One of the best TV comedies in the UK over the last couple of years has been The IT Crowd. It is about a fictional IT department and plays to all the possible IT stereotypes. One of my favorite scenes is from the very first episode in which a ‘user’ is left waiting for their call to be answered for an excruciating amount of time and then another ‘IT professional’ is shown speaking to a ‘user’ in complete technology gobbledygook. Yes, this clip is funny but surely these are all extreme cases and only slim comparisons can be made to Enterprise IT today?
I have to be honest here and say that during my time as an enterprise management consultant I saw all that happened on this clip, but surely modern day IT organizations don’t suffer from these problems? Well, maybe not to the same extent but how often have you heard, or even whispered, these famous words when working with the IT service desk or help desk:
Service integration (SI) is already one of the IT buzzwords of 2013; you might also hear service integration and management (SIAM) which brings in an IT service management (ITSM) perspective. However, just because it is one the most talked about ideas in the IT industry does not mean it is understood.
For now let’s just say that if you could take your E2E IT operations and the complex multi-supplier environment in which it sits and give that pain to someone else to manage while you concentrate on what you do best, on your customers and their needs, then why wouldn’t you? This, in essence, is what pure-play SI is (Stephen – at Forrester we are also speaking to clients about internally operated SI).
Sounds attractive, doesn’t it? The good news is that it can be. The bad news is that my experience to date has shown SI implementation can be a painful experience if those involved are not prepared.
Planning for service integration
The transition to an SI model is a lot easier if time is invested upfront to:
Housekeeping key areas of the IT environment
Engaging a potential SI provider earlier to work with the organization – to help organize and plan for transition readiness.
As a follow up to his presentation at the 2013 itSMF Norway conference, Stuart Rance of HP has kindly donated some practical advice for those struggling with availability.
Many IT organizations define availability for IT services using a percentage (e.g. 99.999% or “five 9s”) without any clear understanding of what the number means, or how it could be measured. This often leads to dissatisfaction, with IT reporting that they have met their goals even though the customer is not satisfied.
A simple calculation of availability is based on agreed service time (AST), and downtime (DT).
If AST is 100 hours and downtime is 2 hours then availability would be
Customers are interested in their ability to use IT Services to support business processes. Availability reports will only be meaningful if they describe things the customer cares about, for example the ability to send and receive emails, or to withdraw cash from ATMs.
Number and duration of outages
A service that should be available for 100 hours and has 98% availability has 2 hours downtime. This could be a single 2 hour incident, or many shorter incidents. The relative impact of a single long incident or many shorter incidents is different for different business processes. For example, a billing run that has to be restarted and takes 2 days to complete will be seriously impacted by each outage, but the outage duration may not be important. A web-based shopping site may not be impacted by a 2 minute outage, but after 2 hours the loss of customers could be significant. Table 1 shows some examples of how an SLA might be documented to show this varying impact.
I’ve written a number of blogs about IT service management (ITSM) and IT service delivery many of which have expressed opinions based on observations and conversations rather than “facts.” A new Forrester report by my colleague Eveline Oehrlich has some facts to substantiate what we already knew even if we chose to ignore it.
This is one of those pictures that really is worth a thousand words. In fact all three of these figures make it easy for me to cut short the commentary.
It’s interesting to see the geographical differences but, despite these, we still see a consistent gap or gulf between “How IT thinks it is doing” and “How customers think IT is doing.” Funny how our metrics aren’t a sea of red – in fact our metrics dashboard is often a sea of green.
“But that’s just perceptions” I hear you cry, “We still do a fantastic job in enabling business activities with cutting-edge IT.” But could we do better? Please read on …