Thursday, June 16, 2011

Service Desk Plan

Continuing from my last post about investing in your Service Desk here is a Service Desk bullet plan. Take what you need from it.

Service Desk Plan:

Goal: “Act as a central point of contact and provide a customer interface for IT Services”

Provide a 1st class effective service, add value and be an asset to the business.

Operational Needs:

• Rota to cover hours of Service: Monday – Thursday 8am to 5pm, Friday 8am to 4:30pm
• Configured Service Management Tool
• CMDB and Asset Database
• Accurate and Updated Knowledge Base
• Clear Policies & Procedures
• Better Internal Communication between teams

Customer Service:

• Answering Phone takes priority over other jobs
• Pick up New Requests promptly
• Check & Respond to Customer Updates promptly
• Take Ownership of calls – Diagnose/Allocation/Escalation including Estates Power issues
• Resolved Calls – Follow Up Everyday
• Check and Action VoiceMail
• Provide help and customer focused support inline with SLAs and SLTs published on Intranet
• User Education on SLA’s, processes and Knowledge Base
• Manage customer and user expectations
• Positive Professional Attitude and Image (Dress Code)
• Clear Escalation processes

Monitor & Measure:

• SLT Reports/Regular KPI reviews
• Monitoring Tools on Wall – Electronic Dashboards for Telephone Stats/Network Connectivity
• Customer Surveys & Feedback
• Telephone Surveys for boarder baseline
• Call Reviews/Spot Checks/Mystery Shopper

Training & Development:

• Direction and Support from Management and the business
• Regular Meetings and Coaching 1 to 1 Sessions
• Customer Service Training for Team
• Modern Apprentice – Support/KPI
• Job Shadowing
• Performance Reviews/Meet Appraisal Targets
• Hard Drive/Online Training

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Service Desk is the HUB of IT Customer Services

The Service Desk is the Customer Hub of IT Operations. It acts as the connection and central point of contact between users and customers of the IT Services. It is the most important ITIL function ensuring that user satisfaction and customer expectations are managed.

The Service Desk records and manages incidents and calls throughout their life cycle taking ownership to ensure incidents are monitored, escalated and resolved according to agreed service levels.

Your Service Desk needs to be customer focused and take ownership of calls to the service doing more than the traditional old Help Desk of just logging calls. For Service Desks to add value they need key ingredients, tangible commitment and proper resource.

With the Service Desk involved and linked to so many ITIL processes it could be the single point of failure of the whole service and perception of your IT department.

When properly understood and resourced your Service Desk can free up more time for proactive development and project work that can improve services and create more business opportunities on the backend. Instead of 90% support and fire fighting a more balance breakdown of 60% support and 40% development.

Your organisation will need to communicate, educate customers how to report PC problems and provide knowledge share to reduce dependency on the Service Desk long term.

Good service desk software with a built in public knowledge base will help get users up and running quickly with minimum disruption and help reduce call volumes and free up time for proactive duties.

Your Service Desk needs the right people and staffing levels will depend on your environment and user base, every business is unique and may vary depending on any other duties your Service Desk performs e.g. Account Set-Up, Admin.

Excellent Service Desks provide easy of access and availability to meet users demanding requirements and provide customer focused support which is in line with SLA & SLTs.

Make sure you measure and collect meaningful statistics and customer focused KPI to calculate and demonstrate the justification to the business and investment levels required for the Service Desk Function.

Team Motivation and pay rewards for better skills sets will help lower staff turnover on 1st line. Remember Service Desks keep businesses running so give them the recognition and status they deserve. Only with solid planning, investment and service leadership will your desk be able to go from reactive environment to a customer led service desk.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hiring and Recruiting IT Services Staff

In management one of the most important decisions you make is during the recruitment process. The Staff represents the image, voice and perception of customer service so hiring the right people is essential for the business to run and improve.

Get the details of duties, responsibilities and ITIL process ownership in each job description. Include your company and department values to help set the expectations of the role and its purpose. Sell the role, your team and the organisation.

Keep the interview relaxed and informal to put the interviewee at ease and help them open up. Measure candidates’ against the job description desirable and essential skills/experience set. Ask the same set of open answers to each candidate and probe in depth based on their answers.

Look for core skills like team work, customer focus, personally responsibility, can they take ownership and have a service mindset. Do they pay attention to detail and are they able to cope with workloads and project pressure?

Look for “soft skills” like communication, listening not just the technology and problem solving skills. Will they fit in to the current team and blend in with the service culture. What benefits will they bring to the business?

Good talent is hard to find so once employed you’ll must to be look after people’s career and personal development. Empower them to grow, discuss they career goals and how you can increase their potential.

Provide a fun learning environment to reduce staff turnover and make them welcome. Your customer satisfaction and service levels depend on the people you hire. Great staff will provide great service so make sure you nurture and develop them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Microsoft Windows 8 is Dead like the PC Desktop

Back in 2008 I saw Virtual Desktop in action and thought how wonderful it would be to jump on any PC in the world and connect to “my desktop”. The idea of a PC where all your software is installed seems irrelevant now, an old legacy idea.

An idea that is sold to us every year when we are told to upgrade our PC’s, upgrade our operating systems but downgrade our spending. Window Vista was not a great success and our desktop clients still remain on trusty old Windows XP.

Is there any need to migrate to Window 7 now? Should we drop the idea of desktop computing and move in to cloud computing? Running all the apps we need via the Internet in Software as a service (SaaS) environment. Now the PC is the Internet.

It would seem Microsoft missed a trick. Most software, database tools now run in a browser window. Providing your network is up and running then your software is accessible from anywhere.

Today people want to be “connected”. Socially connected to friends, family, entertainment and gaming. From a business point of view connected to customers, colleagues, business software and reporting tools.

• Imagine not having to install software any more it’s all installed once on the server.
• From any PC in the world with an Internet connection you can access your custom apps and data.
• No need buy high spec PCs or image them anymore unless you run CAD software or intense media/graphical applications.

No matter what your desktop and software strategy is, it all needs managing. You can’t simply copy and paste your operating system, software and data to the Cloud.

The traditional desktop may be a barrier but you know your data is on your network and safe. However if you are spending pallets of cash every year on buying desktops machines then Virtual Desktop/Cloud Strategy makes sense to me even if it’s running on your “own company cloud”.

If you don’t have that sort of cash then Google Apps for business may be a solution that avoids paying those high software license fees to Microsoft. Application Service Providers are the new “Microsoft”, soon the only software you’ll need to install locally is your browser client so you can work from the beach house and avoid that commute everyday.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Writing & Supporting an ITIL Business Case

Preparing a ITIL business case to present the benefits of spending money on something the Board doesn’t understand can be hard work. Proving the development project will deliver value-adding results and Return on Investment is a challenge in today’s environment.

All the board want to know is “how much will it cost” and “what will it save financially”.

Not every IT project is about huge spending to achieve long term saving. It depends on the business goals. Spending money to improve customer service and retain existing customer base is money well spent in my eyes.

This is what ITIL can do for your business if properly executed. The return on investment out weighs the return on spending if you’re increasing quality, building customer relationships, productivity, accountability, gaining over the competition, reducing the cost of ownership, reduce waste, preventing security breaches and opening up new opportunities.

ITIL will increase your delivery and support levels but it also requires culture change for best practise to be a success. Success as always needs planning and you’ll need to review your goals and decide what you want from the implementation.

ITIL is very flexible and can be adapted to organisations big and small, take the processes and functions that will develop your business and it’s growth. The bottom line is service improvement needs “buy in from the top” to drive the ITIL project forward and deal with resistance.

Service Management will bring cost saving and quality review to IT departments. This mean understanding your current environment and understanding the changes needed across IT Service Support & Delivery. Including Incident, Problem, Change, Release, Configuration, Availability, Financial, Capacity Management.

At the core is your Strategy, surrounded and delivered by the people, processes, partners and technology. Improving all these will maximise the IT budget and allow return on investment to take effect. If ITIL doesn’t complement your business then you don’t need really need an ITIL business case in the first place.

Start by assessing/measuring ROI and look how you can explain the long term efforts, the impact or losses if you don’t use ITIL best practise approach. This argument works if you can explain the impact and risk of not having or developing Incident Management, Problem Management or Business Continuity Plan.

Resistance to ITIL is often related to the fear of change and lack of investment buy in. Proving and quantifying ITIL improvements and defining the business benefits is not always easy for ITIL Managers. My advice is to look for quick wins and short term gains to please the Board.

For example, explain and calculate the costs of downtime and damage to reputation because of lack of Availability Management, Capacity Management and Security Management. Another approach to securing some financial backing is to look at the support costs per customer versus and demonstrate the saving if ITIL is implemented. E.g. Call resolution costs = £40. After project deployed call costs reduced to £15.

Show these to senior Executives and the Board of Directors and you may find they want to you to take some action and increase your budget to meet the deliverables. The saving money tactic usually lights up Executive faces because most see IT as a cost and not a business driver.

You’ll need to show that ITIL will bring value for money and help deliver the long term business goals and of the organisation, like increased revenue, reduced costs, a better understanding of your customers and encourage a proactive and profitable company.

Aligning your IT Service with company goals and show you want to work along side the business to deliver your company’s goals. Connect the dots from your role to your company’s vision and key objectives. How does your work align with the organization’s goals? What can you do to maximize ROI from IT Services?

In some cases the golf playing Executives don’t full understand IT so you can roll-out your own ITIL business case without there knowledge or play on their fears to secure the investment. If you fail to get understanding at board level and the necessary time, resources and hard cash then try making up some “white paper” type facts or inserting some pretty colour graphic and charts in to your business case.

Sometimes the right perception and use of buzzwords can work in your favour to grab some ITIL project funding. Try re-label it as “Microsoft Operations Framework”.

To secure your ITIL business case and budget you may need some marketing spin or to start playing golf. But then again if you need to make stuff up you probably don’t need ITIL in the first place.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Internet User Policy and Internet Acceptable Use

The misuse of the Internet represents a loss of productivity and abuse of resources for non-business needs. Employee productively, network performance, security issues, legal liability and bad publicity can affect company’s who fail to have a policy and the right tools in place.

Controlling Internet usage to stop staff surfing for Internet porn, legal downloads, taking up bandwidth and legal liability or behaviour that may damage reputation. An Internet Acceptable Use policy can clarify company usage, protect against liability and security threats and educate users on effective good practise and the consequences for breaching the policy.

You’ll need to decide how much personal Internet use is acceptable and what types of content and sites/files need to be blocked and locked down. Porn, Gambling, Harmful sites, Social Networking Sites, File Sharing and as well as blocking image files (bmp, gif, jpg, png, tif), movies/music (avi, mpg, mp3) and executable files so users can’t download or run them.

Another issue is protecting company secrets and data. You’ll need to educate users and make sure they understand password security, the breach of confidence, copyright, data protection and not forgetting digital harassment like racial/sexual. Managers across the organisation also have a responsibility to ensure that they fully understand the email policy and effectively communicate this to staff.

My advice is to write your policy before evaluating any web site monitoring, filtering and blocking solution and work closely with your HR department to lay down the ground rules for employees. In addition also make sure the software reporting is half decent so you can get useful and reliable data out should/when a nasty breach or event is escalated to IT.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

FREE ITIL Movement - Continuous Service Improvement means moving to Open Source ITIL

ITIL feels like a club membership where you need to spend thousands to train, study and implement. By all means let the exam board charge me a small admin fee to maintain exam standards and quality but I should be able to have access to free ITIL material.

After all ITIL is a framework and set of considerations, not global law you must follow. So why not let me consider them for free and then I’ll decide for myself if it’s beneficial to spend the extra money on consultants, books, software, ITIL process maps, events, vendors or just browse the web community for real world guides and tips.

If ITIL is “best practise” (in theory) why not let colleges/universities teach it at least the foundation or primer level. Lots of other subjects teach theory so why leave IT Service Management theory out? When graduates finish studying and start work in the real world of IT employment it would be great if they knew the ITIL jargon and service management terminology the industry uses.

Let’s promote “Open Source ITIL” - developed by people for people to serve the customer. It would certainly make the subject of ITIL more accessible. If Continuous Service Improvement matters then let the people working in IT Service Management make ITIL V4 better in an open environment.

More freedom and license with ITIL will mean collective minds can develop better ideas and creativity for business benefit and service improvement. Not just for IT but for the Service Management industry in general like Human Resources, Estates and Facilities Departments.

Why keep inventing the wheel? Together as a community the implementation will be less painful and costly for all and the customer should experience the results.

I already own shares in most of the British high street banks so why not let me own a stake in ITIL too. Remember my British taxes paid for ITIL development in the first place.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Operational Acceptance Testing and Release Management

Before releasing things into the “wild” I’d like to think we’ve done some planning, risk assessment, backup contingency/recovery plan, hopefully some availability and capacity management to test reliability, also may be some training would be nice and most importantly does it pass the customer and user acceptance as fit for use and fit for purpose to meet business needs.

Wouldn’t it be nice to do these things even before release? Do a bit of forward thinking and actually liaise with stakeholders and the business to make sure the “system” works. Project Teams may even be able to reach up and get their dusty PRINCE2 manual of the shelf too.

Another thing that would be very helpful would be some communication, a dialog between the business and IT might be beneficial for delivering things they what and are practical and usable. Dare I even say “add value”?

In a nutshell quality management, monitoring, software testing will help you deliver customer acceptance and customer joy. Managing complex system is made easier by mapping the inter-dependencies between people, processes, products and partners. That’s what makes any system distribute quality and value.

Before and after release monitor metrics than identify service improvements for Version 2 and repeat OAT again. Remember costs don’t stop at the end of the project – ongoing support and operational cost need to be factored in.

Unless you want to keep trying to fit squares in to round holes I suggest Operational Acceptance Testing is factored in to your Release Management or you may find the whole project drops in to a hole.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Planning

Business Continuity and Disaster plan is not something to skim over. As a manager or business owner it needs to be well thought out to try and cover all the risks to your business and services. Unplanned events out of your control need to be planned and insured for.

The loss of vital computer data, customer records and IT systems could cause enough disruption to hurt your market share, cause massive financial loss or even devastate your company so much you go out of business.
A good Business Continuity Plan should enable an organisation to function and ensure the availability of services and resources should disaster strike. If a critical event happens the ability to operate “business as usual” play an important part of company survival.

Example of threats and disruptive events include:

• Fire, Flood, Hurricane, Health Epidemic and environmental disasters
• Terrorism, Warfare, Theft, Cyber Crime, Arson, Employee Sabotage
• Power Failure, Air Conditioning, Data loss, unrecoverable information

Protecting against all these different threat types can get very costly. For IT guarding your data centre and infrastructure against communication failures, virus/spam attacks, security breaches and natural disasters can costs hundreds of thousands if not millions.

Dumping everything on the cloud is an option but you still have issues surround back-up and information security. Therefore a carefully risk assessment of each threat based on:

A. Probability of an event occurring and
B. Potential loss and damage to business

Calculating the likelihood and the financial and business impacts are a good outline of where you need to concentrate your budget and which events are important to your business continuity plan.

Ranking threats, loss and probability and develop a plan that Reduces, Prevents, Deterrents and Protects against vulnerabilities. Simple counter actions could be to back up off site, network connectivity, anti virus software, insurance to cover losses and correct staff security measures.

It important to develop procedures (course of action for each threat), train staff and frequently review and test before an event takes place. Make sure you have a crisis communication and emergency contact plan so stakeholders, employees, customers and suppliers can be updated and people are aware of any changes in place until the threat is resolved.

If your business continuity is resourced and managed no one apart from your staff may notice your HQ was hit by a giant meteor a month ago.

Friday, January 14, 2011

ITIL Training Secured

I have secured over £12500 of ITIL and Office 2007 training for my staff. Good news for a Friday. Things are looking up. The Active Directory project is moving along and training is been done in house directly by me. Nice to mix it up with the team, they have been working so hard re-patching sites and dealing with office moves. In the space of three days we have received many well done’s and thanks for all the hard work.

But there is still much more to do.

Monday, January 10, 2011

To AD or not AD

Returning after the Christmas period I have a clear focus on what needs to be done over the next few months. However Active Directory Management has landed in my domain (AD joke) and no decisions have been made on the overall structure once the merger is complete. There are many processes and procedures that need creating and refining and AD is a full time job here. In addition to the extra network planning needed, we seem to be a little short of communication and decision on how AD will transfer from Networks to my teams.

Ideally what we need is a tool that can automate all AD admin such as Account Creation, Password Resets, Permissions and all the basic level stuff that impacts heavily on IT resources. I even have a solution in mind from past experience. A wonderful piece of software that would solve the problem, cut costs and make us more proactive overnight.

On the downside the cost is around £60,000 but with my contacts I could reduce the cost to around £40,000. With the “credit crush” and merger looks like it’s time to start writing a business case and upping our game plan. Unless the business wants me to be the most expensive Active Directory guy in the world! LOL

Once it’s nailed and people are trained I can regain focus on other things that generate unnecessary work for the business. By the end of the project the staff saving will be 25K per year plus any ROI from efficient savings.