Technoids embrace Service Management

Published on Friday 17 May 2013 by in News with no comments

Global Network Infrastructure providers are companies I associate with hardcore technology. To me they raise up images of infrastructure ‘Technoids’ (I used to be one), buried in the depths of networks and the connectivity of ‘things’. Far removed from the ‘applications’ and ‘business processing’ and even further removed from the end ‘user’ and his, or her needs for  ‘business’ functionality‘ and ‘service’. However, a subsidiary of one global network Infrastructure company in Singapore who we shall name ‘Globus’ in this article, organized a partner event focusing on ‘Improving Service Management Performance’.  The goals of the event were to ‘Create partner success’ by empowering them with service management capabilities, enabling Globus and its reseller partners to deliver ‘outcomes through services not products’ to their customers.

 Helping create business value for customers and at the same time managing their costs and risks.

Globus clearly recognizes that it is more about service management than simply technology enablement. One of the aims of the session was to create ‘actionable insight’, not just new knowledge and insights but something partners could take away and apply.

Partners, who were all technology providers, were given an overview of IT service management and the ITIL® framework. Focusing on ITIL not as a theoretical framework in which partners could obtain a certificate, but insight into how to use ITIL as a Service management approach to deliver performance improvements.

Globus key messages to partners in the two days were:

  • Partners should improve their own Incident management capabilities to lower costs, reduce demand on Globus for support and provide customers with faster, more effective business support.
  • Adopt industry recognized best practices to improve ‘customer and service’ focus, and improve service delivery capabilities aimed at demonstrating performance.
  • Use metrics to measure, drive and deliver performance, metrics that are meaningful to the business.
  • Apply CSI to continually improve ITSM capabilities to ensure alignment with changing business and technology landscapes.
  • Deploy effective escalation, authority and review mechanisms related to business impact and priority.
  • Make use of the Service management capabilities (products and services) from Globus to help create end-to-end value (Customer-Partner-Globus).

I gave an overview of ITIL. We looked at subjects such as the difference between ‘product’ and ‘service’, ‘processes’, ‘roles and functions’, ‘service lifecycle’ …I got a lot of blank stares when the theory was being explained. When I showed them examples of explosive systems capacity demands causing failures at airports; single points of failure causing non availability of IT, impacting rail services; outages caused by poor changes, impacting banking services, all these examples causing loss of business productivity, revenue and wasted costs, I got their attention and recognition. Event management, Asset and Configuration management and Monitoring kept them awake amidst the blur of ITIL processes and terminology. Problem management made a few of them scribble down some notes. When I explained what a service was and the fact that it was all about Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks, giving some examples they began nodding their heads and were starting to get this ‘process stuff’ better, and recognizing how it could help them solve some of their delivery issues.

During the session delegates participated in the ‘Apollo 13 – An ITSM case experience™’ business simulation. The goals of the simulation were to help translate the morning theory into practice, assess their current capabilities and identify actionable improvements to take away.

100% for effort, energy, passion and a drive to succeed….

In Apollo the team threw themselves at the challenge, getting together in huddles to solve the technology problems, they were passionate about fixing everything as quickly as possible, They were running around chasing after incidents. They threw everybody at my ‘communications’ outages. They instantly prioritized my ‘Velocity’ and ‘Oxygen’ incidents, automatically ‘assuming’ these were the critical high priority ones, without checking with the astronauts the impact of these disruptions to service.

why should we ask the customer if the oxygen tanks are important?…we know better than them.

At the end of the game round, as customer, I gave them 100% for effort, energy, passion and drive to succeed….however were they doing the RIGHT things. I asked if anybody knew the business needs in terms of Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks?……the Business strategy and Service Level Requirements were sitting unread on a desk in the corner of the room. As customer I had been totally ignored during their process design and seen as annoying and demanding during the game.

The team themselves recognized they were ‘internally’ focused and ‘technology’ driven, focusing on details.

The team had failed to engage and understand the users and the business and could see why, in my role as customer, I behaved the way I did.

Between rounds the team reflected on the ITIL theory and learnt how to translate business Value, Outcomes, Cost and Risk needs into People, Process, Product and Partner capabilities, aligned ‘end-to-end’ throughout the delivery chain. They used ITIL to gain more ‘management and control’ capability on the incidents and changes. They implemented effective ‘escalation and priority’ mechanisms to deal with resourcing conflicts and workload demands, involving the business in the decision making. They ensured that their processes were aimed at realizing KPI’s. Having spent the large part of the day forgetting time and again to engage with the business they were finally getting it. In the final game round they all knew what was important to the customer, when it was important and why. They were doing the right things and they were doing these in the right way. Their final scores showed improved customer satisfaction, 40% increase in workload throughput, significant reduction in resolution times, lower cost of operation, improved availability and productivity. The only mission goal that could be achieved was achieved. As crew I complimented the team after splash down for their performance, for bringing the astronauts back alive by demonstrating effective service management capabilities…..just imagine if we could transfer this learning to our daily work.

At the end of the day the delegates were asked ‘Which improvement have you applied in today’s simulation that need to be taken away and applied in your own organization to improve your own services?’. The feedback has been clustered into People, Process, Product and Performance.

People
  • Engage with business to understand goals; more engagement with customer to understand needs; always check with business/customer (SLA).
3
  • Assigning roles and ensuring everyone understands (and agrees); define specific roles; set agreed roles and responsibilities together.
3
  • A good RACI chart (Responsibility, Accountability, Consulted, Informed) including ‘Authority’; request for ‘authority’ for escalation
3
  • Enable people to perform their roles (what information do they need to do their job, ensure other people know their roles and responsibilities, ensure tool enables work and decision making, ensure ‘authority’ from manager to get things done, having well defined and understood escalation mechanisms); Put right people on the right place.
2

 

Process  
  • Apply CSI (Prioritize improvements); review the current process within the department (end-to-end) and see if improvement is required (aligned with customer business needs (V,O,C,R)); Allocate CSI time in meetings.
5
  • The importance of the 4 P’s in Service Design and their interdependencies; 4 P’s contribute to the successful value to the customer for positive outcomes against the costs and risks incurred; Align 4 P’s to realize the 5th ‘P’ – Performance.
2
  • A good execution plan of a planned ITIL process is important (engage all in design, ensure roles agreed and executed on, ensure review).
2
  • Use the ITIL process (flow) to assess current process (and roles) and to identify (and agree) improvements; use ITIL process flow together (to create understanding and buy-in).
3
  • Ensuring an escalation matrix is defined and followed (functional escalation – next level of expertise, including to Globus) and Hierarchic – next level of decision making or budget holder; authority to escalate, how to make Incident manager the owner with authority to escalate to right team.
3
  • Share the process within the department/team and ensure ALL know the goals, objectives and metrics to be achieved; ensure all use same process.
2

 


Product
 
  • Ensure tool is up to date (by agreeing responsibilities for maintaining information and authority to confront people).
  • Tracking and monitoring of all incidents/requests, linked to escalation mechanisms.
2
  • Ensure tool can support the agreed process and supports the roles and responsibilities, if not improve it (with those responsible for using); optimize tool to support the agreed process.
2
  • Formalize requirement, big picture of V,O,C,R from customer (can tool support, enable, report on the agreed performance).

 

Performance  
  • Usually we are too focused on details and ‘Internal’, need to understand big plan of value and expected results (V,O,C,R).
2

CSI

Continual Service Improvement was an important message throughout the two day event. What did delegates discover about effective CSI during the game?

These were the captured learning points

  • We got together: People from 1st, 2nd, 3rd level (including partner).
  • We analyzed what went well, what went wrong. (Did our improvements have the desired impact). This was facilitated by somebody with ITSM understanding.
  • We looked at People (tasks, roles, responsibilities – were they know? Were they carried out?), Process (using the ITIL framework and process flows as a reference) and Product (Tools, and information) to support the decision making and the management and control of the agreed levels of service, and Partner capabilities (Agreements, End-to-end processes, Responsibilities and Escalation).
  • We reviewed this against the agreed service levels and expectations of the customer (V,O,C,R).
  • We asked the customer what needed improving.
  • We prioritized the improvement, knowing we can’t improve everything in one go.
  • We (all) improved our own processes, procedures and trechnology together. IT organization and partner, representing the end-to-end delivery chain.
  • We reviewed the improvements to ensure that V,O,C,R goals had been realized.

At the end of the two days it was clear to delegates that ITIL was more than a theoretical framework, and that service management was a critical capability. The delegates had shifted their attitudes from ‘Internally focused’ and ‘Technology driven’ to ‘Customer, Service and Value’ focus. Not only was there a shift in attitude but delegates had some concrete insights as to how they could take away and apply some of the learning.

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