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Capita – Best Practice Visionaries Or Just Out On A Spending Spree?

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in ITIL
Capita quiet over ITIL The last few weeks have been pretty big for the ITSM industry. First we had the Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS 13 Europe) where the great and the good of ITSM and ITIL gathered. But more importantly, we had the announcement of the results of the tendering process for the best practices portfolio announced by the Cabinet Office in the UK at the end of last year.
These include amongst them ITIL and PRINCE2. The "winner" is Capita – a service company providing business process management and service solutions, with staff based in UK, Europe, South Africa and India. But I say "winner" because already, the industry is trying to determine the future of the brands.

The Announcement

Released in the UK national press in terms as dry as toast, the focus seemed to be on how much this would benefit UK taxpayers, without actually telling a non-IT (or indeed ITIL) comprehending reader what it meant. Somewhat bafflingly, ITIL and PRINCE2 were described as "hidden gems". It would seem that what appears to be the bread and butter best practice guidance across the breadth of IT, have been the IT equivalent of Indiana Jones, scavenging for priceless artefacts. The material in this portfolio is deployed worldwide so describing the joint venture as a direct boost to the UK economy is chronically narrow-minded to say the least. The majority of projects I have worked on as an ITSM Solution Architect have had a reach far wider than the British coastline.

The Reality

Because we work in the area of IT Service Management, it is easy to fixate on ITIL (and yes maybe even PRINCE2) as the centre of the (collapsing) universe, but it is important to realise that the portfolio has a much wider brief. So apart from the surprise at the choice of partner, what will actually change for the ITSM community?

The Potential Evil

Well, perhaps it is a little sardonic to describe it as evil, but ITIL, and its role in ITSM, has been carved out by the contributions of experienced individuals spread across all kinds of industries, with a depth of experience. And when it was owned by the UK Government Cabinet Office, it offered contributors a sense of competitive detachment. What concerns me about the statement by Capita Chief Executive, Paul Pindar, is that Capita themselves expect to bring commercial, technical and innovation skills. Capita are not immune to perhaps less-than-successful engagements and deployments, and I wrote a piece, not even 12 months ago, highlighting some of the disadvantages to trying to innovate within an outsourcing arena.

Silence Is Golden?

Whilst analysts have taken to the airwaves speculating here, and deliberating there – a couple of us observers noticed that things have been most quiet on the Capita front, with just three press releases of note:
  • 22nd April – Capita announce that they have acquired G2G3 – Simulation Training Company specialising, amongst other things, in ITIL Simulations.
  • 25th April – Capita confirmed as joint venture partners with the Cabinet Office
  • 3rd May – Capita acquire Blue Sky Performance Improvement –UK-based leaning and development business
(Both acquisitions for an undisclosed sum). With the exception of the sound bites for the joint venture press release, there has been nothing else coming from Capita since the joint venture announcement.

Future Development

Of course it is too early to speculate, but I find it very hard to believe that one commercial organisation would ever hope to own and drive the on-going development of the portfolio totally in house. But will those established contributors be quite as willing to devote their time to develop content for, effectively, a competitive commercial organisation? Maybe those that will benefit are the more experienced free agents, unencumbered by salaried obligations. But conversely – will this lead to a "gun for hire" mentality? Where will the review checks and balances come from? The portfolio can only remain viable if there remains a level of independence, as opposed to a danger of freezing out all other potential service providers.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps it's a little unfair of the ITSM community to be up in arms, waving their pitchforks quite so early. After all, the new joint venture does not even have a name yet. But those of us who have worked in the industry for any length of time are experienced (or maybe cynical) enough to know that the former methodologies were never a magic bullet in the first place. It will need more than a commercial viewpoint to elevate these acquisitions into the realms of a Pandora's box for the IT industry, whether domestically or globally. And for those who have enjoyed voicing their criticism on validity of ITIL, this may offer them a chance to step up and help play a part in shaping its future. However, this is all just continued speculation until we know more about the plans and get a better understanding of the best practices that affect IT Service Management. I am assuming that the new joint venture will still want to gain from the wealth of varied contributory experience….after all, the almost enigmatic silence will have to be broken sometime, no?
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My SITS 2013: A Service Desk Show with Sensible People Saying Sensible Things

Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Service Desk

Ros and Joe – Service Desk Show

This time last year, I was just about to commence a new career as a writer and ITSM Analyst, and kicked this all off with two days at SITS 2012.

In that year, I have written for a number of IT and ITSM related publications, and the experience was a very different one from twelve months ago.

This time last year, I was walking round, introducing myself as the new girl in school and getting to know the wealth of IT Support vendors, training companies and consultancies on the scene.

I knew quite literally a handful of people.

This time, I could not pass a corner without recognising people I had met at itSMF UK events and regional meetings, vendors, consultants, and the buzz this year was great.


My Highlight

The highlight over the two days for me was the Breakfast Briefing on Day 1: Demonstrating Service Desk Value with Meaningful Metrics.

Panel members were:

Tony Probert - European Managing Director, Cherwell

Howard Kendall - Founder, Service Desk Institute

Rosh Hosany - Global Service Desk Manager

Ken Goff - Consultant and Briefing Facilitator

Dean Coleman - Director of Client Services, UKN Group

The briefing was accompanied with a glossy set of results from a survey, but interestingly the survey was not put to the business, but rather put to the service desk.

There are two key elements to what I’d like to term the mishap of metrics.

Hands up who has configured a system to collect all kinds of numbers, prepared vibrantly glossy decks of graphs, showing what happened?

Now, hands up who has regularly analysed, and formed action plans to address what the metrics show?

The question is—what are these elusive business value metrics?

They are, or at least were, the unicorn of reporting.

It is far easier to pick up on values that are easy to report on, and all the while we believe that it is showing us the value of customer satisfaction.

But let's pick this apart.

If you run an application that needs to be up 99% of the time, and you meet those objectives, you would think you had done yourself a good job, pat yourself on the back and enjoy Happy Hour with the team.

But what if that 1% outage happened on the one day that the application had to run a crucial business transaction?

The truth of it is, there are no easy answers to defining business value.

What it requires is something much more magical than a unicorn.

It requires communication and empowerment.

Communication between the Service Desk and the business to understand why their SLAs are set up the way they are.

And what of the perspective of managed service providers (MSPs)?

They have multiple customers, all with different business drivers, so how do they demonstrate business value, when most of the time their metrics are based on performance?

They are in a unique position, actually, because they should already understand the business even before providing the service.

Their opportunity, therefore, is to show how issues are resolved more efficiently, to bring more of a financial value to the managed service.

There is a real opportunity for companies to evaluate where to deliver real-time data.

Key Points from the Briefing

My key takeaways were:

  • Get close to the business, and work together to understand what the value is.
  • Add that extra dimension to the relationship with the business – not just blindly working to whatever the SLA tells you to do.
  • Be collaborative – become a business partner instead of a trusted service provider.

SITS13 started this year for me with sensible people talking sense, and I look forward to analysing how the ITSM market chooses to innovate in this area.


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Surveys: Pat On the Head, Or Beating Stick?

Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Service Desk

Help Desk surveys

Every now and again, an all-too-rare thing happens to me these days—I get great customer service!

More often than not, bad customer service can leave us even more agitated than the situation we needed assistance with.


It makes me wonder—do we, as IT Service Management professionals, value excellent service more in spite of the fact we work in the field of Service Delivery, or because of it?

Customer service should matter in all walks of life.

Bafflingly, this is not always the case.

But do we ever bother to praise good service, or even respond to surveys?

Although the ability to use an integrated survey function is integrated now into many tools, it is really not as simple as all that!

Less is More

Many organisations get the survey aspect totally wrong.

A prime example is my very own bank, which changed a perfectly good online banking scheme into a cartoon-iconed, effectively dumbed-down service that promptly crashed completely on its first day.

To add insult to injury, I was sent a survey, after having to resort to calling the telephone banking service after the umpteenth crash.

Making matters even worse, given my level of irritation, the survey went on for ever. There was an abundance of questions, and the longer the questions dragged on, the more cutting my responses became until I wrote a missive the size of War and Peace berating the whole system.

Did I ever get any feedback on my feedback – not surprisingly, no!

Why Do We Need to Do Surveys?

To paraphrase Mark Twain: There are lies, damned lies, and in the ITSM world, there are metrics!

But it is equally important to get a feeling for softer metrics of how the support structure is working. And the best people to provide an opinion on whether the service has been good is from the end users themselves.

Targeting Your End User

After-call survey

Please raise your hands if you’ve ever declined to stay on the phone for an after call survey. I know I have.

There is no denying that prompting a caller for an immediate survey means that the user experience is still recent in their minds (unless they have the memory recall of a goldfish!)

But I have always felt uncomfortable with this approach as it feels contrived and sometimes pressured, as quite often you are talking with the person reading out a script of questions about their service to you.

Telephone survey specifically targeted

As with the after-call survey, there is the element of getting an immediate response, and if it is targeted to a specific event or incident, then the feedback is much more focussed to a specific area of improvement.

The disadvantages, however, are that the call may well catch the user at an inopportune time, and perhaps they will be reluctant to provide a call-back time.

Interviews

Perhaps this is a great example of where the ITIL books give you an option of best practice, but either as a consumer of a specific support desk or even as a normal end user outside of wok, I have never had an interview regarding customer service!

The only circumstances I can see this even remotely working, is during the set-up of a brand new desk, and even then, in my own experience it has been largely done over the telephone.

Electronic surveys

This is by far the most common form of a survey that we see, but it always strikes me with a touch of irony that it is probably the most detached method of survey.

One of the most effective surveys was one sent to me by a company after I had to contact them for a replacement.

Why was it so effective?

Help Desk surveys – good or bad?

It actually acknowledged that the customer’s time was precious and just asked ONE question.

That was it, just one question.

Of course, key to this approach is providing an option to add additional comments.

In this case, the customer service was prompt, speedy and very courteous, but the courier service left a lot to be desired.

The use of a single question is not a completely unique approach, though.

At the recent itSMF Service Desk and SLM Seminar in the UK, Greg Stonehouse (Nottingham Trent University) shared how the IT department had totally changed their approach to defining a service catalogue.

But as part of their implementation, they make the customer confirm the service call is resolved, and put in front of that a single question: Was the service good or bad?

Compare and contrast long-winded surveys with never-ending options and worse still, mandatory free text boxes that will not let you move until you have said your piece.

I can no longer count the surveys where I have given up halfway through, even if I have the chance of winning some piece of gadgetry!

Sounds Easy?

Greg Stonehouse made a point of saying that if they ever got a “bad” response, the service desk manager would be on the telephone immediately to understand why.

Indeed in a recent survey where I gave frank feedback about a company’s use of telephone after-service surveys, I was actively sought and contacted by a senior member of the customer support team. So it can work.

And there is more to surveys than just asking touchy-feely questions.

Proper use of surveys lends itself to a detailed knowledge of statistics and historical (and sometimes maybe even hysterical) reporting.

I will admit, I used to call one help desk the “Un-Help Desk” largely because of the stamina involved in a level one call.

Unless I had a good hour at hand at the very least, I would avoid calling them until my laptop had actually died, and I could guarantee a visit to a local site and hand it physically over to an engineer!

But looking back now, I would have skewed all the surveys, because I waited until there was no option but for local help, and thus had relatively good feedback, but probably at a huge loss of productivity.

My Top 5 Thoughts on Survey

  • Go for between 1 and 5 questions—the fewer the better. Do not forget, this is a soft survey to help support more detailed metrics that look at much more than just the happiness of end users.
  • If you are going to follow up (especially less-than-favourable feedback), do so with someone who is prepared to listen and, more importantly, able to outline what actions will be taken, and then follow up again.
  • Teams and service management need to understand that the purpose of a survey is not to provide management with a beating-stick. At the heart of this should be Continual Service Improvement.
  • Keep it simple. Just because tools can provide you with a dazzling array of options, you really do not have to use them all.
  • Praise good service—I cannot stress this enough. Everyone loves a good moan, but how many people actually take the time to say they were satisfied or impressed with how their issue was solved.

There are no right or wrong answers here—businesses and organisations will try and garner as much information as they can to help improve (their perception of?) their service.

These are my thoughts, as an ITSM Deployment Architect and also as an end user and avid consumer.

What are your thoughts?


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Day 2 at SITS13: It’s Been a Whirlwind

Posted by on April 25, 2013 in SysAid
We have been very busy here at SITS13…and I do mean VERY BUSY! Oded Moshe at SITS13
To be perfectly honest, I had every intention of attending some educational sessions during the conference, but our booth has been rocking like crazy and we had crowds of IT experts, Service Desk Managers, IT Directors and more flocking our way—all wanting to learn more about our offering and take photos with Joe The IT Guy. Oded Moshe with Joe The IT Guy at SITS13 I was happy to speak to the dozens of SysAid customers that attended the show and stopped by to say hi and pick up one of our freebies. The small mushroom desk hoovers were a real hit! Giveaways at Service Desk and IT Support Show Proud to see SysAid doing their part to make the world a cleaner place :). I just came out of my session Benchmarking & BI: Sat Navs for Service Desks. With all the amazing speakers at SITS13, luckily, I had a full house. The audience was very intrigued by the subject and was not shy about asking questions. They are actually stopping by our booth right now while I am writing this blog because they want to learn more about our benchmarking program and how to utilize the SysAid Community for best practices and tips to improve. What a wonderful feeling – thanks to everyone who came to listen and learn! During my presentation, I showed how BI and Benchmarking tools help guide the Service Desk and make sure it improves the service you deliver. The presentation and examples will be available in a dedicated blog that I will write shortly, so stay tuned. Here's just 2 of the slides: Oded's presentation at Service Desk and IT Support Show   Oded Presentation IT Service Desk and Support Show There are a lot of vendors showing here today. We are actually getting great inputs on SysAid from people who have seen quite a few solutions in the past 48 hours. They like what they see and I believe we will soon see them join the family as new SysAiders! I also had the chance to spend some time with top Forrester analyst Stephan Mann. Although we spoke over the phone many times before and met a few months back in his office, it was great to meet here at SITS13 in a less formal manner. By the way, Stephen is a top blogger – see what he wrote about IT Service Management Benchmarks. Looking forward to seeing you all at SITS14!
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SITS13 in London – Day 1 on the Exhibition Floor

Posted by on April 23, 2013 in SysAid
At 9 o’clock this morning we were like busy bees taking care of all the last minute details for our booth opening at SITS13. We really didn’t know what to expect. SysAid team at the Service Desk and IT Support Show
And then – BOOM – at 9:30 on the dot, it started. Masses of people entered the exhibition floor and came by our booth (it's Booth 519, in case you haven't already come by) to check out all the things we’ve prepared for you. What a great feeling! Tons of people visited our booth today. Apparently our little hoover vacuum cleaners are a big hit, and who doesn't love green M&Ms to munch on? But really, the star at our booth has got to be Joe the IT Guy. We had people lining up to take a photo with him, including IT analyst from Forrester, Stephen Mann and Ros Satar of course. Check out some of the photos below, and see many more on Facebook – please go and tag yourselves there! Posing with Joe The IT Guy at Service Desk and IT Support Show With so many people asking to see a demo, David and David were talking until their mouths were dry. But all the people are so amazing, it’s terrific. If you want a demo and didn’t get one, please let us know. SysAid Demos at Service Desk and IT Support Show SysAid Demos at IT Service Desk and Support Show Thanks to all who came by today. We are excited for tonight's Meetup at Courtfield Pub. If you haven’t got a voucher yet, please stop by. And don’t forget – we are raffling off an Xbox Kinect as well as an Apple TV. You got to be in it to win it :). Sarah and Joe at the IT Service Desk and Support Show Tomorrow is another day…hope you plan to attend Oded Moshe’s seminar at Theater 2 at 11:40am - Benchmarking & BI: Sat Navs for Service Desks. Cheers!
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Mind the Gap

Posted by on April 22, 2013 in SysAid
The weather has been perfect here in London, sunshine all day, every day! We are all here in Earls Court, CEO Sarah Lahav, Oded Moshe, Ilan Hertz, Elana Katzor (that's me), David Zargoski, David Freeman, and of course, Joe the IT Guy! Might I add, Joe is MORE handsome in person :) Joe getting ready for Service Desk and IT Support Show
We walked down glamorous Regents St. and bought our raffle prizes: the Apple TV and Xbox (with some games!) at the world’s largest toy store, Hamelys, a full seven floors of pure fun, toys, and games! We also made sure to pick up some green M&Ms for our booth—so don’t forget to come by and take a handful. Green M&Ms at the Service Desk and IT Support Show Our booth #519 is also taking shape, and it is looking great. You will soon see how our design represents SysAid, and how it includes all the essentials in one service desk. As we prepare to meet IT professionals from all around the world, we wanted to discover similarities and differences of everyone by asking you all: What are your essentials for your Service Desk? Now, we are off to meet our fabulous customers from the company Oasis located right here in London. Will post pictures of their offices soon! Preparing SysAid booth for the Service Desk and IT Support Show Even though Frank Sinatra said its usually “a foggy day in London town”, we have yet to see one... Cheers!
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Internal Customer Service – Is It Really So Important?

Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Service Desk
I think all of us, as consumers, can easily understand the value of good customer service, and I mean external customer service to the customer. But did you ever think about how important and valuable good internal services can be? Whenever and wherever we travel (by plane, train, or other) , or go shopping, whether it be online or in the physical stores (yes, they still exist people!) – we are consumers and we understand the concept of service and the level we should expect….and it's definitely not the kind of service musician Dave Carroll found on a major American airline:

United Breaks Guitars


What happens to us as employees? When we come to work we understand that we should be provided with satisfactory working facilities and if something goes wrong, we understand that we can and should push to get it resolved. However, the effort invested in getting our issues resolved results in loss of working hours from the person who needs the service and the person who has to give the service. The time being spent on phone calls, emails, and the like, could be very time-consuming. Let's take a moment and look at what SERVICE means. There are 4 main principles:
  • Professionalism
  • Quick response time
  • Transparency of information
  • And always work with empathy and a smile
Whether you are the one providing the internal service inside your organization or not, always think of yourself as a customer. If the service you receive from any department (whether it’s Human Resources, Accounting, etc.) will be based on the principles above, wouldn’t you be pleased? Think about increasing the use of your Service Desk within your organization. A good service desk system is not only for the IT department anymore; it can be a resource for all departments within an organization—helping to avoid loss of time and frustrations. Say, for example, you need service on your company car. You send an email to the person in charge, the very same person who receives dozens of emails a day and simply doesn’t have time to go through his/her Inbox. You then try calling and leaving messages but again – no response. What if your organization’s service desk allowed you to open a ticket about your issue and assign it to the person in charge of the company cars? Wouldn’t this free up your time? Wouldn’t this also be a relief for the person providing the service as they won’t be bombarded with emails and phone calls? With a ticketing system in place, one that is clearly defined and audited, you can be sure that your issue/request will be taken care of, and you are kept in the loop by the sharing of information. Now who wants to join me in making a video called "The IT Guy Wiped My iPhone and Returned It To the Manufacturer Default!" I'm sure it'll go viral :-).
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Is My Level of ITIL Better Than Yours?

Posted by on April 11, 2013 in ITIL
I only ask, because the other day I spotted a forum where a keen, recently Foundation-certified person was handed a short sharp rebuke, for asking if he could include the official logo on his résumé to show off his new skill. His chastiser was a Red-Badge old-salt who brought up the fact that this poor person was one of hundreds of thousands marching out of courses with their new certificate. ITIL Foundation

Was it Better in the Good Old "Red-Badge" Days?

In ITIL® v2, a red lapel pin was awarded to those candidates who passed the Service Support and Service Delivery exams. At the time, this was the highest qualification before the introduction of ITIL V3 and very highly rated.

So What Changed?

The ITIL books basically got a bit of a face-lift and were split into 5 books and the exam structure changed. People still started with Foundation, but perhaps it was deemed to be a little easier to pass. Let's be honest – Foundation gives you the low-down on the terminology and the basics, and for many is a tick in the box within their organisation to show you can understand the terminology and concepts. This is no bad thing – it is a good start to have your support teams all singing from the same song sheet, and helps them to understand what your ITIL/ITSM Strategy may be, further down the line. And I can even forgive the poor unfortunate who, filled with a sense of missionary zeal at entering this august institution, perhaps got a little carried away. The realities in this scenario were that the ITIL logo is copyrighted property, and as such cannot be displayed by an individual on something like a CV (résumé). Alas the rudeness of the response took away the small nugget of truth, that experience will trounce qualifications every time.

So What if He Was One of Hundreds and Thousands?

For many people, this is their first step on the path of ITIL and its place in the world of ITSM deployments. Again, let's be honest – many will just stop at this point, and tick along in their organisations, and that is fine.

There Is No Guarantee of a Better Job with More Certification

This is very true. I sometimes find myself baffled when I see people on the various LinkedIn discussions celebrating a pass at one of the higher Intermediate exams, and then following it up by asking what they can do with this new certificate/badge?

Is ITIL Going Out of Fashion?

I was asked recently – why do press give ITIL such a bad name? Is it because new cool-kid stuff like DevOps is thumbing its nose at our established processes? Or is it because ITIL is now mature, and established? The truth is – ITIL Qualifications are still racking up, worldwide. The Cabinet Office recently released the ITIL Marketing Number for all exams sat in January to 2012. Last year 263,203 people sat the Foundation exam alone – the majority of them in Asia (84,542 - 91% pass rate) and Europe (86,835 - 90% pass rate). So Why is ITIL Still So Popular? Let's go back and look at an organisation's point of view. They invest in some kind of IT Service Management tool, probably initially to support the underlying IT infrastructure that supports their business. They log incidents, problems, changes and so on, and expect their support teams to be able to support them. We all know that ITILprovides people with a common terminology. As tools evolve, ITSM vendors also realise that the products have to offer a depth of customization to talk the language of the business. At the time I sat my Foundation exam, I had been working on ITSM-related deployments and projects for 6 years. I understood the concepts, I worked with heads of client’s businesses to translate IT-speak to business speak, but what I lacked was a single sheet of paper to say I knew all that stuff. Most people who will work directly in an ITSM/ ITIL environment will be put forward for an ITIL Foundation course. A few may have to take it on their own time, perhaps to try and change their career path. Some who were unlucky enough to have been made redundant may choose to do so, to try and give their résumé a boost.

What About That Résumé?

Every week I get all manner of job requests from the many agencies I signed up with, offering me jobs that have almost nothing to do with my skills and experience. Why? Because the automated key word searches trawl through the words I sweated over to make them look just right and picked up the word (and symbol) ITIL. It would only be when I went to apply for a role that wanted ITIL and PRINCE2®, and knowledge of Agile, and… and … and… that they would know I lacked the all round experience.

How to Rise Above the Crowd

If people choose, or organisations pay, the next logical step is to get a deeper grounding via the Intermediate exams. Looking at the Intermediate numbers, they are obviously less, but again Europe and Asia lead the way worldwide. The most popular option is Service Operation, which makes sense – it is probably the most natural progression for those involved in day-to-day IT Service Management. As I gear up to take my first Intermediate exam – let me offer a retrospective word of advice to the enthusiastic Foundation certificate owner. Take a look at the industry – browse job sites in your region and look to see how many roles there are for Foundation, versus the higher qualifications. Then have a good look at the descriptions – is this something you would like to do for a living? More importantly, look at what you do now. What can you do with the knowledge you have now to build up that even more important skill of applying all the new stuff you have learned? Because it is not about the version of ITIL you qualified with, it is how you develop your experience that makes you stand out from the crowd.

ITIL Marketing Numbers for All Exams Sat in January to December 2012

Source: ITIL Marketing Report, Official ITIL Accreditor

Foundation

Foundation
Total Number of Candidates 263,203
% Pass Rate 90

ITIL Intermediate by Product

Intermediate – Service Lifecycle Intermediate – Service Capability
SS SD ST CSI SO SOA RCV PPO OSA MALC
Total Number of Candidates 5485 5836 6902 6154 9159 4422 5747 3370 6888 5659
% Pass Rate 83 80 75 83 75 76 76 78 82 66

ITIL Intermediate by Region

Africa C America & WI North America South America Antarctica Asia Europe Oceania
Total Number of Candidates 8521 3158 56,005 14,504 0 84,542 86,835 9556
% Pass Rate 82 80 90 85 91 90 92

ITIL Intermediate by Region (All Modules)

Africa C America & WI North America South America Antarctica Asia Europe Oceania
Total Number of Candidates 2098 395 12,508 1410 0 13,499 27,929 1746
% Pass Rate 66 62 74 72 83 78 79

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Come and Meet Us Face-to-Face at the Service Desk Show, 23-24 April in London

Posted by on April 3, 2013 in SysAid
Meet SysAid at the Service Desk and IT Support Show Here at SysAid we are in the midst of preparations for the Service Desk & IT Support Show (SITS13) which will be in London's Earls Court. We are thrilled to meet our customers and all the IT professionals who will attend the show. So what are we planning to do there? So much!
First of all, we will be in Booth 519, where you will meet two SysAid experts both called David (we decided to make it easy on everyone to remember their names :-). David & David will show you around SysAid and give you a live tour of all the essentials that come packaged with our service desk. Do you have deeper technical questions? You will have an option to ask Oded our VP Products directly. Feel free to also ask him about SysAid future plans because we are heading forward in full speed. While you are there, be sure not to miss Oded’s presentation on the 24th of April, 11:40am–12:20pm, Theater 2: Benchmarking & BI – Sat Navs for Service Desks. Oded is an experienced speaker and this new lecture he is preparing promises to be very interesting, educational, and eye-opening for sure! We will also be happy for you to have a chat with Sarah, our SysAid CEO, who will be with us at the show. She loves talking and chatting about IT, about SysAid, and about life in general. When you feel you will need a bit of a break from the show, come over to our booth and blow off some steam with an Xbox Kinect game. Hey, you might even be taking one home if you win one of our raffles. Just leave your details and you can win an Xbox Kinect, or an Apple TV. If you won’t be going home with one of these prizes, don’t worry, we won’t leave you empty handed—Elana, our Marcom Manager, or myself will give you one of our cool giveaways. Finally – let us buy you a drink at our customer SysAid Meet Up on Tuesday, April 23rd, 19:00, at a pub just a 2-minute walk from Earls Court. Not a customer yet? No worries, we will be happy to see you there as well. All you need to do is fill out this form and we will keep a drink voucher for you at the booth or at the pub itself. I hope you are as excited as we are, and really hope you pop over and say hi, whether you are a customer or whether you just want to check us out. It will be great to see you there. Get Your Free Drink Voucher!
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10 Tips to Improve Your Google Apps Experience

Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Cloud
How to Improve Your Google Apps After reading Oded Moshe’s post Migrating Exchange to Google Apps: This is My Story, I thought it would be nice to follow up with a post covering some cool stuff that I learned after my company switched from MS Exchange to Google Apps. Here are my 10 tips to making your work with Google Apps more interesting and efficient:
1. Use Chrome. It has more advantages than any other browser for Gmail. Keep it all in the family, so to speak. 2. Use Gmail and Calendar as pinned tabs: open 2 tabs, one Gmail and one Calendar, right-click on each and select Pin tab). This way Chrome will remember these tabs next time you open it. 3. Set pop-up notifications, like you had in MS Outlook, for each new email message. You can get these notifications by going to Settings General (tab) → Desktop Notifications, and then select the radio button for New mail notifications on. Don’t forget to click the Save Changes button (this applies to all the Settings). 4. Also as in Outlook, you can set a preview window for all email messages. Just go to SettingsLabs (tab). Find the Preview Pane lab and enable it. 5. A really great little feature I found in the Google Labs gives you the option to call back an email (undo) after you already hit “Send”. Tell the truth – how many times did you hit the Send button too soon? Maybe you included your boss in an email that he/she was not supposed to see?! Maybe you forgot to attach your document, etc. Just go to SettingsLabs (tab), find the Undo Send lab and enable it. This gives you a few seconds to regret your action. 6. If you want, you can have the number of unread messages appear on at the top of your screen next to the Gmail icon on your tab (like notifications in Facebook): Improve Your Google Apps, Tip 6 Enable this under SettingsLabs (tab) → Unread message icon. 7. An image can be embedded in a message body by simply copying/pasting it inside your email message. You don’t have to send images/screeenshots as attachments. Note that this only works in Chrome (at least from what I tested, which included Firefox and IE). 8. If you don't want Gmail to group your messages (i.e. to behave like in Outlook), turn it off under SettingsGeneral (tab) → Conversation View. 9. One cool Gmail extension I found is called: Attachment Icons - https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/cidllnohapeehemflbkphggicjjhideg. For emails with attachments, this extension replaces the default paper clip icon with the relevant icon for the specific type of attachment, as seen below: Improve Your Google Apps, Tip 9 10. Another useful Gmail extension is for adding web content and/or browser images to Google Drive with a single click - https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/attachment-icons-for-gmai/johdeoloijidhejmalfkpchbihbiamph, as shown in the screenshot below. Improving Google Drive Know of any more really great Gmail/Google Apps tips? Please let me know in the comments below!
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