VeriSM: In conversation with Claire Agutter

February 2018

Cityscape bird's eye viewClaire Agutter, chief architect for VeriSM, a service management trainer, consultant and author, tells Martin Cooper AMBCS about how and why VeriSM was created.

What makes good service management?

I think service management is really about achieving the organisation’s goals. That may be about maximising profits or it might be about finding efficiencies, but for me, good service management starts with understanding: ‘What are we trying to achieve as an organisation?’

In a nutshell, what is VeriSM?

VeriSM is an acronym. It stands for: value-driven, evolving, responsive, integrated service management. So really, VeriSM helps organisations to create a service management approach that is unique to them.

What we’ve tried to say is: ‘This isn’t a framework. This is a thing that you (need to) understand before you delve into the world of frameworks’. If you’re looking from a service management perspective, you’ve got ITIL, ISO20000, Lean, Agile, DevOps.

There are so many things out there, and organisations are getting really confused. They are chasing off in lots of different directions and trying to do what’s fashionable, but are still, ultimately, not delivering results.

You’ve only got to look at the press and you’ll see some really big strategic IT projects that have failed. There’s something going wrong somewhere, and what we’ve tried to say with VeriSM is: ‘Take a step back… look at it as a business... figure out what you need and then you can take advantage of all these different frameworks and you can use the bits that work for you. But you can do it in a much more educated way.’

So, we’ve deliberately called VeriSM an approach rather than a framework, because VeriSM focuses on what needs to be done, what needs to be in place. And it allows you to choose the ‘how’ from lots of different areas and different frameworks.

What is BCS’s role within VeriSM?

So VeriSM is owned by an organisation called the IFDC, which is the International Foundation for Digital Competency. BCS is one of the stakeholders and a board member of the IFDC. The other board members are EXIN, which is a Dutch organisation very similar to BCS, APMG and Van Heren, the publishing company.

So BCS have been involved all the way through the project. It’s been sharing information about what BCS members are looking for, how BCS members see the world of service management developing, and it has been really, really helpful to have that perspective because obviously BCS has got such a wide reach. It’s been good to hear what the BCS membership is looking for.

Who was involved in making VeriSM?

The IFDC started with the idea, and then they approached me to act as chief architect because I had previously worked with some of the board members on the SIAM project that we’d done with Scopism. I picked some lead authors who contributed quite significantly to the book, who were Rob England, who’s based in New Zealand, Suzanne van Hove, who’s based in America, and Randy Steinberg, who’s also based in America.

So, we worked very closely together, but then we had an enormous team of volunteers. I think more than 70 in the end from all over the world and from all different types and sizes of industries, who all contributed either as subject matter experts or shared a story or shared something that was particular to their geography.

How did VeriSM’s volunteer pool shape it?

I always think that the more perspectives you have, the better the final product. Because it’s very easy to put two or three people in a room and to produce something which is good, but it’s limited because they’re looking at it from their cultural experience or their business experience or even just to things that they know.

What’s next for VeriSM?

In 2017 we published the first VeriSM book, which introduces the VeriSM ideas, but doesn’t have a huge amount of detail - it’s kind of the entry-level publication. It’s meant to be part of foundation-level training; it’s meant to allow people to discuss the ideas.

In 2018, IFDC will work with some early-adopter organisations of VeriSM to start to put together some case studies and some examples. And we’re pulling together a new author team who are going to work on VeriSM Professional, which will be the next, more detailed book, which will be part of the next level of certification. That’s due to be completed by the middle of the year.

And then, beyond that, we’ll look at the very highest levels of information and certification, which will be VeriSM Leader. The details haven’t been fully defined yet. But VeriSM Professional is intended to give people practical skills that they can take back to work to help them diagnose problems and put things in place to resolve them. It’s going to include case studies, to show VeriSM in action, and show how it’s actually been used.

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