Live from LEADit, Conference Review

Meeting April Allen (@knowledgebird) at LEADit - the itSMFA conference
Meeting April Allen (@knowledgebird) at LEADit – the itSMFA conference

DAY ONE

I’m at the itSMF Australia LEADit conference in Melbourne. It started with a buzz of excitement with a healthy turnout of 674 expected during the 3 days.

The opening ceremony from itSMFA Chair Kathryn Heaton and Australian politician Gordon Rich-Phillips were very positive about the state of ITSM in Australia and the future plans for even better cooperation between IT and the Government. Gordon Rich-Phillips stated, “IT is an enabler of productivity and employment” and emphasized and the importance of holding events like these in Melbourne where it is commonly accepted as the hub of IT particularly in the State of Victoria.

The keynote from Peter Nikoletatos on Accelerated Connectedness was an entertaining and insightful look at how to maintain the basics (Hygiene IT) whilst introducing an agile approach.  The second keynote from Nigel Dalton was a well constructed debate and case study on whether adopting The Cloud is ‘all about money’ or is it actually the opportunity to succeed (albeit with a different approach to organizational structure) with his role as CIO at The REA group proved as a case study.

The main focus of the day from the perspective of the keynote and breakout sessions was the high level discussion on the ability to take Service Management beyond IT into other areas of business so they are integrated and not separate entities.

Some feedback from delegates suggested that more was needed in terms of how to implement ITSM outside IT. Some of the tool vendors I expressed concerns that the event had to develop this offering or miss the huge opportunity of being part of the larger business operation.

Peter Hepworth from Axelos provided an update on the 60 strong team now running the ITIL and Prince2 best practice frameworks including Prince2 for Agile.

Overall the first day of the LEADit conference has been incredibly productive and I have been very impressed by the amount of social interaction and discussions between end users, speakers and vendors alike in very relevant topics that many in Service Management face. This event is highly regarded by many of the attendees as one of the top five of itSMF events globally and at this stage I can only agree.

DAY TWO

Another really good day at the LEADit conference for ITSMF Australia in Melbourne. The keynotes in the morning were two of the best I have seen at any event and will live long in the memory.

The first keynote was from Jason McCartney, an AFL hero who was badly injured in the Bali bombings in 2002 and his story of how he overcame injuries to marry his wife ( less than 2 months later) and return to his passion of playing football at the highest level when doctors said he wouldn’t ever play again. It was a great uplifting speech and one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to watch. Jason held our attention from start to finish which most presentations rarely do.

“It’s not what you are dealt in life – it is how you deal with it” ~ Jason McCartney

The second keynote was also very good from ITSM Ambassador Malcolm Fry. His keynote was very original and was based around looking at various famous types of artwork like Banksy, Salvador Dali and Monet and how they relate to ITSM in that sometimes Service Management isn’t about the little details its about the bigger picture and that you can look at things in a different way especially how the Service Desk works.

The Breakout sessions were well attended again today and lots of positive and informative contributions from the speakers. A lot of focus of the event has been the whole ITIL vs Cobit and ITIL versus Agile debates with justified arguments on both sides. A lot of the end users I spoke to today were focused on delivering customer satisfaction and getting the basics right and were attending the courses relevant to these topics.

The final keynote of the day showcased the key findings of a collaboration between itSMFA and ISACA into problems faced when developing strategic IT plans (the ebook is available from the itSMFA or ISACA website).

Caption
Left to right: Peter Hepworth (CEO, Axelos), Kathryn Heaton (itSMFA Chair), Bruce Harvey (itSMFA) at the LEADit Gala dinner.

Evening entertainment was the Telstra Gala Dinner and ITSMF industry awards. A well attended evening (they could have filled the hall twice) to celebrate the successes of the year and show gratitude to long standing members to the itSMFA. Congratulations to Karen Ferris of Macanta Consulting for here lifetime achievement award.

Live from LEADit: REA smashing IT department stereotypes

I’m at ‘LeadIT‘, itSMF Australia’s annual conference. In this article I share how REA have transformed the image of their IT department. Nigel Dalton keynoted at LeadIT and Damian Fasciani led a breakout session.

How REA transformed IT

There’s a certain stereotype that comes to mind when we talk about enterprise IT support teams; it’s a bunch of dudes, (usually), sitting in a small, dimly lit room next to a rack of servers, and maybe playing Xbox until the next maintenance reboot. There’s a new breed of IT leaders at work striving to change that image. The REA Group, headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, have turned that stereotype on its head to create an approachable corporate IT team that colleagues are eager to work with.

Damian Fasciani leads the Technology Services team for Real Estate Australia. With the guidance of CIO, Nigel Dalton, Damian has restructured his team and rebuilt the corporate technology strategy to align with the digital business that REA has become.

REA is Australia’s biggest property website providing residential and commercial property listings. The grand plan is to turn property hunting into an experience, where people can spend time on the REA sites to research neighbourhoods, utilities, streets, schools, and so on. Damian’s team of 15, (one based remotely in the Sydney office), supports more than 1000 employees, globally.

The practices introduced to the Technology Services team, and the decision to adopt a cloud-based software strategy, have all been driven by the intention to put the focus back on employee relationships. Damian says, “we made a decision that our engineers shouldn’t be spending time in the data centre behind the servers. They should be sitting down with people in the organisation and talking about how the software resonates, and how to get the most out of technology.” And with a cloud-first strategy, he hasn’t shied away from integrating a number of solutions like Box, Zendesk, Leankit and Okta, to achieve the required outcomes.

MISSION-PRINT-A1

REA’s human-centred approach to corporate IT is clear, even to the outside observer. While I stood waiting at the Tech Services walk-up desk for the rest of my group to turn up for a tour and presentation Damian was soon to host, team members came to offer assistance, I could see posters promoting recent technology changes within the organisation, and there was a toy truck in sight with a digital display counting down to the opening of a brand new, purpose-built corporate headquarters down the road from where they are now.

The walk-up desk was a service REA started offering to staff a couple of years ago. In the first half of this year, the team have serviced 900 walk-ups, already. The service is popular and employees present a wide range of issues, from break-fix to forgotten laptops to questions about working more efficiently with technology choices. Nigel Dalton, describes the walk-up technology services desk as “vitally important” to their relationship with the business as a whole. So much so, that when the team relocates to the new building, the walk-up desk will gain extra resources with more space and staff, and the availability of tech-toys like 3D printers, Google Glass, and Oculus Rift goggles for colleagues to tinker with. Technology Services aims to become a kind of store-front for day to day tech needs as well as an R&D lab for finding innovative ways to improve the services REA provides to their customers—real estate agents.

As a digital business, technology and agility are fundamental to the way REA works. Damian could see the original structure of the IT support services wasn’t going to fit, so the team have combined a light ITIL framework with practices from Agile and Lean methodologies. One of the significant differences between REA’s IT team and what we’d normally expect from corporate IT, is that members are assigned to take gemba walks out on the floor amongst their colleagues. Gemba walks are a Lean management philosophy developed at Toyota, and they involve proactively walking the floor and talking to people. “Those conversations might just turn into Zendesk tickets, they may turn into an idea which inspires a $50000 IT project. It depends”, Damian says. “You’ll only find the truth when you talk to humans. Not inside tickets and not on the phone.”

tech-it-easy

While the Technology Services team have transformed their support services with an outside-in approach, they’ve taken to changing the culture from the inside out. The people we’d normally refer to as Desktop Support, REA call Technology Consultants. It’s amazing how a simple name change and a bit of rebranding and internal marketing conjures a whole new idea of what to expect from a relationship with IT. Instead of just fixing something when it’s broken, it’s about advice and training. It becomes a consultative relationship that enables all employees to get on with the job at hand.

Real Estate Australia is going through rapid growth and the changes to their IT systems, processes and behaviours have allowed them to scale with that expansion and fuel new projects. With a number of clear wins under the belt, REA’s human-centred approach to employee services and IT staff development is set to continue, and I hope it catches on across the industry.

BYOD concerns? It's time to dust off the ITIL service strategy book!

It's time to grab the duster to dust off your ITIL service strategy book
It’s time to grab the duster to dust off your ITIL service strategy book

At this year’s itSMF Australia LEADIT14 Conference I am speaking about what the BYOD revolution means for ITSM evolution. I will be looking at each of the 26 ITIL processes and how they will need to change or adapt in the face of BYOD.

Whether we like it or not, BYOD is here to stay

Recent research by Gartner states that by:

  • 2016, 38% of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers
  • 2017, half of employers will require their employees to provide their own devices
  • 2020, 85% of companies will provide some sort of BYOD program

Despite the challenges that BYOD brings, the proven benefits of BYOD can be recognised with a sound BYOD strategy. Increased productivity, increased staff satisfaction, attraction and retention of talent are some of the benefits that can be realised.

The ITSM processes within the ITIL Service Strategy are pivotal in ensuring that you get your BYOD strategy right.

Start with Strategy Management for IT Services

Is the driver for BYOD within your organisation the result of senior managers wanting to access corporate data on their latest device? Or does it align with the organisational strategy and business drivers such as cost reduction, increased productivity, increased mobility, talent attraction and retention, competitive advantage etc?

How will BYOD enable the organisation to achieve its business outcomes?

Once it has been decided that BYOD is an integral part of the organisational strategy, the strategy for the BYOD service can be defined during the Service Portfolio Management process and documented in the Service Portfolio.

Service Portfolio Management

The Service Portfolio Management approach of ‘define, analyse, approve and charter’ applies to the BYOD service as it does to any other service under consideration as an offering to the organisation.

Questions that need to be asked during ‘Define’ include:

  • Which employees, employee groups or user profiles need access to BYOD?
    Does BYOD extend to consultants, contractors, partners etc?
  • What sort of mobility is required and by which employee groups? Are they home based, office and home, on the road?
  • What types of devices will they want to use?
  • What privileges or permissions do they need?
  • What data will they need access to?
  • What is the risk profile of the data?
  • What applications do they need?
  • When will they need access to resources and which resources?
  • What functionality will they need e.g. initiate web-conferences, run reports on corporate data, access HR systems etc?
  • What integrations will be needed e.g. CRM, ERP etc?
  • What is the best way to engage employees to accommodate modification necessary to their devices for security such as encryption or authentication?
  • How will devices be supported? Do we outsource support? Do we ‘time-box’ support in that support only spends so long trying to resolve an issue and after that the user is on their own? Do we only support commonly used devices?

The list goes on.

Service Portfolio Management will also need to look at what will be contained within the BYOD policy. The trick – and easier than it sounds – is to come up with a common-sense policy that allows employees to use their devices without jeopardising security.

The reason I say this is that recent research of 3,200 employees between the ages of 21 and 32 (the Gen Y demographic) revealed that more than half (51%) of the study’s respondents stated that they would bypass any BYOD policy at work. We have to recognise that these workers were raised to consider access to information a right, not a privilege. They are accustomed to being connected to information – and one another – at all times.

There is not enough space in this article to go into detail about what should be included in a BYOD policy but there is much available on the subject via the Internet.

When the BYOD service has been defined, analysed and approved, it can then be chartered. Service Portfolio Management will need to ensure that the provision of BYOD as a service remains viable and where it is not, consider whether elements of the service can be retired.

Financial Management

You’ll need Financial Management to investigate the cost of providing a BYOD service including the Return on Investment  (ROI) and Return on Value (ROV). Whilst organisations may realise cost savings through reduced hardware purchases and perhaps support costs, there may be increased costs in additional security and administrative systems and infrastructure investment.

Organisations may have to provide equipment allowances such as employee interest-free loans for new devices, stipends etc. and allowances for applications purchased for work-related purposes. These additional costs need to be weighed up against the inherent purchase and support cost savings of BYOD along with the ROV of employee engagement, retention, satisfaction, and productivity.

Financial Management needs to consider aspects such as – who pays for the device usage? If an organisation only wants to recompense for work related calls and data, this could put a large burden on the financial team who will have to validate all claims. This poses a challenge to forecast and manage cash flow.

Business Relationship Management (BRM)

BRM is crucial in the establishment of a BYOD service and determination of the business need behind why people want to use specific devices. Is it just a new fad or is there a real business driver? BRM should work with the business to look for business efficiencies and technology advances that can make jobs easier or provide benefit to the organisation.

Demand Management

This will be pivotal in determining the demand for the service? Where and when will the demand come from?

At itSMF Australia 

So that is just a taster of how the Service Strategy processes will need to operate to support BYOD. If you want to hear how all the other ITSM processes will have to adapt for BYOD, come and hear my presentation at LEADIT14. We haven’t even touched on Information Security yet!! You can find out everything you need to know about the conference here.

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