Monday, July 7, 2008

Codifying User Profiles

I am sorry, but if you were looking for a clear and concise description of the concept of codifying user profiles that is documented in the ITIL v3 Service Strategy volume, then all I can give you is my take.

(actually, the detail of the concept causes me to lose faith in the concept)

I can understand that users in an organization have profiles. Different levels of staff, have different requirements and generate differernt Patterns of Business Activity (PBA)... BUT the way it is represented in the text is just plain confusing.

The text tells me that codifying helps multidimenisonal analysis, using criteria like nearness and likeness.. it is heavy duty stuff, so here is my take.

People carry out a variety of different "jobs" within their actual job. A senior executive could one day be firefighting some operational issues and the next day they are involved in strategic decision making.

If we look at each of these "sub-jobs" the requirements for services differs in each one. Next we map each sub-job by how much of a particular service or service element the job requires. Give each of those sub-jobs a unique identifying code.

Next, each person (who has their own User Profile (UP) can be linked to one or more of these sub-jobs.

Now the benefit comes when you look down the list of User Profiles to see which sub-job codes they share. Understanding the level of sharing helps us to better predict demand of services and therefore respond with appropriate capacity.

If we give each of these "sub-jobs" a code then we

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

More Classic Bloopers from ITIL v3 - Service Strategy

It is already acknowledged that there are some mistakes in the ITIL v3 Core volumes.
So this is not a dig at v3, but a service to assist people that have made the investment.

Blooper 1 - Service Strategy book, page 129
Diagram relating to Tight Coupling of Demand and Capacity.
Should read that Production cycle consumes CAPACITY.

Blooper 2 - Service Strategy book, page 31
Column 1 = "Value is defined not only strictly in terms of the customer's business outcomes...
Column 2 = "... value is defined strictly in the context of business outcomes".

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Russians used a pencil !!

The story goes that at the height of the space race there were many operational issues that had to be dealt with regarding space travel and working in a gravity free world.

One such issue related to making notes and recordings on various readings, observations, etc.

The Americans spent countless hours and huge amounts of money to develop a "space pen" that would use specially designed "minature pumps" to force the ink towards the nib of the pen.

The Russians used pencils !!

Remember it's a story not the truth,; but as they say "why let the truth stand in the way of a good story?".

My point is that ITIL v3 seems to have been designed using complex concepts when perhaps simple ones would have been equally - if not more - effective. My most recent area of study in the Service Strategy text relates to the Service Portfolio Management activities of Define, Analyze, Approve and Charter.

The specific section in the book is not large, but it takes a long time to come to fully appreciate the point being made. You will eventually get it like I did and it is good stuff, but I wish the authors may have thought about a pencil, rather than a space age pen - I want my weekends back !

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Service Strategy Fire Triangle

Credit is given to Accenture in the ITIL v3 Service Strategy volume for defining the three factors that distinguish high performance service providers.

Accenture - and let's face it, as an organization these guys know a thing or two - correctly postulated that most vendors battle for supremacy on a single point of differentiation.

They (Accenture) claim that this is a flawed approach and that to fight the good fight required a balanced approach. They maintain that the three elements required to achieve competitive advantage is via:

1. Market focus and position
Understanding the market space that you are interested in and the subsequent outcomes that customers in that space are seeking.

2. Performance anatomy
A dissection of the service provider to ensure that their cultural beliefs and internal value systems match what they are trying to portray to the outside world.

3. Distinctive capabilities
Quite often a simple approach that is unique is the best solution, although many vendors aim for complex solutions in the hope that this will impress customers or potential customers.

The points that Accenture raise, reminded me of a time in shcool when we learnt about the fire triangle. Take away any element of the triangle (fuel, heat, oxygen) and you will extinguish the fire. The three elements listed above can be thought of in the same way.

Failure to consider all three elements will result in wasted efforts and ultimately poor sales.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Activities of Strategy Generation

There are four defined activities for Strategy Generation, defined in the Service Strategy volume in ITIL version 3.

The concepts and ideas raised are fairly heavy - so a brief synopsis is provided here.


Understanding the opportunities available to the Service Provider is at the heart of defining the market.

The service provider gets to understand the opportunities by first understanding the customer required outcomes and then providing a service to enable that outcome.

A service will increase performance and improve outcomes; but real value comes from reduction in customer asset performance variation.

The visible element of market definition is the service catalog. A service catalog entry is a combination of customer assets and service archetypes (a combination can be one or more from either side). The term given to these combinations are Lines of Service (LOS) and they are the actual services about which agreements are made.


The market space is the main concept raised under develop the offerings. The market space is a set of opportunities for service providers to provide VALUE to a customer through the provision of one of more services.

Service providers focus on outcomes to ensure they deliver value, through utility and backed by warranty. (Summary: LOS delivers value that support outcomes and remove constraints). BUT a service can be developed without a customer – a speculative investment.


Service Management is a catalyst for higher achievements, because it coordinates customer assets and service assets. This coordination in practice is the adjustment of resources and capabilities that will enable a goal to be reached.

Reaching goals is inherently valuable and is a reflection of increased service and potential performance. The value creation creates profits and surplus that can be used to justify further investments/enhancements. The confidence and trust that comes from increasing value is what will ensure that customers continue to buy.


Success is not guaranteed even though a service strategy model exists. There is a requirement to think and formulate - it is not a mechanical process.

Understanding our current strategy and what works and doesn't work is the first step. Following this analysis we are able to determine the strategy objectives. Objectives are presented as solutions, specifications, needs or benefits; these benefits will also include one or more of the following information elements:
Customer tasks: What job or activity will the service actually do?
Customer outcomes: What is the desired customer outcome?
Customer constraints: What will prevent the outcome being reached and what actions can the service provider take to overcome these constraints?

Service assets must be aligned with the customer outcomes to be of any value and there is a requirement to define the CSF's (Critical Success Factors) for each service.

Understanding the CSFs is often a chance to analyze the competitive situation and even realize their own distinct competitive advantage (distinct value proposition).

Of course, there are always limited funds for developing services, which is why there must be an ability to prioritize investments. Of course, the basic rule of business applies here which is to address the needs of a good customer that are being poorly addressed.

Another basic rule of business is to continually survey the market for opportunities to expand into other market spaces. This requires a traditional SWOT analysis and can lead to significant expansion and growth.

The risks associated with expansion and growth are substantially reduced when they are dealt with as part of a service strategy associated with a market space. The least risky strategy for expansion is within existing customer portfolios and utilizing exist service assets (essentially through the provision of complementary services).

Finally, the ability to stand out from competitors when it comes to controlling existing market spaces or looking for new growth areas is a vital element. The ability to be competitive is what helps you to retain customers. Failure to meet or exceed the expected industry standard for a service will create a loss of satisfaction in customers and they will seek alternatives. Look to exceed the expected industry levels across the multiple attributes (reliability, multi-platform support, on site support, etc) of a service and you have competitive differentiation.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Pulling a Strategic Asset out of your... hat

Some of the concepts raised in ITIL v3 are just puzzles waiting to be solved. I got an email asking me a simple question.. how do you transform service assets into strategic assets?

Good question I thought, so I embarked upon my journey into the deepest, darkest realms of Service Strategy. Well, I didn't travel far...

Page 4 and all I needed to answer the question was there.

To paraphrase. Strategic assets are to the IT department as they are to any business unit. Ask a business person what they see as a strategic asset of the organization and they will most likely provide an answer along the lines of "it's the way our people are able to utilize the facilities we give them and deliver x" or "it is the ability of our staff no matter what the circumstance to deal with client issues within minutes of being notified".

They won't be saying it's "our state of the art manufacturing plant" or "the new fleet of trucks we took delivery of last week".

Understanding what a strategic asset is NOT; is fundamental in understanding what a strategic asset is!

Well as it would happen, the same concept applies to IT. Assets are people, process, knowledge and infrastructure. Strategic assets are the combination of these into elements that create competitive advantage, distinctiveness and the ability to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.

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