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Next Practices in Business Service Management



itSMF Seminar: Key CXO Take-Aways
by Paul Wilkinson

Editor’s Note - Paul Wilkinson identifies “key take-aways” for both CIOs and business oriented CXO’s from a recent Norwegian itSMF “leadership event.”  The BSM story in this blog posting is the frank discussion and critical observations shared by industry pundits and CXO’s on the reasons for the gap in alignment between IT and the business community. The ABC methodology frequently referenced in this article is discussed in detail here.

itSMF Norway launched its first ‘leadership’ event aimed at CxO’s and IT director level. Roar Johnsen, chair or the program committee and one of the itSMF facilitators of the session explains “We wanted to help CXO’s to understand the strategic potential of Service Management capabilities that are built, or being developed in their organizations. It is only with the involvement and support from top managers that the full benefits of the well developed ITSM practices can be harvested. The CxO seminar is designed to highlight these two major aspects of ITSM.’

A select group of 12 senior leaders attended the event which included presentations from Sharon Taylor, David Cannon, Brant Seethaler, Sven Pihl, Ole-Vidar Christensen, and Paul Wilkinson. Each of the speakers was given the task of leaving the group with 3 key take-aways. These were my take aways from the mini seminar.

David Cannon presented Business strategy and IT Service management and explained some of the new concepts in the Service Strategy book which, he went on to mention, should be available in July. A key focus was around the concept that ‘IT spends, and costs money!’ There needs to be a shift to ‘understanding and demonstrating VALUE and an ROI’. IT must demonstrate how services contribute to business outcomes and business value. David stated that senior executive commitment was a must and how service portfolio management was one way of turning the focus toward VALUE and opening the dialogue with the business.

Brant Seethaler presented latest trends in IT performance management, declaring that only 6% of managers had a comprehensive view on their IT performance. There was a 28% increase in the importance of linking IT measures and KPI’s with business objectives. Brant also stated the need for Senior IT managers to set the KPIs and take leadership in selling and communicating those KPI’s.

Sven Pihl stressed the need to see ITIL in the context of organizational change and the difficulties this brings, and more importantly the need to place ITIL in the context of IT Governance. Sven advocated the need to start with IT Governance and choose the right framework to facilitate creating the right behavior.

These messages supported the Key CIO focus areas presented by Ole-Vidar Christensen and Roar Johnsen …the hosts of the event. The top 5 issues they presented at the opening were:

1. Aligning IT to Business goals 76%
2. Controlling IT costs 63%
3. IT Governance and Portfolio management 54%
4. Business process redesign 54%
5. Leadership development/Staff training 44%

Ole-Vidar Christensen also presented the ‘Spider’ diagram he had received from Colin Rudd, author of the ITIL V3 Planning to Implement Service Management book.  This highlighted Colin’s findings obtained from a large number of IT organizations. This also supports our research findings from more than 2000 IT professionals.

Discussion of the diagram pointed out that we are strong in terms of Process, Products and People (…to date we have created more than 2 million ‘certified’ ITIL people) …but we are weak in areas of Governance and Strategy (…as was also revealed by the first 3 speakers) and we are also weak in the area of Culture, Service and Attitude, which was partly why I had been invited to present ABC.

I presented the ABC Iceberg and showed the top 10 types of resistance to ITIL (or ITSM frameworks in general) showing that ‘lack of management commitment’ was the number 1 issue. I also showed the impact on Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks of the hidden Iceberg. The Top 10 also revealed a lack of understanding and demonstration of business value using ITSM best practices. The failure to adequately address ABC is preventing 70-80% of IT organizations from achieving the needed value.  Managers must take a leading role. Before people become too enthusiastic about adopting the best practices, and frameworks supporting strategy realization they need to be aware of, and address the undesirable behavior and worst practices that will prevent achievement of goals. After all, ITSM is becoming a Strategic Asset and we can no longer afford to fail to have these frameworks succeed. It is recommended that leadership development and staff training also focus on these ABC areas.

Sharon Taylor finished by presenting the future of ITSM stressing that the Business is becoming a partner in service management success and is recognizing its own role in achieving success. Sharon also stressed that ITSM MUST be on the ‘C’ level agenda. A presentation of the top 5 CIO catalysts for the adoption of ITSM were very much in line with those presented at the start of the day but with the addition of ‘Communicating with the Stakeholders’ which scored 44% and supports Brant's findings of the need to sell and communicate KPI’s that demonstrate IT’s Value.

The delegates were asked at the end of the session to name their Key Take-Away from the event. These were:

  • ‘This raised some serious questions we need to ask ourselves. What are we going to do with CobIT and ITIL? How can we better involve our customers? How can we use the new Service Strategy book to help us realize this alignment’?
  • ‘We need to find out more about ABC and the Iceberg. These are definitely issues we recognize and need to deal with. These are the things that will determine success….or failure’.
  • ‘IT is spending money and is seen as a COST, as David Cannon revealed. How can we turn it around to show value? We need to spend time on answering this question.  For ourselves, we need to find a way to align our services to business value and outcomes’.
  • ‘The Spider diagram, showing the need to take a broader focus, it is more than technology and processes. We need to address issues like ABC and Strategy alignment’.
  • ‘We need to focus on ABC. There is too much focus on processes and documentation. There is a need for people to understand that this is part of Governance. We must focus more on getting buy-in to address ABC’.
  • ‘ABC clearly showed the need to develop better relationships with the business to understand their requirements and what Value means to them’.
  • ‘We are entering a new world in which the customer isn’t always visible. The customer is somewhere out there. We are one click away from losing them if they are not satisfied. We need to learn how can we cope with this?
  • ‘We need to market the IT services internally to create more understanding that IT is delivering value’.
  • ‘There were many ‘teasers’ to take away. ABC is something we can’t ignore. I will stay now for the rest of the conference to discover more’.

It was interesting to note that all of the speakers stressed the need for management commitment as being crucial yet none of the delegates named this as a key take-away. Obviously it is evident that they are fully committed and know how to demonstrate this…..

Two of the senior managers came up to me in the days that followed and said that the ABC issues were a key take-away, they recognized that ITSM is all about realizing an organizational change and that their leadership role was crucial.

In the main conference on the following day I attended one of the sessions that the operational managers would attend, the managers who actually report to the leadership group. The session was Colin Rudd’s presentation on ‘Measurements, Metrics and KPI’s’. I thought this was a particularly relevant session considering the leadership team take-away relating to demonstrating value and the need for business and value focused KPI’s.

‘If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time’ was one of the quotes that Colin presented. He then asked the audience of 150 people ‘How many of you measure business focused metrics? How many of you measure how good your process is in terms of effectiveness and efficiency?’ – 2 hands were raised! It seems that IT has a long way to go and the leadership team has their work cut out before they are able to demonstrate business value.

My advice: The good news is that leadership development and staff training score high. I don't mean this is an excuse to sell another 2 million ITIL certificates.....but this is a great opportunity for ensuring some kind of leadership training is offered to help Leaders and employees grasp and understand the concepts of 'Culture and Service focus' or ABC. Whilst this subject now has the focus of the CIOs lets finally break through the ABC Iceberg that is preventing so many from realizing the benefits of ITSM best practices. See what ING managers did to address the ABC issues.

Ole-Vidar Christensen, member of the Norwegian board of itSMF and program committee, and the other of the itSMF facilitators of the session explains: “Over years we have received feedback from the participants to our conferences, “I wish my boss would have been here”. This session was aimed at giving a highlight of some of the presentations from the conference, seen from a strategic perspective. We received good feedback from the CXO’s at this session, maybe the most important one, to have a case-study presented by a fellow CXO next time.”

Paul Wilkinson is the co-owner of GamingWorks. He is an ITIL Service manager with more than 25 years of experience at all levels within the IT branch, from Computer operations, to IT services manager to IT services development manager. Author of ITIL V2 publication. Designer of GamingWorks products. Co-Author and Cartoonist of the 'ITSM from hell book'.
































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