Responsive ITSM

Customer and service orientation

Responsive ITSM graphic

The primary thrust we are pursuing is to make the ITSM as “responsive” as possible. This means in the balancing of interests:

 

  • customer-centered processes before the exact mapping of IT structures
  • preventive measures before reactive incident management
  • rich conversation before digitized “correspondence” (ticketing)
 

This does not mean that we do not consider the values on the right side of the page to be important. However, when designing ITSM systems, we tend to recommend and propagate the values on the left-hand side, always giving priority to the framework and context of the specific project.

Customer centered processes

ITSM systems are (of course) procured by IT organizations. The needs of the IT organization are taken into account accordingly during the introduction.

However, we find that the end customer, whom the ITSM organization wants to serve, is often involved too superficially in the design of the system. For example, service catalogs are structured exactly according to the technical detail services as provided by the ITSM organization. However, it would be better to ask first which services the customer wants to access individually. This often results in a gap between demand and supply. This is because the customer wants a problem solved, but does not always know which technical services need to be combined.

We recommend that effective stakeholder management be practiced in implementation projects and that user-centric methods such as customer journey mapping for ensuring a high-quality customer experience also be transferred to internally provided IT services for the benefit of the business. After all, it is not uncommon for users to place their requests under time pressure. Smooth processing and transparent, professional communication are therefore of correspondingly high importance.

Preventive measures

«Prevention is better than cure»

— Erasmus of Rotterdam

What applies to the healthcare sector can also be transferred to IT. After all, curing IT illnesses not only generates the costs for the necessary IT intervention. Very often, the main reason for this is the expensive loss of working hours on the part of the users. And the more digitization progresses are, the less can this be bridged with tasks in the “analog world”.

But how can you become proactive? The key is to make ITSM data-driven. Only with well-developed sensor technology will it be possible to reproduce the quality of the service perceived by the customer in everyday life.

In everyday ITSM life, the relevant early indicators that would enable the company to take timely action on emerging problems are often missing. The figure on the right shows a single example indicator. If, on the other hand, the dashboard of the IT specialists were to look like the figure below, they would immediately know which problems that have not yet been reported should be addressed.


Incidents can be reduced by up to 50% with good detection and preventive interventions. At the same time, the performance quality of IT becomes objectively measurable. This makes it possible to make discussions with the service recipients much more goal-oriented. In particular, subjective perceptions can also be made more objective through a better factual situation.

Rich conversation

The development of an ITSM usually means the introduction of a ticketing system. Systems such as ServiceNow or Jira Service Desk make a significant contribution to a transparent and controllable ITSM. They bring traceability to the process and ensure that no tasks are forgotten.

A major limitation of most ticketing systems, however, is that the communication pattern between the end user and IT as well as between the various support level officers is similar to an “exchange of letters” between two different parties. This is very useful for simple tasks, but for more complex tasks a lengthy “ping pong” with correspondingly very long solution times can quickly result.

It makes sense to supplement the ticketing tool with digital rooms in which chat-based conversations can be held with the active participation of all necessary specialists. By choosing the right setting for communication, a more constructive cooperation can naturally be promoted and serial ticket rejections à la “not our problem” occur less often or can at least be resolved more quickly and effectively.

At the same time, chat-based support channels are increasingly establishing themselves vis-à-vis the customer. They have the great advantage that customers immediately feel that someone is taking care of the problem and that initial queries can be answered immediately without delay.

The combination of ticketing with other communication channels enables tasks to be processed more quickly and in a more targeted manner.

Our approach: Tailor-made solutions

We implement tailor-made ITSM solutions. We follow a “best of breed” approach, i.e. we have a toolbox consisting of our preferred tools, which we combine to create the desired solution and integrate into the existing environment.

We do not take a dogmatic approach to determine the tools for a project. As far as it makes sense, we build on the components already existing at the customer’s site and supplement them with the desired range of functions by integrating missing components.

When evaluating components, we emphasize a high degree of efficiency and integration with other tools or our own developments. While we have pre-evaluated preferred products, we verify the coverage of requirements and suitability in each project. If necessary, we then replace or extend components with in-house developments or other solutions.

Our toolbox: "best of breed" solution components

Frontend Tools: Interaction with end users and IT teams

The front-end tools ensure the customer interface of ITSM.

The Status Information component is used to communicate the service status to end users. This includes communicating restrictions on availability, announcing maintenance work, and so on. In Business Continuity Management, this component is used to ensure that information is still available even if all other communication channels fail. Our preferred product for this is statuspage.

In chat rooms, end users can easily receive support in one conversation (“conversational ticketing”). Depending on the customer journey concept pursued, the initiation of chat-based interaction can be initiated either directly by the end user or by IT. Exactly those people who have to work together to solve the ticket are invited to the chat room. Chat rooms are very effective in ITSM because they allow several departments to make parallel contributions to solving problems and to track their progress. The conversation can be conducted directly with or without a time delay, which is why the best time to resolution can be achieved even if the time availability of those involved varies greatly. We prefer to work with HalpChatlio and Slack, if a cloud solution can be used with the participation of US companies or with Mattermost and jitsi if operations in Switzerland are required. If Microsoft teams are available, integration is obvious.

The ticketing portal allows end users to submit and track their service requests. This includes the provision of order forms, their approval by the responsible authorities and the handling of the service provision. We prefer to work with Jira Service Desk or add our own portal development to Jira if there are special requirements for the design or integration of the portal.

Backend Tools: Data-driven ITSM and Process Support

Knowledge management is aimed at solving problems faster. On the one hand, relevant troubleshooting articles can be displayed to end users during ticket creation based on keywords, with the aim that they either solve the problem themselves or at least provide the relevant information to describe the problem. On the other hand, it also serves the know-how transfer through the support chain (2nd level to 1st level etc.). We work with Confluence.

Asset Management is an inventory of the components and their properties for which ITSM provides services. This information is then read out when tickets are created or to determine dependencies when problems are solved. Ideally, the information is not only entered manually, but, as far as possible, automatically supplemented by service or user device monitoring. We prefer to use Insight – Asset Management for Jira.

Via the alarming, the employees required to solve a problem are called up according to the stored shift plan or escalation chains are triggered as soon as certain criteria occur. For example, shortly before the expiry of a guaranteed SLA response time or in the event of a service failure. We prefer to work with OpsGenie.

Service Monitoring is used to monitor the status of IT services. In particular, this includes checking service availability (uptime), performance (response times) and resource usage (such as disk space, RAM, etc.) for capacity management. In this area for rather simpler problems we are using  StatusCake and Prometheus. However, experience shows that the problems in service monitoring are usually very heterogeneous.

User Device Monitoring deals with the monitoring of the PC workstations used by the end users. Traditionally, thanks to software distribution tools such as Microsoft SCCM, IT has good information about the target status of the end devices, e.g. which software should be installed. However, the quality in use as perceived by the user cannot usually be readily identified. A proactive management of the devices will only be possible, however, if precise information about the actual state can be evaluated via the organization. Frequent crashes, decreasing storage space, decreasing performance, etc. can be detected and processed before the end user creates a ticket and this ticket has to be solved under time pressure. Endpoint device monitoring is particularly relevant in environments with less management control by IT (Bring Your Own Device, school IT, software development, etc.) in order to work towards an appropriate level of endpoint device security.

Project Management is used to handle projects or more complex operational processes that cannot be sufficiently managed by individual tasks. We work in this area with Jira Softwarewhich is particularly widespread for software projects, but can also be used for any organizational and IT projects.

The time worked is reported and evaluated in Time Reporting. This can be the reporting

  • of working time (attendance, overtime, holidays, etc.),
  • of the time spent on work (project expenses, time spent per ticket, etc.)
  • and of the billable time (expenses to be invoiced outside of a lump sum)

In this area we prefer to use Tempo Timesheets.

Our option for deployment

The following options are available for the deployment and IT operation of the solution, which we can all offer and support:

Option

Description

1 Atlassian Cloud

The solution can be implemented on the cloud solution operated by Atlassian from the USA.

2 linkyard cloud

The solution can be implemented on the cloud solution operated by linkyard in Switzerland.

3 Managed Service on private cloud or on premise infrastructure

The solution can be implemented and operated on the private cloud or infrastructure provided by the customer. The IT operator of the customer takes over the operation of the infrastructure, linkyard takes care of application operation and maintenance.

4 On Premise with support

The solution can be implemented on systems provided by the customer. The operation is done by the customer, linkyard provides support if required.

Most of our customers choose the variant 2 linkyard Cloud from the combination of economic and security considerations, such as the Swiss Federal Tax Administration FTA. However, we already apply all deployment scenarios to customers.

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We are looking forward to you!

Stefan Haller

+41 78 746 51 16
stefan.haller@linkyard.ch