Event the First: The Party
When normal people think of an event, they envision some type of significant gathering of like-minded people drawn to promises of being provided something they all want to experience. This might be anything from a wedding to a small town festival to the release of the latest iPhone to the return of decent Star Wars movies. Awareness of events of great interest have us immediately imagining, planning, hoping or even scheming to be a part of them. Others may be seen as interesting, but not so exciting as to trigger such frenzied efforts to respond to them. Still others will prompt us to investigate them in more detail, to see if they represent something worthy of further interest, while others will garner no more than a passing glance, being of no real concern (like a Carly Fiorina rally).
But for those of us in the ITSM space, the term ‘event’ has another definition that seems much less interesting than that of the normal world, typically aligned with the material ITIL® outlines in its Event Management section. Essentially, it offers that an event is a change of state anywhere in a managed environment that is noteworthy for the management of services and the CIs that support them. This is my own paraphrase; they use the word ‘significance’, which I don’t use because I believe it steers people directly into incident thinking – which it should not, as most events are not incidents (if they were, a business would not be long for this world). But let’s face it; Incident gets the star billing, and Event is typically relegated to mentions similar to ‘Thug Number 2’ when the credits roll (just as Change has always overshadowed Config).
In truth, event management (along with, again, SACM) should be the process nominated for best supporting actor, since in reality it is part of the groundwork for the one Main Event we all need to be a part of: The Big Fat Customer Satisfaction Party!
The never-ending party
It’s the party that you never want to see end! Whether you realize it or not, if you are in business you have been hosting it every day – and how much fun your ‘guests’ are having has a direct connection to how well you plan and execute all the ongoing events. The intent of this treatise is to show that to do that successfully, you need to be aware of how both definitions of an event (‘normal’ world and ITSM) effect each other. IT event management is not just about deciding the events to generate, capture, monitor and respond to, but also determining how doing these things will impact your customer and your ability to deliver service to them.
This is why the main title of this multi-part article is, well, what it is – because the business of providing service is in fact dependent on the interaction of events of different types, which hopefully work in concert. You may be thinking I started at the point of the chain that seems like the pinnacle, and in some ways it is, since satisfying your customers is (hopefully) a main goal. At the same time, customer feedback (what they think about the ‘party’) also needs to be a part of your event management efforts, to ensure you are adjusting your events (and responses to them) to meet changing needs and expectations. This basically means that you are seeking to establish an ongoing symbiotic relationship which satisfies both the requirements of delivering IT and what the business expects IT to enable (bet that almost sounds familiar).
IT and the Business as organisms
Yes, I am aware that symbiosis is something most have not heard mentioned since early science class, and then only when biologic organisms are involved, so you may not think of it in this application. But to me, the definition (which has some variation – more on that later) – “the living together of two dissimilar organisms in more or less intimate association or close union” – is quite accurate, if one considers IT and the business/customer to be the organisms.
I don’t believe that anyone that is involved in ITSM will have any trouble visualizing IT and ‘the business’ this way – certainly the dissimilar views of the world these entities often live by have been discussed ad nauseam in publications for decades, as well as the idea that both need to find ways to work together for mutual benefit.
And that is where event management becomes key. In order for this relationship (and others supporting this one) to succeed, the stream of events and responses have to be planned, configured and executed in ways that are efficient and effective (IT), and also provide required outcomes (for the business).
Let’s illustrate one possible set of these relationships (because there isn’t just one fixed set, of course):
Here, I am showing that Event Management has a symbiotic relationship with:
- Service Level Management, to ensure events and responses can meet agreements
- Av/Cap Management, to set thresholds, etc. for events that allow for proper responses
- Configuration Management, to compare/verify events represent actual states
- Incident Management, to ensure events accurately represent conditions that need Incident response
The main event
All of these support the Main Event (service delivery that satisfies customer wants and needs), and keep the party enjoyable. Each of these relationships needs to be balanced in a way that allows both sides to benefit (which is what purists in the science area maintain symbiosis should be; others however see variations which again translate nicely into business reality, and I will touch on those in upcoming sessions).
So why did I seemingly start by describing where we want to end up? Because for a lot of people, a party starts the day of the party, with most thought going toward what to wear and what time to best arrive. For those hosting the party however, planning and preparation can (and frequently should) start weeks or months beforehand – but often does not. I will provide details on this soon, with the next installation, Event the Second: The Plan.
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