Assessment Criteria – Change, Config and Release

Today we begin our competitive analysis of Change, Config and Release.  As with previous reviews our goal will be to highlight the key strengths, competitive differentiators and innovation in the industry.

Widely recognised as key to the successful preservation of production systems, the ITSM processes of Change, Config and Release are perceived as pivotal to maintaining the integrity and stability of the IT environment.

Flow diagram showing the five areas of Change, Config and Release.  These will not always be used in order and Auditing and Reporting should be ongoing.
Flow diagram showing the five areas of Change, Config and Release. These will not always be used in order and Auditing and Reporting should be ongoing.

In a nutshell:

Change Management is the process used to track and communicate any changes in service that may impact the customer such as when systems are taken offline for updates.

Configuration Management is the process used to track individual CI’s (Configuration Items) and the way in which they interact with one another.

Release Management is the process of managing software releases from development right through to release.

Each process can be used individually but more often than not you will find these processes intertwined.  When considering either a Change or Release you will need to know the CI’s that will be affected before you begin.

E.g: Your organisation needs to upgrade your in-house software package to all of its desktop pc’s, tablet devices and kiosks.

Release Management is used to track the in-house development of the software in question, Config management is used to scope the number of devices, number of people and types of people affected while Change Management is used to ensure the changes take place on a date that will cause the least disruption and that the why, how and when the changes will take place are communicated to the relevant people.

The criteria we will be using for our assessment is published below.


Identification

  • Ability to maintain a detailed record of each system’s configuration
  • Ability to interface with all internal Management Data Repositories (MDR) allowing the tool to compare reported configuration with actual configuration stored in the MDR
  • Ability to define dependency relationships between CIs
  • Ability to assign maintenance windows to CIs
  • Ability to auto discover CIs
  • Ability to interface with Inventory Control tools (to automate gathering of asset and inventory information) and barcode scanners
  • Ability to create automated alerts when a CI is found to be in an unauthorised state
  • Ability to link Release records to Change records
  • Ability to provide a Change/Release calendar with scheduled change viewing by group, and to customize the sorting and filtering of calendar views and link to existing calendar products

 Assessment/Approval

  • Calculate an objective risk assessment considering business impact and affected services
  • Show logical links between components included in a service in order to carry out business impact analysis
  • Ability to automatically create a Change Request when unauthorised changes are made to CI’s
  • Ability to schedule recurring events and maintenance
  • Ability to create and select pre-approved Change/Release from a pre-defined list
  • Pre-determined fields to auto-populate when Standard Change/Release from list used
  • Ability to capture the Change/Release date and time and who will be responsible for implementation
  • Ability to automatically send approval requests to the appropriate approvers
  • Ability to notify the assignee of the task and due date
  • Ability to link resources/approvers to Changes/Releases
  • Ability to assign tasks to individuals to be accomplished within specific time frames
  • Ability to alert Change/Release managers when approvals are past due
  • Ability to change status of Change/Release approvals
  • Ability to easily identify scheduling conflicts and reschedule appropriately

 Implementation

  • Ability to attach and store documentation with a Change/Release record
  • Ability to authorize and schedule Release deployments in conjunction with Change Management processes
  • Ability to change status of Release and linked Changes
  • Automatic notification for scheduled start/end and when the status of a Change associated with a Release changes
  • Ability to build, bundle and schedule different types of release packages for deployment
  • Ability to change status of Change/Release documentation
  • Ability to create sub activities or tasks for separate assignment to an individual, group or vendor
  • Ability to version release components and packages
  • Ability to assign tasks to teams/resolver groups

Accountability

  • Ability to track the physical location of contracts and agreements, and identify the individuals responsible for them
  • Ability to define Change and Release Windows (including freeze windows)
  • Ability to document back-out procedures
  • Ability to ensure that Release deployments are subject to scheduling and approval requirements managed by the Change management process
  • Ability to provide proactive notification to stakeholders and Change Advisory Board (CAB) members for Changes with critical business impact and provide fully configurable filtered views of scheduled changes to multiple stakeholders
  • Ability to designate back up approvers
  • Ability to set thresholds for automated approval process
  • History of approval requests logged

Auditing/Reporting

  • Ability to easily identify affected CIs whenever a change is made
  • Ability to maintain an audit trail of changes made to a CI
  • Ability to track Asset status and lifecycle management
  • Support of multiple software audit options
  • Ability to perform software license management including automated notification of license expiration and non-compliance
  • Ability to create and publish a Master Release Schedule
  • Ability to associate the Master Release Schedule with Service Level Agreement information
  • Ability to store approver comments with the approval, and store approval history for a Release
  • Ability to track and trace post deployment activities
  • Ability to trace implementation to the authorized version in the Document Management Library (DML)
  • Bulk import of licensing data
  • Ability to track costs of CI’s

General/Other Criteria

  • Alignment with industry frameworks
  • Ability to support a “virtual” CAB (i.e. approvals/issues stored electronically)
  • User-configurable forms, tables, workflows, dashboards
  • Role-based access for approvals, retracting or rescheduling RFC’s/Release
  • Open system for real-time integration with financial management and other monitoring tools
  • Provision of templates and pre-filled forms and structure to act as basic starting point
  • Vendors should provide expertise and guidance in the implementation of the tool and relevant processes

If you would like to comment on the above criteria or if you are a vendor and would like to be included in this review please comment below or contact me via email.

An Interview with Peter Hepworth, CEO at AXELOS

In the run up to the official go live of the joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Capita in January 2014, AXELOS CEO Peter Hepworth and team have been busy attending conferences and workshops gaining community feedback to help shape and guide the future of ITIL.

Ahead of itSMF Estonia on the 11th December I chatted to Peter about what AXELOS have planned for 2014 and how you can get involved.

Peter will be presenting at itSMF Estonia on the 11th of December
Peter is looking forward to presenting at itSMF Estonia in December

Your 12-month strategy roadmap has just been announced. Is there anything that you personally are particularly excited about?

Having a clear roadmap is a very exciting prospect.  It’s hugely important to us to progress ITIL in the right direction and so the debate and improvement ideas that have been put forward by the community have been listened to very carefully.

The good news is that what we’ve been hearing from the workshops has validated for us that we are on the right course.

When will the Axelos website be up and running?

Official go live is 1st January 2014 which is when the initial website will go live.  We will developing a full service portal during 2014.

How do you feel about ITIL Foundation being compared to the driving test: You don’t learn to drive to pass your test, you pass your test to learn to drive and then forget most of what your driving instructor taught you as soon as you leave the test centre?

The ongoing success of ITIL would suggest that many companies find a way to make the framework fit very well into their company and keep it relevant.  I hope that in the future more companies and practitioners will be willing to share their experiences with others so that the wider community can learn from these successes.

ITIL is big here in the UK but there have been comments by practitioners in other countries who seem bemused by all the fuss over something that barely reaches their radar ordinarily.  What, if any, plans do you have to increase the reach of ITIL?

I am attending conferences in the USA, Japan, Australia and Germany, and obviously Estonia in the next few weeks and we are currently translating ITIL into new languages.  As well as translating we are also concentrating on making the content more culturally relevant and localised however ITIL is already very strong in many territories.

The ITIL Foundation app was recently released on iTunes, are there any plans to extend the platforms it is available on?

Yes. At the moment we are in test and learn mode and then we will start thinking about extending to Android and Windows devices and other translations.  The feedback we have received so far has been very positive and we’d like to thank everyone that has been involved in testing.

What are you most looking forward to at itSMF Estonia?

As with the other conferences I have attended the bit I look forward to the most is the debate and improvement ideas that come direct from the community.

To find out more about the itSMF Estonia Conference visit its website.

Image Credit

The 2014 ITSM Tools Universe

Runners, riders, market share and market focus for the ITSM Tools market
2014 ITSM Tools Universe: Runners, riders, market share and market focus for the whole ITSM Tools market

Please note that we are no longer accepting entries to be part of this report.

Today we kick off our 2014 ITSM Tools Universe research in which we will be looking at the multitude of tools out there that claim to help with the management of Information Technology Services; from one function tools through to the ‘all-singing-all-dancing’ suites.

Why invest in ITSM tools?

Organizations typically invest in ITSM technology to help them:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Improve service availability and response times
  • Integrate or improve integration between processes
  • Improve root cause analysis
  • Automate or improve business workflows
  • Improve business visibility of IT services

We are looking to talk with ANY supplier who has technology in these areas.

The Assessment Process

There is no cost to participate in our ITSM Universe research.

Steps:

  1. Complete this online questionnaire
  2. Upon completion, schedule an online briefing and arrange customer references

We have tried to automate our assessment process as much as possible given the number of tools we plan to assess, so we have used an online submission form to initiate the process. I have posted a PDF version for participants for reference. If you have any questions please contact me.

ITSM Universe Objectives

Rather than reviewing just the major competitors, this review hopes to shed light on the emerging players and, over time, the changes in the position of the companies involved and moves in market share.

Consideration will also be given to where vendors focus their efforts and to which customer type their products are suitable.

Results will be published in Spring 2014 using our ‘Universe Methodology‘.

The criteria we will be focusing on is as follows:

  • Competitive differentiators
  • ITSM processes included out of the box
  • The level of in-house customization possible and by whom
  • Possible configurations available out of the box
  • Self-Service options
  • Reporting capabilities
  • Process linkage
  • Interaction with business outcomes
  • Alignment with industry frameworks

The last tool showcase I attended offered very little in the way of USP promotion so I am especially interested to see what vendors believe are their competitive differentiators …please don’t let it be ‘The Cloud’!

Participating Vendors

Other Vendors

The following vendors will not be part of this report:

These vendors either declined, were unable to commit to the report schedule or were unable to provide customer references.

Day 2 Review: itSMF UK Conference

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Following on from my review of Day 1 of the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition, it’s time to take a look at what happened on Day 2.

As the second day started I couldn’t help but look around slightly relieved that I wasn’t feeling as bad as the majority of the other conference goers looked. By all accounts the wine on the table had been completely obliterated and some people (mentioning no names) didn’t even managed to make it down for breakfast!

Talking of breakfast the fare at the Hyatt Regency was a decent spread and didn’t taste too much like it had been standing for hours.  My experience of the waiting staff was that they were efficient and courteous, something you’d think would be a given but it never ceases to amaze me how hotels can charge such an extortionate amount for breakfast and then get it so very wrong.

In the Exhibition Hall more revellers surfaced and headed straight for the coffee in an attempt to freshen up somewhat before another full day of sessions. Anyway, less talk of breakfast and hangovers and more talk about the actual conference content…

Service Integration and Management (SIAM) – ITSM’s New Discipline by Kevin Holland, IT Service Management Consultant Specialist 

My first session of the day was Kevin Holland’s Practical Tips for Effective Service Integration.

After threatening all the hungover attendees to stay awake or he’d do another Harmonica solo Kevin warned that System Integration is not Service Integration and that there is no need for an expensive supplier…you can do it yourself!

10 Steps to Problem Management – A Real Life Journey by Amanda Kirby, Virgin Media

It took me a little while to concentrate on Amanda’s session as I was mesmerized by her fantastic shiny red shoes! Getting Problem Management right is one of those elusive things that is so important and yet difficult to put into practice so I was interested to see Virgin’s experiences.

Amanda ran a visual exercise to show how difficult it can be keeping all the balls in the air…literally!

She also shared Virgins mantra “Screw it…let’s do it!” which appealed to the part of me that gets frustrated with the bureaucratic nonsense we’ve all experienced.

Amanda’s bubbly enthusiasm was totally infectious and by the end of it I was ready to go back and tackle implementing Problem Management…you know… if we needed such a thing at The ITSM Review.

Impromptu SM Congress Talk – Patrick Bolger, Barclay Rae, Paul Wilkinson and Mark Smalley

Over the course of the conference I had heard a few people commenting on how there wasn’t a lot of mention of SM Congress and so I was pleased to find that an impromptu talk by a few of the members who attended the original sessions at Fusion were going to answer some of the questions that had been raised since.

The session was particularly useful to those who were hesitant about SM Congress, as it helped clear the air and display the facts about the initiative.

For those of you that have been on the moon for the last couple of weeks and missed all the SM Congress talk you can find out more about it here.  I also recommend taking a look at #SMCongress on Twitter for general discussions about the initiative.  If you have great ideas to help shape the IT community and the future of ITSM then please consider getting involved.

DevOps – Shattering the Barriers by Kaimar Karu, itSMF Estonia

My final session of the day was a relatively new subject for me.  Kaimar explained the methodology and benefits of DevOps and why Beer is such an important part of forging relationships, although judging by what I saw over the course of the conference any old alcohol will do!

In summary

At the end of day two I was thoroughly shattered but hugely buzzed by everything I’d learnt, and I had list as long as my arm of further reading and cool stuff to investigate.

Despite some of the comments that there was a smaller attendance than in previous years, all of the sessions that I went to were very well attended and all of the staff at ICC I encountered were welcoming and helpful.

Some of the vendors I spoke to were concerned that due to the layout there was less opportunity for delegates to pass through the exhibition area on their way from one session to the next.  However vendors such as Gaming Works that invested significantly in self promotion via social media and other avenues leading up to the conference hardly saw time where their stand wasn’t attended.

We managed to sneak a few photos with some of the exhibitors:

Wherever there is an ITSM event there is Barclay Rae and his ITSM Goodness
Wherever there is an ITSM event there is Barclay Rae and his ITSM Goodness
APMG International exhibited to help raise awareness of their exams
APMG International exhibited to help raise awareness of their exams
Cherwell Software said that it's pivitol for them to exhibiti at the conference because itSMF UK is such a core foundation of the ITSM industry
Cherwell Software said that it’s pivitol for them to exhibit at the conference because itSMF UK is such a core foundation of the ITSM industry
Hornbill Systems attend the event because it gives them great insight into what is really happening within the ITSM industry
Hornbill Systems attend the event because it gives them great insight into what is really happening within the ITSM industry
Focus Group Europe were attending to promote ServiceNow and get updates on the ITSM market
Focus Group Europe were attending to promote ServiceNow and get updates on the ITSM market
3Gamma
3Gamma enjoying the event
Bomgar said that brand recognition at events like itSMF UK is important and is also good for lead generation
Bomgar said that brand recognition at events like itSMF UK is important and is also good for lead generation
HP wanted to reconnect with customers, showcase products and see what their customers are doing in ITSM
HP wanted to reconnect with customers, showcase products and see what their customers are doing in ITSM
Nexthink enjoying the event
Nexthink attended to showcase their unique solution giving Service Desk and Help Desk teams a real-time view of the end-user experiences across the complete enterprise
OpenText attended to increase its visibility and awareness of its acquisition of ICCM
OpenText attended to increase its visibility and awareness of its acquisition of ICCM
TopDesk regards itSMF UK as a high profile event
TopDesk regards itSMF UK as a high profile event
AlfaPeople attended itSMF UK conference to increase brand awareness and showcase Microsoft solutions as 'no one does what we do'.
AlfaPeople attended itSMF UK conference to increase brand awareness and showcase Microsoft solutions as ‘no one does what we do’.

All in all an enormously enjoyable event that I will not hesitate to revisit.

In closing we would just like to take the opportunity to wish Ben Clacy all the very best in his future endeavours.  Thank you Ben for everything you have done for ITSM.

Day 1 Review: itSMF UK Conference

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The ITSM Team pre-dinner awards

This was my very first visit to the itSMF UK conference. I arrived Sunday afternoon and got straight into the networking. Whenever I’ve been to an event before I have always attended with someone else and felt comfortable just meeting the occasional person.

It can be very intimidating attending conferences when you’re new to it as everyone seems to already know everyone else. I could have just relied upon my new colleagues to introduce me but I was determined to get out of my comfort zone and do it for myself.

Enter Twitter!

I sent a quick Tweet to say I had arrived and to query whether anyone else was around and within 5 minutes I had organised a meet up with Daniel Breston of Qriosity (someone I had never met before) in the bar.

That one connection led to meeting Stephen Griffiths of priSM and Brenda Peery of Tactare who in turn introduced me to countless others at the drinks reception. My advice to anyone attending an event for the first time is to be brave and get out there and meet people as soon as you can. You know you have at least one thing in common as you’re all at the conference. Mingle…it knocks an already rewarding experience right over the edge when you leave having made new friends and contacts.

The Conference

The Conference kicked off on Monday with Colin Rudd – itSMF UK Chairman, elucidating on why ITSM models of the future will change from Customer, Service Provider, Supplier to Service Broker, Service Integrator and that although the emphasis on service managers will change it will still be as important as ever.

Outgoing Chief Executive Ben Clacy introduced itSMF UK’s exciting new online Self Assessment and Benchmarking tool, MONITOR ITSM and the new Elite Volunteer Card which rewards itSMF UK volunteers with discounts and extra benefits.

The opening keynote speaker, Britain’s first female fast jet pilot – Jo Salter gave a very entertaining talk on the challenges she has met, how she has succeeded in the face of adversity and how peeing on demand is harder than it sounds. Everyone I’m sure will have taken away something from Jo’s insights and experiences but I feel it was especially beneficial for the female contingent in the room to see it recognised that not all inspirational people are men!

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend every session on the agenda for Day 1 (I’m only human), but below is an overview of the sessions that I did attend.

Suck It and See: Ingredients for Great Supplier Relationships – Cath Bartlett, Dyson

This session was full of real world learning and experience of maximising relationships with suppliers. Advice ranged from trying the ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ routine to ensuring you’re measuring the right things as you want to ensure that your green KPI’s match with the customers experiences of your service.

Quote from Cath Bartlett: ‘What gets measured gets managed’

How Assessment and Benchmarking Techniques were used to Drive CSI and how this was Applied to Capacity Management at the Co-operative Group – Ian MacDonald

Submission of the Year and Service Management Project of the Year 2012 winners, Co-operative Group can probably add longest session title to their list of accolades.

Ian gave an interesting case study on how Co-operative changed their approach to Capacity Management using a the SatNav approach: Where are you going? Where are you starting from? When do you need to be there by?

His secret to success…’Be Ronseal – Do what you say on the tin’

Interactive Plenary

After lunch on day one it was time for the Interactive Plenary with panel members Claire Agutter, Barclay Rae, Peter Hubbard, Robert Stroud and John Windebank as Chair.

The Big 4 agenda was discussed with questions thrown to the panel with a state-of-the-art system of red card/green card voting taking place. Technologically advanced, no…but perfectly adequate for the requirements.

Project of the Year 2013 Finalist Showcase – EE, Land and Property Services and QBE

Chris Williams of EE (where was Kevin Bacon?), Ignatious O’Doherty of Land and Property Services and Jacqueline Simmons and Amanda Rutledge of QBE all gave overviews of their submissions for the Project of the Year award. Each showed the trials and tribulations encountered with some very honest accounts of issues encountered.

It’s a Journey, the Future of Supplier Management..?’ Service Integration at Jaguar Land RoverMark Hipwell, JLR and Martin Goble, Tata Consultancy Services

Mark and Martin walked us through the difficulties of building a single IT function when faced with a complex legacy IT environment with no capacity for innovation, and how they overcame these to create the dynamic service now in place.

Day 1 Closing Keynote – A Forward Thinking Name for a Forward-Thinking Company – Axelos

Peter Hepworth and Frances Scarff of Axelos talked through their plans for the coming year referencing the Axelos ‘Onion’, encouraging everyone to come and visit their stand.

Awards Dinner – Hosted by Edwina Currie

stuartI admit to being surprised that I actually quite liked Edwina’s hosting. I do tend to think of politicians as rather bland individuals with no sense of humour, so I was pleased that she managed to make it both enjoyable and amusing.

The highlight of the evening was when Stuart Rance won the Paul Rappaport Award for Outstanding Contribution to IT Service Management, which was very much deserved and to further his achievements he managed to get Edwina Currie to hold Pengi – The ITSM Penguin for the award picture for which I believe we owe him a prize!

A full list of the worthy winners (and finalists) can be found here. All of us here at the ITSM Review would like to congratulate both winners and finalists on their fantastic achievements. Well done to all.

The evening continued with a casino and disco which were enjoyed immensely by all, but the main attraction was the photo booth where you could look even sillier than normal by donning wigs, hats and glasses like the weird bunch in the picture>>>!

photo (1)

Later we were scuppered by the hotel in our attempts to have a piano sing-a-long with Barclay Rae, but we were treated instead to a harmonica solo by Kevin Holland.

The talk of the evening centered around Mr Rance’s fantastic achievement, explaining to our very own Glenn Thompson that Swindon is not in the Midlands, and various conspiracy theories on why Patrick Bolger was still sober.  General consensus was that aliens had abducted him and left a decoy…they’re not fooling anyone!

In Summary

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day. It was nice to see the presentations grouped into specific themes (e.g. Real world learning: Stories from Members on their ITSM experiences) so that if you were attending the conference for a particular reason you could easily identify the sessions that you wanted attend. However, if there was one thing I found a struggle it was getting from one session to the next on time if I needed a loo break in between! The venue was rather large.

Feedback on Day 1 of the event from Twitter was also positive:

Now where is Jo Salter and her adult nappy contraption?

itSMF Estonia Conference

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A few faces from last year’s event…

We are excited to announce that we will be the Official Media Partner for the 8th itSMF Estonia Conference on 11th December at Swissotel Tallinn.

The event brings together ITSM practitioners from the private sector – banks, telecoms, energy sector, software companies, etc. – and the public sector for mutual experience sharing.

While the majority of the delegates are from Estonia, a sizable number of delegates from neighboring countries (the Baltics and the Nordics) and the rest of Europe are already confirmed to attend, after hearing feedback from their peers about last year’s event.

What you can expect

  • One full day of presentations, all in English, from well-known and respected specialists and practioners from both Estonia and abroad, covering topics including, but not limited to: Business Relationship Management; Problem and Knowledge Management; getting value from proper approach to services and processes; the future of the service desk; and the beyond cool way Estonian public sector provides IT-enabled services to citizens
  • A special presentation from the CEO of AXELOS, Peter Hepworth, sharing his vision on the future of ITIL
  • An international forum with Axelos, where the aforementioned vision will be discussed and delegates have an opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns and provide input

There is also the opportunity (at a small additional charge) to attend two pre-conference workshops (on 10th December) run by industry-renowned Barclay Rae:

  • ITSM Optimiser – making the most of ITSM (an interactive workshop that looks at current and new trends and practices, providing attendees with new ideas and options on how to make the most of their ITSM operation, processes and tools)
  • Memorable Metrics – producing reports that are valuable and actionable (this session identifies issues with current IT reporting (particularly operational reporting) and provides practical suggestions on how to improve and develop really useful reports and metrics, targeted for different stakeholders)

Our very own ITSM Research Analyst Rebecca Beach will also be in attendance. If you would like to schedule a catch up and/or one-on-one meeting with her at the conference please contact her directly. We are interested in hearing from all attendees whether you are a vendor, end-user, consultant or other!

We hope to see you there!


Event Summary

WHAT

itSMF Estonia Conference

WHERE

Swissotel Tallinn

WHEN

Wednesday 11th December (with pre-conference workshops on Tuesday 10th December)

BOOKING

Booking rates start from just €45, find out more

SDI Software Showcase: Here Comes the Sun

sun
No more cloud… please!

Wednesday 23rd October was SDI’s Service Desk Software Showcase held at ThinkTank Birmingham.

A crash on the M5 motorway and some technical difficulties meant that things kicked off a little later than scheduled, but it gave me a good chance to mingle and find out what other attendees were hoping to take away from the day even if that was just a nice Danish (which didn’t materialise).

Kick off

Ken Goff, Owner at K GOFF M LIMITED kicked off with his usual exuberance reminding everyone that this is ‘serious stuff’ as “you’re not buying a tin of beans” and to make sure you tackle this with a strategic vision. Your criteria should cover what you will need in the future not just what you need now.

He continued to say that it’s not just about finding a Vendor that’s right for you but about you being the right Client for the Vendor, and that on your hunt for the right tool you should be led by capability not money. Lovely sentiment, but as one of the attendees said, what’s the point of finding what you think is the perfect tool just for the man holding the purse, to say no?

Hornbill Systems

The first of the Vendors to present was Abdi Hamisi, Senior Sector Manager at Hornbill Systems who had apparently been dropped in it at the last minute to give a presentation. He drew the comparison between ITSM Tools and F1 cars. I personally know next to nothing about F1 but the point he seemed to be making was that like F1, ITSM Tools are built to the same set of standards but garner very different results. However this was hotly debated on Twitter by Greg Sanker, Field Services Unit Manager at Oregon Department of Transportation.

Abdi showed possible configuration of the tool and talked us through some of the available integrations, not forgetting of course to mention that it’s available on the cloud.

Sunrise Software

Next up was Neil Penny, Product Director and David Bullivant, Business Consultancy Manager from Sunrise Software showcasing their product Sostenuto ITSM. There was all the usual kind of stuff, but David spent some time going through the Wallboards which you can set up to give real time information to the business rather than having to send millions of reports. He also discussed how their tool incorporates Gamification to help with Reward and Recognition. David was clearly very passionate about the product, which frankly was missing from most of the other presentations.

I was taken with the simplistic buttons down the left hand side of the screen rather than the worded menu the majority of the other tools had. In my opinion these types of menus take up a lot of space and when you’re doing the same thing day in day out won’t a simple button/icon do? Generally I felt it just looked so much fresher than the other products, and left the other Vendor offerings looking dated and tired.

Oh and good news people… it’s available in the cloud.

TOPdesk

Luis Soares, Accounts Director from TOPdesk followed confirming that he is not the famous footballer and promising that he wouldn’t bite. I wish he would have as it would have made the experience at least a little entertaining.

One of the few things I took away from the presentation was the ability to book resources such as equipment and rooms from within the tool which seemed sensible. Oh and you guessed it… it’s available in the cloud.

Bomgar Corporation

William Culbert, Senior Solutions Engineer from Bomgar Corporation was up next with a cheesy video (his words not mine) of how Bomgar can help you remotely support your staff in a safe and secure way. I have used this product before in my previous incarnation but still enjoyed the show.

Frontrange

Chris Powell, Senior Pre-Sales Consultant from Frontrange opened with talk of the cloud but I persevered and tried not to hold it against him. The main area of interest to me was the ability for customers to rate KB articles that they have found useful to help you to keep relevant.

Cherwell Software

I unfortunately missed the name of the chap at Cherwell Software (though it wasn’t Tony Probert who was billed) who in a slightly ‘ranty’ (if this isn’t a word then I’m making it one) way stated that you always have to compromise with ITSM tools and that you will never be able to do everything.

He went on further to quote the University of Wolverhampton in their assessment that the tool is ‘Funky’. Presumably this is because of their colour coded screens and Dashboards, which are more like Powerpoint presentations than the usual graph filled spaces. Oh and guess what? It’s available in the cloud.

LANdesk

Andy Parker, Pre-Sales Consultant from LANdesk lambasted attendees for sending through reams of tender documentation when Vendors that are Pink Verified have already answered it. Perhaps this particular tirade should be directed at Procurement though Andy and not the people that don’t usually have any say in it?!

The interesting takeaway from this presentation was the concept of ‘Software Loading’, using the tool as a library to borrow what you need when you need it, keeping licencing requirements to a minimum. Nice idea.

HP

The penultimate Vendor was Eileen O’Mahony (no LinkedIn profile…) from HP and that’s pretty much all I can tell you as I fell asleep (well… almost).  It could be Eileen’s lilting voice that did it, as there were several people making their excuses and sneaking out. Or perhaps it could have been that people were leaving to avoid being taught how to suck eggs?

Autotask

The final Vendor was Aaron Gayle, Business Development Representative from Autotask who I assume had been given two minutes at the eleventh hour to prepare, as he looked somewhat like a rabbit in the headlights trying to sum up the tool quickly with no visual aids. It did however make me want to go and find out more about the tool, whereas the majority of the other presentations had not.

Finishing up

Ken returned to close with the reminder to take the holistic approach and not just concentrate on the tool and to involve everybody in the process.

Having not attended a software showcase before I was thoroughly expecting to be hit with the razzle dazzle and to have to really concentrate on picking up the differences in the tools from the slick and entertaining presentations. In reality the concentrating was mostly to avoid falling asleep and snoring in a room full of people (although judging by the attendees I have spoken to since I certainly wouldn’t have been the only one).  By the time I looked up at the end of the last presentation (I was just resting my eyes) the right hand side of the room had dwindled dramatically.

SDI do a great job putting on this very useful showcase, I just hope next time the Vendors treat it as the opportunity it is and put more effort into. Well done to Sunrise Software in being the only Vendor to keep me interested through almost the whole of their presentation, not much of a feat admittedly but more than the others managed by quite a way.

Oh and one final note… for the love of God people no more cloud talk, it’s pretty much the same as being able to log an Incident now it’s not a USP!

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itSMF UK BIG4 Twitter Chat

twitteritSMF UK’s new initiative for 2014, ‘The Big 4 Agenda’ kicked off last week with the first of the five scheduled Twitter Chats taking place. The chat featured Big4 Agenda Speaker and itSMF UK Vice-Chair John Windebank and was moderated by Kathryn Howard the pioneer of the #leadit Twitter Chats for itSMF Australia.

The Twitter Chat Model

The Twitter Chat model shows that itSMF UK are taking strides to be more current (using social media to engage with the community) and give new and exciting ways for people to get involved. One of my uber pet hates is that Service Desk staff have limited ways to involve themselves in the industry, being able in most cases to only attend one event per year if they’re lucky and in some cases never being unchained from their desk.

The direction itSMF UK is heading seems to be more inclusive and for that I am delighted. Now, if only we could get them to do something about their website!

The point of the Twitter Chats, in itSMF UK’s own words is ‘…firstly to identify the top four issues that you are facing in IT and then to provide discussion/help/expert opinion on each of these topics.’

People from all over joined in the chat, not just from the UK, suggesting that ITSM issues are the same regardless of where you connect to your WIFI.

The Twitter Chat itself

It started off with a few technical hitches and a lot of forgetting to add the hashtag #itSMBIG4, but once all were settled in comments started to flow, albeit with the slightly disjointed manner typical of many people discussing several things at the same time. The hour passed surprisingly fast and below is an overview of what I picked up as the main topics of the event:

Tweets from several contributors show that Problem Management is still a big issue in the industry with it being perceived as the Invisible Man to the Service Desks Superman…

And a general agreement that collectively we’re totally crap at defining the value that ITSM gives to the business

Then there was that ITIL discussion that never ends. Time to face it people, at the end of the world there will be cockroaches, Cher & ITIL.

Overall

I really like the way that itSMF UK are looking at new ways to engage and what’s more, not just with their members but with everyone in the industry and I hope that this will continue and at the next Twitter Chat and that more people will get involved.

Unfortunately a lot of the points raised were, as Claire Agutter said, just the same old issues that have been floating around for years.

Having said that I’m very interested to see the results of the Big 4 Survey (voting now closed) and hope that it’s given some new and exciting insights into the current and future struggles of ITSM.

The comments from the Twitter Chat together with the results of the Big 4 Survey will confirm the 6 key topics that itSMF UK will take to the itSMF UK conference and Exhibition (4-5 November, Birmingham). These 6 topics are due to be announced this week. Then at the event a series of roundtable discussions will take place to narrow down those 6 topics to the top 4 – i.e. the Big 4 that itSMF UK will concentrate on in 2014.

Once announced a Twitter Chat for each of the individual topics will be held as follows:

  • November 13 – Big4 Topic 1
  • December 11 – Big4 Topic 2
  • January 15 – Big4 Topic 3
  • February 12 – Big4 Topic 4

I hope to see you either at the conference, or involved in the Twitter Chats, preferably both!

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Introducing Rebecca

Rebecca-Beach
Rebecca Beach, ITSM Research Analyst (bringing balloons to Analyst briefings is strictly prohibited)

I am very pleased to welcome Rebecca Beach to the team!

Rebecca is joining as ITSM Research Analyst.

SDI IT Service Excellence Professional of the Year 2012, Rebecca is a self-confessed geek and ITSM fangirl.

“Rebecca is very passionate about providing the best possible service to her customers. She is the model service professional, striving to improve herself as an individual while selflessly supporting and helping to develop the team. She cares greatly about people and gives above and beyond in all aspects of her role. There is no better deserving winner.” ‘Hanover Service Desk Analyst wins national service excellence award

ITSM Universe

The first project Rebecca will be sinking her teeth into is a global view of the entire ITSM market with particular focus on:

  • ITSM Tool Vendor market share
  • The key market focus areas / average customer size
  • Competitive strengths and weaknesses

More news on this soon – In the meantime you can read more about our ‘Universe’ research methodology here.

Who is Rebecca?

Rebecca joins us following roles as ITSM Tools Engineer at Capita and Service Desk Analyst at Hanover Housing Association.

With fear of setting off political correctness fire alarms; I’ll inform you that Rebecca is affectionately known as the ‘Gobby Midget’!

In her own words:

One thing you might not know about Rebecca:  

“I’m scared of balloons. Makes being the owner/operator of a small child rather troublesome because apparently these are their favourite things in the whole world and they’re not very careful with them.  I have tried to overcome this debilitating illness by ‘facing the fear’ and letting the small one have them but it usually ends with me in the foetal position in the corner with my hands over my ears. An ex-colleague found out about this once and chased me around the car park with a bunch.  He’s dead now.”

When not working Rebecca is most likely to be found:

“When i’m not working, reading or sewing I love to cuddle up on the sofa under a blanket with the family and watch Disney films.  The Toy Story series and Monsters Inc are favourites at the moment…Disney Princesses have been knocked from the top spot. My daughter has decided that she can do it all right on her own without a Prince and kissing is yucky!”

The first record Rebecca bought was:

“Kylie Minogue – Kylie.  I believe I was about 11 at the time and my Dad took me into town to buy it from the record shop and I got my first ever cassette tape.  This is making me feel old, shall we move on?”

Rebecca has a soft spot for:

“I have been racking my brains and can think of nothing.  I’m not even that keen on kittens and can take or leave puppies. I’m assuming this means I am a horrible, terrible person but i’m actually okay with that 😉 “

Connect with Rebecca on Twitter or LinkedIn. Come and see Rebecca at #ITSM13

Please join me in welcoming Rebecca to the team ~ Martin