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What happened down under at Shake I.T. Up – Service Management 2016

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In this guest blog, Sunit Prakash wraps up Service Management 2016 and highlights the new standards for IT service delivery.

 

 

“It’s one thing to want to innovate, but how can you influence or implement those changes, and do you know where to start?” – Service Management 2016

The 19th annual Service Management conference in Australia showed us a glimpse of how service management is evolving beyond the traditional ITSM. This year’s itSMFA literally shook I.T. up by extending conversation to Agile, DevOps, and Lean – the latter finally making its entrance to the mainstream service management vocabulary.

Proliferation of cloud-based tools

At this years conference, it was clear to see that there were now a number of cloud-based IT service management tool providers offering rich functionality with very low barriers to entry. Which essentially meant no upfront costs, expensive licenses, implementation costs, or support costs – just following an elastic pricing model. Tools that were previously only available to top-end enterprise customers, were now available at a fraction of the cost to small and medium businesses – and to their suppliers and partners who look after them. The implication is that a whole new market could potentially move up from managing their IT and operations by email and spreadsheets to much more sophisticated tools that they previously did not have access to; and perhaps many others at the enterprise end of the market, could potentially move away from on-premise or more expensive tools.

What really happened down under

IT Service Management often does not get the same attention as say, security or architecture or project management; but to have Andrew Mills, the CIO of Queensland Government talk about aligning IT with business strategy was a rare treat.

Talking about the importance of driving self-service adoption in the workplace, Narain Muralidharan emphasized on the necessity for IT to think like growth hackers, and effectively market IT self service to the larger organization. He went on to give a number of simple, yet practical ideas taken from real-world success stories with the self service IT portal, and how to apply them in the service desk scenario – backing it with a case study.

Lean and mean IT

Introducing us to Lean, Em Campbell-Pretty stressed upon how the heart of Lean is its values and leadership – stressing on the need for leaders to create time for innovation with a case study of a telecommunication service provider. The conference peppered with Lean related sessions, and it demonstrated that Lean in IT was beginning to enter the lexicon for many.

Adam Seeber’s keynote about Lean and Agile was insightful – how it’s not a choice of one over the other but that it’s taking the best of both worlds to suit your business needs. He emphasized on the significance of it being adaptable, be it Lean, Agile or ITIL, and went on to describe how customers define value for the business more than anything else.

An eye-opener for the audience was Charles T. Betz’ session introducing the IT4IT standard with Lean language of value chain, value streams, digital supply chain, handoffs, capacity, and value. He explored the current state of IT and offered practical advice on holistically managing IT for business. With the key takeaway around product management being customer intimacy and cross-functional collaboration.

40 Agile methods in 40 minutes by Craig Smith covered various process improvement methodologies – Lean, Agile, Theory of Constraints and everything in between no matter how esoteric. He openly shared the concept, its history, the pros and cons, how widely it was used, and where to find more information.

Bringing in fresh air to the string of topics, Michi Tyson spoke of taking Agile beyond IT and combining it with Lean management and design thinking. Her Lean Canvas and startup background showing clearly in a conference dominated by mature IT departments and businesses. This one was of particular interest because one could see the Enterprise Architecture approach coming through, and the same discipline being applied to the business of IT holistically – once again, using Lean principles.

itSMF 2016 was another insightful, rewarding, and successful conference. It left the audience questioning the conventional way of ITSM – and leaning towards better IT service delivery.

This blog is edited, and first appeared on the Freshservice blog – you can view the original here

By |2018-03-19T16:23:17+10:00October 12th, 2016|guest blogger, ITSM, Service Management 2016, wrap up|

Delivering Problem Management with Kanban

ian jones

 

 

We are pleased to welcome previous Service Management speaker and member of the ITSMF Awards Alumni Ian Jones to the blog today! 

 

I previously led an IT Service Management team providing Incident, Problem, Change and Configuration Management services in line with ITIL. Our work was highly variable and ranged in complexity since we primarily supported other IT professionals in their IT operations. The whole team used Agile Scrum to manage our work and the problem analysts used Lean Kanban for (ITIL) Problem Management. This blog post will outline how Kanban was applied to effectively deliver our Problem Management service.

Our organisation used Agile as the main delivery method for projects, and Lean (based on the Toyota Production System) for operations. Bell and Ozen (2011, p8) suggest Lean aims to empower teams to simplify, then when appropriate, automate routine tasks. Process improvement frees up capacity, providing individuals with more time and better information to exercise problem solving, creativity and innovation in situations that are not routine.

What is Kanban?

Kanban means sign, signboard, billboard, card or signal of some kind (Liker, 2004, p. 106). It is a scheduling system for Lean, just-in-time production and a system to control the logistical chain from a production point of view. Kanban was developed by Taiichi Ohno, at Toyota, to find a system to improve and maintain a high level of production. The Kanban Method was later added to as an approach to incremental, evolutionary process improvement for organisations (De Haaff, 2013). For readers who are familiar with Scrum, you would be aware of this concept of the signboard or visual management in the form of a story wall. There are differences between Kanban and Scrum and these differences shouldn’t be seen as strengths or weaknesses. Some of these differences include:

Kanban Scrum
Work scheduling  Customer driven pull  Fixed timeboxed push
Task estimation  N/A  Yes
Tracking work  Focus on flow  Focus on velocity
Work in progress limits   Yes   N/A
Process ownership  Team  Scrum Master
Continual Service Improvement  On demand, as defects are seen  At the end of the sprint in the retrospective

 

Application to Problem Management

Initially my team employed Scrum for managing their problem investigations, however we found the concept of timeboxing the work into sprints added no value. Investigations could vary greatly in complexity and therefore finding the root cause and completing corrective actions could be difficult. Task estimation was also challenging and the actual results varied widely due to the above reasons. The team then applied Kanban as an alternative and their wall contained the following columns:

  • Backlog;
  • Post Incident Review (PIR) booked;
  • PIR held;
  • Publish and Task Followup; and
  • Complete.

kanban_wall

 

Kanban suggests that staff ‘pull’ work from left (first column) to right (last column). If staff have capacity  (actual work in column X < work in progress limit in column X) then they pull work from the previous work step (column on the immediate left). This video provides a visual explanation.
The problem analysts employed a series of important variations to their Kanban wall. These variations included:
  • They pulled work from the ‘Publish and Task followup’ and not ‘Complete’ as this step is entirely dependent on other IT staff (tasks like corrective actions are mostly performed by other IT staff) and the duration of task followup is variable;
  • Unlike typical value streams, the problem analysts do not hand over their investigations to other staff and tended to progress the investigation from start to finish (except for extended absences from work). This was because the effort and cost of task switching between problem investigations exceeded any proposed benefits from handovers between investigation steps;
  • Work in Progress limits were informally used and not strictly enforced. If an analyst had too many investigations in a particular column, we used it as a flag for assistance and potentially management escalation rather than a reason to block the incoming work. Upon these events, we preferred to negotiate with stakeholders (service owners, management) on work priorities rather than block the work.
So as you can see, the team took the concept of Kanban and tailored it in a way that supported them, which should not be surprising since problem investigations, by their nature, are not generally standard or repeatable forms of work.

One significant benefit we saw in adopting Kanban was that it supports Principle 5 of the Toyota way: ‘Building a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time’ (Liker, 2004, p.38). The visual management of our work and conducting daily stand-ups allowed the analysts to easily identify defects or weaknesses in their investigations, pause work and jointly derive immediate improvements to their service. This has led to significant quality improvements in their work which was acknowledged by our customers and management.

References
Bell, S., and Orzen, M. (2011). Lean IT, New York: CRC Press.

De Haaff, B. (2013) Kanban the secret engineer killer. Retrieved July 30, 2013 from http://blog.aha.io/index.php/kanban-the-secret-engineer-killer/.

Liker, J. (2004). The Toyota Way, New York: McGraw-Hill.

This blog was originally published on Ian Jones’ blog.

 

By |2018-03-19T16:23:20+10:00June 2nd, 2016|Kanban, Service Management 2016|

Workshops for Service Management 2016 announced!

Service Management 2016 has announced workshops for 2016!

This year, a range of half-day and full-day workshops are on offer to supplement your Conference experience.

The workshops will take place in Brisbane on Tuesday 16 August 2016 – so you can dive in and get a head start on ways to Shake I.T. Up before the Conference kicks off on Wednesday 17 – Thursday 18 August.

Get practical career advice, develop your leadership skills, improve relationship building, ensure smooth delivery from project intention to outcome, discover new methods or rediscover new approaches to familiar topics, including Service Integration and Management (SIAM), Agile, Lean, DevOps, and the Operational Readiness Review (ORR)!

Workshops include:

  • Agile, Lean IT and DevOps – a survival guide for the mid-career professional with Charles Betz
  • Extreme Leadership Workshop: taking the radical leap with Em Campbell Pretty
  • Behave Yourself: Building IT Relationships with Simone Jo Moore and Mark Smalley
  • SIAM: revolution or evolution? with Simon Dorst and Michelle Major-Goldsmith
  • Leading an invisible IT team with Korrine Jones
  • “Are you being served?” An Operational Readiness Review
  • From BID strategy to Operational delivery – where does it all go wrong? with Lana Yakimoff

Register for workshops and the Service Management Conference with the Earlybird rate before 27 June 2016.

And remember, you can still submit to be a speaker this year!

By |2016-04-29T16:26:22+10:00April 29th, 2016|Service Management 2016, Workshop|
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