2014 - a year of consulting, training, writing and presenting

2014 was the first full year that I’ve worked as an independent consultant, trainer and author, and it’s been a very busy year. I’ve had a great time working with new customers, new colleagues (and old ones) and presenting to a wide variety of audiences. Along the way I’ve made a lot of new friends, developed new relationships with old friends, and travelled to many amazing places.

I’ve always enjoyed working as both an IT service management (ITSM) consultant and an information security (infosec) consultant and I’m constantly surprised by how far apart these two worlds are, in terms of the people who do the work and the processes that they follow. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this over the past year, as I have spent so much of my time writing parts of the new AXELOS publication on Cyber Resilience, which will be published in 2015. Both ITSM and infosec are about the people, processes and technology used to manage information that creates value for organizations and their customers, and they really do need to work together much better than they currently do in most organizations.  In the book I’ve tried to explain in some detail why ITSM and infosec people and processes need to work together; I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback when the book comes out next year.  In the meantime you can read a white paper that I wrote for AXELOS, titled Cyber Resilience: Bridging the Business and Technology Divide.

It’s the consulting engagements, of course, that keep me honest and practical.  It’s enormously satisfying to help clients come up with a plan of action that they know will help them and that they can actually implement. Consulting engagements do tend to be confidential, so I can’t describe them in much detail here. What I can say is that two of the more interesting engagements were:

  • Developing a new operating model for a multi-national corporation that had a separate service desk in every country, and no capability for providing roaming support to their increasingly mobile workforce.
  • Putting together an improvement program for a UK organization that had a very old fashioned approach to change and configuration management, and didn’t know how to drag themselves into the 21st Century.

I’ve written a huge number of blogs and white papers this year. Some are on the Optimal Service Management web site, but many were published in other places. You can find links to (most of) this writing at Stuart Rance blogs.  I’ve also done some ghost writing for various organizations, but for obvious reasons I can’t provide links to those.

Another thing I’ve enjoyed in 2014 is developing and delivering training courses. One notable course was an ITIL Foundation course that I ran for an ITSM tool vendor. Their staff were really enthusiastic about ITSM and thoroughly enjoyed spending a few days talking to each other about ITIL. We spent much of the time discussing how we create value for customers, and what an important part customer experience plays in this. Nobody worried too much about the exam, we were more interested in the learning, but I was very pleased when they all passed.

And then there were the conferences and presentations. I’ve attended lots of conferences and delivered lots of presentations this year; I’ve made a list and included links to sessions that were recorded, and to the Twitter accounts of people that were presenting at these conferences, so you can watch some of the sessions, and join in the ongoing discussions of ITSM on Twitter:

  • “The Evolution of Service Transition”. David Wheable and I developed this and we delivered it together as a BrightTalk webinar back in January. I also delivered this presentation to the BCS Spring School in Bristol.
  • ISC2 Safe and Secure Online. In February I delivered this presentation to more than 100 children at a local school. I always enjoy these sessions, it’s surprising how eager children are to learn how to keep themselves safe when they use the Internet, and I think we all have an obligation to contribute to things like this. Safe and Secure Online is available in many countries now, so why not find out more by following the link above?
  • “Emerging Methods, Agile and DevOps”. I led a round table discussion on this topic at the Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS) in London in April.  At the same event I also took part in a panel debate on “The Future of ITIL” with Barclay Rae, Kaimar Karu, Andrea Kis and Ian Aitchison. I’ve learned a lot about how we can adopt emerging ideas over the last year or two, and some of these ideas have really influenced my thinking about ITSM. But I also think it’s important that we don’t adopt new ideas uncritically while throwing away the solid approaches to ITSM that have been developed over time.
  • “Future Directions for ITSM”. I enjoyed delivering this presentation –which covered a wide range of ideas including Customer Experience, Gamification, and SIAM –at itSMF Denmark in May. It was a real pleasure to deliver a presentation to such a lively and interactive audience, and we had some great conversations. I also delivered this presentation as an in-house webinar for a large company, with great feedback.
  • “Taking Service Forward and the Adaptive Service Model” (TSF and ASM). I talked about this later in May for the BCS Service Management Specialist Group (SMSG) in London. All the best ideas for ASM have come from people with a much greater theoretical understanding then I have, and I’ve really enjoyed learning from Christian Nissen, Robert Falkowitz and some of the other people who make up TSF.  Working on the development of this new architecture has been a pleasure, and it has helped me come to new understandings about what services are, and how we create them.
  • In June I ran a Problem Management discussion panel for BrightTalk, with Rob England and James Finister. I feel really privileged to get to work with such knowledgeable people. This discussion was thoroughly enjoyable, as was meeting them both for face-to-face conversations later in the year.
  • “Practical CSI”. I delivered this presentation in August at the Australian itSMF LeadIT conference. Continual service improvement (CSI) is a topic that is close to my heart, as I think many IT organizations could really benefit from implementing some very basic and straightforward ideas at low cost and effort. LeadIT was an excellent conference, with some wonderful speakers, and I enjoyed conversations with Rob England and James Finister, as well as Suresh GP, Breed Barrett, Karen Ferris, Aprill Allen, Kathryn Howard, Kirstie Magowan and many others. This was my first trip to Australia, so it was the first time I had met some of these people face-to-face, even though we had interacted via social media for a long time. The best thing about ITSM conferences is this opportunity to meet and chat with people who share their ideas, and stimulate my own thoughts. Thank you all.
  • In October I went to Belgium to present “Practical CSI”. Other people presenting at this conference included Robert Stroud, Mark Smalley, Philip Hearsum, Steven de Haes, Barclay Rae, David Wheeldon and Jan van Bon. If you don’t already follow these people on Twitter then just click on these links and you’re in for a real ITSM treat.
  • “Attitudes, behaviour and culture, the future of ITSM”. This is another topic about which I feel very strongly and I spoke to the Danish itSMF conference about it later in October. We all know that IT service management needs the right balance of people, process, products and partners, but every IT organization I work with invests significantly more in development of process, products and partners than they do in people. This leads to predictable failures which seem to come as a surprise every time.
  • In November I stayed in London for the UK itSMF conference. This is my “home” conference, and one that I always enjoy. It’s always a big event and this year was no exception. My presentation at this event was “Practical CSI” and the room was packed out, with some delegates having to stand at the back.
  • Later in November I delivered a BrightTalk panel session on Service Strategy, with Daniel Breston and Elizabeth Cullivan.
  • To finish my year of presentations, I went to the Estonia itSMF conference to talk about “CSI, Agile and Kanban”. These three concepts work extremely well together and the audience responded enthusiastically as I asked them to share their experiences. Estonia was very cold in November (-16C, 3F), but it was also very beautiful, and our host for the event (Kaimar Karu) made sure we all had a wonderful visit. The conference itself was unusual because it had no breakout sessions. Every session involved all delegates, and this made for a great networking event as we had all attended the same presentations. This was also one of only two conferences where I met my good friends Sophie Danby and Stephen Mann, who seemed to attend all the conferences that I missed this year. It was also a pleasure to meet up with Ian Connelly and Gregory Baylis-Hall who do such a good job of running the BCS Service Management Specialist Group. It can be very easy for consultants to lose touch with the real world, and practitioners like Ian and Greg help to keep us grounded.  Sessions that I recommend from the Estonia conference include Stephen Mann’s presentation on “Consumerization of service”, Patrick Bolger talking about how organizations work with ITSM tool vendors, Paul Wilkinson’s “Increase the Return on Value of your training investment”, Tobias Nyberg’s “Bring me problems, not solutions” and David Wheable’s session on Service Experience Centres. You can download all these presentations, and more, from the event website.

2014 12 28 2014 a year of consulting training writing and presenting IMAGE

A view of Tallinn with Gregory Baylis-Hall, Dena Wieder-FreidenSophie Danby, Ian Connelly (front), Ami Shimkin, Stuart Rance (me) and Stephen Mann

I’m really looking forward to 2015. If you’re attending a conference where I’m presenting then please come and talk to me, otherwise you can comment on any of my blogs, or contact me via the company website at optimalservicemanagement.com/contact-us.

Picture credit: Sophie Danby

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