Release Management How To (Part 3)

Following on from our previous posts; here is our final article in the series of how to do Release Management in real life.

Distribution & Installation

Unfortunately actually deploying a Release is not as easy as this:

Releases should be deployed to the live environment in accordance with the existing Release Management policy. For software releases it’s a good idea to use automation where possible as it will lessen the impact on support teams, decrease the time of the release and reduce the likelihood of human error.

If the Release has to be deployed without automation, then the release implementation plan should contain detailed instructions for deployment, resources, timings, escalations and contact details. An example release plan could include the following details:

Example Release Timeline: Commercial Website Deployment

Pre-requisites that must be carried out the day before the release:

(1)   Development must provide the release notes to the Release Manager and all resources on the timeline by 17:00 the day before the release.

(2)   Development must provide the Release Manager with business sign off by 17:00 the day before the release.

(3)   Release Manager must raise a corresponding change record for the release and ensure that it has been approved at the CAB.

Reference Number 1234 – Commercial Website Release – Date
Time Action Resource
10:00 Divert all website traffic to the DR web servers.

**Communication checkpoint to Windows Team ***

Joe Bloggs – Network Team
10:30 Commercial Web amendments for Production web servers Jane Doe -Windows Team
11:30 Testing & Validation

 

**Communication checkpoint to Network resource**

A. N. Other -Web Team
12:00 Divert all traffic to the Production web servers & Stop DR web server traffic.

**Communication checkpoint to Windows Team.

Joe Bloggs – Network Team
12:30 Commercial Web amendments for DR web servers Jane Doe -Windows Team
13:30 Testing & Validation

 

**Communication checkpoint to Network resource**

A. N. Other -Web Team
14:00 Normalise network traffic to all web servers Joe Bloggs – Network Team
14:15 **Communication to Release & Change Management about the release status ** A. N. Other -Web Team

Escalation Point: IT Services Manager, IT Services Senior Manager

Contact details:

Name Desk Number Mobile Number Email Address

Early Life Support

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It’s really important to make sure all Releases have the appropriate support in place immediately after implementation. In the words of Rob England at #PINK16 “we need to avoid dead cat syndrome; aka as the Dev guys chucking something over the fence into production and expecting the Ops guys to make it work seamlessly”.

It may be useful to introduce an “intensive care period” whereby extra support resources are available for a period after the Release to ensure that resources are in place to troubleshoot any issues immediately. Floor walkers made up of Service Desk and Support Staff could be used to support users on the morning of the Release. This intensive care period could be tracked via a short daily meeting or conference call and attendees should include:

  • Release Management
  • Change Management
  • Service Desk Management
  • Problem Management
  • Support Representatives
  • Business Representatives

Again, this isn’t about red tape, it’s about making sure everything is as it should be and that any issues are caught early and zapped rather than be allowed to spiral out of control.

A Warranty period could be built into the Release whereby the new functionality is supported by the development team until 2 weeks after the Release has been deployed, providing there are no outstanding Major Incidents or Problems associated with the Release. The Release Management policy should include provision for warranty periods and guidelines for transition into BAU activities.

Review & Close

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A post implementation review  should be held after each release to track any outstanding actions and to document any lessons learned. Inputs to a post implementation review could include:

  • Incidents associated with the release
  • Problems and Known Errors associated with the release
  • Issues log (if using PRINCE2 as a project methodology to manage the release)
  • Change and Release Management feedback
  • Customer Satisfaction Ratings
  • Customer complaints and compliments

Outputs from the post implementation review will include:

  • Lessons learned log
  • Known Errors and workarounds
  • Confirmation that the CMDB / CMS / ancient spreadsheet that everyone acknowledges as the single source of the truth has been updated appropriately
  • Service improvement suggestions
  • Breaches to SLAs / OLAs / Underpinning Contracts
  • Required amendments to SLAs / OLAs / Underpinning Contracts
  • Updated work instructions

Keeping a lessons learned log to build on previous Releases and to keep a documented audit trail of all learnings, good and bad. The lessons learned log should be reviewed regularly; at least on a quarterly basis and before the implementation of major Releases to ensure past mistakes do not recur (because let’s face it, if we don’t learn from our mistakes thats just embarrassing). A sample lessons learned log could look like the following:

Example of a Lessons Learned Log

Change Number Date Title Issue Lesson Learned
RFC – 1234 Windows Patching – Office X Critical servers unavailable in Office X due to patching failure. Though testing of all Windows server patches prior to deployment into the production environment.

Revise the process as any issues arise or build any more significant improvements into a Service Improvement Plan (SIP).

 

That’s our take on Release Management; what do you think? Let us know in the comments!

 

Disk Image Credit

Early Life Support Image Credit

Review & Close Image Credit

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.

AXELOS plans, challenges and expanding team (Video)

This interview was filmed at the Pink Elephant Conference and features Kaimar Karu, Head of ITSM and Kelvyn Lien-Hicks, Sales and Marketing Director, discussing their newly appointed roles at AXELOS.

In Summary

In addition to explaining his role as Head of ITSM, Kaimar talks about:

  • ITIL culture differences
  • Changing perceptions of ITIL
  • Training provider challenges
  • Biggest challenges to success for AXELOS
  • Plans for the next 6-12 months

In the second part of this video, Kelvyn explains:

  • What AXELOS will be selling
  • The ITIL and Prince2 value proposition
  • AXELOS partner programme

Please note that owing to this interview being filmed live at the Pink Elephant event, there are some minor volume issues and background noises throughout this video.


About AXELOS

AXELOS is a new joint venture company, created by the Cabinet Office on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) in the United Kingdom and Capita plc to run the Best Management Practice portfolio, including the ITIL® and PRINCE2® professional standards. Its goal: to nurture best practice communities, both in the UK and on a truly worldwide scale, establishing an innovative and high quality, continuous learning and development destination that is co-designed by and co-created for those who use it. Visit www.axelos.com for for more information.

About Pink Elephant

A global company with a proud and pioneering 30 year history – the world’s #1 supplier of IT Service Management and ITIL® education, conferences and consulting.Visit www.pinkelephant.com for more information about the company, services and products.

This video was filmed at the 2014 Pink Elephant Conference. The 19th Annual Pink Elephant International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition will take place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, February 15-18 2015. Registration is now open.

ITSM Big 4 – the practitioner view

What would your four key topics be?
What would your four key topics be?

For 2014 itSMF UK has decided to focus on four key topics that will drive its agenda for the next 12 months.  These topics will be the basis for all of its content, events, SIGs, Regionals, and Masterclasses throughout next year.

The aim is to create a sense of coherence and continuity across all of its activities and give its members (and the wider ITSM community where possible) the support they need.  Yes, these four key topics (referred to as the “ITSM Big 4”) are chosen by YOU.

In order to help select these four topics there has been:

  • An online poll
  • Numerous discussions with the itSMF UK member base
  • Two Twitter Chats
  • Two roundtables at the itSMF UK Conference in early November

I have to say it’s great to see how proactive itSMF UK has been with this initiative, adopting new channels (Twitter) and also proactively communicating with people outside of the UK for their opinions, despite the fact that the concept will be UK-based. However, having taken part in both the Twitter Chats and the roundtables at the event I couldn’t help but feel that there is a specific type of input missing – practitioner input.

I think it’s important to stress here that this isn’t itSMF UK’s fault. Within the ITSM community there are a lot of dominant voices and opinions, which is not a bad thing (I must stress), but it does sometimes mean that either other voices cannot be heard over these opinions, or it can prevent others from coming forward with their thoughts (specifically if their thoughts differ). It’s also often the case that practitioners are so knee-deep in actually doing ITSM that they often don’t have the time to provide input into these sorts of initiatives.

I had hoped that the practitioner presence may be more noticeable in the roundtables at the conference, but in reality I struggled to spot more than one practitioner amongst the large group of consultants in the room. This is when I started to realise, that if not careful, the ITSM Big 4 will be chosen based on perceptions of vendors and consultants alone, with very little input from the ITSM Big 4’s actual target audience – the practitioners… the people actually doing all of the stuff that we are talking about.

Unfortunately I don’t have the answer as to how itSMF UK (or any of us for that matter) can better succeed in reaching the ITSM practitioners of the world, but I do know of four practitioners dotted around the globe that contribute content here at ITSM Review on a regular basis.  So I thought, why not ask them?

Below, ITSM Review regular contributors and practitioners provide their views on the ITSM Big 4.

Earl Begley, Total Quality Manager at the University of Kentucky (US)

First of all I want to say that I think that the ITSM Big 4 concept is a very cool idea. I like that itSMF UK is working to focus on 4 major topics. Secondly, rather than simply giving you my top 4, I wanted to start by commenting on some of the themes/ideas that I have seen being raised in the Twitter Chats.

  • IT as a business partner – Yes, this is key: IT caring about the business objectives/Business caring about the technology provided.
  • The future of service management – I think the future of “ITIL” is a little too narrow in focus – stop making the discussions about the theory of a framework.
  • Is ITSM maturity a “regional” issue? – As I sit across the pond, it is so easy to me to see where the US is a “late” adopter of this movement – when I communicate with one of my ITSM brethren in the UK, Europe, or Oceania how they think about ITSM is well ahead of where I see my fellow countrymen. If that is truly the case, how do we start building better communities?
  • Building skills over certification – to me, working as a practitioner is like being on a daily version of “Iron Chef” – I don’t know what the “special ingredient” for the day will be but I know I have a short amount of time to impress the business with innovate processes to help the business satisfy its appetite (outcomes). It doesn’t matter how many certificates I hold,  it’s how well I apply the lessons I have learned.
  • Basics – Should anyone ever talk advanced ITSM concepts if they can’t show they are providing best in class IT basics? I think there is a lot of “improvement” to be made around Incident, Problem, and Change because we have still not mastered those disciplines (assuming most people would consider Incident, Problem, and Change as basic operational processes for IT).
  • ITIL and AXELOS – As a practitioner, I do not care who owns ITIL, what type of profit they are looking for, or the issues regarding improvement of the model. It’s like walking onto a car lot and being told “…oh, we know you want to take a test drive, but let me redirect your focus on to how we mined the ore to make the engine block” – give me something I can use to make my business more efficient and effective.

So, to sum up… ITIL shouldn’t be part of the big 4, concentration on basics is essential, I don’t care as much about the future as I care about the NOW, and yes, demonstrating IT value to the business and opening two-way communication is critical to success.

The questions I ask myself on a day-to-day basis are:

  • How do we improve operations in context of what the business needs?
  • How do we improve beginner, intermediate, and advance ITSM practitioner skill sets? What does the pathway from practitioner to consultant/industry expert look like? What do I need to do to be taken seriously in my ITSM community/context?

As far as I am concerned frameworks and Tools really don’t matter – it’s how we build knowledge on best class operations and allow the practitioner to select/use the framework/tools that best suit their context that is key.

Tobias Nyberg, Configuration Manager at Handelsbanken (Sweden)

Looking at the public conversations around the itSMF UK ITSM Big 4 initiative it certainly feels as though the channels are flooded with pundits wanting to share their ideas. So I guess I should add my little practitioners view to the mix.

I see two main areas where people like me need help;

  • Management awareness
  • Practical advice

Help us with management

As a practitioner, it can often feel all uphill when you approach the thought-leaders of the business. You are constantly told that you need to work outside-in and top-down. But sometimes it’s very difficult to do that without management support or understanding.

I would like bodies like itSMF UK to focus on how to spread the word further than to those of us who already “get it” but can’t do much about it. I’m stuck with my management and even if I did have some influence it doesn’t take me far enough when wanting to change things. I could have the most brilliant idea in the world to work outside-in and top-down, but without management on board (or to be honest, without even getting them to listen to me in the first place) I have no chance of implementing it.

I don’t know that much about the ITSM-scene in the UK and other countries, but when it comes to Sweden a lot of practitioners like myself are having problems with management that are not interested (or sometimes don’t even know what you’re talking about) when you try to speak service management with them. They’ve all heard of ITIL, but they don’t understand the whole concept of IT Service Management.

I also know that itSMF Sweden struggles to get CIO’s, CEO’s and that type of executive to its conferences and other events. And we (the practitioners and consultants) get stuck in only talking to each other about how things could be done, if only we could reach management and get them to listen to us, and more importantly understand what we’re talking about.

Practical Advice

The other thing that I see a huge need for is more practical advice on how to succeed on an actual day-to-day basis. How we successfully use and implement processes, what tools we use, what the best methods are for specific things etc.

We’ve got a huge body of knowledge in the ITIL-books and we’ve learned a lot on the theories there. But the books, the consultants and the thought leaders all tell us that we need to take all this stuff and change it so that it suits our organization, our special needs and circumstances. But then they tell us not to change it to much! Or they tell us that if we change the wrong stuff, we’ll be screwed! Nobody actually tells us what to do on a more practical level, nobody tells us how much change is ‘too much’, or what the ‘wrong stuff’ is that we shouldn’t change.

Of course some practitioners may be lucky and may find some good consultants to help them with the practical stuff, but for most of us that isn’t an option.

Some of the ‘themes’ raised in the Twitter Chats etc. such as: the future of ITIL; innovation from IT driving and helping the business; maximizing and exploiting IT investment; anticipating the future; business alignment and integration of IT services, etc. they are all interesting topics and they all have a part to play, but they are not relevant to many practitioners right NOW.  How can we possible focus on maximizing and exploiting IT investment, when we don’t even know how to successfully do the basic practical stuff and we can’t get management to pay attention to us?

I would really like to see itSMF UK (and all the other itSMF bodies for that matter) keep in mind that there is a great body of practitioners that still struggle with management support and how to make incident/problem/change work.

Francois Biccard, Support and Project Manager (Australia)

In my view ITSM has gone on this self indulged journey, where it was so focused on itself it became inflated to the point of exploding. In my opinion, it becoming inflated had some benefits, but created many misconceptions and failures along the way as well. I recall watching an online presentation by Rob England a while ago where he was talking about ITSM and DevOps and how they might be at that point where they are a bit inflated…

I think for the first time I see something new in ITSM circles – we’ve realised we were a bit too impressed with our badges and libraries with pictures of shells on them, and that we lost a bit of touch with reality. That is why getting back to the basics resonates with me. One tweet from Barclay that I think is very true:

We all make the assumption that people must be ‘getting’ the basics by now – but in reality this is exactly what most people struggle with – they don’t ‘get’ the basics, and they cannot envision how to implement or use the basics, or how it applies to the chaotic world they travel in every day.

By that I still believe there is a lot of value in the ‘new’ – e.g. anti-fragile, DevOps, Agile, Gamification etc – but only because it gives you a perspective of the past and where we have come from, and it gets people excited about the future – to see that we are not becoming stagnant.

We need to see how ITSM fits into the real world, with its challenges etc, not the perfect world or utopia where you have highly competent and skilled people and resources, clearly defined process and wonderfully automated tools. We need to see ITSM in bare feet not high heels. I also believe more needs to be said about Cultural change and effective ways to achieve that in imperfect organisations – which comes back to the wise saying by Rob:

“Good people will deal with bad process – in fact they’ll fix it. And good process can work around bad technology (and identify requirements). But new technology won’t fix process. And improved process won’t change people.”

Gregory Baylis-Hall, IT Service Management Analyst at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP (UK)

AXELOS has to be a subject up there on my list – as of January 1st they will be officially launching and the best practice management landscape will change for everyone. I feel that they’ve done a good job of interacting with the ITSM community but I’m still not convinced if the same can be said for the project management community. PM’s I’ve spoken to don’t know anything about AXELOS and companies that have approached me regarding Prince2 training haven’t had AXELOS cross their radar…which I find worrying considering the significant role that they now have with the best practice management portfolio. Because of the changes that will happen long-term, we (the practitioners) need to be aware that change is inevitable and more importantly what the impact of said changes that will be in the long-term.

Demonstrating value of IT to the business – how do you really demonstrate value to the business? It can be down to how IT is perceived by the business and not necessarily in a monetary term, for example, beg the question would you recommend your service desk to your work colleagues? If so, why – if not, why not…and work from there.

The service catalogue in my opinion is the jewel in the crown of ITSM…I get told it shows how IT can demonstrate the value to the business, and that it’s a key part of ITIL and SIAM. If this is the case why is it that so few IT departments actually do it? I can only imagine that the Service Catalogue is being pitched at the wrong level. Sure, practitioners get it and I’m sure IT managers understand the advantages of it BUT if the business was aware of the tangible benefits perhaps it would demand it.

With this in mind I’ve been lucky to attend several conferences this year and at each one I’ve been in sessions where the audience are asked who has a service catalogue and every time I would say less than 5% put their hands up…this number ideally needs to grow for the service catalogue to stay relevant, the question is how.

Practical advice and skills – Cobit5 is all about the governance and ITIL is all about the doing in service management, more practical advice that’s less vendor specific would be helpful. We don’t have the time to read volumes of books, but case studies would give practitioners useful snippets of topical guidance. These case studies could perhaps be categorised by different sectors.

Soft Skills – when I was at the itSMF UK conference this year a common thread was “engage with people in the business”, talk with them and more importantly listen. Getting back to the good old basics of “the fluffy stuff” as it’s referred to is important but appears to be a skill largely forgotten.

So what will the ITSM Big 4 be?

itSMF UK will announce the chosen four focus areas on December 11th at 8pm GMT via it’s third Twitter Chat, so there is still time to have your say (and remember you don’t have to live in the UK to make your voice heard). You can get involved on Twitter using #ITSMBIG4, you can use the comment box on this article, if you are an itSMF UK member you can join the discussions in the online forum, or if you would prefer to remain anonymous you are welcome to send me your thoughts directly or via our contact form to share with itSMF UK on your behalf.

So to all you practitioners out there, please do step forward and share your thoughts. This initiative is aimed at supporting you in the areas where you need support, it shouldn’t be based solely on what consultants and vendors think you need.

And remember, as always, regardless of the ITSM Big 4 initiative please do let us know what it is that you need help with. All ITSM Review content is aimed at helping you on a day-to-day basis, so please do tell us what you need and want from us and we will always do our upmost to provide it. That’s what we’re here for!

As a final note, thank-you to Earl, Tobias, Francois and Greg for taking the time out to provide their input.

Image Credit

Taking a look at OBASHI in action

In this second article we’re going to look at how OBASHI fits in with other IT frameworks, standards and methodologies. If you missed part 1, read it here.

The modern business is a complex organisation. People, technology and processes work together to generate revenue and deliver business outcomes. Many businesses do not have a full picture of how all their component parts fit together. This creates risk, and can lead to real problems. OBASHI produces Business and IT diagrams (BIT diagrams) that are used to map business processes.

ownershipbusinessapplicationsystemhardwareinfrastructure

 The OBASHI layers of ownership, business process, application, system, hardware and infrastructure show the business process and the IT that underpins it. 

OBASHI can be applied to small, medium or large organisations. Larger organisations will need to factor in the number of stakeholders and the complexity of their processes and services when scoping the OBASHI project. They may benefit from using a tool to create the OBASHI outputs.

Smaller organisations will have fewer stakeholders, but may have more single points of failure in their processes as one person can have many roles. They may be able to produce their OBASHI outputs manually using paper or a simple flow chart application.

If you’re from an ITIL background, it’s tempting to look at OBASHI and think “oh it’s just configuration management”. This isn’t true – OBASHI includes the bigger business picture as well and supports conversations outside IT.

OBASHI in the wider environment

The decision about whether to adopt OBASHI shouldn’t be over-complicated.  It’s not an either or decision – if you’re already doing ITIL, or COBIT, or ISO20000 you’re not going to throw away what you’ve got in order to adopt OBASHI. Instead, view OBASHI as a complementary methodology.

OBASHI will take inputs from your existing environment – if you’ve already got a service catalogue, or an asset register, then these will feed into your OBASHI project.

OBASHI diagrams can be tailored to the audience as required, masking complexity where it’s not needed and helping to make accurate business decisions quickly.

OBASHI and ITIL

I know a lot of ITSM Review readers are from an ITSM background, so it’s worth looking at OBASHI and ITIL in a bit more detail. From an ITIL perspective, Service Strategy and the processes it includes help an organisation to create and manage a service portfolio that will meet long-term business goals. The business and IT diagrams that OBASHI creates can help the organisation to prioritise investments, plan based on accurate information, and make sure IT services align with business processes.

In the Service Design lifecycle stage, new and changed services are designed. These services must meet business requirements for quality and cost, and must not have any unexpected negative impact on existing services.OBASHI can help to identify cost savings where existing services and components can be re-used, where appropriate.

Service Transition is the lifecycle phase that moves new or changed services into the live environment. OBASHI can help organisations to map their current state and also their desired future state.Change impact assessments can be carried out quickly and easily using the diagrams that OBASHI creates.

In Service Operation, live services are operated and maintained and support is offered to the business when incidents occur. OBASHI models can show the impact of downtime, who needs to be contacted in the event of downtime, and the cost to the business of a loss of availability. If customers can see we are working effectively to get them back online, we can maintain customer satisfaction – even during an incident.

The continual service improvement stage of the ITIL service lifecycle looks for improvement opportunities related to services, people, processes, structure. It’s well accepted that we need to understand something before we can improve it, and OBASHI helps to provide that understanding of the organisation.

“Premature optimisation is the root of all evil” Donald Knuth

OBASHI and Projects

Many organisations have a mature project management capability.  OBASHI can provide support during the key stages in a project’s lifecycle, including:

  • Forming a project board
  • Writing a business case
  • Risk and quality management
  • Communication
  • Project planning
  • Project closure

OBASHI diagrams help to identify stakeholders, map current and desired dataflows, and are inputs to project planning and impact assessment. OBASHI supports project management and helps projects to deliver on time, on budget and at the right level of quality.

Getting Started with OBASHI

So, who should use OBASHI and why?

The short answer is, any type or size of organisation that wants to understand and optimise their dataflows.

Think about these statements:

  • Our organisation struggles to prioritise investments
  • Our risk and impact assessments aren’t based on accurate data
  • The business thinks IT doesn’t understand them
  • The business sees IT as a cost centre, not a valuable part of the organisation
  • We need to make cost efficiencies
  • We’re adopting Green IT/virtualising our infrastructure
  • We’re struggling to manage legacy applications/technology

If any of these relate to your organisation, OBASHI is going to be a very useful addition to your toolbox. It’s the only methodology that creates a common picture for the business and IT to work from.

Resources

To learn more about OBASHI, you can visit the official OBASHI website, where you will find some excellent case studies and presentations that you can tailor to your organisation.  Additional resource can also be found on the training website. The OBASHI training scheme is run by APMG International, and Foundation training is available both in the classroom and online.

You can view the list of OBASHI training providers online and also read up about the formal certification.

OBASHI® is a registered trademark in the United Kingdom and other countries

ITIL is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

PRINCE2 is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

 

What exactly is "OBASHI"?

Obama
OBASHI has nothing to do with President Obama!

A year ago, asking the question “what is OBASHI®?” might have got you some interesting answers.  A sneeze, a martial art, and rather brilliantly ‘OBAMA bashing’ are all suggestions we’ve had.

In the last 12 months, however, I’ve seen a turnaround. OBASHI is getting recognised for what it is – a simple, easy to adopt methodology that maps dataflow through a business and supports meaningful conversations about investment, improvement, and business outcomes.

I’m also really happy to see that this recognition is coming from the folk in ITSM who actually work with the business. Consultants, outsourcers and business relationship managers are all starting to realize how OBASHI can help the business/IT conversation move forward.

Background to OBASHI

“A process cannot be understood by stopping it.  Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it”.  Frank Herbert

The OBASHI methodology allows organisations to clearly understand what is involved in supporting their business processes. Simple, powerful information can be used to support business decisions, financial decisions and strategic planning.

OBASHI creates visual maps of businesses and parts of businesses. The maps are simple, visual references that can be understood by staff at all levels. The maps help businesses to understand:

  • How the business works
  • What assets and components make the business work and support its business processes
  • What inter-dependencies exist between assets
  • How data flows around the business

OBASHI produces Business and IT diagrams (BIT diagrams) that are used to map business processes (see image below).

The OBASHI layers of ownership, business process, application, system, hardware and infrastructure show the business process and the IT that underpins it.

OBASHI’s origins

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”.  John Muir

The OBASHI methodology was originally developed in 2001 by Fergus Cloughley and Paul Wallis. It was inspired by the computer models used within manufacturing and process industries to control and simulate the operation of infrastructure and plants.

The costs and values of manufacturing flows can be mapped, allowing the assets that support them to be optimised in a way that encourages maximum business profitability.

OBASHI develops and builds on the existing methods for costing and valuing the flow of data in the process control industry, and applies it to the flow of data in all sectors – including IT.

OBASHI is used to “help business professionals easily understand the ‘dollar per second’ value of dataflow that supports their business services and processes, in a simple and meaningful way. OBASHI is the basis on which they can make better informed and more accurate strategic, operational, tactical and technical decisions.”

Context

OBASHI is an interesting methodology because it applies to all types, sizes and sectors of organisation. It’s not targeted at a particular audience or area like ITIL® and PRINCE2®, and can be easily understood by business or IT focused staff.

For me, the value that OBASHI brings is in the way it enables business and IT conversation.  ITIL (maybe because of its name) can be perceived as being ‘IT focused’ – OBASHI is open to anyone. I feel that treating the business and IT as separate entities is a big mistake for the modern organisation – IT runs through and enables every business action and business process.

Building up a library of dataflows mapped using OBASHI helps business and IT staff to have conversations together about risk, impact, investment, strategy and growth.

Who is using OBASHI?

Early adopters of OBASHI include one of the world’s leading Formula 1 motorsport teams and the UK’s Civil Nuclear Constabulary, but perhaps one of the most interesting users of OBASHI is the global Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) project.

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OBASHI Business and IT Diagram

At the behest of G20 group of nations and the Financial Stability Board, the Global LEI project has been created to proceed with development of a unique identification system for parties to financial transactions. For the past 12 months over 100 institutions from around the world have been working together on the project.

The largest financial project in the world, the Legal Entity Identifier, is a fundamental requirement if the process of addressing the systemic risks that caused the 2008 financial crisis is to have the best chance of success. The LEI will also help participants and regulators to analyse, quantify and understand systematic and operational risk across banking and other industries.

Operating in an environment where regulators and financial institutions operate within and across different jurisdictional boundaries, each with their own unique requirements, OBASHI provides:

  • A Governance framework language for LEI policy and system design
  • A Programme Management tool to help national, regional and political variations, both technically and operationally
  • A practical, easy to create model of all the relationships and dependencies between all the business and technology components of the global LEI system

OBASHI is being used to create and maintain clarity in the LEI project – a ‘Common Language’ for technical and non-technical people, from diverse nationalities and business cultures, to understand and communicate about the project. With OBASHI the stakeholders can see how people, process and technology will be required to fit together to make the Global LEI Systems operate, this is helping them make the best-informed decisions.

When the LEI system is up and running it will be used to identify any and every participant, in any and every financial transaction globally.

Set this into a global operational context of thousands of implementations, each jurisdiction conforming to regional legal and regulatory requirements, capturing data in multiple languages and scripts, and all of that being used to update data in every other local LEI system and you start to appreciate the scale of the project.

Although the LEI project takes complexity to the next level, it’s easy to see that most businesses are becoming increasingly connected and complexity rises accordingly. Creating clarity and being able to communicate clearly will become ever more important.  This is where OBASHI is very useful.

Resources

To learn more about OBASHI, you can visit the official OBASHI website, where you will find some excellent case studies and presentations that you can tailor to your organisation.  Additional resource can also be found on the training website. The OBASHI training scheme is run by APMG International, and Foundation training is available both in the classroom and online.

You can view the list of OBASHI training providers online and also read up about the formal certification.

OBASHI® is a registered trademark in the United Kingdom and other countries

ITIL is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

PRINCE2 is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

second blog will follow on where and how OBASHI fits in with other IT frameworks, standards, and methodologies, as well as taking a look at why an organisation might use OBASHI.

This article was written by Claire Agutter, Director and Head of Online Training, IT Training Zone Ltd with contribution from Fergus Cloughley, Director and CEO, OBASHI Ltd.

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Capita and ITIL: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

GBU

The Cabinet Office has entered into a joint venture with the outsourcing firm Capita to develop the ‘Best Management Practice’ portfolio, which includes ITIL and Prince2.

For readers outside the UK the early announcements may benefit from some context.

The UK treasury is between a rock and a hard place financially so joint ventures that generate cash from government owned intellectual property, whilst allowing the government to hold (49%) of the coat tails of growth in the future is good publicity.

This explains why most announcements in the popular press or general IT press in the UK have focussed on the ‘cash generated for taxpayers’ angle rather than the implications for ITSM.

“The government expects to earn £500 million over ten years from the deal” Computerworld, 26th April.

Unsubstantiated rumours from SITS13 suggest that APM Group/TSO, Pearson and EXIN/Van Haren were the other companies bidding for the portfolio.

Forgetting where it all started?

I have been interested to see industry veterans and ITSM spokespeople alike bellyaching about the irrelevance of ITIL after the announcement. I find this short-sighted nonsense similar to those irate individuals who get frustrated behind learner drivers.

Is ITIL the ITSM gospel? No. But it is the starting point and development path for a huge amount of individuals in the industry who work in ITSM yet don’t necessarily associate themselves with the ITSM industry.

Is ITIL perfect? No. But everyone has to start somewhere and as a framework for unifying an industry and generally raising standards I would say, in the context of other IT disciplines over the last two decades, it is true success story.

So what does the future hold for ITIL under the stewardship of Capita?

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Capita – The Good

Capital Plc. is a FTSE 100 publicly listed company with 53,000 staff, which has shown good growth over the last five years despite a grim economic climate.

So it has exactly the right resources required to give the frameworks the attention they deserve. Equally, you could argue that Capita could easily write off the entire mess if it isn’t happy with it without batting an eyelid, but overall a well financed company on the up has to be better than a cash strapped government running the show.

A view echoed by Barclay Rae:

“We should view the investment opportunity as a possible means to further professionalise the approach and delivery of ITIL – moving away from the cottage industry to a proper business model. So hopefully this will mean a more professional and co-ordinated writing and editing approach for consistency, plus I hope e.g. we can see more clear business metrics and data that support the value derived from ITIL”

The UK government spun off the former defence research department (DERA) in 2001 in a similar fashion to form Qinetiq, which is now a FTSE 250 company, pocketing over £250m for the UK taxpayer on exit in 2008. So at first glance the model works if executed correctly.

Just before the announcement of the joint venture, Capita also acquired G2G3. This is a good sign according to Pink Elephant President David Ratcliffe:

“The timing of Capita’s acquisition of G2G3 – just days ahead of the announcement of the partnership with the Cabinet Office – looks to me like Capita may have their act together with a strategy for how to promote and deliver more valuable training in the ITSM field. I just hope I’ve read this correctly and am not setting myself up for a huge disappointment! (Fingers, toes and everything else crossable all crossed!)”

Mark R Sutherland of G2G3 is clearly pleased at the platform this provides his company:

“Capita’s strength, scale and global reach. As part of the Capita family, G2G3 now has access to resources that will help us strengthen and build upon our products and services and bring our latest innovations to life. We are clearly at a ‘tipping point’ with respect to our capabilities; the application of gaming dynamics and experiential learning across enterprise organizations is about to go mainstream – and we’ll be ready to make it happen.”

Mark also makes an interesting point regarding the ITSM industry as a whole:

“a chance to build a future for our industry which is based on community, collaboration and engagement.”

Stuart Rance with ‘Two speed ITIL’ and Stephen Mann with #Back2ITSM may perhaps now get some formal recognition. Is Capita listening? Let’s hope so.

Capita – The Bad.

So far so rosy?

Those outside the UK might not be familiar with the public image of Capita.

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Capita does not have the strongest reputation. The satirical magazine Private Eye regular refers to ‘Crapita’ as an example of ‘failures and setbacks in the public sector’ and cynics will argue that Capita is an expert at winning tenders rather than delivering them (to be fair I hear this of all outsource companies).

Lost convicts, the CD with everyone’s inside leg measurements or accidently dropping the cat down the well – all archetypal Capita public bungles. Although you could argue that this goes with the territory of managing high profile public services (National census, criminal records, TV licensing, Major city call centre, health and safety executive etc.).  As the saying goes: Where there’s muck there’s brass.

For an industry crying out for more collaboration and industry participation the last thing we need is a big faceless corporate. Especially, as Chris Evans points out, if they take an industry best practice framework and try to apply their own badge to it:

“When any large organisation is involved in something, they will exert a proportionate influence.  Be it an alliance of countries/airlines/software companies, it is inevitable that they will want something out of the deal.  My concern is that ITIL (specifically as it is my day job) which has always been ‘industry’ best practice, might slowly evolve into ‘CapITIL’ where the organisational thinking of the parent company controls the direction of the product.  It is true that Capita as a services provider and outsourcer has a strong perspective on their market and that input will of course be welcome in future development but there is a risk that the model will lean towards their world and not the more holistic picture.”

Capita – The Ugly

Finally, it is worth considering the nature of Capita’s core business.

Capita is a Business Process Outsourcer. So Capita’s competitors might argue that a Burglar Alarm company just bought the Police Station (I’m sure there are more appropriate metaphors). The new joint venture will have a job on its hands to persuade the Accredited Training Organizations and others in the ITIL supply chain of the true vision and motives of the, yet to be named, joint venture company.

As Forrester Analyst Stephen Mann points out:

“Will other IT service providers still want to use something that “advertises” their competitors?”

As an eternal optimist I believe it’s a great move forward for the ITIL cult and ITSM industry as a whole. Exciting times.

For those with ITIL at the core of their day-to-day work – it might be worth considering the following over the next couple of months:

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” -Deepak Chopra.

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