ITIL Training Courses
4 Ps of ITIL

4 peas? Anyone?

The IT Service Management life cycle has 5 stages – strategy, design, transition, operation and improvement. During service design, the 4 Ps need to be considered – People, Process, Products and Partners. An effective IT service strategy needs to acknowledge the importance of all of these.

This is just one small part of what is covered on our ITIL Foundation course, which teaches you real life applications of the ITIL framework as well as the knowledge needed to pass the ITIL Foundation exam.

People

The first ‘people’ to consider are the people that work in the IT services. Service managers need to ensure the following:

  • That their staff have the skills to match the roles
  • They have sufficient staff to support the service
  • That the roles and responsibility of the staff are fit for purpose
  • That culture and communication within the service is appropriate
  • That ongoing training can be provided to fill skills gaps
  • That the IT service fits with the organisational structure and that the right relationships are in place

The next people to be considered are the customers of the service. These are the recipients of the service, and the SLA is agreed with them. The customer is usually another manager within the organisation, or a business owner. For more information, have a look at our blog post on key customer conversations. Read the rest of "The 4 Ps of ITIL Service Management"

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We often champion the use of ITIL by small and medium business so this week I thought I should take a look at three examples of successful ITIL use by big businesses:

  • The Walt Disney Company
  • The Internal Revenue Service
  • Müller Dairy

All three big businesses rely on large IT service departments for the smooth running of operations, all three turned to ITIL to help achieve this.

In this post I take a look at why and how the businesses implemented ITIL, and the effect it has had on their IT departments.

Want to implement ITIL in your own business? Use our tips on how to make ITIL implementation successful.

Disney & ITIL

The information in this section is taken from the Best Management
Disney Adopt ITILPractice white paper ‘Disney’s ITIL Journey‘.

Disney’s adoption of ITIL was customer focused. The division in question – Theme Parks & Resorts – generated $10.7 billion in 2009 and is responsible for 118 million customers per year.

The parks themselves have over 800 applications and 1,800 servers to meet the huge demand on IT systems. Disney began implementing ITIL best practice in the mid-2000s but it has been championed by VP of Technology Glen Taylor since 2008.

Taylor explains that the goal of Theme Parks & Resports is to provide ‘the perfect experience’ for guests. In Disney’s case this is ’100% availability, reliability and maintainability’ and ‘ITIL best practice provides these assurances.’

Buy-in was a potential problem for a business that employees nearly 1,000 global IT staff. Disney achieved this through education from the top down. From informal “Lunch ‘n’ Learn” sessions to individual training sessions, the company made sure the whole team was on board.

Disney trained up 20 champions to ITIL Expert level who would promote the values of ITIL within the business. Read the rest of "Case Studies: Three Big Businesses Using ITIL"

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ITIL Training Implementation

ITIL is a set of tools that you can use to improve your IT service functions. You don’t have to use all of it, and you don’t have to use it for all parts of your business, but it does need to be implemented properly to ensure the best possible benefit.

Accredited training in ITIL will introduce you to the ITIL framework of IT service management, and take you through all of the theory and techniques. It will help you start to identify which IT processes are most suitable for ITIL to be applied to them, and you’ll also start thinking about how to make that ITIL implementation successful.

In this post, we look at some of the critical success factors for getting ITIL working for you.

Top 5 Ways to Make ITIL Implementation a Success:

Know Where to Start

Not sure where to begin with implementing ITIL? We’ve written a useful article on how to know where to start - with the most simple question to ask to get things rolling. Read the rest of "How to Make ITIL Implementation Successful"

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After reading James Finister’s great ITIL Capacity Management Titanic analogy I thought it would be great to come up with one of my own.

Capacity Management is covered on the ITIL Intermediate Planning, Protection and Optimisation Module.

Avoiding Train Stuffing with Capacity Management

You would think that Capacity Management would be obvious for train companies. They provide the right number of seats for the right number of passengers.

Simplified, this means that if there are 10,000 passengers on a particular route each day, the train company must run 50 trains each with 200 seats to meet demand, around 4 trains an hour over a 12 hour period.

That sounds reasonable, let’s see what happens when you apply that thinking to real life:

While 10,000 people may travel on one day there is no guarantee they will travel at evenly spaced times. In fact the opposite is usually true, especially on weekdays due to commuter travel. 10,000 people may travel on one day, but 8,000 of those might travel between 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm. If the train company is running 4 trains an hour in those times (each with 200 seats) then you have 8,000 people trying to fit in 800 seats. Read the rest of "ITIL Capacity Management: the Opposite of Train Stuffing"

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ITIL – The Heart of IT Services

Last week, Stephen Mann of Forrester.com wrote about the three Stereotypes of IT Service Management, and invited readers to think about how they or their IT service personnel fit into the categories of ‘brawn’, ‘brain’ and ‘heart’.

IT Services

Are your IT services short on heart?

Generally speaking, the ‘brawn’ category is for those who are purely focused on the IT and its delivery, with little interest in IT services and especially not best practice frameworks such as ITIL.

Brains’ are those who live by the ITIL book, who are exceptionally knowledgeable about IT service delivery theory – but who also tend to forget the big picture of the business need.

The ‘heart’ individuals have the skills for brawn and brain, but are always aware that the demands of the business are the reasons their IT services are required in the first place.

Their approach is both expert and customer-centric – and is the approach we recommend in our ITIL training courses. For more information about ITIL, have a look at our About ITIL and Benefits of ITIL pages.

ITIL – The heart of IT services

Factors needed to ensure your IT services have heart include communication, correct identification of goals and customer focus. Read the rest of "ITIL – The Heart of IT Services"

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ITSkeptic White Paper Digest and Response

Prolific IT blogger, ITSkeptic published a controversial white paper last month on the issue of the relationship between businesses and their IT services, analogising them to parents trying to deal with troubled teenagers. Was he simply trying to raise awareness of a valid sticking point in the IT services industry? Does he deserve the criticism received from some parts of the IT service industry? Here we digest the white paper and impartially reiterate the main points raised – and where they may have been misconstrued.

Companies should use accredited IT service providers who have undertaken a training course in IT service provision. We offer a full range of ITIL training courses, including ITIL Foundation Training and ITIL Expert training.

The Basics of the Analogy

ITSkeptic compared an IT department to a hard-done-by teenager whose parents have been neglectful until the moment the behaviour crosses the line. He says that the business owner should take responsibility for the output of an IT service, just as a parent is responsible for the behaviour of their child. Simply leaving them to their own devices is not enough – an IT department, like a growing teenager, needs guidance to succeed.

IT departments and business managers should work together to ensure the goals of the IT department fit with the organisation’s overall strategy. You can’t blame the child for laziness or bad behaviour if you’ve not made efforts to keep it in check.

In turn, IT should be developing their services and strategies with close contact with the end user to ensure basic requirements are met. If this is not done, blame too easily falls on the IT department. A better established communications channel will prevent

Bad parents don’t listen to their kids”.

It was suggested that one reason business leaders shy away from higher levels of engagement with IT services is that the levels of expertise needed in IT are so removed from, e.g. a business manager’s day-to-day knowledge. It may be, in part, a reluctance to show weakness. This leads to an IT service feeling threatened when managers try and gain more insight – like a surly teenager, this perceived threat is often countered with hostility and a reluctance to share.

Better communication on the part of IT services can help – as can more routine involvement by business managers with IT processes and services. Regular monitoring will mean greater understanding and trust from both parties.

Industry Changes

The white paper perhaps sums the issue up best by saying “IT has grown from a back-office function to being the core of many organisations and a pillar of all large enterprises”. Users are demanding that their IT services keep up with their preferences as technology grows at a remarkable rate. This comes alongside the economic downturn – IT departments are having to do more for less and often with little support and guidance from above. IT support services are constantly trying to play catch-up in line with developing demands – without being consulted on the viability and efficiency of those demands in the first place.

It is fair for organisations to want their IT services to keep up with rapid changes in the technology industry. It is not fair for them to do this without giving them the understanding and support needed to implement these changes. Like placing higher and higher demands on a teenage child without first speaking to them about their needs and ambitions, businesses need to stop themselves from doing the same with their IT services.

Criticisms - It Takes Two To Tango

Some critics of the white paper seem to think that the analogy to a teenager is an insult to individual IT workers. Rather, the paper was comparing the era of IT services and the sudden flush of developmental changes to a similar time in human development.

IT needs to adapt its behaviour quickly and constantly – but businesses need to take steps to guide their services in the right direction throughout these times of change. The role of an IT department is to support services, not to drive change. Whilst IT services should make attempts to take ownership of developments like the move to cloud computing, they are usually not the decision makers.

If such change occurs without the involvement of IT, businesses will soon find themselves stuck without the required level of efficiency and support. Ill-feeling between users and IT support staff will occur without these basic communications. Without intending to criticise either party, ITSkeptic’s white paper intended to raise awareness of the efforts needed to ensure IT services can be provided in the most productive way for the organisation as a whole. IT services need inclusion and guidance to mature through the adolescent phase to a more settled adulthood.

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Cloud Computing and IT Services

Cloud computing has become a staple of almost all workplaces. Businesses have been switching to cloud services because the demand for speed and flexibility is more urgent than the perceived risk of using an unmanaged service.

Some people have questioned how ITIL will hold up with the boom in cloud computing. We strongly believe that ITIL will handle cloud computing well as long as it is added to the service strategy.

office-it-in-the-clouds

Is your office in the cloud?

With offerings from Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft to choose from, more than half of all businesses use unmanaged clouds – and many more plan to move their workloads to unmanaged cloud computing over the next two years. Many businesses see the move towards cloud computing as a move away from the need for IT.

By waking up to this evolution, and taking ownership of the move, IT services can ensure they are not sidelined. Most cloud systems are managed externally, but it’s imperative that IT services are pro-actively taking responsibility for these services in order to provide the best long term support and growth for the business.

We offer a full range of ITIL training courses from ITIL Foundation Training up to ITIL Expert Training. Please visit the course pages for dates and prices or give us a call on 01273 622272 to discuss your training requirements.

There are three types of cloud service. SaaS – software as a service, PaaS – platform as a service, and IaaS – infrastructure as a service. Not all businesses will want or need to utilise all types of cloud service. Some may choose to use completely public clouds, some will develop a private cloud, and others will choose a hybrid. Read the rest of "Cloud Computing and IT Services"

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Successful Information Technology teams are distinguished by a greater ability to communicate with the users they serve. Most large companies have established standards of service and communication that is established by a mix of ITIL standards (taught on our ITIL training courses) and internal company policies to create an IT service standard that suits the company well. Now we will investigate the factors that work towards excellent communications.

Writing

Written communication allows precise ideas to be communicated so that they can be digested at the reader’s own pace. It is especially important to make your written communication of the highest quality because it can be timeless and potentially viral in the way it spreads. There are some important and obvious things that people should not do but still continue to do with written communications.

  1. Email arguments with an audience (cc’d recipients) to observe the battleground.
  2. Use of capital letters or big red text, shouting is not polite
  3. Poor spelling and grammar (proof read your emails or documents many times)
  4. Carefully reading requests and emails sent in, the literary equivalent of listening
  5. Using too many big words in a letter, or excessive ‘corporate speak’.

ITIL-Training-UKWe’ve all no doubt seen some of the terrible emails that come out of companies, often with the company name and signature intact. Emails such as this include famous arguments and chastisements over ham sandwiches, office hygiene and other interpersonal matters.

Specifically to IT, it is important in any communication to repeat back to the user that their problem is understood. This is commonly done by restating the issue in your own words.  For example, a user request of ‘my email signature is not displaying images correctly’ will be echoed back to the user as such or with more specifics. This would come back as ‘your email signature is displaying red crosses instead of images’.

Once the problem is agreed on, then the problem can be solved. As an IT person, it is your job to be able to fix this so we won’t go into this part. If the problem lasts for more than a day, regular updates on the status of the job should be supplied to the user depending on the urgency of the problem.

As technology changes, so should IT support. There are a number of modern support apps and tools available to help IT managers and staff negotiate new IT mediums while still providing high levels of support to customers. Read the rest of "How to Be a Better Communicator in IT Support"

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ITIL training is crucial for businesses wanting to implement the ITIL framework within the organisation. ITIL is important for preventing the problems detailed in this guest blog post from Ilya Elbert as it ensures that a strategy is in place for delivering and maintaining an IT service strategy…

Small business owners hardly ever pay attention to computer data backups. However, complacency could be very harmful here. Ideally, it would be highly advisable for small business owners to have service companies that they can get advice from when choosing and maintaining their backups. Aside from that, it would also be vital for them to get a basic understanding of the main problems that come with these backups overall.

Top Tips on Computer Data Backups

1. Test backups on a regular basis and monitor all of the log files.

For maximum effectiveness, computer data backups need to be automated to make sure that their tasks are always launched on a proper and consistent basis. However, the backup system also has to be monitored very diligently to ensure that it keeps functioning properly.

importance-of-it-backup

Sadly, not a lot of small business owners monitor their data backup systems until it is already too late. In fact, most people out there tend to set up a backup system and then just forget about it later on. As beneficial as automation may be, a completely hands-off approach could still be dangerous if nobody oversees the backup process – remember that.

2. Keep testing those backups.

No matter how modern or new a backup system may seem, that doesn’t mean that everything will just work properly. In fact, that doesn’t even mean that it will keep working indefinitely. Because of this, it would be vital to restore several files and folders from the backup media every now and then in order to check whether the backup system is actually still working.

Read about the possible problems created by the use of personal devices in the workplace. How would these be backed up?

If the routine of the automated system includes verified runs with every completed backup task, then testing sample restore jobs every month should be enough. However, if there is a very low risk tolerance involved, it might be smart to simulate sample restore jobs every week instead.

The Problem with Some Backup Systems

Why is it so important to take precautions, even if the chosen backup systems are already known for being reliable? Well, backup devices are some of the very few parts of a server or a PC that still consist of moving parts.

Because of this, they have a much higher risk of failing. Plus, unlike sealed hard drives, backup devices are generally open, so they tend to attract more dust within a shorter span of time.

A Checklist for System Backups

1. Watch the system’s log files.

Aside from running sample restore jobs, it would also be important to check the system’s log files on a daily basis. This would include getting to know what they look like when they’re in optimum condition. This way, you will be more prepared to figure out where the problem lies if anything goes wrong.

2. Watch the backup log files.

A lot of computer consultants get automatic emails on their clients’ log files, but this shouldn’t be restricted to them. In fact, companies with several branch offices should do the same thing, too. For more flexibility, an email alias can be set up, so that the log files are automatically sent to you, as well. This will also ensure that the monitoring continues, no matter what.

Ilya Elbert writes for several IT Support Los Angeles and Computer Repair Los Angeles companies.

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Small businesses are always looking for a way to offer quality customer support without breaking the bank. Tools like desk.com are very useful for businesses looking for alternative support solutions. Of course, using the ITIL framework is also recommended. As well as running ITIL Foundation Training in Brighton we also offer the full range of ITIL Intermediate courses in London. Please call us on 01273 622272 to discuss your training requirements.

Salesforce has launched a cloud-based social customer service platform that integrates Facebook and Twitter feeds as well as e-mail, web and phone communications. That’s got to be good for small-to-medium-sized companies who need an office-based and a mobile solution for field agents.

The Product

desk.com-logoThe launch of Desk.com has many similarities to Do.com, which was first on show in November. Do.com re-made Salesforce’s social productivity application Manymoon into a more polished product.

Desk.com, however, is based on the customer service support app Assistly, which was acquired by Salesforce in September 2011. Whilst based on Assistly, it is a different product because it has been built from the ground up. It has a new user interface, additional APIs, a new reporting service and a HTML 5 based mobile client.

Existing Assistly customers — including big names like Spotify, Instagram, Vimeo, Pandora, Grooveshark, Rdio, and 37signals — have been transferred over to Desk.com’s re-imagined and refined interface.

The Advantages

  • desk.com-screenshotDesk.com pulls all customer service conversations into one place. By tracking every customer request in an ‘airtight’ system, it acts like a safety net to ensure that nothing gets lost.
  • Everything is built for speed. No bouncing from screen to screen, no juggling multiple apps. It’s all right in front of you and businesses are experiencing improved efficiencies of between 50% to 100%.
  • It can even integrate with an existing customer support knowledge base for fielding frequently asked questions.
  • For mobile support, Salesforce has built an HTML5-based site that conforms well to mobile browsers on the iPhone and various Android phones.
  • Desk.com is quick and easy to set up and get running. Just a couple of days, or over a weekend, is possible.

Meeting a Need

As we’ve said, whether customers contact you by email, Twitter, Facebook, web or live chat it’s all in one place. But it’s not just an efficient way of managing company/customer interaction; it is becoming an essential way of working.

Fifty percent of Internet users visit a social network every day, and many are looking for customer support right there. As social networks increase in popularity, and as customers grow to expect service on social media channels, businesses need to offer a real-time solution to solve problems and disseminate good news.

Read more on using social media for customer support and the possible pitfalls of using business accounts on personal devices.

Happy Agents, Happy Customers, Happy Business Owners

desk.com-in-actionYour front-line sales support team need to deliver responsive customer service, and customers expect and demand a response within a very short time. Desk.com enables employees to do so with minimum time and effort, thereby delivering high levels of customer satisfaction

This is a win-win. If sales agents are happy using an effective business tool, delivering high levels of customer service, customers will be happy. It’s a win-win for business owners too. Happy sales agents and happy customers, plus improved efficiency, equals a successful business. Desk.com is definitely worth considering for SMEs.

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