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The SIAM training and certification programme from EXIN, BCS and SCOPISM – what does this mean for the wider industry?

Posted By Barclay Rae, 16 February 2017
Updated: 16 February 2017

As interest in SIAM continues to grow, it was no surprise that a training and certification programme would be developed sooner or later. This has recently happened, and a new programme was launched at ITSM16 by a collaboration between BCS, EXIN and SCOPISM.

The content and Intellectual Property behind this has been created by bringing together a number (18) of industry experts with experience of SIAM — the output is an initial training and certification module at Foundation Level, with the expectation of a further more in-depth ‘professional‘ level to come, planned for later in 2017.

From the initial announcements and associated media, this looks to be a useful development, particularly since this has been developed based on experienced expert collaboration — this is needed since there has been no structured or agreed ‘standard’ model for SIAM to date.

"there has been no structured or agreed ‘standard’ model for SIAM to date"

The programme will launch in the spring of 2017 and will no doubt be of interest to a variety of stakeholders in the IT/ITSM industry. The work is certainly a positive achievement, to have brought together a diverse group of experts and built a working consensus model.

Some concerns were however raised in the ITSM social wires when it was discovered that EXIN had trademarked the SIAM name in January 2016. From discussions with EXIN (see below) it is clear that there is no intention of using the trademark in any restrictive and prohibitive manner. The trademarking was done purely to protect the brand based around the certification programme that has been developed, not to control any other use of the SIAM name.

"it is clear that there is no intention of using the trademark in any restrictive and prohibitive manner"

The EXIN/BCS/SCOPISM project welcomes a broad industry adoption of SIAM and SIAM concepts, which are seen to help to drive interest in the training — and to date the approach taken certainly looks positive and exemplary. 

We will see how the programme develops and also how the wider industry accepts the use of SIAM and SIAM practices — these are still in their relative infancy and this programme is a useful stake in the ground to establish some common approaches and best practice.

In order to find out more about the programme and to understand the approach, I interviewed Suzanne Galletly, Head of Portfolio & Program Management from EXIN.

Suzanne — thanks for talking to us at ITSMF UK on this subject — so, please tell us initially about the new scheme?

It is a global certification scheme specifically related to SIAM, to align with the growing importance of SIAM as a new discipline within IT Service Management.

When will this be available?

The SIAM Foundation level exam will be available at the beginning of March 2017. Organizations can already apply for accreditation as the exam requirements and other materials are already available.

How did this get defined and built?

EXIN and BCS recognized the need for training and certification in this area, based upon market feedback from accredited partners and professionals. At the same time, Scopism had identified the same need and created an Architect team to create a body of knowledge for SIAM. We were all very keen to combine our strengths in partnership, to create one accepted standard in the market as opposed to fragmentation.

What is the value to the industry — practitioners, organisations, MSPs?

For practitioners, it provides them with the opportunity to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. There are many certified ITSM professionals these days, but few of them have specific skills in the area of service integration.

For organizations it helps to reduce costs but perhaps more importantly, it makes the services better and as such improves customer satisfaction and loyalty. It allows them to present one business-facing IT organization, consisting of integrated services — even if these are provided by a complex network of multiple suppliers behind the scenes.

Why have you trademarked the SIAM brand?

We have trademarked the SIAM brand to protect and to ensure that SIAM can be offered in an open, community-based model.

What does this mean for the wider industry using SIAM concepts and products?

Our focus is on ensuring we can create a standard in the market for training and certification. We will provide a free-of-charge license for any organizations wishing to make use of the trademark, such as training organizations, publishers and trade associations.

To clarify - this is to protect your programme not to restrict use or capitalise on use of the SIAM name?

Actually it is exactly the opposite! We want to protect the brand but not commercially exploit it. By protecting the brand, we want to prevent the very possibility of it being exploited, from a purely commercial perspective that doesn’t benefit the community.

OK, so how do people get involved?

Professionals can become involved in a number of ways — for example contributing to the development of the body of knowledge as part of the Architect team, helping to develop exam questions, auditing SIAM courseware. They should contact EXIN, BCS or Scopism. Training organizations, exam centres and courseware providers can become accredited for the scheme.

What’s next on the road map?

The body of knowledge needs to be extended to support the Professional level and after that the exams will be developed and launched for that level. This is expected later this year. Also we will plan localizations (translations) where there is a market need in a specific region which relies on local language exams. Watch this space!

Suzanne — thanks very much for the clarifications here.

My pleasure.

Further reading


Tags:  BCS  EXIN  Scopism  SIAM  Training 

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Soft Skills Are The Hard Part

Posted By Barclay Rae, 02 February 2017

We are now seeing a real renaissance in the ITSM industry. The days of the single approach to service and project management, based purely on ITIL or Prince2 as the only tools and models to use, are numbered. There is a clear and tangible move to use a broader portfolio of methods and approaches, including CoBIT, DevOps, BRM, Lean, Cynefin, IT4IT, SIAM and other ideas, as well as ITIL of course. This development is healthy and underlines the need to use a variety of techniques in order to be flexible.

'People skills' appreciation is on the rise

But as with every renaissance, we now need to find the renaissance men and women with the diverse skillset and knowledge to support our Brave New World, people who understand people. Indeed, the other big development in the last couple of years (and on-going) is the growing appreciation of ‘people skills’. We’re all familiar with the long-trumpeted ‘people, process, technology’ mantra which is used in our industry. However the focus has too often been on process and technology, at the expense of the people part. 

"We now need to find the renaissance men and women with the diverse skillset and knowledge to support our Brave New World, people who understand people."

It’s long been known and understood by many people across the industry that ‘soft skills’ are the real differentiators, the skills and attributes that lead to success.

If you simply compare two practitioners with the same levels of qualifications - technical and process - the one with the good people skills is more likely to succeed, to be the one that you would hire and want to work with. Similarly, you might prefer someone with fewer technical skills and qualifications to work on a project if they have the ‘soft skills’ needed - good personal communications, diplomacy, organisational change experience, negotiation, management, commercial skills etc.

Thankfully we are now calling this out and there is a real demand for knowledge, guidance and expertise in this area. The ITIL Practitioner included a number of these elements, our own (ITSMF UK) PSMF is based around these ideas, and many of the plethora of new models include or are focussed on people and cultural elements, such as DevOps, BRM, and Cynefin.

At last!

So why has this been such an issue? Why have so many projects missed the point about people and human interaction skills? Why have we not taken this seriously at the industry level so that it’s clear to all involved that process and technology are not enough? 

One simple answer might be that it has often been beyond the capability and experience of those tasked with delivering these projects, and whose management assume that by sending them on a few training courses, they will then be able to transform the whole organisation. Given that the industry hasn’t really pushed the value of people enough, this is perhaps understandable. 

A wider interpretation of the problem could also be that soft skills are actually the hard part.
The demands of changing culture, and particularly standing up to long established dynasties and embedded ways of working, is often just too much of a challenge, particularly if you don’t have the necessary soft and hard skills. To be honest, it’s a real misnomer to call these skills ‘soft’ which implies easy, fluffy and lightweight. In actual fact these skills require mental toughness, initiative, bravery and confidence and are anything but ‘soft’.

"To be honest, it’s a real misnomer to call these skills ‘soft’ which implies easy, fluffy and lightweight."

What we need to do as part of the reinvention and renaissance of people at the centre of ITSM is to clarify that their people skills are not just essential but that, whilst they may not be IT/technical skills, they are very much in demand as part of what IT does and the value it delivers. 

So, what do practitioners need to do to develop these ‘soft hard’ skills? 

  • As mentioned above there is a growing set of standards, methods and models available, many of which embrace these competence areas explicitly. It’s a good idea to be aware of these and to explore them, and to use relevant parts for your organisation.
  • Using experience gained in other areas is also useful, and should be called out and referenced as widely as possible. 
  • Recruitment specialists should reference the key skills and attributes required - not just certificates but also real-life experience and evidence of competence in areas beyond technology. 
  • Our management of people should reflect the wider set of skills needed - so job descriptions, appraisals, reviews and rewards schemes should all include the ‘soft hard’ skills as key elements. 
  • Self-awareness is important: we should all be clear of our areas of strength and weakness, in order to improve. It is true that not everyone is a great communicator or leader - however being clear of where you can add value and where you need to improve your skills is an essential starting point. 

So whilst we can build awareness of the types of skills needed, and we can’t all be exceptional at ‘soft hard’ skills, it’s useful for the organisation to set out the importance of these skills and how they complement the more traditional technical and process oriented capabilities. Recognition and awareness are the first steps: we can improve our organisation’s performance and perception by emphasising the value of the tough side of work - soft skills!

This article first appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of ServiceTALK.

Tags:  Career  PSMF 

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The House That Change Built… Or Was It Release?

Posted By Matt Hoey, 31 January 2017

There are some pairs of things in this world where it is not always crystal clear what the actual difference between them is. Mist and fog for example, gammon and ham; and in Service Management, change and release.

How do you differentiate between change and release?

For the latter, you can of course look to the best practice text books, but given they’re written to be completely generic to the culture, ethos and inner workings of organisations, it’s not always easy to understand how the standard definition applies to your situation. So how do you differentiate?

A change is very much a single-minded beast. It should have granular detail about the single functional objective it has been given authorisation to set out to achieve. The surrounding change management process makes sure it does it as described, and with as little risk as possible. A change rolls up its sleeves, and does the ‘doing’.

A change is very much a single-minded beast.

A release on the other hand is a much more holistic looking animal. It helps bring together what needs to happen, and in what sequence, to achieve the final goal. It also considers things beyond the technical aspects as in the ‘non-functional’. At its most simple Release Management process follows a Build -> Accept -> Deploy approach.

So, when do I need a release? And where do the changes come in?

To answer that, let’s go with an abstract analogy of building a house. At first sight, this seems like it is just a change. There’s a plot of land with nothing on it and you want to change it so there is a house there.

But let’s think of what’s involved... You’re going to need multiple teams of different skilled people working on different areas such as brick layers, plumbers, roofers plasterers, carpet layers and landscapers, to name but a few, to construct the house. They all need to a design to work from, time and notification of when to work on their tasks in order to contribute to the completion of the house to be ready for someone to move into on a certain date.

If this was an IT service you wouldn’t dream of having one change for multiple teams to work from – they’ve all got disparate, specific skilled tasks to achieve, and each comes with its own set of risks and approach to back out.

If this was an IT service you wouldn’t dream of having one change for multiple teams to work from

A release would definitely be appropriate here to bring together the separate changes that build the house (eg the brickwork, the roof, laying of carpets, installation of the bathroom units). It’ll take care of the non-functional requirements that aren’t technically changes – marketing the house for instance, informing the post office so mail can be delivered once someone is living in it.

Next, it will verify that the house is ready to be lived in (accept), and then, provide the means for the new owners to move in: the keys, dates, information on how the build in appliances work, etc (deploy).

Change and release both worked together to make it happen. Change focusing on the authorisation and doing, and release focusing on the bigger picture and ensuring quality.

This is, of course, a very brief narrative around the difference between change and release. You can find out more on the itSMF UK Change and Release workshop happening on February 2 in London.

However, it probably won’t cover the explanation that mist and fog are both similar but mist becomes fog when the visibility drops below 1000m, nor that gammon and ham are actually the same cut, it’s just that gammon is sold raw and ham is cooked or cured before it is sold!

Further reading

Tags:  business change  Release Management 

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Digital (Service) Transformation – what does this mean? For ITSM? For ITSMF UK?

Posted By Barclay Rae, 26 January 2017

What and why ‘Digital Transformation’?

We all love a hype don’t we? — and Digital Transformation is our current amore…

What does this mean, beyond the obvious? Haven’t we in IT been working to digitise and transform for many years? — maybe that’s just a cynical view. The current term ‘digital transformation’ relates to the confluence of a number of technology, business and cultural factors and opportunities:

These include using Big Data, IoT (Internet of Things), automation, cloud, robotics, AI, mobile and other technologies in a coordinated way to improve efficiency, capability and customer experience.

This is also combined with business demands for greater speed and flexibility in delivering new solutions, so Agile, DevOps, Lean and other new techniques are employed to build and deliver technology solutions faster, better and with fewer obstructions.

In addition, other models and frameworks like BRM, ESM, SIAM are helping to expand the commercial and cultural use of existing models such as ITIL/ITSM COBIT and BRM — broadening the scope of service management beyond IT and across organisations. Social Media is also in there as a new culture and way of communicating and collaborating…

It’s a perfect storm of opportunity, demand and change, driven and supported by a profusion of models and frameworks, tools and techniques. The possibilities are endless, the demands are high and the potential for chaos and disruption huge. 

"The possibilities are endless, the demands are high and the potential for chaos and disruption huge. 

Digital Transformation is the term of convenience, although this in reality means so much more — organisational and cultural transformation, people and sociological transformation. We are in the grip of a revolution driven by the demands and potential from technology, which has created a new generation of people (millennials) who have a completely different new way of thinking and working — as well as different expectations from technology and work.

Children grow up using technology now and are much more tech savvy.

The first time I used a computer of any sort I was 28 years old. That technology was very basic and practically useless outside of one particular business function. My seven year old son has already given me some good advice on which browser I should be using…!  The technology he uses is boundless in its global business and personal potential.  We live in a transformed — and continuously transforming — digital world. We all need to transform accordingly…

So, we have a lot of questions:

  • What does this mean for those of use working in IT and particularly ITSM?
  • How does the Service Management industry respond and react to the new world and new challenges, particularly since in IT we have created a straightjacket for ourselves in terms of frameworks, processes and operational siloes?
  • How do we move from managing services in a controlled internal environment, to utilising external public systems that we have no control over?
  • How can we use service performance data more intelligently to deliver better customer experiences? How can we manage security for corporate networks and data when our ‘users’ may be interacting with these via their toaster?  
  • How do we expand our capabilities and skills to meet the new demands of the technology industry?
  • How can we move from a rigid process-based (ITSM) organisation to a more agile and flexible (DevOps) one?
  • What does it mean to be a ‘Professional’ in the world of IT/IT Service Management?

What is ITSMF UK doing for Digital Transformation?

At ITSMF UK we are transforming too — we are part of this evolving world.

We already have a great network of people, experience, ideas and knowledge, which is regularly shared at events, meetings and conferences, and through our various media. Our focus going forward is to provide the industry with direction, clarity and insight around Service Management, and to answer the questions above.

We strive to provide practical and relevant guidance, to make sense of the hype and the plethora of new ideas that constantly bombard us. In particular we aim to help the industry to see the ‘wood from the trees’ in terms of new things and how to apply them sensibly and pragmatically.

We are here to make sense and to guide ITSM professionals through the transformational jungle… For 2017, we are fixing on a few key themes, under the over-arching banner of Digital Transformation.

"For 2017, we are fixing on a few key themes, under the over-arching banner of Digital Transformation.

People and Professionalism will be championed through our PSMF programme, for which we will shortly launch new membership opportunities and a simple career-supporting scorecard system.

Our media output, conference and events schedule will focus on:

  • DevOps: its relationship with ITSM and practical considerations
  • Cloud: how ITSM is relevant to manage the complexity and new challenges
  • ESM (Enterprise Service Management): the reality of extending Service Management across organisations, including use of models such as SIAM  
  • Customer Experience: developing practical guidance and including areas such as BRM

Our Workshop and Masterclass programme is being re-developed with new content to include these themes and more. Our annual conference will be held in the North of England and will focus on these themes. Other events will reflect specific topics such as SIAM, BRM and of course PSMF.  

Our Awards programme will be re-launched as the Professional Service Management Awards, a new signature event. These will also include new awards that reflect new themes and areas of excellence, to be announced shortly.

We are also working to develop partnerships and practical collaboration with other parts of the industry, to ensure that messages are optimised and co-ordinated as much as possible. We will continue to provide consumable output via papers, blogs and media such as video and audio webcasts.

We are here to support you, the industry professionals that keep the world ticking over — if you’d like to get more involved, please get in touch.

Tags:  Digital Transformation 

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LANDESK and HEAT merger: what does it mean?

Posted By Barclay Rae, 23 January 2017

ITSM vendors LANDESK and HEAT Software recently announced their intention to merge. More specifically, LANDESK have joined forces with investment company Clearlake, who have owned HEAT since their acquisition of FrontRange in early 2015. The new combined business is to be called Ivanti – read the press release here.

The details are still being finalised but this is a big move in the ITSM world – both companies and their products have been mainstays in the ITSM world for over 20 years. HEAT is known for its eponymous helpdesk product, then the development of the ITSM suite under FrontRange, and the more recent rebrand as HEAT Software. LANDESK as ITSM vendors have come through several iterations – from Royal Blue and TouchPaper in the ‘90s and ‘00s, via Avocent to Salt Lake City based LANDESK.

Both vendors have operated at the high end of the IT Service Management market, with function-rich products and integration, also maintaining an extensive professional services capability for delivery. So there is much to ponder around what this will mean for their existing customers, new customers and of course the wider ITSM market. The stated approach initially, as revealed in the conversation below, will be to lead on new sales with the HEAT ITSM suite, possibly augmented by some LANDESK products. This should be a good deal for buyers, getting what is traditionally a high spec product at potentially a reduced price point. For existing customers of both vendors and products the short term outlook will involve little change – the stated approach is not to force migration on to either product but to move to a hybrid cloud solution over time. Obviously this will have some implications from the industry perspective in terms of jobs, as both vendors are major employers and have extensive sales, marketing and delivery operations, as well as development and administration.

We will need to see how this develops; however it may also be the first of several (probably long overdue) M&A activities in this market, which still remains overcrowded.     

In order to find out more about the implications of the merger for ITSMF members, I spoke with the new CEO of the consolidated company, Steve Daly.

BR       Steve – I guess you are busy at the moment but thanks for taking time to talk to us at ITSMF UK. Firstly what was the thinking and motivation behind this major announcement?

SD       Our goal with this move is to create a product set and approach that moves the delivery of IT more in line with the end-user experience – as opposed to a siloed technically-oriented focus. We and Clearlake/HEAT recognised the need to focus on endpoint management, reflecting the ever-changing technology experience of end users. To do that we needed a broad portfolio of products and a way to deliver the ‘best of the best’ ITSM technology. HEAT and LANDESK have complementary and innovative technologies, as well as great combined experience in delivering and integrating complex and top quality solutions to the enterprise market. So this is a great opportunity, with the two organisations coming together to provide some unique solutions for the market. For us ITSM is the underpinning and central element in the new integrated digital landscape – so we are offering choice and scale to our existing/customer bases, as well as new clients.

BR       What is the target market that you are now aiming to capture?

SD       We are definitely focussing on the IT and ITSM enterprise marketplaces, with a full portfolio of products that work well for operations, security, endpoint management and other areas of digital transformation. The merger allows us to compete in the larger enterprise market as a major player.

BR       What is the short-term position for current LANDESK and HEAT customers – will they need to migrate to one or other of these toolsets?

SD       No, for the next year or so we will keep customer implementations as they are. The longer term goal is not to combine products together, rather to move customers gently to a common Cloud platform, where we will build a combined product toolset using the best bits from both systems and existing platforms. So in the short term there is no change.

BR       So it’s not a big bang move, more of a transition to a shared new hybrid offering?

SD       Yes that is the approach. We recognise the value and investment of our current customers on both sides and don’t wish to disturb these.

BR       What will you offer to potential new customers?

SD       In due course we will start to offer the HEAT Cloud solution to new prospects, potentially using some of the innovative LANDESK Service Desk products as well.

BR       Both companies have large professional services operations – will these be retained?

SD       We see the need to meet expectations on delivery so professional services is key for us and we expect this to continue and even grow.

BR       LANDESK and HEAT both have significant ITSM development and operations in the UK – will these be maintained?

SD       In the UK our teams actually are sited very close together in Bracknell – this is a major hub for us and we plan to consolidate the offices into one in due course and maintain our UK ITSM presence.

BR       One final thing – HEAT is a high spec product, although pricing has been traditionally high in comparison to some competitors. Will the new joint approach mean some reduction in pricing?

SD       We recognise that there is a difference as well as a differentiator and will need to review the market price points; but yes, we will also need to be competitive in what is already a crowded market place.

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