01-3 Define and explain the concept of a service (SS 2.1.1)

ITILFND01 Service Management as a Practice 01-3 Define and explain the concept of a service (SS 2.1.1) There are a multitude of definitions for the term service. ITIL provides an excellent definition that covers much ground but truly understanding the concept of service management and running IT like a business requires more than just this one definition. Throughout this book we will cover several definitions of service that derive from its Economic and therefore business…

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01-2 Describe and explain why ITIL is successful

ITILFND01 Service Management as a Practice 01-2 Describe and explain why ITIL is successful (SS 1.4) Many believe that ITIL is successful because it provides a practical approach to apply what has worked for other organizations and codifies that “best practice” into a framework that others can apply in their organizations—hopefully to achieve similar or better results. ITIL collects and presents best practices with an aim to solving the core challenge that every business is…

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01-1 Service Management as a Practice

ITILFND01 Service Management as a Practice 01-1 Describe the concept of best practices in the public domain (SS 2.1.7, Fig 2.3) Best practices are a way of doing things that has been shown by others to produce good results. Generally, best practices will be developed and proven by leading organizations independently. These best practices are sometimes gathered and published so that they can become widely adopted. ITIL is the most recognized and widely used collection…

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The Four Aspects of IT Services, Aspect Two

If you have been struggling with building a services business, then ITIL has provided some help in the form of a new definition for services targeted to the business owner or leader of a services organization. It builds upon the conceptual economic definition of service and provides an excellent foundation for creating a service business. The foundation, however, is not the whole building and service managers need more specificity and operational detail to truly deliver…

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The Four Aspects of IT Services, Aspect One

IT service management is about delivering sustainable value to the business from the use of technology. It is not about defining the best process. It’s not about assigning process owners or service level managers. It is not about implementing a tool or resolving incidents or problems. It’s not even about managing change. It is about delivering value to the business from services. If you want to build an IT service business you better clearly understand…

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How to present value in business terms in the real world

A few years ago, I found myself in a two day meeting with a sales person, a technical presales person, and a client’s IT executive team. The company I worked for sold IT Service Management software and the client was a rather important client. The client as it turns out had attempted to purchase four hundred thousand dollars of software from us outside of their normal budget but the request had been denied.

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IT support sucks but we made our metrics

SLAs should only include those items that can be effectively monitored and measured at a commonly agreed point. Inclusion of items that can’t be effectively monitored almost always results in disputes and eventual loss of faith in the SLM process. It is essential that monitoring matches the customer’s true perception of the service. A service that is available only to the edge of the data center and not to the end-user is incomplete service and…

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The End-user’s Perception is Your Reality

In order for processes and services to be managed and optimized, there must be a feedback loop that provides management information regarding the functioning of the processor service. This requires monitoring the process or service in appropriate ways to ensure that it is meeting the stated goal in the most effective and efficient manner. From an ITIL or quality perspective, the success of the process or service is

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IT as Strategic Partner

The quantity and levels of service that IT is able to provide are always bounded by the associated costs. IT Service Level Management (SLM) is tasked with helping the customer understand the tradeoffs between cost and benefit. This should be accomplished in a way that allows the business to make decisions about which services it requires and what levels of service are justifiable, given the current business environment. In organizations without strong SLM,

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Configuration Management Database Introduction

The configuration management database is a virtual concept and is made up of many physical databases and physical stores of information. It becomes a CMDB, when the information is brought together with a common interface that makes the information accessible and relevant for decision makers; most importantly, the CIs are related (linked) to one another. Too many organizations take a technical view of the CMDB and begin by trying to

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Operations and Development Tear Down That Wall

Many IT organizations suffer from less than optimal communication between development and operations groups. This happens so often that a special term has been created to describe what happens during the transition process. IT people say that developed software is “thrown over the wall” from development to operations. The result is that in house development projects often fail to meet expectations as design and operations conflicts are addressed too late in the project lifecycle if…

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Definitive Stores Reduce Costs

What happens in a typical organization when there is catastrophic damage to a hardware component that requires rebuilding form scratch? In many organizations the existing production configuration would not be definitively known and the exact version of software that was installed is often unknown and not locatable. This results in a rebuilt component that differs from the previous production component. Sometimes few or no differences are noticed. Often critical differences in performance or functionality are…

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Great Release Management Requires Project Management

Release management impacts every process area in the production environment. In addition its effectiveness and professionalism contributes significantly to the general perception of the development group. The most finely developed product ever is considered useless by the business if it can not be effectively deployed. As such it is critical that release management

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Define Your Roles for Best Communication Flows

Effective communication flows are important for any organization. They become increasingly important as organizations grow in size or are required to operate in a more rapid fashion. Communication flows are also one of the most difficult aspects of an organization to manage. Much of the difficulty involves the lack of a good model with which to define the communication flows. Often, communication is defined informally on an individual to individual basis. As individuals change roles,…

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Create a Loop to Measure Change Management

How do you know if an individual change or the change process as a whole was successful? This question can be answered by creating a feedback loop. The components of this loop are incident records, problem records, and RFCs (change records). By linking these three components together, we can begin to

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One Change Management for all of IT

Many IT organizations have change processes that are specific to different parts of the organization. For instance, development may have its own change process, and each operational technical silo may have a change process of its own. While this may have worked in the past, the current state of technology interdependence makes this type of organization problematic. ITIL suggests that

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The CAB is NOT the Change Authority

The change advisory board is an important concept in change management. It is a group of key stakeholders of changes and they serve to advise and assist the change manager in assessing and prioritizing changes. It is an advisory body that does not have responsibility for final approval of changes. That responsibility lies with the change authority, who consults with the CAB and IT management. The change authority is actually

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Urgent Change Doesn’t Mean Bypassing Change Management

Urgent changes represent an unrecognized and unmanaged cost to the typical organization. The costs are easily measured in terms of unplanned downtime, utilization of IT resources, and lost business opportunity. Part of the reason is that many individuals use urgent changes as a means of working outside the established change management process. This leads to

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Problem Managers are Fire Fighters

There are two primary roles inherent in the duties of Problem Management, that of fire fighting and fire prevention. All organizations are faced with emergencies (fires) that occur without warning and that require rapid response by problem resolution teams. However, many of these emergencies that occur in typical organizations are not truly emergencies in that they could have been prevented. We use fire fighters in this example, because there are

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Ron B Palmer Reveals the Sources of his Strategic Thinking

I learned the benefit of duplicability from my experience as an IT director for two multilevel marketing companies. The name of the game there is to create a system that motivates people and that can be easily duplicated by every-day people. This concept is further enhanced from a study of systems theory, complexity, and fractals. In these areas very simple patterns can produce incredibly complicated and beautiful results. An additional source of inspiration is the…

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Going Directly from Strategy to Action is a Recipe for Failure in a Complex World

In a simple world people often try to link strategy directly to action plans without any concept of tactics. In a complex world we need a middle piece that lets us accomplish much more than we could ever do by going directly from strategy to action. Duplicability is the key for large complicated efforts. I define tactics as results produced by uniquely combined resources and capabilities. The tactician then is looking for

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The Clash of Incident and Problem Management

The critical distinction between Incident Management and Problem Management can be defined by their contradictory goals. Incident Management is concerned with restoring service as quickly as possible and maintaining SLA targets, while Problem Management is concerned with finding root causes and eliminating errors from the infrastructure. Root cause investigation often requires extended periods of unplanned downtime, exactly what Incident Management is trying to avoid. The goal of Problem Management is to

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Incident Problem and Known-Error Relationships

An error in the infrastructure causes a disruption in service. This disruption causes an end-user to call the Service Desk and create an incident record. If the incident can not be resolved, or if it indicates an underlying problem that needs to be addressed, then a problem record is opened and associated with the incident. Once technical staff investigates the problem and finds the root cause then the status of the problem record is changed…

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What is a Service

Service is an integrated composite that consists of a number of components, such as management processes, hardware, software, facilities and people that provides a capability to satisfy a stated management need or objective. IT services can be divided into customer/end-user facing IT services as well as services or sub-services that support customer facing IT services. Organizing services in this way ensures that

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Key Considerations for Service Desk

These are some of the key considerations to keep in mind, when implementing the Service Desk function. Information collected here is used in many of the other process areas, so it is important to record as much information as may be required to support the activities of those processes. Service Desk will normally be the first IT group, that is aware that SLA targets are in danger of being breached. As such, they need information…

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Goals for Service Desk

For every need that an end-user has of IT, there should be an acceptable response from the service desk. For every IT activity that affects an end-user’s ability to work, there should be proactive communication from the Service Desk, explaining what to expect. Service Desk should act as the single point of contact for end-user interaction with IT. As such, Service Desk is primarily responsible for

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Introduction to Service Desk

Extending the Range of IT Services – In ITIL the Service Desk is considered to be a function, not a process, and it does more than simply log and resolve incidents. Service Desk and incident management are intimately connected but Service Desk has a larger role such that it handles more than just incidents. The Service Desk is a front end function for change requests, service requests, complaints, queries, and any other needs that the…

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Managers are responsible for the system

ITIL is based on quality initiatives in businesses, which find their roots in the work of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Business students will recognize Dr. Deming as the person who revolutionized the Japanese auto industry in the 1970’s. Dr. Deming was a professor of statistics and was intimately involved in quality efforts for United States war production during WWII. He developed theories about the ability of systems to produce quality and the resultant changes in…

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Why focus on Process?

In the effort to produce competitive advantage there are three primary resources that IT managers have at their disposal to meet business requirements. They are People, Process, and Technology. Companies already do everything in their power to hire the best people and deploy the best technologies. They compete in an open market for existing talent and are constrained by competitive realities in how effectively they can attract and retain employees. Few companies are able to…

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Who Cares what a Process is?

Process is a series of related activities aimed at achieving a set of objectives in a measurable, usually repeatable manner. It has defined information inputs and outputs, consumes resources and is subjected to management controls over time, cost and quality. Processes are the basic building blocks of business. Companies make millions of dollars from creating processes to create particular goods or services. Automobile manufacturers have well defined processes for designing, manufacturing, and marketing automobiles. Those…

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Service Focus Trumps Technology Focus

Every IT organization is familiar with the natural boundaries for communication and cooperation that arise from organizing IT around technology specialties, which are often referred to as technology silos. In the past, there was good reason to organize IT in this fashion, with few drawbacks, since technologies were rarely interdependent and not often business critical. Today, technologies are massively interdependent and businesses can no longer function without the aide of interdependent technologies. The drawbacks to…

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Services Have Types?

Service is an integrated composite that consists of a number of components, such as management processes, hardware, software, facilities and people that provides a capability to satisfy a stated management need or objective. IT services can be divided into customer/end-user facing IT services as well as services or sub-services that support customer facing IT services. Organizing services in this way ensures that all services have goals that include the needs of the customer. Defining customer…

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Customers Want Business Services from IT

Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) embodies the idea that the IT department is a service organization, delivering IT services to the business. As such, IT should be focused on creating and delivering IT services that are defined in business terms. For too long, IT has expected the business to learn technical language. This has led to unintended consequences, such as having business decision makers emotionally tied to specific technologies and micromanaging of IT by the…

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IT is Dead, Long Live IT

Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of basic ideas. – Alfred North Whitehead IT is a mere infant in the business world, having existed no more than a few decades. By contrast, professions such as accounting, production, economics, and marketing have been practiced for thousands of years, with at least three hundred years of well-documented experience to draw upon. For example, Adam Smith published his famous book “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776,…

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The Strategy Framework

Are you looking for a more consistent way to produce success in your personal and professional life? Strategy is the fundamental means by which we produce success in anything we set out to do and it can be learned quickly and easily. Find out how in this free whitepaper. Ron B Palmer – Strategy Framework – White Paper If you you have a Kindle then you can get an e-book version from Amazon.

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Service Catalog Maxims

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to Alice: I don’t much care where. The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go. Alice: …so long as I get somewhere. The Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough. – Alice in Wonderland One strategy is as good…

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IT Business Fundamentals Part 3a

ITIL’s Process Confusion NOTE: As promised in an earlier post, the confusion with the terms process and function will be cleared up in IT Business Fundamentals Part 3. However, due to the multiple points of confusion with these terms and my goal to publish a new and useful article each week, part three will be split into multiple sub-parts starting with “part 3a.”

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IT Business Fundamentals Part 2

Value Creation Drives Everything I still vividly remember speaking with a CIO of a multi-billion dollar government research facility about value and services. I posed the question to him, what value does IT produce for the business or what does IT sell? He took a little while to answer but ultimately he replied that “IT delivers IT stuff.”

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IT Business Fundamentals Part 1

IT as a Business System Why does IT exist as an organization? What is the IT organization? What is its purpose? These are fundamental questions that every IT executive should have clear answers to. Your success as an IT manager and the success of the IT department increasingly depend on your level of clarity around these basic management questions and how you build upon this foundation of knowledge.

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Creating Strategic Thinkers

One of my good friends told me of a challenge he and his manager were facing. They needed their people to think more strategically but were having difficulty achieving this seemingly simple objective. As we discussed the issue, I began thinking of the problem in terms of a framework for strategy.

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What is more vital to success, executing strategy or achieving goals?

Too many battles have been lost and business efforts failed because people are confused about these basic concepts. An excellent strategy does not guarantee success anymore than does achieving a goal. Success is an ephemeral or emergent idea than cannot be achieved with strictly linear concepts such as goal or strategy. Goals and strategy must interact within the confines of a system to create success. The two are intricately intertwined and cannot be easily separated.

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Where to Start

One of the most common questions in IT Service Management is “where do we start?”

It is a very common understanding that the IT infrastructure and therefore the management of IT is growing increasingly complex. ITSM solutions are commonly sold based on this knowledge and IT managers demonstrate significant pain from this reality. Increasing complexity is an integral part of our world today and is recognized in many areas such as science, politics, and religion. The explosion in technological innovation, however, is the driver for much of this complexity and is one of the areas in most need of solutions. Fortunately, there are tools that help people deal with complexity but they require a change in thinking and assumptions.

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The IT Manager in a New Era

To really understand the job of CIO you have to dig down to the fundamentals of why the IT department exists at all and build from there. Why do organizations find it necessary to create an IT department at all? Why doesn’t each department just handle their own IT? For that matter, why do we even use technology at all? The most fundamental answer is that technology adds value to the critical activities of the business.

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Defining success for ISO 20000, Section 9.1

There is significant confusion in the ITIL community about the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and Configuration Management. Some people believe that the CMDB includes every database and data-store used by IT to manage systems (I was formerly in this camp.) Others believe the CMDB is made up of only hardware and Software Configuration Items (CI). Many find themselves somewhere in the middle with fuzzy boundaries around what is and is not part of the CMDB.

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Companies Should NOT wait

How can you reasonably suggest to a company that needs to improve their operations and achieve better alignment with the business that they should wait. Waiting is what they have been doing for years. It has not helped anything. Telling customers to wait for a new and improved ITIL is like telling someone not to go to the doctor when they are critically ill because doctors aren’t perfect yet. This kind of thinking serves to highlight that IT just doesn’t understand business realities.

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Putting Configuration Management in its Place

I feel guilty every time I teach ITIL Configuration Management. Even though I’ve taught hundreds of students the foundations of ITIL and more than 95% of them pass the ITIL Foundations Exam, I still feel a twinge of guilt. Why would I feel guilty about teaching a core concept of ITIL? The simple answer is that students will waste significant resources trying to implement ITIL Configuration Management with little or no return for their investments.

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The CMDB: A Money Pit That Creates No Value?

The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is the most expensive and wasteful dead end in ITIL. The name itself entices technology managers to ITIL implementation failure like moths to a flame. ITIL with its metrics and management concepts is just so much fluff to most traditional technical people and IT managers. It is an unfathomable set of theories with nothing ‘real’ for technical people to grab onto, everything that is except the CMDB. A configuration management database, now that is something that IT can build.

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What’s next for ITIL and IT Service Management

The ITIL community is in a state of confusion at the moment. No one seems to be quite sure what the OGC is attempting to do with this move. I personally am not sure what all of this is going to mean for ITIL. What I do know is that IT Service Management is here to stay and it is up to the ITSM community to keep it alive and grow it into a respected professional discipline.

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Can an MBA become a programmer in two weeks?

If a very smart MBA with little or no computer science background took a two week intensive computer science course would they then be qualified to design, build, implement, and run a complex IT system? Most IT people would immediately answer that there is no way that this person would be qualified to do this.

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ITIL’s Journey of Acceptance

Yesterday, August 21, 2005, we delivered the first day of the first class for the first US graduate program in IT Service Management. This significant event occurred without fanfare or fireworks. Nine students took part in this seven-hour event.

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