Chris Dancy of ServiceSphere (@servicesphere on Twitter) tweeted this excellent 10 page (PDF) Executive Overview of IT Service Management (ITSM) and ITIL.

The PDF contains a succinct, and brief overview of the benefits of improving IT Service Management, with some easy to understand demonstrations of visual signs of poor ITSM.

If you are an executive wondering what the fuss is about with ITIL and ITSM, this document is a great summary.

Note, if you have been following this blog for a while, you will note some terminology changes compared to what I have written. This is simply because my experience has been with Version 2 of the ITIL framework, and this document summarizes ITIL utilizing the newer process terminology contained within Version 3 of the framework.

If you are looking into ITIL, I highly recommend checking out ServiceSphere at the above link, on twitter too!

Book Review: ReWork

August 5, 2010

I recently read ReWork by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson of 37Signals.ReWork

(published by Crown Books ISBN 9781407062853)

Let me say it; A must read for every entrepreneur and SME business manager! I say that because to effectively cover this book – I would have to rewrite it all here word for word!

Rather than being written as a lecture or treatise, each chapter is a loose federation of points, with each point dedicated to one thought, and each thought is a only a couple of pages.

Some of these lessons you have heard before, for example, on Competitors; Who cares what they are doing?

But under Promotion; Out teach your competition is one example of brilliance. Or on Progress; Throw less at the problem

You may not agree with every point. But if you have to defend your argument – you win both ways.

Over my vacation a week or so ago, I read Behind The Cloud The untold story of salesforce.com by Marc Benioff & Carlye Adler.Behind the Cloud - salesforce.com

(published by Josey-Bass –  ISBN978-0-470-52116-8)

It was an interesting read following at a high level how Mr. Benioff and team formed Salesforce.com, got it started, and how it exploded into the poster child for Software as a Service (Saas) or a piece of what we call ‘cloud computing’.

Each chapter describes the issues, decisions and actions that were taken along their road to growth. Call it a road map of what worked for them.

There are two really key points in the text that we all should be thinking about.

First, in selling the product, Salesforce.com did not sell the features 0f what their product could do, they  evangelized the concept of Saas, selling the experience & advantage,  not the product. In fact in their book The Power Of  Pull, Hagell, Seely Brown & Davisson state that 80% of Marc Benioff’s communication was educating – not selling the product.

There was also a huge second  recurring theme threaded throughout the text;

People People People

‘Nuff Said

In many businesses, the importance of IT, just like that of your plumbing, can only be truly appreciated when it stops working.

However, in most cases there were signs that failure is just around the corner.

You miss these warnings when you do not take a holistic view of your IT services.

All the time.

Not just when something has broken and people’s work grinds to a halt.

Broken Plumbing

Photo Credit TumbleCow_old via flickr

This article at CIOZone titled; The Enemy Is Complexity is geared at larger enterprises, but complexity is too frequent in the small to mid market as well.

The almost certain culprit is complexity,” says Sessions. “Complexity seems to track nicely to system failure. The more complex a system is, the harder and more costly it is to work on that system.

The SMB Takeaway

In the small to medium enterprise, IT assets such as servers and software seem to multiply like rabbits. They are often purchased for one particular job or solution, and no one checks to see if the new purchase is either necessary, or possibly even duplicating existing IT assets.

Either way – things cost more operationally, and are more likely to break.

Words Are Not Enough

This is the next post in my intermittent series on doing more with less; having existing staff (in my case an IT Manager) help out in improving marketing, specifically starting with Web Site optimization. It also has come faster than I intended (the previous one was just last week)

First post is here .

But first, I want to tell you a story….

Our Story

A number of years ago we contracted out a web site re-design, then there were some some meetings with a marketing pro who then took our ideas and put some words on all of our newly redesigned web pages.

But I didn’t like them; they were only words.

What do I mean by only words?

Sure, we use words to explain concepts, or to describe things. But words can also be powerful containers that express more than the sum of their letters.

Chip & Dan Heath in their seminal text; Made To Stick demonstrated the concept that single words, phrases, or sentences can be triggers that expand to full volumes of concepts, emotions and understanding.

As an example, there are probably millions of books, texts, articles, images and information about a large United States based organization. I could use words to describe (which would be a  lengthy process ) this organization to you.

Or I can just say; NASA

Depending on your region or age, the simple term NASA will paint a picture of Apollo, Armstrong, Challenger, Atlantis, Voyageur and more. Entire volumes of your awareness are linked to those four simple letters (and heck it is only an acronym!)

In Your Business?

You probably have the same.

Sure, your B2B widget has some great features and specifications, but perhaps your experience has shown you that have successfully sold your Widgets to engineering teams at companies because one simple thing about it that removes a major hot button for the engineers. (ie maybe the one part can replace two)

That hot button – that is Ah-Ha! moment, those words just told your prospects; hey – these folks understand my issues!

The SMB Takeaway

Keep your fingers on the pulse of your web site content

You may outsource some of the work, but keep looking for those words or phrases that resonate, that explode into understanding.

Because those words, are more than words.

Photo Credit Feuillu via flickr

Too many business technology staff have a disease. Maybe you have seen it?

This shoot first and ask questions later is only a significant symptom, but let me back up first.

All business has a value chain. This value chain is the set of activities in your organization that produce the product or service that is actually delivered to your customers.

If you prefer to think in the concept of Open Systems, we can state that your business does not operate in a vacuum. Inputs, manipulation and outputs are required to physically get your product or service delivered.

And in many businesses, there is one common link that can help tie together each of those inputs and outputs;

Technology

Technology support in your business is not just data entry. In many cases creative knowledge workers can utilize technology based processes to reduce the friction that slows communication between the pieces of your value chain. By reducing friction, I mean reducing the gaps and time lost between individual steps.

As an example? a graphic artist creates material that has to go to print, but the individual that has to give the final approval forgets, so while the work is done, it is stuck in a crack, or gap of your internal value chain. These gaps are the common area where your IT can help streamline your internal processes.

That Technology Value Chain

I am going to break a rule here and temporarily extract your IT function out of your business – just like a schematic diagram.

If you could view your IT service in this way, you would see all the points where your IT  touches and connects to the various business processes you operate.

So let me argue that IT is a type of internal value chain for your organization – any change to those touch points that connect other points  will affect others. It will affect them through change, or it will affect them when they can’t get their job done because something is not working.

This Chain?

Technologists in the SME space must understand that IT does not exist in a vacuum. Nothing is discrete, you cannot just separate it like this simple schematic.

Everything that is done will positively or negatively impact the daily life and performance of somebody else. (And usually many someone else’s.)

And that is the problem

This shoot first,ask questions later in SME IT is a disease. Too many technologists never think of the impact that their decisions will have on others.

You can recognize the symptoms of this disease in many ways.

On symptom of this disease I call  pop-a-clickaitis. Which is the tendency to think that if you click enough times, in enough places, stopping  this or starting that, add in reboot as much as possible, that things will magically work out better. It won’t. At most people have been kicked out of whatever work they were in.

Another significant symptom of the shoot first disease?

An attitude in technologists – that says; “hey do it anyway , if something breaks, we will fix it afterward”

So what we have hear is ‘who cares about peoples work!

The SMB Takeaway

This shoot first tendency in many technologists is a self inflicted wound.

Ensure that it is eradicated in your shop

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