Claire Agutter on IT Service Management and Future Practices [Interview]

At TechAcute we often pick up news and changes about IT Service Management (ITSM) and explain what certain methodologies are about and what practices work. Today we want to share with you our interview with Claire Agutter, who is director of ITSM Zone and a well-known industry expert, present in social networks and at events.

If you’re new to the subject and don’t know what ITSM is about, I suggest you to check out the ITSM Wikipedia article first.

About Claire Agutter

Claire Agutter is the director of ITSM Zone, providers of high quality e-learning for IT professionals.  Claire uses her background in service management operations and consultancy to blend old and new best practice to give organizations the toolkit they need to deliver business value. From ITIL to DevOps, BRM and Agile Service Management, Claire believes in sharing knowledge and experience between organizations and hosts the popular ITSM Crowd hangouts that provide practical advice to professionals around the world. Check her out on Twitter and LinkedIn.

ITSM practices in the past and today

Chris: Where did the current ITSM methodologies come from and what problems did they address?

Claire: ITSM is defined as an organization’s capabilities to deliver IT services that support the business. It can include people, processes, tools, suppliers…pretty much anything that makes up an IT service.  For example, think about your own organization without email, remote working, printing etc.  How would it look?

IT service management has been developing as long as IT and technology itself. Because IT services support business processes, they need to be dependable, reliable and do the job they are meant to do.  If IT is failing, the business suffers.  Not many businesses can cope with paper and pens now.

Dusted Meeting Room Office Working ITSM Team Business Collaboration crop

Many organizations realized quickly that IT needed to be governed for them to get value. For example, ITIL, the most commonly adopted IT service management framework, was developed by the UK government to bring consistency to their IT projects and services.

ITSM is evolving as IT services evolve. For example, as organizations moved from mainframes to distributed environments to cloud based services, ITSM has to evolve with it.  Mainframe based services need careful capacity and availability management.  So do cloud based services, but they might be managed through procurement and supplier management processes instead.

ITSM pain points and mixed practices

Chris: Do you think they were adopted well or was there a pain point, which was generally insufficiently implemented?

Claire: We had this very discussion on a recent episode of the ITSM Crowd, where we discussed getting value from using multiple ITSM frameworks. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wpfwr6L2o6M)

Businesses expect any new framework they adopt to be amazing and change everything quickly – but often those expectations are unrealistic. I wonder if (working in IT) we think that new management methods can be implemented like a piece of software – roll them out to everyone and the job is done.

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Behind the success or failure of any ITSM method is organizational change management. This is where many organizations fail. They don’t communicate well, or manage cultural change, or sell the benefits, so the new way of working isn’t adopted.

I’ve seen many articles recently saying things like ‘ITIL is dead’. This isn’t true – ITIL is still very relevant, but it needs to be carefully adopted to deliver real benefits.  In my experience as an ITSM consultant, it’s often the people who don’t adapt to new ways of working, perhaps because they are frightened for their jobs or just don’t understand what is happening.

Evolution of ITIL

Chris: We saw several iterations of ITIL being developed over time. Do you think this will go on in a similar style or will there be new prime methodologies to address current and future issues in a better way?

Claire: ITIL has had a small evolution recently with the release of the ITIL Practitioner guidance. This gives ITSM staff guiding principles to work with and will help them get value from ITIL.  I don’t expect to see an ITIL v4 soon but I do expect to see the global community of ITSM enthusiasts continue to share their experiences and build on what’s in the ITIL books.

Dusted Studio Office Working ITSM Team Business crop

Processes like incident management, change management, capacity management etc. don’t need to change their underlying principles. They do need to be tailored carefully for each organization.

New methods are emerging, but they don’t mean ITIL has become redundant.

Practices of the future

Chris: You are definitely an industry expert with great forecasting abilities. Do you want to share with our readers, which new methodologies might be the dominating practices and frameworks in the near future?

Claire: Ha, thanks! I don’t see myself as an expert but I’m lucky that my job brings me into contact with ITSM practitioners all around the globe, and I’m always curious to learn J The areas I am seeing real growth in at present are:

  • DevOps – this promises better services, faster, with better integration between staff working in development and operations. Organizations are excited about DevOps and are starting to look at how they can adopt it, so I see this growing strongly. Expectations are high though, so businesses need to be careful they are realistic.
  • Agile – agile service management, agile project management; the industry wants to move away from large, monolithic, waterfall working practices and start working in a more responsive way. This can only be a good thing and it’s interesting to see how, for example, agile service management is developing.
  • Business Relationship Management – IT can only really succeed if it’s close to its customer. BRM as a strategic capability is becoming more and more important. The BRM Institute is doing fantastic work in this space.
  • Enterprise/Business service management – why should service management just be for IT? As IT gets more and more embedded in business processes, the divide between IT and the business narrows and organizations will apply service management across the whole enterprise. In the early days, ITIL talked about using the IT service desk to take other calls like information queries and facilities queries – ESM is this approach x1000.

Regional differences

Chris: Thank you so much for your time in answering our questions. At last I wanted to ask you, if you see a particular strong trend for methodology adoption in a certain country or region of the world? Are there any places who grow rapidly in the implementation of standards and good practices? Where do you think is the digitalisation and globalisation leading the ITSM world?

Claire: Different countries have different levels of ITSM maturity. Some products are more popular in certain geographies, for example PMI in the USA vs. PRINCE2 in Europe. Social media for me has driven huge change in the ITSM community and is starting to reduce regional variations.  ITSM practitioners can now network with people from around the world and learn from their experience, not just the people they meet at local events.  The ITSM community is very strong and very generous at sharing knowledge, with organizations like itSMF facilitating the conversation.

How to start a career in ITSM?

Chris: With all this change, what does a typical ITSM career look like now? Where should someone start if they want to have a role in IT service management?

Claire: ITSM doesn’t have a perfectly defined career path, in fact many people (including myself!) drop into it almost by accident. I was working in customer service before I got a job on an IT helpdesk.  I moved into a change management role, and then worked on service improvement projects in my organization before becoming a service management lead.  I followed that with some consultancy roles before moving into my current post, a mix of training and consultancy.

Many ITSM people I know have started in entry level jobs in IT, before moving into service management teams. Having well recognised certifications like the ITIL Foundation will help, but it’s also good to learn about the emerging practices like DevOps.  Find something that inspires you and follow that path.

You can find Claire on Twitter and LinkedIn and if you want to contact ITSM Zone via email, hit them via [email protected]. Make sure you also check out these related articles:


YouTube: ITSM Crowd 12 – Getting value from multiple frameworks

Photo credit: Sonny AbesamisDavid Wall
Source: Claire Agutter (ITSM Zone)
Editorial note: This article was developed together with and sponsored by ITSM Zone.

Christopher Isak

Christopher Isak

Managing Editor at TechAcute
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. I love readers who leave a comment. 😉
Christopher Isak

@ChristopherIsak

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Christopher Isak
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Christopher Isak

Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. I love readers who leave a comment. ;)

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