Is ITIL 2011 going to rock your world?

Perhaps because your attention was on other news, like the recent east coast earthquake or hurricane, you did not notice that a minor refresh of the ITIL V3 was released earlier this month. Announced as ITIL 2011 Edition, this refresh is not an earth shaking re-write, rather it is mostly an effort to clarify and correct some of the stickier points of ITIL V3. If you have not sat down and read these books cover to cover, perhaps the news that according to some this version is more readable, will motivate you to take up the task. Although, you should know that about 600 pages were added as they applied over 500 revisions.

Clearly it will take some time for the aftershocks to register, but an initial review shows that the essential areas of ITIL were not greatly impacted. The impact on Service Operations and Service Transition appear to be minor. Some critics had hoped for more changes in these areas, for example, incorporating more of the impact of cloud computing and the bigger role DevOps is playing.

Of course, the bottom line for ITIL and any changes to it, is how does it help your IT organization better serve the business and the customer, especially in light of the ridiculous, but oft repeated, theme in the media lately about the “the fall of IT department”. If you buy into that theme, you are likely hoping ITIL 2011 will ride to the rescue and offer insight on how to fend off the barbarians at the gates. It seems maybe the new Service Strategy book is the primary attempt to do so, as discussed here.

So, in conclusion, while your world may not have been rocked by this refresh of ITIL, it is good to stay on top of where ITIL is headed. Meanwhile, if like many IT practitioners, you did not yet have your head fully around the prior version of ITIL, especially the essentials as they relate to Incident and Change Management, then you may want to watch these videos that SunView Software produced with George Spalding of Pink Elephant, in them, he also summarizes the changes to ITIL 2011 Edition.

Top ITSM Headlines of the Week - 8/26/2011


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Survey Shows IT Not Ready for Change


Information Week published the 2011 State of the IT Service Desk Survey and there were some interesting findings. The survey found that 75% of the survey respondents are reporting that staffs are not growing while calls are increasing for more than 61% of respondents. The inability to grow the organization to keep up with demand may be due to the lack of measurement and being able to relate service desk to business objectives.

IT needs to gear up for change! The big driver to increased calls to the service desk is IT changes (new hardware, mobile equipment, architecture, etc.). It’s more important than ever for IT to implement IT service management best practices to get prepared for the very disruptive shift to cloud computing architectures and the growing consumerization of IT (SaaS, SmartPhones, Tablets, etc.).

Two key recommendations to help IT gear up for change:

1. Define business objectives and measurements – to get approval for expansion or additional tools, IT must establish clear business objectives and agreed-upon service level agreements with the business. In addition, IT needs tools that provide them the ability to manage the workload efficiently and report on the metrics that matter to the business.

2. Implement best practices and tools for essential IT service management processes:

Service Catalog – Implementing an actionable service catalog enables the business to quickly find resolutions to common problems, streamline service requests, and demonstrates business value for IT. The service catalog provides a great platform for improving collaboration with the business and distributing social knowledge.

Change Management – Having formalized change management processes is critical for controlling the volume of incident requests and maintaining availability of critical systems. Change Management software allows IT organizations to take advantage of great service management best practices like ITIL without having to become experts. Having the right solution will enable IT to reduce risk and handle a higher volume of change without incident.
Learn more about the Key Concepts Change Management form ITIL expert, George Spalding, Executive Vice President of Pink Elephant. Video

Service Desk – To meet the agreed-upon service level agreements with the business, you must have systems and processes to manage incidents. It’s imperative that organizations have a solution for managing, monitoring, and reporting on incidents. Most organizations today have a solution - but it’s costly and inflexible to change. Most organizations can reduce costs and improve service by implementing more modern tools.
Learn more about the Key Concepts of Incident Management form ITIL expert, George Spalding, Executive Vice President of Pink Elephant. Video

Service Asset & Configuration Management – To manage change and security, IT must know what they have in their infrastructure. Configuration management provides the information needed to establish improved security and to perform risk assessments for recommended changes to infrastructure.

Organizations are already seeing increased incidents from IT change. Focusing on four key processes and having the right tools can go a long way towards establishing order in the chaotic world of IT.

Top Headlines of the Week - 8/19/2011


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12 years later - Seven rules for being a great help desk analyst

There is an article on TechRepublic from 1999 I recently dug up about the rules for being a great help desk analyst. It is now twelve years later and although computers are faster and more reliable, help desks are receiving even more calls due to the increase in technology, not only in the office but now also mobile.

Let’s review the original seven rules:

1. Gain the trust and confidence of the user first.
2. Before any attempt at solving the problem, restate the problem to the user.
3. Avoid asking the user questions that begin with the words “Did you...”
4. Do your best to have the same setup as your users.
5. Never pretend you know more than you actually do.
6. One word: Empathy.
7. Do everything you can to make the call an enjoyable experience for the user.

Here is some analysis along with opinion on whether each rule is still valid

1.  Trust is important and should still be the first step. – Still valid, but organizations should provide more self-service options like having an actionable service catalog to reduce the need for direct contact with a help desk analyst.

2. Restating the problem makes sure you understand the question correctly. – Still valid.

3. Try and work through the problem instead of spending time asking about things the person likely has already tried. – Still valid, but having a searchable knowledge base available to users will help them resolve more issues before making a call.

4. Having the same setup is still valid if the computer is locked up or if the issue is hardware related. If the computer isn’t locked up, a screen sharing program can give the analyst the chance to fix an issue without actually being there. – Partially valid.

5. You should not pretend you know more than you do but now information is easier to access. Take a step back, search the knowledge base, gather information, and if you can be knowledgeable after that point give that answer with a disclaimer. – Partially valid.

6. Empathy is the name of the game, if you make the person feel like you care, you usually succeed. – Still valid.

7. This rule pretty much encompasses everything else on the list. If you do everything else on the list, this rule will never come into play. – Not necessary.

This list was well constructed, and you can tell someone involved with service was involved with writing. As seen in my analysis, this list still holds up for the most part. Advances in technology have adjusted how service is done and therefore have slightly changed the game. However, following these seven rules will still keep employees happy and feel more inclined to ask for help.  

Top Headlines of the Week - 8/12/2011



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How ITIL Addresses Security (Security Series - Part 2)

In my prior post, I presented the case that security, like quality, needs to be “built in” to an organization, and that ITIL provides a framework upon which to start building. In this post, I will highlight how each of the core sets of ITIL best practices contribute to improved security. Some of these practices are directly related to security, while others are foundational.

Overall, ITIL addresses security from all angles: strategically, tactically, and operationally. Along each of these angles, it does so iteratively through the PDCA cycle (plan-do-check-act), which as was discussed in the prior posting, is borrowed from Deming. The result is a holistic view of security that goes way beyond a focus on monitoring. Clearly there’s more to say on this than can fit into a blog post, if you want to read more, I recommend the ITIL v3 Security Book, especialy chapter 5.

What can be tackled in a blog post are examples that demonstrate some of the ways ITIL best practices help improve security, here are such examples:

Incident Management - Whether reported by human or a well-tuned monitoring application, potential security holes or attacks need to be investigated systematically. Auditors will want evidence that you have a system in place to log threats and to systematically investigate them. The responsibility for processing these incidents needs to be clearly assigned. An incident management tool can largely automate this. On the front end, the Service Desk by way of the Service Catalog, should help inform employees on which types of incidents to report and guide them through the act of logging the incident. There should be a specific incident type for routing and reporting on security issues.

Problem Management - The details of security threats flow in from the Incident function. Those reports that are real and require further analysis should be raised to the security team through Problem Management. As part of that analysis, learning should be feedback to the organization through the knowledge management system. As the problems are addressed, lessons will be learned regarding specific tools and technology, this should be distilled into best practices for the users and IT staff to follow more securely deploy and use those technologies. Where appropriate, this knowledge should be made available through the self-service portal’s knowledgebase.

Change Management - As changes are made, an auditable log must be kept of detailing the change and who approved it. Any change that has even the remotest possibility of introducing a vulnerability should go through a formal change process. Part of that process should include risk analysis. The risks to be analyzed are not only the likelihood of operational impairment, but also the risk of introducing vulnerabilities.

Release Management - If release management is not carefully controlled in an auditable way, it is easy for staff to intentionally or unintentionally deploy changes in a way that introduces vulnerabilities. Many organizations are fully automating the release of software, automatically staging and then pushing changes into production. This automation removes some of the human element, thereby not only reducing the chance for errors, but also eliminating some of the opportunities for an internal staff member to put in a back door, for example.

Configuration Management - The control and monitoring of configuration changes is probably the most obvious step toward improving security. Often malware attacks by first making a configuration change that opens the door more widely for it to attack, if it is clear how the system should be configured, then monitoring may point to the start of an attack.

Consumerization of IT Drives Need for Mature Change Management Processes


Consumerization of IT is driving unprecedented changes to the already complex environment that IT manages. Business departments are choosing their own mobile devices (see great infograhic on mobile computing from Dell), selecting business applications that are Software-as-a-Service, and acquiring cloud services to achieve business objectives. IT is consulted only after these decisions are made by the business and are required to respond to an ever increasing number of service requests.

The enterprise computing environment is quickly changing, but is IT managing change? IT must take control of change and ensure that security, reliability, compliance, integration, and operating costs are being evaluated before new IT capabilities are integrated into the portfolio. Every IT organization must implement formal change management processes based on best practices like ITIL to keep up with the pace of change. To get ready for this new age of IT computing you must implement automation software like ChangeGear™ to establish the appropriate controls for IT. The process automation enables IT to keep pace with the rapidly increasing number of business service requests and establish a formal process that:
  • Provides more visibility into all IT changes across the business
  • Increases ability of IT to respond to requests for IT
  • Improves ability of IT to evaluate risks and costs associated with technology acquisitions
  • Establishes streamlined communications between the business and IT
Big changes are coming for IT. The choice is to either implement processes and the appropriate management systems to deal with IT change or be prepared for IT chaos.

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