Archive for the ‘ITIL’ Category

The Service Desk Balancing Act

Managing a service desk is a balancing act. Keeping an eye on how effective and efficient the service is performing is critical because the perception of how well IT is
performing is often influenced by how well the service desk performs. This note will examine three sets of service level metrics related to the performance of an actual help desk and provide insight to the issues faced by service desk managers.
I propose steps that can be taken to improve the service provided by your help desk, and thereby raise the perceived value of your IT services.

Metric Set #1 – Call Volume (Including Calls Abandoned) vs Ticket Volume

One common issue faced by service desks is that customers can not get through to a representative for assistance. They call the service desk phone number, and then wait in queue for an unreasonable period of time. The caller gets disgusted, hangs up, and/or calls a support person or IT contact directly. This action represents an “abandoned call”. Many of the phone systems used by service desks will keep records of the number of abandoned calls. These statistics are useful to collect and report as one measure of the effectiveness of a help desk. It is also important to measure the call abandoned rate to provide a “before/after” snapshot of the effectiveness of a service desk implementation. Success may mean that the abandoned call rate is reduced to a very low level, say 2% versus the current levels. The abandoned call rate, total number of phone calls made by the service desk (in and out), and the total number of tickets opened by the service desk for a specified period of time can be assembled into a slide that effectively communicates the current state of the service desk.

Implementation Solution Ideas:

One key to reducing abandoned call rate issues is to reduce dependency on the telephone. As calls come in the help desk representatives should integrate with back office support using instant messenger, and email in real time. If the help desk representative needs to assign a ticket to a support team, the process should occur automatically; the representative should not have to use the telephone to manually escalate tickets to the support team. Also, when tickets that are escalated to the support teams are completed, communication back to the customer can be automated. He/She can be informed that the call has been resolved and can be instructed to contact the help desk if the problem persists. Each point in the process where human interaction is required is an opportunity to leverage automation. The people responsible for providing the service desk service have to decide on the appropriateness of automation for each step. The goal is to keep the phones available for incoming calls and reduce the outgoing calls used to contact support staff.

Service Metric #2 : Number of Tickets Opened per Time Period

Many help desk staffs will complain that they are overworked and “stressed out”. They will often be requesting additional staff to man the phones to help take calls. Help desk management is usually aware of the problem, but want to understand how pressing the need really is. Additional staffing will impact the organizations bottom line pretty quickly, and senior management will expect a lot of detailed justification. Help desk management may ask you if the additional staff is really needed.

Using metrics from the help desk software, you can prepare a chart showing tickets opened per hour. This information provides insight into the ticket throughput for the service desk, and can be used to estimate the number of tickets each representative has to process on average in any given hour. Knowing the effective throughput rate for processing calls can also help to adjust the triage processes used for incoming calls. The automation discussion from the abandoned call rate graph above also applies here, but so do some additional elements. For example, after examining several help desk implementations, we found that representative training and incentives for first call closure also impact the help desks ticket throughput. Written instructions and processes for triage and service call resolution must be followed consistently by all help desk representatives. Incentives for service desk personnel have to be carefully thought out and balanced with the skill set of the people taking the calls. Too little skill and the first time resolved rate is too low, too much skill and the representatives will try to own the tickets for too long trying to demonstrate their prowess at problem resolution.

Rewarding service desk employees for first time call resolves can be detrimental to the service desk team’s ability to effectively process calls in a timely manner – especially when available resources are taxed by incoming call volume. If the strategy to resolve every call the first time is the only strategy, you run the risk of backing up the call queues during peak hours

Service Metric #3 : Impacted Users by Call

Assessing the impact and urgency of service calls is part of an effective “triage” process which should be performed for every incoming Service Call. A primary function of the service desk is to provide communication and resolution for incidents that impact multiple users. One-on-one help from a service desk technician is the most expensive help that can be provided.

We have examined three analyses of service desk data. In each case we were able to relate metrics extracted from the service desk as key performance indicators for measuring the impact of the changes proposed. When implementing a new service desk or changing the processes that govern how services are utilized it is a good idea to take a sample of the data before and then after the changes are put into effect.

The unit cost of the ticket can make an excellent metric for estimating the ROI of some of the proposed solutions. The following discussion will explain how to utilize the service desk ticket as a unit for estimating ROI: Take the annual budget of the service desk and divide it by the number of tickets processed. The result is a dollar cost/service call. This figure can then be applied to the estimated reduction in the number of tickets opened at the service desk for any particular new project to give a
simple calculation for the value of the savings to the company.


Service Desk Survival Guide

Asses your operations

· Conduct a benchmarking assessment

· Listen to your customer, team, peers, etc. (Sit in on the phones).

· Challenge your direct reports (“How Do you know” and “Show me”).

· D3 – Drill Down into the Details

· Enlist a Third Party Service Desk Expert

o Methodology

o Preparation

o Urgency

o Timeliness

o Executive Briefing

Review your Delivered Services

· List Services Currently Delivered

· Rank in Order of Importance/Value To Customer

· Categorize Services Into Problem And Request

· Identify Services Where You Add No Value

o Look for ways to Deflect or Eliminate

· Estimate Cost To Deliver Services

· Map Your Team’s Skills To Your Services

· Any thing left over for the valued services?

Know What and Who You Should Know

· Identify the Critical Elements of Your Support Business

o Supply, Demand and SLA adherence

o Total Cost of Support, Cost per Contact and Solution

o Don’t forget the customer’s who stopped calling!

o Service Desk Professional Utilization

o Top 5 Call Types by Volume and Mean Time To Resolve

· Identify and Report Business Impact and Employee Productivity Trends

o Barriers to Total Contact Ownership

· Identify Key Sponsors and Champions of Service Desk

o Senior Level Management

o Customers

o Business Drivers

Invest in Training Your Team

· Increase productivity

o High Impact Training

o Screen Human Harmony

o Automate the Manual

· No better time

o Create Career paths

o Invest in Training and Certification

o Mentor and Coach

· Former Intel CEO Andy Grove says never forget that your career is your business:

o “Every person … is like an individual business. Your career is your business –and you are its CEO.”

o Although your career may be on track, be sure not to ignore turning points that could lead to greater success –or bitter failure.

o You’ve got to keep track of the market, watch for competitors and look for better ways to do things.

· Grove says a “mental fire drill” can help every career

o Read newspapers, trade magazines and books (“Leaders are Readers”)

o Attend industry conferences

o Listen to associates to learn when change is imminent

The Art of Customer Service

  1. Start at the top. The Manager’s attitude towards customer service is the primary determinant of the quality of service that a company delivers. If the Manager thinks that customers are a pain in the ass who always want something for nothing, that attitude will permeate the company, and service will be lousy. So if you are the Manager, get your act together. If you’re not the Manager either convince her to change her mind, quit, or learn to live with mediocrity–in that order.
  2. Put the customer in control. The best kind of customer service happens when management enables employees to put the customer in control. This require two leaps of faith: first, that management trusts customers not take advantage of the situation; second, that management trust employees with this empowerment. If you can make these leaps, then the quality of your customer service will zoom; if not, there is nothing more frustrating than companies copping the attitude that something is “against company policy.”
  3. Take responsibility for your shortcomings. A company that takes responsibility for its shortcomings is likely to provide great customer service for two reasons: first, it’s acknowledged that it’s the company’s fault and the company’s responsibility to fix. Second, customers won’t go through the aggravating process of getting you to accept blame–if you got to the airport on time and checked your baggage, it’s hard to see how it’s your fault that it got sent to the wrong continent.
  4. Don’t point the finger. This is the flip side of taking responsibility. As computer owners we all know that when a program doesn’t work, vendors often resort to finger pointing: “It’s a middle tier problem” “It’s Linux way of doing things.” “It’s the way Pasta created the print out” A great customer service company doesn’t point the finger–it figures out what the solution is regardless of whose fault the problem is and makes the customer happy. As my mother used to say, “You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.”
  5. Don’t finger the pointer. Great customer service companies don’t shoot the messenger. When it comes to customer service, it could be a customer, an employee, a vendor, or a consultant who’s doing the pointing. The goal is not to silence the messenger, but to fix the problem that the messenger brought so that other customers don’t have a bad experience.
  6. Don’t be paranoid. One of the most common justifications for anti-service is “What if everyone did this?” For example, what if everyone bought a new wardrobe when we lost their luggage? Or, to cite the often-told, perhaps apocryphal, story of a customer returning a tire to Nordstrom even though everyone knows Nordstrom doesn’t sell tires, what if everyone started returning tires to Nordstrom? The point is: Don’t assume that the worst case is going to be the common case. There will be outlier abusers, yes, but generally people are reasonable. If you put in a policy to take care of the worst case, bad people, it will antagonize and insult the bulk of your customers.
  7. Hire the right kind of people. To put it mildly, customer service is not a job for everyone. The ideal customer service person derives great satisfaction by helping people and solving problems. This cannot be said of every job candidate. It’s the company’s responsibility to hire the right kind of people for this job because it can be a bad experience for the employee and the customer when you hire folks without a service orientation.
  8. Under promise and over deliver. The goal is to delight a customer. For example, the signs in the lines at DisneyLand that tell you how long you’ll have to wait from each point are purposely over-stated. When you get to the ride in less time, you’re delighted. Imagine if the signs were understated–you’d be angry because Disneyland lied to you.
  9. Integrate customer service into the mainstream. Let’s see: sales makes the big bucks. Marketing does the fun stuff. Engineers, well, you leave them alone in their dark caves. Accounting cuts the paychecks. And support? Do to the dirty work of talking to pissed off customers when nothing else works. Herein lies the problem: customer service has as much to do with a company’s reputation as sales, marketing, engineering, and finance. So integrate customer service into the mainstream of the company and do not consider it profit-sucking necessary evil. A customer service hero deserves all the accolades that a sales, marketing, or engineering one does.
  10. Put it all together. To put several recommendations in action, suppose a part breaks in the gizmo that a customer bought from you. First, take responsibility: “I’m sorry that it broke.” Second, don’t point the finger–that is, don’t say, “We buy that part from a supplier.” Third, put the customer in control: “When would like the replacement by?” Fourth, under promise and over deliver: Send it at no additional charge via a faster shipping method than necessary. That’s the way to create legendary customer service.

ITIL Conclusions

  • Proof that the adoption of ITIL produces, for most of those who measure it, a real improvement in service levels to the user base as customer.
  • More than half of adopting companies measured a distinct improvement in customer satisfaction.
  • ITIL benefits staff. Not only does their work competence increase, but so does their job satisfaction.
  • The size of your company is no limit to or likelihood of your adopting ITIL or not. Size does not appear to make a difference. You can take up ITIL with just two people in the IT department.
  • The typical ratio of IT headcount to userbase is around four to six percent – this by-product of the survey could be seen as a staffing benchmark.
  • Taking up ITIL still remains a matter of deliberate choice rather than a must-have. This is encouraging for ITIL as a philosophy, for it suggests that despite the method’s recent prominence, it is not a passing fad or the latest IT lifestyle, but the subject of serious strategic consideration.
  • Those who adopt ITIL have a slightly heightened tendency to adopt other external practice standards in their business. Those who reject ITIL are highly likely to reject other standards also.
  • Smaller companies are more likely to be among the group rejecting ITIL. Despite its apparent workability in smaller, even tiny IT departments, the methodology is still typically the premise of the larger organisation.
  • At this stage in ITIL’s development, it is by design a methodology, not an industry standard to which companies can adhere.
  • ITIL-based companies see one of the main benefits as being the unification of the whole of IT under common practices – but ITIL alone will not necessarily deliver this. The active participation of as many departments as possible is crucial.
  • ITIL can be adopted exclusively within IT, without necessarily accounting for existing business practices and strategies.
  • A fifth of adopting companies acknowledged that ITIL had indeed given them a competitive advantage in their company’s market – and as by definition not everybody can be market leaders, this fifth reflects a commercially significant benefit to ITIL.
  • For any desired benefit, the implementers must take specific and careful steps to ensure that it comes about. Clear goals and a consistent pursuit of them are critical so the benefit does not become one of the ubiquitous ‘Almost Delivered’.
  • ITIL is an IT matter only. Business strategic, commercial and political matters, although important on an organisational scale, are not necessarily components of the ITIL implementation.
  • All sections at all levels of IT should be prepared for procedural and operational change. Concentrated study of IT procedures will be paramount and unavoidable.
  • Despite all the processes mentioned in ITIL, it remains incomplete. Adopting companies found a need to add other processes beyond those described in the ITIL literature.
  • Two thirds of those using software to support ITIL adoption found that the software had to be customised even where the software was aimed at the ITIL market.
  • There is no single way of ‘being ITIL compliant’ because the flexibility of the methodology renders the concept of ‘compliance’ irrelevant in an ITIL context.
  • First-time-fix and time-to-fix improvements delivered by ITIL have cost justification implications because quicker fixes mean that users are losing less downtime in the helpdesk queue. This service increase translates directly into a business benefit.
  • There is a trade-off between expedition and accuracy. The records in the CMDB do not just impact IT, but have a business implication, for they are a list of valuable hardware assets. Perhaps it is worth seeing a reduction in service level in exchange for an increase in the integrity of management information.
  • Benchmark the services prior to adoption in light of a probable benefit thereafter.
  • In nearly three quarters of cases, ITIL can be implemented with the same or ultimately fewer staff than at present.
  • ITIL is not a cure for all procedural ills or absences – its processes, though detailed, do not cover everything, as experienced implementers overwhelmingly agree.

Is ITIL missing the human touch?

Earlier this year a research-based report entitled “What’s next for ITIL and Service Management” was produced by the Service Futures Group ( It stated that “ITIL implementation is largely influenced by the perception, motives and attitudes of those involved. ITIL is less likely to be successful if it is implemented purely as a way of managing processes and far more likely to be successful if it is implemented as an initiative to change the entire ethos of the IT Department and to deliver benefits to the organisation as a whole”.

The areas that need attention for ITIL to be adopted successfully are people, process
and product. Organisations frequently focus on process and product, but the people aspect is often restricted to ITIL foundation training for IT staff, with little emphasis on the need to adopt a service ethos. Without sufficient attention to people, some ‘quick wins’ can be missed entirely – I call it applying the ‘human touch’.

People are key to differentiating between perceived success and failure. Changing the service ethos of the IT Department is about making the customer feel in control of the business, with IT providing services at their request and in an appropriate manner and language.

Remember that people (your service desk staff) provide the customer with the first impression of service and establish the baseline for service quality. People take ownership of issues and take action to avoid service degradation. People review trends in service performance and establish meaningful metrics. People also coach staff on performance to goals.

Too often service desk mentality sees customers and consumers of services as potential problem providers. The staff that man service desks respond to problems and incidents and are typically trained by and part of the IT infrastructure. The understanding of the business departments that the service desk supports is all too often very limited. This needs to be reversed with a high percentage of the staff in direct service functions having real knowledge of the business and IT management continually refining the support processes so that they are business driven.

The new V3 release of ITIL has moved much closer to embracing business value but it still uses acronyms and terms that the business does not immediately relate to. Delivering
service with a ‘human touch’ requires that the service teams embrace the business language and fully understand the needs of their customers.

What can be done to break down barriers between IT and other departments? IT can work to increase its status and humanise its approach. This doesn’t require a radical change of process. Instead, IT needs to interact more with its customers. I recently heard the relayed experience of the CIO of a large insurance company. He turned around the perception of the IT department, from abysmal to award-winning for service excellence within six months, with no extra money, new systems, nor the need to radically
change process. Instead, he mapped out the most influential business managers within the organisation and instructed his most customer-focused IT staff to visit them on a daily basis to check that they were being adequately supported.

As there are now several service desk tools that can claim to tick all or most of the boxes in relation to ITIL processes, organizations would do well to remember the primary reasons for their purchase: to improve the perception of IT service provision and increase
customer satisfaction.

If a SelfService portal is available to the customer, it should allow them to raise their requests in business only language, explaining the options and possibly costs in a way that makes sense. IT staff should also be aware of the services that are most important to the customer at the point when incidents are logged and requests prioritised appropriately.

Finally, the customer’s satisfaction level needs to be visible. Is the customer happy, or unhappy with the way their requests have been handled? This information prepares IT staff when interacting with the customer and enables them to offer a better service and focus on the human touch.

Mejores prácticas de IT orientadas negocio

Hay una gradual diferencia entre hacer sencillamente las cosas, hacerlas con eficiencia, eficacia y calidad.

Analicemos las definiciones de algunas palabras clave. La eficiencia según Drucker significa “hacer correctamente las cosas” y eficacia “hacer las cosas correctas”. Calidad de un servicio es la capacidad que tiene éste para satisfacer las necesidades y las expectativas del cliente.

Es muy común que al tener bien resuelto , definido, automatizado un servicio o lo que sea, pensemos que está todo hecho.

La realidad es que lo único permanente son los cambios y para afrontarlos debemos adoptar un modelo de mejora continua de procesos dinámicos y no proyectos que empiezan y terminan.

¿Cómo conseguir esto? Existen “mejores prácticas” que recomiendan cómo alcanzarlo.

A donde recurre Ud. cuando tiene que tomar una decisión importante, ya sea mudarse, buscar una escuela para su hijo, comprar un auto? La respuesta es: le pregunta a un experto. Alguien que sabe, que tiene el conocimiento, que lo hizo antes, que tiene experiencia, que ha calificado las distintas opciones.

Una mejor práctica es un conjunto de guías, recomendaciones, basadas en las mejores experiencias, de los más calificados y experimentados en un campo en particular. Está basada en más de una persona, más de una organización, más de una tecnología, más de un evento.

Dentro del ámbito de IT y de la organización en general, que cada vez más depende de IT ,existen estas mejores practicas que nos ayudan en estos procesos de mejora continua. ITIL que entra dentro de esta categoría, no es una metodología, no es un conjunto de estándares.

Podemos representar en una pirámide los distintos niveles de la organización donde en base a las mejores practicas de ITIL se adaptan a los modelos particulares de un proveedor de IT como ser los modelos MOF de Microsoft, BSM de BMC Software, ITSM de HP y que a su vez están por encima de lar normas, políticas y procedimientos generales. En el nivel superior de la pirámide está la certificación de estos procesos que se pueden hacer con una norma ISO 9000 (para procesos en general) o específicamente para procesos de Gestión de servicios de IT con la norma Británica BS15000. Se estima para el año 2006 va a estar definida la norma ISO equivalente a la BS15000 para Gestión de Servicios de IT.

Pero debemos tener en cuenta que ITIL define los procesos, las interrelaciones y la norma BS15000 o la futura norma ISO sólo lo certifica. Se requiere de ambas para lograr el objetivo deseado.

Es muy importante tener en cuenta la necesidad como organización de adoptar el modelo de ITIL y de certificarlo para asegurar los niveles de excelencia y calidad necesarios para ser competitivos.

Los principios de ITIL son:

  • Procesos
  • Calidad
  • Organización
  • Infraestructura de IT
  • Provisión optima de servicios
  • Justificación de costos

El nivel de maduración de los procesos basados en ITIL se basan en el Modelo de Madurez de Capacidad (CMM). Este método de mejora de proceso fue desarrollado por el Instituto de Ingeniería de Software (SEI) de la Universidad de Carnegie Mellon. CMM tiene como objetivo mejorar la madurez del proceso de creación de software. CMM e ITIL incluyen los siguientes niveles:

  • Inicial – el proceso ocurre ad hoc.
  • Repetible – los procesos han sido diseñados de manera tal que el servicio de calidad pueda repetirse.
  • Definido – los procesos han sido documentados, estandarizados e integrados.
  • Gestionado – la organización mide los resultados y utiliza esas medidas conscientemente para mejorar la calidad de sus servicios.
  • Óptimo – la organización optimiza conscientemente el diseño de sus procesos para mejorar la calidad de sus servicios o para desarrollar nuevas tecnologías o servicios.

Los beneficios que se obtienen por la adopción de las mejores prácticas de ITIL son:

Para la organización:

  • La organización IT desarrolla una estructura más clara, se vuelve más eficaz, y se centra más en los objetivos corporativos.
  • La dirección tiene más control y los cambios resultan más fáciles de manejar.
  • Una estructura de proceso eficaz brinda un marco para concretar de manera más adecuada la externalización de algunos de los elementos de los servicios IT.

Para el cliente/usuario:

  • La entrega de servicios IT se orienta más al cliente y los acuerdos sobre la calidad del servicio mejoran la relación entre el departamento IT y el cliente.
  • Se describen mejor los servicios, en un lenguaje más cómodo para el cliente, y con mayores detalles.
  • Se manejan mejor la calidad y el costo del servicio.
  • Mejora la comunicación con la organización IT al acordar los puntos de contacto.

Seguir las mejores prácticas de ITIL alienta el cambio cultural hacia la provisión de servicios, y sustenta la introducción de un sistema de gestión de calidad basado en las series ISO 9000.

ITIL establece un marco de referencia para la comunicación interna y la comunicación con los proveedores, así como la estandarización y la identificación de los procedimientos.