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.

What I learnt from Morten Lund, and why ITIL professionals should pay attention.

When I listened to Morten’s talk last week initially I wasn’t sure if I liked it or hated it.. didn’t quite know if there were lessons to be learnt and I only made a few notes.

Now, reading back those notes, I see that there are a number of things that IT Professionals – and especially ITIL consultants – can learn from his story.

First of all, this guy has a highly visited Wikipedia page! . I mean – I don’t see Robert Stroud or Rob England mentioned (yet), and they are pretty big names in the ITIL/ITSM world. It reinforces to me that the ITIL / ITSM industry is quite small – we really work in a niche of a niche of a niche. Morten invested in a startup called “Skype”, that reaches a much larger audience…

One of the one-liners I jotted down during his talk stands out for me:

It’s simple, not easy

How many times have we heard this from our ITIL students? “it’s common sense, it’s so simple” As if the ITIL framework and our knowledge and expertise should be disregarded because of its simplicity.
Personally I find it a good thing that ITIL at its core is simple. But that doesn’t make it easy to implement and follow… This is probably why consultants find it difficult to justify that the implementation of the ITIL framework can take years. Something so simple should be easy to implement, it should only take a few weeks… WRONG! ITIL implementation is a head fake, it is not about ITIL – the framework is merely the structure, or the vehicle – the implementation is about cultural change and organisational maturity.

And to finish with another one-liner from Morten: “there is a fine line between vision and hallucination”, maybe that’s why so many ITIL implementations go off the rails…

Originally posted 2009-10-12 09:06:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

ITIL V3 Service Strategy Process Demand Management works with other processes

The ITIL V3 lifecycle phase of Service Strategy puts a strong focus on Demand Management and the role it plays in the strategy towards, and design of, IT services that meet the expected demands. However, this process can not work in isolation…

Demand management needs to work closely together with the processes in the other lifecycles to manage and control all aspects of demand for IT Services. Some examples follow…

Service Strategy:

       Financial Management is involved in costing and pricing issues, but also in preparing a value proposition and ROI calculations. It helps with preparing financial constraints measures.

       Portfolio Management is involved with the strategic planning decisions for this new service. How does it fit into the service pipeline and the current live service offerings? It keeps a high level overview of interactions and possible contra effects of this new service.

Service Design:

       Capacity Management is involved with the design of the service offering AND the supporting environment to deliver the appropriate level of capacity to deliver the service as agreed.

       Information Security Management plays an important role in the analysis of the PBA’s differentiation criteria. Different PBA’s have different security requirements, and the IT organization needs to respond with the correct level of security measures and associated policies.

Service Transition:

       Service Validation & Testing receives test criteria from demand management and the service design processes. These criteria will be based on the Service Package description and especially the Service Level Package descriptions. Based on these criteria, appropriate type and levels of testing are designed to ensure that we can predict the performance of the service and if it is in line with the demand requirements stated by the customers.

       Change Management plays an important role in the overall control of the IT organization. It has to ensure that changes in the infrastructure, processes or services do not negatively influence the service delivery performance. Change Management actively controls and coordinates changes made to Configuration Items, including critical documentation like service catalogues and  descriptions of PBA’s.

Service Operation:

       Event Management enables the operations to perform a lot of the support monitoring tasks automatically. This is important in the context of demand management as the event management systems may pick up variations in the use of the IT Service that haven’t been noticed by the Business Relationship Manager or Customers. The reports coming from Event Management will help to identify variations and differentiations within the PBA’s.

       Problem Management, especially proactive problem management will be asked to provide input into Demand Management. Problem Management will analyze demand requirements and compare this to current known issues and hotspots in the IT environment, it also does trend analysis on incidents and feeds this information to Business Relationship Manager for discussion with the customers.

Continual Service Improvement:

       Service Level Management not only works within the Service Design phase where it is involved in negotiating and agreeing on Service Levels, it also plays an important role in the continual improvement lifecycle phase. As a result of ongoing performance monitoring we know where unexpected flaws are and can plan for improvements toward better ‘business outcome based delivery’.

       Measurement & Reporting works with all other processes but demand management specifically needs standards and guidance on measurement, metrics and reporting to ensure that the demand expectations based on the analysis of the Business processes is measured consistently and doesn’t differ from month to month due to inconsistent reporting processes.

Originally posted 2009-01-24 08:55:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Our first experiences with the ITIL V3 Manager Bridge program – online eLearning

What a fantastic few weeks it has been. It has been so busy that I can’t even remember doing anything other than work and sleep. But I know that is not true because last Friday we celebrated The Art of Service’s birthday party which was great fun! We had all staff and partners together for an old fashioned birthday party with bingo games, a BIG cake and lots of laughter.

So what happened in the past few weeks to make it so busy? Well, a lot of things really:

  1. We have been delivering ITIL V3 certification courses in Australia and internationally, mainly V3 Foundation and V3 Intermediate programs.
  2. We employed 2 extra staff members to keep up with our workload, and our recruitment process takes a LOT of time! (each successful person has gone through a minimum of 5 – 7 steps before the job is offered to them. One of those steps is a 2-3 hour interview) Needless to say I am very happy with the additional people coming on board and we are all counting the days until they start on the job.
  3. We started marketing our ITIL V2 Service Manager Fast Track program which will be running in Sydney in March 9th – 14th. We still don’t know when APMG will pull the plug on the V2 programs but we are assuming this will be the last Fast Track program we will be running in Australia.  
    This program is perfect for people who want to get to ITIL Expert status … fast! It takes you 6 days to go through the full V2 Service Management program (bootcamp style) and you sit your exam approx. 4 weeks after you’ve finished the program. As soon as you receive your results and certificate you can sign up for the ITIL V3 Manager Bridge course to take your to ITIL Expert. 
  4. We launched our ITIL V3 Manager Bridge program as an online eLearning program, and this has taken up most of our time.

There are many people out there in the field who want to achieve their ITIL Expert status but don’t really have the time or investment opportunity to attend a 5-day classroom course. This is why – after we ran a number of successful classroom programs – we remodelled our program to be delivered via online eLearning. The responses so far are really positive.

The setup of the program is exactly like the classroom experience: you see the slides and hear the trainer comments and additional information. There are quizzes and assignments as well as exercises that have to be completed; compulsory and required reading work and exam style questions.
All up it gives you a great preparation for the real EXIN/APMG ITIL V3 Manager Bridge certificate exam. All the way through you have access to ITIL Experts and qualified trainers to ask all your questions and to clarify some areas that are blurry or hazy (after all, we are talking about theory from the OGC ITIL books, and not all text is as clear and concise as we would like it to be…).

You can click the link for more information on the ITIL V3 Manager Bridge program 

Originally posted 2009-02-17 04:54:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

In times of economic crisis… don’t stick your head in the sand but HEAD FOR THE CLOUD!

It has become apparent to me that Australia is still very much the lucky country. Yes we like to complain about the economic situation and the fact that the interest rates are around the 8% at the moment but overall I think we’re still going strong!

Why am I saying this? Well, I have spent the last 4 days in Hawaii and have experienced firsthand that the situation in the US is much worse than what is happening in Australia. And it is not getting better either… it will get much worse!

The resorts on the Big Island are at approx. 15% capacity, where 60% is needed to break even; many restaurants, bars and resorts have already shut their doors and the big story on the news this week is that most of the commercial rents will double – if not triple- in the next few months. This will have a major impact on the overall economy of the state, after all: it’s main source of income is tourism…

Australia is fairly sheltered, we have a lot of resources in the ground and there is always somebody who finds it… last week in the BRW young rich list the number 1 person is 32 years of age, came from nowhere and has now accumulated approx. 440 million dollars in personal wealth in the last 12-18 months. How? By finding coal (I think it was coal, but really – it could have been anything) and selling it to China… nice little ‘backyard operation’ which will result in a nice income tax bill no doubt… which means more money in the government account to support the country etc.


So, what does this have to do with Cloud Computing? Well, not a lot at first glance and everything when you think about it.

I run my  business with my husband and this morning over breakfast  (CEO council :-) ) we were discussing how to prepare the company for things to come; the importance of cash in the bank at the moment and the ability to change gears and directions very quickly. It also brought to light the importance of a ‘lean’ business model: outsourcing your non-core activities and avoid purchasing assets that don’t actively create revenue (example: IT systems and solutions). When we focus on the IT solutions: we still want it to be scalable and have the ability to support the company’s business processes – no matter where the business will take us!

This led us to discuss cloud computing and Software as a Service solutions. When offered professionally, SaaS solutions are probably the way to go in the near future. They offer IT products on a ‘pay per use’ basis without the upfront expenditure (and depreciation) of purchasing expensive software and IT assets.

However, before doing this you will need understand WHY you need the IT solution in the first place and you need answers to the following questions:

1.     What is it supposed to do?

2.     Which business process is it supposed to support?

3.     How many people use this system and is the subscription per user or per concurrent user?

4.     What is the maximum number of users they support?

5.     What IT infrastructure is expected to be present in your offices to make the SaaS solution work best?

6.     What IT knowledge is expected to be available in your office.

7.     What type of support does the provider offer?

8.     What happens if the software doesn’t work, or doesn’t do what you expect it to do?

All in all, I don’t think these are difficult questions to answer and it sure beats having a lot of your cash tied up in purchasing the software licenses upfront! You’re much better off spending that type of money at the things that you’re really good at: development of your products and services and making money with them!


Originally posted 2008-10-02 03:59:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

All hands on deck – team work at The Art of Service

One of the things that the team at The Art of Service excels at is meeting targets. No matter what – when we promised something we do it!

So when we planned a mailing campaign for this week we sort of forgot that there is a public holiday in the middle of it. And we sort of didn’t think about the fact that this means that the post office is closed on Wednesday!

But we had our target of sending out the letters on Wednesday… now we had 2 options:


  1. Be flexible on the goal – after all it is a  public holiday so it’s really out of our control.
  2. All hands on deck to make sure it happens – not matter what!
You guessed it: Our fantastic team went for option 2!
Sure, everybody was really busy and all of us had jobs to do. But…. no but’s – we help each other and make it happen!
It took about an hour to have all the letters ready to go, and with a few beers and music in the background it wasn’t really that bad!
We met out target and  had a great time doing it. Our clients will receive the touchpoint newsletter on time.
See? That is Service with a capital S!

Originally posted 2008-08-13 21:39:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Fan error…

The saga continues… I absolutely adore my laptop and am completely in love with the tablet function and inbuild mobile internet connection. Needless to say I take it everywhere I go… my laptop and I are becoming like siamese twins! When you see me – you see my laptop.

But it hasn’t been love at first sight: the first laptop only worked for 1 day or so –> the motherboard decided to die on me. Easy fixed as it was within the first 7 days of opening the box (more like, the second time I turned it on!!)

The laptop was sent back to the supplier for replacement…. and I waited…. and waited… and received the message that the second laptop died in transport.

Not to worry, a replacement laptop was organised and arrived after a few weeks. This one has been my loyal trusted companion for the past 8 months or so.


When I tried to turn it on this afternoon, all I saw was a black screen with 2 words:





Oh boy… not good! No fan, no laptop – it’s as simple as that. But since I have no idea of the technical implications I called the supplier to get it fixed tomorrow morning. I have a number of meetings in the afternoon and don’t want to show up without my trusted companion. But noooooooo, it needs to be packed up and shipped to the repair centre and it will take approx. 4 working days to get it fixed!! 

The Service Desk person didn’t even miss a beat and had no sympathy for the fact that I am now left without a computer for the better part of 4 days. (I tried the “but I run an internet company… how am I supposed to do my business processes?”  His answer: Not my problem! If it is that mission critical you should have thought of other warranty and support plans!)
I suppose I should have read the Service Level Agreement a bit better when I purchased the product and the warranty/support service… Lesson learnt I suppose. 

What am I going to do? I have just switched completely to laptop only and don’t have a desktop as a backup scenario anymore… I feel abandoned and alone. Luckily I saved all my data on an external hard drive last week or so and all company related information is on the server (I am so HAPPY with the The Art of Service’s policy that nobody is allowed to put company related information on the C-drive) but still… you feel dismembered. My siamese  twin is sick and has to go to hospital.

Please don’t send flowers… we’ll be fine… I think.



Originally posted 2008-09-04 07:05:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

ITIL V2 Manager Certificate; I want it and I want it NOW! (your wish has been granted)

Well… it’s not quite that simple, but the chances are a lot better with a new publication that The Art of Service has put on the market. Yep – better late than never! I  know… because the ITIL V2 managers program may be pulled in 2009 in favor of the ITIL V3 intermediate exams. The reason why we continued with the book, and put it on the market now is that there are a lot of people who want to save time and money and want to achieve their ITIL Expert status via the ITIL V2 Managers path.

Have a look at the best practice website for the various ways to achieve your ITIL Expert status, they have added a neat little calculator that tells you exactly how many points you’re short – or if you’ve got enough points for the Expert status yet.

The quickest path to get there is via the ITIL V2 Foundation – ITIL V2 Manager – ITIL V2-3 Manager Bridge programs.
Especially when you attend a Fast Track program for the ITIL V2 Manager Certificate. So for these savvy IT Professionals we have now produced the ITIL V2 Manager exam Preparation book, (available as PDF download and paperback version) loaded with hints and tips, exam questions and answers and the key points from the ITIL theory to help you in your preparation for the ITIL V2 Manager Service Support and Service Delivery exams.

Originally posted 2008-10-19 10:44:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter