Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dazed and Confused - Pink11 revelation

It's 6am Vegas time, and my head is spinning.  I am coming up on day 3 for me of one of my favorite conference venues Pink Elephant IT Service Management.  After years of studying, implementing, consulting and leading ITSM intitiatives and projects I woke feeling like someone had picked my pocket.

There I said it.  (actually' I've already tweeted it).

Why would I say this?  Me, after standing on soapboxes for so many years.
I don't know if it's the past year of doing the ITSM Weekly Podcast and listening to guests.  Having some gut wrenching discussion internally at Inforonics about our corporate strategy.  Maybe it has been reading the Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge (after reading this post Ian offered users a $50 discount. use Discount code "VigilantGuy" tx Ian) and meeting its author this week Ian Clayton.  I'm sure it's a  bit of all that, but's it's definitely 2 distinct events that have happened in sessions here at Pink.  Which is why this contiues to be one of my favorite venues.

Event #1) After a 45 minute panel discussion on Service Catalog (of which I had the pleasure of being on) the last question of the day was by a women who was frustrated by the inability to have services defined and asked "Besides Email, what are some other IT services".  I then hear each panelist rattle off System after system,  network, storage, etc..   It was clear this panel of Service Catalog (where you write down what the services are for the business) couldn't agree on what a Service is.

Event #2) In a panel discussion moderated by Rob England (aka The IT Skeptic) the topic was the elusive CMDB.  A source of consternation, frustration, and confusion throughout the ITSM industry.  The major point hit again and again: It has to be Service Aligned....  But wait, we can't define what a service is.
As I sat there and listened to the extremely passionate arguments, emotional lessons learned, and even one person honeslty begging for help.

We are trying to put Round Pegs in Square holes.  We are making up a layer that does not need to be there.  The IT Service layer is fabricated to fill a misconceived whole.  Well there is no whole.

Business Models are supported by Operational Models that are managed through systems and processes.  Business Services are the only services a business needs.  These can be supported through systems layer that correlates and integrates assets (technical or not).

Yet, that is not how ITSM community speaks and talks. In the ITSM community if my Business Model is about Hospitality, we still create this thing called Storage Area Network Services.  When did SAN Services become something people buy to get a hotel room.  They Don't!

So if I follow the current thinking on ITSM, I am supposed build and define the SAN Service, put it in a catalog, map it to a CMDB, and present its value to my CEO and ask him for a seat at the table.

If you were CEO, would ask me to sit down?

I can tell you what Captain Arbrashoff would say: "Beat it buddy"

Please tell me your comments or send me a tweet @vigilantguy  I would love to hear your response and thoughts on this.
On to day 3.


OfLittleConsequence said...

I often agree with you, but rarely do completely agree with you. I think you hit the nail right on the head with this one.

When you open a Macy's catalog, you don't expect to see "Picking & Packing Service" or "Warehouse Storage Service" listed - yet that's exactly what we're doing when we list "SAN" or "Network" in our "Business" Service Catalog.

This is the reason some organizations end up with 1,800 - yes, eighteen-hundred - services listed in their business service catalog!

Craig Wilkey

Rich Hand said...

Matt: In organizations where IT is not customer facing you still have the issue of defining the "service" for the internal customer. E-mail is a service as is the network because they enable the business units to perform their function. When there is an interuption in those services it is usually the result of a network failure, hardware failure, problematic release etc...
How would you define it for the IT customer in alignment with the business?
I understand your point that IT is seamless in the process for the business but when a IT system fails do you call it e-store, purchasing, or HR failure?
IT is a critical service to the business but it is a very complex relationship with the amount of components IT brings to the table; hardware, software, network, data storage, etc...
We need to see it from the business perspective but we do speak different languages when you get down to the nitty gritty of IT.
There is some responsibility of the business to understand how IT powers the business as well. In IT we often take the brunt of the responsibility when it is truly a shared service...
I think we can define what the business service is but that may have multiple IT components.

Great post. Sounds like a great conference!

OfLittleConsequence said...

When the business user goes to the Business Service Catalog, there is no need for them to see IT services listed.

The user should see what they use (for example, the stock trading solution) but they have no need to see the IT services that support those business services.

When the customer calls the Service Desk, all they need to say is that they can't use the stock trading solution. Why would they need to know, or care, anything about the network that delivers that solution?


Nate Beran said...

Like Rich said, its a matter of understanding where IT fits. I have the vision of revenue services and operational services. In my vision of the world those are two different catalogs - one external (the revenue services and your "macy's catalog" as Craig put it) and one internal (the operational services).

In service sector the idea is that IT supports the services that support the people providing the services that support the customer whose purchases pay our wages. There's a lot of layers there...which makes having the information CMDB gives you useful. But its messy and there's politics so its hard to wade through those semantics. Besides, that some services and systems are used across business units means some things just don't fit neatly into the template.

Do we have to change the traditional IT viewpoint that our systems are services to our customers (even if they're exclusively internal users)? I don't think so. Executives probably need to shift their viewpoint a bit to better understand how it all fits on an organizational level.

Disenchanted said...

I think the point that might have been missed in all of it is the fact that the services need to have a "consumer perspective" to them. Any non-IT company that allows the IT Services (SAN, email, capacity...) to surface anywhere near the business consumer or even business partner is insane. As crazy as the scenario is that Matt described, it's actually worse right now in most companies because they're not talking 'services' of ANY type.... they're talking servers and routers and harddisk space... WHAT THE @#@#$@# are we (IT people) thinking? Of course a CEO would not grant them a seat, damn.... don't even let them into the building.

From the business partner perspective, IMO, they should see very few IT Services available to them and in VERY generic terms like 'System Hosting' or 'Collaboration'. If it goes much deeper than that, IT has invited business in too deep.

OfLittleConsequence said...

Disenchanted: Yes!

Nate: That's why you build user profiles and filter views based on those profiles.

If I can't "order" it, I don't need to see it.

Kory G Smith said...

Matt, you and Craig have nailed it. In both of those panel sessions, (CMDB & Service Catalog), there was one underlying theme. The ITIL Industry has failed ITSM. ITIL was for a common language and assumed then also a common understanding #fail.

From educators that don't get it (imagine if all our teachers taught our students the right concepts but taught it wrong - society would be/is messed up...) to technology vendors that will sell you any buzzword for $1.5M whether you need it or can utilize it or can spell ROI, to Castle ITIL that continues to do nothing to create a community of these types of discussions let along capture and move the conversation to the next correct version/edition/release of the best practices (See Free ITIL at Skep's site).

So, we have excruciating conversations about email vs. collaboration vs. blah blah blah blah. The Business Service Catalog and the Technical Service Catalog is the right concept/theory/practice. As Craig notes, out business needs to look at our services and SEE and understand what they use. Unless your customer buys 2MB of throughput on your network, the network isn't the business service. Unless your users click on SQL to get their work done, the SQL DB service is not a Business Service. The Technical Service Catalog then should be renamed the System level of dependency mapping in your CMDB. (Castle ITIL, can we please remove the word Service from the Technical Service Catalog).

All that said, if we only focus and argue about what IT is doing and how we do it, we'll never 'get it'. Kudos to Ian for continually beating his Outside In drum. Shame on us and the industry to label him a heretic. Unless we all 'get that' Outside In view we won't truly get what it means to align/integrate with our business and earn/deserve a seat at the table.

Define your business services, identify IT's role in that production cycle, map the 'systems' and CIs that support those Business Services...

HelpDesk_Info (William) said...

Do we over complicate things in our terms?
We talk to much about IT in ITSM. We need to stop putting things in IT terms and put them in business terms if we want to be brought to the table.

Until we do, it is still Us vs Them . We need to start speaking business language and be customer value focused for them to buy in to OUR goals for service delivery.

Disenchanted said...

OfLittleConsequences.... exactly!! Our society is overburdened with WAY too much data already... if you look at the majority of initiative out there.... they all try to boil it down to what we need to see/deal with. This is no different, profile, personality and utility needs to play a role in what each consumer sees.

William - Totally agree. We need to talk about it as Business Service Management.... If you're in the "business" of delivering IT Services, cool.... if you're in the business of delivering 'end user business services' that is cool also...but they are NOT the same listing of available services.


Ian Clayton said...

Thank you Matt and Kory for the comments.

The whole point here is to lift the head of IT - look up - look around you - your 'customer' is anyone who consumes your resources for any reason to a purpose. Whether internal or external to your organization.

Your value is proportional to how well you understand their successful customer outcomes. It is tarnished or polished by the experience they have interacting with your services and your organization.

Satisfaction comes from a good experience, successful outcomes, at an acceptable/affordable cost.

To me service management at large, across all service industries is all about these elements. We must start to reconnect with our customers and why they need IT.

The methods are there. The Outside-In I speak to makes ITSM so, so much simpler to do. I'm so glad we all got the chance to explore the state of the ITSM union at Pink11 - long overdue.

Its time to reset our true north compass and define the next generation service management - across our profession...

Marc said...

Why do we as IT guys make it so hard on our selves? Are the people from legal putting their services in the business catalog? They don't. They probably don't even know/care it exists. They care about the good they can do for the company. As should we at IT.

Part of our instinct to pen everything down in clear instructions is to pen everything down. And by doing that, we created a service model to be used other departments in our company is one of the things that can make it perform better.

Don't over-estimate ITIL. It's GOOD practise after all. It is being practised in other places as wel. Maybe in legal as LSM! Do we know? Do WE care? We should. We should allign IT with legal, with real estate services, with manufacturing and all other departments that make it possible that the company sells stuff. Be that services or products.

We as IT guys learned with ITIl v3 how to run a company, not the company. It taught us that we have customers and that our biggest customer is our company. Or am I really that naive to think that our CEO's don't really already know what "adding value" is all about and why should we, from IT, suddenly have to tell him?


Thanks Craig, I do respect when your wrong. j/k I would have disagreed with me on this as well, industry wide failure and my own role change has given me new perspecitve. Glad we agree on this one, thanks for the comments.

Rich Hand, I couldn't agree more with your points on complexity and relationships. Which is the point. We in IT have created this ambiguous layer of IT Services, that ITSM tells us we need to treat like business services. My point is why? Why do I need to take all my Network Systems and group them to Network Services, that I then have to redistribute to business services. SKIP IT. Map you Network systems straight up to the business services. DONE. Better accountability, less complexity and no more ambiguity. IT doesn't have internal customers. They have business partners. These partners understand systems, everyone of them has some. HR has HR systems, Accounting has Accounting Systems (See Marcs points which I think are spot on). What they don't have is ambiguous made up services that have no real meaning to the rest of the organization. So when IT shows up with their fancy IT Service Catalog, they say, WHO CARES? HR doesn't take Employee On-boarding and make it a service. They create a process and use HR systems.

Nate, the layers is the problem. A business model works off operating models. These models require both revenue producing services, as well as operational services. What are the operational services that a business needs to have that only IT owns? I can not think of one for non-IT companies. If IT doesn't want to be siloed then they should stop setting up store fronts and telling business partners they are customers. They are not the customer.

Disenchanted (CC), great comments. You made me laugh about not letting them into the building. Though I am not sure not talking services being worse. Services are expensive, difficult to manage and timely. Creating fictitious services and modeling operational controls around an unneeded layer of ambiguity is damaging to the IT reputation and IT's ability to act as a business partner. Thus if they are at least talking about technology components, they can use this as an opportunity to say, we don't understand our business, please help. Then a partnership can formulate. So at least they may not have burned a bridge.


Ian thanks for jumping in here. All Ian has offered a discount on USMBOK if you go to and use the discount code: VigilantGuy

I really think this should be a panel discussion at the next conference: Where is the next ITSM conf? HDI? Let me know if you are interested.

Disenchanted said...

Matt - Glad I provided a chuckle.

My point really was that we need to find a common language that is not in the techie weeds... but like you said/implied and I agree, it shouldn't be insulting or intentionally ambiguous to the business partner. The point is that they remain a partner..... not an adversary and in a true open partnership, if they want to see the details, we should be able to show them. After they trust IT that they're doing right by them, I think they'll be perfectly content to stay at a higher level most of the time.

Kory G Smith said...

Agreed Matt - This is the right panel discussion that we all need to start with for the next conference. This would then lay the groundwork for a Catalog/Request/Brochure Part 2 and CMDB/Dependency Mapping Part 3 set of panels. Fusion/HDI is Maryland or DC. Good luck getting the topic in... :( Great to meet you at Pink. Keep beating the drum loudly and breaking models - sounds like it is working!

OfLittleConsequence said...

I think it can be as complex or as simple as we decide to make it.
We should understand what the users do & how they do it. Once we have that, basing the offerings on business processes & job functions is a cake walk.

Michael Cardinal said...

I have used the same basic definition of a service for 15 years of ITSM work:

Work done for others

Services are actions not things.

They give someone "The ability to...(fill in the business process blank)"

One person's opinion.