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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ITSM Academy Helps Organizational Maturity

This is great insight from a guest staff blogger, Leslie Kapocius:
Since 2003, ITSM Academy has focused exclusively on service management education to help clients start, enhance or mature their service management initiatives. We have trained tens of thousands of individuals and helped hundreds of clients, primarily Fortune 500 clients, in all verticals, and a wide array of government and education clients.

Recently, we were asked, "How have you helped clients mature in their service management initiatives?”  That is a very good question. As an education company, we cannot make people apply the knowledge they gain in classes, workshops, mentoring or simulations. We can only "educate and inspire", a core principle that is at the heart (and tagline) of our organization. Why do people need inspiration? Because in order to apply what is learned, individuals need to change either what they are doing or how they are doing it. If nothing changes, nothing alters and intentional maturity cannot take place.  

One of the first steps would be to work within a best practice service management framework (e.g., ITIL)  that creates a common vocabulary and common definitions. Misunderstandings regarding the difference between a process, a procedure and a work instruction or between an Incident and a Problem have affected efficiency and wasted time and resources.  ITIL Foundation or ITIL Overview courses help to get people saying the same thing and meaning the same thing.

Many companies have already succeeded in instilling a general understanding of service management and have designed and deployed specific processes. They are now ready to move to the next level. However, in order to increase maturity, an organization should first benchmark their current level using one of the process maturity models. 
The assessment may demonstrate a need to focus on breadth. One department may be “service management mature” but another is not. Education can help cross-pollinate general knowledge and common vocabularies between departments. An internal resource can be trained to deliver ITIL courses, thereby reducing training costs and increasing the ability to train more staff. Once a service management initiative has gone broader, better efficiencies are achieved.

Another way to increase breadth is to focus on better business and IT alignment.  The more buy-in and understanding a service management initiative has, the better chance of streamlining service throughout the entire organization. Lifecycle courses such as Service Strategy or Continual Service Improvement introduce higher level thinking in processes that affect the business such as service portfolio management, financial management, demand management and metrics.

In addition to breadth, organizations may also need to increase their depth of knowledge by advancing the skills of process owners and managers.  Capability courses such as Release, Control and Validation or Planning, Protection and Optimization improve the ability to design, execute and mature critical processes such as Release and Deployment or Capacity Management.   The complementary Certified Process Design Engineer is the only course in the ITIL scheme that provides prescriptive knowledge for designing, improving and re-engineering processes. Having at least one ITIL Expert on staff will also significantly add depth of knowledge through a resource that can "manage across the lifecycle".  

Opportunities exist for topic-specific knowledge to increase depth.  We are the only service management education provider that continues to offer free monthly "webucations".  This month, the US Navy shared their process improvement story through service management education. Click here to download.  Our course catalog also includes non-certification workshops.

So, what does it ultimately take to reach the next level of maturity?   Education and inspiration.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

FUSION12 Wrap Up

To those of you who were able to join the #ITSMCrew at FUSION12, it was great seeing you all!  And for those of you who were not able to attend, we’ve put together our Annual Wrap Up.  The team all contributed their conference highlights, which we’ve mixed all together and voila - it’s the ITSM Academy TOP11 of FUSION12.  View Now and Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fusion 12 Must See’s!

With such a huge list of sessions and events, it’s hard to know what to attend at the upcoming Fusion conference starting this weekend.  We asked some of our people who will be attending what their “Must See’s” were. Here’s our top ten:

1)      Session 203: Process Maturity – it’s not about the numbers! Donna Knapp, ITSM Academy

2)      Session 702: Overcoming the Fear of Continual Improvement  Michael Cardinal, ITSM Academy
We’re a little bias but we can’t help but put Donna and Mike at the top of this list. Both of their sessions offer practical strategies that companies can use to ‘Unlock the Secrets of Service Management’ (this year’s conference theme) and continually improve the quality of their processes and services.

3)      Session 201: Is ITIL Really Worth the Effort?  - Doug Tyre is a great speaker and he has a vast ITIL Knowledge.   He has the ITIL experience to truly answer the question, “Is ITIL really worth the effort”?

4)      Session 305:  The Cloud:  Why Service Managers Should Care -  We find this topic very fascinating.   We think a lot of people run around talking about the "cloud" but do they really understand it?

5)      Breakfast Briefing 1: Writing Executive Briefings for IT  - We don’t know the speaker, but it’s an important skill, that we get asked about pretty frequently.  And it’s a “fresh” topic. We’ve not seen anything quite like this before.

6)      Session 309: Process Documentation: A Valuable Commodity  - Just look at the description - who doen’st need to learn this:  “Learn some simple techniques to develop, organize, publish, and maintain process documentation that is designed to be easily accessible to all consumers and complete enough to satisfy the toughest critics at a moment’s notice.”

7)      Session 303: The Real SMOs of the South - This is one of the first real-life examples of the benefits of establishing a Service Management Office.

8)      Session 105: A Look at the NextGen Service Management Platform - Interesting look at what may be on the horizon.

9)      Session 604: A Tale of Two Utilities: A Service Catalog Case Study – A ‘must see’ session for us as it brings the ten process design and improvement steps to life and also emphasizes using the ten steps as a method of accelerated process design.

10)   Session 108: ITSMS Implementation in a State Government Agency – Many of the ITSM Academy team lives in Florida and we’re looking forward to seeing the great work being done by our state government.

11)   Session 101: Stop Delivering Services and Start Delivering Value - This caught our fancy since that is what ITSM is all about!

12)   Session 603: Knowledge Management in ITSM: Use What You Know - Chris is a super smart guy Knowledge Management never gets the respect it deserves (the Rodney Dangerfield of process).
Hope to see you at Fusion!

If you haven’t registered yet, you can still use our discount code: F12ITSM [register here] are we sure this still works, I think it’s expired, and Rachel will know.
Be sure to visit us on the floor at Fusion in booth 626. You can follow us on twitter under the hashtag #ITSMCrew, join us for some interactive games and enter drawings for free seats to our public classroom.

Follow @ITSMAcademy or the team members on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The ITSM Academy guide to surviving Fusion 2012

Since 2004, the ITSM Academy team as been sponsoring and attending the itSMF Conferences.  After all the years, we know a thing or two about navigating the event and ensuring all of our bags arrive on time (great stories about past mishaps, if you want to stop by and hear them!) 
It’s our hope that this quick and easy guide to Fusion will help facilitate a more enjoyable experience.
  • Things to Pack
  • Transportation
  • Accommodations
  • Things to do in the Area
What should I pack?
Here at the Academy, we make it easier on ourselves, and all attend as a cohesive, color coordinating crew.  

With the average temperature in Dallas in October at 79 degrees (perfect!), what do you need?  Comfortable traveling clothes and shoes, business casual for the days and something nice for the evening – you expect these.  But what should you bring besides the essential clothing items?
  • Business Cards
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Comfortable Tote Bag
  • Sweater – it can be cold in there!
  • Aspirin/Ibuprofen
  • Granola Bars 
  • Foot Rejuvenating Cream
  • Fuzzy Socks
Another tip from our team, after a rough day on your feet, apply a liberal coating of foot cream, slip on the fuzzy socks and turn in for the night. This can make the difference between a good day and a bad day at conference. 

Getting around the area
For travel to and from the airport, the Gaylord does not provide free shuttle service. They do provide a few options on their site for transportation to and from DFW International and Love Field. [see here] 

The Gaylord is within a short distance of many dining and activity options in Grapevine, but none within walking distance. 
To reach these, you might consider renting a car or taking advantage of some of the transportation at the hotel. 

Where do you want to stay?
The Gaylord is a beautiful hotel, with many on location facilities, such as restaurants, bars and shopping. It may be too big and noisy for some, or just not the right fit for others. Great Wolf Lodge is a similar option, that might be more appealing to those traveling with families and children. In the near vicinity, there are a few other options, Embassy Suites, Hyatt Place, Homewood suites, Spring Hill Suites and others are located nearer the Grapevine Mills Mall. 

Things to do in the Area
Once Fusion gets up and running, they will keep your schedule pretty jammed packed.  Depending on when you arrive / depart you may have time to do some fun things in the area: 
  • Wine tastings! Grapevine celebrates the love of wine each year with a grape festival where the local vineyards offer tastings of their latest wines. Many of the vineyards offer tours and walk-in tastings for those who really want to get to the source of their favorite red or white.
  • Grapevine Mills Mall is a shopping Mecca. Tons of stores, restaurants, Lego Land and Sea Life which is an aquarium complete with a shark tunnel.
  • For the outdoor lovers, go to the Bass Pro Shop and enjoy a taste of nature indoors. The store features a waterfall and natural catfish pool, as well as a duck pond and rustic cafĂ© if you need a break from shopping for your next bicycle.
Hope to see you at Fusion!
If you haven’t registered yet, you can still use our discount code: VFUSION12 [register here]
Be sure to visit us on the floor at Fusion in booth 626. You can follow us on twitter under the hashtag #ITSMCrew, join us for some interactive games and enter drawings for free seats to our public classroom.
Follow @ITSMAcademy or the team members on Twitter.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Service Desk and Mark Twain

Some meaningful insight from our guest blogger, Donna Knapp:

Upon hearing that his obituary had mistakenly been published in the New York Journal, Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” 

The same can be said for the service desk despite the blogs here and there that are suggesting that factors such as social support, self-help, bring your own device (BYOD), virtualization, cloud computing and wide-scale outsourcing are minimizing the service desk’s role.  

The reality is that those factors are changing the service desk role, but not minimizing it. Increasingly organizations are realizing that the need for support and therefore the service desk’s role must be considered when making strategic decisions such as BYOD or a move to virtualization or the cloud. Service desks must, in turn, embrace this more strategic role and make the transition from reactive to proactive.  
One way that service desks can make this transition is to take a more disciplined approach to Knowledge Management and by pushing that knowledge to its customers via self-help. Self-help can include not only access to knowledge bases, downloads, and patches but also facilitated community forums. Such an approach is not only cost-effective ($6/self-help contact vs. $22/service desk contact according to HDI), it also represents a positive response to customers’ increasing tendency to Google or Tweet first and only then contact the service desk. 

Other ways to make the transition to a more strategic, proactive service desk include a more formalized approach to Problem Management that not only feeds Knowledge Management (e.g., workarounds and known errors) but also seeks to eliminate recurring incidents, thus freeing service desk resources to work on new and more complex incidents. And therein lies an important point; self-help can only address known issues. The dramatic technological changes facing the IT industry are resulting in plenty of new incidents, many of which are complex in nature given peoples’ increasing tendency to access data, information and knowledge across a wide array of platforms and technologies. And here’s another important point to keep in mind… as organizations adopt practices such as virtualization and cloud computing, connectivity becomes critical and so incidents that stand in the way of that connectivity are now viewed as major.  

This means that service desks must find ways to collapse the traditional tiered approach to escalation and solve as many incidents as possible at the first point of contact. This approach has long been known to be cost-effective for the service provider. An incident that costs $22 to solve at the service desk, costs $62 at level 2 (e.g., desktop support) and $85 at level 3 (e.g., the application or network teams) according to Metricnet. It is easier said than done; however, as it requires refining or perhaps even reengineering the processes that dictate how the service desk interacts with higher-level resources such as the technical and application management teams.
Rather than talk about the benefits to the service provider; however, the service desk must learn to communicate the positive business benefits of these practices such as increased productivity and improved ability to adapt to and leverage emerging technologies. To demonstrate value for money going forward, the service desk’s focus must shift away from traditional reactive practices – no matter how well they are performed – to a more proactive enabler of customer productivity. That’s something we can all appreciate isn’t it… enabling us to use technology to innovate, collaborate and get our jobs done efficiently and effectively; rather than get in our way. What the service desk must not shift away from is what has always been its hallmark – excellent customer service.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid!

Have you ever heard someone talk about “drinking the Kool-Aid”?   If you "drink the Kool-Aid", you buy into a new concept, initiative or way of doing things.    In our space, it is often used to describe an individual’s acceptance of new or improved service management processes by drinking the “ITIL Kool-Aid”.

I am not sure how the concept entered into our common vocabulary, but it has terrible origins.   In 1978 in Jonestown, Guyana, over 900 members of a cult drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid as part of a mass suicide.   Approximately two hundred of the dead were children who were fed the Kool-Aid by their parents.

Still want to drink it?   It’s poison.

If we treat ITIL like an IT cult or religion, we are potentially poisoning the perception of some of our most important and influential stakeholders.  Many application developers already consider ITIL a four-letter-word.  Why?  We need to work towards stakeholder alignment, not alienation. 
ITIL was never intended to be perfect, complete, prescriptive or auditable.   It was intended to provide broad-based guidance that is scalable to any organization or vertical market.   To ensure sustainability, you have to foster an environment that allows individuals to buy-in on their own timeline – some will be early adopters, others will require proof of concept.  Both are OK. 

While your program is maturing, encourage confidence, creativity, dialogue, metrics, analysis and even healthy conflict.  Not blind acceptance and certainly no Kool-Aid.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

MALC 2011 Has Been Released

The new MALC 2011 exams were released yesterday.  In addition to providing updated guidance from the ITIL 2011 library, the new MALC reflects a continual improvement review based on feedback from learners, Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs) and end user organizations.  

According to APMG, "The new syllabus emphasizes the cross-lifecycle focus, from the two perspectives of managing services across the service lifecycle, and of managing the practice of service management across the service lifecycle. The MALC Review project involved extensive consultation with stakeholders, in order to base its findings and recommendations on the most comprehensive feedback. The new MALC takes a managerial, strategic perspective of ITIL across the lifecycle. It has been our aim to produce a MALC syllabus and examination which is deserving of its position as the final 'capstone' leading to the prestigious ITIL Expert certification.”

The MALC 2011 exam will be more difficult than other intermediate exams since it leads to the ITIL Expert designation.  The new exam is case study-based, now has ten questions and the exam duration extended to two hours.  Learners will have access to the case study during class and for use with sample exams.  Testing will be at Blooms Levels 4 and 5.

ITSM Academy will be conducting its first MALC 2011 course the week of June 4th.  MALC 2011 is based solely on the 2011 edition of the ITIL core books and the ITIL 2007 books cannot be used as a substitute.

Candidates who took their course using the 2007 edition of the books and need to retake the exam can do so until August 31st.   When scheduling retakes with an Examination Institute, please make sure to indicate which version you wish to take.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Intermediate Courses and Bloom's Taxonomy

ITIL Lifecycle and Capability courses and exams are built based on Bloom levels 3 and 4
  • Bloom 3 – application – measures ability to use information in new ways to solve problems, predict results, tell how, when, where and why 
  • Bloom 4 – analysis – measures ability to distinguish between different parts, understand how parts fit together, identify causes, recognize hidden meanings, draw conclusions
These courses are intended to provide “how to” knowledge as opposed to ITIL Foundation’s “what about” knowledge.
Effective learning and study techniques for learners taking Bloom levels 3 and 4 exams include:
  • Do your pre-class reading and in-class homework assignments
  • Actively participate in class discussions, debates and assignments
  • Use the SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review) reading and study technique 
  • Create complex mind maps to tie terms, concepts, and activities to key topics (Visual/Kinesthetic) 
  • Practice mapping ITIL concepts to real world situations/problems 
  • Create inductive diagrams - diagrams that illustrate inductive reasoning which involves moving from observations to a theory 
  • Create deductive diagrams - diagrams that illustrate deductive reasoning which involves starting with a theory and confirming (or not) that theory
Want to become an ITIL Expert?  In May, 2012, the new Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) syllabus and exam will be introduced based on Bloom level 5.  Stay tuned to my next blog for more information on Bloom Level 5 and MALC.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

ITIL Foundation and Bloom's Taxonomy

In this second of a series, we explore the learning and testing objectives of  ITIL Foundation  based on Blooms Taxonomy.  We also look at some helpful study hints.

ITIL Foundation is based on Bloom Levels 1 and 2:
  • Bloom 1 – knowledge – measures recall of terminology and specific facts
  • Bloom 2 – comprehension – measures understanding of ideas and the ability to translate or explain concepts

Bloom's Taxonomy uses verbs to describe expected the level of learning and thinking.

Bloom level 1 measurable verbs include: define, describe, find, identify, know, label, list, match, name, outline, recall, recognize, relate, reproduce, select, state.

You can see from these verbs that at Bloom level 1, you should be able to, for example, define the purpose of a given process or list the five aspects of service design. You must also be able to make associations or relate basic concepts such as impact + urgency = priority.
Bloom level 2 measurable verbs include: classify, compare, comprehend, convert, defend, discuss, distinguish, estimate, explain, extend, generalize, give an example, infer, interpret, outline, paraphrase, predict, restate, summarize, translate.

You can see from these verbs that at Bloom level 2, you should be able to, for example, classify given examples as either incidents or service requests.

You must be able to translate definitions into your own words and provide an example. You should be able to, for example, summarize what all the warranty processes have in common or predict what will happen if we don’t consider the warranty processes during Service Design and Service Transition.  

Essentially, ITIL Foundation equips learners with the ability to understand, explain and translate basic ITIL terms and concepts into real world examples.  That is why ITIL Foundation certification is recommended for most staff and suppliers to ensure a common vocabulary and understanding.

Effective learning and study techniques for learners taking Bloom levels 1 and 2 exams.  These will vary based on your individual learning style and can include: 
  • Take notes/rewrite notes (visual/kinesthetic) - highlight important points in color
  • Reread course materials (visual/auditory/kinesthetic)
  • Complete available study aids (visual/auditory/kinesthetic)
  • Create and use Flash Cards (visual)
  • Record notes, read notes aloud, discuss terms and concepts aloud (auditory)
  • Create mnemonics to aid memorization (auditory)
  • Partner Quizzing (verbal)
  • Create simple mind maps and diagrams to tie terms and basic concepts to key topics (visual/kinesthetic)
  • Read a composed document such as the Introductory Overview of ITIL that provides a “big picture” perspective
ITIL Foundation is not intended to enable you with the ability apply the concepts (Bloom 3) or analyze your the current environment (Bloom 4). That focused level of learning and thinking is available in the Intermediate (Capability and Lifecycle) streams. We will explore the relatiomship between Bloom levels 3 and 4 and the Intermediate courses in the next blog.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Your Learning Style and Bloom's Taxonomy

Each of us has a unique learning style.  Do you prefer to "see" or "hear" or "do"?  The answer will not only affect the way you learn, but also the way that you study or prepare for an exam.   

Learning styles include:
  • Visual – learn through seeing
  • Auditory – learn through listening
  • Kinesthetic – learn through moving, doing, touching
Most of us do not use one style exclusively, although we will likely have a preferred style.  Recognizing your primary style will not only help you get the most from your ITIL certification course, it will also help you adapt your study style to the demands of the Bloom level being taught and tested.

A visual learner will likely take a much different approach at Bloom level 3 (applying) than a kinesthetic learner.  The visual learner may draft a very detailed flowchart while the kinesthetic learner may do a mock run-through of the process.

In the next few weekly blogs, I will map Bloom levels to the levels within the ITIL Qualification scheme, including somlearning-style suggestions for learning and study techniques.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Who was Benjamin Bloom and Why Should I Care?

Benjamin Bloom (1913 – 1999) was an American educational psychologist who contributed to the classification of educational objectives and to the theory of mastery-learning (an instructional method that presumes all students can learn if they are provided with appropriate learning conditions). Bloom headed a team that developed a taxonomy, or structure, through which educational objectives could be organized according to their cognitive complexity. The cognitive domain deals with a person's ability to process information and use it in a meaningful way. Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall of facts, through increasingly more complex and abstract levels of thinking.

Simply put, Bloom’s Taxonomy helps educators categorize learning objectives and assess learning achievements.

Why should you care? The ITIL syllabi and exams are based on Bloom’s Taxonomy in increasing levels of difficulty and complexity. ITIL Foundation, for example, is tested at Blooms Level 1 and 2. The upcoming MALC 2011 course will be testing at Blooms Level 4 and 5. That's a pretty big difference.
Understanding Blooms levels helps to set your expectations, therefore increasing your ability to
  • Realistically estimate the time and effort required before and during the class
  • Engage with your instructor and other learners in class
  • Pass the certification exam
  • Use the knowledge that you gain in class
Bloom’s taxonomy includes measurable verbs that can be used to describe and classify knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors and abilities that we expect to observe in learners. The theory is based upon the idea that there are levels of observable actions that indicate something is happening in the brain (cognitive activity). By creating learning objectives using measurable verbs, instructors know explicitly what the student must do in order to demonstrate learning. This improves the ability of the instructor to help you achieve your learning goals and pass the exam. 

Over the next few blogs, I'll dive a little deeper into the different levels of Blooms Taxonomy at the different levels of the ITIL Qualification Scheme. Stay tuned!