Friday, 25 January 2013

The Keyword in Service Management is “Service”

What can we do to improve the customer experience?

Despite which processes you have and whether or not you utilize them or the maturity of them is low or high, all the customer really only wants to have a great service experience. Actually work with your customer to find out what their current experience is. Sounds simple enough but for the most part we need a method to survey or poll our customers to see where the gaps in our services really are

There are several ways in which this can be done, either through a survey, some type of Social IT, actual customer’s interactions, or a combination of these. It’s also important to be specific; the whole purpose is to get feedback from the customers and not to assume what the issues are.

Once you have identified the areas for improvement you can organize them in a way which will show you the ones which have the highest impact as well as if there are any low hanging fruit in which you can pick off. Depending on the information you gather you may want to review them with the Business Stakeholders in your customer base if this applies to ensure that the right things are getting fixed. For example an area which gets the most response may be important to the end users but from a priority level may place second to a new business initiative. Once you have the business case put together you can take these to the IT Leadership for review this will allow you to get alignment on these improvements. While it may be the mandate of ITSM to improve quality of service and drive down the costs, alignment ensures that you are all going in the same direction towards customer satisfaction.

Keep in contact with your customers while these enhancements are underway. While many of these improvements are not going to happen overnight it is important that your customer base know that you have heard their suggestions and are working to improve the situation. Doing this will also allow you to improve the dialog for future improvements but also improve the engagement from the customer base on completing any “customer satisfaction survey” you undertake in the future. Remember this is not a one-time activity; this will be an ongoing activity which should improve the relationships between IT and the customer.

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Friday, 11 January 2013

Problem Management and the Wheel of Solutions

“Why is Problem Management important?” I was once asked. “We do a really good job of resolving Incidents quickly right now.”
While this may be true, and the business sees the Incident Management team as the stars who fixes issues, problem management is there to do the investigative work for the times that there is no quick solution or when we just want the issues to go away permanently.

How many times have you heard this “….and as if by some divine intervention the issues was resolved!”  This comment while a mild exaggeration, has likely been thrown out in a post incident review at some point in an effort to cut the tension when no root cause has been identified. While this comment may mentally take you to a place where you are expecting the seas to part, in reality it is likely that this is where the incident investigation will end with a closure code of “closed – not able to reproduce” or something of that nature. This is a great place for Problem Management to take over.

Another situation where you may want to employ Problem Management may be when it is late in the evening and many support resources are on a conference bridge attempting to determine how to resolve a particular incident. Your “IT Comic” says “we need to spin the wheel of solutions.” This is where having a solid known error database or some type of repository which has previous solutions would help improve resolution rates. Having problem coupled with a Knowledge Management strategy can show maximum value for improving service delivery..

While most organizations are quick to adopt incident management mainly due to its visibility and maturity among the service management best practices, Problem Management should not be over looked. You may not need to have a formalized process rolled out today but even putting in a few functions of the problem process you can start the journey to improvement.

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year's CMS

New Year’s resolutions typically are about kicking a bad habit, or self-improvement of some sort. Generally this has to do with a personal goal of some type, so why not think about what you can do to improve you work environment in some capacity, after all you spend a good chunk of time in the workplace so why should your improvement journey end there?

Where to start? This is a good question without a simple answer. Everyone will have a different perspective on what might be the best place to start. For me right now since it is the New Year, I have decided to take a closer look at the Configuration Management System (CMS) that I am currently working with.

I know what you are thinking, as of late this is the farthest thing from a “buzz word”. It’s not the “cloud” or “BYOD”. But let’s take things back to fundamentals. It is the start of another calendar year and I am looking to report against last year’s performance. While my data is accurate the way that I need to report against it is not as easy as it could be. I find it time consuming and more laborious than it needs to be. Part of the issue lies in the way that my data is recorded and updated. My current CMS has some limitations, not because of the tool I am using; rather as a result of the way I track the configuration items. As a start I have identified where the gaps are in my maturity model and I can make a list of action items for the improvement cycle.  

The first step will be to “market” the idea to my team. I am going to keep this as simple as possible so that it is clear as to what activities we will (and won’t be undertaking) as well as what benefits we will see and when. At the moment I don’t have a project budget, or resources available to work on this initiative so we need to ensure that the stakeholders I discuss this with understand that the improvement efforts take away work from later activities.

First I have to determine the scope. I have decided to use only business critical services as the start, with underlying infrastructure as it applies. By using services I am looking at this from the “top dowm” from the business perspective.

Second I need to determine where the information comes from. Is the information currently  in spreadsheets or can it be obtained through discovery in a system we already own?

The third step is identifying how these items relate to one another. Where applicable a tool you may own has the ability to relate these items together in your ticketing system

Lastly we will need to ensure that there is a process for loading the information into the CMS as well as keeping it updated. Much like the New Year diet, it is easy to shed a couple of pounds but more difficult to keep it up.

Keeping things as simple as possible by starting small with key items and building on the CMS as you go should ensure success. It is important to note that every organization is different, and the level of which you implement the CMS may differ.  No matter if you have a small implementation or a large one, the end result will allow for better root cause identification, mapping of services and impact analysis to name a few.

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