BCS event review: An evening with Axelos

Greg
Gregory Bayliss-Hall

On the 12th September AXELOS (the new commercial joint venture between the UK Government and Capita) arranged an evening at the BCS offices in Covent Garden to discuss its plans for the future of ITIL, and the rest of the Best Practice Management portfolio, now that they’re the new custodians.

When I arrived, long before the presentation started, I couldn’t help notice a large crowd of people already there (I’m normally the first) – inside and outside the event rooms people where busy chatting, networking and enjoying the refreshments. The atmosphere was building – attendees were genuinely excited and concerned as to what AXELOS had planned.

AXELOS is a hot topic

It’s currently the hottest topic in the ITSM space – reflected when a week before the event the venue was fully booked. Luckily for us nobody was disappointed – BCS had the capacity to move the event to a larger room to accommodate a diverse audience that included ATO’s, consultants, penguins, ITSM tool vendors, sector analysts, and practitioners like myself to hear what Chris Barrett – Director and “opening batsman” for AXELOS had to say about the new joint venture.

AXELOS themselves are in their infancy and are still pulling together a management team and working towards full autonomy by 1st January 2014. The new joint venture will no longer be bound by government constraints, “the shackles are off”, which in my opinion can only be a good thing. Asked who keeps AXELOS on the straight and narrow – Chris replied “the community”.

The evening

Over the 90 minute session Chris walked through his slides giving the attendees an enthusiastic insight into the JV which was reciprocated by a lively audience who came armed with an arsenal of questions.

Quality, relevance and innovation were the themes running through the presentation and are clearly a strategic aim of the JV. The quality is there, but Chris is keen that AXELOS raise the bar, improving the framework and making it more relevant to specific groups such as practitioner’s and CIO’s.

This will come with ideas such as

  • Stronger links to its community and stakeholder groups with a more open and less isolated stance
  • Referencing areas that other frameworks do well that isn’t a key strength of ITIL and complimenting the ISO standards that ITIL helps to underpin
  • Different flavours of courses – refresher, advisory and tailor made training for an organisation could be offered as well as of off shelf learning
  • Internationally they’ll focus on areas that are more relevant to different regions, cultures translations and local nuances; these will be carefully thought through to grow the brand

Training

Training was a hot topic and as with any change people get anxious, some were hanging off each and every one of Chris’s words. He explained it isn’t about doing away with how things are done now – but exploring opportunities such as gamification and giving the end user more options.

The best training in my opinion still comes from having a trainer who has been there and has the experience (and scars) to convey the learning’s. Whether this is via slides, e-Learning or gamification doesn’t matter. It’s about how it feels and the choices that are the best for each individual.

It’s no secret that G2G3 was recently acquired by Capita (the bigger half of the JV) and naturally there will be some influence. Chris added that in his mind this adds to the quality and fuels the innovation, but stressed that it would not be mandatory, simply an added choice for ATO’s. Personally I can’t wait to try it!

Modulate ITIL?

An idea being bounced around is to modulate ITIL. Benefits of doing this would be not having to have a refresher every five years, keeping it progressively updated and relevant, improved interaction with MSP and Prince2 leading to the possibility of a common glossary, and learning the parts of ITIL that are relevant to you. For those in the audience that have been “doing” ITIL for a while, this approach has a sense of ITIL V2 about it.

The AXELOS plan and challenges

Short-term – Minimal disruption to the ecosystem

Medium-term – Continue relationship building with the various stakeholder groups and organisations such as The BCS, ITSMF UK and SDI

Long-term – Developing brand ITIL and ultimately achieving the goal of making ITIL a global framework truly recognised internationally, developing new Best Practice Management products and working with other frameworks.

ITSM Pen
ITSM Penguin – a familiar face at AXELOS events

Final Thoughts

This is nothing short of an ambitious vision from AXELOS. Inevitably there will be difficult key decisions to be made and “not everybody will be pleased, but everybody will be listened to” – Aspects of ITIL and the Best Practice Management Portfolio need to be nurtured and invigorated and it’s reassuring to know that this is the direction AXELOS is taking.

Chris had a good innings and took a record breaking 49 questions from an empowered audience that evening and probably many more afterwards. I guess he may have come away from the BCS that night feeling like he scored his first century.

As always, if you have an opinion as to the future of ITIL, please respond to this blog or email AXELOS direct. You can also follow what’s happening by looking for their communications on Twitter or Google+

This article was contributed by Gregory Baylis-Hall, IT Service Management Analyst at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP. Enthusiastically geeky about the Service Management schema – he enjoys working out how it all connects together. Follow him on Twitter.

Future of ITIL workshop – some shared feedback

Word Cloud of all feedback from attendees Not just feedback listed in this article
Word Cloud of all feedback from attendees
Not just feedback listed in this article

Following on from the two-day AXELOS workshop, ITSM Review reached out to the attendees with three simple questions:

  • How did the workshop go?
  • What were the key achievements?
  • What do you think are the key opportunities for the future?

We also asked the AXELOS team to summarize their thoughts from the two days.  The following article is an overview of everyone’s responses – common points made by attendees have been moved to the introductory paragraph of each section.

So, how was it?

The workshop was deemed a great first step from AXELOS (and hopefully the first of many). It was a dynamic, open and customer centric series of discussions and debates, which were received well by all those who provided feedback.

“Good to feel part of a team – level of consensus very encouraging”Ivor MacFarlane, IBM

“The workshop was wonderful, it was a great opportunity to participate with other thought leaders”Anthony Orr, BMC

“It was exciting. I’m now much more optimistic about the future of ITIL”Claire Agutter, ATO Council

“It was refreshingly forward thinking. I felt that my input was listened to and all divergent views were given respect”Sharon Taylor, Aspect Group Inc

“It was great to see AXELOS’ openness and receptiveness to suggestions and feedback from the workgroup for improving the highly successful ITIL framework” – Colin Rudd, itSMF UK

“I really enjoyed sharing thoughts, ideas, challenges and opportunities with other experts and I was amazed by how much consensus there was about most of the issues we faced”Stuart Rance, HP

What were the Key Achievements?

The consensus was that the future of ITIL looks very positive. The collaborative approach was praised and the group felt that there was a real focus on increasing the success and value of ITIL to both businesses and individuals. AXELOS are listening (and they do realize that more input is needed from a wider cross-section of stakeholders from different geographies) and are clearly focused on opportunities to deliver value to the market without radical disruption or alarm. They also realize that market research and communication are critical before making decisions and open dialogue with the community is therefore very important.

“The key achievement for me was the recognition by AXELOS that our community is diverse and complex and that there will need to be extensive consultation and care to avoid unnecessary disruption to the services. It was clear that this is not an exercise of ‘fixing’ ITIL but of actively planning its future evolution to meet needs” – Sharon Taylor, Aspect Group Inc

“The biggest achievement was in listening to the “voice of the customer”, listening to those who actually use ITIL”Andrea Kis, Tata Consultancy Services

“Lots of input provided from different perspectives, covering ITIL content, exams, training and ecosystem” – Stuart Rance, HP

“There was a welcome absence of politics and person agendas, it was all about the success of ITIL”Jayne Groll, ITSM Academy

“The ‘role-diversity’ of attendees allowed us to not only see the bigger ITIL ecosystem but also to offer different perspectives on legacy issues”Stephen Mann, ServiceNow

Where are the Key Opportunities moving forward?

Everybody agreed that AXELOS need to keep the momentum going and must continue to have open communication with ITIL users, stakeholders and the wider community. They need to remain committed to providing visibility of the ‘what’ and ‘why’ behind ITIL moving forward and must ensure that there are no surprises for the market by sharing with us their long term plans.

“There is a real opportunity to elevate value of ITIL to organizations, executives and community as a whole” – Anthony Orr, BMC

“For me, the key opportunity would be the “onion” layers of content that could be available to the community (some for free, some for a fee), including benchmarking and more practical application. Couple this with potential digital technology to deliver dynamic intellectual property and the industry becomes better able to adapt and supplement” – Jayne Groll, ITSM Academy

“The opportunity is to continue to collaborate with ITIL users, stakeholders and the community and use these discussions as a basis to improve and develop a business model that supports timely, well planned, inclusive, transparent and communicated information. The JV model releases former constraints of ITIL management and frees up the innovation opportunities to bring ITIL forward in step with need and not chasing them.” – Aspect Group Inc

“Global-best-practice looks like it could finally become global best practice” – Stephen Mann, ServiceNow

What did AXELOS have to say?

Of all the qualities we might look for in a SAM Managed Services Provider - proven track record is key.
The workshop group on day 2

“The workshops tackled a vast array of content regarding the future of ITIL and PPM, all in a relatively short time.  It was intense but we maintained a positive outlook, stayed focused on the future and left no elephants in the room.

It was good to move from listening to doing, in this case to work through the main priorities that need to be addressed.  We’ll now factor those into the planning process for this year and for 2014 when AXELOS is fully operational.

Key achievements included the development of ideas and concepts like the “Onion” or “Doughnut” (for PPMers) that provides a framework to enable community collaboration, development of modular materials and potentially tackle “two speed ITIL”.  It was also useful to discuss the needs of the wider global community and also what this all means to the end user or practitioner.

Where to next?  Well it’s great to have crossed the start line and now these workshops have provided us with a script for wider stakeholder engagement.  The skill is going to be in maintaining the momentum whilst focusing on the priorities and this is where AXELOS will need to demonstrate leadership.

Overall, great debates, great ideas and great opportunities.” – input provided by Chris Barrett, Director at AXELOS.

In Summary

It’s a great start. There was much consensus, risks and opportunities were agreed, and the two-day event ended on a very positive note.

AXELOS knows that it needs to elicit more, focused input, particularly from other regions, and that communication in general is critical.

So, there is still a lot to do, but on the evidence of this workshop it’s clear that AXELOS is doing all the right things ­– and AXELOS knows that the world is watching and waiting.

Again, if you have an opinion as to the future of ITIL, please respond to this blog or email AXELOS direct. You can also follow what’s happening by looking for their communications on Twitter or Google+

The “Capita” Label – A Red Herring Swimming in the Moat of Castle ITIL

Chris Barrett, Capita
Chris Barrett, Capita

Ever since the announcement of the Cabinet Office and Capita Group Joint Venture, the great, the good, and some of the rest have speculated here and there about the future of the Best Practices Portfolio.

Chris Barrett (currently a Transformation Director at Capita Consulting) is one of the first of the newly appointed management team for the new joint venture company, and spoke to us at the Knowledge 13 event, Las Vegas.

The Issue of Communications

The first question had to look at the communications, lack of and standard of (which is ironic given our collective jet-lagged state, at the time).

The first e-bulletin had just come out, and it is clear that the press office still needs some time to settle in to converting dry releases into something that gives the waiting ITSM public some further insight, without jargon.

At several times, he was keen to emphasis that Capita is actually more of a red herring/misnomer (which explains why a number of questions were pointed directly at Capita Group).

He said: “If there was one thing Capita was good at, it was fulfilling a remit – for example stripping out costs from a business.”

“But if people are thinking this is a land grab, they would be completely wrong.”

“We are not a corporation, we are a small joint venture.”

“The idea is to grow and invest in the community – this is about a duty of care, and custodianship.”

Whilst communications have been light and/or dry as toast, there has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes.

There will be a twitter feed and a continuation of the e-bulletins, but resources to manage the media side of operations are yet to be appointed.

The Team To Be

In terms of the physical set up, the Chief Executive has been chosen, and the management team are being finalised.

TUPE discussions are continuing regarding members of the Cabinet Office and TSO, due to come across at the end of this year (UPDATED: See comment from Chris Barrett of the Capita JV below)

For many who have actively contributed to the best practices publications, the emphasis on being a non-corporate joint venture still allows them have that airtime – if they so choose.

“Can it be altruistic?” I asked Chris

“It can be, if it serves the community and if we cut them out, how stupid would that be.”

Here is where I think the balance of power shifts.

Let’s be honest – people who have actively contributed in the past do not really need the kudos of adding that involvement to a CV or resume any more.

But there are also many people coming up now, through the ranks, with strong practitioner knowledge, and with the support and encouragement of those previously involved.

There is also an opportunity for those who have, in the past, rebelled at the gates of the fortress – surely now is their time to help shape the best practices to what they believe it should be?

Or will they choose to ignore this emerging spirit of collaboration with the community, and continue to throw stones into the moat?

Linda King and Ros Satar
Linda King and Ros Satar

Pragmatism Over Theory

A number of questions came in through various social media feeds, for us to ask and interestingly a lot seemed to focus on how Capita does things now.

Capita favours the pragmatic approach – referring to principles where appropriate but not purely for the purpose of using them for use’s sake.

It therefore stands to reason that going forward, the emphasis continues to be on the pragmatic application of these established best practices, to demonstrate real-world benefit.

As with everything that took place before, a lot of consideration will need to be given to the release programs for new versions.

This, in turn, led to an interesting revelation that the Cabinet Office themselves do not see the Swirl brand as having traction outside the UK’s shores, despite the information email ID being swirlenquiries.

Spending Spree Or Visionaries?

Interestingly, the most recent acquisitions (Knowledge Pool and Blue Sky) were never part of the original plan, but the inclusion of G2G3 was part of the original bid.

Even if they had not been acquired, the plan would have been to involve them anyway, and they look to be all set now in terms of training and simulation approaches.

Community

Chris was asked whether the joint venture were looking to create their own, newer community, for example in the mould of  Back to ITSM?

The plan is to have to have a portal approach and a formal home for people to land on.

Ideas being considered are a subscription-plan for more detailed material – this was seen as no different to paying money for training courses.

What is the Joint Venture NOT going to be

Chris confidently lined up his views:

  • “Not going to stagnate
  • Not going to be purely theoretical
  • Involving real practitioners and serving community members
  • Not going to be “Castle ITIL”

I wanted to be honest with Chris – those statements are pretty bold, but as someone still active both in consultancy and analysis on the ITSM side, this is good fighting talk.

Meet Them At The Gates

Whilst I can see a sense of continued cautiousness from those who have been discussing the future, the new joint venture are very much seeking and wanting continued dialogue.

The sense of community was a recurring theme, and as a member of this community, I think we owe it to the joint venture to try and meet them at the gates of our beloved “Castle ITIL”.

(With thanks to Adam Holtby, Linda King, and a special nod to Rob England’s suitably Skeptic “Castle ITIL ™” tag which the new company liked but equally are willing to meet, head on).


Updated: Capita folks interviewed live at Knowledge13

ITSM Weekly Podcast Episode 112 – The Capita Interview


via ServiceSphere