Service Management as a rugby game

ITSM rugby

I realise the game of rugby might not be the most obvious analogy which springs to mind when you think about Service Management but hear me out.

Rugby, for me, has always been a great spectator sport; I have more the physique of the ball and not the man mountains of players. I marvel at the discipline these giants display for the game and how the game does not descend into a bar room brawl with so much muscle and will to win in such a small area.

When I think about great IT customer support, it is all about the skills of the individuals and the hand over to other support teams. How skill and great hand overs to other support teams can win or lose the IT support game. IT support is always a battle between resolving the issues efficiently without taking too much time and customer frustration increasing.

Picture the field, the IT organisation vs Customer Frustration and Time. The whistle blows, it is game time!!! The ball goes into the IT service desk scrum and the incident ball comes out to the IT organisation’s support team, the first line engineer is running with the incident ball only to be put to ground by Time. Over the top comes support from the second line teams, the ball is handed over to the second line engineer seamlessly, the engineer side steps Customer Frustration with clear communication. Oh no, Time comes in, tackles the ball and is now running with it, second line support chases the ball down. Time’s lead is growing with Customer Frustration following up quickly behind but Time is skilfully tackled by second line and runs the ball back, the final ball is handed over to the third line engineer. The fastest and most experienced players on the field with lightning footwork the ball goes down for the try and the incident is resolved.

Without great hand over’s of the ball, Customer Frustration and Time would get the ball and the value for money for all the business areas, who have paid money to see the IT organisation win, isn’t seen. If the support individual cannot hand the incident ball off to each other, individual player must try and jink past the opposition to try and close the incident. This sometimes will work based on the skill of the individual support engineer and the ease of which the incident could be closed, but sometimes it will not. If the IT organisation can win with individual skill, great hand over’s and team work then the business areas sees the value of paying to come support the IT organisation.

The other thing I enjoy about rugby, and most other sports, is the analysis of all parts of play, the breakdown and repeats of every tackle, shot, space the players should of used etc.

This is the area, where the service management team comes in, the coaches. They can take apart the play; they see the 1st line engineer fumbles the ball on pick up. A work around could be designed for the present game but a problem could be created to go away and really analyse the issue to come up with a fix, maybe a grip on the some gloves or a textured ball to make it less slippery. Communication between the second and third line support teams might be poor so the ball was intercepted and needing to be won back. Encouraging better communication between the two leads to be better and more fluid play.

Various areas of improvement could be categories, like in the ITSM tools, to be later broken down into target areas eg running down the line, communication, creating space etc, which can be work upon away from the game in set areas of expertise.

The service management team can also look at the agreements between the various team members showing who is going to take the hand off ball and who is going to come and protect the ball. This goes some way to designing an OLA. An agreement between the IT organisations showing how an incident should be handled, the support timings and items covered by the agreement. This should be in a format, that in the heat of play, can be easily understood and quickly.

Documenting how set piece of play should be played. Making sure all team members know what is required and how to do something is also an important part of the Service Management team’s job.

IT service management is all about creating value for the business areas and the best customer experience. The play might not be the finish article and individuals and team might need some work, but if the IT organisation is committed to ITIL and service management, they will work at these areas, making small and large gains and improvements. Reminding why the business areas pay for their IT organisation and the value it creates.

Hopefully I have gone some way to try and convince you that rugby and IT service management are not too dissimilar after all.

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.

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.