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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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Getting Practical with DevOps

Posted By Daniel Breston, 10 May 2017

Recently I had the privilege of being asked to develop and subsequently deliver an itSMF UK workshop on “Practical DevOps” explaining:

  • What is DevOps?
  • How does DevOps blends Agile, Lean, Theory of Constraints (ToC), and IT service management (ITSM) into a common framework?
  • The value and principles of DevOps
  • Metrics that matters to DevOps
  • DevOps concepts like Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery
  • Practical tips related to DevOps success

A Day of Post-it Notes

The workshop was designed from the very beginning to be interactive so no segment went without an exercise. For instance, as we went through the history of DevOps, I asked participants to write their own definition of DevOps on a post-it note. The answers were quite revealing in that most concentrated on the automation aspects of improvement, or just commented upon the need to align Dev teams with Ops/ITSM teams. And by the end of the day, their views had changed to be inclusive of stakeholders, vendors, and all aspects of technology service and delivery.

In fact we used post-it notes in several exercises and the group soon began to see how important visualisation was to DevOps. We used post-it notes to:

  • Create a manifesto of DevOps that was relevant to them (which they then compared to the Agile Manifesto and were amazed at the resemblance)
  • To map the flow of service provisioning from the time the idea gets requested until it’s delivered. We used a Lean concept called Value Stream Mapping and created an alignment charter, visualising the current way of working with time and quality measures, mapped the future, and highlighted some iterative experiments that could be performed in each two week sprint.

Flow of Work

All of the participants were looking at introducing Scrum into their organisations. This picture (from The DevOps Institute) highlighted the view of including not only new or feature related work into your product backlog, but creating a process, the removal of technical debt, and improvement ideas. 

So, Metrics: Do They Matter

So, back to the workshop, using Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as an example, we discussed metrics from an ITSM view and then again from the speed and quality view of DevOps. The group created metrics, using templates on how the automation of a process could help reduce MTTR (incident time) or make collaboration better across teams by automating trust to reduce the need for a Change Advisory Board (CAB).

We reviewed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and how to align metrics top down and out to suppliers via a Lean technique called Catch-ball.  Finally the group used their templates to create their own KPIs that they would introduce the following day at work. The template highlighted who owned the metric, the formula, the reason, frequency, what to do if the measure was breached, and the benefit of this measure.

This discussion highlighted again the principles of flow, feedback, and learning against the culture and knowledge sharing engendered by DevOps.


Tips and ITIL Principles?

Finally, we reviewed practical tips on how to get started such as:

  • Organisation: don’t immediately create a team but instead look at how to pilot DevOps practices in your existing organisation.
  • Processes: all processes at some point can be automated and DevOps enables the iterative use of tools to help create faster ways of doing things.
  • People roles and skills: cross-functional sharing, training on not only the new tools but also cultural change, and leadership coaching are all needed.
  • Tools: collaboration and knowledge management is as important as testing and release/delivery automation.

The final part of the day reiterated that ITSM is a valuable part of DevOps (as often mentioned in The DevOps Handbook). We did this using the “9 Principles of ITIL” as documented in ITIL Practitioner.

At the end of the day, participants went away with a better understanding of DevOps, how it works with ITSM, and how to measure its success. The key takeaway was to try something new and iteratively introduce the practices of DevOps into their own organisations.

So how much do you know about DevOps? Would it be of value to you to learn more? I hope to run this workshop via itSMF UK again in the near future, and it’s also available as an in-house event. For more information email itSMF via Or come and speak to me at the itSMF UK stand at the Service Desk and IT Support Show next month.

Plus, it’s worth noting that itSMF UK are also running a “DevOps simulation event” on 5th July, which you can see more details on here.

In the mean time you might find some of the following resources useful:



Tags:  DevOps  Workshops 

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The Service Management Podcast: Episode One

Posted By Sophie Danby, 09 May 2017
Updated: 09 May 2017

Like a phoenix from the ashes, the IT service management (ITSM) podcast foursome are back with their usual mix of helpful advice, whinging, forward-thinking outlooks, and poodle humour. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about… itSMF UK has launched a “new” (well, a rebranded and revitalized) Service Management Podcast. The first episode of which has been live for a short while now, and can be listened to here (if you’re an Apple user) or here (if you’re not an Apple user).

So, What's the Purpose of the Podcast?

The podcast’s goal is to share knowledge and to get people talking about ITSM (and wider IT). There’ll be a new episode each week, and each episode will focus on a specific topic related to service management, or concentrate on an industry-related event.

In addition to the regular hosts (Barclay Rae, James Finister, Stephen Mann, and Patrick Bolger) there’ll also be a wealth of guests from all walks of IT (vendors, practitioners, trainers, consultants, etc.). Upcoming topics include the Service Desk and IT Support Show, ITIL, and enterprise service management (ESM), to name just a few.

On each podcast you can expect to hear:

  • General musings about the ITSM industry
  • Insights into where the industry is going and how it’s changing
  • Tips and advice for practitioners (and often vendors too)
  • Recommendations and suggestions for industry-wide improvements
  • Debate over best practices, trends, and frameworks
  • Really bad jokes (like… seriously bad)
  • The occasional poodle barking in the background (blame James)

By sponsoring the podcast, itSMF UK is hoping to help the ITSM community pull closer together in a time of rapid change, with the ultimate aim of sparking change and improving everyone’s ITSM capabilities and outcomes. Plus, there’s always the hope that it might be quite entertaining too.

Episode One

And no, it’s not as bad as THAT Episode One.

As already mentioned, episode one is already in the can and available to listen to here (if you’re an Apple user) and here (if you’re not an Apple user). You can subscribe to the podcast in both places too.

For those of you who maybe aren’t a fan of podcasts, or those who want a little more insight into the types of things covered before downloading and playing, I’ll endeavour to provide an overview of the main themes and comments discussed in episode one.

So, in addition to the usual suspects line up (Barclay, James, Stephen, and Patrick), the team were joined by:

And, as the episode was recorded at the Service Desk Institute’s (SDI’s) annual conference, this was the primary topic for discussion.

The Service Desk Institute

The overwhelming consensus was that the SDI team, members, and community is very welcoming. There was a lot of praise for the event as a whole, and in particular how successful the sponsor exhibition area was. And that there was a high-level of engagement between delegates and sponsors, and people seemed to be having genuine conversations – unlike at many non-UK events where the focus is often more on the free “swag” and scanning badges. Matt Hooper specifically spoke about the US needing to “step up its level of engagement at conferences”.

Wise Words for Sponsors

There was also a lot of discussion around what sponsors can do better (in general) at events. This included:

  • To stop focusing on features and functionality.
  • If you’re going to present at an event, invite a customer. Practitioners want to hear from customers, and things like: “this is why we bought it”, “this is what we've done with it”, “these are the benefits we've seen as a result of it”. Sally also encouraged customers to be honest, and to tell people what they did that didn't go so well too, because sometimes that can be just as helpful.

  • Scan for quality over quantity. That it’s a false economy leaving an event with 3000 “scans” when 90% of them probably aren’t interested.
  • Help people who want to be helped. “Old school” marketers still seem to be happy with 3000 poor leads rather than 3-5 quality conversations. It’s important to remember that conversations drive sales more than selling drive sales.

The consensus view was that, at the SDI conference, conversations seemed to be the primary interactions between the sponsors and the delegates. Probably, in part, because this is the kind of relationship and environment that SDI nurtures.

Focus on Value

As an industry, we need to ensure that the focus is on “customer value”. And it doesn’t overly matter which standards and frameworks you choose to provide that value.

Also, people need to realise that you can’t create something optimal from using every single part of every single approach, which means you need to take only what helps from DevOps, SIAM, ITIL, IT4IT, Agile, etc. Just take the bits that work best for your business. It’s something which Barclay has since blogged about in more detail.

Now What?

Well I can’t do the words of these eight people justice in a single blog, so I recommend that you download and listen to the podcast at your leisure. Have it on in the background at work, listen to it on the drive home, or you can even play it in the shower (I know many who do… even though personally I find that a bit weird).

Apple users can download the podcast here.

Others can download the podcast here.

The Next Recording

Podcast #2 has already been recorded and is being edited as we speak. There are no guests, so with little to ensure the guys behave, I suspect there’ll be even more bad jokes and poodle conversation than normal.

That said, I think once you give the podcast a listen you’ll realise that this is the beauty of it, beyond all the good, helpful stuff. 

Tags:  Podcast 

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Forget ITSM Best Practice, Let’s Talk About People

Posted By Barclay Rae, 03 May 2017

Let's Talk About People

I’m fortunate enough to attend multiple IT service management (ITSM) and IT industry-related conferences each year –  in the capacity of speaker, organiser, exhibitor, and/or delegate. It’s therefore safe to say that I have a pretty good understanding of the value that attending an event can provide to both individuals and the businesses they work in.

Events provide excellent opportunities for learning new things, better understanding the industry, networking with peers, and of course making new contacts and connections. Whether you’re looking for new ideas, wanting to keep up with the industry, or looking to learn more about the latest challenges facing the world of IT, events will typically provide value across all three. After all, there really is no substitute for meeting and engaging with like-minded people face-to-face – it’s informative, beneficial, and good fun too.

Having said this, events can also be mentally draining, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I seek the solace of a dark room and “real work” once an event is over. But a big part of my fatigue is based around the fact that I attend so many events, covering the same topics, and addressing the same issues. Each event I attend – whether it be covering ITSM, DevOps, Agile, or the service desk –  typically always boils down to the same key takeaway:

“IT is about business. Business is about people. Therefore, IT is about people.”

Simple, right?

All the challenges and issues we face in IT can be solved and mitigated through dealing with people issues. So, whether we’re talking about DevOps ‘culture’, ITSM-related organisational change management (OCM), ‘professionalism’, skills and competencies, or management and governance – what we’re really talking about is people challenges and opportunities. Look at ‘solutions’ such as Kanban, Scrum, and Lean – they’re all ways to manage and improve not just what we do, but the way that we do things, usually involving some form of approach that deals with people.

Of course, this ‘takeaway’ is nothing new, which is probably why it’s continued to be prevalent at IT conferences for as long as I can remember. However, what is ‘new’ and changing, is that as an industry we’re beginning to accept this. We’re actively looking for new, people-centric solutions to augment or replace existing operational models. We’re effectively calling out the importance and value of the ‘people’ aspect in what we do. In reality, confirming that ‘soft’ skills are just as important as ‘hard’ or ‘technical’ ones.

Process, and tools are no longer enough to deliver success. Something we should already know, but are now finally beginning to build on and challenge into a number of new approaches. We’re finally coming to realise that we need to stop relying on frameworks and technology to solve what are ultimately people problems.

The New Challenge

But, this then presents us with a new challenge. That now the industry has recognised the issue, there are suddenly several different models to help you ‘solve’ the problem. So, in addition to the traditional models of the likes of ITSM, COBIT, and ITIL, we now have DevOps, Agile, Lean, Cynefin, service integration and management (SIAM), IT4IT, and more. And vendors and consultants automatically start to begin to create new content, celebrating new ideas, and providing tips for success. But from an IT practitioner standpoint, is this too overwhelming? Are we clogging up ‘best practice’ headspace with a varied and seemingly conflicting plethora of new ‘things’ to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I know and appreciate that many of the new models deliver value. What I’m questioning is whether these multiple models are confusing and challenging for practitioners? I mean, which should they follow? Where should they start? How do they make certain models work together? In my view, we need some central guidance on service management that reflects both proven success as well current and future capabilities. This doesn’t need to be a patchwork of the frameworks, but more an aligned way of using different ideas together under a practical banner of value-based guidance.

So What Now?

This kind of guidance isn’t going to be easy to create, and will require input from a variety of places within the service management industry. From itSMF UK’s perspective we’d like to help bring people together to discuss this idea further and drive a consensus around these questions. As such, we plan to use our portfolio of events and workshops over the next year as a place to start these discussions. We’ll also be creating content aligned with these questions and ideas via our blog channel, as well as in whitepapers and co-sponsored research outputs. 

So, if you think you have ideas and/or thoughts to contribute on the future of the service management industry, and how best to help practitioners in these complex times, please let us know. You can get involved by attending any of our events, or submitting content to put your opinions and suggestions out to the industry by emailing us at

Our upcoming events include:

·      Service Catalogue [workshop]

·      Professional Service Management Awards [PSMA17]

You can also find out more about our regional and other member events here

More from itSMF UK

One additional place where we hope to explore this topic further is in our reinventedService Management Podcast”. Thats right, back together are: Stephen Mann, James Finister, Patrick Bolger, and myself. Back to discussing ITSM, with a little grumbling and a few poodles thrown in of course. itSMF UK are the new, proud sponsors of the podcast and we hope we can use it to help drive conversations on topics, such as the one in this blog, forward

You can listen to the first episode here (Apple) or here (Android). Equally I look forward to hopefully seeing you at one of our many events this year

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A year is a long time in politics, and in ITSM

Posted By Richard Horton, 21 April 2017

It's been quite a year in the world of politics, hasn't it? We're leaving the EU, David Cameron isn't even an MP any longer, and now we have a General Election. Busy times for Laura Kuenssberg, and times of consequence both within the UK and beyond.

If the world of politics in this country has had its volatility, the world of IT keeps on being disruptive. We rely on it ever more, but it keeps changing. Both opportunities and risks abound. How do we respond? What are the implications for the world of managing services (with or without the IT!)?

itSMF UK engages with these subjects. Let's say you want to understand more about what DevOps and Agile could or should mean for you as a service delivery manager. There are a variety of channels available. For example, you could try sessions at Conference, or masterclasses if you want something more in-depth; and the Service Transition SIG's award winning Two-Speed Transition paper offers a practical perspective to refer to in your own time. If you need the bigger picture of where you should be focusing at the moment, read Barclay's January blog on Digital (Service) Transformation for The ITSM View.

Is that the end of the story? We think not. Such a fluid landscape demands attention and engagement, even if your full attention is on a subject that doesn't necessarily mean you have all the angles covered. Think back to July when political leaders on both sides of the referendum debate didn't seem to know how to react to a result that they had neither expected nor planned for.

Something that the itSMF UK board have been thinking about for a while is how we could encourage a wider contribution in this area, one that helps to define a distinctive service management perspective on leadership. This was crystalised at the last Member Forum meeting. Duncan Watkins asked a pertinent question and lively discussion ensued. The upshot was general interest in a potential new Special Interest Group that focuses on questions like "what's the next big thing ?"

What might such a Leadership (or Strategy) SIG look like? There are a number of areas that could be addressed:

  • PSMF makes explicit the need for leadership at a personal level as one of a service management professional's competencies. What does this mean?
  • What leadership are we providing to young people in providing educational stepping stones that allow them to choose service management as a career?
  • What are the areas where a distinctive service management contribution to thinking is needed and how can the questions involved be framed (the horizon scanning that the Member Forum focused on)?

Do you think this is the right scope? Are you interested in being involved? Please do get in touch with your thoughts.

Meanwhile I'll be registering for a postal vote for the General Election as I'll be down in London for SITS and the PSMF Awards Dinner. Don't forget to register as well if the same applies to you! Hopefully I'll see you there.

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SIAM: Practical Guidance On What It's All About

Posted By Barclay Rae, 21 February 2017

There’s a lot of discussion and industry activity around SIAM (Service Integration and Management) right now. Whilst we might wonder if this is another passing phase, the concept has been around for a while and there is growing consensus and interest in using it.

At ITSMF UK, we have a very active SIG (Special Interest Group) which has been discussing best practice and building up a large body of content and knowledge around the subject.

SIAM workshopStart at ground zero and work your way up the SIAM ladder
in this workshop on March 8.

We have just published a paper (sponsored by Axios Systems) on SIAM – Managing Complexity from a single source of truth.

This looks at the requirements for practitioners and organisations when tackling SIAM. The paper covers:

  1. What is SIAM and why do it?
  2. What are the challenges with SIAM?
  3. Key tips and takeaways

There is a new training programme coming from BCS, EXIN and Scopism. This has used the knowledge and experience of a number of practitioner to put together a body of knowledge and generic training programme.

We recently interviewed EXIN about this – see detail here for more information. The group included members of our SIG and we hope to be able to support development of this programme in the future.

And finally

We also are developing a load of new practical workshops, including SIAM — our first of these will be run by Steve Morgan. Steve was the chair of our SIG, co-authored our report and was part of the training project. In other words: he really knows this stuff.

So if you want to find out more about SIAM, and how to make it work — please join our workshop on March 8.

Download the whitepaper

Tags:  SIAM 

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