Where have all the unicorns gone?

This is a great article http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/03/14/cloud_skills_extinction/.  This is a pretty interesting piece as it shows where IT could be going if the business sees little or no value coming from their in-house IT department. Why should the business pay vast sums of money to the in-house IT department when they can go get all that they need from Amazon or other cloud services and employ junior staff to keep the lights on.

If you don’t believe me, cars used to be hand-built works of art. Now, they are mass produced by people I doubt could built the car from scratch but the business keeps on making money. So does the business see the IT department just keeping the lights on or do they see more value coming from it?

More articles can be found on my blog http://www.itilbegood.com or subscribe to my twitter feed @itilbegood

Interior design, the ITIL way.

Decorating with ITIL

What is ITIL? ITIL is a collection of 5 topics covering Service Strategy, Design, Transition, Operations and Continuous Improvement which should be used to form, implement, keep it going and improve your ITIL strategy to improve your business to IT alignment….

That was boring. No, I believe ITIL to be bigger and at it heart more simplistic then an all or nothing approach to ITIL and must be implemented exactly how the manual says so. Let me explain using an analogy.

Imagine, IT, as a house. It is a shell of house, how are you going to decorate it? You are probably going to decorate it in ways that works best for you and the people who use your house. How will you know how to decorate your house, you need some ideas…look no further than the ITIL Interior Design book. In it, you will find loads of ideas on how to decorate your new house. The covers all shapes of houses and is designed to give you ideas for your home. The book gives ideas on how to design what you want to do, implement it, keep up the day-to-day maintenance on it and how make improvements to your house. However, a word of warning, its not a step by step book. The book is more there to give you ideas to research and find out how to use it best for your house.

Using the book you can tailor design items to fit your needs eg a twenty foot incident management dining room table doesn’t fit into your house, then buy a six foot incident management dining room table, which works much better in your house but follows the design principals of the twenty foot dining table. How about a change management media centre, do you need top of the range or mid range to suit your budget but gets similar results? These are two examples of incident management and change management which the essence of what these actually do stays the same but you need to mould it to what fits your business.

The metric you want are not the concrete composite used to make the driveway, you want to know how much the amenities cost per year. Much as the same way you need to tailor the reporting metric used to report ITIL to what is most useful to the business. Does reporting just how many changes are made each week mean as much as reporting how many changes were approved AND how many failed or were rolled back with possibly the report showing how many changes where service / customer impacting. This helps to show to the business how successful and possibility how competent IT is at implementing change.

All these services can be then upgraded when the budget allows or makes good business sense to upgrade through continuous improvement. In most houses do the wallpaper, carpets and doors stay the same in the house throughout the whole life of the house, no, these get upgraded and changed. Using the energy metric you can also see if you can save more money through changing suppliers or improving the heat insulation. All this is continuous service improvement, providing you with more value from your home.

For me, this is what ITIL is, it about returning the best value returned to the business and to do this you have to fit ITIL into what works best with the business which may mean leaving some ITIL out to start with to implement when it is time. Though what ITIL, I believe, is trying to get a department, which has traditionally, been a law unto itself thinking more about the business. So many times I have heard IT complain, ‘Without IT there would be no business’ well, without the business there would be no IT. After all, if the business didn’t make any money, IT wouldn’t have a budget. So using ITIL, I believe IT can repay the investment and provide the business with the best business aligned IT infrastructure it can to make the business do even better and hopefully make more money.

Thankyou for reading my post. This is my opportunity to blog about a subject I love but am still learning. These posts are my way of showing how I understand the subject, however, I would encourage you to leave comments, did you agree / disagree with the post? Did I not explain something well enough or incorrectly? Do you want me to blog about another subject within ITIL? All feedback helps me to understand more. Thankyou.

The Service Desk Triangle

I am a big fan of TED talks, one which I came across got me thinking, the one in particular was Dan Pink : The Puzzle of Motivation. https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation

This got me thinking, could you apply some of these ideas to a Service Desk. Could you motivate and engage a Service Desk to make it better in a new way to give a best customer experience. Lets look at what I believe are some qualities of the Service Desk :

  • One of the ways to get your first rung on the ladder in an IT career.
  • Hugely influential to the image of the IT organisation in general.
  • It should be treated as one of the most important teams in IT as this is the link from IT to the business day to day.
  • Should be a feeder team to other IT teams for individuals to move into a more specialised field.
  • Usually consist of individuals with a technical or people orientation.
  • A great way to influence the relationship with the business.
  • IT is all about creativity, looking for new ways to use existing and new technology to solve problems and enhance the services delivered to the business.

As a result of what ITIL and a Service Desk means to me, I came up with ‘The Service Desk Triangle’ which satisfies all these points, encouraging personal growth / knowledge and really try to highlight talent to other teams, making sure the individuals career path continues with the company.

Triangle

 

Documentation

The base layer to the pyramid would be to encourage knowledge sharing and reporting to highlight and fix any knowledge gaps.

This can be as dull as ditchwater but the purpose is to make sure there are no ‘favourites’ in the Service Desk. Everyone should be able to do all the tasks as the team would work to produce documentation detailing all the work instructions. I would suggest in a structured method of a 2×2 grid. e.g.

2x2

the reasoning behind this would be to focus the team on everything in each sector instead of a scatter gun approach e.g :

Hardware:

Hardware Asset database
Printers     – Supplier / Maintenance contracts and contact details
– Re ordering consumables

Software :

Licensing
Install / known issues or errors (maybe already part of a known error database), configurations, rules etc

Key bespoke applications

These would be the programs key to the business e.g. a sales database. The team would focus on documentation which is very detailed and means the team is ready for any incident regarding this.

Updates and Backups

This should details how backups are taken and when, when updates are sent out, what this might affect etc. Building up a picture of how PC’s are updated so if an issues arises due to an update the team are better equipped to diagnose the issue quickly.

This documentation would be reviewed in weekly team meetings, the team suggesting any improvements. All the time working to get to a one definitive document which is followed by the team. Nothing should be in someones head that is not in the documentation.

The other key activity in this level would be reporting. The Service Desk Manager would be looking at reporting and statistics of the team e.g..

Who is picking up the incidents after 10 mins, 20 mins, 30 mins, 1 hours. Are there team members who do not know how to do the more complex calls and are leaving them in the queue, which may mean more training?

Are particular team members picking up particular types of incidents, again, maybe highlighting skills gaps in other team members.

This level is really to make sure all the team members are able to pick and deal with every type of incident and request which comes in. Therefore, when moving onto the next stage, team members can be taken away from there normal day to do activities without a drop in the level of service.

Virtual Networks / Meet the Business

The next level tries to develop the mindsets of technical or people orientated team members within service desk and encouraging development into other teams.

Virtual Network

A Virtual Network gives the service desk staff a safe way to try out new technologies and to test out new and existing working methods. Working on the idea IT is all about creativity, this provides a safe environment to express their creativity in building a network and testing new features. Team members can highlight talents to more senior teams, creating a chance for promotion when the time comes.

Meet the Business

Structured meeting between the service desk and business units to help gain a better understanding how the services provided by the IT organisation are used and if there are any enhancements to be made. Leverages off the relationships already formed through the daily interaction between the business and the service desk.

Ideally, I would like to see the Service Desk team members actually work for one week within each business department. All IT privileges would be revoked, the team member would only have access to the resources the business unit has. This allows the team member to appreciate how IT is used and the limitations. Proactively showing the business the IT department is trying to understand how the software is actually used and any issues or improvements which could be made. After one week the team member would present their findings to the team and any other departments which could provide further assistance to improve the service.

Fedex (taken from the TED talk)

The pinnacle of the Service Desk Triangle, which builds on the knowledge of the previous three sections and allows the Service Desk team members a chance to develop any enhancements or ideas they may of had after completing the previous last three stages, within a 24 hour time frame. The team member can work away from the Service Desk and their day to day work to develop an idea. After which they would need to present their ideas to the rest of the team. Some ideas might not fly but each team member should not be discouraged from trying as other will and this whole structure is trying to find new and better ways of doing things. All the time striving to provide a better, value for money service to the business.

Eg

Are there better ways of doing some of the procedures in level one?
After looking at a functionality on a VM network, could this be used in the production network?
Could a business unit’s spreadsheet be imported into Sharepoint, making it easier to update?

I believe by following this triangle, the service desk becoming much closer to the business and proactively finds ways to improve the service to the business by first hand experience of how the business works with the IT services.

Thankyou for reading my post. This is my opportunity to blog about a subject I love but am still learning. These posts are my way of showing how I understand the subject, however, I would encourage you to leave comments, did you agree / disagree with the post? Did I not explain something well enough or incorrectly? Do you want me to blog about another subject within ITIL? All feedback helps me to understand more. Thankyou.

This blog is all about making IT more user friendly by looking at ITIL, Service Management and everything else to make IT better. Please leave comments and tell me what you think, this is also an opportunity for me, to write down my ideas and get feedback from everyone to help me understand the subject better.