail and hopefully finding the root cause. Once the root cause is found and resolved, then the incident shouldn’t happen again, meaning a happy customer and your engineers can work on something else. The whole point of incident management is to look at ways to reduce the number of incidents and requests.

However, how many categories do you have in your organisation? Could an incident be categorised few different ways depending on who picks it up? Are there duplications of categories / sub categories? How often do you look at your categories and check if they are still relevant and if some should be added or deleted?

These questions I think are the crux of why I think categories need to be monitored. Do you need all the categories / sub categories? When were each last used? A lot of ITSM tools has loads and loads of categories…….are they all used and would the engineers who are logging the incidents know which one to use or could they use a few different combinations? If so, are you sure your incident management trend analysis is picking up all the incidents and giving the true picture of what is happening week on week? How often are the categories reviewed? Do you still have a category for Windows Server 2000….do you have any servers still running Windows Server 2000?

A possible solution would be this; rip down the top level categories to your primary services in Service Catalogue eg Telecoms, E-mail etc. Using your engineers previous experience, reviewing any trends of incidents/requests and intuition make up some sub categories, limit the sub categories to less than 10 and add other to all these categories. This gives a better chance to trend incidents and requests in future. However, add ‘other’ to the sub categories so any incidents that don’t match the categories can be logged under the ‘other’ category. Create a workshop for engineers to explain which type of incidents/requests should be logged under which category and what the ‘other’ category is for and document this.

On a regular basis, initially, review the incidents and categories; looking at why the ‘other’ category has been used, does another category need to be added? This is fine-tuning the incident categories. Are the engineers using the right categories for the right types of incidents and requests?

On a bi yearly basis, a review of all categories should take place, are these still all relevant? Does some need to be deleted or added? Are you able to see trends and are you taking steps to reduce them?

I hope this shows how important getting categories right and making sure these are monitored to keep them in check.

Thankyou for reading my post. This is my opportunity to blog about a subject I love but am still learning. These posts are my way of showing how I understand the subject, however, I would encourage you to leave comments, did you agree / disagree with the post? Did I not explain something well enough or incorrectly? Do you want me to blog about another subject within ITIL? All feedback helps me to understand more. Thankyou.

 

Service Management as a rugby game

ITSM rugby

I realise the game of rugby might not be the most obvious analogy which springs to mind when you think about Service Management but hear me out.

Rugby, for me, has always been a great spectator sport; I have more the physique of the ball and not the man mountains of players. I marvel at the discipline these giants display for the game and how the game does not descend into a bar room brawl with so much muscle and will to win in such a small area.

When I think about great IT customer support, it is all about the skills of the individuals and the hand over to other support teams. How skill and great hand overs to other support teams can win or lose the IT support game. IT support is always a battle between resolving the issues efficiently without taking too much time and customer frustration increasing.

Picture the field, the IT organisation vs Customer Frustration and Time. The whistle blows, it is game time!!! The ball goes into the IT service desk scrum and the incident ball comes out to the IT organisation’s support team, the first line engineer is running with the incident ball only to be put to ground by Time. Over the top comes support from the second line teams, the ball is handed over to the second line engineer seamlessly, the engineer side steps Customer Frustration with clear communication. Oh no, Time comes in, tackles the ball and is now running with it, second line support chases the ball down. Time’s lead is growing with Customer Frustration following up quickly behind but Time is skilfully tackled by second line and runs the ball back, the final ball is handed over to the third line engineer. The fastest and most experienced players on the field with lightning footwork the ball goes down for the try and the incident is resolved.

Without great hand over’s of the ball, Customer Frustration and Time would get the ball and the value for money for all the business areas, who have paid money to see the IT organisation win, isn’t seen. If the support individual cannot hand the incident ball off to each other, individual player must try and jink past the opposition to try and close the incident. This sometimes will work based on the skill of the individual support engineer and the ease of which the incident could be closed, but sometimes it will not. If the IT organisation can win with individual skill, great hand over’s and team work then the business areas sees the value of paying to come support the IT organisation.

The other thing I enjoy about rugby, and most other sports, is the analysis of all parts of play, the breakdown and repeats of every tackle, shot, space the players should of used etc.

This is the area, where the service management team comes in, the coaches. They can take apart the play; they see the 1st line engineer fumbles the ball on pick up. A work around could be designed for the present game but a problem could be created to go away and really analyse the issue to come up with a fix, maybe a grip on the some gloves or a textured ball to make it less slippery. Communication between the second and third line support teams might be poor so the ball was intercepted and needing to be won back. Encouraging better communication between the two leads to be better and more fluid play.

Various areas of improvement could be categories, like in the ITSM tools, to be later broken down into target areas eg running down the line, communication, creating space etc, which can be work upon away from the game in set areas of expertise.

The service management team can also look at the agreements between the various team members showing who is going to take the hand off ball and who is going to come and protect the ball. This goes some way to designing an OLA. An agreement between the IT organisations showing how an incident should be handled, the support timings and items covered by the agreement. This should be in a format, that in the heat of play, can be easily understood and quickly.

Documenting how set piece of play should be played. Making sure all team members know what is required and how to do something is also an important part of the Service Management team’s job.

IT service management is all about creating value for the business areas and the best customer experience. The play might not be the finish article and individuals and team might need some work, but if the IT organisation is committed to ITIL and service management, they will work at these areas, making small and large gains and improvements. Reminding why the business areas pay for their IT organisation and the value it creates.

Hopefully I have gone some way to try and convince you that rugby and IT service management are not too dissimilar after all.

Thankyou for reading my post. This is my opportunity to blog about a subject I love but am still learning. These posts are my way of showing how I understand the subject, however, I would encourage you to leave comments, did you agree / disagree with the post? Did I not explain something well enough or incorrectly? Do you want me to blog about another subject within ITIL? All feedback helps me to understand more. Thankyou.

Where have all the unicorns gone?

This is a great article http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/03/14/cloud_skills_extinction/.  This is a pretty interesting piece as it shows where IT could be going if the business sees little or no value coming from their in-house IT department. Why should the business pay vast sums of money to the in-house IT department when they can go get all that they need from Amazon or other cloud services and employ junior staff to keep the lights on.

If you don’t believe me, cars used to be hand-built works of art. Now, they are mass produced by people I doubt could built the car from scratch but the business keeps on making money. So does the business see the IT department just keeping the lights on or do they see more value coming from it?

More articles can be found on my blog http://www.itilbegood.com or subscribe to my twitter feed @itilbegood

Interior design, the ITIL way.

Decorating with ITIL

What is ITIL? ITIL is a collection of 5 topics covering Service Strategy, Design, Transition, Operations and Continuous Improvement which should be used to form, implement, keep it going and improve your ITIL strategy to improve your business to IT alignment….

That was boring. No, I believe ITIL to be bigger and at it heart more simplistic then an all or nothing approach to ITIL and must be implemented exactly how the manual says so. Let me explain using an analogy.

Imagine, IT, as a house. It is a shell of house, how are you going to decorate it? You are probably going to decorate it in ways that works best for you and the people who use your house. How will you know how to decorate your house, you need some ideas…look no further than the ITIL Interior Design book. In it, you will find loads of ideas on how to decorate your new house. The covers all shapes of houses and is designed to give you ideas for your home. The book gives ideas on how to design what you want to do, implement it, keep up the day-to-day maintenance on it and how make improvements to your house. However, a word of warning, its not a step by step book. The book is more there to give you ideas to research and find out how to use it best for your house.

Using the book you can tailor design items to fit your needs eg a twenty foot incident management dining room table doesn’t fit into your house, then buy a six foot incident management dining room table, which works much better in your house but follows the design principals of the twenty foot dining table. How about a change management media centre, do you need top of the range or mid range to suit your budget but gets similar results? These are two examples of incident management and change management which the essence of what these actually do stays the same but you need to mould it to what fits your business.

The metric you want are not the concrete composite used to make the driveway, you want to know how much the amenities cost per year. Much as the same way you need to tailor the reporting metric used to report ITIL to what is most useful to the business. Does reporting just how many changes are made each week mean as much as reporting how many changes were approved AND how many failed or were rolled back with possibly the report showing how many changes where service / customer impacting. This helps to show to the business how successful and possibility how competent IT is at implementing change.

All these services can be then upgraded when the budget allows or makes good business sense to upgrade through continuous improvement. In most houses do the wallpaper, carpets and doors stay the same in the house throughout the whole life of the house, no, these get upgraded and changed. Using the energy metric you can also see if you can save more money through changing suppliers or improving the heat insulation. All this is continuous service improvement, providing you with more value from your home.

For me, this is what ITIL is, it about returning the best value returned to the business and to do this you have to fit ITIL into what works best with the business which may mean leaving some ITIL out to start with to implement when it is time. Though what ITIL, I believe, is trying to get a department, which has traditionally, been a law unto itself thinking more about the business. So many times I have heard IT complain, ‘Without IT there would be no business’ well, without the business there would be no IT. After all, if the business didn’t make any money, IT wouldn’t have a budget. So using ITIL, I believe IT can repay the investment and provide the business with the best business aligned IT infrastructure it can to make the business do even better and hopefully make more money.

Thankyou for reading my post. This is my opportunity to blog about a subject I love but am still learning. These posts are my way of showing how I understand the subject, however, I would encourage you to leave comments, did you agree / disagree with the post? Did I not explain something well enough or incorrectly? Do you want me to blog about another subject within ITIL? All feedback helps me to understand more. Thankyou.

This blog is all about making IT more user friendly by looking at ITIL, Service Management and everything else to make IT better. Please leave comments and tell me what you think, this is also an opportunity for me, to write down my ideas and get feedback from everyone to help me understand the subject better.