Monday, 27 January 2014

Score a Service Management Touchdown through Incidents

Incidents will happen; this is the unfortunate reality. The key is to manage them effectively and wherever possible to avoid them from happening in the first place. Since it is almost Super Bowl time I thought it was almost fitting to use the example of a football team (yes, American football is played with our hands). The player who is responsible for facilitating and coordinates the plays on the field is the quarterback (QB). Their function is to move the football towards the end zone (business outcome) more times than the other teams (your competition) to win the game. During the course of the game they will have to adjust for setbacks such as fumbles, interceptions etc.

Think about your current service management organization. Does it have a centralized incident “player” like the QB? Or is this role managed by your operations teams when incidents occur? How this is done is not nearly as important as the perceptions around the Incident process. Quite often the resolution of incidents is met with acclaim for the "team who has restored service” (use booming voice over). People often congratulate the firefighter, but think of it this way, if the fire department was required to come out to put out a fire 3 times in a month people would start to wonder what was going on. The same is true for your services.

Whoever is quarterbacking your incident team should understand that the value is not necessarily as much in the resolution of incidents as it is in understanding the root cause. Granted root cause is obviously better managed through problem, but we all desire the best service possible. The challenge is that culturally we tend to reward where we “see” value. You might hear “last month we reduced incidents,” or “our Incident team helped facilitate a quick resolution on this issue”. While this is important we need to start building a capability to address the problems which are impacting our services.

A part of the game of football also includes a halftime. This is when there is a halftime show; people get more beer, and so on. The real purpose is to allow time for the teams to regroup in the locker room to review the game play in the first half. The coach will likely go over what went well and in some cases what didn't. Much like CSI, the team is always looking to improve their performance going into the second half of the game. It is equally important to take times where your incidents can be reviewed by your either your service management or operational teams, or both. To improve on your delivery of services performing a review of this nature on a regular basis will better position your team to determine a strategy to reach your service management end zone.

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