Serio Blog

Monday, 19 Nov 2007

This is a follow-up to last week's ITIL V3 post on the subject of Service Design.

Service Transition simply involves taking all the good work you did in the Service Design Phase and transferring this to a new or changed service which is available to your customers.

ITIL® defines the scope of Service Transition as follows

“a service transition includes the management and coordination of the processes, systems and functions required for the building, testing and deployment of a ‘release’ into production, and establish the service specified in the customer and stakeholder requirements.”

The processes involved in the Service Transition phase are:

  • Change Management
  • Service Asset and Configuration Management
  • Release and deployment Management
  • Service Validation and Testing
  • Evaluation
  • Knowledge Management

Again many of these processes will be familiar to you from V2, but let’s have a quick review….

Change Management – this should be a very familiar one for most of you. Change management exists to allow us to handle changes in a repeatable manner and ensure that the risk to the business is minimised. Change Management should address all service changes - described by ITIL® as:

“A Service Change is the addition, modification or removal of an authorised, planned or supported service or service component and its associated documentation.”

Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) – this process has the goal of identifying, controlling and accounting for service assets and configuration items.

Activities involved in SACM are

  • Management and planning
  • Configuration identification
  • Configuration Management
  • Status accounting and protection
  • verification and audits

Release and Deployment Management – This process is involved with the building, testing and deployment of the services specified during the Service Design phase and the early life support of these services.

Service Validation and Testing – This process is aimed at ensuring that the new or changed service actually does provide what it is supposed to and that it is “fit for purpose”.

Evaluation – This is a generic process, it aims to verify that performance is acceptable. This process provides valuable input to the Continual Service Improvement (CSI) process.

Knowledge Management – Knowledge management is important to every phase of the lifecycle, but it is of particular importance in the Service Transition Phase. A successful transition from Design to Deployment depends greatly on the quality of information available to users and the Service Desk.

Monday, 12 Nov 2007

This is a follow-up to last week's Service Strategy post.

ITIL® tells us that the key objective of the Service Design Phase is “the design of new or modified services for introduction into a production environment”.

There are seven processes which are key to the Service Design Phase

  • Service Catalogue Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Capacity Management
  • Availability Management
  • IT Service Continuity Management
  • Information Security Management
  • Supplier Management

Most of these processes will be familiar friends from ITIL® V2 but I will give you a quick reminder on what these entail

Service Catalogue Management – the development and maintenance of a Service Catalogue that provides accurate and current detail of all your services and etails the business process which they support. It will also show services that are in development. The Service Catalog is the portion of the Service Portfolio which is presented to customers.

Service Level Management – this is the bridge between the customer and the IT Department. This process defines the levels of service which must be delivered to the customer and takes responsibility for ensuring that the agreed levels are reached and that customers are happy.

Capacity Management – ensures that capacity corresponds to current and future needs of the customer – recorded in a capacity plan.

Availability Management – ensures that availability levels correspond to the levels agreed with the customer in their SLA. This process involves both proactive and reactive activities.

IT Service Continuity Management – Ensures that required IT facilities can be restored within the agreed time, it focuses on occurrences that can be considered “disasters”.

Information Security Management – ensures that the information security policy satisfies the organisation’s overall security policy. This must be a continual process.

Supplier Management – Monitors the performance of suppliers to ensure that a consistent quality of service is received at an acceptable price.

In addition to these processes, there are three activities associated with the Service Design Phase:

  1. Development of requirements
  2. Data and information management
  3. Application Management

Service Design must include the “4 P’s” of design to be effective:

People: the people, skills and competences involved in the provision of IT services

Products: the technology and management systems used in the delivery of IT services

Processes: the processes, roles and activities involved in the provision of IT services

Partners: the vendors, manufacturers and suppliers used to assist and support IT service provision

Tuesday, 06 Nov 2007

This is a follow-up post to ITIL V3 - what does it deliver?

This key phase looks at the design, development and implementation of service management as a strategic resource.  Service Strategy is critical to all the processes involved in the Service Lifecycle.

If your organisation has already adopted ITIL® processes for its Service Management, then the Service Strategy Phase can help you improve the synchronisation between your IT and Business strategies.  This part of the V3 lifecycle can be used as a guideline for developing an overview of your capabilities. 

Service Strategy urges you to think about “Why” rather than “How”…the “Why” is far more important to your customer’s business than the “How”.

The aim of Service Strategy is to identify your competition and then compete with them by making your business stand apart and by delivering superior performance.

ITIL® names the following building blocks of well-performing service providers:

Market Focus – know where and how to compete

Distinguishing capabilities – create distinctive and profitable assets that the business appreciates

Performance anatomy – organisational standpoints that are measurable and feasible, such as viewing services as a strategic asset in which constant improvement is necessary.

The Service Strategy phase of ITIL® V3 can help your organisation to do business in a strategic manner. It encourages you to ask the questions that will help you stand apart from the competition. You should emerge from this phase with a clear vision of where you want to be and what milestones you need to reach to achieve that vision.

There are three processes involved in this phase of the lifecycle.

  • Financial Management
  • Demand Management
  • Service Portfolio Management

Financial management is critical to ensure that the correct financing is available for delivery and purchase of services.

The goal of Demand Management is to predict and, if possible, regulate demand.  Poorly managed demand is a risk on two fronts.  Excess capacity results in cost that cannot be recovered.  Insufficient capacity impacts the quality of service and limits its growth.

Service Portfolio Management (SPM) starts with the Service Catalogue. The process is dynamic and ongoing and comprises the following stages

  • Define
  • Analyze
  • Approve
  • Charter  

I'll follow this up later with more about ITIL V3.

Wednesday, 31 Oct 2007

So you have invested time and money in becoming a qualified ITIL® professional. With the changes in V3, are these qualifications still valid and meaningful?

This is probably one of the biggest debates in the IT Service Management community currently.

What I can tell you about the current state of play regarding qualifications is that there are bridging courses now available at Foundation level so that you can upgrade existing V2 qualifications to the V3 framework. The Bridging exam and syllabus for the Manager’s certificate is still under review and last I heard it will not be available until the first quarter of next year.

The V3 Foundation training is being reviewed in the light of concerns raised regarding the emphasis on Continual Service Improvement and Service Strategy; changes are likely to the syllabus as a result of this.

There has been some interesting discussion on the topic of exams and training for V3 on the IT Skeptic blog.

The new Manager’s qualification (the ITIL Diploma – although the name is still up for debate) will be made up of credits – you will be able to pick and choose the areas which apply best to the area you are working in to gain sufficient credits for the qualification.

There is a planned level above the ITIL Diploma qualification (Advanced Service Management Professional qualification), but details on this still seem to be a bit sketchy – there is not expected to be much more available on this until next year.

My own personal opinion is that the tried and tested V2 syllabus and exams are still valuable and valid qualifications. These qualifications are likely to remain available past the end of 2008 following feedback from the ITSM community. If I was looking at starting out now I would be trying to get my V2 qualifications and then bridge these to V3 once the syllabus and exams have had all the kinks ironed out of them.

From what I have seen of the proposed structure for the ITIL Diploma qualification, this will be a FAR more economical way to get this prized qualification under your belt. The number of training days required to get enough modules for the Diploma qualification if you start from scratch with V3 is going to make this qualification financially out of reach for many in the industry, it is hard enough to build a business case to do the V2 Manager’s certificate – the training days required for the V3 Diploma appear to be 2-3 times as many.

To get the new diploma you need to get 22 credits by taking the foundation course and various practitioner courses. From what I have been able to find so far it would appear that each course, worth 3-4 credits will take you around 30 hours of training - so you are looking at around 180 hours of training time to get the diploma. The V2 Manager's certificate was around 80 hours including the Foundation. It appears that the V3 Bridging course will also be around 30 hours. So doing the math, it is pretty obvious that getting the V2 qualifications and bridging is going to save a lot of time and money!

One thing to remember though, the pass rate for the Manager's bridging exam has been set at 80%, so you are really going to have to know your stuff to pass.

Some of the information on the qualifications is still a bit hazy, and it is a bit hard to get the full picture until the new courses start and people begin to get these qualifications, but I know what I would be recommending right now.

While the return to training organisations for each person who qualifies for the Diploma will be far greater than for the V2 Manager’s certificate, I think it will be a hard sell to get people to make the financial commitment needed to get there. So while I have heard a number of comments about what a windfall this is to trainers, I have a feeling that the opposite may be true…I guess time will tell.

Monday, 29 Oct 2007

ITIL® V3 was unveiled in May 2007. So what does it really mean to your business? If you designed the management of your IT Service on ITIL® processes, do you need to make changes?

The short answer is no…if you have robust processes that are delivering what your customers need and want then you don’t need to change anything.  The ITIL® v2 processes are still a valid and proven way to structure your IT Service offerings.  Maybe there is some added value you could get from investigating v3, but my advice is “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!”

What v3 can help you do is move from an implementation of individual ITIL® processes to a truly service-centric model.  It gives you the ability to bring transparency to the relationship between IT and the business.

If you are new to ITIL® and looking at implementing processes then v3 gives some very good advice, it is more prescriptive than previous versions and gives you process models, flowcharts and organisational charts to help you model the processes in your organisation.  This is something that was missing in V2 and the most common complaint I heard about ITIL® – “it doesn’t tell us HOW to do it”.

This more detailed guidance can help you speedup ITIL® implementations and make them more cost effective.  You must remember, however, that these templates are just guides, you still need to determine your own business and IT requirements.  If you do not do this, no process design, flowchart or template is going to deliver the desired results.  The old adage still applies – you get out what you put in.

ITIL(R) V3 looks at service management from a lifecycle approach.  The lifecycle approach aims to give an improved and holistic structure to the functions, processes, roles and responsibilities that make up IT Service Management.

The Service Lifecycle has 5 distinct phases.  Each of the new ITIL® volumes describes one of these phases.

  1. Service Strategy
  2. Service Design
  3. Service Transition
  4. Service Operation
  5. Continual Service Improvement

Service Strategy is the hub around which the other phases revolve.  Service Strategy has links to all other phases.  This is where you make your policies and set your objectives.  The other phases are where you implement these strategies.

While Service strategy is the hub, Continual Service Improvement is an all encompassing phase which concentrates on learning from and improving on all the other lifecycle phases. ITIL® V3 still has the familiar processes from V2, these processes may belong in more than one of the lifecycle phases.

The  path of the Service Lifecycle is from Service Strategy to Service Design, to Service Transition and on to Service Operation.  Then we go through the Service improvement phase which puts us back to Service Strategy and so on.

Wednesday, 24 Oct 2007

This is a follow-up post on the subject of Change Plan Templates (the last post is here). I propose that this will be the last in the series, at least for a while, because there are other subjects I'd like to cover.

Recall, we've now create a Change Plan Template (CPT) on the non-IT subject of how to change a wheel, and have created both Stages and Tasks to represent that. You'll have noticed you could populate the editing forms with a lot more data – you can explorer these separately, my aim was to complete the CPT with the minimum amount of fuss and as quickly as possible.

As a reminder, please note that the blog here at seriosoft.com isn't product documentation – you'll find all of that distributed with the product – just press F1 within SerioAdmin or SerioClient to access the HowTo guide.

You can see how the CPT looks in the flowchart view in Figure 1.CPT in flowchart view

With the Change Plan we currently have, Serio can follow the Stages we've defined, and can create Tasks for people to perform. The people working on the Tasks can Action them (i.e., resolve them) using the Actions that they would normally. However, it's often much nicer to create just a few Actions that are relevant to the Change Plan Template in hand, and to only present these to Agents.

Example: If you have an Authorisation Task, it is much nicer if the only Actions offered to those performing the authorisation are Accept or Reject.

 

Figure 1 - CPT in flowchart view

I'm going to make it so that for each Task that is created as part of this Change Plan Template, there are just 3 Actions as follows:

Resolved
Note
Assignment
 

This is how you do it.

1. Login to SerioAdmin, and open a new Change Explorer.

2. Expand 'Change Set-up' and click on 'Change Plan Templates'.

3. Open the 'Wheel Change' CPT for editing by double-clicking.

4. Open Stage 1 for editing, and then edit the first Task which will be 'Deploy Safety Warning Triangle'.

5. Go to the Task Options tab in the Task editor. The first thing we are going to do is create a new Action Category called 'Change std'. To do this, click the new Action Category icon – it's displayed to the right of the Action Category lookup (as a blank sheet of paper). Create the new Action Category as follows:

Name: Change std
Long Name: Standard Change Actions
 

and when you are ready, save this and close the Action Category editor.

6. Back within the Task editor, select the Action Category you created above into the lookup – this tells Serio 'don't show all Actions, just offer the ones contained within this Category'.

7. At the bottom of the editor you'll see a list of Actions – which is currently blank, as we haven't added any yet to the Action Category. We can do all we need to do here however. Simply right-click in the list, and choose 'Edit Action Categories'. Simply move over the Actions you want into the Action Category, and then save your work. Close the Task editor.

8. For each of the remaining Tasks, repeat Step 6 – simply use the Change std Action Category in the lookup. There is no need to keep re-configuring the Action Category as we've already done that in step 7, so it will take almost no time.

The Change Plan is now ready to go. To use it, log a Change and then click the 'Attach Change Plan' button. Serio will respond by logging a linked Task for you, as directed in the Change Plan Template.

I'll do a short post later about some of the simpler management tools at your disposal. Have fun!

Thursday, 18 Oct 2007

As some of you are aware, we’re currently working hard on a major upgrade to both the Serio Helpdesk and Serio Service Desk lines, which we are planning to release in the next quarter (although a firm release has not been set yet).

Currently the changes list details some 40 amendments, some big, some small.

The ‘big-ticket’ items relate to web access and web functionality.

PocketSerio-i

The first of these is PocketSerio-i. This is a browser-based piece of software that complements our mobile product line by allowing you to:

Manage Incidents and Changes

Manage Items

from a handheld, mobile device. We’ve been quite careful with what we assume that the host browser is capable of (ie, it doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest Internet Explorer version, or even Internet Explorer at all), so it should run on a wide-range of hand-held devices that have an ‘always on’ internet connection.

This product doesn’t replace PocketSerio, it complements it. PocketSerio is still good for users that need a download/work and edit/upload model where no persistent wireless internet connection exists.

PocketSerio-i however is aimed at mobile engineers performing site visits to resolve problems, and those performing on site inventory checks and reconciliations where the engineer has an always-connected device. PocketSerio-i actually been around for some time, but Release 5 will be the first time we've bundled it with the standard distribution.

For the technically minded amongst you, PocketSerio-i is an ASP.NET application that uses SerioServer in the same way as the other Serio applications do (in other words, it's a another client using the same business object layers).

As soon as we've sorted-out a few hosting issues, you'll be able to obtain access to this over the web. Simply contact support, letting them know the exact model designation of the mobile device you are using, and the type of wireless connection you have, and we'll send you the access details once we know them. The system will be connected to a simple database we'll set-up for you.

SerioClient-i

Although this won't replace SerioClient, at least in Release 5, it will allow customers to log Incidents, Problems and Changes over the web, as well and manage Incidents, Problems and Changes. It will certainly allow you to log new tickets, and to place Actions on them (for instance, so make assignments, send eMails, or record resolutions).

Like I said, the plan is not to replace SerioClient immediately but to offer SerioClient-i as an alternative for off-site working.

There are other enhancements due as well. I'll post about these at a later date. Release 5 will be available to customers with a current (active) support plan.

Tuesday, 16 Oct 2007

This is a follow on from last week’s imaginatively titled post ‘Creating a Change Plan Template Part 3’ – follow the posts backwards to catch up.

Recap: I’m creating a simple 4 Stage Change Plan Template (CPT) on the subject of how to change a wheel. So far, I’ve done all the up-front designing I need to do, I’ve created an empty Change Plan, and into this I’ve placed 4 Stages as per my design.

So far so good. At the moment, we still can’t use this CPT because it does not have any Tasks. As I’ve mentioned previously, Tasks are the things the people actually do, and so a Stage without any Tasks is not much use.

I’ve already written down my Tasks – you’ll find them in Parts 1 and 2. What I’ll do now is add them to the Change Plan Template, which you can do as follows.

1. Login to SerioAdmin, and then open a Change Explorer.

Because we are going to create Tasks, we need to create something called an Issue Template. This is basically a shortcut for an Incident – it contains the Issue Type, Problem Area, Priority and other such data. We'll use it when creating the Task.

2. Expand ‘Change Set-up’ and click ‘Issue Templates’. Open-up a new Issue Template editor, and create an Issue Template as follows:

Name: Generic/Generic Issue Template
Description: (You can leave this blank if you wish).
Enter some non-specific values for Issue Type and Problem Area. Examples might be:
 
Issue Type: Change
Problem Area: Change Task
 

Set a medium or moderate Priority, and save your work.

4. Within the Change Explorer, click ‘Change Plan Templates’.

5. Select the ‘Change Wheel’ Template, open the flowchart viewer as I described in my last post, and then double-click the 'Change Wheel' Template to begin editing it. You’ll see the Template details and the Stages all listed in the editor form.

6. Double-click the first Stage, called ‘Location Inspection’. This will allow you to edit that Stage. Notice that at the bottom of the Stage edit form there is a list of Tasks – which is of course empty. Right-click here and click ‘New’ from the pop-up menu to add a new Task.

7. Using the Task form, create a Task as follows.

Task Name: Deploy Safety Warning Triangle
Task No: 1
Description: The safety triangle should be deployed about 50 metres behind the vehicle. If you are on a bend, choose a location that gives good visibility to traffic travelling in your direction (Notice that the description is basically the same as the one I created in Part 1.).
Issue Template: Generic (the one we created earlier in this post).
 

Save this Task.

8. Close the Task editor down, and you’ll see the Task you’ve just created listed with its Stage. Now repeat the process for the second Task which is called ‘Inspect the location of the Vehicle’.

Task Name: Inspect location of Vehicle
Task No: 2
Description: If you are changing a driver-side wheel, and are close to the flow of traffic, abort the Change. If the vehicle is in the flow of traffic, abort the Change.
 

Save your work.

9. Close down the Stage editor we have open for Stage ‘Location Inspection’. For each of the remaining 3 Stages, add the Tasks I wrote down in Parts 1 and 2.

The CPT is almost ready to go. The next post will create the Actions we need, and then we can run it.

Friday, 12 Oct 2007

Just as we are getting our heads round the idea of online applications, the wheel, we are told, is turning a full circle and the focus is moving back to the desktop. A number of browser plug ins are bringing applications out of the browser and creating hybrid apps that have been dubbed the new webtops. These include Microsoft’s Silverlight, Google’s Gears and Adobe’s AIR. Crucially though, Adobe takes things a step further with AIR, which can operate entirely independently of the browser. The race is on to develop must-have website applets for the desktop, keeping websites in the user’s face as never before, which is exciting the marketing and media types, and potentially replacing core desktop applications such as word processing with hybrid web/internet applications, which is scaring IT support. But why should the hapless user give up precious desktop space anyway? This confusing state of affairs is best clarified by example. A developer might write a desktop application that links to an online service allowing local storage to be combined with online features such as streaming media. The success of this latest generation of webtops lies as always with the killer app. In a move that could well put pressure on Google’s online apps offer, Adobe bought up the Buzzword online word processor this month as part of its strategy for internet application development. Buzzword was built with Adobe's Flex and runs in Flash, allowing people to collaborate on documents - and work with hosted and local documents. As well as its purchasing muscle, Adobe is using the latest crowdsourcing development methodology, running an AIR developer derby with $100,000 for the winning developer and last week it got together with MTV to launch another big ticket developer competition. Some big names have got in the web-desktop act – Ebay, AOL, The New York stock exchange NASDAQ and Business Objects are reported to have demoed hybrid applications for business and consumers. Applets can be knocked up in AIR by web developers in HTML (JavaScript, CSS, XML) and Adobe Flash (ActionScript, Flex, XML) and can be run on Windows or Mac operating systems, with versions for Linux and mobile devices in the pipeline. A big advantage is that browser specific code can be used to create the independent desktop app too. Downsides are the 10Mb runtime load and the need to install the application. Regular readers may remember mutterings about the security threats posed by desktop gadgets and widgets and there are similar murmurings that webtop hybrids carry the same risk of being a chink in the network armour. That health warning aside though, the results of the AIR developer derby should make interesting viewing. [tags] Adobe AIR, Applets [/tags]

Tuesday, 09 Oct 2007

This is a follow-up to Part 2, posted last week. Recall I’m setting-up a simple 4 Stage Change Plan Template (CPT). The previous posts carry all of the background and set-up info you need.

So far, you’ve created a CPT. However, it isn’t terribly useful at the moment in that it’s just a hollow shell – it has no Stages, and no Tasks. However, as we’ve written these down beforehand it’s a simple case of data entry. Follow these steps carefully to get the rest of the data entered.

1. Login to SerioAdmin, and open a new Change Explorer.

2. Expand ‘Change Set-up’ and click on Change Plan Templates. You’ll see the Change Plan ‘Wheel Change’ we created in Part 2. Make sure this is highlighted, and then right-click on it and choose ‘Show Flowchart’.

This is where having a big, high resolution display comes in handy. Move the Flowchart window over to the side, so that you can still see it and use SerioAdmin at the same time.

3. Right click on ‘Change Wheel’ and then click ‘Amend’.

4. You’ll be presented with the Change Plan Template edit form. Look to the bottom of this, and you’ll see a list of Stages, which is (of course) blank – because we haven’t defined any.  Right-click on this list and select ‘New’.

5. You will now see the ‘New Stage’ form. Create your first Stage as follows.

Name: Location Inspection.
Stage Number: 1 (recall we previously defined this [Stage Number 1] as the starting Stage).
Description: Use the summary I created for this Stage – the one beginning ‘Check that the car is not in a dangerous location…’. This helps you to focus on what this Stage is for.
 

That’s all we need to enter for now.  Save your work. Notice that the flowchart has updated for you.

6. Now repeat the process, and create Stages for ‘Inspect spare wheel and tools’ and ‘Replace wheel’. When creating these, increment the Stage Number you use, so that Inspect is Stage Number 2 and Replace is Stage Number three.

Example flowchart

7. When you create the final Stage (Safety Inspection) you need to do things in the same way, but before saving click the ‘Stage Start/End’ tab you’ll find on the Stage editing form. We need to tell Serio this is our end point (i.e., this is where the Change ends). Click this tab, and choose the option ‘End the Change Plan’ and then save your work.

The flowchart will now show you how your Stages look within the CPT. It should look something like the flowchart in Figure 1.

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1 - Example Flowchart

Let’s recap what we’ve done. We’ve create a Change Plan Template, and then defined the 4 Stages that comprise this. We’ve entered this into Serio, which is now able to show us a graphical representation of what is involved in Wheel Change (in as much as it knows the correct order of Stages). However, the CPT is not useable right now because there are no actual Tasks for people to perform. What we have now however is a framework into which those Tasks can be added.

I’ll move onto Tasks and Actions in the next post.

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