How do today’s IT leaders design and build an operating model..

….which is flexible enough to cope with the demands of digital transformation and cloud adoption?

 

At some point in your career as an IT leader, you will be posed with the challenge of changing their organisations to meet the changing needs of your business, customers or a combination of both.

However, it’s not easy to find those with the right skills and experience who can think strategically and without the constraints of the current organisation, its culture, processes and tools.  With this mind, more organisations are turning to specialist organisations such as Syniad IT, to assist in this critical design and build activity.

As specialists in the development of IT Operating models, we are often engaged in the design and build of operating model components such as:

  • Process models
  • Tooling solutions
  • Governance
  • Metrics & Reporting
  • Support models

In this blog, we’ll explore each of these components, identifying the key elements and critical success factors of each.

This design and build work is typically driven by one or more of the following factors:

The need to change the Operating Model components is impacted by the business drivers, which in turn are derived by the business and IT strategy.

Here we explore each of the components in turn, looking at the key elements to each component and the critical success factors in getting them right.

 

Process Models

Key elements

  • Process flows, typically defined in the form of a cross functional diagram (see example below).
  • RACI charts to clearly define responsibilities. This method of defining responsibilities is often frowned upon as being over bureaucratic and time consuming, but there is real value in doing so.  We invite you to Talk About RACI models further, to understand why we think they’re so valuable.
  • Process interfaces clearly defined, typically through a combination of the process flow, RACI chart and other support process documentation.

Critical Success Factors

  • Buy-in and commitment to adhering to defined processes, through an effective adoption and training programme
  • Clearly defined scope, typically involving the common processes defined within IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), SIAM and the international standard in IT Service Management, ISO 2000.
  • All stakeholders involved in their development and review, particularly in multi-vendor models (e.g. Service Integration and Management (SIAM)). Take a look at our blog published by www.ITSM.Tools which describes how to build an effective SIAM process model and read our hi-fi inspired blog, Tune your SIAM Graphic Equaliser, to learn why a process model for SIAM needs to tuned to your specific needs.
  • Effective links between project delivery and business-as-usual support teams through the development of robust Transition Management processes. We explore this subject further in our blog, How Good is your Service Definition, Design and Transition?

 

Tooling solutions

Key elements

  • Clearly defined functional and non-functional requirements at the outset. Read how we help we helped a client define their tool requirements whilst transitioning to the SIAM model, for more information on our approach and the outcomes we achieved.
  • A transparent and disciplined tool selection process
  • An ongoing development process and approach to manage bugs and enhancements
  • Control over changes to the tool to maintain performance and integrity
  • An ongoing tooling roadmap to ensure the capabilities of the tool are exploited and the contractual impact understood
  • Ensure you get the scope right. Don’t get fixated with the IT Service Management (ITSM) tools to manage Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, the Configuration Management Database (CMDB), etc.  Getting the CMDB right in a SIAM model is difficult, but you can read our 11 Tips to build a CMDB in a SIAM model for some sound advice.
  • Think more broadly to incorporate the process areas and disciplines you want to automate. A good example of this is the Service Request Catalogue, and you can take a look at our 3 Steps to Building a Service Request Catalogue
  • Don’t forget Knowledge Management, as this is critical part of any operating model, as it makes it easier to “Shift left” your support overhead. Take a look at our 6 Steps to Knowledge Management Success to understand how to deliver real value through an effective Knowledge Management process.

Critical Success Factors

 

Governance

Key elements

  • Operational governance
  • Project governance
    This is normally achieved through the use of project management methodologies which are supported by a Project Management Office (PMO). However, in SIAM operating models, there is a risk that each service provider will bring their own project governance and PMO structures.  Take a look at Why your SIAM Operating Model needs a single PMO for more information on this.  Also, take a look at our 11 Actions to Your SIAM Programme Successful our Key Questions for SIAM programme blogs to get you off on the right foot.   Ensure your SIAM programme starts off on the right track and Get to Grips with SIAM in our blog which was originally written as an article for the IT Service Management Forum (ITSMF) in the UK.
  • Effective governance to manage ways of working, review effectiveness and deal with exceptions
  • Underpinning reporting must be effective to enable effective decision support
  • Overarching governance model based upon best practices (e.g. COBIT, VeriSM). It’s tempting to think of the various frameworks as mutually exclusive, but in fact, the opposite is true.  Read our blog, Don’t Throw Away your IT Operating Model to learn more.

Critical Success factors

  • Senior management support and buy-in
  • Governance model developed in concert with service providers and integrated with their governance cycles
  • Striking the balance between Agility and Control, such that the IT service is stable but highly responsive to changing business needs
  • Effective service targets, documented in Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or contracts. But, How Far Should you Take SLAs in SIAM world?  Read the blog to understand how to develop an effective SLA structure in a multi-vendor operating model.

 

Metrics and Reporting

Key elements

  • Regular reporting schedule
  • Reporting automated where possible from trusted data sources (single version of the truth)
  • Governance principles and policies
  • Appropriate monitoring, review and exception management meetings

Critical Success factors

  • Senior management support and buy-in
  • Governance model developed in concert with service providers and integrated with their governance cycles

 

Support Models

Key Elements

  • Development of an over-arching support model which spans the entire organisation, including any 3rd party service providers. This is particularly important in SIAM (Service Integration & Management operating models).  Take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 of our CIO’s guide to Service Integration & Management for more information on SIAM.
  • Creation of a Service Catalogue. The term Service Catalogue, can be confusing to many, as it means different things in different contexts.  You can read our blog, What are all these Service Catalogues and Why do we need them? for enlightenment.  Also, take a look how we helped a client develop a business case for service catalogue development
  • Describes approach to 1st, 2nd, 3rd line support, DevOps approaches, and service provider responsibilities
  • Service Level Agreements, Operating Level Agreement and Underpinning Contracts
  • Acts as the bedrock for new and changed services to develop service specific support models
  • Detailed organisation structure mapped to individual and team capabilities

Critical Success factors

  • Ability to flex support model over time, as new services and delivery approaches are adopted
  • Continual service improvement approach to bring new ideas and approaches in to the support model (e.g. VeriSM)

The Human factor

There is considerable complexity embedded into each of the items above, particularly when you factor in organisational, team and personal culture, as well as morale and relationships through the technology and business teams.  These factors can add significant “drag” to the speed at which change can be brought about.

With this in mind, Syniad IT can often speed up the pace of change by not only bringing the expertise and experience, but also the independence, methods, approaches and tactics required to bring about lasting organisational change.

 

Contact us to describe your specific challenges.  We offer free initial consultations without obligation.

 

How do you drive continual improvement in your organisation?

Through an effective programme of optimisation.

 

Our Optimisation service provides technology leaders with the opportunity to engage with our advisors who are highly skilled in bringing about transformational change.

Typically, we find ourselves involved in optimising one or a combination of the following areas

  • Process models
  • Tooling solutions
  • Governance
  • Metrics & Reporting
  • Support models
  • Organisation design
  • Cultural change

This optimisation work is typically driven by one or more of the following factors:

  • A programme of continual improvement aimed at driving out efficiency gains
  • Business strategy
  • Business growth
  • Sourcing strategy such as multi-vendor models (e.g. Service Integration & Management (SIAM)). You can read our CIO’s guide to Optimising SIAM , to learn how to go about creating a true end-to-end eco-system.
  • Cloud adoption
  • Digital Transformation
  • Changes to governance models, such as those as described in the VeriSM framework. You can read more about our views on VeriSM in our blog It’s time to stand up and take notice of VeriSM
  • Cost efficiency drivers

The basis for any improvement starts with an understanding of the current situation, which is where our Assessment service is useful.

Our Design + Build service is where we design and build the future state. But it is in the Optimisation service where the transformation occurs.

Process models

Process improvement is at the core of most improvement efforts.

The added complexity in today’s operating models, brought about by SIAM, cloud adoption and digital transformation, only serve to make process improvement more important, but also more challenging.

The end user experience of any process is vital.  See our 7 Tips to Optimise your Service Request Processes for Digital Transformation, to understand how improve the user’s most important interaction with technology; when they want something!

Our deep subject matter expertise means we work across the IT Service Management spectrum, but certain processes come up again and again.  Take a look at our 9 Tips to improve Hardware Asset Management processes to understand how to better control your IT assets, from order to provisioning and through to decommissioning.

Tooling solutions

As a ServiceNow consulting partner, we’re often engaged by ServiceNow clients to improve their ServiceNow toolset.  Our deep subject matter knowledge of IT Service Management and ServiceNow puts us in an ideal position to help.  You can read our advice to ensure your maximising your ServiceNow investment here, and how we helped a client to achieve process improvement and automate this in ServiceNow here.

In addition to our ServiceNow knowledge, we also work with all the major ITSM toolsets, such as BMC Remedy, Cherwell and Hornbill, amongst others.

Governance

Improving organisational governance is perhaps one of the most complex things to achieve, particularly given regulatory constraints and the deep seated organisational culture which are often present.

The complexity is magnified in multi-vendor, SIAM operating models.  You can read our 6 Steps to achieving SIAM collaboration, to learn more about how corporate governance which spans service providers can be improved.

Metrics & Reporting

Reporting is often an area which can be subject to “sprawl”, where the time effort involved in producing reports is far-outweighed by the value they achieve.  Take a look at our advice to prevent The Process of Reporting Taking Over Your Organisation

Support models

Optimising existing support models can involve a number of factors:

  • Support team structure, knowledge and working practices
  • Support hours and shift patterns
  • Third party support contracts, particularly in a multi-vendor SIAM operating model. Take a look at how we helped a global logistics provider move to a SIAM operating model, by design, building and implementing a new support model, processes and tooling.

How good is your service definition, design and transition?

This blog is prompted by a perpetual conversation about service definition.

If we have service management experts, service designers, service management consultants and service management teams, surely someone must know what constitutes a service!

To make matters worse, customers construct their own services using evermore complex supply chains which involve not only the traditional IT department, but also cloud provisioning (e.g. Azure, AWS) and direct partnerships with middleware and software-as-a-service providers, who provide platforms where business process is automation, and digital transformation become a reality that had previously been out of reach to many.

And still we hear the constant challenge of the need for a service design, the “service wrapper”, and service performance monitoring targets and reports.

So, against this backdrop it’s probably time for us to get a clear definition in our minds about what actually constitutes a service, so that we can do the service design, service transition and all the other development disciplines correctly first time.

Today’s project managers, technology managers and business change agents are being faced with the challenge of effective service definition as their services are often constituted with a mixture of commodity services such as cloud(E.G. AWS), as well as homegrown applications Systems and infrastructure components.

I’ve always defined the service as something which supports a business process, something with an outcome and something which is tangible by the business.  Of course, in a complex supply chain there will be many different perspectives on the service being provided, as the service providers themselves will perceive their element of the service as a service in its own right but it is in fact amalgamated with a number of other services to form a business outcome.

So how do you do in effective service design and how do you ensure that services transitioning from the project development world to the production environment to be supported in BAU are adequately documented and defined?

In my opinion, it all starts with an effective set of service design criteria. These would be constituted of the building blocks of a service as defined in best practice standards such as ITIL, and include things such as service requirements and outcomes relating to performance, availability, reliability, availability. As well as, other elements of a good service design such as disaster recovery/Continuity arrangements, capacity requirements and operability requirements.  Critically, these are not written by technology architects.  They are designed collaboratively with users, business sponsors, business process owners and technical support teams.

Most critically of all however is the desire to ensure that all services meet the required business outcomes, and this therefore requires outcomes to be documented in the first place and the outcomes to be measurable in order that they can be proved.

Hand-in-hand with the requirement for effective service design, comes the requirement for effective service transition.

In other words, ensuring that services not only operable supportable maintainable available etc, but the quality of these service elements can be assured by the life-support operation prior to the service transitioning from the development of our environment into BAU (business as usual).

A highly effective service design process will only be as effective as the service transition process which insures its quality.  The inverse is also true.

Defining what constitutes a service isn’t easy.  However, it should not be bypassed, nor should it be viewed as a “necessary evil” to appease a governance forum.  A set of service design principles should be seen as the touchstone of any service, in that it is constantly referred to, throughout the project lifecycle, especially at the point of transition.

How good are your service design and transition practices?  By far, this is the area where we are being asked to offer assistance to our customers, as the importance of service definition in today’s complex world becomes more evident.

6 Steps to Knowledge Management Success

We’ve been doing lots of assessment work lately.  We came up with the list below in one of our reports, so I thought I’d share it with you.

  • The Knowledge Management process needs an owner responsible for creating editing, updating and deleting knowledge content
  • Knowledge articles should be aimed at their audience; 1st line, 2nd line, 3rd line and End Users
  • It should be possible for users to submit feedback / corrections for existing knowledge articles
  • Knowledge Articles should be tagged with keywords, rather than filed into subject areas
  • A “smart” search facility, similar to Google should be used to interpret search terms and offer relevant results
  • An adoption and education programme should be used to ensure buy-in and commitment

An effective Knowledge Management process has a number of benefits:

  • Increase first time fix rate at the Service Desk
  • Aid the concept of Shift Left; moving resolution tasks from expensive, highly technical staff, to less expensive resources, or the user
  • Reduce resolution time for common issues
  • Reduce risk of errors during resolution of an issue

If you’d like to chat about the effectiveness of your Knowledge Management process, or any other aspect of your IT function, please do contact us

9 Tips to improve Hardware Asset Management Processes

Introduction

One of the key responsibilities placed upon IT departments is the provision of IT hardware to its users.  On the face of it, this seems like a fairly simple task, but it is one which is fraught with challenge and complexity.

In a recent engagement, we helped a client overcome some of the common challenges and in doing so we developed these top tips to help you improve your own hardware asset management processes and delight your users.

  • Give users single point of entry for new orders
    Having multiple forms, portals or ordering methods introduces an overhead in the processing and update of these various methods and can be confusing to the users. Have a single place, either an intranet site or an online form, where users can request IT hardware
  • Validate data entry at the time of ordering
    If you’re lucky enough to have an online portal, use the underlying technology to validate the user’s input, to ensure that orders have undergone a simple sense-check prior to submission. This is will reduce manual checking and improve order response times
  • Keep your request catalogue simple
    Develop a request catalogue which contains items which users can order. These should be sufficient for the user’s to be able to perform their jobs effectively, but not indulgent.  Critically, the items in the catalogue must be evaluated, tested and supportable by the technical support teams.  The more catalogue choices you have, the more complex the support requirements in terms of product knowledge, warranty maintenance and hardware build maintenance.
  • Automate business and technical approval
    I’ve written in the past about the need to automate business approval as much as possible. This is by far one of the biggest reasons why user requests get delayed and it’s a simple one to resolve, provided that each request type has a list of required business approvals (e.g. line manager, Head of Department, etc.) and technical approvals (e.g. Security Analyst, Database Administrator, etc.)
  • Develop a process and drive adherence to it
    There is a risk that different process inconsistencies can occur when processing orders for different customer groups, departments or order types. Develop a simple process and DO NOT DEVIATE FROM IT! A simple process will contain logging, approval, ordering, receipt, delivery and installation steps.
  • Set an entitlement policy – no exceptions
    In a similar vein, define who is entitled to which catalogue items and enforce this, either through restricting user’s to view only items to which they are entitled on the request portal, or by business approval rules. Making an exception on one occasion will undermine your process and exceptions can quickly become the norm as a result.
  • Develop a loan process
    When a user’s device needs to be repaired, you’ll be expected to provide a loan device whilst they wait for it to be returned. Keep a shelf stock of loan devices, each pre-built with the base build and ready for deployment.  These devices can be replenished on an ongoing basis as broken devices are repaired.
  • Use data integration to ease the burden of keying into multiple systems
    Inevitably, there are a number of systems involved in hardware ordering, for example, the asset / finance management system, ITSM tool for logging requests and the hardware supplier’s ordering system. There will be a need to duplicate data in some of these systems, but try to avoid manual re-keying of data which is highly time consuming and error-prone.  Use simple data integration approaches to reduce the need for manual rekeying of data, and reduce the risk of data entry errors.
  • Develop a robust Hardware Audit process
    Knowing who has what hardware should be a simple task, but it’s complicated by users and hardware assets which don’t tend to stay in one place. Perhaps the most traditional method of hardware auditing involves a manual discovery exercise, but this makes the assumption that everyone is in the right place, at the right time with their assets.  In most organisations, this just isn’t practical!  We’ve recently seen success with a mixture of passive and active RFID tags, which can report upon the last know location of an asset, within the confines of an area with suitable RFID infrastructure.  This approach makes audit far less time consuming and more accurate, but it is dependent upon the initial investment in RFID being in place.

Conclusion

Running an effective Hardware Asset Management process certainly isn’t simple.  We’ve attempted to address some of the common challenges above, but we’re happy to discuss specific challenges with our clients.  Every client is different, and the solutions developed need to be cognisant of the variety of complexity and objectives of every organisation.  Please contact us to discuss your specific problems.  We’d love to help!

It’s time to stand up and take notice of VeriSM

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Claire Agutter, lead author of VeriSM, a new service management approach.  The conversation was really informative, and I wanted to share some of the key learnings here, particularly as there seems to be a lot of speculation about VeriSM.

At a high level, if you’re a C-level executive and you haven’t heard of VeriSM, you really ought to be taking notice as it could be just the approach you need to revolutionise your digital transformation journey.

VeriSM was developed to provide organisations with guidance on how to deliver products and services to their customers and consumers.  It recognises the abundance of frameworks, practices and standards which are now prevalent in IT, such as DevOps, ITIL, Agile, Service Integration & Management (SIAM), and the advent of new delivery mechanisms such as cloud and the emergence of shadow IT.  It provides an overarching umbrella under which these frameworks can co-exist in today’s highly complex operating models.  Critically, it recognises that Digital Transformation involves more than just IT, it needs involvement from the all stakeholders, particularly those we have traditionally viewed as being “in the business”.

Adopting a different approach

Over the last 20 years, IT departments have sought to capture efficient working practices, and many of these have been embodied into best practice frameworks.  However, VeriSM takes this a step further.  It recognises that organisations must operate in a joined-up way, from idea conception, through to project delivery, handover to live and business-as-usual.  This would appear to take the service lifecycle approach described in ITIL v3 to its next logical evolution.  Rather than consider the respective viewpoints of either the business or the technology delivery organisation(s), it adopts a more holistic view, which I hope will drive organisations to move away from the traditional “Business” and “IT” departments, to mixed service development and delivery teams comprising traditional business and IT roles.

Who are the IFDC?

I also confronted Claire regarding the body behind VeriSM, the International Foundation for Digital Competencies (IFDC) an independent not-for-profit organisation which has coordinated the production of this latest set of guidance.  I’d heard that the IFDC board comprises mainly training providers and it has come in for criticism as a result of this, as some see it as a means of reinvigorating a flagging ITIL training market.  Having discussed this topic with Claire, I think that VeriSM will certainly help stimulate demand for training, but having better understood VeriSM’s content, I think that demand will come from organisations who are genuinely interested in transforming their service management approach through business process & digital transformation.  Training demand will be a welcome by-product, not the raison d’être of the framework.

The VeriSM approach

VeriSM is founded upon the development of a number of Service Management principles or values, which will be unique from one organisation to another.  Examples of these could be quality, risk management, security, speed of delivery.  These act as the guiding principles which can be used by product and service development teams who will work within those service management principles.  I really like this concept.  It moves organisations away from the trap of jumping on the latest management principle or fad, in favour of going back to first principles at the most senior levels of organisation, which can these be disseminated down to product delivery and service management teams.  I challenged Claire on the ability of today’s CxO population to undertake these “back to basics” reviews and we agreed that the failure to do this, at a time when the pace of change is so great, could be disastrous later down the line.

The VeriSM publication

I was really encouraged to hear that the authorship of the VeriSM publication comprised 70 authors and reviewers, drawn not only from training organisations, but also from consulting backgrounds, practitioners and toolset providers.

Whilst a draft table of contents has been produced, and an e-book is available in draft form, the hardcopy publication is due on 15th December. Claire is keen to point out that this is the introductory VeriSM publication.  Not only will the content evolve over time, but the publication is seen as the first step, which will be supported by more detailed content in the future.

Early adopters

In the meantime, there have been a number of early-adopter organisations who have stepped forward.  These are global multi-nationals from varying sectors, who are already bought in to the concept of defining service management principles and removing the organisational boundaries which sometimes exist between the business and IT, to form multi-disciplinary delivery teams who are equipped to undertake the transformational changes necessary to drive the future needs of the organisation.  This transformational change reaches further back in to the product development lifecycle than ITIL’s Service Design concepts, to service conception, where the service management principles above will drive product development approach and direction.

In conclusion, VeriSM promises a framework which is cognisant of the broad range of service management and delivery frameworks at the disposal of the average business leader.  It seeks to provide an umbrella and an overarching set of principles under which organisations can drive their transformational change agendas, whilst adopting the most appropriate mix of service management principles and frameworks to suit their needs.  I’m excited about the prospect of this and will get my order in for the book.  I’ll post a short review here once I’ve read it.

 

Lifting the lid on IT maturity assessment

When IT leaders the need for change in their organisation, they typically commission a review or process maturity assessment to better understand the issues and develop an improvement plan.  But not all process maturity assessment exercises are equal. 

What are we assessing?

Often, there is a need to assess a specific function or team.  For example, the Service Desk, Request Management or Change team.  Sometimes, the assessment is broader, covering numerous functions within an IT department.  Assessment may also cover a specific service, perhaps in readiness for a major change, such as the rollout of a new operating system, application or hardware.

Why?

Organisations commission an assessment for a number of reasons:

  • To prepare for a major programme such as a Digital Transformation programme. We run a workshop aimed at helping organisations prepare for Digital Transformation.
  • To prepare to move to a multi-vendor operating model, such as a Service Integration & Management (SIAM) approach
    We run a healthcheck workshop aimed at helping organisations plan, organise and deliver their SIAM programme.
  • To get an independent and objective view
  • To help confirm and bring order to what they already know
  • To provide assurance that the organisation is ready to support a major change programme
  • The reduce the complexity of issues by breaking them down into constituent parts
  • To uncover the causes of specific issues
  • To provide order and discipline to the presentation of issues
  • To collate findings into a single deliverable which can be used as a baseline
  • To provide impetus, direction and structure to improvement activities
  • To provide an improvement roadmap

How?

First, there needs to be a formal approach to the assessment with discrete phases, activities and deliverables.  Below is the Syniad IT assessment model which shows the phases we adopt when undertaking an assessment.

Second, we need to ensure that the core focus areas are covered.  We use the high level areas below.

  • People
    This should address staff numbers, organisation structure, skills, retention and development, as well as softer factors such as culture, relationships and team morale.
  • Process
    This should assess the extent to which IT Service Management processes are defined, documented and followed. We typically use a best practice model or framework to assist us in setting an appropriate process scope, such as ITIL v3 or ISO/IEC 20000
  • Technology
    This covers the extent to which service management technology, such as ticket logging & tracking, CMDB (Configuration Management Database), knowledge base, telephony and collaboration, is deployed to support the technology function
  • Suppliers
    This will cover the efficacy of any 3rdparty support arrangements which are in place to support the delivery of the technology function.  In particular, this might include the extent to which suppliers collaborate under a single IT Operating Model, such as that described within the Service Integration & Management (SIAM) framework.
  • Governance
    This will cover the over-arching technology governance in terms of Key Performance Indicators, Service Level Agreements / Operational Level Agreements and Continual Improvement, their reporting, review and structure.  This is particularly relevant in a multi-sourcing, SIAM operating model.

What are the outcomes?

If no action is to be taken following the assessment, its value will be questioned.

An assessment exercise should provide the basis for an improvement programme and must therefore contain actionable recommendations, preferably in the context of a strategic roadmap which defines the direction of travel and the milestones along the way.

Our process maturity assessment services will always deliver:

  • Prioritised recommendations for improvement
  • A strategic roadmap view to enable longer term planning and funding for improvement activities
  • A leadership team brief aimed at ensuring a common understanding and reaching consensus on the way forward

Why Syniad IT?

Simply, we have a tried and tested approach which we continually refine.  Our approach provides us with the ability to execute consistently each time, whilst providing us with sufficient flexibility to tailor the assessment to specific client requirements.  We have over 100 years of combined experience as consultants, but also, critically, as practitioners who have had “real” jobs in IT.  We don’t deliver audits, which are one-dimensional and can be constrained by audit scripts.  We deliver assessments, which are deep, rich and supported not only by academic knowledge, but also by real-world experience.

We have significant experience of delivering assessment exercises.  You can read more about how we helped the UK Parliament assess their processes by using the approach we describe above.  We also helped a global accounting and consulting firm with their process improvement objectives by undertaking a Service Management assessment.

 

SIAM – Where Are We Now?

I recently presented a webinar entitled “SIAM – Where are we now?” which looked at the original intent of SIAM and described the common implementation approaches and challenges which organisations are regularly coming up against.

 

Head over to the webinar , to learn about the common issues and how these could be overcome.

11 tips to build a CMDB in a SIAM operating model

If you’re operating in a SIAM operating model, you’ll soon hit the challenge of building an effective CMDB

 

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.  Our white paper provides invaluable advice about how to build a  CMDB in a SIAM environment.  Register below to download.

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7 Tips to optimise your Service Request processes for Digital Transformation

Introduction

We’ve recently been involved in a number of projects which share common characteristics.  They’re not technology projects, they’re driven by the demand of real end-users, not by IT or business leadership typically as part of a digital transformation agenda.  The projects are aimed at making IT services more accessible to an organisation’s employees and involve optimising the Service Request processes which enables end users to engage with IT more effectively.

User Demands

From our experience, end-users generally feel that it’s really hard to get IT to deliver anything to them.  IT are great when there’s something to fix, or there’s a major incident to recover from, but they are poor at the basics such as provisioning a new user account, delivering some hardware or giving access to a new piece of software.

The Digital Transformation Agenda

I’m always surprised to hear that these basic principles still haven’t been addressed by the plethora of best practices and tools at the disposal of today’s IT leaders.  And if we can’t do these “basics” well, how will we cope with the accelerated delivery cycles promised by agile development and the rapid deployment of services which will be possible as soon as cloud becomes more prevalent?  How we can possibly expect to achieve our digital transformation agenda without the basic building blocks in place?

The basic principles of Service Request

I think it’s time to present some basic principles that we need to ensure we’re doing well, in order to support the delivery of more complex and time critical services in the future. How does your IT department shape up against these maturity indicators?

  • There’s a SINGLE portal where all end users can go to interact with IT, to report an issue, check knowledge articles to initiate Service Requests.  Users seek simplicity, they want to engage with a simple portal through which they can quickly and easily engage with IT services.
  • End users are engaged with the service request process, they understand where they need to go, and they understand that circumventing the process is not in their interests.  This point attempts to address the risk of untraceable, poorly structured communication, such as verbal or email requests, coming in to IT and simply not being logged.  This type of inbound work is impossible to track, trace and measure.
  • There’s a clear delineation of what constitutes an incident, versus a service request, versus a system enhancement and an IT project. I often envisage a good in-bound filtering process in the same way as an airport baggage handling system.  It shares a lot of common characteristics, as each “bag” will have a destination, a unique reference, some form of lifecycle tracking and an established path of reaching its destination.  Our end user portals and systems should follow this route-based approach, routing incidents to resolver teams, requests to approval and fulfilment workflows, etc.  Each incident and request should follow an established workflow.  If these are understood and mapped, it’s easier to introduce efficient ways of recording, assigning, tracing and fulfilling them.
  • There’s an established workflow for common service request types, which describes the approval processes, fulfilment tasks, who does what and eliminates the need for manual intervention.  These workflows can be codified within the service management toolset, allowing a degree of automation to the allocation of work.
  • Sometimes, approvals are sought where there is no justification for an approval to be required.  Where possible, seeking approval should be an automated workflow task.  Ask yourself whether the approval steps required for your various request types are really required, and if they are, whether they could be automated.
  • Are you exploiting workflow automation to the extent that approval and fulfilment tasks are sequenced automatically by the ITSM tool?  There should also be a degree of logic built in to determine the path that requests will follow where exceptions occur, such as conditional approvals or rejection.
  • The end-user receives updates on their request at key points during the process.  They’re so used to an Amazon or Dominoes-like order experience, they just won’t settle for anything less!

So, how did you do?

How many of the indicators above are incorporated into your processes, or within your improvement roadmaps? Without these basic principles in place, you will struggle to achieve digital transformation objectives.  Are you ready to act to address these deficiencies? Feel free to contact us to discuss your specific challenges.  We’d be delighted to help get you on track.