itSMF UK Conference ITSM12 - The crucial lessons


ServiceDesk 360: The itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition ITSM12 delivered advices for dealing with real world issues in ITSM.
                                              ITSM12 report
With the tagline ‘Delivering business value’, the annual itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition aimed to deliver advice for dealing with real world issues, and in my limited view, it succeeded in doing so. I say limited view because I was only able to make the first day and with some of my time spent on the the SITS/ServiceDesk360 stand, I managed to attend three sessions which met the expectations of the billing.
First was Ian Martin and Sandra Liddle of Everything Everywhere (EE) who explained the post-merger ITSM challenge of becoming the ‘market leaders overnight’, with 400 systems in use.  The scale of this project, which aims to rationalise the 400 systems down to a core of 50, meant it was difficult for the presenters to go into great detail about any particular subject.  However, there was some great advice around change and service improvement which stood out as being best practice that businesses of all sizes could learn from.  Martin says that a Change Advisory Board which meets each week to discuss developments, increasing to a daily meeting during critical periods such as Christmas, means that details are rarely lost, helping to drive a reduction in incidents despite the enormity of organisational change.
Similarly, service improvement, often relegated to “we’ll do some of that when we have time” has been elevated with EE, with SIPs (Service Improvement Plans) given their own budgets, allowing ‘very agile’ deployment according to Martin, with the average SIP being completed within 13 weeks, compared to projects which often run into years.
Having previously spoke to and reported on Simon Skelton’s work at John Lewis, I was keen to meet him in person and see what progress has been made since our chat.  The standout development for me was the addition of a Facebook-stye support facility that is being used internally.  Admitting skepticism of the social support concept – it is not being rolled out to the end-user community for example – Skelton says that the beta service has taken on a life of its own.  “People outside of the department have got involved, I saw posters in the office recently advertising the social IT which haven’t been produced by us.  We haven’t measured the impact (in terms of support volumes) but we’re happy to let it develop as it’s own eco-system,” said Skelton.
The potential of service management to extend beyond IT was also demonstrated as Skelton explained that facilities management had approached him because they needed a system to manage their operations.  The flexibility of ServiceNow platform used by John Lewis meant that Skelton could accommodate the requirement.  “Many of the processes are similar so we were able to get them started with self-service and now they are running on the same system as us.”
The final session I attended talked about a subject close to my heart – using iPads in business – and the presentation by Jonathan Miller of rail maintenance company Tube Lines was far more comprehensive and practical than I ever imagined.  The stand out for me was the level-headed approach for deciding to use Apple (“iOS suits us now, we may change to a different platform in the future”) and how Miller and his team have tackled the challenges inherent with using iOS that many IT teams are balking out currently. (Click for the full story of how Tube Lines successfully deployed iPad).
It would have been great to attend more sessions, but the chatter on Twitter suggested other sessions were of equal value, so credit to itSMF UK for building such an informative programme.
Source: ServiceDesk 360, James West's report at