Monday, 16 December 2013

Personal Mission Statement

I made fun in my last post about a "naughty" list for ITSM but please don't be deceived. I, and those around me that I care about very much have been deeply hurt about some of the developments in our "community"

So let me state very clearly my personal agenda.

I'm not an idealist, I like to think I'm a realist. Much of what we do in IT is driven by commercial imperatives. I have a very tough financial target to reach each year. Most of what you see of me here and on other social media  has to fit into the margins of managing an eight figure P+L account.

I was criticized recently for overvaluing the "real world" of practitioners over that of conferences and think tanks. Well I'm sorry, but that is reality. ITSM takes places at the coal face. Time spent in committees and conferences helps the community and I've spent my fair share of time doing it over the last 25 years, but it isn't where ITSM happens.

I also come from a very ethical, rational and let us by very honest a very British background. That actually means not that I'm hell bent on political and economic domination of world economies, after all we lost our empire long before I was born, but rather that I believe in democracy, community and valuing others.

In recent months I've been accused of xenophobia. That is incredibly hard to stomach when I've worked across different geographies most of my life and currently work for an Indian company managing a multinational team.

I also believe deeply in the sharing of IP, and have long been a supporter of the Creative Commons Licence. I also realise though that commerce depends on the protection of IP, especially when that IP was created as part of a commercial arrangement.

To put this in practical terms I think there is lots of IP in our industry that is twenty years old and deserves to be set free because retaining it doesn't benefit anyone. But don't for one moment forget the investment UK government made in developing ITIL and that ITIL is theirs's (and now AXELOS's) to do with whatever they want.

There are behaviours that I'm afraid are prevalent in any industry that are also found in IT and ITSM that I find abhorrent. Let me be very clear what they are, and that I will not tolerate them:
  • Censorship of opinions that differ from your own because they don't fit with your contingent agenda
  • Bullying of those perceived to be weaker than yourself.
  • Claiming to speak for the community, the great unwashed and  the disenfranchised when you don't 
  • Setting rules you can't and don't live by yourself
  • Spreading FUD in support of a personal agenda
  • The rewriting of history to suit yourself
This has always been, and always will be, an independent blog. Long may it remain so.

Naughty or Nice

So once again it is the time of year when I start to think about my ITSM predictions for the year ahead. Looking back I think I'm going to invoke the qualifying statement I made in 2012. Just because they haven't come true yet doesn't mean they aren't going to. I'm going to finish my ITSM year with a change of direction and instead of predictions I'm going to give you my  Naughty or Nice list. Those who are on the naughty list might want to look out for the ITSM Krampus paying them a visit

So, let me review last year's predictions.

I said that Service Integration was going to be big, and  it certainly has been and continues to be so . SI, SIAM, MSI call it what you will but it is turning out to be a significant element in pretty much all the major European outsourcing deals, especially those that cover multiple geographies and we are seeing increasing interest in North America. If you want to know more then Pink14 is probably the place to be early next year. There will be an MSI think tank reporting back on the topic, and I'll be speaking on the cultural lessons to be learned.  I suspect in 2014 we will see tool vendors talking about their  explicit support for SIAM.

Service Architecture is now set to be a fundamental building block to the future shape of ITIL with the Taking Service Forward initiative. The need to impose some form of architectural rigor on the ITSM world was a key point to come out of the initial workshops with AXELOS. It is also clearly a key requirement of any IT department that is going to survive and thrive in the coming storm that the end of the recession will bring....more on that later.

The same could be said for the non-ITIL version of Service Design and I continue to be disappointed that this isn't seen as a vital part of the ITSM toolbox. Meanwhile the issues around Shadow IT 2.0 appear to be manifesting themselves primarily in the security realm, with unknown quantities of data finding their way on to BYOD and non corporate Google Docs and Dropbox accounts.

I'm glad to see that Service Desk 2.0 is beginning to gain some traction and Aale's hard work promoting it is beginning to pay off as people realise that the current view of service desk, incident, request, and problem  is not fit for purpose.  The need for soft skills  has been highlighted by the selection of skills as one of the #ITSMBig4 topics by itSMF UK. Interestingly Andreas Kis's presentation on Business Relationship Management  has now had over 7000 hits on slide share and remains in high demand for international conferences.

The impact of the need for hard facts and hard choices is going to be a killer in the next eighteen months. I'm already seeing our major clients preparing for the end of the recession. At one level this is good news, especially since it is being recognized that all aspects of IT have been suffering from unsustainable levels of under investment.  The bad news is that IT isn't going to have a free ride as we come out of recession. The need to support a return to strategy driven by mergers, acquisitions and divestitures is going to put a lot of pressure on IT departments, and rightly or wrongly, they will be in the firing line if IT gets in the way of that strategy.

Is ITIL up for the challenge or is it still "so 2011" Well as it stands I don't think it is, but I've been encouraged by much, though not all, that AXELOS  have managed to do so far and what they have planned. I'm particularly happy with the way they have reached out to the international ITSM community. My concern is that they need to be more agile than the customer base for ITIL whilst not raising questions about organisations existing investment in ITIL. They have a tough challenge ahead of them and the jury is definitely still out. I'll say more about this in the New Year

What about my prediction of a new kind of ITSM event? Well it looks like my 2012 prediction was closer to the mark, with the established events taking a hard look at how they could be improved. My takeaway from all those I was directly or indirectly involved in is that the organisers are all making a real effort to respond to the needs of the community and thriving in world where the new SocMed is face to face contact. Charlie Araujo deserves a special call out for sticking his neck out with the RevNet idea at Fusion that led to SMCongress even if I stand by my apparently heretical stance that SM Congress has to prove its value before being hailed as a success.

Obviously the same old same old prediction came true. That is how it should be. I think I've been proven right about the decline of ITSM blogs as well.

If I got anything wrong then clearly it is that the ITSM world still hasn't woken up to the need to address the scarily complex parts of ITIL and ITSM, like cost and capacity, that can't be solved by sound bite solutions.

Looking forward to next year my predictions, which should come as no surprise given the above, are:
  • SIAM and MSI will reach the tripping point where they are a significant aspect of any major outsourcing deal and ITSM solutions will be judged by their ability to support SIAM
  • The ITSM world will increasingly reach out to other allied disciplines, such as architecture, devops, and auditors rather than trying to re-invent the real. This won't be out of choice but because it will be the only route to survival.
  • Business strategy, and therefore IT strategy, will be dominated by MA & D
And now, my naughty or nice list.

The Nice List

Sadly one of our number that Father Xmas won't be visiting this year is Ashley Hanna who died recently. I don't claim to have known him as well as many. My main contact with him was in BSI/ISO committee meetings. Anyone who has been involved in those will know that they could try the patience of a saint. Ashley was always the first to volunteer for such mind numbing tasks as reviewing a draft of the standard for the umpteenth time, or mapping exhibit A against exhibit B. He was a deserving winner of an itSMF Paul Rappaport award and will be much missed.

I'm glad to say that Stuart Rance, the most recent recipient of that award, and an erstwhile colleague of Ashley's, is very much still with us, and remains one of the nicest people in the industry. 

I've already mentioned Charles Araujo for his bravery in setting up RevNet but he earns his mention here for the way he managed the aftermath of the SM Congress "debate" on SocMed. 

Actually I think 2013 was a year when itSMF chapters around the world stepped up to the mark and improved their game by listening to their members and encouraging new voices in ITSM. 

And whilst I'm still in the skeptical camp I think everyone at AXELOS deserves a special mention. I don't think many people realise how small the team there is.

Finally I'm going to mention Sophie Danby because in 2013 she has done so much to reach out and support individuals in our community and has made so many events truly social. 

So boys and girls, as an expectant hush falls over the auditorium and we come to my naughty list let me remind you there is still time to mend the error of your ways.

And now we have to leave the ITSM Naughty List Awards  for a repeat of Gogglebox*.

*Oh deary me, I seem to have mad a UK centric cultural reference, that must be clear evidence of my inherent xenophobia.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Code Complete

Browsing over my bookcase the other day, in search of books that could be replaced with a Kindle version to free up much needed physical space I came across my old copy of Code Complete.

I've been flicking through it with more than idle curiosity since I've recently been playing around in Python before taking the plunge and buying a Raspberry Pi to support a domestic dark budget project.
This is the book I wish I'd had at the start of my IT career when I constantly felt I was reinventing the wheel. It offers the sort of guidance that is useful in the real world. Clearly the content is driven by the sorts of things people did  back then, such as  "debugging by superstition". Obviously no one would fall in to that trap these days. 

The more I reread the book the more I remembered embarrassing coding errors from my past, but also how valuable those experiences have in shaping my current world view. It is vital in the ITSM world that we promote and value the service desk, but it is also incumbent on us  to remember that the rest of IT is also important, and has their own best practice, their own cultural values, and their own ways of messing things up.

It also reminded me that in our headlong rush to embrace new frameworks we too often forget that  IT is not a new industry and surprisingly few of the issues and challenges we face are genuinely novel, or require completely new ways of working. More often than we admit our "new" ways of working are anything but new. Instead they are either the re-invention of preexisting good practice or the repetition of an approach that didn't work the last time somebody tried it and probably won't work this time around.

This was brought home to me during the recent twitter chat on the #ITSMbig4 driven by @itSMFUK. One of the key topics identified  is "Back to Basics - revisiting the basics for today's rapidly changing, multi-service provider IT environments" 

The twitter chat that followed the announcement of this topic was quite interesting. There is a recognition that this isn't about repeating the material that belongs on ITIL 101 training courses. Rather it is about reminding people of why we do ITSM,  about helping people do the basics well, which they know they struggle with, and not focusing on esoteric aspects of ITSM when users still can't work on their first day in the job because their IT access hasn't been enabled.

I look forward to seeing where this goes over the next year.

Meanwhile for those still wondering about the relevance of a ten year old book on coding best practice I'll point you in the direction of the author's more recent book on Rapid Development which is now taking up much deserved space on my Kindle.