Five minutes with...

IT service management specialist, Colin Rudd

Having been involved in service management for most of his career, Colin was the ideal person to write about the role of the Problem Manager - in particular how its position in an organisation can be seen as more than just a service management role.

What was your first job?
My first job within computing was as a programmer within the aircraft industry, developing a real-time system in the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s. This was a great experience for me and a good opportunity as I soon became the team leader and was responsible for the complete ‘end-to-end system’, throughout all stages of its lifecycle. I was therefore able to develop many skills and an understanding and lots of relationships with many areas of the organisation.

If you had not chosen a service management career, what would you have done?
That’s a very difficult question to answer. I almost joined the army before going to University, but I was advised to get a degree and then consider joining the army. My degree was in Mathematics, but it contained a lot of study and practical work around computing. I enjoyed it so much I never looked back.

When it comes to being an effective problem manager, what would you say are three essential must-have skills?
Again a very difficult question, but three of the most important skills for a problem manager are:

  1. Problem analysis and solving skills: an ability to recognise large complex problems and apply a logical approach and to break them down into simpler components.
  2. Relationship skills: problem managers need to work with many different groups in the resolution of problems. Maintaining effective relationships is key to achieving success as a problem manager.
  3. Enabling and facilitating skills: problem managers will facilitate many meetings and will need to enable, encourage, coach and inspire others in the identification and resolution of the root cause of problems. 

What is the main challenge for problem managers to overcome in an organisation?
The main challenge is to resist the temptation to implement a bureaucratic problem management process and create loads of problem records. The secret to success is to start by focussing on identifying the root cause and resolution of a few key issues and build in a proactive capability, with continual improvement.

Is it important that the position of a problem manager is seen as more than just a service management role?
Yes problem management is a way of working and should become part of the culture of every organisation. It is just like risk management, it should become part of ‘everybody’s everyday role’.

You have been involved in the development of ITIL and the Skills Framework for the Information Age, how important are such frameworks and other industry standards?
Very important as long as they are used and applied in the right way. There is no universal solution that fits every situation. The key phrase is ‘adopt and adapt’. Each organisation is different and needs a different management system and supporting set of processes. The framework(s) need to be adapted to fit the unique requirements of each situation.

What would be your single most important piece of career advice for people working, or wanting to work in a service management role?
Focus on the business strategy, objectives and requirements of the organisation within which you work. The role of service management is all around continual improvement. If what you are doing is not taking you towards your strategic objectives and not making something ‘better, quicker or faster’ for your business or customers, then you should question yourself, as to why you are doing it.

What’s next for you in your career?
I still have a passion and enthusiasm for service management and I still continue to learn something new every day. ‘I live to learn and learn to live’. So I continually learn and use what I have learnt to continually improve things both in work and in my personal life.

About the author

Problem managerColin Rudd has worked in the IT industry for over forty years and is internationally recognised as a leading authority, coach, mentor, trainer and practitioner on all aspects of service management.

Comments (1)

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  • 1
    Michael Hall wrote on 16th Dec 2014

    I think Colin has picked pretty much the top three skills. Facilitation and relating to people are less obvious than problem solving, but without these two you will get nowhere and be totally ineffective as a problem manager.

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