10 minutes with… IT Governance Publishing author Suzanne D. Van Hove

In this week’s interview, we chat with Suzanne Van Hove, author of Pragmatic Application of Service Management and recent winner of the itSMF Lifetime Achievement Award.

ITGP:  Hi Suzanne, it’s nice to meet you.  Let’s talk about your book.  I think it’s fair to say that IT Service Management is not an exact science, and there has been a need for a more holistic approach to IT Service management for a while. Is this what drove you to write the book?

SVH: I think Pragmatic Application of Service Management is a very timely book in light of the developments in Service Management – the update of COBIT, the sale of ITIL®, the reorganization of the ISO/IEC 20000 workgroups. More and more information is bombarding the practitioner and rarely is it focused on the breadth of Service Management. This book truly came from a discussion with IT Governance Publishing and a request to show how COBIT, ISO20K and ITIL relate. Well, I knew I could find the COBIT expert in Mark Thomas and with our diversity (and similarity) in background, we could create the handbook on how to capitalize on these frameworks and standards. We both are known as “cut-to-the-chase” people and the book delivers just that – what you need to know and quickly get you to the point.

ITGP: Where did you begin your career in IT? You started out on a different path, I believe.

SVH: This is a “long” story as my career began in education that culminated with a doctorate in Sport Psychology. I ended up working with numerous athletes for performance enhancement but long-term engagements at universities just never seemed to work out. So, taking my education background, I began writing curriculum for HP-UX and found that I understand the principles of UNIX and could teach them well. Shortly thereafter, I discovered Service Management, which was something I could “own” without the datacentre experience. The degree in Sport Psychology has been quite handy as IT folks are performers under stress and the techniques deployed with athletes work quite nicely in the technology world and as they say, the rest is history!

ITGP: What do you think someone starting out in IT today will need for a successful career?

SVH: While technical skills will always be needed, technology is only going to become more and more ingrained into how we live. Therefore, ensure the “soft” skills are developed. Often, IT is not seen as a “people-oriented” career and nothing could be further from the truth and to prove that point, think about how you interact with your environment. What doesn’t depend on technology? We have to understand that the concept of “service” is not solely technology-based and to be effective service providers, we need good management/business skills and we need to understand capabilities to be successful.

ITGP:  Absolutely!It can be quite easy to forget that it’s not the technology that cares about outcomes, it’s the people who have to use the technology!

ITGP: What would you say is your favourite part of your job?

SVH: The best part of my “job” is that it really isn’t a job – I get to engage with people – teaching and coaching to improve performance. Service Management has been an adventure – the people I’ve met, worked with, the places I’ve seen – I don’t think anyone could be as “lucky” as I am. I only hope that I’ve given back as much as I gained, encouraged others to “think differently” – challenge the status quo by capturing the new developments. Discovering something new and the joy of learning is what drives me in each new project and I hope it becomes a shared enthusiasm.

ITGP: It’s a great motivation – and you’re obviously someone who likes to try something new. So, what are you working on now?

SVH: My current projects focus in the International Standards community as well as the development of capabilities. I’m engaged with a fascinating framework – the Capability Maturity Framework – and really like what it delivers. I’m also exceptionally fortunate to be part of the Master’s Degree program at Kelley School of Business at Indiana University where Service Management is a required component of the core curriculum. Working with the students has really solidified my view that we will be well-taken care of in the future — their talent, understanding and application of the service management concepts is phenomenal!

ITGP:  That’s good to hear! Passing on your knowledge and experience and seeing it come to fruition must be one of the most rewarding things that anyone can do.  Well, that about wraps it up. Thanks again for your time today.

SVH:  Cheers.

Suzanne’s book Pragmatic Application of Service Management is now available from all good booksellers. Download a free sample from the IT Governance website.