March 2010 Archives

I am always amazed by my customer's lack of willingness and acceptance to admit they have issues, problems or the fact that they are not fully realizing the benefits from a current process / tool or recent service / system implementation. I believe one of our industry's biggest maturity issues is the lack of desire to continually ask these questions:

    1. "why are we doing it this way"
    2. "what is the end-product / results / benefits realized by doing it this way"
    3. "how do we translate / relate these end-products / results into business value"

Remembering that IT services are a "means to an end" and the end is the resulting business value created by implementing a technology-enabled business solution. BSM leaders should always challenge conventional wisdom and approach all situations with an assessing eye and a keen sense of inquiry delivered by asking the right questions. We should hone our question asking skills (much like Sherlock Holmes) so that they delivered in the most appropriate manner given any situation, personality or circumstance. Knowing when to ask open-ended vs. closed-ended questions or knowing when to ask a follow-up question vs. just writing it down for later review and approach are two examples of many when it comes to be a great questioner.

We should be sensitive and understanding to the people we are seeking answers from, but at the same time our questions should not be directed to make creators of the "sacred cows" feel like we are questioning their motives, work or decision. Questioning is a realization that everything eventually will change, especially the business and technology drivers. The faster our industry can 'get over' personalizing and emotionalizing questioning in the pursuit of continuous improvement - the better off every customer and employee will be!

Remember: Ask a question - Save a business!  

Having got my latest rant off my chest in the previous entry I would like to return to the whole area of cloud / dynamic computing. 

In an earlier entry, what I threw open to debate was how do you set, measure and report SLAs in a cloud environment? Who owns the service? Who reports to whom? Who knows how to react to a problem? Is it critical to them as a provider or critical to you as their customer? What does an outsourcing contract look like in a "Cloud" world"? etc. etc. 

What's going round my brain at the moment is taking this further into the whole world of dynamic computing, where everything is in a constant state of change. One of the key components in a BSM world is the CMDB, which is difficult enough to populate in a static environment. How is discovery going to work in a dynamic environment? How rapidly is it going to discover and react to the change? Is discovery going to be tied into change and compliance management so that changes, which do not fit the (hopefully established) business policies are rejected? etc. etc.

I would be very interested in your thoughts or any experiences anyone would like to share on managing a dynamic environment.
For those of an advanced age like myself, you may recognise "Silence is Golden" as being a fairly awful song from the 60s by the Tremeloes. For the younger readers, Chip Hawkes played bass for them and is the father of one-hit wonder Chesney Hawkes. Who says you learn nothing from blogs?!?

Anyway, having ordered my wife's new PC at the weekend, I had thought that by now I would have received an email saying thanks. However, nothing from them, not a sausage, just a recommendation to use their order tracking system. Unfortunately the order tracking system doesn't work until they have taken your money, which they haven't done yet. Now that does surprise me as most people nowadays take your money in a nanosecond and then take ages to actually deliver anything.

Anyway, all this silence reminds me of sitting in airports waiting for planes. Tell me it is going to be late and how long I have to wait and I'm frankly not too worried. Tell me nothing and I'm climbing up the walls. Worst was Shanghai, where it took me an hour to find anyone who actually spoke a word of English and then all I got was "Plane late". Gosh, you don't say, and could that be due to the fact that we have thick fog outside do you think? 

The plane eventually arrived several hours late and I missed my connection to London in Beijing, but BA (to whom I had spoken on the 'phone from Shanghai) had rerouted me through Hong Kong and got me back to London with no problems. People are rude about BA, but they have always looked after me brilliantly, which is why they got a lot of business from me over the years.

Back to the PC - I have sent them an email asking what is going on - no response yet. Will keep you posted. 

Reminds me of another song from the 60s - Keep The Customer Satisfied, by Simon and Garfunkel. 
My wife's PC has decided it is bored with life and is shuffling off this mortal coil, curling up its tootsies, kicking the bucket, joining the great PC graveyard in the sky. Not the end of the world, and I found a good deal out on the web with a well-known PC manufacturer.

Being a new PC it comes, of course, with Windows 7 (even though I would frankly be perfectly happy with XP, but that is not offered as an option). Again, not the end of the world, as I helped a neighbour with her new Windows 7 laptop recently and I thought 7 was a lot better than Vista, which I don't like.

As I was looking through the old machine to see what was on it and what needed transferring, I entered that frightening world of compatibility and drivers. I haven't checked the printer yet as I can always plug that into another machine, but the wireless adapter is pretty important. (By the way, why do all the wireless adapter instructions start by asking if you are connected to the Internet? No, you bloody idiot, that's why I'm installing the device in the first place!)  

So I start an online chat with the (very well-known) adapter manufacturer. Does the adapter work with 7? Of course not! Do they have the drivers for 7? Of course not! When will the drivers be ready? We don't know! In other words, buy a new one. (If you don't believe me, try searching for USB wireless adapter Windows 7 driver on the Internet and look at the string of problems people are having).

I went back to the PC website as I seemed to remember an optional wireless PCIe card being on there. Yes it is, but you can't ask for it when configuring the machine. Also there are two versions of the card and I don't know which one I want. So I start an online chat with another far-flung outpost of our lost empire. 

You have to buy a new USB wireless adapter. 
Why won't the (optional, listed on tech specs) card work?
I don't know, I'm in sales - try contacting technical support please.

Only one small problem - technical support wants you to pay money to talk to them, which I refuse to do when I am trying to buy something.

So what did I do? I went to a local PC shop and asked what they had - two minutes later I had a new USB adapter, and very precise instructions on how to install it under Windows 7. If I have any problems I can go back there and get assistance easily. Service! What a joy!

Now all I need is for the new PC to arrive!
Well, here it is: "Why Doesn't the Business Drive BSM? A Value-Driven Business Service Management Maturity Model" >>

BSMReview's Bill Keyworth and Rick Berzle evaluate the management of IT services from the perspective of the business, a.k.a. "business service management."

The negative impact of IT organizations being culturally and functionally disconnected from their business community is escalating, explain the authors.  As evidenced by the push to bypass traditional IT options through Cloud and SaaS initiatives, IT must enhance how technology is provisioned for the business.

The BSM Maturity Model described in this ground-breaking paper covers 5 levels:

bsm levekls

You can download it here for free (registration required) and let us know what you think >>
Every once in awhile, something nice happens.  I was referred to Jeff Cerny of TechRepublic for an interview re: my passion and background for business service management.  Jeff did a great job of capturing the core of why I believe the time for BSM has arrived, and why it is a critical consideration in moving IT out of the geek house and into the business partner role.  He's added a few things associated with high tech marketing and presentation skills, but the essence of this interview deals with the importance of BSM moving forward.
For those of you who live on another planet, e.g. Venus, or in another country, which has no interest in what goes on here in the UK, e.g. most of you, we are going to have a General Election soon. This means we get to choose who is going to make a complete hash of running the place for the next five years, whilst they line their pockets with our hard-earned cash. (If you think that's cynical, you should have seen my initial version!)

The UK used to be a superpower. When I went to school, most of the world was coloured pink on my school atlas, which made geography pretty easy. However, things have changed dramatically, although a lot of people here don't seem to have realised that. No, they still think we should be poking our noses into places we don't belong and throwing our (light) weight around. To quote the youth of today - get real.

So it is also with computer systems. You may dearly love the one you built 30 years ago and think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. You may think the new technology from WhizBang Inc. is fantastic. In some cases, you will be totally right; in others sadly wrong. Being able to stand back and look at things objectively, and with an open mind is very difficult, but I believe it is vital if we are going to squeeze the optimum results out of the limited resources we have available. Always ask yourself "Why?", and "What is it worth?"

I just hope our next government thinks the same way.



My guest post Applying Agile Principles in IT has been published in Management 3.0. It demonstrates how Jim Highsmith's Agile Triangle can be extended to apply to IT Operations. By so doing, Agile principles enable managing development and operations in tandem.

The post ties into and expands on my recent work on Agile Business Service Management. It is part of the momentum picking up in the DevOps movement.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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