itSMF Regional Seminars: Where Speed Dating meets Networking?!

Speed Dating meets Networking?

When I went to my first itSMF Regional Seminar last month, I never would have believed that I would be putting those words together!

The event (hosted by Attenda for the London and South East region) was focussed on End to End Service Management, as well as that all important networking element.

According to outgoing Chair Jane Suter, their last attempts hadn’t been quite as successful, revolving around groups moving from room to room.  However, on arrival, we were handed slips of paper with what looked like safe-combinations on them, and corresponding numbers were dotted about the venue, the idea being that at the various breakouts, we proceeded to the relevant number on the list to meet with like minded numbers!

This worked really well until we got to lunch time when we actually missed out one session altogether and the feedback session for the last one took a while – but it was actually a very valuable session.

I suggested that they should build in the time to do more detailed feedback, because after each presentation, and then each networking session, we were encouraged to look at the subject matter and incorporate those into our introductions.

I’m sure it’s an approach that has been done before, but was a pretty effective mechanism and a good icebreaker, especially for a few of us who were first-timers at these events.

The Role of the new CIO in an End-to-End Service Management Environment – Mark Fowle, Attenda

This was a well presented and well thought out presentation, not pitching Attenda, but putting forward their perspective based on their customer base.

The presentation focused on how the IT Director role was perhaps drifting away and being replaced with that of a Chief Information Officer as a key contributor – moving away from pure technical focus and looking to solve business problems.

When I put this in context with a CIO pitch a week later at the itSMF UK Software Tools Forum in Manchester – the focus of is very much on achieving business outcomes, setting and achieving meaningful Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Enforcing Service Management practices through interoperable systems – Neil Forster, Attenda

Neil’s time was perhaps a little shorter than he had intended, as he ran us through how Attenda put a management layer over the top of their third party tools to provide them with platform to get information to their engineers, when they need it.

Neil focused in three key areas – Event Management, Incident Problem and Change Management, and Service Knowledge Management

They have developed mechanisms to have their engineers check for likely “best bet” matching tickets, and with links to knowledge based articles approved by team leads.

His key message was the presentation of information at the point of need, as well as embedding knowledge in the process.

Service Management in an Agile/SOA environment.

The final speaker of the day was Graham Youngs, from Tata Consulting Services –I had been on the periphery of an Agile-run software development project for an ITSM deployment and until that project the only scrum I had heard of had everything to do with Rugby Union and nothing at all to do with ITSM!

In fact what it focusses on is speed of change versus quality of service, and what I could draw from my own experiences was that a good Agile project manager is as much a key to a development team’s success.

In my own experience, although there were attempts to break down the barriers between development and operations, it still needed flexibility and a firm hand from the agile/development management side to keep members of the team focused on their immediate role as well as the bigger picture.

Overall impressions

  • Highlights

A friendly environment and easy to network thanks to the “speed dating approach”

  • Things to improve

The structure of the networking breakouts were relevant to the day’s theme and I think that they should allow some feedback time on the sessions as the group become very interactive at that point, making the seminar worthwhile.

Review: itSMF Problem Management Seminar [Chelsea Football Club]

Steve White, Kepner Tregoe, Engaging the Audience at Chelsea
Steve White, Kepner Tregoe, Engaging the Audience at Chelsea

The UK itSMF hosted a popular Problem Management seminar this week.

Around 100 itSMF members met at Chelsea Football Club to learn about ‘Proactive Problem Management’ from a variety of industry specialists.

Firstly, a quick summary of the sessions (Football Clichés A Go-Go):

FOX IT – GENTLE STRETCHES TO WARM UP

John Griffiths from Fox IT explored the human elements of problem management, the communication channels that exist between incident capture and problem resolution and the interpretation and translation that must happen via the service desk.

SERVICENOW – OWN GOAL

In many ways this event felt a little like a ServiceNow user group – but when the SaaS vendor took centre stage to deliver some thought leadership we were delivered an undiluted sales pitch.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting David D’Agostino before and know him to be clever, funny and articulate – so I had high expectations for this session. This was an opportunity missed – The itSMF need to be brutal with their editorial – in the end it’s the vendor who came off worst.

KEPNER TREGOE – THE CROWD ARE ON THE PITCH…

A great session from Steve White at Kepner Tregoe. Steve hosted an interactive whiteboard session on defining proactive problem management. For me and for the other delegates I spoke to this was the highlight of the day. More like this please itSMF! It would have been interesting to perhaps walk through some real life scenarios and discuss options with the audience using this open forum approach.

PINK ELEPHANT – A HEARTY PERFORMANCE

Unfortunately I missed parts of Vawns Guest’s session but from what I saw and feedback from others Vawns gave a passionate lesson on the relationship between incident, problem and availability management.

OASIS HEALTHCARE – END-TO-END ACTION

This was an interesting case study from Mike Evans from ITS and Rich Starkey from Oasis Healthcare.   The double act provided a before and after picture of progress at Oasis Healthcare, a network of over 200 UK dental practices. It was also great to see an organization sharing business benefits and return on investment for their project.

Is Honesty The Best Policy?

An interesting point was made during one of the sessions regarding honesty with problems – i.e. do we tell the customer we’re experiencing a problem?

There were mixed views on this – do we keep our problems to ourselves for fear of the organization using it against us or do we openly admit that, we’re human, mistakes happen and we’re doing everything we can to resolve it?

In my view – How an organization answers this question gives a good insight into their culture and maturity. I’m sure that at times there are perfectly good reasons for keeping schtum – but I think honestly is the best policy.

Whether you are trying to run trains on time, hosting services in a datacenter or delivering fruit and vegetables– a bit of honesty from your provider strengthens the relationship and gives the impression that you are not just being fobbed off.

Wrap-Up

Overall I would definitely recommend this seminar, some interactive sessions with lots of questions. I look forward to attending future itSMF seminars this year (further info here).

Finally, Colin Rudd asked the audience if there was interest in rejuvenating the Problem Management SIG and the response was positive – contact itSMF to learn more.

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