Recently I met with a client specializing in the delivery of high-speed internet to residential and commercial customers. I was invited to help develop a customer retention and acquisition strategy. The firm needed a way to differentiate their company from the competitors so that the clients wouldn’t jump ship when their contract expired. They also needed a way to attract new customers and felt that the service their company provided was superior to that of the competitors. They asked me my thoughts on this, and I recommended that we evaluate the use of Service Level Agreements to keep clients and to attract new ones. [Read more…] about The Business Benefit of a Service Level Agreement
The help desk ticket life cycle, AKA Incident Management, is the process that you define during your ITIL® Incident Management Process. The Help Desk Ticket Life Cycle is important because by defining it you can: [Read more…] about The Help Desk Ticket Life Cycle
What are the essentials of an ITIL® implementation project? You could use the ITIL® five-part process as your guide:
- Service Strategy
- Incident Management
- Problem Management
- Feedback Management
- Change Management
Or, I suggest that you limit your starting project to ITIL® Service Strategy, ITIL® Incident Management, and ITIL® Problem Management.
You can’t get far without an ITIL® Service Strategy. It will provide the team with a framework for decision-making and a foundation for excellent, continually improving service. Read more about this in my ebook – 4 Steps IT Awesome
ITIL® Incident Management. You really must have incident management. It’s a core function of ITIL® and the best way to go about it is to leverage the service book that you put together while developing your ITIL® strategy. I’ve developed some simple steps for this and you can read more on it with my ebook An IT Managers Guide to Implementing ITIL®
ITIL® Problem Management will help you mature. ITIL® talks about problem management as the practice of resolving the root causes of incidents. These c
an be understood through an examination of incidents, feedback from customers and change requests. This whole process is referred to as Problem Management. It’s critical to ITIL® and will really help your organization mature and grow.
ITIL® Feedback Management is great once you’ve got 1, 2 and 3 in place. I’ve worked through surveying and have developed some very sound strategies, questions, and reports that you can download. Here’s a link to my blog post Help Desk Customer Satisfaction Survey Best Practice where you can download the survey questions and reports.
What are the essentials of a good ITIL® project? Well, it all is really essential but unless you have a sound ITIL® Strategy, with effective and usable ITIL® Incident Management and Problem Management processes then all the feedback and change management in the world won’t help you. Focus on items 1 through 3 above, master them and then you can spend your time on 4 and 5.
Good luck – contact us to discuss ITIL® or tell me what you think.
Consolidate applications for IT work management and reduce effort, cost and futz factor to the tune of 300%!
IT organizations are overloaded with apps. This graphics represents a typical sample of an organizations disparate IT work management application layer. Each app likely has its own database. Apps require maintenance and input and a cost to keeping the current.
It gets worse.
- Multiple installations and databases of apps used in different silos
- Apps installed by rogue IT staff that need/want them
- Home grown applications may be installed for each department
- Project management tools can include spreadsheets, open source applications and Microsoft tools.
- Add SharePoint or Wiki tools
When does this become unmanageable?
It already is unmanageable. The real question is when does this become impossible?
The exact circumstance that leads to an impossible situation happens when the capability of the team to manage multiple data points breaks at a customer interaction point. In other words the customer, “fell through the crack”. Customer upsets increase and IT satisfaction plummets. Cracks become chasms and change then must occur.
Be certain that at some point in the future the IT organization will shake apart for this reason and that this is what keeps the IT manager awake at night.
What to do? Consolidate applications, eliminate duplication and redundant applications and data, and align your IT efforts with an IT strategy. Easy to say, tough to do; isn’t it? It sure is but this is a guaranteed win and an effort that the IT Manager can either choose to engage with or one that may be chosen for him.
The Benefits of Consolidation
Companies that eliminate, align and consolidate disparate IT management systems, processes and activities:
- Improve employee work efficency
- Have fewer resource crunches
- Simplify your IT operations
Tips for condolidating apps
- Start with ITIL®
- Create a Strategy for ITIL®
- Create a project
- Source an application that can streamline your IT department
How can TeamHeadquarters Help?
Consolidate your IT work with TeamHeadquarters. Integrating project management, help desk, time sheets, resource management and more, TeamHeadquarters will streamline your IT work management.
Contact us for more information and help or take a tour of TeamHeadquarters.
SMB’s are struggling with the application of standards within IT. Still considered a black art by business executives, IT Standards are often touted, seldom adhered too, and never perfect. Let’s work through ITIL® to establish the optimum / minimum required for any SMB IT Service Desk.
ITIL®, ITSM, COBIT, ISO20000, ISO27001, TOGAF, USMBOK… there are many “IT standards”. Since all IT frameworks are essentially trying to help you achieve the same outcome – excellent, predictable, minimum levels of service to your customers – we’ll focus on ITIL® and establish what’s important.
To achieve an optimum/minimum for your help desk the following services should be considered:
- Service Strategy work through ITIL® to establish the optimum / minimum required for any SMB IT Service Desk.
- Incident management
- Problem management
- Change Management
At the center of your service is your strategy. The service strategy provides guidance to customers and staff.
Optimum: Your service strategy should address service strategy objectives, financial management, service portfolio and demand management strategies. This strategy can be shared throughout your team and organization and used by your IT team to teach customers, make good decisions and provide excellent service.
Minimum: a one-page service expectation that can be announced and achieved, a method of costing and financial recognition, a transparent method of managing your service portfolio and an introduction of your resources and their finite capabilities to the customer. Again, your team and your customers need to have some basic information so they can be part of the solution process and make good decisions.
ITIL® talks about incident management as the real-world of IT – where the fires are put out. Here’s where the strategies are used by the IT team to address day-to-day service requests.
Optimum: To do a really good job with your service strategy you’ll need to automate key functions of your helpdesk. A solution will include basics like service requests (tickets) where you can record, classify, support, prioritize, investigate, resolve, close, audit, and report. For examples of automated service request systems see TeamHeadquarters in action.
Minimum: A procedures based manual system will also provide the structure to deliver an effective service strategy. The manual system will require additional manpower for the accumulation of data into meaningful reports. The biggest challenge with manual systems is the lack of visibility so; if you are going manual then you’ll need to have an auditable procedure that promotes visibility.
Problem management is the practice of resolving the root causes of incidents and relating mutiple incidents to the detected problem. These can be understood through an examination of incidents, feedback from customers and change requests.
Optimum: You will have a dedicated problem manager who will analyze service request trends, change requests, known errors, fixes, and classifications and who will look for root causes and develop actions to minimize impacts. This does not need to be a full time job but requires a responsible resource within the help desk operators in most cases.
Minimum: Schedule monthly round table discussions with your team to review statistics, discuss trends, change requests, known errors, fixes, and classifications. Make everyone a problem manager, assign them problems, let them find root causes and develop the actions that will minimize impacts.
Optimum: upon closure of a service request the customer is asked for their feedback. This information is collected and correlated against teams, members, classifications, priorities, and problems. Trends are found and improvements are made.
Minimum: Send an email to the customer when the ticket is closed and ask them for their feedback. Escalate unhappy customers and address effectively. Capture information manually and use this information to identify trends, individuals and problems.
Optimum / Minimum: All incidents, problems, and feedback systems are required to provide insight into the potential changes for your IT Management System. Many incidents, a few problems, a modicum of feedback, when reduced should provide some obvious opportunities for change.
Roll out changes to the overall helpdesk in small 15 day chunks using the Agile method for project management If ITIL® is your game then you’re going to love our IT Managers Guidebook to ITIL® for SMB’s. Read and enjoy!
TeamHeadquarters and Entry Software deliver all the tools required to successfully implement a helpdesk for your IT Team with the additional benefit of providing a fully integrated Project Management System. A leader in bringing these two practices together since 1998, Entry Software has helped thousands of users achieve better customer service and project management.
Improve incident management. Customers often don’t understand all that goes into incident and request management. On their end, they submit a problem and wait for it to be resolved. However, in the IT department, processes that are either complex or simple, automated or manual, get triggered and the incident management processes start, with or without customer communication.