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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).

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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?

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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.

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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. 

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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?"

Become a Solution Catalyst: Be Seen as a Thought Leader in Helping to Solve Today’s Business Issues

 

In my previous blog entry, we talked about how CIOs are blindsided by the use of “Distributed IT”. Due to years past, IT has received some stereotypes of being slow, lethargic, and a roadblock, just to name a few. The world is changing and IT needs to be innovative, dynamic, and strategic. No longer is the goal to focus solely on operations but aligning with business strategies and initiatives. If you are in an IT leadership position, you need to rebrand IT within your organization. Here are 4 key concepts that you need to focus on:

Eric Strang Solution Catalyst Blog


4 Key Concepts to Focus on:

  • Thought Leadership – Go do some research.  Understand what are the new trends and cutting edge solutions in your company’s marketplace.  Think about how to improve services you already have, what new business services are needed, and embrace internal and external resources to get the job done.
  • Don’t Hold the Purse Strings – Traditionally IT is seen as a roadblock and usually has to bear the bad news of cost.  Once you define a solution and identify the costs, submit it through the business and let the CFO be the decision maker on costs and budget.  Reposition IT as part of the team to execute the business plan and not just provide operational support.  Let the CFO and CEO make the decision of what is a priority for the organization.
  • Relationship King – Go out and build relationships with as many business unit leads, sales and HR managers, etc. that you can.  These relationships will be key in the rebranding the message of IT internally and be helpful when you need to work with these groups in the future.  One of the keys to success is communication.  If you don’t have open dialog with key team members, you won’t get the job done.
  • Re-Tool the Shed – To support the business and solutions, IT should shift its paradigm as technical resources to solution architects and business analysts.

Start Building Your Plan

The 4 key concepts above are key in starting to build a plan.  Now go and broker some lunch meetings with key business unit leaders to start brainstorming ideas about generating new solutions and services. 

If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail, please contact me at optimize@linium.com or 5186893198.

Also, look for my next blog, “The Role of IT In The Future”, as we will discuss the initial steps in building a strategy on the transformation of IT.

Me and My Shadow IT: How to Make “Distributed IT” Part of Your Strategic Plan and Manage It

 

How many of you have been in a meeting or a conversation to only find out that one of your supported business units has gone off and utilized an outside firm or hired their own resources to provide IT support for a new or existing business service without coordinating with IT?  Hopefully it was not at a board meeting! The business leader usually uses these reasons: they had to move quickly, pricing fit what they needed, and all the cards fell into place. Sound familiar?

Eric Strang Blog Graphic Jan 30 2014

Make Distributed IT Part of Your Business Plan

The use of resources outside of traditional IT is going to happen more and more. You should not take offense to this but understand how to incorporate it into your business plan. Shadow IT or as we like to say “Distributed IT”, can be strategically used to prototype solutions and services. It can be the long-term answer for providing and sustaining services, as well as quickening the pace of time-to-market.  In fact, spending on cloud software, platform, and infrastructure services will grow from approximately $28 billion today to $258 billion in 2020 - reaching 45% of total IT services spend, according to Forrester Research, Inc.

A key component is to provide the right level of governance in a Distributed IT environment to ensure business alignment, security and regulatory compliance, and risk minimization or elimination while allowing the corporation to be innovative and agile. 

Be Innovative 

Too often I see IT leaders worried about centralizing and owning all things IT. The focus should be on how is this going to impact, innovate, and grow the business. The goal being, “How does this make the company stronger?” By working with business unit leaders, your focus should be building plans to support critical services and objectives and be a quintessential part of strategic planning. Be an innovative thinker from a technology standpoint on how to accomplish the company’s objectives. This type of thinking needs to be driven from the top down. Executive management and/or Boards need to be in full support of this strategy and change.

If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail, please contact me at optimize@linium.com. 

Also, look for my next blog, “Become a Solution Catalyst”.

 

Want to be Audited? Here is One Way to Make that Happen…

 

I'm noticing a trend with our customers these days. More and more, customers are letting large enterprise software agreements lapse, and just buying what they need, when they need it. This has the benefit of directly matching need to purchase, while eliminating painful annual true-ups; however, there can be a downside. Among the firms most likely to audit compliance (Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe, HP, SAP) the cancellation of an enterprise agreement is a near certain guarantee of a future audit. The audit is usually performed 12-15 months after the agreement expires - just enough time for installed configurations to drift into non-compliance.

Audit Blog 4

We are explicitly not saying that a business decision to let an Enterprise Agreement lapse is a bad one. There are many factors that should be considered in deciding to renew or not renew. But what we are explicitly saying is if you choose this path - you must have your software estate in order, and expect to have to prove that to an auditor's satisfaction.

Check back to my previous blog to learn how Linium can help customers automate continuous compliance and avoid a potentially huge effort and cost for every compliance letter received.

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