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Service Management Heros -Randy Steinberg

We’re really happy to be able to bring you an interview with  service management hero, Randy Steinberg.

Randy is well-respected and widely known in the field of service management.  As well as authoring numerous books related the practical application of service management, he was the lead author on the 2011 Service Operation core volume.


Tell us about your background Randy, how did you start in service management?

I have actually been in IT infrastructure management for almost 30 years.  This is an area of IT that has always been sorely neglected – something I hope to help change. In past years, I have developed my own systems management methodology.  I also developed infrastructure methodologies used by several large companies such as IBM and Accenture among others.

In 2001 I first became aware of ITIL and liked the comprehensiveness of it and the way it was packaged. I have been doing ITIL and IT Service Management ever since. As just one person in this field, almost every year,  I run into companies that lose hundreds of millions of dollars on IT investments in solutions that they can’t operate or operate with severe deficiencies that cripple the businesses they support. This is a huge problem and it is what drives what I do.

How do you define service management? Why is it important?

To me, the ultimate goal of IT Service management is to operate IT as a portfolio of investments in IT services that support the business. 

Historically, IT has managed itself by capabilities – e.g. servers, storage, networks, etc. This kind of management style cannot continue in the 21st century.

If your IT organization chart looks like a CMDB schema you have a problem – this means that the integration of all those pieces and parts is happening only at the executive levels which does not work well.

For executives, they need to be able to articulate 3 key things: the services they provide to the business (in business terms), the costs they incur for those services and the demand for those services in terms of how they are being consumed (or will be consumed). If they cannot articulate those 3 basic factors, then they are not really managing IT in today’s world and will always be reactive and a cost overhead to the business.

Tell us a bit about your experience as an ITIL author – what are the major changes in the 2011 core volumes?

The big changes as I see them are much attention to filling in the missing holes from the previous version and clarifying concepts that the authors felt were still a bit of confusion across the industry.

Every process is now consistently described as a process (inputs, outputs, process flows, etc.). Several new processes have been introduced such as one for developing Service Strategy, business relationship management and a new Service Design Coordination process. Every process now has an inventory of Critical Success Factors (CSFs) with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) linked to them.

Clarified content and relationships for the SKMS, CMS and CMDB have been introduced.

For Service Operation I tried to focus on a more crystal clear definition of what is a service request and how does this link upstream into a service and downstream to the Request Fulfilment process linking those activities to Standard Changes.  Other guidance such as listing many techniques for root cause analysis and what situations they may apply as well as an incident matching procedure have been added. This only touches the surface, so I would recommend checking out the summary of the updates can be found at www.best-management-practice.com .

Where do you see service management in the future? How have you seen it change?

This has come a long way from when I got started. Early on, it seemed most people were first asking about what ITIL is all about. Then they were going out and getting certified but still clueless how to get started (which is why the Implementing ITIL book and ITIL Training Zone courses got started).

For a while, everyone wanted basics on how to do change or incident management. Now you can see the general maturity has increased. At the executive level, there is a growing segment of senior executives that are especially interested in service management, strategy, how to transform IT to a service-driven organization. At the same time, practitioner level interest is beyond the basics of a process such as change management – they now are struggling with how to make those processes work across disparate IT organizations or issues over measurements and controls.

I strongly feel that the role of IT is rapidly changing from that of an engineering driven approach to one of integrator – having to integrate services delivered by many providers and new channels (such as SaaS or the Cloud) to serve the business. This is why an understanding of services, costs and demand are so critical.

 What advice would you give anyone who is just starting out in service management?

I would certainly recommend getting the basics first – be it ITIL Foundations or other training. Keep the books at your side as a reference library – I still find nuggets of information in them that is amazing. Recognize that these were developed over many years not just with information from the recent set of authors, but hundreds of others throughout the industry as well.

The next step is to make sure you focus on real business problems within your IT organization or company.  Use the pieces and parts of ITIL and IT Service Management that best address those problems. Remember that ITIL/ITSM is the road and not the destination – implementing a process is important, but not the end state – only the means to fix an issue that your organization may be struggling with.

Lastly, for those at the executive levels, we advocate a simple 5 step approach to starting the ITSM transformation. This begins with understanding your services, identifying how the infrastructure supports those services, taking stock of your delivery capabilities, identifying costs for those services and then setting a strategy for each service to achieve cost or optimization goals. Surprisingly, these activities can be done fairly quickly – usually in a 90-120 day time frame.

If you’d like to discuss any of the material in this article, Randy can be contacted via www.linkedin.com or RandyASteinberg@aol.com.

You can read about Randy’s books here:

www.amazon.com  – search for the book titles Implementing ITIL, Measuring ITIL, Servicing ITIL, Architecting ITIL

And view ‘Implementing ITIL’, the exclusive online course which is only available from ITSM Zone by clicking here. This course is added as a bonus course when purchasing the ITIL Expert course from us.


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