itSMF Ireland Conference Review

The itSMF Ireland hosted its annual conference in Dublin last week. The theme of the conference was Continual Service Improvement something I for one was really excited about. Most of the time conferences will talk about Service Design, Transition or Operation but there’s usually little if anything on CSI. The other reason for the excitement was that for me, itSMF Ireland is my home conference so hands up, I may be slightly (read extremely) biased.

The conference itself was held at the Clyde Court Hotel in Dublin. There was a great atmosphere that day because the hotel is right next to the Aviva Stadium (or Landsdowne Road if you’re old school like me) the home ground for the Republic of Ireland football team. There was a World Cup qualifier that night against Germany and the whole nation was hyped up, hoping to create the glory days of Italia 90. Anyway, Ireland’s sporting excellence aside, the hotel was gorgeous, the food was fab and the people on reception were lovely. Parking was a very reasonable at 7 euros for the day *stares hard at the itSMF UK 2014 conference where it cost £45 for 10 hours parking – and no, the carpark didn’t have unicorns, rainbows or vodka fountains*.

The event was kicked off by Fran Davern aka the busiest man in Ireland. Fran heads up the itSMF Ireland management board as well as holding down a full time gig as principal consultant with Davern itSM. The conference was co run by the itSMF Ireland and the Irish Computing Society. The social media machine was well and truly ready for action with the organisers encouraging attendees to Facebook, Tweet and get involved!

Fran welcomed everyone to the annual bash and introduced the first speaker of the day, Ian MacDonald.


Unlocking your CSI potential – Ian MacDonald, Multiple itSMF Award Winner & chartered IT professional

Ian’s session was hotly anticipated as it was about empowering IT to make CSI truly part of everyone’s day job.

Ian talked about practical ways to not only get CSI off the ground but to make it meaningful. He went on to explain that not all benefits are tangible but it doesn’t mean that they’re not important saying “Cost is tangible, value is a feeling. Value should be promoted to support CSI”. The key take away from the presentation was keep making improvements however small “Keep it manageable, small CSI improvements are important because the aggregation can have a big impact”.


Agile ITSM – Dave van Herpen, Consultant, Sogeti

Next up was Dave’s session on using Agile. Dave started his presentation by talking about Agile and not getting hung up about definitions stating “if you’re combining customer involvement, incremental improvements and fast value, you’re already be doing Agile.”

Dave used a traffic example to explain how Agile works. He talked about a square in Holland that had the highest rate of accidents in the nation despite warning notices, traffic lights, signs and speed bumps. In the end, the local authorities were at a loss at what to do so removed all the traffic calming measures. That area now has one of the lowest rates of accidents because as Dave explained “if you have too many processes, people forget to think”. Dave went on to explain that we need to focus on customer satisfaction rather than just trying to hit SLAs or randomly chucking processes at everything.

Dave then talked about using Agile to make collaboration work saying “DevOps isn’t just about Development and Operations. It’s about having a multi talented team involving Development, Operations, Testing, Supplier Management and the business. It’s about everyone in the chain working together and helping each other out.” In other words if people actually talk to each other, we have a better chance of getting things right – yay for common sense 🙂

Dave wrapped his session up by talking about using Kanban for casework, referencing Rob England’s work on standard cases.


CSI: Bite Sized Nuggets – John Griffiths, Former itSMF Trainer of the Year

Following a quick coffee break, we were back to see John Griffiths present on doing CSI in small, manageable chunks. I’m personally a huge fan of this approach as it’s common sense. When you learn about the Deming cycle, you learn that small bite sized chunks is often the way to go rather than huge projects that will invariable fall apart once the day job gets in the way, we have a crisis or management get distracted by the next shiny new thing. Obviously that’s not the exact wording used in my ITIL foundation training but you get the gist 🙂

John started off the session by saying “it’s not called CSI for nothing, we must continue to drive improvements for our customers”. Should be common sense but how many of us forget about CSI when we’re at the sharp end of a Major Incident? Exactly.

John talked about the basic things that we need to have CSI in place. We need a CSI register, a strategy (so we know what we’re doing), a budget (so we can actually do stuff) and a comms plan (so we can tell the rest of the business about all our great work). The most important thing is to have CSI champions as people are everything. John talked about how Suppliers were key players at driving CSI at a strategic level. encouraging the audience to challenge them to get involved and suggesting the inclusion of a CSI clause in Underpinning Contracts.

John went on to explain the 7 step model using booking a holidays as an example sparking a huge response asking if we would all get holidays for doing CSI. Our Irish readers will know that there’s a tradition here in Ireland, there’s a talk show called The Late Late Show and one of the catch phrases is “there’s one for everyone in the audience!”. Sadly, it turned out that no, you don’t get a free holiday just for doing your day job but is was a brilliant way to explain how the model works.

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John’s session was dedicated to his colleague Mike Baker who sadly passed away this year. John, your session was excellent and you did Mike proud, a sentiment that was echoed by the audience and all the session posts on Twitter.

 

Onwards and upwards – Stuart Wright, Severn Valley ITSM

Stuart was next in the hot seat talking about his experience of what works best when doing CSI. This was also the session that got #stewiesteam trending briefly on Twitter (more on that shortly). Stuart advised us to look to the results of our customer satisfaction surveys when looking for improvement opportunities.

Stuart also talked about the importance of promoting CSI wins telling the audience “ we’re good at what we do but we don’t tell anyone, we must promote CSI wins, we need a flag to wave that shouts “we’re better than everyone else!”

Stuart advised us to “stop writing policies on the back of fag packets, it’s not professional”. Thanks Stuart, that’s me told 🙂 He went on to explain how sometimes the things that give us the most pain are the things that can give us the most solid base to build improvements from, talking about the importance of baselining (gives us a solid starting point) and SLAs (if we don’t have them, the customer perception is “we can have anything we want, whenever we want”).

It was at this point in the proceedings that Stuart mentioned that he needed to do a bit of rebranding on his team as it was known as Stewie’s Team and not the CSI Team. Of course being in Dublin, no one was going to miss out on a golden opportunity for acting the maggot* and within minutes #stewiesteam was trending on Twitter. If I were to list the funniest tweets tagged #stewiesteam we’d be here all day but suffice to say there were lots of references to the A-team and a message may have been sent to the team back at ITIL towers (AXELOS) if we could introduce the term “pulling a stewie” for delivering CSI projects successfully if we ever move to ITIL 4.

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Stuart talked about the need for keeping the show on the road and ensuring that CSI sponsors remained committed. He also talked about differing approaches and that sometimes we need to slow down the hares in our team and to get the tortoises to speed up.

Stuart’s final piece of advice was to use simple the simple things to keep momentum going – on one engagement the staff canteen had menu holders with space for additional pages. Stuart used the outside covers to hold leaflets promoting the CSI wins of his department – a move that publicised to the world and it’s mum all the fantastic work being achieved.

 

Practical CSI: Getting started with Continual Service Improvement – Stuart Rance, Service management & Security management consultant, Optimal Service Management

Mr Rance had the first post lunch slot and was quick to bring in some ground rules: “House rules, do not fall asleep, I will see you and I will point it out whilst laughing at you”. We wouldn’t dare Stuart 🙂

Stuart explained that in it’s simplest form, Kanban is “stop starting things and start finishing things”

and that CSI all about driving Attitudes, Behaviors & Culture, or ABC:

Stuart explained the ITIL approach to CSI using practical examples:

  • Vision – “a lovely big picture of what the future looks like
  • Where Are We Now – baselining
  • Where Do We Want To Be – measureable targets: “never believe something can’t be measured. If you care about something enough, it can be measured because you will find the extra resources and money.”
  • How Do We Get There – the plan
  • How Do We Measure The Milestones – in short:
    • Don’t focus on process maturity, focus on what your customers care about
    • Don’t confuse technical targets with business targets
    • Use Critical Success Factors (CSFs) instead of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to demonstrate performance in customer service reviews and you can have a real conversation about value rather than arguing over numbers.
    • Don’t use numbers to tell your customers they’re happy, it will only lead to disaster

(I may have heard this last point delivered in the style of Craig Revel Horward from Strictly “that was a disaster darling”)

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  • How Do We Keep The Process Of Improvement Active – the CSI register is a place to write down things you ought to be doing; it’s also a great way to promote success.

On a personal level, my favourite part of Stuart’s session was around achieving culture change. Stuart chose a very zen approach : “If you want to make a culture change, change yourself because it’s the one thing you have under your control.”

On one particular engagement, Stuart change the culture from “lets have a witch hunt and fire people” following each failure to a no blame culture by, in his own words “ostentatiously crowing about my own failures.” It reminded me of when I was a baby techie, I worked for an organisation where in the Server team, you got handed the sword of grayskull from He-Man / She-Ra as a reward for bouncing the most live servers that week.

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Stuart finished on a strong note by reminding us all that: “the biggest enemy for CSI is complacency and doing too much. Just start with the little things and keep going”.

 

CSI: Taking a Different Perspective – Michael Brophy, CEO, Certification Europe

Michael had the penultimate session of the day and started by reminding us to “never try anything for the first time when you’re up on a podium in front of a room full of people.” Mile’s perspective focused on 3 areas:

  • Standards
  • Marginal Returns
  • Lean

Starting off with a discussion on standards, Mike used ISO 27001 (Information Security), ISO 22301 (Business Continuity) & ISO 31000 (Risk Management) to demonstrate that we don’t have to be afraid of using standards: “you don’t need to be an expert to read ISO 27001, but if make some improvements to your information security based on what you’ve read, you’ve made your organisation more secure and that’s CSI.”

Mike also advised us to look at some of the less well known standards for improvement ideas. A personal favourite of mine Mike, is ISO 3103 also known as “how to make the perfect cup of tea”.

The next section of Mike’s presentation dealt with the doctrine of marginal returns perspective. As the man himself explained it “ if you keep making small improvements, you will get there.”

Mike was fantastic at making his subject matter relatable using exam preparation as an example

https://twitter.com/lizmcbride68/status/652121473163857921

The final part of Mike’s presentation looked at how using Lean could make big savings in efficiency, enabling you to do more with your existing resources without having to negate gains with additional overheads. Mike also encouraged the audience to ask for an independent perspective “we had got to the point where we couldn’t see the wood for the trees”

 

Measures That Matter – Andrew Vermes, UK Practice Leader, Kepner-Tregoe

Andrew was last up talking about making sure our measurements are appropriate telling us if we get it wrong “it’s possible to be the best by gaming the system”

Andrew got the audience energised with an interactive exercise designed to make us realise that focusing on quantity over quality isn’t necessarily the best thing and that we need to focus on people rather than just looking at the numbers and the KPIs

https://twitter.com/lizmcbride68/status/652125597536251905

Andrew reminded us that we need to be prepared:

The final part of the presentation looked at how to use white space effectively:

Andrew made the point that every process has white space, it’s how you manage it that matters. Andrew suggested having rules to manage white space for example the technician has one chance to guess at root cause and then has to follow the full process.

 

Final Thoughts, preview of forthcoming attractions and award winning tweets

Before we knew it, it was 4 o’clock and it was time for Fran to wrap things up with a preview of forthcoming attractions:

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There was also an award for the best tweet that day with the prize going to the very deserving Niamh Armstrong:

https://twitter.com/NiamhieA/status/652121447142432769

Nice one Niamh!

All in all it was a great event with some fantastic content. There were attendees from all sorts of organisations from the financial services industry (AIB), utilities (ESB) and third level education (Institute of Technology, Tallaght – again – not that I’m biased but a big shout out to ITT and to Lorraine Carmody). For my money, the itSMF Ireland is one of the friendliest itSMF chapters, everyone had a good time and everyone went away with something be it new friends / work contacts, a new enthusiasm for CSI or new things to try back in the office. Thank you to the itSMF Ireland for inviting us along and we’ll be back next year. Oh and just in case you’re wondering, Ireland won the match (1-0 #thanksshanelong #COYBIG).

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That’s all folks, go raibh maith agat agus slán abhaile.

*Acting the maggot – messing around

itSMF Ireland Conference preview – Keep moving forward!

CSI - Keep moving forward
CSI – Keep moving forward

Ahead of the itSMF Ireland conference on the 8th October in Dublin I speak with Colm O’Shea and Vawns Murphy from itSMF Ireland to discuss their theme for the conference – Continual Service Improvement (CSI).

ITAM Review and ITSM Review Feeds

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Building a CSI culture

Melbourne Skyline (Wikipedia): the 17th National LEADit Conference to be held Wednesday 13 to Friday 15 August 2014.
Melbourne Skyline (Wikipedia): the 17th National LEADit Conference to be held Wednesday 13 to Friday 15 August 2014.

I’ll be delivering a presentation on Continual Service Improvement (CSI) at the LeadIT conference run by itSMF Australia in August. I wanted to talk about CSI because I think it’s one of the biggest opportunities we have to create value for our customers, and most organizations I work with don’t even try to implement it.

The key thing to remember about CSI is that it’s NOT a process, and despite what the ITIL books say it’s not a stage in the service lifecycle either. CSI is a combination of attitudes, behaviour and culture. It’s a belief that we can always do better, and that we should always do better – even if we’re already meeting every commitment we have signed up to.  It’s a constant striving for excellence, it’s a culture that says we can and will do better next time.

The ITIL CSI publication describes lots of great techniques. The best of these are the CSI register, and the CSI approach.

CSI Register

A CSI register is very simple, it’s just a place to record all the improvement suggestions that anyone brings to you, so that you can

  • Remember them, even if you aren’t yet ready to act on the suggestion
  • Prioritize them in terms of cost, benefits and urgency
  • Discuss them with stakeholders and agree which ones you will invest in
  • Manage and track the ones you decide to implement to ensure they deliver what you expect
  • Measure the cost and benefit that you actually create with CSI so you can report this to your customers and encourage further investment in more improvements

A CSI register doesn’t have to be complex, it is typically based on a fairly simple spreadsheet.

I often hear people explain that they don’t need CSI because they can do all of this with their risk management, or change management or quality management process. This is of course true, you could log all of these improvement suggestions as change requests and use the change management process to manage CSI, or log them all on a risk register and use the risk management process. Either of these would probably work to some extent, but there are differences between these things and you are likely to overload the change management or risk management process if you try doing this.

I’ve worked with CSI registers at many customers for more than 10 years, and I can assure you that they are a very low overhead way of helping to manage continual improvement. During my session at LeadIT, I’ll talk about some of my experiences with customers and how we have created success using CSI registers.

The CSI Approach

The CSI approach is a very simple approach to an ITSM improvement project based on six steps. It was first described in the ITIL V2 publication “Planning to Implement Service Management” published in 2002.  It has since been updated and now forms one of the components of ITIL CSI. The six steps are:

  1. What is the vision?  Ensure that you understand the vision and mission, goals and objectives for the improvement project. You need this to ensure that your decision making is consistent and leads to desired outcomes. Otherwise there will be lack of clarity about what you’re trying to achieve, and there will almost certainly be conflict between the different stakeholders.
  2. Where are we now? Understand the current situation. This is needed because CSI is based on improving what you have, not throwing everything away and starting again.
  3. Where do we want to be? Set measureable targets for the improvement project, and short term goals for the first stage of the project. Ideally you will use an agile approach for the whole project in which case this is where you define your first sprint.
  4. How do we get there? This is the bit where you create a detailed plan, invest in the improvement activities, and actually make the improvements
  5. Did we get there? Make the measurements that you defined in step 3 and make sure you achieved your goals.
  6. How do we keep the momentum going? CSI is not a one-off project like activity, it is a constant activity that results in ongoing improvements. This is why an agile approach works so well. As you make each improvement (or complete each sprint) you should verify that you are still working towards the vision, mission, goals and objectives that you set out, and report your successes to both IT and business staff – this will help to ensure support for the next iteration (or the next sprint if you’re using agile).

That’s all there is to it. If you come to my LeadIT presentation in August then I’ll tell you some stories about how my customers have used the CSI approach, what worked, what didn’t, what we learned. I’ll also ask you to share your experiences so maybe I’ll learn something from you too.

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Technology Review: EasyVista

Easy VistaThis is a review of the EasyVista ITSM solution. The product (set) reviewed was:

  • EasyVista ServiceManager
  • EasyVista Service-Apps
  • EasyVista Click2Get

These collectively make up ‘EasyVista.com’ – the product set reviewed will be released on July 1st 2014.

At a glance

EasyVista is an established and growing player in the ITSM industry – from an initial start in 1988 through to a floated business in 2005 with a native Cloud platform, to its current position challenging the enterprise market.

The company focuses on EMEA and US markets with Head Offices based in both New York and Paris. Recent growth has been impressive and the company is expanding and developing into new markets and market areas. This review looks at EasyVista’s core capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, plus go-to-market strategy and vendor reach.

Summary of Key Findings

Strengths Weaknesses
Simple yet powerful customer presentation layer Limitations on vendor implementation capacity
Comprehensive ITSM functionality – good Service Catalog capability May need to develop more/new capabilities and project services for larger enterprise clients
Cradle to grave Asset Management – extensive financial capability Recent core focus on US has slightly hindered UK presence to date behind, however we understand that this is being addressed
Intuitive user-friendly workflow – NEO capability for tech-free design and admin Reporting capabilities and templates could be improved
Strong multi-language offerings
Impressive recent financial growth

Analysis

Overall EasyVista has a very strong product-set in the ITSM market.With a long pedigree, since 1988, as a mid-market vendor, with focus in some key geographical markets, EasyVista is now broadening its appeal and reach across wider global markets and is also becoming more tuned to enterprise organizations needs.

This is having some success with a number of recent wins over ServiceNow and Cherwell Software, who they view as main competitors. As is the case with these companies, EasyVista is also winning new business from legacy CA/HP/BMC sites with its modern, agile, user-friendly, and user-configurable approach and (web-based) product set; as well as competitive costing and minimized cost of upgrade path.

The product-set aims to provide a comprehensive, yet simple and intuitive interface for build and maintenance, reducing the time to implement and also the cost and skill level required for ongoing tailoring and configuration. A key concept is the simplified ‘presentation layer’, which effectively provides a simple and business-focused interface to allow user organisations to focus on business objectives and not be side-tracked by infrastructure and technical details and data. This also supports the approach that allows the underlying infrastructure and services details to change without impacting the presentation layer – i.e. the User Interface and outputs. EasyVista’s pitch aims to support the idea that the tool helps to reduce complexity around IT and ITSM delivery – by linking ‘Service Management with Content Management’ – so that all sources are presented/rendered consistently.

As an ITSM tool it has a full set of Service Management capabilities available, delivered in ‘standard’ tabular formats (i.e. process functions as expected for ITSM/ITIL processes and lifecycle) with the ability to make changes easily and without technical skills/support.The core Incident, Problem and Change processes are presented in a clean and simple format with the ability to use multiple layers of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Operating Level Agreements (OLAs) as required – e.g. for tracking, OLAs can be easily nested and tracked within a wider SLA. The Service Catalog functionality is extensive and compares well with other product offerings, featuring some straightforward and effective features like graphical displays of linked services, parent/child service ‘bundles’, and simple logical links to all other ITSM functions.

The asset and configuration elements of the toolset are also key features with function-rich capabilities around asset tracking and financial management (e.g. insurance values, residual value, depreciation etc). This includes an end-to-end approach with the ability to create orders and pick from stock as part of the asset lifecycle. Whilst this functionality has been around for many years in large enterprise products, it is encouraging to see this level of detail and control being made available from a mid-size vendor and product – with a modern, simplified and connected (social) interface.

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Discussion threads offer social capabilities that can be used effectively for approvals – e.g. for Change Advisory Boards (CABs) – and are a useful and social way to communicate (like a Facebook wall) and contribute to incidents and other events – i.e. beyond those simply on the escalation path. This can also be used for knowledge sharing and also to present real-time knowledge content within incidents. The ‘NEO’ function provides advanced capabilities without the need for technical skills, and is based on a graphical interface for workflow, forms design, tables, and field and screen creation that is simple to administer – i.e. using drag and drop. Development of the presentation layer for IT or departmental customers is supported by the NEO capability. EasyVista has built a range of widgets, such as charts, navigation, dashboard components, and HTML widgets, as well as provided access to a range of other web widgets from the likes of Google, Twitter etc. These widgets can be used to easily build Service Apps like CIO dashboards or Service Catalogs, enhancing functionality and integration of processes.

Reporting and monitoring are available with user-defined dashboards – i.e. that can include standard widgets as already mentioned. This could be further developed to provide more pre-canned templates and standards offerings to clients. EasyVista has strong language capabilities with 12 core languages available across a single meta-data structure – therefore global implementation can be effective across a single platform. EasyVista also provides a robust network of data centers across EMEA, the US and Singapore to provide continuous business continuity. There is also an extensive and effective global knowledge community sharing product information and guidance.

Languages available:

  • Bosnian
  • Brasilian
  • Catalan
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Dutch
  • English (UK)
  • English (US)
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Portugeze
  • Spanish

The vendor is expanding and recruiting to support its current growth and sales success. This is part of a continuing development plan to consolidate and build on an improving market position, and challenging enterprise vendors on price and flexibility, whilst still offering a full set of functionality plus innovation in the product that has been built as a native cloud-based system.

Revenues have grown from $11.5M (2010) to over $20M in 2013, with recurring revenue accounting for over 70% due to its SaaS customer base. The stock price has accordingly quadrupled (from $10.00 to $40.00) over the last year.

The vendor has been operating in the mid-market for several years and is now successfully engaging more with the enterprise market, where there may be more requirements from customers to deliver project and consultancy-based services. At present EasyVista have a global network of (40) implementation partners – with a majority of sales being made direct (95% direct in US, 50% direct in EMEA). Corporate resources are therefore focused on development, and sales and marketing, and less on implementation – this may need to be revised with more demanding enterprise-sized customers.

The challenges for EasyVista are in maintaining its focus on innovation, quality installations and client success, whilst also growing its market share and delivering successful implementations in new vertical and horizontal markets. This is recognized by the company with a recruitment programme and a renewed growth plan in the UK, which was consciously left alone some years ago when the focus was on building market share in the US and continental Europe. At that time the UK ITSM market was seen as stagnant, but there is now renewed interest in this market for replacement solutions following new innovations and the impact of disruptive (Cloud/SAAS) commercial models. EasyVista were left exposed in the UK and are now working to recoup some position in this market – however in future there may be issues in other areas if resources are stretched across multiple geographical markets and levels of the IT/ITSM market.

Delivery of sales message (which is seen to be good) and the ability to deliver to a new market area (enterprise) are also seen as major challenges – along with the ability to consolidate and maintain growth. The product set is comprehensive and possibly complex at first sight, therefore the ITSM Review recommends that EasyVista aligns its message (simplicity and business focus) with its overall presentation of the modules and areas of the product. The three product areas – Service Manager, Service Apps and Click2Get – plus the Neo function, sit over the ITSM modules with different pricing structures and this can initially look at odds with the company’s ‘simplify IT’ message, although we understand the pricing is very competitive. Whilst there are some corporate and delivery challenges, the product provides a comprehensive solution, is well positioned, and the pitch plays well to a market hungry for savings, simplicity and new ways of working.

On a comparative level with the upper mid-market and also at an enterprise level, the product-set has good functionality and offers innovation and a user-friendly operation. Development has been applied to the use and usability of the product and this should reduce the need for extensive consulting and implementation services. However there is always a need for implementation guidance and support for less-mature organisations. This is a gap and opportunity for EasyVista to provide more value-added services to support these clients’ implementations.

Overall, EasyVista is an excellent offering for customers/buyers who are mature, know what they want from ITSM (particularly in some key areas like Service Catalog and Asset Management), and are able to implement this mostly themselves.

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Key Capabilities

EasyVista is an integrated solution that covers IT Service and Asset Management. The modules provided are:

  • Service Operation: Incident, Problem, Service Request and Event Management. This module addresses core service desk functionality.
  • Service Transition: Change, Knowledge and Release Management. This addresses the ability to manage the entire lifecycle of Change records and how they relate to Releases in the CMDB. Additionally the knowledgebase is managed in this module allowing the management and subsequent publication of knowledge articles to technical and non-technical users.
  • Service Strategy: Financial areas such as Budget Planning/Control, Procurement, Charge Back, IT Costing etc. are provided by this module allowing customers to have fiscal control over all aspects of IT delivery.
  • Service Design: The management of SLAs/OLAs, Continuity Plans, Availability Targets, Catalog content etc. is managed in this module, providing the ability to create and manage all of these aspects ‘codelessly’ and quickly.
  • Asset Management: provides full financial lifecycle Asset Management for all assets as part of the core solution. This includes all aspects of Asset Management including request, order, delivery, contract, budget, loan, repair, depreciation etc.
  • Extended CMDB: The extended CMDB module provides a fully graphical interface for viewing and analyzing the relationships between CIs and ultimately assessing impact.
  • Business Relationship Management: This covers the areas of Self-Service Portal, Social IT, and Mobility, allowing customers to interact with all product areas in a variety of different ways.
  • Continual Service Improvement: A built-in, proprietary reporting engine providing Analytics, Dashboards, and Standard Reporting.
  • Business Process Management: Automated Workflow Engine, Business Rules Engine, and pre-defined Business Wizard Accelerators. These areas allow customers to build their own processes, automate workflow, and streamline their day-to-day tasks with no coding required.

These functions are presented in tabular form and generally follow the ITIL v3 lifecycle structure. The building of forms and functions (events, escalations, SLAs, validation approvals etc.) into processes can be done simply using a consistent graphical workflow tool – this can incorporate (e.g. Google) ‘widgets’ as required and can also simply be amended using ‘drag and drop’ functionality. As such, creation of ‘standard’ ITSM processes is simple, intuitive and extensive, based on a turnkey set of processes in the product-set – i.e. capable of delivering to a high level of complexity and detailed functionality for SME and enterprise requirements.

Key functions observed:

Incident Management – extensive, flexible form creation, escalations, tracking and filters, user-defined workflow, and knowledge integration.

Problem Management – as above, plus integrated reporting.

Change Management – includes the ability to use ‘discussion threads’ to manage approvals via social-lie interfaces.

Service Catalog – comprehensive functionality, well-presented multi-view and graphical representation of services and CMDB links. Good use of service ‘bundle’ approach – i.e. grouping of components together to build supply chain of IT services.

Service Level Management – extensive and capable of managing multiple levels of SLA, availability of services etc., plus ability to manage and track nested OLA timeframes within SLAs.

Asset Management – high level of specification and capability, particularly around financial management, depreciation, residual value etc.

Knowledge Management – using ‘widget’ plug-ins can bring a variety of options for presenting and managing associated knowledge articles.

Reporting – dashboards shown with the potential for extended functionality and flexibility. Vendor could develop more ‘templated’ report and dashboard content to enhance presentation.

Go-to-market Strategy

EasyVista’s sweet spot target clients:

Staff 2,000 – 20,000
IT Staff 25 – 600
Nodes 10,000 – 200,000
IT Maturity Medium – High
Market level Mid/upper mid-market and Enterprise, some F500Vertical and horizontal – no sector focus
Challenges Cost, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), global multi-language, need for flexibilty and ease of use

Regional focus:

  • Significant investment in the USA – Past 2 years has seen 100%+ growth per year
  • Continued expansion in EMEA – Past 2 years has seen 20% growth in a tough market
  • Tactical investment in APAC
  • Planned expansion and increased investment in the UK planned for late FY14

Channel Focus:

  • USA – 95% direct sales. 70% direct services and 30% through strategic partners.
  • EMEA – 50% direct and 50% indirect.
  • 40 fully accredited partners with 280 certified engineers worldwide.

Features delivered as part of the standard offering:

Service Manager, Asset Management, Service Apps and Click2Get are licensed independently. SaaS customers can obtain a product called myEasyVista, which is SaaS performance and administration portal – this is included in the SaaS subscription.

Service manager is sold with full functionality (all processes / and capabilities)

  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Availability Management
  • Service Asset and Configuration Management
  • IT Service Continuity Management
  • Service Catalog Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Service Portfolio Management
  • Request Fulfillment
  • Knowledge Management
  • Change Management
  • Asset Management

Licensing and Payments:

  • On premise = Concurrent
  • SaaS = Named or Concurrent

Range of project values for a typical installation:

  • SaaS: $75K/year – $300K/year
  • On Premise:  $100K – $500K

Annual maintenance and support cost:

  • 20% of On Premise software sale price.
  • 6 – 10 weeks average implementation time.

Key Reference Customers

OTD

Innovation, quality performance, integrity and teamwork – One Touch Direct is a premier call center service company and leader in developing customized direct marketing strategies. They specialize in developing integrated direct response marketing programs supported by state of the art call center services. OTD is based in North America, employs over 2000 team members and offers call center support in English, French and Spanish.

Domtar

Domtar-Centralizing IT Worldwide – Domtar was founded in 1848 and has grown from a widely diversified organization to an industry leader focused on paper manufacturing. The 1990s and the early 2000s were years of significant expansion, including the acquisition of Ris Paper Company Inc. and Georgia Pacific paper mills.

Expro

Expro delivers a true global SaaS ITSM solution in weeks with EasyVista – Expro is a world leader in well flow management technologies with core and more specialized services assisting customers to measure, improve, control and process flow from their wells. Expro’s expertise extends across the lifecycle of a well, reinforcing their ability to help customers achieve their goals – from Exploration & Appraisal through to Abandonment. Expro operates in all the major hydrocarbon producing areas of the world, employing more than 5,000 people in 50 countries.

Case studies available from these customers.

Geographical Coverage

Direct Presence Geographical area:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • UK
  • France
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Italy

Vendor Profile – In their own words

“We recognize the IT landscape we live in and therefore the ITSM requirement to our customers has radically changed. ITSM is no longer just about looking after the employees IT equipment and services, but also about how IT can build non-IT centric services and applications that improve your employee and business unit’s function, efficiency and service to the ultimate end customer.

Today’s ITSM challenge comes from these two ‘customer needs’ but also, the fundamental shift in the way we build IT. The number of systems we use directly or indirectly to transact business with our customers is x50 higher than it was just 3 years ago. All of this data and all of the new communication channels needs to be harnessed and coordinated to provide Service and SupportYet the current platforms that provide the service and support were built for a different age. They may support social, cloud and business analytics – but the hard way. Hard wired, ridged and very costly to administer, change and integrate.

IT is now at a pivotal moment in its corporate career. One that could transform the organization and make rock-stars out of IT leadership. The days of big, highly integrated, proprietary and complex platforms are dead. We live in the age of the web. The next generation of service and support will harness web architectures and services into a harmonious and dynamic service.

We would like to introduce you to a New Way. The Easy Way.

  • An Agile Web Service and Support Customer User Interface Engine.
  • An Agile Web Service and Support Workflow Engine.
  • An Agile Web Service and Support Asset Management Engine.
  • An Agile Web Service and Support Integration Engine.
  • With ‘Dynamic Orchestration’ – Not manual hard wired integration.

All codeless, and all joined up.”

Screenshots

Further resources

Contact details

www.easyvista.com

Phone: +1 (888) EZV ITSM

 

EASYVISTA

Summary

Strengths Weaknesses
Simple yet powerful customer presentation layer Limitations on vendor implementation capacity
Comprehensive ITSM functionality – good Service Catalog capability May need to develop more/new capabilities and project services for larger enterprise clients
Cradle to grave Asset Management – extensive financial capability Recent core focus on US has slightly hindered UK presence to date behind, however we understand that this is being addressed
Intuitive user-friendly workflow – NEO capability for tech-free design and admin Reporting capabilities and templates could be improved
Strong multi-language offerings
Impressive recent financial growth

Disclaimer, Scope and Limitations

The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created.  Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed.  Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline, and not as the ultimate source of truth.

Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study.  The ITSM Review recommends that readers complete a thorough live evaluation before investing in technology.

This is a paid review, that is, the vendors included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge, without registration.

For further information, please read our Disclosure page.

Start your ITSM improvement journey now (with a little help from your friends at AXELOS)

2656648042_0ced853512_z

Yesterday, AXELOS launched a brand new competition aimed at helping IT professionals kick-start and/or revive their ITSM initiatives.

With the help of independent, industry experts, AXELOS will be providing entrants with a list of tasks, along with practical guidance on how to successfully complete them in order to start people out on their journey of ITSM improvement.

The purpose

AXELOS’s objective with this competition is to show how ITSM improvement initiatives can be agile, iterative, and business focused, and that CSI is an integral part of all processes and activities. There is no need for a huge 2-year-long project plan to kick things off – a few enthusiastic people with proper guidance can achieve a lot! The outcomes from this competition will serve as the basis for each participating organization to create their own prioritized list of improvements – a proper CSI register. The prizes that AXELOS has selected for the most impressive ITIL journeys will help to engage the whole organization at the next level, and to build the momentum.

The competition

The competition, otherwise known as the “ITIL Journey”, will be divided into three 2-week sprints, each of which will have a specific focus. In order to participate you will need to download the AXELOS foldable prism.

The sprint topics will be:

  • Sprint 1 – Listening and Engagement – May 12th – May 25th 2014
  • Sprint 2 – Quantifying and Reviewing – May 27th – June 8th 2014
  • Sprint 3 – Prioritizing and Planning – June 9th – June 22nd 2014

Each set of tasks for individual sprints focuses on the theme of the sprint and builds on the previous sprints. The tasks for each sprint will be revealed in the beginning of that sprint.

By the end of the competition, when all three sprints are completed, you will have a prioritized list of improvements that is based on actual data and business requirements, rather than just on hard-to-prove gut feeling. You will also have shown, by completing a few low hanging fruit improvement tasks, that the initiative does bring value – and this helps to build a momentum in your organization. All tasks from previous sprints will be available in an ordered ‘backlog’ – this way, you can include them in your sprints along the way.

The competition is not UK-only-based and you can take part from anywhere in the world. All you need to do to enter is submit a photo of your completed prism along with any documentation that you have created to AXELOS by 30th June 2014.

You don’t have to have been involved from the start to join in either. You can essentially even join in the third sprint, you will just complete less tasks. For maximum value to your organization and for the best chance to win the competition, we highly recommend that you start your ITIL Journey now (or at least as soon as possible).

The prize

The three best submissions will receive a voucher for a full-day in-house ITIL simulation game from one of the following Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs): G2G3, Gamingworks and Simagine.

In a nutshell

  • Find out how to engage with your customers and understand their needs
  • Review and evaluate your current processes and metrics
  • Identify quick wins to address first and get buy-in from stakeholders
  • Map your activities to value your customers expect
  • Make use of free-of-charge insights and guidance from industry experts
  • Win a full-day ITIL simulation for your organization

For more information about the ITIL Journey competition, including how to take part and submit please visit the website.

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itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit)

This year's conference will be hosted in Melbourne
This year’s conference will be hosted in Melbourne

It is with incredible excitement that we are able to announce that we will be the Media Partner for the itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit), 13-15 August 2014, at The Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel in Australia.

This ITSM event, which is the largest in the southern hempishere, brings together more than 500 IT professionals, with over 50 keynotes and breakout sessions  – covering a wide range of subjects that are at the heart of our industry.

What you can expect

Generally regarded as one of the best itSMF-hosted conferences in the world, you’re in for a treat with this year’s agenda which includes (but is not limited to):

  • A fantastic series of keynotes featuring ITSM greats such as Rob England and James Finister, as well as motivational speakers such as Jason McCartney
  • A broad selection of breakout sessions featuring an array of speakers including the likes of Robert Stroud, Harold Petersen, Paul Wilkinson, Mark Smalley, Karen Ferris, Rachel Pennings, Stuart Rance and plenty more. Covering topics such as: cloud, continual service improvement, IT governance, ITSM process best practices, mobility, service lifecycle, IT asset management, agile, BYOD, customer experience etc.
  • A choice of 7 pre-conference workshops including “building agile virtual teams” and “real techniques to achiever a successful ITSM implementation”
  • A jammed pack social programme providing an array of opportunities to connect with your peers and the service management community, from the standard welcome drinks and networking evening to gala dinners, a social dinner and games night and a post conference winery tour through the Yarra Valley.
  • Ceremony for the 2014 itSMF Industry Awards

Join in the fun

Considering attending but not quite sure yet? Or crying that you can’t go and are going to miss out on all the fun? Why not get involved with one of the Twitter chats that will be hosted by itSMF Australia in the run up to the event?

Date Name Twitter handle Topic
Wed 02-Jul-14 Rob England @theitskeptic Big Uncle: Benevolent Security and The End of Privacy
Wed 09-Jul-14 Stuart Rance @StuartRance Getting Started with Continual Service Improvement
Wed 16-Jul-14 Ian Jones @Jonesyianau Leading ITSM from Scrum to Kanban
Wed 23-Jul-14 James Finister @jimbofin Service Integration and Management: SIAM 
Wed 30-Jul-14 Peter Doherty @ITILNinja Working Smarter at the Service Desk to Engage the Business
Wed 06-Aug-14 Sophie Danby @SophieDanby Get the most out of #Leadit

ITSM Review is flying longhaul!

Two of our team will be in attendance (we haven’t yet finished arguing about who gets to go on such an amazing trip), and if you’d like to schedule a meeting with us whilst we’re out in Australia please email me.

We also intend to make the most of our trip across to the other side of the world and in conjunction with the wonderful James Finister and Stuart Rance we are hoping to be able to run a series of ITSM community initiatives whilst we’re out there (let me hear you cry “the Brits are coming”). Not just in Melbourne, but potentially anywhere in Australia (within reason – it’s a big country) and even potentially en route as well. We’ll provide more information on this as/when things get confirmed, but in the mean time please let us know if you have any ideas related to this or would like to see us whilst we’re visiting.

The ITSM Review team will also be making a trip to India in conjunction with our visit to itSMF Australia, so we urge our readers in that part of the world to also get in touch.


Event Summary

WHAT

itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit)

WHERE

The Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel, Australia

WHEN

The conference runs from Wednesday 13th August to Friday 15th August, with a range of pre-conference workshops taking place on Tuesday 12th August.

BOOKING

Booking rates are available online

Please note that all social activities are included in the 3 / 4 day conference pass, except for the post conference tour, which will need to be purchased separately.

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Agile CSI: continual service improvement done right

10034579444_60a0fdc982_zDon’t worry. I am not going to rant on about hypothetical methods or visionary statements. I will not explain why agile is important for the ITSM industry, nor will I explain why agility is crucial for business survival. After all, these are no-brainers, right? I will only use your valuable time to illustrate a practical experience on implementing continual service improvement (CSI), the agile way.

In the past few years I have been privileged to apply lean and agile principles, methods and instruments to many different (IT) service environments. Most of the assignments were focused on delivering more value to stakeholders, improving collaboration between functions and domains, and reducing change lead times. However, one of the most intriguing assignments revolved around creating a culture of continuous improvement for a professional services company.

The problem

First, here’s some context. The customer I am referring to, is in the business of providing professional infrastructure and telecom services to its customers. The IT director realized they had a huge problem, when their largest customer repeatedly complained about their supplier’s reactive behavior. Surely, the customer got what they asked for, but there was no such thing as proactive service management, let alone continuous improvement of processes and services. My customer thought that they had this covered by having an extensive description of a CSI process, according to ITILv3. Yet somehow, no real improvements were initiated, let alone carried out. I profoundly assume this does not surprise you.

ITIL

Looking at the core objective of CSI, I have always applauded this addition to the ITIL set. After all, it recognized the essence of having a flying wheel for improvements throughout the IT service organization and lifecycle. However, allocating a separate process and rather waterfall and administrative approach to achieving this objective, is why ITIL’s CSI falls short in so many implementation attempts. Similar to Imai’s Gemba Kaizen, successful continuous improvement in IT services involves small, bottom-up, incremental improvements, integrated in business as usual. In addition, ITIL fails to address the most important element of achieving continuous improvement: culture. For instance, as long as the culture of the organization does not reward improvements or even does not allow mistakes to be made, those mistakes/errors will be covered up, instead of being visualized, improved and learned from.

Agile

This is where the Agile way of thinking comes in. At this organization, we introduced agile principles (eg. multidisciplinary, self-organized teams), methods (scrum) and instruments (kanban) to address their improvement issues, and to grow towards a proactive service organization. We started off with scrum. First by ensuring all stakeholders had a shared understanding of agile principles, the scrum process and its relevance to support and operational environments. After that, we allocated the roles. The complaining customer picked up the product owner role, whereas the service manager became the scrum master. The primary people involved in the service chain (service desk, design, develop, test, operations, main supplier) were involved as team members.

Then, as a joint effort, the entire team investigated the current opportunities for improvements, both on processes and delivered services. All improvements were collected on a product backlog (i.e. an improvement backlog). We used a uniform format to write them down: user stories. The good thing about user stories, is that they are short and simple, yet always address the “why” question. This resulted in user stories such as below:

agile

In parallel, we used planning poker as an instrument to estimate the improvements. I find this a particularly useful way of estimating both changes and improvements. The relative measure (story points) appeals to the unpredictive and indeterministic nature of so many changes and improvements.

In two weeks time, we had the product backlog filled (i.e. “ready” for 3 sprints), and prioritized by the product owner. So yes, this means that the customer decided where improvements were to be made first. After that, we narrowed down the product backlog into a sprint backlog for the first sprint and started off with a planning session for that sprint. Here, we created tasks for the allocated user stories, which were added to the physical scrum board we had set up. Together with the other, obvious ceremonies (stand up, demo, retrospective), the scrum process was in place and led by the service manager (scrum master). Every day, the team members pulled their actions through the process, picked up and realized the improvements during the 3 sprints.

Results

After three sprints of each one month, 80% of all identified improvements had been realized. And implemented. Result: an engaged customer, visibly happy with the improvements made thus far and confident regarding the proactive capabilities of the service organization. But it didn’t stop there. Yes, we stopped using scrum. After three sprints the backlog almost evaporated. But at that time, it was still positioned as a separate instrument. That is why we incorporated all future improvements on the regular kanban board, which was already used for incidents, problems and changes. Improvements became business as usual. All team members, including the customer, were actively involved throughout the delivery chain, all aimed at continuously improving the service delivery chain. The people involved were all aware of the priorities of their work in progress, and the value of their daily improvements.

I hear you say: this sounds too good to be true. Of course, we encountered several problems along the way. Quite a few team members were skeptical with regard to using agile principles and instruments. Showing them the value of visualization, sharing tasks across the multidisciplinary team and providing insight into the entire delivery chain, really catalyzed their changing attitudes. In addition, it was certainly not easy keeping everyone on track and on focus for the improvements during the sprints, next to their daily incidents, project work and other engagements. Daily stand-ups, management attention and visualizing results have surely contributed here.

The future

Creating a continuous improvement mindset is all about stimulating a learning culture. You are never ready. The same goes here. Having a CSI mindset is not enough to keep learning effectively. Further improvements for this organization include the optimization of measurements, and a further integration of Lean and Agile elements, or from Rob England’s TIPU framework.

Agile CSI is only one example of how agile and lean principles and instruments can help the IT function deliver great services. ITSM has a key role in achieving this, by sharing practical experiences, good practices, but most of all creating the conditions for all stakeholders to improve their work, processes and services.

Want to hear more from me on this topic? Join my BrightTalk webinar on 10th September 2014.

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The Kitchen Nightmare Approach to Continual Service Improvement

Gordon Ramsey
Gordon Ramsey

Following on from my trip to itSMF Norway last week, I wanted to share with ITSM Review readers my thoughts on Rae Ann Bruno’s presentation along with some of the key pieces of advice that she presented.

Believe it or not this presentation focused on the well-known chef, Gordon Ramsey. “What on earth can Gordon Ramsey teach us about ITSM?” I hear you all cry! Well as it turns out… a lot.  Rae Ann focused on the programme “Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares” where Gordon Ramsey takes failing restaurants and turns them into successful ones and how his recipe for success (sorry I couldn’t resist) is the perfect model for IT services.

The Gordon Ramsey approach

The approach that Gordon Ramsey takes in this programme is as follows:

  • He goes to the restaurants and puts himself through the customer experience (he orders and eats like any other paying customer)
  • He speaks with other customers, the staff, the owners and the chef to understand different perceptions (helping him to understand the full impact of the problem, gathering data from all sources)
  • He looks at: process time, wait time, defect rates, root causes and other information that can lead to targeted improvements
  • He defines the quality required to staff and the chef (trust me, it’s not frozen lasagna)
  • He gets the team onboard with his plan and remodels the restaurant
  • He helps bring the team together to communicate better and provide more effective service

Where does ITSM fit in?

Rae Ann explained how this exact approach should be taken for continual service improvement when it comes to ITSM:

  • Understands customer expectations
  • Defines services
  • Assesses process, people and tools
  • Defines quality
  • Ensures adherence to policy and procedures
  • Manages relationships between teams, people and processes
  • Verifies communication process

As bizarre as the concept sounded at the start of the presentation, she was right. If you are struggling with your processes or your service then perhaps the first thing you should do is sit down and watch an episode of Gordon Ramsey in action.

The need for service catalog

Rae Ann also continued with her restaurant examples to explain why every organization needs a service catalog. To quote her exactly: “An organization without a service catalog is like a restaurant without a menu”. What would happen in a restaurant if there was no menu? If customers could come in and simply order whatever they fancied?

  • There would be an inordinate about of waste (because the kitchen would have to be stocked with every ingredient possible, some of which may never actually be required)
  • The restaurant wouldn’t be able to set any expectations to customers
  • Assumptions would be made by customers that the chef knows how to cook anything and everything
  • It would fail. There is no way this model can succeed

The same is equally true of not having a service catalog.

Additional advice

Rae Ann’s presentation was highly entertaining and laden with lots of other common sense advice such as:

  • Always set customer expectations and ensure that you can deliver a service to match them
  • Be realistic and honest with your customers and yourself. Don’t try to make things look better than they are
  • Always follow the continual service model
  • Ensure that you understand business goals and that your efforts are aligned with them. How can you do your job effectively if you don’t know what you’re working towards?
  • Sufficient and effective communication is critical to success, far more important than your tool and processes
  • CSI is not a process. It is never finished, you cannot complete it

All in all, it was an incredibly practical and sensible session. The only downside to this presentation is that I will probably never be able to watch Kitchen Nightmare’s again without thinking about IT service management.

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Review: itSMF Continual Service Improvement SIG

Like many who work in ITSM, I am of course aware of the need for, and the importance of Continual Service Improvement throughout the Service Management Lifecycle.

But what does it entail in real terms, and not just what I read on the ITIL course/in the books?

I came along to the itSMF CSI SIG, held in London to find out.

CSI in a nutshell

The purpose of CSI is to constantly look at ways of improving service, process and cost effectiveness.

It is simply not enough to drop in an ITSM tool to “fix” business issues, (of course backed up with reasonable processes) and then walk away thinking: “Job well done.”

Business needs and IT services constantly evolve and change and CSI supports the lifecycle and is iterative – the review and analysis process should be a continual focus.

Reality

CSI is often aspired to, and has been talked about in initial workshops, but all too often gets swallowed up in the push to configure and push out a tool, tweak and force in processes and all too often gets relegated to almost “nice to have” status.

A common question one sees in Linked in Groups is:

“Why do ITIL Implementations fail?”

A lack of commitment to CSI is often the reason, and this session looked to try and identify why that might be.

Interactive

I have never been to a SIG before, and it was very clear from the outset that we were not going to be talked at, nor would we quite be doing the speed-dating networking element from my last regional venture.

SIG chair Jane Humphries started us off by introducing the concept of a wall with inhibitors.  The idea was that we would each write down two or three things on post-it notes for use in the “Speakers Corner” segment later in the day.

What I liked about this, though, was that Jane has used this approach before, showing us a wall-graphic with inhibitors captured and written on little bricks, to be tackled and knocked down in projects.

Simple but powerful, and worth remembering for workshops, and it is always worth seeing what people in the community do in practice.

Advocates, Assassins, Cynics and Supporters

The majority of the sessions focussed on the characteristics of these types of potential stakeholders – how to recognise them, how to work with them, and how to prioritise project elements accordingly.

The first two breakout sessions split the room into four groups, to discuss these roles and the types of people we probably all have had to deal with in projects.

There was, of course, the predictable amusement around the characteristics of Cynics – they have been there and seen it all before, as indeed a lot of us had, around the room.

But what surprised me was a common factor in terms of managing these characteristics: What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)

Even for Supporters and Advocates, who are typically your champions, there is a delicate balancing act to stop them from going over to the “dark side” and seeing become cynics, or worse assassins to your initiative.

The exercises which looked at the characteristics, and how to work with them proved to be the easiest.

Areas to improve

What didn’t work so well was a prioritisation and point-scoring exercise which just seemed to confuse everyone.

For our group we struggled to understand if the aim was to deliver quick wins for lower gains, or go for more complex outcomes with more complex stakeholder management.

Things made a little more sense when we were guided along in the resulting wash-up session.

The final element to the day was a take on the concept of “Speakers’ Corner” – the idea being that two or three of the Post-It inhibitors would be discussed.  The room was re-arranged with a single chair in the middle and whoever had written the chosen topic would start the debate.

To add to the debate, a new speaker would have to take the chair in the centre.

While starting the debate topics were not an issue, the hopping in and out of the chairs proved to be hard to maintain, but the facilitators were happy to be flexible and let people add to the debate from where they sat.

Does Interactive work?

Yes and no.

I imagined that most people would come along and attend a Special Interest Group because they are just that – Interested!

But participating in group sessions and possibly presenting to the room at large may not be to everyone’s liking.

I have to admit, I find presenting daunting enough in projects where I am established.  So to have to act as scribe, and then bite the bullet and present to a huge room of people is not a comfortable experience for me, even after twenty years in the industry.

But you get out of these sessions what you put in, so I took my turn to scribe and present.  And given the difficulties we had, as a group, understanding the objectives of the third breakout session, I was pleased I had my turn.

The irony is Continual Service Improvement needs people to challenge and constantly manage expectations and characters in order to be successful.  It is not a discipline that lends itself to shy retiring wallflowers.

If people are going to spend a day away from work to attend a SIG, then I think it makes sense for them to try and get as much out of it as they can.

Perhaps my message to the more shy members in the room who hardly contributed at all is to remember that everyone is there to help each other learn from collective experience.  No-one is there to judge or to act as an Assassin/Cynic so make the most of the event and participate.

For example, in Speakers’ Corner, the debate flowed and people engaged with each other, even if the chair hopping didn’t quite work, but acknowledgement also needs to go to the SIG team, who facilitated the day’s activities very well.

I have attended three events now, a UK event, a Regional Seminar and a SIG and this was by far the most enjoyable and informative so far.

A side note: Am I the only one that hears CSI and thinks of crime labs doing imaginative things to solve murders in Las Vegas, Miami, and New York?  No?  Just me then.