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This blog, written by itSMF UK leaders and guest contributors, offers service management thought leadership and discussion of industry trends. Please feel free to comment on these posts (you will need to be logged into the website as a member). We look forward to hearing from you.


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What does studying music have to do with Shift Left and ITSM?

Posted By Barclay Rae, 08 April 2016


When I was younger I learned to play the piano and the drums. I was often bored and irritated by the need to learn scales for the piano and ‘rudiments’ (rolls, paradiddles etc) for the drums. “I won’t ever actually need to play these,” I would think (and I see this with my own elder son who is also learning piano).


This of course is true: no one wants to go to a concert to hear major or minor scales. The point however is that they provide two things... 

  • technique to play the instruments 
  • an awareness of the musical environment of music. This helps with creating new and interesting melodies, harmonies, rhythms and motifs.

There are similarities here with how we perceive and use the core elements in the ITSM world…


Much of the traditional training content built around ITIL and ITSM focusses on processes. We still need these, of course, but often we focus on the process rather than the outcome or intended goal. It’s important that we use these processes. But they are not the end game of this work. They are just the building blocks that we use to create practical and effective service solutions.


Here's an example. Many of us use Incident, Problem and Knowledge Management with CSI to improve the following:

  • Cost effectiveness
  • Customer satisfaction  
  • Employee satisfaction.

If we improve our CSI and Problem processes to move more issue resolution to the front line we can reduce customer downtime. This also reduces the cost of managing incidents. We can also deploy Knowledge Management to re-use fix activities to speed up future resolution. 


Improving first-level fix rates is better for customers and also for support staff. It creates a more rewarding role for service desk staff, and second/third line staff are able to focus more on strategic technical issues. All these practices use ITIL/ITSM processes. They are the scales and rudiments that we can use to create a great customer experience and effective service operation.


We often call this ‘Shift Left’ – ie to move the resolution point as near as possible to the customer. Shift Left is an application of ITSM using existing processes. It is a focussed way of thinking around improving service quality rather than simply a boring old process. Just as with music and other endeavours, if we want to be successful, what matters is not just that we learn what the basics and rudiments are, but how to apply them.



Check out details of our new Shift Left workshop on 26th May.

Find out more about:

  • What you need to know about Shift Left in ITSM
  • Creating the right environment and culture for shifting left
  • Identification of areas to shift
  • Why self-service isn't always the answer.

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Progress from the SIAM Process Working Group

Posted By Administration, 11 March 2016

Back in October 2015 the SIAM SIG process working group was formed from a number of willing likeminded volunteers.  We were given the following challenges:

  • To identify which processes are included in a SIAM Process Framework

  • Establish the demarcation between the Integrator, Service Providers and the Retained IT organisation?

So over the past few months the SIAM SIG Process working group has been working hard to clarify the impact of the various SIAM implementation models on established Service Management processes as well as identifying additional processes which either underpin or complement the implementation and operation of a SIAM solution.


As part of the work completed to date, we have developed a number of spreadsheets which have taken inputs from ITIL as well as the groups ideas and experiences re business based processes.  The majority of the work to date has been focussed on the Outsourced SIAM model as we all believed that if we got one model completed then the others would contain the same information but the responsibility for the process and outputs may change.  However, it soon became clear that the 4 SIAM models can be tailored to meet the needs of the business implementing them, so throughout our work and discussions the phrase ‘it depends’ has been used extensively.


Within the spreadsheets we have:

  • Identified the overarching process framework (30+ processes) and the stakeholder groupings

  • Assigned individual processes to the stakeholder groupings

  • Identified the mandatory Service Integrator processes 

  • Identified process outputs / deliverables from each stakeholder group in the framework 

  • Mapped processes between SIAM, COBIT, CMMI and ITIL

In parallel to identifying the processes we began to document the ‘steady state’ RASCI (Responsible, Accountable, Support, Consulted, Informed) matrix.  This has grown and to date has circa 200 activities identified.


The work to date culminated in us sharing our progress with industry at the ITSMF UK SIAM SIG meeting on the 29th Feb 2016.  In the morning we presented an overview of the SIAM models and what the group had been doing.  The afternoon saw us presenting a detailed view of the RASCI and process spreadsheets to a very enthusiastic audience, within 10 mins we were being bombarded with positive questions about how we had come up with the various RASCI allocations, from the participant’s feedback on the day, it soon became clear that as a start point the matrix worked very well but it would still need tailoring to individual businesses and projects because ‘it depends’.


Everyone on the day was keen to get their hands on the output so far but the session, whilst giving us great feedback on what we have achieved, also demonstrated that we are not there yet.  There were a small number of processes and activities offered which require consideration.  In addition, there were some good suggestions regarding referencing other frameworks / standards such as IT4IT.


So after a quick break to catch our breath it is back to work, completing the RASCI and Process spreadsheets for the 4 models and then moving to the next stage which could be ……. well it depends.


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Wrap up warm... it's time for the festive change freeze

Posted By Matt Hoey, 16 December 2015

As we approach the festive season many organisations look to put a change freeze in place over the Christmas and New Year period. But for when should it start and when should it finish and can there be danger in the melt waters when the freeze thaws?  The Service Transition SIG investigates...


The main reason we implement changes at Christmas is of course the drop in resource both within organisations and their suppliers.  Pat Bolger indicated that at Hornbill they see a slow down in support requirements and surprisingly no customers are keen to implement their ITSM tool projects as Christmas advances!  So as well as enjoying the festive period, many people simply find the offer of a week and a bit off for the price of three days holidays too good to turn down.  If left unchecked in this situation changes could be the source of many own goals and un-needed pain during this time.

Additionally, as the end of the calendar year rolls round, some organisations are gearing up for their financial year end.  This in turn adds even more risk to any changes to services.  Rolls Royce is one of those companies and Tony Oxley explained how they deal with this period.

"Our restricted period starts on the 22 November with a restricted change window.  At this stage we attach enhanced rigour to any changes for key services, for example financial systems, ERP, network, etc.  This period runs through to 6 December when we implement a full freeze.  This means no changes except break-fix until 23 January.  After which time we revert to a restricted change window until 6 February.  Only then do we revert to a normal schedule of change.  Whilst a long window it ensures we protect the organisation."

"Any changes which must take place during the window, in other words not doing so would have a material impact on the organisation, are labelled as 'non-compliant' as in non-compliant with the freeze.  This allows those changes to be flagged and reviewed both before and after appropriately."

Peter Mills described a similar lock down at Arqiva. With the organisation's main customers including the BBC and ITV, change is locked down from  mid December through to early January - like retail organisations, there is simply too much risk in this period of high activity. Surely no one wants to be responsible for that Christmas episode of Doctor Who being interrupted!

At the opposite end of the spectrum, academic institutions find themselves with a dramatically reduced customer base as students and teachers head home for the Christmas holidays.  One might assume this would be a time to pile in the changes and be as disruptive as possible, but as Jon Morley explained at the University of Nottingham there tends to be an informal freeze as the IT resource also enjoy some well earned time off.

But what happens when that freeze ends?  As I found out after the first year of deploying a change freeze over the festive period and ending it on the first Monday back, this can be risky business.  This first 'normal' day back at work has the potential to be a service desk's busiest day of the year.  Password resets are one of the most frequent types of calls even with self service software, and in recent years as more and more customers receive technology Christmas gifts, this week sees the amount of BYOD queries rise too.  As a backlog of changes start flowing through a failed change here could further increase the pressure on the service desk.  Instead of releasing the freeze on the first main day back, considering extending it to allow time for customers to return and bed back into work and the support teams to get back to normal levels. A day or two later may be sufficient.  If changes need to start flowing again as soon as possible, you may want to allow them but with enhanced rigour around the scheduling and allow low risk changes like Tony's change restriction period outlined at Rolls Royce.

The Service Transition SIG meets monthly over teleconference and physically on days throughout the year.  They're a group of ITSM practitioners working in all walks of business and run seminar days and conference sessions, produce blogs like this, whitepapers and other material on Service Transition topics.  If you'd like to get involved, please head over to the Contact Us area of the web site to get in touch.

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Change at the top for AXELOS

Posted By Barclay Rae, 09 December 2015

AXELOS have announced that their CEO Peter Hepworth is moving up from his current position to head a new group within parent company Capita (which includes AXELOS itself). Taking over Peter’s CEO role from 1st January will be the current AXELOS Chief Finance Officer, Abid Ismail.

Peter Hepworth has done a sterling job getting AXELOS off the ground from a standing start two and a half years ago. This includes getting to grips with the notoriously fickle ITSM industry and its various vested interests, whilst setting up a new organisation from scratch to create and manage global educational content, exams etc. With the resources of Capita behind them, AXELOS have been able to create a new level of engagement with the industry, including for example advertising in mainstream national publications, and a business-based focus and value proposition for ITIL and PRINCE2. During Peter’s stewardship they have launched new products – such as Agile PRINCE2 and RESILIA for Cyber Security – with the forthcoming ITIL Practitioner programme due in February 2016. From the industry perspective the level of open engagement coming from AXELOS has been a positive breath of fresh air. We wish Peter success in his new role.

Looking forward, the new CEO will face a number of challenges. These centre on balancing demand from the ITSM industry for more new and upgraded products with corporate demands for AXELOS to monetise their output and growth and meet the original requirements and expectations from inception. There are some high profit and growth targets which might be difficult to reconcile with the need for ongoing investment. A lot will depend on the success of the new ITIL Practitioner product, and how well this can be scaled and made into a global commercial success (initial feedback is positive on this). Other products to freshen the ITIL and PRINCE2 portfolios will no doubt need to be implemented in due course. For AXELOS – now a fast growing enterprise – there will also be a need to consolidate its people and approach to ensure synergy and focus.  

From the ITSMF UK perspective, we want to work with AXELOS – and with other bodies and vendors in our industry. These relationships will help us to develop and deliver guidance that assists practitioners do their job and organisations to succeed with ITSM. It’s a crowded market right now and we recognise the need to focus on our own areas of value and expertise. Our focus is on community and collaboration, which encompasses all areas of ITSM (including but also well beyond ITIL). We are also working to develop more useable content around the value proposition for ITSM and how this is sold and marketed.

We wish the new AXELOS CEO well and look forward to working together in the near and longer-term future.  

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Thoughts from a committee chair

Posted By Martin Neville, 01 December 2015
Updated: 30 November 2015

As we all catch up and take a breath after a busy couple of days out of the office at ITSM15, I take this time to reflect on this weeks events.

ITSM15 opened on Monday with all the glitz and glamour you have come to expect. It is the showpiece for itSMF UK and one of the main events in the global ITSM calendar, something that we should all be proud of. As with all such events, what appears on the surface to be a seamless flow of activity is the result of a lot of effort from a great many people, many of them volunteers. However the buck stops with me, the Chair of the Conference Committee.

It’s funny how you end up doing things like this. I have served on the committee for a number of years and last year I got the fatal call from the Chair at the time: “Martin, I’m going to have to take a back seat.  Can you take over?”  What can you say, other than “yes”?

The process started way back in February when the call for papers went out.  Some years we are inundated, others it is more of a struggle.  This year was pretty good and we had many to choose from.  The committee reviews all submissions blind.  We don’t know who they are from or what organisation they work for, we simply look at the content and make a decision from that – yes, no or maybe.  We got together in April to compare notes – it was a long day, and as usual there were some pretty lively debates, but the programme was pretty much set by the end of the day.

Over the coming months, the Committee worked with the presenters to pull their slides into shape.  Meanwhile the itSMF Office and the events management company we work with started to organise the rest of the conference.  Who knew what goes into an event like this? There are all the logistics of the venue – rooms for presentations, how and when the food will be served, how the trade stands will be set up and what access they will need, etc.  Then there is the admin – booking delegates, agreeing sponsors, sourcing the keynote speakers, etc.  But there were also the odd debate and decisions to be made – what colour should the printed programme be?  Who should be the after dinner speaker? What should the awards look like?  Should we give the session speakers gifts?  All of this needs to be authorised by someone, and that someone was me. It becomes all-consuming at times.  I have a full time job, but there were times when I was reviewing menus or speaker synopses late into the evening, just to keep this juggernaut moving. You end up only seeing the problems and missing the fact that, actually, it’s all going rather well.

The finished article though makes it all worth it.  The disparate pieces magically came together.  That speaker who was consistently late with deadlines and vague with their slides turns out to be the star of the show.   The new venue turned out to be well organised and just right for our needs.  Most importantly, the feedback from the delegates is good. After all, this is what the conference is all about – bringing the members together and showcasing the best in Service Management, not just in the UK, but from around the world.

An old boss of mine once said that the role of the leader is to take the blame when things go wrong and to pass the credit onto the team when it all goes well.  The team – conference committee, events company and the itSMF UK office team have my eternal gratitude, and hopefully yours too.

And now my thoughts turn to ITSM16…

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