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1 October 2009 | Ian Clayton Blog
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My Service Management Professional 'Bucket List'
This week Ian provides you with his list of service management tips...

The recent announcements of even more badges of honor in the form of the ‘ITIL® Master’ and ‘professional recognition for it Service Management (priSM)’ is giving me pause for thought.   It now seems that after all my efforts, I have yet another rung in the professionalism ladder to climb, and at my age it’s not getting any easier.

In applauding the intent of helping us all prove our level of professionalism, I could not help but notice that both of these emerging qualifications add another level to already hierarchical biased schemes.

In the case of priSM, there are four levels of recognition, culminating in the oxygen-deprived heights of the ‘Fellow’, awarded as a result of nomination and consideration by other Fellows.  Which begs a few questions, who was the first Fellow, how did they get that designation, and how do I get an invite?

It made me revisit what generally represents industry descriptions of ‘professionalism’, as part of my consideration as to whether any of these schemes can help me prove I am as professional as I (and hopefully others), think I am?  Similarly, I wanted to understand to what extent gaining the new designation could help differentiate me from others when competing for business?

Clearly, there is a distinct difference between conducting yourself in a professional manner, and what some regard as being recognized as expert in your field of practice - a ‘professional’. The inconvenient truth for some is that being a professional is not just one or the other; it likely requires a demonstrable blend of four factors: 

  1. Suitable and appropriate professional and ethical conduct in all activities
  2. An education history and verifiable record of achievement
  3. Relevant work experience endorsed by client references
  4. Subject matter expertise in the form of validated know-how in specific methods and techniques recognized as required to successfully perform professional activities

My English grammar school upbringing, coupled with the firm hand of my father, leads me to believe that in my case the first factor is well covered.  As for the second, I think I have an impressive education history (!) spanning woodworking (one of my proudest Grammar School achievements), the ITIL Expert certificate, and the Certified Service Management Professional (CSMP) and Certified Lean Service Professional certifications (see later).

With a mountain of work experience and ample references I feel comfortable the third factor is in hand.  That leaves the last factor– proven know-how in specific methods. The fourth factor, plain know-how, is one of the most powerful influencers over how the community at large might value someone’s (that includes my own) professional capabilities.

The Top 25 Things I Need to Know to be a Service Management Professional

To my knowledge, neither of the two schemes has yet to offer any specific criteria on how they will inspect and verify the know-how they expect me to be proficient in, when practicing.  So, I thought I would take a moment to develop my own service management professional ‘bucket list’, representing what I believe I need to know, it includes:

  1. How to explain what ‘service management’ is to various communities and stakeholders within an organization, why it makes sense, why the approach chosen for adoption is preferred, how it will affect them, and how they can get involved and contribute
  2. The sources of relevant knowledge, and how to leverage what exists to maintain a universally applicable approach to service management
  3. The elements of a service management system in the truest sense of the term system, and not just limited to technology or system applications, how they fit together, and their relative importance
  4. The concept of a service provider organization, the key roles within that organization, and how all of this fits into the design and operation of a governance framework
  5. How to map a body of knowledge to a service management system, and operation of that system within a service provider organization
  6. What a best practice is, as well as a worst practice, and how to adapt and apply the better practice to a service management system, or service provider organization to mitigate or eliminate an identified problem and its impact
  7. How to develop each of the key artifacts and ‘processes’ required by the service management system
  8. How to assess a service provision capability, so I can identify shortcoming and develop a remedial plan of action that is pragmatic, affordable and timely in its delivery of beneficial results
  9. In support of the previous item, I need to know how to define a problem in terms neutral to interested parties, its impact upon various stakeholder communities, and how to translate it into an opportunity for improvement by clearly stating the benefit of remedial action
  10. I need to have ready knowledge of, or access to, related areas of expertise, such as international and national standard specifications and regulatory compliance, as well as related bodies of knowledge.  Continuing what I need to know…
  11. How to define and manage the relationship with each customer community
  12. How to discover and document the customer activities and processes vital the mission
  13. How to capture the ‘voice of the customer’, and translate those needs and wants into service requirements, and agreements containing service level guarantees
  14. How to develop and maintain a ‘product plan’ for a service and service portfolio
  15. How to define the quality and cost of a service in customer and provider terms
  16. How to define and market services to a customer community
  17. How to identify points where service encounters occur, and design suitable capabilities into service fulfillment and service support protocols
  18. How to associate the service infrastructure with vital customer activities
  19. How to design a service support practice that manages incidents as they relate to customer activities and service guarantees
  20. How to define and manage the path of service requests through the system
  21. How to design procedures that enable risk assessed change to the service management system and service provider organization
  22. How to design a priority schema to sequence the work performed by the service provider organization in line with the commitments made within service contracts
  23. How to measure and performance manage the service provision capability
  24. How to transform an organization focused on managing infrastructure, to one that includes managing customer satisfaction, and the achievement of results through the provision of services
  25. How to establish a continuous improvement ‘engine’, designed to find and eliminate wasteful and inefficient practices, and protect the quality of service

Phew. A daunting list I know. Those of you familiar with traditional IT Service Management (ITSM) education programs will recognize many of the items in my bucket list, as things professionals view as important, and are constantly demanding more help with understanding and doing. 

In today’s economically stressed climate, although ethical behavior, education history and work experience remain valuable, some management have their thumb on the professional scale in favor of knowing how to get things done.    From a customer perspective, I think it’s reasonable to expect someone brandishing a badge shouting their level of professionalism above others, to possess vital know-how that removes or lessens the risks and costs associated with an initiative or project. 

Accordingly, it seems reasonable for me to expect a panel of my fellow professional peers, setup to assess my ‘level of professionalism’, to be able to describe in detail a balanced set of criteria that respects the basic four factors of professionalism outlined earlier.

I look forward to seeing how these programs evolve and hope to have the chance to compare Service Management Professional’s ‘bucket lists’.

Note:  The Certified Service Management Professional (CSMP) and Certified Lean Service Professional (CLSP) are credentials within the Service Management Qualification Scheme, offered by the non-profit Service Management Society (www.sm-s.org).

Any feedback and comments are always welcome!! 


1st October 2009

Great list, Ian!

Well done.

David Ratcliffe
Pink Elephant


7th October 2009

Hi Ian

I could add an item:

26. How to restrain yourself from saying to a customer “I don’t understand why you don’t understand”

Because many don’t.

John Groom


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