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Service management and ITIL 4 podcast
1h 57m



- [Dave] Hi everyone, welcome to QA's ITIL four podcast, this is the inaugural episode. My name is Dave and today I'm joined by two fantastic service management experts, Martin Waters and Paul Weasel and they have loads of insight to share. So let's dive straight into it. But before we do, Martin, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?


- [Martin] Yeah, sure, David. So my name's Martin, I work for QA, I'm a senior principal lecturer for QA. Teaching in the service management sphere now for the last 17, 18 years, I've been with QA. My special moves really around this world of service management and obviously the whole history of ITIL has- I've been involved in really over those years and obviously it's quite exciting with the changed ITIL four as we see another evolution of the best practice that obviously the whole industry adopts and adapts around the globe these days, so that's my background. I used to be in traditional I.T. backgrounds working in the engineering world so I've practiced it all as much as I've hopefully taught it well across the years. Yeah, quite excited to be kind of starting this next chapter this ITIL journey, really.


- [Dave] So you're a hardened veteran.


- [Martin] Something like that, yeah. Probably not as hardened as some, but yeah, that's my background.


- [Dave] Is Paul any more hardened than you?


- [Martin] I think so.


- [Paul] Only by a couple of years, I think. I've probably been in ITIL for about 20 years now. My background is that I used to work for the police service and it was when I joined the police service that the recruiter at the time said, "They're really into this ITIL stuff." And I had no idea what ITIL was about so I went and found out, did a little bit of research prior to the interview and discovered this ITIL, I-T-I-L or whatever you wish to call it and got the job and then immediately contacted a training company and said "I need you to train me." So, go to training course and this was right to the start of version two and in version two there was a certificate called a manager's certificate and I did the first day of training of the manager's certificate which actually was delivered by an old QA trainer called Jeff Paine. I rang my girlfriend who is now my wife the night after the first day and she said, "How did your training go?" and I said "I've just found what I want to do."


- [Dave] Oh, that is a heartfelt story.


- [Paul] Yeah, absolutely, so I came back to the police service, delivered an ITIL in the police service, there's a national police ITIL forum for which I'm responsible for and led ITIL within the police environment for a few odd years then and then got dragged into the rewrite of version three 'cause I was a public sector face for the version three so I'm kind of on a, I suppose on a seesaw version four. I'm really looking forward to version four. I think version four is a major step forward, but it is a bit like seeing your daughter leave home because I was very much involved in the creation of version three so seeing it kind of move on is a difficult time for me, too.


- [Martin] We'll have some Kleenex later


- [Dave] The fledglings are about to leave the nest. Well, I think it's so amazing that you have this experience. Something that you mentioned earlier, Martin, I thought sounds really interesting, and maybe you guys could tell the audience a bit more about: service management versus ITIL four. Obviously, if I'm someone that's new to the field, which I am, I might not know what the difference is here, so what is ITIL four to service management? How are they related?


- [Martin] Well, there is a relationship, ITIL is obviously the industry, almost like view, around how we should go about managing any world of really IT enabled services, which is obviously crucial to any organization, any business these days and service management is really the whole discipline of how you create capability around your obviously bring to market the correct IT services to drive a business forward, but then obviously manage those services. Through that, you know, generate the right outcomes that matter to the business. There's competitors to ITIL, but ITIL is really, almost the industry, has adopted around ITIL it's almost like the dominant guidance when it comes to how we go about managing IT enabled services.


- [Paul] And I would say that one of the really nice things, for me personally, about ITIL or however you want to say it, is that it used to be very much focused on IT, and it started all about IT and it was about delivering IT services. But as we have, evolved if you like, delivering of services, and we have to all recognize that these days whatever business, whatever area we're in we'd end up delivering services. And I like the fact that certainly the new version of ITIL four moves slightly away from IT and says, "Actually, this is about delivering services per say. This is about delivering services to anybody. It doesn't matter whether you're running a hotel, or running a garage, or running a manufacturing organization, or running a banking organization, or working in a health service, or working even for the defense areas, It doesn't matter you're still delivering services, and therefore service management is something that we'll align, and assist, and help you develop a better service delivery." So, I like the fact that it's- it's hard- Let's not kid ourselves- It's heart is still there in IT, but essentially it's all about delivering services and I'm always minded and it makes me smile that, as I said in the introduction, I've been working in service management for probably the best part of twenty years now, when we go to dinner parties or we go to social events or whatever, and people ask my wife, "What does he do for a living?" She still doesn't actually know. Because she says, "It's something to do with customer services I think." And I think- and I don't get upset about that because service management is such a broad- has such a broad remip that it doesn't matter what you're doing and where you're working, ITIL four can help.


- [Martin] Absolutely, I mean, I agree with Paul the focus and the org. Even if you make, you know, products that you put on a shelf in a supermarket every org still has to be conscious of the services that it needs to offer these days, and even if it's just the wrap around customer support activity that's they need to do around their products that they make, services are crucial to every org... And it's encouraging I think to see that there is many an organization now who really isn't IT centric but they are taking on and using the ITIL guidance to their advantage. We see it in many other contacts that we do as QA where organizations are using the framework of ITIL as a way of really transforming the whole business and certainly not just IT parts of the business.


- [Paul] Indeed, I was out with a client not very long ago where we were asked to go and give an overview of service management and how service management could benefit the organization. It was an education organization, and the brief was, "Please would you come and talk to the teams and tell them how service management will help them? Whatever you do, don't mention IT." And I thought, "Brilliant. Yeah, happy to do that." So, I think that the answer to some is that service management is about the delivery of good services to customers and ITIL four is the collection of tools, the collection of practices, the collection of ideas that you can use to deliver those good services. It's seen as best practice. It's not a methodology. It doesn't say, "You must do this." It just say, "Look, this is what hundreds of thousands of organizations are doing. Why don't you have a look at it? Why don't you adopt some of it? Why don't you adapt some of the bits that you don't particularly think work for you, and again adopt them." So, the adapt and adopt, or the adopt and adapt, however you want to think about it, comes through time and time again. It doesn't prescribe what you must do.


- [Dave] It's fascinating. I really find it so interesting that something that is grounded in IT has kind or grown to become something that almost, you know, encompasses anything that any business would do. This is, you know, clearly a framework that I think anyone would find useful and good to know about- Just learning from me learning about it, you know, something I'm sure we're gonna touch on later down the road in this podcast here. It's just about kind of relationship between demand and that kind of idea now, in ITIL four especially, of co-created value and how those things are kind of the two... What's the word I'm looking for? Kind of the two touch points or the two poles, if you will.


- [Paul] Absolutely, which are continually evolving. Continually evolving. As demand increases and we have to adapt our services to fit that demand.


- [Dave] Fantastic. I think I'd love to just ask a bit more because I was just kind of getting into it as you were telling us a bit more about your experience in... You know, ITIL two going into ITIL three, Paul especially. I think I'm fascinated by the history and I'd love to know, you know, even if it's all and maybe not a hundred percent accurate, we'll take that- I think everyone would love to know just a bit more about where this came from, why it came about, and maybe hopefully where it's going if you have any inkling.


- [Paul] Can I do the behind bit then you can do the crystal ball?


- [Martin] You can start with the CCTA, yeah?


- [Paul] Yeah, many many moons ago... The government of the UK effectively approached a group of IT experts and said, "Look, we need to be more structured, more focused on how we're delivering IT services. Can you help?" And the guys all met, got down together in Norwich, for anyone listening to this from East Anglia you are responsible for this. From Norwich, and sat down and came up with this, structure if you like, of ITIL and it was just a series of papers of how the things could be done. And from that the government looked at it and liked it and anybody who's been around service management for a while knows that for many years it was controlled by the cabinet office. It's now moved subsequently to Axelos, I'm sure we can touch on that bit later on. But it used to be run, very much by, the UK government. And it was designed for government organizations. For the government departments to use- to try and create a cohesive way of delivering what was IT services in those times. Bear in mind that we are talking early eighties at this point in time. So, IT, and the delivery and the use of IT within businesses, was building and building and building but actually there was no structure about how to run services, no real concept of things like a service desk, or dealing with faults and issues, and incidents, as we now call them, or requests. It was pretty much a free for all. And I remember myself, when we first started, working with an organization where their basic procedure was whoever was walking the phone when a user rang answered it and dealt with the issue.


- [Dave] Sounds really efficient, right?


- [Paul] But in essence, up until that point nobody had ever thought about, "Well, hang on a minute why don't we actually have a cohesive group of people that do this?" So, it started in version one and then moved into version two where it became more structured and the processes became more clarified, and the links between them. And there were six books. A lot of people think that when it went to version three that we went from two books because people used to think about a book called, "Service Support & Service Delivery" but actually there were six books in the whole library. And that just kind of focused in and we talked about looking at it from a business standpoint, looking at it from a hardware standpoint, looking at it from a software standpoint, and then as to say the service delivery and the service support. And it was the service support and the service delivery that gained greatest traction because people could deal with the IT- people could deal with the software, but it was actually the delivery of the services that was the missing link for lack of a better description. And that continued until we got to 2006, and then there was obviously a time to look again and say, "Does this need to be refreshed again?" So they moved to version three, and version three was all talked all about the service life cycle because by that time we'd moved on from delivering IT services- Sorry, delivering IT systems into delivering IT services. Version two was very much about delivering systems to users to use. And then when we started to look at version three we talked about IT services and we started to recognize that actually the IT was fundamental to the delivery of the service. So, we needed to be involved in the strategic decisions. So, we need to be involved in the design of the service that the customers and that kind of introduces the kind of customers we're going to receive. And then, obviously, we moved into then the actual delivery and the transition, the day to day looking after it in the service operation. And then, of course, along came this idea about, "We can't just rest upon our laws. There needs to be this constant continual cycle of improvement." Which was continual service improvement. And that held it's way until Axelos took over the product in early 2010- Actually I think it was 2011 where they formally took over the product and they said, "We're not gonna touch it for a year. We're gonna let it run for a year and see where it goes." And then started to talk about, "Oh, hang on a minute this is all great," and they changed the book and they reformatted some of the books, and it's... Largely been untouched since 2007, so this has had almost an eleven year lifespan, but we now need to recognize that things are changing again. So many companies are now using cloud. So many people are now using agiles. So many people are working and using services in a different way, and as we've already mentioned earlier on in this podcast, is actually pretty much every organization out there now delivers a service. I mean even the manufacturing companies that just manufacture widgets, they don't just manufacture the widgets, but actually the service to support the widgets, the service to deliver those widgets, the service to improve those widgets, you can have gold widgets, you can have bronze widgets, you can have platinum diamond-encrusted widgets if you like. There's a whole collection of services that form around what's being delivered. So therefore, the service management needed to evolve and needs to evolve to recognize that change in the marketplace.


- [Dave] So, one of the key things you would say then is that as businesses and the way of working and, you know, technology and, you know, everything really has changed, ITIL has been kind of fundamentally changing itself along the way to keep up and to actually drive some of that change as well.


- [Martin] Yeah, I mean, arguably the eleven years, as Paul says, since the last real significant update. So, it's certainly time and appropriate for ITIL change and encompass the quite seismic changes, really, that are happening in most businesses in the last decade or so. I think the way that Axelos are positioning ITIL four is very much with that mindset clear about- they're trying to almost take a little bit of a step back from what they did with ITIL three in the sense that as good as the service life cycle was and this idea of- almost like the controlling processes that we need to manage those services. Many organization took very good, you know, use out of those processes and those guidance, but within the modern ways of working with things like particular growth of agile. I mean the agile spread is everywhere these days in terms of just encompassing any part of any organization in terms of this more reiterative fast paced approach to business change. And I think the valid criticism around ITIL v3 was that, to some degree, we seem to be too kind of slavish to a process and too step by detailed-step driven, and with ITIL four we're almost taking a bit of that straight-jacket, from some organizations eyes, away from ITIL three, allowing orgs by using ITIL four to kind of develop their whole service management approach alongside other ways of working that are all actually very well established, like agile, like lean, like obviously devops and all kind of other movements that you might want to mention. And, true, the adopt and adapt, and the flexibility principle of ITIL. I think they're driving home even more to roost in ITIl four, and I think those criticisms that, you know, I think are fairly validly have been laid at ITIL three's door are being formally addressed by ITIL four, and therefore I can foresee that there's gonna be even more uptake and even more different types of organizations now where they'll see the relevance of the guidance of ITIl four. And I think the barrier, if there is such a phrase, to entry for some orgs that have seen it just too-too process driven. That barrier goes away now, which I think is an advantage for the whole business, you know, organizational industries that we're involved around.


- [Dave] Okay, so you've kind of just touched on one of my questions I was about to ask was just around why you think, you know, if someone were to say to you, "Why is ITIL so awesome?" and I think you just summarized it perfectly, really.


- [Martin] I think, yeah, and the whole nature of the way that construct to the guidance in ITIL four is all about being more inclusive, breaking down the phrase they use in the book, and it's irrelevant, it's breaking down silos, and we've all got to be conscious of that in any organization these days about what we do in our practice, in our area of work. And we're having to gauge with so many other parts of the organization these days to produce something really of worth, of value ultimately on behalf of the organization, and the way they've built the guidance in ITIL four is explicitly with that "I" to kind of make sure, almost- and almost encourage teams, departments, or even individuals not to work in isolation from other parts of the organization, and by using the, almost like, unifying guidance of ITIL four and everyone kind of being conscious of the relevant guidance in relation to their org is gonna hopefully ensure that the organization is distinctive and it can develop, it can grow, you can basically do your part to hit the organizational goals, and therefor through that, you know, drive success and service enabled success of the organization, really.


- [Dave] Something that I kind of think about when I'm listening to you guys talk is about how it seems easy to think about this from the organizations perspective... kind of first. But what about from the individual's perspective, you know, when I'm an individual working in an organization, as I am, how do I generally think about ITIl and think, "Oh this is my role," or, "This is how I'm working within framework now. This is where I am," or whatever the case is?


- [Paul] I think that's a very valid question. In truth, and Martin has touched on this earlier on, the core and the heart is value. So we're all about the service is all about making sure that we are delivering value. Now, certainly in version four we start talking about co-creating value with the consumer, and I'm not trying to just use lots of buzzwords there, I'm sure as we move on through the series we'll explain that in far more depth, but in essence when you're starting out I think the start point is, "Okay, what's the value with what I'm doing? Why am I doing this? How does this effect?" It's that old story of, whether it's real or just a urban myth I don't know, but it's that wonderful story of supposedly Kennedy going to NASA and meeting all of the workers of NASA, one of whom was the janitor, Charlie. So he walks up and he says, "Hello, I'm the president. It's good to meet you. Who are you?" And the janitor says, "Hello Mr. President, It's an honor to meet you. My name's Charlie." And he says, "Charlie, so what do you do at NASA, Charlie?" And he says, "Well sir, I'm gonna help you put a man on the moon." It's- and it always sends shivers down my spine when I think about this story because it's that bit about knowing where your little wheel is in the smaller cog or set of cogs that ultimately drive the engine. It's about knowing what's the value I'm doing, what's the value I'm creating and how does that impact the organization that we are providing service to, or the organization that I am working for. Doesn't matter, as I say, whether you're working for the health industry or whether you're working for a banking industry. It doesn't matter what it is, but it's about knowing where you fit, knowing what you're doing. Is it actually creating value? Because from a service management perspective if you're not creating value for the stakeholders, the people who have the vested interest in what you're doing... Why are we doing it?


- [Martin] Which is a pretty fundamental question that hopefully we all to some degree pose in our heads every day in any organization whether, you know, you're in an operations role or strategic role, and I think that building on Pauls, you know, comments that it's, to me ITIL really gives a grounding point to every employee. Something that we could all reflect to in the guidance, and even just on a day to day basis, take almost advice out of to effect your working practices, so we can do, like Paul says, almost we can be a system and we can all contribute to that engine, using Pauls analogy, where you all understand our part of that equation. And unless you've got some kind of unifying guidance that we can all reflect around the danger is we're back to potential, "That team does this, but I have nothing to do," views or "They use a certain practice and we don't have to be interested at all in that practice," and it gives rise to these barriers to start to almost through osmosis start to grow and therefore we get to that potential danger zone of silo based working, and we're doing that element of task activity that's a value but we're not all to understand the impact that- and what it means to other teams, other departments that we have to work alongside. I think there's also, just adding to that fallacy, that ITIL is only a pickle to large scale orgs, and I think it's very clear with how they constructed ITIL four that in a very very small organization, potentially even just a- literally one, two staff of an organization- you can still find relevance of the ITIL guidance, and I think a lot orgs that embraced ITIL three because they saw and they liked the process driven nature of ITIL three and the service life cycle principle in that... I think a lot of orgs say it as a scale thing, oh we need to have almost like a certain amount of people to scale up and really take advantage out of ITIL. Whereas, I truly think with ITIL four guidance they've addressed that now and they're very explicit now in the guidance about how you can very much scale and use this in a very scaled down organization as very much as a very scaled up organization in terms of people, but with that focus, as Paul correctly said on, ultimately, "Oh, we focused on," and actually creation of value ultimately. So with the product and services that we do, and if we can see our success in that through the guidance that we adopt great, and that's the end game, really- hopefully in terms of how we see the value of ITIL.


- [Dave] But something that, you know, kind of- Some total of what you guys have just been talking about is, you know, I think we've got to a point in this conversation where I did not expect it to go, which is that really to some degree ITIL is especially ITIL four, for the individual, is really about mindfulness as well and it's kind of encouraging people to actually take stock, to pay more attention to where they fit within an organization, what they're doing with their jobs, you know, most of us spend the majority of our at org live's working within an organization, but it's so easy to forget about the whole organization, you just focus on what you're doing, you're squirtled away, and actually ITIL four is kind of encouraging us to work together more closely, to understand the objectives of the organization and to really try to become more apart of that, and you know, achieve success. But I think that is a good place to wrap this episode up. So, thanks for joining me guys I will catch up with you soon.


- [Paul] Thank you.

About the Author

Martin is a professionally qualified and experienced IT Professional with over 25 years of experience in the IT industry. He has held a number of senior roles and has experience of large-scale IT Service Management implementation programs both in public and private sectors. He has over 15 years of experience working for QA as both a Senior principal lecturer/consultant and as Head of Service Management Product Development. Martin has delivered training to a wide variety of audiences, both UK and internationally, to consistently high levels of customer satisfaction.

His main role at QA is acting as a Head of Service Management Product Development to enable QA to deliver high quality, interactive training in the following areas:

  • Delivering a wide range of public ITIL, SIAM, and BRM courses
  • Delivering onsite ITIL and SIAM courses
  • Developing high-quality QA authored Service Management courses and courseware across all delivery mechanisms including classroom, e-learning, and virtual
  • Working with Industry partners to develop new curricula and courses – Recent examples include ITIL Practitioner and the BCS EXIN SIAM Foundation qualifications