ITIL a simple explanation

A humorous jargon-free business explanation of ITIL cycles. ITIL® Explained Simply & Visually describes the five cycles in version 3 of the IT Infrastructure Library by comparing them to a restaurant chain.

ITIL is the globally recognized collection of best practices for delivering great IT services. CompuCom has been helping our clients implement ITIL for more than 10 years. We are experts in transitioning companies to ITIL.

The Common Sense About Metrics

These days, you cannot do much without running across some discussion of metrics and measures. It’s not that I think that there’s anything wrong with it, but I do think that it’s a potential point of failure if not done at the right time and properly.

In any area where we are concerned about quality, cost, or performance, the first thing that many seem to think about are critical success factors (CSFs), key performance indicators (KPIs) or common “process-centric” metrics (e.g. “average hold time,” “problem closure rate,” etc.).

The Common Sense About Metrics

It might seem that these are the right things for a service provider organization to pay attention to, but it may not get us the results that we really want. Why? There is an underlying assumption that, because these are the things that we “in the ITSM space” often talk about, these are the things we “should” be paying attention to. After all, this is “best practice,” right?

Well, not so fast there. While it may be common, I wouldn’t say that it’s the right thing to do. The main reason is that the context from which the question gets answered here is critical. If that isn’t properly established, we are almost guaranteed to miss the mark. The main reason here is the fact that there is always a skew towards a single perspective, which is most often that of the provider.

The Key Questions

The two key questions that we want to keep focused on in any discussion of metrics or measures are

  1. Who is it important to?
  2. What is important to them?

If we can’t establish the first question, the second question is automatically going to be a problem. The bottom line here is that, if we don’t know the answers to these two questions, we are just guessing at whether or not it is something that we should be tracking. From my perspective, getting to the point where we can actively discern what is/isn’t important is critical.

The underlying assumption with the key questions is that, in an economy that is based upon a service experience, customers will place value those things that directly impact their experience.

What Is Really Important?

Unfortunately, most practitioners are not used to this kind of thinking. They are most familiar and comfortable with looking at it from their (likely silo-based) perspective. It’s not that this is wrong, but it’s most definitely limited. Given our historical boundaries, it’s why we need to find ways to develop our ability to think in this way.

At a minimum, we need to examine the situation from multiple roles (both the customer and service provider perspective) and orientations. Each of these combinations will give us a different view into what metrics we can/should pay attention to. Additionally, each view (minimally) has an inward and outward facing component to it.

So, if a practitioner makes a change to a supporting process area (say change management, for example), more often than not, they will consider how the change affects the service provider, not necessarily how it impacts the customers experience of the service actually being provided! In some cases, it’s even worse than this, as some practitioners will limit their thinking to the scope of the supporting process area in isolation of all others.

There are elements of role play and scenario-based thinking here. To start, we need to think about things as if we were the customer and ask the key questions. Ask the questions and record what you believe the answers are. Once you’ve done this, if at all possible, engage your actual customer to get their feedback, and compare the responses from the actual customer’s perspective. If done over time, this will help improve your accuracy and reliability in taking a “foreign perspective.

None of this is difficult, but it does require skills that are normally not required.

Making an Example of Someone

Given we’ve talked about what we can be doing, let’s do a little thought exercise to reinforce the key points we’ve just reviewed. To do this, we’ll use our friendly service desk manager to examine how this might play out operationally.

As we noted earlier, there is a customer and a service provider side to any conversation about metrics and there is an internal and external component to it. To examine this, we’ll arrange things in a bulleted hierarchy/list:

  • Customer/Service provider perspective
    • Internal/External
      • Central concern(s)
        • Candidate metric

For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll look at the things that our service desk manager might be regularly reporting to the customer organization, as part of an effort to help build the case for the value that the I.T. organization provides. In addition to this, we’d also expect that there is also regular provider-side reporting to assess how well the organization is performing.

For any given organization, the mix of these might look something like this:

  • Customer perspective
    • Internal
      • Efficient and effective operations
        • Time to restore service [average, min, max; trend line]
        • # of service disruptions
      • Being a good steward of corporate resources
        • Cost of support
    • External
      • Reliable delivery against stated mission objectives
        • Customer satisfaction rating [average, min, max, trend line]
  • Service provider perspective
    • Internal
      • Driving operational efficiency
        • Staffing levels [by period]
    • Building reserves for future investment and contingency
      • Cost of service delivery
      • Cost of service support
    • External
      • Demonstrating customer value
        • First call resolution rate
        • Support satisfaction rating [average, min, max, trend line]
        • Cost of service

The key thing in considering any candidate metrics is to consider that metrics can be combined in a way that helps tell a story. If our intent is to help demonstrate business/customer value, our story should emphasize those aspects of value that resonate with the customer. We should also be able to turn right around and craft another story that we can play specifically for the service provider organization and emphasize those aspects that resonate.

In either case, we need to compare the different metrics to each other over time, visualize the relation-ships between decisions made on both the customer and service provider sides (e.g. staffing levels, funding, finite resource allocations, etc.) and their operational effects. In this way, we use “hard data” to enhance the credibility of our stories.

Summary

As you can see, there can be significant differences between what a customer values and what a service a provider values. This is both right and proper, as their needs are not created equal. In order to think about what metrics are appropriate to pay attention to, at any given point in time, we must consider both the customer and service provider perspective. This requires that practitioners develop specific critical thinking skills. The greater degree to which these skills are developed, the more easily you will be able to select a more balanced set of metrics that provide real insight into how well your organization is actually delivering service.

We believe that service providers exist to provide business value for their customers. Indeed, it’s front and center when they make decisions about how they will organize themselves to service their customers. Given this, service providers need to pay attention to those metrics that will help reliably build the case for clear, compel-ling demonstrations of business value.

About Ken Gonzalez

Kenneth Gonzalez is an internationally recognized industry expert and leader in technology management, Outside-In Thinking, Lean and IT service management. He helps business, practitioners and customers alike better understand and apply these principles to deliver value and tangible results. 

FrontRange to Exhibit Hybrid Service and Client Management Offerings at HDI Conference

Presentation Will Highlight Advantages of Public/ Private Cloud and On-Premise Solutions with Industry Guest Speaker Candice Peacock

Milpitas, Calif. | March 25, 2014 — FrontRange, the Hybrid IT software company, today announced it will be participating as both an exhibitor and sponsor in HDI’s 2014 Conference & Expo. FrontRange will be exhibiting at Booth #502 with live demonstrations of its HEAT 2014.1 service and client management software solutions.

Where: HDI 2014 Conference & Expo, Gaylord Palms, Orlando, FL
When: April 1-4, 2014

As the IT industry’s leading technical service and support event, HDI 2014 is expected to attract more than 2,300 IT professionals.

At the FrontRange booth, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about FrontRange’s unique product offerings, including HEAT 2014—the only ITSM solution designed to simultaneously support, public/private cloud, on-premise and/or hybrid deployments from a single, unified platform. In addition, FrontRange invites visitors to attend their onsite speaking sessions:

  • “How IT Organizations Can Embrace Change Without Compromise”: This brief solution spotlight will highlight the benefits of FrontRange’s industry-leading HEAT Service Management solution and how it can assist IT departments in dealing with the growing number of challenges that they face on a daily basis.
    When: 1:10 PM, Wednesday, April 2
    Presenter: Jim Blayney, Product Marketing Director, FrontRange
  • “Cloud vs. On-Premise ITSM: Is There A Clear Cut Winner?”: This educational session will examine the respective benefits on cloud and on-premise solutions and explain why industry trends suggest that future of ITSM lies in hybrid solutions. Included in the presentation will be an in-depth look at FrontRange customer Total Wine and More’s cloud deployment of HEAT Service Management with special guest speaker Candice Peacock, IT service desk manager at Total Wine and More.
    When: 11:15 AM, Thursday, April 3
    Presenters: Kevin J. Smith, Vice President and General Manager, Cloud Business Unit, FrontRange; Candice Peacock, IT Service Desk Manager, Total Wine and More

About FrontRange
FrontRange is a leading provider of Hybrid IT software solutions for organizations of all sizes. With our suite of HEAT applications, FrontRange is the only company in the world that provides, from a single platform, Service Management and Client Management software on-premise and in the cloud. HEAT manages millions of service interactions and millions of devices every day for more than 15,000 leading organizations around the world. Our customers deliver world-class service while maximizing operational efficiencies with reduced cost and complexity. FrontRange is headquartered in Milpitas, Calif. and can be found at http://www.frontrange.com.

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FrontRange Contact:
Sabrina Hengehold
PR Manager
(408) 601-2815
PR@frontrange.com

Press Release Post Date:
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Think Tank Opens Cape Town Office

Think Tank is pleased to announce the launch of its Cape Town office.

Now with offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, Think Tank can offer a larger support team to handle your day to day requests.  This has also strengthened our resources and we have added to our highly skilled team of consultants, enhancing the level of technical expertise at your disposal.

Taking into account the business relationships we have forged over the last few years, we feel we have a comprehensive understanding of your business requirements and we always have your best interests at heart. We are therefore very excited to be able to share this development with you and we look forward to continuing to grow our relationships from strength to strength in the years to come.