ITSM Views: Claire Agutter from ITSM Zone

What exactly is your job?

That’s a very good question! I’m a director of ITSM Zone (formerly IT Training Zone). My main role is to look after our portfolio of e-learning courses, but I also do bits of sales, marketing, HR, and, finance; plus I make the tea – whatever’s necessary.

Looking after our e-learning involves finding new courses that will be of interest to IT service management (ITSM) professionals and managing their production and accreditation.

What is the best thing about working in IT service management?

Without a doubt, the best thing about working in IT service management is the people. There are some incredibly clever and experienced people in this industry and they always seem to find time to share what they know. Organisations like itSMF offer opportunities for face to face networking, and social media has made the global ITSM community much more accessible.

We recently created a virtual mentor scheme. The scheme offers delegates taking our training the chance to chat with an industry expert about possible next steps. We contacted ITSM luminaries to help us get the scheme started and the response and generosity was amazing.

What do you think is the most important element missing from traditional ITSM? And why?

Until the last few years, it seemed that many people thought ITIL was ITSM and ITSM was ITIL. ITIL is a fantastic set of best practice, but it’s not the only tool that’s available. I’ve enjoyed seeing how other guidance has expanded and become more popular in recent years, including COBIT, OBASHI, DevOps, Agile….you name it.

The more methodologies/frameworks/standards an organisation has to draw on, the better the service it can potentially offer.

What do you think is the biggest mistake that people can make in ITSM, and how can it be avoided?

I think the biggest mistake people can make is to have a closed mind. Our industry is constantly evolving and it’s important for ITSM professionals to evolve with it. I like to think that I’m always learning and will continue to learn for the whole of my career.

What one piece of practical advice would you give to somebody working on the Service Desk?

I’ve worked on quite a few service desks and the best piece of advice I was ever given was “it’s not personal”. When you’ve got an angry customer on the other end of the phone, it’s not about you. They might be upset because of the issue they’re experiencing, or just because they’ve had a bad day.

The role of the service desk is to help to resolve an issue in a calm, professional way. To be able to do this, you have to be able to understand the issue in the business context. Who is the user? What impact is the issue having? If this information isn’t available, find it.

Then at the end of the call you can go sit in a quiet corner for a while!

What one piece of practical advice would you give to the CIO of a company with regards to ITSM?

I would advise CIOs to focus more on the SM than the IT. IT is now an integral part of pretty much every business process. IT failures mean business failures. The CIO needs to make sure that the rest of the business understands how IT supports business processes and prioritises it accordingly.

If you could change one thing about the ITSM industry as a whole, what would it be and why?

I would ban the question “is a password reset an incident or a service request?”. This is possibly the longest discussion ever had on LinkedIn and the real answer is “it doesn’t matter, as long as you manage them consistently”.

What do you think the ITSM trend to watch will be in the next 12 months? And why?

I think the trend will be business service management. End to end integration and management of IT and business processes to support business goals.

Where do you see the IT Service Management industry in 10 years’ time?

ITIL v. 6.

In ten years’ time I’d like to see ITSM have a much clearer career path. There’s a lot of confusion about roles at the moment and little in the way of standard job titles. Many ITSM job descriptions are incredibly vague and depend on the quality of the person in the role.

Finally, what would be your 5 tips for success in ITSM?

  • Learn everything you can
  • Volunteer wherever you can
  • Ask questions
  • Understand the business
  • Build your profile

Thanks to Claire for taking the time to conduct this interview.  Do you agree with her opinion? 


Posted by Joe the IT Guy

Joe the IT Guy
Joe the IT Guy

Native New Yorker. Loves everything IT-related (and hugs). Passionate blogger and Twitter addict. Oh...and resident IT Guy at SysAid Technologies (almost forgot the day job!).


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