Building a World Class Service Desk
November 25, 2013
I’ve had the opportunity to work with many great End User Computing clients across North America. Most have a different business focus based on their respective verticals, but they’ve all had a service desk function organized to support their end user community - with as little as 2-4 team members and others as large as 25. All had one thing in common, the desire to “get more” out of their service desk. Here’s how: 4 Tactical Focus Areas for Creating a High Performance Service Desk: 1. People: Have I set expectations with my team members? Your service desk staff typically enjoys getting feedback that enables them to improve and validates their success. Set expectations with your team through a reoccurring feedback mechanism. 2. Process: Do I have processes in place to ensure great service? The end user community wants to contact the service desk and receive the same prompt service every time they call. Documentation and standard processes create confidence in your team and consistency in their performance. 3. Technology: Am I getting value from the tools and systems I have in place? Many organizations have difficulty using the technology in place to create business value. A tactical approach to automation and process fulfillment can improve the overall performance of your team and allow them be more effective. 4. Customer: Do I know what my customers think of our service? The consumerization of IT over the last several years has created an end user community that expects their technology to “just work”. Creating a feedback mechanism that empowers the voice of the customer, creates a caring work environment. Our internal goal for any Long View service desk is to “put people back to work”, as quickly and efficiently as possible. In many organizations this goal is similar although service desk Managers or IT Directors are unsure how to drive their service to become a strategic part of their IT service delivery team. In order to create a high performing strategic service desk, assess and benchmark your Service Desk. Service Desk Assessments should be ITILITSM (IT Infrastructure Library IT Service Management) focused and performed on existing service desks by ITIL certified consultants with extensive hands-on service desk experience. At Long View, we perform a series of short interviews with service desk, IT, and operations staff to become familiar with existing service desk operations. Initial data is gathered through a series of audits with questions that are categorized and scored based on a proven service desk maturity model. Once the overall service desk maturity is assessed, Long View provides a series of “Quick Wins” or recommendations to further enhance the maturity of a service desk. A Quick Win is identified as a small change or adjustment that can be made within 30 days to improve service delivery and increase the maturity of your service desk. A formal plan is vital in order to develop a roadmap for your organization to build a long lasting, functional Strategic Service Desk. Follow me @DaleBirkley
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Reality TV Series Survivor Meets Project Management
November 12, 2013
I’m not a big TV watcher…and when I do watch TV, I don’t usually settle on the reality shows. Reality shows are full of scripted moments, overly colorful characters, and obvious product placements. But when I heard that the PMI-Southern Alberta Chapter (SAC) chose Survivor as their theme for the PMI-SAC Professional Development Conference on November 12th and 13th, I thought: how fitting. Because, the winner of Survivor is basically the best project manager on the island. And here is why. Survivor has key themes and activities: the challenges where you work hard to win, the tribal council where you get voted off, the alliances that you build your trust and teams with. Let’s take a look at each one. The challenges: throughout a project, a PM will face a variety of obstacles and hurdles to overcome in order to successfully meet their project goals. These challenges for the PM (or the survivor participants) require critical thinking skills, technical ability, agility and flexibility, focused planning and vast amounts of teamwork. Succeed with these characteristics and tactics and you are sure to reach you project goals or “win the challenge”. The tribal council: a tribal council is likened to your steering committee or decision-makers. When presenting to your steering committee, you need wit, strategies, great boardroom persona and an ability to influence a decision. You need to be prepared to answer tough questions and have your facts and data ready or you will get voted off the island. Okay, I guess we don’t get voted off islands, but maybe your steering committee meeting is a go/no go meeting. Your project could face “elimination” if you don’t have the information at your fingertips – always be prepared for the toughest questions as it may mean a halt to your project. The alliances: the most striking similarity. People are what make projects successful – not process. The ability to build trust, earn respect, gain credibility and ultimately build a well-oiled team sharing a common vision to get a project completed – that is the ultimate parallel to be drawn between Survivor and Project Management. So there you have it. Project Manager = Sole Survivor. November 12th will mark our first day at the PMI-SAC Professional Development Conference at the Telus Convention Centre, where I will be presenting, along with a number of other speakers. I would encourage you to stay close to our Twitter feed throughout the event, and check back to our website (longviewsystems.com) for any available presentation materials. Lisa Eyamie Client Services Manager / Practice Director of PMO, PMO
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Growing our Stache to Raise Some Cash (aka Movember)
November 7, 2013
We have the Edmonton branch to thank for getting us started with the Movember Campaign. Their main goals of raising money and awareness have now become Long View goals, and we’re ready to tackle Movember across North America. What is Movember you ask? Each year, brave and selfless Mo Bros and Mo Sistas from companies across Canada come together as one, united by their commitment to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health by devoting 30 days to fine moustachery. The Edmonton office plans to hold a “best in show” mustache edition later this month, and the Mo Bro with the Best Stache will win a trophy and prize! Want to join in the fun? Grow a moustache, make some office commentary or feel free to donate to the team. Check out our “Long View Mo Bro” teams: Canada Long View Team - http://ca.movember.com/team/1195881 US Long View Team - http://us.movember.com/team/1373761 Good luck, fellas. We look forward to the before and after photos! Written by Tony Payne
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Storage and Servers at the Epicenter of Change
November 1, 2013
The IT infrastructure landscape has never been more exciting. We find ourselves at the epicenter of change that will continue to accelerate throughout the decade. Competing technologies no longer encounter the same barriers of entry that occurred in previous decades. This brings the benefit of choice, but at the potential cost of increasing complexity – or does it? Storage was one of the last bastions to experience an exponential technology curve. A great deal of this was driven by startups and not the major players – we’ve seen more than 80 new players enter this marketplace over the last number of years and few will survive. Some will be acquired as we’ve recently witnessed, as more of the larger vendors will look to this community of startups as their R&D labs – resulting in them placing big bets on technology that they couldn’t have funded or imagined. The business benefits of these emerging technologies are compelling enough that customers are now willing to federate their storage architectures and build “fit for purpose” models. It’s also predicted that servers will go through another architectural shift. Generally we’ve moved from standalone servers to blades to integrated stacks – all holding the same paradigm of a server which has components of compute-memory and I/O. In the not too distant future it’s expected that these components will be acquired separately – if you need more speed just add more CPU’s and likewise for the other remaining components of the traditional server. It’s interesting that these changes are being managed outside the typical R&D labs of the major manufactures. The best and brightest are now being attracted to the Hyperscale vendors where radical change is necessary to support the business. However, it is expected that these changes will filter into mainstream and be picked up and productized by the major manufacturers. Building architectures that can easily adapt to take immediate advantage of these emerging solutions in storage and servers will allow you to achieve maximum benefit. Going forward we feel it’s never been more important for you to choose a partner that can help navigate these technological advances. Partners that can provide the complete solution lifecycle from multiple vendors will deliver the desired continuity especially in the dynamic IT marketplace of today.
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Spartacus, and yes, you read that correctly
October 28, 2013
Before anything else happens, I want to relive a piece of cinematic history. The film is Spartacus, the scene, the film’s most famous. A thousand fugitive slaves have just lost their battle for freedom, their numbers decimated by the Roman army. The survivors are huddled together awaiting their fate. The Roman leader announces to the fugitives that they may be spared crucifixion and return to their lives as slaves, but only under one condition. They must turn over Spartacus, their rebellious leader, the one who inspired these same slave masses to fight for freedom. Spartacus, famously played by Kirk Douglas, rises to his feet to surrender, but before the words can leave his mouth, the man next to him stands up and shouts, “I am Spartacus.” Then, the next man rises up to declare, “I am Spartacus”. Soon every man on the hillside is standing and shouting, “I am Spartacus.” This story represents a classic scene from the golden age of hollywood, but that’s not why I’m sharing it. I share this story because it illustrates a concept I would like to delve into deeper in the next few blog posts. The reference belongs to Peter Senge, a leader in the field of leadership and organizational learning. The concept illustrated in the Spartacus scene Mr. Senge refers to as shared vision. He would suggest that the slaves weren’t following Spartacus because he was a hero or charismatic leader. They weren’t standing up on that hill for him, they were standing up for themselves and what they believed in. They were working together towards a vision for the future they all shared. It’s a much more powerful place to be, and a much more powerful place to stand as an organization. The concept of shared vision is a core belief and passion for me as a leader. At Long View we’re working on our shared vision. There is a sense of something far greater than IT that happens here. I felt it from the beginning, and it’s why I’ve chosen to be a part of this company. I think we all feel it. I think we all share it. But we haven’t quite been able to articulate all the elements of our shared vision yet. I’d like to start putting into words what it is that gives our work here meaning. Here’s what I’m proposing, in my next post I’ll start to outline what I believe our shared vision is, or the greater purpose of what I believe we’re doing here at Long View. Comments and feedback are more than welcome, they’re needed. My hope is that we can turn this into a dialogue. And although I expect the process of truly defining our shared vision will take a lot more than a few blog posts I think it’s a valuable start, and a great venue for discussion.
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The 5 Domains of IT Governance
October 22, 2013
What is IT Governance? In recent years several high profile incidents of corporate fraud and failure helped bring the topic of corporate governance to the forefront of many business agendas. With IT now widely regarded as both a fundamental business tool and a significant factor in future business planning, effective mechanisms to align corporate governance with the management and use of IT have also surfaced as high priority items on most corporate agenda’s (BSI, 2008). The ability to actually deploy effective IT governance was hampered by the absence of applicable frameworks, standards and best practices working in tandem. With the advent of ISO 38500 in 2008 however an international standard for IT governance was finally made available and other frameworks and best practices quickly fell in line. In particular, resources such as COBIT 5, VAL IT, Risk IT, PMBOK, CMMI, COSO, ISO 27001, ISO 9000, ISO 20000, and ITIL v3 to name just a few have provided invaluable guidance to companies of all shapes and sizes on how best to realize their exclusive IT Governance needs and objectives. The 5 Domains of IT Governance But frameworks and standards aside, what is IT governance and how can it be effectively realized within the business? Ask a room of IT governance professionals and business executives this question and chances are each one would provide a different answer. Fortunately, the ISACA organization, a leading global provider of certifications, knowledge, advocacy and education of information systems, assurance and security has developed some useful guidance which separates IT Governance into 5 separate domains (ISACA, 2013) each of which are briefly described below: 1. Framework for the Governance of Enterprise IT Organizations need to implement an IT Governance framework which stays in continuous alignment with enterprise governance and the key drivers (both internal and external) directing the company’s strategic planning, goals and objectives.
- This framework should wherever possible attempt to utilize industry standards and best practices (COBIT, ITIL, ISO, etc.) in accordance with the explicit needs and requirements of the business.
- The IT Governance model should be driven at the top level of the organization with roles, responsibilities and accountabilities fully defined and enforced across the organization.
- IT Governance aims to ensure IT benefits through the implementation of value management practices, benefits realization planning and performance monitoring and response.
- Key to benefits realization is the establishment of effective portfolio management to govern IT enabled investments as well as the design and utilization of appropriate performance metrics and reporting methods which are managed and responded to accordingly. The realization of a culture focused on continuous improvement can further help ensure benefits realization is achieved through a constant focus on improving business performance.
- While activities and capabilities for risk optimization of IT will differ widely based on the size and maturity of the organization and the industry vertical in which they operate, of most importance is the development of a risk framework which can demonstrate good governance to shareholders and customers in a repeatable and effective manner.
- Some important components of this dimension include business continuity planning, alignment to relevant legal and regulatory requirements and the development of a risk appetite and tolerance methodology used to assist with risk based decisions.
- This requires focus on identifying the most appropriate methods for resource procurement and management, monitoring of external suppliers, service level management, knowledge management, and staff training and development programs.
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October 16, 2013
Throughout my 19 years in the IT Service and Support Management (ITSSM) industry, my experience has been that many teams are looking to improve their current operations. While supporting company growth, they are often looking for additional features and functionality, and unsure what the best approach should be. Just this week I met with a client that fit this model; they are using an older version of an ITSSM tool to support their incident management needs, and looking for automation to monitor service levels and assist with proactive efforts to improve SLA compliance. They also want to increase their employees’ ability to submit requests to IT through services such as web self-service and chat. We also meet many clients who are looking for improved analytics. Business leadership desiring greater insight into IT activities, and how IT is addressing company and employee needs, along with the quest for improved analytics in problem management and resolution are continuously increasing. ITSSM applications are critical in supporting IT operations and should be flexible enough to meet each company’s needs. These tools should not dictate process, instead having a general "Out of the Box" approach that can be configured for individual processes. Clients with older ITSSM applications have a few options. They can look at newer releases of their applications to see if they can meet their needs. They can also review other offerings in the market. Software as a Service (SaaS) is a growing movement for many ITSSM applications. Their primary benefits can include reducing capital expenses for companies by providing infrastructure that is maintained by the service provider to providing expert administrative resources. ITSSM SaaS offerings have matured well enough that they should always be considered. Many of these issues can be resolved by looking at IT operations maturity. The best approach for this is to work with ITSSM consulting companies to conduct a review of current operations. We advise many clients that the first step is gathering a complete picture of their current operations. Areas to consider are people, process, customer, and technology. This is important for identifying what they need to improve upon and prioritize those areas. At Long View we often conduct a workshop to capture their current ITSSM health (such as Vision-Mission statement, staffing levels, services offered, and tools/technologies currently being used), identify needs for improvement, and assign priorities to each area. Common areas of improvement include IT position descriptions (roles and responsibilities), appropriate staffing levels, incident escalation process, and measuring customer satisfaction. Check out Long View’s offerings on our website for further information.
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From Go-Getter to Garnering Results
October 15, 2013
We are lucky enough to have incredible employees here at Long View - from established veterans in their field to impressive up-and-comers. Often up-and-coming employees are those that are executing at a high level on a frequent basis. Vague, high level objectives are turned into fantastic outcomes, with clear and broad communication framing the solution. As these individuals are given more responsibility, gears shift from individual productivity to team based performance. Thus a manager is born. Satisfaction is derived from the team achieving a goal and success is attributed to the entire team. I had a great reminder this week of how powerful the enablement of employees can be and how the outcomes can far exceed your expectations – if the leader can set parameters and then get out of the way. Jeff Young took over our Tools Team in Shared Services and quickly embarked on project with the loose parameters to increase effectiveness of the tools and reduce costs. Simple, right? Well, the Tools Team came back with a set of recommendations that would cut our operating costs in half and free up the team to work on the enablement of our go-to market team instead of maintenance of our systems. The findings were presented in both technical and business terms and were tailored to the audience which included executives, directors and practice leaders. Awesome! I would encourage all of our service delivery leaders to consider what their team could be capable of if there were no barriers, and then do the work to remove them. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what great leaders do and it is what high performance teams need. Follow me @pedge07
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Best Places to Work Colorado
October 15, 2013
For anyone not familiar with Denver, our metro area is home to over 2.5 million people. And while we aren’t among the largest cities in the US, it is safe to say that there are a lot of companies conducting business in the capital of Colorado, and all throughout the state. Which is why it was so cool to have made it into the finals of ColoradoBiz magazine’s Best Companies to Work for in Colorado, placing 9th in the Medium Business category! The award rankings are determined through an anonymous survey conducted at each of the competing companies. Staff answer questions around workplace happiness, advancement opportunities, benefits, flexibility, and other key markers of what separates a great place to work from an average place to work. For Long View, the award is a great indication of how the culture, originating out of the head office in Calgary, has extended out to the branch locations. At the banquet for the awards, the announcer made a statement acknowledging that Long View is a company actively pursuing a positive reputation - it was nice to hear that what we’ve been working to achieve is now being recognized from an outside source. Word is getting out there. We are being acknowledged for our core values - Integrity, Competence, Value, and Fun. And these values are continuing to make Long View a great place to work.
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October 9, 2013
On October 3rd 2013, Adobe released information regarding a security breach. Following this, Long View has learned the following;
- There does not appear to be a direct compromise to any of the Adobe software suite
- There do not appear to be any zero day attack issues (exploit of previously unknown vulnerabilities)
- Adobe has sent an email to their customers that have had credit card information stolen and has reset relevant customer passwords
- Adobe has offered to pay for any credit monitoring services to those affected
- Longer term concern is that source code stolen in the breach will be used to create malware so clients should remain vigilant going forward
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