As I referred to in the previous post, I recently spent some time (8 days to be exact) working with folks in Norway and Sweden. I was invited to attend and participate in three sessions at the itSMF Norway 2014 Conference and Expo and was then asked by the itSMF Sweden chapter to fly over from Oslo to conduct a couple of sessions there for their itSMF members. Besides having several wonderful hosts that made the trip pleasurable and possible, it was lots of fun to meet a whole new group of people outside of the United States and see how they might do things differently and learn from them. In turn, hopefully, I imparted some knowledge on them during my sessions and they too will grow.
The first of my sessions was in Norway, where I facilitated a Configuration Management workshop. We had a knowledgeable group of service management professionals attend the workshop where we focused on the “value” element of Configuration Management. Although it was a very accelerated workshop which didn’t allow us to fully dissect topics or spend nearly enough time doing activities, I believe, based upon speaking with the individuals afterward, that they were more confident in their ability to begin formulating a comprehensive business case for their Configuration Management efforts.
The second of my sessions in Norway was a presentation on the fundamentals of Configuration Management. This was the same presentation delivered in Stockholm, Sweden 3 days later. This presentation focused on What Configuration Management is and isn’t, the difference between a CMDB and CMS and all the other foundational aspects of Configuration Management and CMDB/CMS.
Not surprisingly I did not recognize any significant difference in the level of maturity that this Scandinavian population was at with Configuration Management versus their US counterparts. They seem to struggle with the same issues that US-based companies do and are equally as frustrated that their organizations have not progressed further.
My final session in Stockholm was in the format that I enjoy most. It was a wide open Question & Answer session with the Swedish ITSM professionals from a variety of their largest companies that ran for approximately 3 hours. I enjoy it best because it isn’t just me speaking at the audience. We interact along a topic and just follow the conversation wherever it goes. When someone asks a specific, I will pick through old presentations, research or slides to support, explain & demonstrate the points of that topic while I describe it. As a practitioner, I found this to be the best format for me to understand topics so as a presenter/speaker, I offer that approach because I believe the participants will get the most value for the time they invest.
So what are the key points that I took from this international effort? In the broadest of terms, companies in Norway, Sweden, and Finland, Denmark (plus a few other countries represented at the events) are struggling in very much the same way as my US-based clients are. Below are some more details points where I detected challenges similar to ours in the US.
- A lack of deep understanding of what Configuration Management “really” is but a strong desire to implement it
- The term CMDB is mentioned at probably a 10:1 ratio versus Configuration Management which implies a technological implementation rather than an organizational transformation in how they go about their business
- General fear/hesitation/un-readiness about venturing into a Configuration Management effort because there is still a lot of unknown and/or misunderstood concepts
- Integration with the “CMDB” tool so as to get data in/out is every bit the same desire and challenge as in the US. Everyone is gorging themselves on the volumes of data but are starving for the information, knowledge, and wisdom that the raw data represents
- Getting everyone on board for the effort is daunting. Strong longterm leadership or lack thereof is a major hurdle everywhere
- Desire by leadership to support the efforts is not always there when the more difficult times are encountered
I could go on with the list but you probably get the point. You’re not special/they’re not special. We have the same desires but unfortunately, we also have the same issues. Maybe I was a bit optimistic in believing/hoping that I would see a market that had advanced past ours so that I could bring back some “secret recipe” for helping more companies succeed faster but it was not to be. It takes time, lots of effort and strong consistent leadership. I did meet one organization while in Norway who said they had a mature CMDB implementation in place and that was encouraging for me. Not surprisingly during our conversation about it, I was told by this individual that it was driven by their most senior IT leadership. The driver was a financial one. The team was charged with implementing Configuration Management so as to support billing their clients for equipment that they were using. I didn’t have the opportunity to see the implementation or investigate deeper into relationships with services or the supporting processes so I will take this individual at his word for it being a full-blown implementation rather than a glorified asset tracking / financial reporting system.
So…. where there is a will there is a way…. or maybe I should state it this way “when you might lose clients or business, your leadership will find a way to help you plow through the obstacles.” In either case, the “Configuration Management” effort at this organization is delivering tremendous value and having a positive impact on business outcomes and if you are delivering value, you’re doing something right.