Inspiring Rare Birds Guest Blog: How do you do it all?

For all guest blogs on Inspiring Rare Birds go here. #ifshecanican

Yesterday I was stopped in the elevator on my way down from the Brisbane Book launch by a lady who asked me “Do you have a child, and if so… how do you do it all?”

Wow – can you believe that this is something I never really thought about?

To answer her questions:

1) Yes – I have a 14 year old son Frank whom I adore. I just love watching him grow up and being a part of his life every step along the way. Being an entrepreneur supports me in being a mum. I can go to school recitals, performances etc. as I simply plan around them when I can. (doesn’t always work out that way though, especially with interstate and overseas client obligations).

2) How do I do it all? The honest answer is: I don’t.

I don’t do it all.. I have an amazing husband who is my partner in many ways. We are a great team in running our companies together and we are a great team at home. His role in the business has been designed in such a way that he can work from home, so he can pick up the kids from the bus in the afternoon. He loves to cook so that’s what he does as well. Grocery shopping is either done online with home delivery or Gerard does it when he’s doing a school run. I look after the animals and I love to bake. A lot of the other stuff we do together.

Frank has been making his school lunches independently since he was 8 and he is responsible for his own school bag, laptop etc. We don’t have time to run after him all the time to do his jobs for him and he know that. His morning ritual happens without us having to manage his time which makes life so much easier!

We outsource or automate as much as possible: our iRobot Roomba is a fabulous little vaccuum cleaner for the daily top up floor clean for example. We also have fantastic gardeners who look after our property, making sure it doesn’t turn into a jungle.

Underpinning all this is the fact that both Gerard and I have a very clear understanding of our priorities. For example: Our windows don’t get cleaned every day or every week, probably more likely once a year, and we’re OK with that.

The secret to success? Consistency!

This morning I am flying to Canberra to meet a few clients and as so many times before, I had to go through the airport security. And you know what happened?? For the first time ever, my bag was taken from the security belt and had to be searched…. reason: an umbrella!!

Not an issue, I hear you think – this is just another security measure, one of many as this has become a normal part of airtravel. Well, but what about the fact that this umbrella has been in my bag for the last 12 months (at least!) and I have been flying with this bag/umbrella combination at least 10 times now. (last time was last week)

The security guy told me that there had been an issue a few months ago when somebody put a knife in an umrella and this wasn’t picked up and since this incident, the security measures were upgraded to the extend that ALL umbrellas now have to be checked.

That is fine, but why didn’t this happen at the other 9 occasions where I flew with my umbrella in my bag? Why today, and not last week?! I find it very hard to take all these security measures seriously, especially as they are not performed consistently.

So what can I learn from this? How can I use this experience to improve my business? Well, the most important thing that we are working on is building a personal relationship with our clients. People buy from people they trust… and you can’t trust a person who is inconsistent. I can’t expect clients to buy from us when we change the rules all the time. So the secret to success is consistency.

Consistency without being rigid, as our customer service ethos is very high! There is a LOT we do for our clients, to help them with their business, to improve the way we contact our clients and the experience we give them.

So where would consistency be important:

  • Invoicing terms (when do we expect payment, and when do we start chasing?)
  • Inclusions in the courses (do students receive a certificate of attendance or not?)
  • Living up to our promises (we have a pass guarantee for our classroom Foundation course)
  • Processes and procedures (I always try to send an email within 12 hours after meeting a person to confirm the action items from the meeting)
People (clients) need to be able to know what they can expect when they deal with The art of Service, we need to be consistent… even when we don’t feel like it! Being inconsistent is NOT an option as it eats into our credibility.
Now, all I need to do is try not to forget…. 

Originally posted 2008-09-09 21:42:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Itil – the Big River

Oh – this is simply too funny! Today I read the itsmportal and it talked about the discovery of itil… Russian Archeologists have discovered the remains of the city of itil –  the former Capital of Khazaria (around the 8th century).

So of course I went to the Wikipedia to see what it has to say about itil and it says that itil literally means “Big River”… and this is so appropriate!

Having a Big river close to your village or town means trade and prosperity and this is exactly what ITIL- the IT Service Management Framework has been for a lot of organisations. The fact that they implemented the ITIL processes meant learning a new language that allowed them to communicate with the business to trade their goods and services. ITIL –  the IT Service Management Framework has been vital to the wealth and health of many IT organisations and internal IT groups, as well as the business that needs their support!

However, a Big River also means danger! You need to respect it and you need to know how to work with it. When you don’t understand the workings of the river, it can swallow you and potentially hurt or kill you. Again, the same is true for the ITIL framework. Many people and organisations have started the implementation of ITIL Service Management without really knowing what they were in for. By only focusing on the books and the processes they didn’t see the big picture and missed the opportunities for a safe crossing. A few months or years later they resurface: bruised, battered and egos broken.

People who understand how to work with the river are very important and these experts will be able to offer you advise and sound recommendations (“this is where you build a bridge. this is the type of boat you’ll need to travel on this river. Don’t try to cross the river when you haven’t passed the fitness test” ). Mind you – don’t get them to do the work for you as this will create a dependency that you probably can’t afford. Utilize the experts and learn from them. Practise what you’ve seen them do and create your own knowledge base on which you can build. Before you know it you will manage the river like a pro on your way to bigger and better things!

Oh, and don’t forget to keep an eye on external factors: the weather can change very quickly and will impact on how you deal with the big river.  You will need some wind to keep moving, but a massive storm will make it very difficult to navigate and manage the river.

Happy sailing!


Originally posted 2008-09-09 07:52:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

First impressions of ITIL 2011 – feedback from the team at The Art of Service

The issue at hand:

When the original ITIL® V3 books were released in 2007 there were lots of errors, mistakes, horribly overcomplicated and badly explained diagrams and concepts.  I remember looking through the list of known errors and criticisms on the IT Skeptic’s website  [Thank you Rob to compiling this list! You have greatly contributed to the global ITSM community by doing this.] and wondering where to begin in creating the course materials for students, who trusted that we would be educating them in the correct concepts etc, just as we trusted that the OGC would provide correct and consisten content in their books!

Where are we now?

The purpose of this review was to ‘update’ the framework and resolve these original issues and to generally improve the look and feel of the books to be more consistent and most importantly more user friendly.  This has definitely taken place. The books are a lot easier to ‘digest’ and the overall text flows a lot better. The addition of  new processes such as Strategy Management for IT services (SS) Design Coordination (SD), and the enlarging of processes Business Relationship Management (SS) and Change Evaluation (ST) suggests that ITIL is really trying to cover all basis and make the framework as explicit as possible, as well as blend with standards such as ISO/IEC 20000 and project management frameworks.  There is more talk of staff considerations, defined roles and role descriptions etc. that were unseen before, suggesting that the old ITIL that didn’t discuss people (other than in the category of resources), has now been replaced with ITIL 2011 which has more of a case of the warm and fuzzies :)

Other changes, we have noticed on the way (these are in general and not related to the foundation syllabus) :

  • even-though AMPG have been emphatic in saying this is a review and not a new edition, there is no more ITIL V3 there is only ITIL 2011.
  • stage not phase (as in Lifecycle stage)
  • minor changes to change management activities (more explicit)
  • changes to database names to make it consistent across the lifecycle – now mostly management information systems

And this is only from going through the materials in preparation of the ITIL 2011 Foundation course.

More will follow when we go through the materials again during the update of our ITIL Intermediate classes.

Originally posted 2011-09-04 23:51:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Capacity Management – the Sao Paulo way

Sao Paulo is a city with approx. 20 Million people and this amount of people together in a relatively small area creates some problems:

  1. There is a higher than average crime rate. The police are working very hard on this issue and the city is now a lot safer than it was 5 years ago. I had a major from the Military police in one of my classes last week and he mentioned that in the entire country of Brazil (with approx. 150 Million citizens) there are 400,000 people in jail. Fifty percent of these 400,000 people are in jail in Sao Paulo!
  2. Many people drive to work in their car. Even if you calculate that only10% of the population drives a car, that is still 2 million cars on the road! Driving in Sao Paulo is NOT funny – the traffic is horrendous and most of the time it takes forever to go to the office, to meetings, pretty much everywhere. Walking is not a viable option for many people (see point 1)
  3. Because everybody drives their cars, the air pollution is very bad. Air quality is not good and there is often a thick blanket of smog hanging over the city.

So what have they done to ensure that this problem doesn’t escalate even further -(and to stop the air pollution)?

They have implemented a financial capacity restriction measure. I am not 100% sure how it works but on some of the roads, if not all of them, there is a restriction on the cars that can drive on a particular day.

There is a rule that you are not allowed to drive your car 1 day per week. Each day there is a group of cars (depending on the last digit of the license plate) that are not allowed to use the roads on that day. There are people and systems monitoring what cars are using the road and misuse is heavily fined.

This is a very similar system to our Capacity monitoring systems that we talk about in ITIL Service Management. You can shape the utilization of bandwith for example by blocking certain IP addresses from using the service on certain days or at certain times.

It takes a while to get used to but for the people from São Paulo (and Mexico City, and Bogota) it has become a fact of life…

Originally posted 2008-12-06 07:49:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The secret of ITIL (hint: it's a virtue)


Google was a very good search engine for two years before you started using it.

I got my ITIL Managers Certification almost 20 years ago. Many IT Managers and Professionals tried similar routes but it didn’t work right away. So they gave up. Blackberry is the most popular “phone” in the world because they never gave up.

The irony of ITIL is that the tactics work really quickly. You write a call script for a Help Desk and within a day resolution times are shortened. Bang.

But the strategy still takes forever. The strategy is the hard part, not the tactics.

I discovered a lucky secret the hard way about 25 years ago: you can outlast the other guys if you try. If you stick at stuff that bores them, it accrues. Drip, drip, drip you win.

We’ve all heard about the runaway success of ideas that seem to spread almost overnight, but those events are rare. In reality, success comes more like it did for 90s pop band Pulp, which lead singer Jarvis Cocker once described as “an overnight success that took 16 years”.

It still takes at least ten years to become a success, whatever you do. The frustrating part is that you see your tactics fail right away. The good news is that over time, (no not days, weeks or months but years) you get the satisfaction of watching those tactics succeed right away.
The trap: Show up at a itSMF Meeting, invest two hours, be really aggressive with people, make some noise and then leave in disgust.
The trap: Use all your money to strengthen your personal network and leave no money or patience for ITIL Expert Certification you’ll need to do.
The trap: Read the blogs and fall in love with the quick wins and loose focus on the long-term investments that deliver real value.
The trap: Jump from framework to framework, without achieving anything for the long term.
People want overnight successes. It’s natural. Ignore them; ignore that voice in your head. Listen instead to your real customers, to your vision, and invest in your ITIL v3 Certification for the long haul. Because that’s how long it’s going to take.

Every time, you pick up your ITIL Book and log into eLearning in your hotel room, and work on IT Service Management Skills for an hour instead of zoning out watching Idols, is another right decision, another small step towards excellence, and success.

Patience is really just making the decision not to quit over and over and over again.

ITIL V3 Operational Support and Analysis (OSA) Full Certification

ITIL V3 Release, Control and Validation (RCV) Full Certification

ITIL v3 Service Offerings and Agreements (SOA)

ITIL V3 Planning, Protection and Optimization (PPO) Full Certification

ITIL V3 Intermediate Lifecycle program: Service Strategy SS

ITIL V3 MALC – Managing Across the Lifecycle Full Certification

ITIL v3 Service Operation (SO) Certification

ITIL v3 Service Transition (ST) Certification

ITIL v3 Intermediate:Continual Service Improvement Lifecycle Program

ITIL v3 Intermediate Lifecycle program: Service Design SD

Originally posted 2009-08-25 05:54:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

How ITIL Service Management saves Europe from the recession

After spending many years in the ITSM / ITIL space I notice that everything in time becomes a best practice, good practice or bad practice example of IT Service Management.

This week’s example has to do with Demand Management, Service Level Management and Financial Management.

The scenario is like this: I traveled from Australia (where I live) to The Netherlands (where my family lives) for a short family holiday.

As part of being in The Netherlands I wanted to do some shopping (no need to analyse my PBA’s to figure that one out!). And I did go to the shops:

1) Shop nr. one – doesn’t accept credit cards at all (what the?! All I have is a credit card, what do I do now?)

2) Shop nr. two – DOES accept credit cards, but only when you have a pincode to go with it (??? yes, I am sure the bank sent me a pin number but I never use it in Australia so I completely forgot it…)

So far the holiday has  been very cheap for me.. I WANT to spent money… I HAVE the money to spend and I know exactly what I want to spend it on… but I can’t spend it!

As a client I know what I want – the demand is there. And the demand management process has analysed my PBA … the appropriate shops are available for me to purchase the products and services that I want. What is missing is the combination between Financial Management and Service Level Management. I was not aware of the agreed service levels prior to me going to The Netherlands. And as a result I am an unhappy customer who feels ill-prepared, not able to receive the service levels that I want.

As IT organizations we can learn from this:

  • Communicate our Services and Service Levels
  • Understand what your customer wants and how they want the whole customer experience to happen.
  • Make it as easy as possible for our customers to pay for our products and services (now that I can only pay cash, I definitely spend less)
  • If you can’t offer the complete experience – communicate this very clearly to your clients.

To top it all off…

Yesterday I came prepared to the train station… I had a 50 euro bill to pay for my train ticket! Very proud moment, I felt extremely empowered. Went to the ticket machine and made it all the way through to the payment point where the machine asked me to enter 24 euro worth of COINS in the slot as the only available means of payment!


Originally posted 2009-10-01 15:20:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

ITIL V3 Intermediate course – OSA

WOW – what a week it has been! I have been a busy little bee… teaching a new course in a country where I don’t speak the language is one of those experiences that you don’t get every day! As a person and as an IT Service Management Professional you can’t help but learn and grow through experiences like this.

It was amazing – a whole group of ITSM consultants, Tool implementers, Pre-sales support specialists and 2nd line support people. It was an amazing mix of database experts, infrastructure specialists, application managers and of course… ME!

What I really enjoy about this ITIL V3 Intermediate OSA program over the ITIL V2 Practitioner course IPSR is the fact that you get to talk about process interfaces between Service Operation lifecycle and the other lifecycles… we had some GREAT discussions about the link between Access Management, Information Security Management and Availability Management. I also very much enjoyed debating the benefits of recording CI information in the CMDB to support the Service Desk when most of your (hardware) infrastructure is outsourced… received some fantastic insights from the database expert in the group about how you could manage this without bogging down the IT group in storing too much detail, so that the IT organisation receives the correct amount and type of information to be able to make EDUCATED decisions on service outages, incidents etc. … all with the objective of supporting the business processes to the best of our abilities!

And the icing on the cake was the fact that all students passed their exam! 100% passrate… WOOHOO.  The Art of Service has always maintained a 100% passrate for the ITIL V2 Practitioner courses but it is great to see that we continue this into the ITIL V3 Intermediate programs!

Can’t wait for the next one….. After I spend the entire weekend sleeping, because I only realise today how tired I am after such an achievement.


Originally posted 2008-11-30 00:36:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Cloud Computing killed the Capacity star

The last couple of months I have been thinking about a subject for a presentation and it is about the fact that Capacity Management is going to be the obsolete process for many IT organizations… in the future.

When businesses really embrace new concepts like Cloud Computing and Software as a Service do they still have a need for Capacity Management? These are some of the thoughts I have so far:

  •  Businesses need to change faster and more often –  traditional ways of doing demand management as input into a capacity plan that is to be used for Capital expenditure budgeting (wow – long sentence!!) is no longer sufficient. The business needs the benefits of the systems and they need it NOW…
    Yes, I agree that there is still the need for a strategic approach to the delivery of IT Services but with the opportunity to rent capacity on a ‘pay as you go’ basis makes all this a lot easier.
  • In times of economic instability you need low fixed cost – well, currently we purchase servers and expensive infrastructure like we buy clothes for our kids: they are too big but “they’ll grow into it”. So we end up with expensive boxes that are only used for approx. 15 – 20% of their capacity. Not quite a low fixed cost option. How about we use virtualization opportunities for the infrastructure we currently own and utilize services in the cloud on a ‘pay as you go’ basis to minimize the fixed capital expenditure. This way we can manipulate the variable components of our budgets as needed and respond quicker to changes in the market.
  • IT Service as a utility – Many of our business clients talk about IT Service in the same way as they would about electricity and light. Why would you create a capacity plan for electricity? You simply flick a switch and it is there… that is exactly what they expect from IT. “I simply turn on the PC and all the applications I need are there and they work”. It’s quite simple really… no capacity management needed, and it is going to be quite difficult (I think) to be able to justify the expenditure on capacity management when this is the perception as the customer side…
  • Business Capacity Management is more important then ever – From a strategic point of view we need to stay in touch with the business, their pain points and business opportunities. This way we can help and support the business now and in the future. Based on our discussions with the business we can add ideas for new or changed services to our service pipeline to keep in mind for future service updates. Changes in business focus, vision and strategy need to be aligned with what we are doing in our IT department.
I know – my thoughts are not completely finished yet, so I am not ready to put it in a presentation to attack the conference / speaking circuit but I am sure I am on to something!!!!
Just like that song in the 1980’s “Video killed the radio Star” we will be thinking about Capacity Management quite differently a few years from now… there may still be a need for it but in a completely different way, and for different audiences..
After all: we still listen to the radio and not everybody watches MTV-music videos!

Originally posted 2008-09-28 01:11:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

6 weeks left to complete your ITIL V2 V3 Manager Bridge exam

In the last couple of weeks I start to notice that our clients and students are getting a bit more nervous about the ITIL V2 V3 Manager Bridge exam. APMG have set a hard finish date of June 30th, 2011 for the exam to expire. After this date there are no options or possibilities to sit your ITIL V2 V3 Manager Bridge exam. Not for the first time, not as a resit either.

So May and June 2011 are the last “now or never” months for the ITIL V2 V3 Manager Bridge exam.

you will need to set aside a minimum of 40 study hours, but when you include the reading materials I would probably recommend closer to 80 hours of study to be well prepared for your exam.

The Complete Examination Package for the ITIL V2 V3 manager Bridge course includes the following materials to help you prepare for your exam:

  • A study guide eBook (sent to your email address so you can start reading straight away)
  • Access to our online training program
  • Access to the online exam prep program
  • A prepaid exam voucher – for undertaking the Manager’s Bridge Exam (in a CSME testing centre, or under approved supervision at a location of your choice as an online exam).

Is there any good news for students who still haven’t started to prepare for this exam and had to leave it to the last minute to enrol in their Manager Bridge course?

YES, there is…. This year we have a 100% passrate (at time of writing) for the ITIL V2 V3 Manager Bridge exam. And although this is not a guarantee.. it should instil you with some confidence in the completeness and quality of the learning materials and level of preparedness for the certification exam.

Good luck with the preparation and your exam!

Originally posted 2011-05-07 02:47:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter