Blog
describe the image

The Linium Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Getting Your Cloud Service Model Up and Running: Measure What Matters

 

In my last blog, I discussed some things to consider when establishing a relationship with a new cloud-services provider.  Getting involved early, determining the support model and establishing a regular cadence for continuous improvement are all critical to getting the service off the ground.  But how do you know you’re actually off the ground?  By measuring and reporting supplier performance.

Metrics, KPIs and SLAs are a well-traveled road.  If you Google “KPI” today, you’ll get over eight-million hits.  With that much information, where does one begin?

Metrics Blog Graphic v2

Think Small

It is far better to have just a few sharply-targeted metrics that correlate highly with business goals and customer needs than it is to try to measure everything about a supplier relationship. So, as you consider what you want to measure, think hard about how improving a result might tie back to that for which your customers are willing to pay.  This is a case where more is most assuredly not better.  Just a few relevant metrics are much more impactful than a vast page of numbers.

Think Big

When you’re selecting a suite of measures, consider the big picture.  Every supplier relationship will be similar in nature, but will contain some unique differences.  So as you pick the metrics to measure service delivery, consider consolidating them into three main groupings:

Metric Group #1:  Foundational – This is a set of metrics that apply to all your suppliers no matter what they do for you.  A good example is Total Cost/Unit of Work delivered.  Every good manager wants to know whether a supplier’s service delivery is more cost-efficient than alternatives.

Metric Group #2:  Category-Weighted– Consider what’s most important in this supplier relationship:

  • Service stability
  • Service functionality
  • How well the partnership is working

If these are the right categories for you, select metrics that measure each of them, then weight them to emphasize the category that’s more important in that particular relationship.

Metric Group #3:  Service-Specific – Every service will have something about it that makes it unique.  In a call-center context for example, you might want to measure Average Handle time (AHT) as a proxy for customer satisfaction.  So, for each service, identify those characteristics that make the service unique, identify an appropriate metric to measure what’s unique about that service, and then connect the metric to a business or customer need.  If there is no connection, discard it and evaluate another.

Measure What Matters

In the healthcare sector, protecting member and patient data is paramount. Personal Health Information (PHI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is highly regulated by laws like The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and compliance is closely monitored by government agencies like Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  If privacy and data security are important to your customers, be sure to hold your suppliers to at least the same standard as you hold yourselves and check to be sure they’re doing what they say.  Build metrics into your contract that monitor for data breaches and result in immediate action with your supplier should a breach occur.  Better yet, employ forward-looking and predictive measures that help avoid security events rather than report them ex-post facto.  We all would agree, the best security breach is one that never happened.

Finding metrics or SLAs to measure a supplier is not hard.  A huge list is only a Google search away; however, what you want is the right set of metrics, a set that ties the performance of the supplier to your business and to your customer’s needs.

Key Take-Away:  

Think small in terms of metrics and big in terms of the picture and you will measure what matters most to you, your business and your customers. 

For more information on this topic, please contact me at optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198.

Organizational Empathy: Connect IT Service Delivery to the End Customer

 

Recently, I was talking with a friend of mine that works for an insurance company.  The company has its own retail outlets in which they sell various insurance products.  My friend is involved in the IT service delivery side of the business; ensuring that what is broken gets fixed and what is requested by the business gets fulfilled, along with general system maintenance. 

He was telling me how they had implemented many visual tools to help their delivery people track projects that they were working on (reactive/proactive).  During our conversation, it occurred to my friend that although his IT colleagues were clearly communicating they still were not actually “connecting” to the end customer.   The topics of organizational empathy and centricity came up and how they were relevant to my friend’s company.  My friend’s IT colleagues had little empathy for the end business client.  The IT department’s centricity was all based around themselves and their own challenges.  This type of thinking eventually presents itself to the end business client as cold and detached.  We see this time and time again in business applications that have been developed and supported with little to no true empathy of the business client’s operating environment.  

Blog photo resized 600

 

Empathy is the Key to Success

Empathy is the key to success in selling. The seller needs to relate to the struggles of the buying party in order to present value points that are relevant.  For the most part, IT professionals are required to sell themselves to the business time and time again.  With external options becoming available  every week in the form of clouds, most IT departments have to continuously validate themselves. Business academics such as Subramanian Rangan, suggest empathy is essential for organizations to succeed in today’s market. Best practices such as USMBOK, speak to defining your organization's operational centricity. This is again a position of empathy when designing service management organizations.

Despite the conversation my friend and I were having, he still needed a practical solution.   The fix was not a complete one but enough to bridge the gap.  He decided to broadcast several live video feeds of his retail floors onto monitors inside the IT department.  This way his IT support people could actually see the statistic of wait time alongside the actual public waiting.  This simple fix connected his people to the people they were serving.

For more information on connecting your IT Service Delivery department to the end-user, please contact me at optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198.

Navigating Cloud Service Models: Your Road to Success

 

Many companies have been considering cloud models for IT service delivery. Whether you are thinking about Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or other cloud-based services, there are a few significant differences between the cloud service model and what one might consider to be more traditional IT service delivery. These differences are significant enough that it might provide you with an opportunity to rethink your current business delivery model completely.

C  Users joanna.clark Pictures Cloud Blog

What Should You Consider?

First, there is nothing like finding out someone else has negotiated a cloud services deal without your input, and now you have to deliver. So before that contract gets signed, get involved in the discussions with potential service providers. Doing so provides the opportunity to understand the intricacies of their service delivery model, how flexible they might be in meeting your requirements and most importantly, it gives you the chance to provide input into setting any service delivery performance metrics and SLAs that might be built into the contract.  Remember, the best SLAs are those tied to the needs and goals of the business. So if you are going to specify a metric in the contract, make sure it directly relates to delivering improved business performance.

Second, figure out how the support model will work. From the initial incident report through problem resolution, map out exactly how someone who has a problem with the service delivery (whether customer, business, technical or other) will get that problem fixed. You will need to figure out whether you will use your incident/problem/change process and systems alone, the supplier’s, or some combination thereof. If you are using a combination (which by the way, most companies do) - work out the workflows, handoffs, data sharing and integration points between you so each party (you and the service provider) knows exactly who is responsible for delivering what, to whom, by when.

Third, continuous improvement does not happen by itself. Assign a point person to evaluate supplier performance shoulder-to-shoulder with your service provider. Those metrics you contracted for back in contract negotiation and then gathered in the support and service delivery system(s) have to be consolidated, compiled, reviewed and acted upon. Knowing where the numbers will actually come from, who will provide them, and in what format is critical.

Hold weekly/monthly operational reviews to course correct with the service provider and quarterly or annual performance reviews to deeply evaluate their service delivery, and address any systemic problems. If they are doing well, reward them. If not, create a realistic plan, set a time frame for change and give them the chance to improve. (Consider the reality of the alternative: Disengagement.)

Finally, consider the following: It used to be a competition with a vendor to see who could wring the most out of the relationship. Get the most widgets out of them for the lowest cost, right? That way is no more. Sure, you are still in competition, but not with your service providers. You are in competition with other supply chains.

Deliver Value to Your Customers

As you look for better ways of delivering value to your customers, look to the right service partners to help you improve all that you do. As you put the pieces together to make your whole supply chain more competitive, you will deliver whatever you do more efficiently, cost effectively and timely, and your customers will reward you for it. 

For more information on this topic, please contact me at optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198.

Why IT Governance, Risk and Compliance should be Short and Simple!

 

One day you are in the middle of some of your greatest work when you feel a tap on your shoulder and hear, “You have been requested to help with the latest IT Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) audit.”  Cold sweats and the look of worry are prevalent in your reaction.  Commonly this is the reaction to this kind of news, but it shouldn't be.

Audits have this feel in corporate cultures of being a resource drain.  Successful completion is never clear and audit results don’t have a high level of confidence.  Why?  Because there isn’t a focus on improving the overly taxing manual effort in audits.  With a little planning and design, tapping into the information stores you already have within your organization can allow you to automate your audit activities.

Audit Graphic

Top 4 Characteristics of Great IT GRC Execution

1.  Store your policies in a system and ditch PDF, Word, Excel, Lotus, etc. 

Utilizing technology to manage all aspects of IT GRC improves visibility and helps breakdown the linkages between Policy à Control à Remediation.  Many times these different levels of detail are only stored in PDF format not allowing for easy consumption of what is needed for compliance.

2.  Provide a systematic way to manage audits, control tests, test data sets, test results and remediation

Utilizing technology to manage these activities at the time of the audit allows for clear visibility and simple understanding of roles and responsibilities.

3.  Integrate your IT GRC processes with your ITIL processes. 

Many companies have spent a fair amount of time and resources maturing their ITIL processes.  This enables the results of the processes to be inputs to the audit process and control tests (Change Records, Incident Records, Problem Records, and Configuration Items).  Tests can be automatically performed and results reported back in a matter of minutes reducing the amount of manual effort.

4.  Keep it simple and utilize what you have. 

Don’t overthink a need; keep your workflows and activities simple – there is no need to manage every step of the lifecycle.  Don’t implement a solution that impedes agility and speed.

Optimizing Your Audits

A little proactive planning and design can result in large returns for your organization in the following areas:

  1. Minimize risk
  2. Reduces the level of effort and resources
  3. Improve control processes
  4. Increase agility

If you would like to discuss how to make this strategy become a reality, please contact me at optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198.

Linium & ServiceNow Transform IT Now Seminar in New Jersey

 

“I need to enable my mobile workforce to access services, wherever and whenever it's convenient to them.”

“We are expending too much time and effort to maintain legacy systems.”

“Our end-users find it difficult to request services and are frustrated.”

These are just a few of the issues our clients are consistently seeking to solve as their end-users look for more efficient services. Organizations joined Linium and ServiceNow at last week’s Transform IT Now seminar in New Jersey to learn how to solve these types of challenges and learn more about the next generation of IT Service Management (ITSM).

describe the image

Presentations at this seminar showcased the approach that more than 2,000 customers across the globe have used to transform IT from a reactive, "keep the lights on" mentality, to being an effective provider and broker of services that drive business value enterprise-wide.

In particular, attendees learned first-hand how a large health service corporation has successfully leveraged the ServiceNow Service Catalog to establish a 'single pane of glass' for requests, resulting in improved end-user satisfaction for its 10,000+ end-users. This corporation was able to successfully reduce its call volume by 30%, as well as sunset multiple legacy systems and automate workflow – all by leveraging the ServiceNow Service Catalog. In addition, attendees learned how this corporation is taking a multi-phased approach to extending this project beyond IT and incorporating services from other business units to further streamline requests.   

Find out how Linium can help...

Want to learn more about how you can effectively address your end-users’ needs and how you can expand Service Management enterprise-wide with ServiceNow? Contact us at: optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198. 

How to Control Operational Costs through Innovation

 

By now, we have all received and acted upon the message of cutting costs, do more with less, streamline, and right-size.  With the marketplace stabilizing more and more, companies are enabling their growth plans and moving forward with new services.  The issue is, “Are your IT services positioned to handle the growth to contain operational costs?”  In my experience working with companies, I see many making decisions around growth to react to market opportunities, without keeping a close eye on operational costs.  The net of this will be lower rates of return and the inability to scale.

 Operational Costs Blog Graphic.docx

 

Keep Operational Costs in Check

What we need to do now is design our business services to allow us to manage the growth while keeping our operational costs in check.  With that being said, IT needs to understand how to utilize innovative tools to help control operational costs while enabling growth. 

To do this there are three major components:

  1. Automation of workflows
  2. Predictive services
  3. Governance-lite in a decentralized paradigm

 

Don’t Forget to Automate

We read about how automation is needed but most companies struggle with implementing for a number of reasons.  Once we automate the simple workflows around password resets, virtual environments, and other requests, we stop.  We need to ask the business what their challenges are and look to automate those workflows such as order to cash, customer care, and business operation coordination.  Automating these types of services will reduce errors and omissions and will have benefits or decreased effort, reduced risk, increased productivity, and increased customer satisfaction.

 

Personalize with Predictive Analysis

You may have read the newer concepts of “Next Generation of IT Service Management”.  I have blogged about it myself.  This concept uses internal knowledge on how to better serve the company’s workforce through similar types of applications like “Living Social” and “Google Now”.  By providing users with “Personalized Service” that is actively trying to serve their needs before the employee is looking for it will help them do business, wherever, whenever, and when it’s convenient to them.

 

Empower Your Organization

With the movement of empowered business technology and embedded business technology, IT organizations need to have the proper controls and processes in place that will allow their organization to be agile while controlling operational costs and risks.  This allows business units to incorporate  third party service providers while rolling it into the governance framework to ensure the organization remains sustainable, scalable, and supports growth initiatives.

Don’t get caught behind the curve

If you have not already started enabling these concepts within your organization you may be heading back to the land of drastic cuts.  Please contact me at optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198.
 
 


How do you Personalize IT Service Management?

 

With the onslaught of personalized mobile apps in our lives, how do we mimic this type of service in our business?  There are many ways of personalizing services, starting with the Service Catalog which has identity management built in to only display catalog items applicable to the user.  The next step is to start to incorporate subscription services into your notification engine.  These personalized services can be provided today, but what about the concept of taking into account a user’s work pattern?

describe the image

Creating Valuable Push Notifications to Users based on Work Patterns

Tracking a user’s work pattern is becoming more and more of an expectation in organizations today.  To get started, you need to understand the repositories you have in your environment that can help you skim this type of data.  Some people point to culling request tickets to pick up user patterns around requests; others go after system access information and user logs to understand what the user accesses.  In my opinion, both are great sources.  Deciding which approach to take all depends on how well maintained and how accessible the data is.

No matter where you start, you should come up with a strategy to understand user patterns.  When understanding user patterns, you want to try to answer the following questions to help produce a user’s work pattern:

  1. What is their role?
  2. What tools are they using?
  3. What purpose do the tools fill for the user?
  4. What services do they access most frequently?

By placing these user patterns in the preceding buckets allows IT to understand how the user interacts with it on a daily basis.  This information can then be analyzed to provide targeted push services when a known change in the user’s environment occurs.   By providing push services, information will be available before the user requests it.  This becomes very valuable to the user for better performance of their job functions and interacting with the organizations services.

Personalize Your Services Even Further

Once you start to understand how to best push valuable service information, you can then look to maturing your personalized services by expanding on two trajectories:

  1. Include additional operational knowledge centers
  2. Present the user with simple directives to make a request to fulfill a need

Next phase of maturity would be to start to automate requests based on the user and environment prior to the user knowing they have a need.  This is an elevated level of maturity.  A level that at one time was only dreamt about but now is quickly becoming a reality.

Don’t get caught behind the curve, get planning today!

If you would like to discuss how to make this strategy become a reality, please feel free to contact me at optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198.

 

Next Generation of Service Management

 

Enable your mobile workforce to access services, wherever and whenever it’s convenient to them!

I was at home and I was reading my Google Cards (“Google Now”) to pass some time when I started to look at all the apps on my tablet. I noticed how many services were pushing relevant information to my device based on who I was and where I was. I thought, “Why can’t I get this same type of service from my place of work or the suppliers I do business with?” The technology is available. Solutions are available for external customers and continue to grow day by day.

describe the image

 

Why is the Next Generation of Service Management so Important?

The “Next Generation of Service Management” is becoming a very real thing. The need to allow your mobile workforce to access services wherever and whenever it’s convenient to them grows day to day. Pressure from the business to do more with the same level of resources is a common theme. With the economy looking up, companies that have stabilized are starting to act on growth plans. Providing active push service has become a necessary part of the overall company strategy as it increases productivity while maintaining operational costs. 

Pushing services to users rather than users finding services is becoming more and more of an expectation. The key is bringing information/knowledge stores within your organization together to better serve your users. Don’t think of the knowledge as traditional knowledge; think of it as tapping into sources that were unthought-of before but already exist within your organization. 

 

Be Proactive in Serving Customer Needs

By understanding these key components to the customer:

• Who am I?
• What am I responsible for?
• What am I interested in?
• Where am I located?

You can push relative information and services to your users giving them what they need before they know they need it, giving your company the ability to service its customers quicker. Next time you are on your mobile device and you get an advertisement to a place you frequently go, think about how helpful it would be if you could do the same type of thing for the people you support. The value it would have in allowing your business users to be more productive. 

Don’t get caught behind the curve, start planning today. If you would like to discuss how to make this strategy become a reality, please feel free to contact me at optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198.


What Does ServiceNow Project Management Bring to the Table?

 

There are many excellent, integrated features of the ServiceNow Project Management modules available to help with all facets of the project lifecycle, from proposal through go-live. 

 describe the image

A Single System of Record

As an integral part of the ServiceNow platform, the Project Management module can automatically take advantage of all the information available across that platform. Examples include people data, free/busy time for resource assignments, direct access to Tasks and Changes, workflow and automation, etc.

Demand Management

The first part of the project lifecycle is demand capture. The ServiceNow catalog is a great place to allow users to describe the projects they are proposing and provide any required level of detail, justification, business impact, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) or Return on Investment (ROI) analysis, etc.  Reporting and homepage metrics allow you to determine which projects get priority and which will wait. Approval workflow is a standard part of ServiceNow - users can approve projects in the same way they approve requests or changes.

Project Management

Tracking actual project execution is another strength of the platform - because project execution can come from any part of the ServiceNow Single System of Record - Changes, Change Tasks, Request, Workflow, Automation, or any other facet of the platform.

Planned versus Actuals 

Another important point is that true appreciation of planned versus actual effort requires a detailed knowledge of those actuals - how much of an FTE's day is spent on non-project activities such as solving crises, planning and executing changes, doing root cause analysis? Only your IT Service Management (ITSM) tool can give you this data, and ServiceNow puts all of that information in your hands.

For more information on this topic, please contact me at optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198.  

Projects Everywhere…

 

"Are you aware that ServiceNow has a fully-functional capability to help you manage projects and project requests?"

I often get a mixed reaction to this question. Answers tend to be one of two kinds:

  • "We are not ready for that", or
  • "Our PMO already uses a tool"

Both good objections, and not something I can fully answer for you in a blog postl; however, the inclusion of Project Management in your ServiceNow implementation can bring a lot of benefits - in my next post I'll detail a bunch of them. In the meantime, below are couple of things to consider. 

Sean Caron Blog Feb 6

Things to Consider 

When people tell me they are not ready for a Project Management tool, a little digging often reveals an interesting fact - they are already using a tool (or usually a set of tools) to deal with projects!  MS Project or Excel is used to track project progress, ServiceNow Tasks are used to make work assignments, Incident Management might be used to capture new project demand, etc.  While great for their primary use, none of these tools are well-suited for managing a PMO.

Are You Getting the Value You Deserve?

Customers who tell me they already have a tool are generally referring to one of the large Project & Portfolio Management tools on the market, such as Oracle Primavera, CA Clarity, or Planview.  

In this case, the appropriate question is, are you getting value for that large investment?

  • If so, great! I'd strongly suggest we investigate integrating that solution to your ServiceNow Catalog, Change Management, and Time Card features. 
  • If not, let's consider the potential savings and right-sized functionality that the ServiceNow  Project Module, fully integrated with the ServiceNow single system of record, can provide for your business.

For more information on this topic, please contact me at optimize@linium.com or 518.689.3198.  

Check out my next blog "What does ServiceNow Project Management Bring to the Table?"

All Posts

Subscribe by Email

Your email: