ITSM Views: Rebecca Beach, from Dimity Consulting
What exactly is your job?
I’m a freelance writer and IT service management (ITSM) specialist, which means I get to talk to a lot of great people about their ITSM issues and then use my experience to help find a resolution, or write about it so that when others experience the same issues they don’t have to do it the hard way.
What is the best thing about working in IT Service Management (ITSM)?
All the great people I get to meet in the ITSM community and seeing what a fantastic community it is – especially how ready people are to help each other with their issues.
It never ceases to amaze me how willing some people are, in the ITSM industry, to share their knowledge and experience with others that need it.
What do you think is the most important element missing from traditional ITSM? And why?
I think that there is an eagerness to recruit staff into customer facing roles, like the service desk and DevOps, with a focus on technical skills and competencies. Then it is assumed that everyone can also do the “people stuff.” I think it’s a fine balance but would like to see more emphasis placed on these soft skills. Having even a few team members that are unable/unwilling to empathize with end users and their difficulties can reflect badly upon your entire IT team.
What do you think is the biggest mistake that people can make in ITSM, and how can it be avoided?
Not listening. I often see Steve Jobs and Henry Ford quotes doing the rounds where the message portrayed is that customers don’t know what they want. The problem is that IT organizations sometimes take this to the extreme and use it as an excuse not to listen to the customer at all. Customers still need to be listened to in order to gather information about the difficulties they are experiencing. Then it’s your job to come up with a solution.
What one piece of practical advice would you give to somebody working on the service desk?
Never stop learning. There’s always something new you can embrace, or a better way to do something to be found. Education doesn’t just have to be courses imposed upon you by your line manager and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. There are online resources, or you can learn and network at events provided by industry associations and societies. Take control of your personal development, you never know where it could lead.
What one piece of practical advice would you give to the CIO of a company with regards to ITSM?
Get your people out into the business so that they can see the issues people are facing.
If someone works in IT sitting at a desk far away from the day-to-day struggles people encounter, it’s too easy to not take end-user issues too seriously. But if you can actually see firsthand what it’s like to try and work while dealing with intermittent network slowness, or having to clear a paper jam every time you want to print, then IT staff might have a little more empathy and greater incentive to rectify end-user issues.
If you could change one thing about the ITSM industry as a whole, what would it be and why?
The thing I’d most like to change is the lack of diversity in ITSM. Those that are recognized as industry thought leaders are predominantly middle-aged, white men and I would like to see more…well, everything else really. There are some great initiatives out there like BCS Women but there seems to be little being done in other areas, such as encouraging younger people to get up and have their say about their experiences within ITSM. I also love what ITSM Zone is doing with their mentoring scheme and it would be great if we could roll that out to the wider community.
What do you think the ITSM trend to watch will be in the coming year? And why?
I think there will be a move away from the more traditional service desk with a greater emphasis on self-service, knowledge sharing and management, and also analysts being more visible within the business. So perhaps it could happen in “Genius”-style bars dispersed within offices or teams. There is definitely a big push for self-service at the moment, with many solution vendors providing excellent functionality in this area. My hope is that as much attention is paid to creating a solid and easily-accessible knowledge base as is given to the self-service frontend. I’ve heard lots of questions centered around how you get more people to use self-service with some advice recommending that you should use force, but I’m of a different opinion. I think that you just need to make it easier and more rewarding for people to use self-service over any of your other contact options. And that the way to do this is by giving people the knowledge and services they need instantly and at their fingertips.
Where do you see the ITSM industry in 10 years’ time?
Well, still here at least! There’s been a lot of talk about the service desk being dead and how BYOD is going to make a lot of what ITSM teams do obsolete, but I think as long as you adapt to the changes you’ll be just fine. I do think though that there will be a lot more emphasis on the SM part of ITSM and that organizations will move to replicate great examples of service management throughout the enterprise as a whole – whether the great examples are from within IT to other corporate service providers, or from other areas of the business into IT.
Finally, what would be your 5 tips for success in ITSM?
- Never stop learning – whether that’s professional qualifications, seminars and webinars, or attending industry panels, sessions and roundtables to learn from other’s failures and successes. Don’t ever be fooled into thinking that you don’t have the time or the budget…there’s something out there for everyone.
- Know your audience. What works for one will not necessarily work for another. That’s not to say you can’t give it a try.
- Speak up. Lots of people don’t speak up at industry events or comment on social media/forum posts for fear of looking stupid or thinking that people won’t care what they have to say. Firstly, nobody’s opinion is ever stupid and I expect even James Finister and Stuart Rance felt like that in the beginning and now they are two of the most respected people in the ITSM industry.
- Push for downtime. I know lots of people who work within reactive roles in ITSM, that are constantly on the go, and never get the chance to regroup to catch up on what’s new/ changed. Look at it this way…you wouldn’t drive a long journey without stopping to refuel and maybe check the GPS for roadworks. So you shouldn’t charge ahead blindly without taking stock on your ITSM journey either.
- Be selective. ITIL has received a fair bit of flack in recent times, unfairly so, I believe. What’s important to remember is that best practices are not a code to live by but a set of guidelines for you to use as, and how, best suits your organization. You can even mix and match between best practice frameworks if you so wish! You should know your ITSM organization, so find the best way of working that suits you.
Posted by Joe the IT Guy