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Mountain ClimberIn my last blog post, I wrote that the “7 Deadly Sins of IT Demand” are driving down business satisfaction with IT. Any of these sins can make it extremely challenging for IT to efficiently and quickly fulfill demand. Recognize any of them?

  1. The Squeaky Wheel, who constantly harasses IT or escalates requests.
  2. The Black Hole where good requests go to die.
  3. The Annual Plan that stays the same, no matter what happens during the year.
  4. First Come, First Serve that forces everyone to wait their turn, regardless of business priority.
  5. Commitment Conundrum or Analysis Paralysis.
  6. Death by Committee, where no one is willing to make a decision.
  7. Unfinished Business, when initiatives just die because there’s no one to champion their cause.

So how can you conquer the 7 deadly sins of IT demand? Here are 7 tried and true cures I’ve heard from customers:

  1. Don’t just set it and forget it. Build flexibility into your plan, and make sure you have defined time periods, criteria and stage-gates where you review your plans. Be realistic about potential slips and delays, and build that in your plans. And if possible, reserve some capacity for unplanned activities.
  2. Set the right path: Make smart decision-making points so that demand can quickly get routed and fulfilled by the right people. Change requests, new project ideas or operational requests should be funneled through a common system that triages each request quickly, and then routes it to the appropriate party. In this model, IT becomes more efficient and responsive to the customer.
  3. Establish a czar: You need to have one person be the head “controller” for IT demand within a given service or application domain.  This needs to be a senior representative from the business organization with the right amount of political clout.   Otherwise, your organization will quickly devolve into Committee Conundrum or Death by Committee.
  4. Let everyone vote: Use a single place for everyone to submit all requests. Make it open, available and transparent to everyone, so business users know where their requests are, so that good ideas can be expanded upon to make them great ideas.
  5. Get real with your people: Initiate time tracking so you can more accurately assess planned versus actual capacity.  Integrate time tracking into the systems where people actually perform their work, like the IT Service Management system and the Configuration Management System.  That way time tracking is done in real time and is not a weekly afterthought.
  6. Make the process transparent: Document the process and be sure to include formal stage gates. Ensure the process is visible and understood by all stakeholders, not just IT.
  7. Be consistent: define a standard set of criteria to assess and prioritize demand. Use a single system for tracking initiatives, and ensure KPI’s are in place to accurately measure project status.

If you’re ready to slay the seven deadly sins of IT demand management, I highly encourage you to check out the interactive product tour of Serena Demand Manager. You’ll get a hands-on opportunity to see how this revolutionary Serena product can make managing IT demand super fast and easy. And if you haven’t already done so, you should also read the brief whitepaper, “A Fresh Look at IT Demand Management: Four Steps to Intelligently Fulfill Demand Across the IT Lifecycle.”



The “7 Deadly Sins of Managing IT Demand” are undermining business satisfaction with IT. They’re the reason why IT struggles fulfilling business demands and answering some key questions from the business:

  • What’s the status of my requests?
  • Why can’t IT fulfill my demands faster?
  • What’s IT doing with my budget?

So what are the 7 Deadly Sins and how are they jeopardizing IT success?

  1. The Squeaky Wheel: Whether it’s constantly harassing IT or escalating requests, the Squeaky Wheel makes sure his demands get fulfilled, no matter what the impact is to the rest of IT’s efforts. The Squeaky Wheel is a surefire way to delay everyone else’s initiatives and upset the IT apple cart.
  2. The Black Hole: The most common complaint of business stakeholders? They have no idea what the status of their requests is. Ideas get submitted, but they end up in an IT Black Hole and then no one can tell what happened to them. Just as bad, these requests often get released without the business knowing about them!
  3. The Annual Plan: Every IT organization has a great annual plan on the amazing initiatives they’ll accomplish in the upcoming year. The problem? Things change – priorities, competitive offerings, resources – but the plan never does. And usually there’s no process or plan on how to modify the plan in mid-stream.
  4. First Come, First Serve: Following close behind the Squeaky Wheel is First Come, First Serve. Without clear direction and priority, IT simply serves whoever is first in line. When something more important comes along, the initiative has to wait its turn.
  5. Commitment Conundrum: Or call it Analysis Paralysis. Often times, IT organizations are too afraid to actually commit resources to initiatives that they end up analyzing and analyzing business requirements until it’s too late to do anything.
  6. Death by Committee: We’ve all been there. A close corollary to the Commitment Conundrum, this deadly sin makes progress slow to a halt because no one on the governing body is willing to make a decision.
  7. Unfinished Business: Even success can lead to failure! Often after the initial phase of the project, the sponsor is promoted or moves on, and the IT initiative just dies because there’s no one to champion its cause.

Once you’re aware of these 7 Deadly Sins, only then can you start taking steps to conquer them. First, I encourage you to read the brief whitepaper, “A Fresh Look at IT Demand Management: Four Steps to Intelligently Fulfill Demand Across the IT Lifecycle.” Then subscribe to the Serena blog so you can catch our upcoming post, “How to Conquer the 7 Deadly Sins of Demand Management.”



I just returned from an extended trip to Australia and Asia.  I had the privilege of meeting with a number of customers, thanks to our local account teams.  It was almost the corporate equivalent of speed dating, but you could say that we’re already “engaged” with these customers, ha-ha.

Service Catalog was a hot topic.  The majority of customers were planning rollouts over the next 12 to 18 months.  Almost all had plans to go far beyond a traditional IT-centric catalog, and also include other services such as facilities, HR, legal and accounting functions.  And that’s how it should be.  For catalogs to be adopted, they truly need to be a one stop shop.  IT is just one group that supports line-of-business people.  In fact, the average employee probably only submits 4 or 5 IT requests a year.  But if you consider the number of requests they make to other supporting functions, then we’re talking some real numbers – scores, if not hundreds.  Now that’s some volume that can really drive adoption.  On average, only 40% of incidents and service requests come through a catalog or self-service portal.  To get better numbers, consider expanding the types of services you offer to go beyond IT.

Talk of Service Catalog then leads us into the broader topic of Demand Management.  More on that later.  In the meantime, if you’re going to Fusion 12 in Dallas later this month, come see my presentation on Demand Management.  The title is “IT Economics: Mastering Business Demand” and it’s scheduled for Tuesday, October 30, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.



Greetings from Serena xChange! We had a wonderful first day yesterday. DevOps was one of the hottest topics. In several 1:1 conversations, as well as the panel discussion I participated in, customers were keen to discuss how to bring dev and ops together to accelerate innovation and improve service quality.

One of the biggest considerations is an adoption plan. Yes unified tooling to provide orchestration and end to end visibility is a must have, but the beyond that, the biggest challenge is affecting cultural change. The organizations that are on the right track have appointed leaders that have served in both Development and Operations capacities. Those folks “get it”, and are well on their way to orchestrating IT in their respective companies!

More on adoption strategies after xChange. For those attending this week, you can look forward to a series of great customer presentations today and a fun time tonight. For those not at xChange, hope to see you here next year!



According to a survey of global CIOs IDC published in Information Week, the primary focus for companies’ innovation plans is making business processes more efficient. Their top concern is that they won’t be able to innovate fast enough to meet business goals.

Process automation offers the most cost-effective way to make business and IT processes more efficient, reduce costs, ensure compliance and provide both speed and consistency in how organizations conduct and adapt business activities. Expanding process automation and using automation to connect business and IT are both major parts of ITIL best practices. But adoption of process automation typically lags well behind what is possible. Obstacles include lack of clear ownership for process automation initiatives, especially when the processes cross organizational boundaries; concern that automation will create frustrations by imposing inflexibility; experience with process-automation methods that are hard to adapt; lack of clear and complete metrics for deeply assessing how well process automation is working and where it can be improved.

In spite of the need for better automation that can be easily adapted, most IT service management (ITSM) solutions offer limited process automation capabilities – and what’s available for managing processes in these products is not designed to support the flexibility, visibility and extensibility that’s a critical need. This gap exists because ITSM products have traditionally been built to focus on databases and data management, not on process modeling and process orchestration.

Because of this key absence in capabilities, some IT organizations have “rolled their own” ITSM solutions, using platforms like Lotus Notes to take advantage of complex workflow features and easier report editing. But this approach carries high costs for licenses and development, no built-in ITSM-specific functionality or ITIL processes, and challenging upgrades. Rather than adding value by adapting a packaged ITSM product to meet needs, the IT staff spends time duplicating the work that ITSM products experts have built into their products.

To fully realize the advantages of process automation and IT service management best practices (as well as faster time to value), look for a new class of ITSM solutions that have a full-featured process management platform built in. The availability of graphical process modeling and reporting built into process management platforms means that IT organizations can expedite process automation, improve visibility, and adapt rapidly to address changing demands.  This ability to focus on process and adaptability without sacrificing data management also simplifies the extension of process automation to diverse business activities, not only improving IT service but also strengthening the interconnections with the business.

To see a process-based ITSM solution, click to watch the demo of Serena Service Manager in Action.



IT organizations are under pressure to increase automation to reduce costs and increase fulfillment and compliance. There are two main types of automation that IT organizations use to increase efficiency: both process automation and runbook automation provide the ability to create, orchestrate, manage and report on workflows that can operate across the systems that support IT services and assets. The differences between these types of automation are both their focus and complexity:

  • Runbook automation focuses on automating the standard procedures for operating the IT infrastructure and applications (the service supply). These workflows are typically standard routines with limited variations and notifications/reporting.
  • Process automation focuses on automating the processes that deliver all kinds of services to users (the service demand). These workflows can be complex and sometimes are designed to include many notifications throughout the process, drawing in both other applications and people from IT and business to act on issues or exceptions. These workflows may require frequent review and adaptation.

Process automation is not limited to IT activities; it can also cover business activities such as hiring and provisioning new employees or fulfilling requests for training. Process automation can be developed using a variety of programs (not all with optimal outcomes, but more on that later…), from ERP systems to BPM platforms. The key for success with process automation – especially when it crosses organizational boundaries – is that the platform you use has these attributes that ensure simplicity, adaptability and visibility:

  • A model that is designed specifically for managing processes, with a simple interface that enables authorized users to proactively orchestrate change – without having to wait
  • A graphical process modeler that makes processes easy to create, review and modify so you can quickly adapt as needed – without having to write code
  • Audit information presented in reports that are easy to create and modify so you can easily explore information ad hoc – without having to fly blind

Want to learn more about the most effective and flexible approach to process automation for IT and business services? Download Top 5 Reasons for Orchestrated Service Management.



I get some interesting insights about the future of technology by talking to the teenagers next door. (Example: last year I asked the older one if he wanted a iPad to use at college. This unintentionally hilarious question elicited the response that iPads are ”just giant iTouches” and “for old people.” Ouch.)

In spite of the risk of appearing foolish again, I asked him a different question yesterday: what’s the most important technology he uses? Easy: his phone. Because he can get most of what he needs from that one source.

This generation is used to technology as the delivery system. They expect the process of finding and requesting and getting anything to be centralized, straightforward and user-centric. He missed the decades when technology and applications were built in silos, and users had to be trained to know where and how to get what they needed.

When we’re at work, we increasingly rely on technology (and therefore on IT) to fulfill needs for all kinds of services and business activities. In response, the purpose and scope of the IT Service Desk has evolved, but expectations and impatience continue to grow.

Beyond Traditional IT Tasks

The Service Desk is no longer just for reporting problems – in many cases it’s Grand Central Station, providing access to requests for all kinds of services and information. Innovative IT organizations are adopting a centralized, straightforward and user-centric approach to fulfilling user requests and addressing their issues with a new kind of Service Desk that flips the focus from the controlling technology supply to delivering on service demand – while managing complexity without exposing it to users. Today’s Service Desk has become a unified User Request Center that allows both IT staff and users greater visibility and adaptability.

How has your IT organization expanded the role of the Service Desk? What are your plans for future enhancement?  For ideas on transforming your IT organization, listen to the on-demand webcast Serena on Serena: 30 Days to a Complete Makeover.  Serena’s own IT team shares how they rolled out Serena Request Center, showcasing over 90 business and IT services to 800 employees – in just 30 days!




I’ve been talking to a lot of IT people about their ideal interface to users.  At our last xChange User Conference,  I ducked out for coffee with a VP of Operations at a financial services company, and we came up with this:

Step 1: Provide a polished and professional web experience.

IT should present its services in a consumer-quality interface designed from the consumers’ perspective. Make sure the site is easy to use by controlling the complexity in the background. And unify IT and business services in a way that makes sense to users. Sure, unifying lots of diverse services sounds like increasing complexity, but it doesn’t seem complex to users if the definition and presentation of their service options makes sense to them. The biggest challenge is hiding that complexity, which requires a well-connected and orchestrated system that unifies the information and automates the processes across business strategy, IT Ops and Application Development.

Step 2: Make search a central facility.

Customers are used to Googling for what they want on the web; provide the same interaction model. Of course, you need a well-written and fresh knowledge base so there are useful search results when users need information. The goal is getting needs met fast, with as little intervention as possible. Think of users the same way the business thinks of its customers.

Step 3: Be transparent: set expectations up-front on service cost, turn-around time, etc.

Give users insight into choices, let them discover answers on their own, and give them real-time access to the status of requests or issues they submit. Let them help you continually improve (and avoid follow-up calls or tickets) via satisfaction surveys that rate the service, quality of knowledge articles, etc.

Step 4: Measure and adapt.

Doing this right is a continual improvement journey. You’re looking for ways to make processes smarter, to trim costs and time, to add and extend services and options, to satisfy users. With good metrics and reporting – which means also having the ability to drill down and explore – you can find areas that need to be adapted. And you can communicate your progress to stakeholders.

What do you think? Would this meet your needs for service management and delivery?  Please add your comments here.



Take a look at this quick 6-minute video of SunGard’s Quinn Lanus talking about why they selected Serena Service Manager over ITSM solutions such as BMC Remedy, ServiceNow and others.

SunGard is a leading software and technology services company with more than 20,000 employees serving 25,000 customers across 70 countries. SunGard Institutional Asset Management is an application service provider (ASP). With global financial institutions relying on their services to be available 24×7, the company needed to streamline processes and phase out its aging IT Service Management (ITSM) solution that was built using Lotus Notes.

Quinn goes through:

  • Challenges with an outdated Lotus Notes-based service desk solution
  • Key requirements for a modern ITSM solution
  • Evaluation and selection criteria
  • Implementation and rollout plan
  • ITSM vision for the company

Check out the video on YouTube and see why Serena was this industry giant’s solution of choice!



I recently had the pleasure of attending a series of Malcolm Fry-led seminars on the Power of Metrics, conducted in conjunction with the Help Desk Institute, or HDI for short.  Malcolm never fails to both educate and entertain, which is a rare combination in the technology world (even rarer with the passing of Steve Jobs).  In this seminar, Malcolm talked about how we are all measured, from the time we are born (how much did we weigh?) until the time we die (how old were we?).  The same is even truer in the business world.  In the Help Desk and ITSM arena, it’s important to have metrics that make sense to your company.  The more you can adapt generic ITIL metrics to tie back to outcomes that make sense to the company – assembly line uptime, number of loans processed, whatever the case may be – the more relevant your IT organization will be to the business.

In fact, we’re even using some of the lessons learned from Malcolm’s seminar to improve our own measurements to heighten an already high focus on our customer outcomes, like successful implementations and customer reference-ability.  Because at the end of the day, if our measurements are completely in line with yours, then that heightens everyone’s chances of success.

For a look at our award-winning ITSM solution, come see us at the HDI 2012 Conference & Expo in Orlando from April 24-27.