Tag Archives: incidents

Interviews for IT support positions

Ahhh the humble interview, not nerve wracking at all! I have seen some horrible posts on LinkedIn of people’s interview experience when interviewing for IT support positions, one candidate was asked to explain the OSPF/OSI model and how to set a firewall in an interview for a junior IT support position. Needless to say the candidate walked out the interview shaken up and feeling really bad.

I am also saddened and humbled by all the posts of people posting on Linkedin from people in some really desperate situations over this holiday period (this post was written Christmas 2021). I really want you to read this post, absorb it and own the interview when it is offered to you. Nobody deserves to be in these situations that I have read about.

Therefore I wanted to put together a post to show some of the questions I ask in my interviews when interviewing potential IT support candidates to join my teams and the reasons why I ask the question. Hopefully this will help anyone about to goto an interview and also for anyone taking interviews to give me feedback as I want to be better at interviews.

First I think I need to explain some of the thinking behind interviews:

  • People hire people they like. You could have more IT qualifications than an MVP at Microsoft but if you don’t click with the interviewer, it is going to be hard to progress in the interview process.
  • Most interviewers know or will have gut feel if the candidate is the right fit in the first 1 – 5 minutes of talking to the candidate so this is the most impactful part of the interview. In a moment of honesty, I have been in a lift / elevator going with the candidate to the interview room after picking them up from reception and knew it was a waste of time taking that ride based on my initial impressions of the candidate. So be on point and smile. There is also chance to make a quick joke to break the ice so try it. If you have looked up the interviewer on Linkedin and seen they have just won an award…mention that as an ice breaker. Covid / social distancing rules offers a good opener / ice breaker for hand shake or fist bump and why does a greeting now turn into a game of paper (going in for a hand shake), scissors, stone (going in for a fist bump). I’m wasted being an IT support manager, I should have been a comedian!
  • The interview are there to get candidates talking so the interviewer can build up a picture if they are going to like the person and will they work well within the existing team. So talk and be more then a few word answer or yes / no but be concise and straightforward with your answers. I want to get from A to B in the answer which is straight forward and not A going via E to G to Z to C to D to B which is a confusing answer.

Golden rule for all interviewers

The interviewer should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER laugh / make fun at the candidates answer in an interview. Interviews are stressful enough. If a candidate answers a question badly and the interviewer laughs or makes fun of the answer then the candidate will be destroyed and it is massively disrespectful to the candidate. I have listened to some terrible answers given to a question but you must sit there dead pan, agree, maybe ask questions and write notes. Like any test, people answer some questions badly sometimes but can answer others really well so if you laugh / make fun of answers and destroy the candidates on question 2 of 10 then answers 3-10 might not be the best.

Remember : An interview is a two way street. Both the candidate AND the interviewer are trying to impress each other in the interview. How you are treated in the interview really shows how the manager might treat their team and is this a team you want to be joining?

Assessing candidates overall on a CV

I hate to break it to you but if you are interviewing for an IT support position and are already working in in IT Support then you are one of many who work in an IT support team of 2-10 analysts who fixed windows / office and other bespoke software on a company’s desktops and laptops. You fix about 10-20 tickets a day served to you by some form of call logging system eg Servicenow, Freshworks, Jira via chat / emails or phone calls. You may have a bunch of qualifications but in the real world, setups of software and various configurations make some of this knowledge, perfect world scenario vs real world scenario. Eg you could put all your windows software knowledge to the test and take hours fixing someone laptop but in the real world, it might be quicker and easier to give someone a replacement laptop, copy over all the data and then just rebuild the software image on the laptop with a problem.

Bottom line. You are unlikely to be that special on paper. Sorry.

IT Recruiters

It does NOT matter :

  • What industry a candidate has worked in. I have worked in the hotel, newspaper, insurance, food and beverage, consultancy, recruitment and media industries. A computer/ software that needs fixing is a computer / software that needs fixing in every company. Yes, there are different demands and different software /configurations but these can be learnt easily through time.
    • Please stop discounting candidates if they haven’t worked in the specific industry your client’s company are working in.
  • What software a candidate may or may not have used.
    • Administering Office 365 to a 1st or 2nd line level takes about 1 hour to learn.
    • Learning how to log tickets in a ITSM tool eg Service now takes about 30 mins – 1 hour to learn the company’s way to log tickets, what categories to use and which team to escalate which tickets to which team.
    • Learning to use Landesk / SCCM to deploy software takes about 10 mins to learn how to search for the machine needing the software and then drag the computer to the distribution task and click deploy.
    • Please stop discounting candidates who may not have used the exact software your client’s company uses to support their users.

Thankyou from all the potential candidates hiring managers should get to see but don’t get considered as they aren’t a 100% cookie cutter fit. Everyone learns on the job they are hired for.

Therefore I will interview anyone with 1-2 years + IT support experience, I’m really not too fussy. What I am really looking for is someone with personality and can give a great customer experience. I can teach technical skills easier than I can teach customer service skills. I would even say, you either have customer service skills or you don’t.

Structure of an interview

The interviews are normally structured into 5 parts:

  1. Introductions of everyone who will be interviewing, their roles within the company and the structure of the interview possibility with a company overview
  2. The candidate is asked to gives an overview of their career / past few jobs
  3. Competency questions based on IT support
  4. Questions around what the candidate knows about the position and company then the interviewer will give an overview of the position being recruited for.
  5. The candidate gets to ask questions to the interviewer. This is an opportunity for the candidate to learn more about the company or manager or position.

My Interview questions

Tell me about your last jobs / job? (I go back maybe 3-5 years so this might be one job or several.)

Why I ask this:

It is an initial standard, boring questions to get someone talking. I want to understand the make up of their team eg how many analysts was in the team, were they in one area or geographically dispersed, what was their role in the team eg were they junior or a senior member in the team, how many tickets did they deal with? What types of tickets did they work on?

I might ask some questions off the back of their initial answers but ultimately I want to know if they have been working for a company of 10 people total and my organisation is 10,000 people…there might be a gap. If this is you, really think about how you might show you can take on the step up. A company of 10,000 is going to be more structured and possibly you might have less responsibilities / you won’t get able to have access to as much as you did in the smaller company to get involved in, so have you through about this?

If someone has had multiple jobs, then I might ask :

What was your best job and why?

Why I ask this:

I want to know why they liked it, maybe they had a great manager or team? Maybe every Friday they were out to a bar with their team and other people from the department which made for a fun environment etc and maybe my environment might align to what they liked in their best job.

What is your greatest achievement either at work or out of work?

Why I ask this:

This gives the candidate the opportunity to puff out their chest out and be proud of something. It is also a good gauge to see what people are proud of and look at some of the personal qualities shown by the candidate when sharing these stories.

Some example answers I have had:

“I took in a stray dog when I had just left school at 18. Nobody in my family believed I could take care of this dog. I am therefore very proud to say that dog is still living with me 5 years later.”

“I stayed late to sort out a laptop for one of the members of staff. I was the only one who could sort this out as I was the only one with the level of access and had sorted out this persons issues with the particular software in question. The next day the person bought me a box of chocolates for staying late and helping them.”

“I sourced and was the main person to deal with an audio and visual company to come in and replace all the audio and visual equipment in our large meeting room where townhall’s with the entire office took place. After the replacement I was the main person to train up my team on how to use the equipment. After replacing the equipment there was never any issues hosting and running a townhall.”

What would you do if you are dealing with an issue with one member of the business and then the Managing Director (MD) comes over to you and needs your help urgently in the meeting room. What would you do?

Why I ask this:

This is a customer experience questions. Ultimately the most senior person in an organisation is asking for urgent help but you are dealing with an issue already. How are you going to deal with this?

eg:

  1. Are you going to drop everything, walk away from the existing issue and go help the MD?
  2. Are you going to ask the business person if it is ok to go take a look and help the MD?
  3. Are you going to ask a colleague if they can help take over helping the business user issues while you go help the MD?
  4. Are you going to turn around to the MD and say ‘I’m busy already, go find someone else’
  5. Are you going to run out the door scream ‘I can’t take this pressure!!!!’?

My whole ethos about IT support is the customer experience so this is key question for me to assess if we are aligned or not?

What is a CAB or a Change Advisory Board?

Why I ask this:

  • Do you know about ITIL?
  • Do you know how changes work in an ITIL environment?

What is the difference between an incident and a request?

Why I ask this:

  • What do you know about ITIL?
  • What do you know about IT operations, logging tickets and maybe SLA which normally are different when talking about an incident vs a request

Someone in marketing is trying to print to a printer in the office they have always printed to and nothing is coming out, what would you do?

Why I ask this:

I want to see how you troubleshoot an issue eg

  • How are you managing the customer experience? Are they under any time pressures? Are they late for a meeting so you can’t troubleshoot for a long time so need a workaround for now and can go back and fix it when there is more time?
  • Ask the person to reboot their machine and try again?
  • Can you print to that printer?
  • Is there any error messages on the printer?
  • Has the printer got paper?
  • Can you ping that printer?
  • Is the printer plugged in?
  • Can you reboot the printer?
  • Have you reloaded the printer on the persons machine?
  • Can anyone else print to that printer?

Someone is working from home and their internal webcam eg integrated into the laptop isn’t working in Microsoft Teams, what do you do to try and solve this issue?

Why I ask this:

I want to see how you troubleshoot an issue remotely when you can’t get your hands on the machine. What things would you check or are initial things you would try to solve this?

  • How are you managing the customer experience? Are they under any time pressures? Are they late for a meeting so you can’t troubleshoot for a long time so need a workaround for now and can go back and fix it when there is more time?
  • Have you rebooted the machine?
  • Does the webcam pick up in other programs eg skype? Webex?
  • What is the error message? Have you googled it?
  • Have you reloaded the drivers?
  • Has the person got another webcam eg an external webcam that they could use.

Some one is working in the office and they can’t connect to anything on the network. You run a cmd – ipconfig command and see their IP address is 169.254.x.x. What would you do?

Why I ask this:

  • How are you managing the customer experience? Are they under any time pressures? Can they work from another desk? Are they late for a meeting so you can’t troubleshoot for a long time so need a workaround for now and can go back and fix it when there is more time?
  • What do you know about the special address range of 169.254.x.x?
  • Have you released and renewed the ip address?
  • Have you checked the patching?
  • Is the network cable plugged directly into the computer or via the IP Phone? Can you plug the network cable directly into the computer instead of via the phone?
  • Have you reseated the network cables?

Tell me a time where an issues hasn’t gone well or you made a mistake. How did you mitigate it or recover the situation?

Why I ask this:

EVERYONE makes mistakes. Anyone that tells you they haven’t is lying or is a weak individual that they can’t admit their faults. I have made small to massive mistakes during my career. eg many, many years ago I encrypted a directors ‘my documents’ on this laptop as this was an IT project to encrypt peoples documents if they were working on a laptop. Unfortunately he hadn’t backed up these files to the server and then accidentally I deleted the private key needed to decrypt all the documents on this laptop. As result all the documents in ‘my documents’ was encrypted and there was no ways to decrypt them. That was a fun day…no, it was SO NOT a fun day.

So I want to know are you able to admit a mistake? What happened? How did you recover the situation? Did you escalate this to your manager and get their help or did you go it alone to recover the situation? How did you manage the customer experience?

My teams know I would rather put out little fires then big forest fires. Therefore if you keep an issue from me and it blows up from a little issue to a massive issue with escalations and lots of people very upset then that is a less than ideal situation for me to deal with. Managers should be there to support and help in these situations.

Why do you work in IT support?

Why I ask this:

I want to see if we are aligned. Answers that involve words like I enjoy speaking to people, I enjoy solving peoples problem or I like to make sure of a good customer experience are much better than, it’s just a job to pay the bills and to be honest I hate dealing with people but I need to do this job to get into networks or systems which is my dream job. An answer like this makes me sad and probably the interview isn’t going last too much longer.

What would be the result if I was to block port 80 on a users computer?

Why I ask this:

Do you know the IP ports of common protocols? eg the result of this action would be the user would not be able to access the internet as this is the port the computer uses to go out to the internet.

Curve ball question. Tell me your best friends name and tell me their best and worst quality?

Why I ask this :

Surprise question that you didn’t see coming, did you! This is all about catching someone off their guard with a question they have not prepared for. Everyone prepares to answer questions on themselves but not their best friend. So this is a bit of reverse psychology. Imagine your best friend is Ben. If Ben’s best quality is he likes to help people and his worse quality is he is always late. Then depending how the rest of the interview has gone, I might be drawing up the contract and hiring that person on the spot, why?

The best quality of a person is usually an aspirational quality of the person talking about their best friend that they want to be more like. I am all about customer experience and helping people so this is a pretty good quality to highlight that is their best friend best quality is also helping people.

The worse quality of Ben is he is always late. It is reasonable to guess the person saying this is always on time and is always waiting for Ben. Therefore I would assume that the person I am interviewing will always be on time to work and for meetings.

I have had a few people be so surprised by this question that they answer that their computer is their best friend. Please don’t use this as the answer. There isn’t many places to go when the answer for the best friends best quality is the computers load time and the worst quality is it tiny hard drive.

Questions to ask at the end of an interview to the interviewer

Never leave an interview without asking any questions at the end of the interview. Any job will mean you spend more time at work then you see your loved ones. You might want to make sure you will be happy working at the company if you are successful and you know what you are going to be doing.

Some example questions:

  • Can you explain what a normal day/ week might look like for me eg duties and responsibilities if I am successful at this job?
  • Can you tell me what hours are worked eg are you going to be on duty 9am-5pm? Are there shifts?
  • How often do team meetings and 1:1’s take place with you and the team?
  • Can you give me an overview of the team members I will be working with?
  • What projects might be coming up that I might be involved in?
  • Why do you like working at this company?
  • What would you change to make your or the teams life better, if you had a magic wand and money / budgets were unlimited.
  • What is your biggest achievement while you have been working at this company?
  • What is the biggest issue for the team at the moment?
  • What would you expect of me/goals/targets during my first 3-6 months?
  • Name your best friend and their best and worst quality? Reasoning above.
  • Can I see where I might be working? Note : A clean environment rather than a messy environment is normally preferred.

What can you do to better prepare for interviews?

Dress to impress, I might be old school but while you might be comfortable in shorts and t shirts, if I am the interviewer and I am wearing a suit…how comfortable would you be feeling in interview when you are there to impress me but you are wearing an old t-shirt? It is better to overdress than under dress for an interview.

If the interview is a video conference. Make sure you have a neutral or plain wall background. You may love a sports team and have all their posters but don’t have them in the background to your video conference. That a) is distracting to the interviewer b) if the interviewer or their team hates your sports team, it might impact the interview or your chances of getting to the next stage. A neutral or plan background means there are no distractions, so the interviewer focuses on you.

Try answering the interview questions I listed earlier on to your mum, dad, loved one and see if they understand what you are saying or they get lost in your description of your work back ground or other answers. You must be able to explain things in plain terms. In an interview I might ask you what is a ping, so if your mum / dad /loved one also asked this and you could explain this in simple terms to them then you are ahead of the game. Some people in a business really do not know too much about computers and this is not a bad thing. They are much better then you at the jobs they are paid to do. Remember this the next time someone on the support desk scoffs/laughs that someone didn’t know how to reboot their computer or do something you on the support desk think is SO easy. If you come at the business person with really technical phases and make them feel stupid then this might be a recipe to inflame the situation. You have to be able to explain things in plain term and making sure the customer experience is on point.

Remember, Einstein once said :

“If you can’t explain things simply, you don’t understand it well enough”

I have unfortunately met and worked with lots of IT people who this quote is very true for.

Put away your phone and make sure it is on silent. The second you look at your phone in an interview then you are saying to the interviewer my phone is more important then you. Game over.

Look up the company and what they do and maybe look up the interviewers on LinkedIn to know their background. If the interviewer has just started at the company, then you could asked ‘I noticed on Linkedin you have just started at the company. How are you getting on starting at x company?’. Show some interest in what the company does, who runs it, some recent news etc if you are asked ‘what do you know about this company’ you need to say something.

Answer questions as ‘I’ and not ‘we’. I want to know what you (the candidate) did not what a collective did. If a candidate answers questions as ‘we did this’ we did that’ it gives the impression the candidate was in the backseat and didn’t really know what was going on, they were more going along for the ride.

DO NOT BE LATE. If needs be, go on a visit to the office ahead on weekend or after work on weekday before the interview to make sure you know where to go on the day or allow plenty of time to get to the interview on the day. You would rather be walking around outside the office killing time before the interview then flustered and late for the interview. I have cancelled interviews if the candidate was more then 10mins late, plenty more candidates who can be on time out there. Do not be the one who does not make it past reception as they have arrived late.

Learn about ITIL, it is a framework most companies use to organise and run their IT department so knowing something about this or getting the foundation exam is a massive bonus. I know ITIL can be a little dry but this is a book I recommend to everyone and is even funny in parts explaining what ITIL is. Click here

This is an article I wrote explaining ITIL click here as an interior design catalogue…go with it people.

Try out Servicenow. Servicenow is one of the biggest IT Service Management (ITSM) tools used by most organisations. So learn how to log tickets, reassign tickets to different teams, close tickets etc. You can get a free instance of Servicenow via their developer portal here

I have also put together some Servicenow videos that are available on my blog for more of a delve into the inner workings of Servicenow. click here

Do you know how to change someone password? What is AD? What is a ping? What is a tracert?

There are plenty of resources. Watch Kevin Apolinario (click here) and Zac Hill’s (click here) youtube channels which are great. Have a play and learn about different software eg:

Microsoft Learning Centre : https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/browse/ – English, other languages are available.

AWS fundamental free training https://explore.skillbuilder.aws/learn/public/learning_plan/view/82/cloud-foundations-learning-plan

Networking basics by Cisco for free https://www.cisco.com/c/en_uk/solutions/small-business/resource-center/networking/networking-basics.html

Then there are sites such as :

https://www.udemy.com/

https://www.coursera.org/

If you want to start paying for courses which go into more depth.

Blog. Like I said earlier, on CV it is hard to differentiate most IT support candidates so one way to be different and stand out from the crowd is start a blog. This blog costs me about $20 per year for the domain and is set up on WordPress. However, if you click about, you learn about me that you wouldn’t learn from reading my CV. Therefore my blog help make me stand out from the crowd as any hiring manager can look at my blog and click through my articles in their own time, to work out if they want to interview me and can build up a picture of my thinking prior to the interview. As this is just a link on my CV. If you were to blog about technologies you are interested in, your opinions or views it lets people know about you and you might align to a hiring managers thinking before the interview.

I hope this helps and I would really love to hear what you think of this article? These articles are written to lay out everything I do and want to learn how to be better. So please leave any comments how I could run an interview better. Do you agree / disagree with some of the questions? Are there any questions I am missing? What has been your best and worst questions asked?

Five laws of incidents and problems

Incidents and problems are in place to restore a service, fix an issue, work out why the issue or outage happened in the first place and then try and make sure this doesn’t happen again. All teams should be working together to make sure there is minimum downtime to the business on all incidents provided the right priorities are followed. We have all seen the analogies of incidents and problems.

eg. http://www.reddit.com/r/ITIL/comments/2d1zga/how_do_you_explain_the_difference_between/

https://itilbegood.com/2014/07/28/requests-incidents-problems-and-known-errors-in-a-nutshell/

However, where it gets a bit confusing is, where does investigating an incidents root cause and resolving the service cross over into problem root cause territory. Why should an engineer set about investigating an outage have to raise a problem if they have the incident from the customer, surely this all seems like a lot of paperwork for a few clicks?

Therefore, I wanted to put a stake in the ground, after a few years doing support, and then everyone can shout me down but at the end of the discussion / bloodbath we might have a solution. Of course it does depend upon organisations but there seems to be some confusion on incidents and problems.

At the heart of the matter is this truth,

Between incidents and problems, you should be able to restore the service quickly and root cause found with the cause of the incidents being mitigated or a work around published, so future incidents can be fixed quicker. The whole purpose is to provide fixes to the business so the business operation is minimally impacted. If there is an impact, the situation should be recovered and steps to mitigate the impact or minimise it, the next time it occurs.

Ok, so lets look at two incidents, one a customer can’t access their file shares and one customer calls in and says their Citrix sessions have hung…..and two minutes later another person calls up to say their citrix session have also hung.

The first one, the support engineer would pick up the call and after some trouble shooting realise the customers password had expired, reset and reboot, the customer is up and running. The way to mitigate it is to tell the customer to reset the password before it expires. So, this process has gone through the restore of service, finding the root cause and mitigating the issue.

Next, the engineer checks the Citrix session and finds out both customers are on the same server, the engineer can not remote onto the server, therefore the server looks like it has crashed. There is a known error entry which tells the engineer to take the server out of the load balancer and reset the customers sessions, the customers will re-connect to another server so service is restored. The engineer then reboots the server and upon reboot the server looks fine. However, would you put the server back into the live environment?

These two incidents illustrate the issue, the engineer on the first call was competent to go through all the steps and complete the incident. However, is the engineer competent to go through all the steps of trouble shooting the server? Maybe not, maybe a Citrix team needs to be involved in checking out the server before the server is put back in to the production environment. This is where a problem should be raised, the incident can be closed or linked to the problem but a problem should be raised as the server needs to be checked out why it crashed but the production environment continues to function.

Law one, raising a problem comes down to the competency of the support team. Can  they restore the service, find the root cause and mitigate it in an incident or can they only restore the service and then raise a problem for a specialist team to find the root cause and mitigate the issue.

Next, time needs to be monitored on incidents. Engineers love to trouble shoot it and fix issues, trying fix after fix to get to the bottom of the issue, however, this may take an hour. However, is this good for the business? If the engineer could put in a work around for the issue in the first 5 mins and leave the customer to get on with their day but raise a problem to investigate the issue further without needing to bother the customer, then surely this is a better way of working from the business point of view?

Law two, incidents, where a work around is present this should be implemented and a problem should be raised to find the root cause at a later date. The priority is to restore the service to the business.

When to raise a problem should be a thing of governance. ITIL explains this ITIL Service Operation page 99 (service operation process – Incidents versus problems)

The rules for invoking problem management during an incident can vary and are at the discretion of individual organisations.

Therefore when to raise a problem is up to the organisation. In the examples of the Citrix server, I would suggest a problem should be raise when the impact is to many customers, a key service or server is impacted or to group incidents together to raise to 3rd party suppliers in supplier meetings, eg the support teams notice a few hard drives are failing in the first few months. These incidents could be group togeher to raise to the 3rd party supplier.

Law three, governance should write up rules on when a problem should be raised and clearly communicated to the IT organisation.

eg A problem should be raised for all Citrix server crashes and assigned to the Citrix team

Incidents should be monitored for trends and to check if a problem could be raised to mitigate recurring incidents. Monitoring the incidents can also help check if a work around could be put in place for a long running incident and problem raised to find the root cause.

Law four, all incidents should be monitored for trend analysis and time to fix to see if a problem can be raised to mitigate the underlying issue.

Finally, once the root cause is found either through incidents and problems, one of two things should happen :

– Mitigate the issue.
– Add the issue to the known error database with a workaround / fix.

Law five, all root causes should be mitigated or the fix time shortened by writing up a known error entry with a fix or work around.

I believe by following these laws engineers have scope to troubleshoot issues as they come in whilst the business operation down time is minimised.

What does everyone think?

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.

Requests, Incidents, Problems and Known Errors in a nutshell

Over the past few weeks I have noticed some talk and discussion around what incidents, problems and requests are and what are the differences between them on some of the ITIL blogs. So here is my take :

Requests

These are requests made by the customer, eg please can you install x software or please can you replace the toner on the sales printer. These types of ‘can I haves’ should be logged as a request. These are separate to incidents, as they will have different SLA’s and priorities associated to them. Installing a piece of software for one member of the sales team has a different priority than someone in the sales team can’t access the network shares.

Incidents

These are for when thing breaks or isn’t working. eg My PC won’t turn on, I can’t access any network shares or none of the print outs are coming out of the printer. These are different to requests as it normally means the customer or team cannot work or a service is degraded so they can’t work as well. The person who picks up the incident will associate a priority eg a whole office who can’t access the network might be a Priority 1 incidents and a customer who can’t print might be a priority 3 call. These priorities should be documented with an SLA associated to them so the business will know roughly how log an incident of this type will take to fix. Again, it is up to you and the business to work out these priorities and SLA’s, ITIL is just a guide. The incident can be closed when the incident is fix permanently or a work around has been put in place which restores the service back to normal.

Ahh, and this is where some will wheel out the old chestnut, is a password reset and incident or a request?

Answer

1) Why is this not automated? Plenty of tools can allow the customer re set their password themselves without needing to log a incidents/request.

2) It is up to you and how you want to define it. All you are trying to do is separate incidents (priority) over a request (sometimes, not as higher priority, as an incident), be able to produce stats on the two to show trends to help with incident and request management and reporting to the business to show how great IT are.

Problems

What happens if all that the person who picks up the incident, can do is produce a work around or doesn’t know why the fix worked or multiple customers are logging the same type of incident eg reboot the PC and the problem goes away or all that can be done to resolve the incident is produce a work around, meaning the issues still exists but there is a sticky plaster to hold everything together? Now, problems come into play. Problems are something where a virtual problem team or an individual can look into the issue deeper, hopefully finding out the root cause and a permanent fix. A problem is also something that can be taken ‘off line’. The service has been restored as the incident has been closed so the danger has past but the problem can be used to investigate over a longer period to find the real issue.

Known errors

Through your diligent problem management and investigation, the root cause is found. However, like most things in life, it is not an easy fix. The fix requires a new server, cabling or the manufacturer of the component has acknowledged there is an issue but there is no driver update so all you can do is stick with the work around. ITIL has rather cleverly thought of this scenario and known errors can be used.

e.g.

An incident was logged and a workaround took two days to come up with but the manufacturer needs to update a drives before a permanent fix can be implemented. If someone logs a similar issues, the wheel doesn’t need to be created again, a known error should of been created after the first incidents work around was found so this can be used to implement a fix/work around quickly for the second incident.

A known error and the known error database greatly reduces the fix times for subsequent and similar incidents which are awaiting permanent fixes or there are other reasons why a permanent fix can’t be implemented, so a work around is as good as it is going to get.

Hopefully, requests, incidents, problems and known errors are a little clear on what they are and what the differences are.

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.

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.