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 promised a second blog based on the English-language presentations at the itSMF Norway annual conference but then I had a better idea … rather than just giving you the something akin to Twitter highlights I decided to be cheeky and ask a couple of the presenters to write blogs based on their presentations. Smart or lazy, I think it is better for you the reader.
Here is the first from Paul Wilkinson of GamingWorks – no stranger to writing blogs for my Forrester blog roll. The second is by Stuart Rance of HP and this will appear soon. Paul’s topic?
“How to improve the Return On Value (ROV) of an IT service management training initiative”
To quote Paul: “Hardly an innovative, exciting, sexy subject when everybody wants to hear about cloud, BYOD, social media, and all that new stuff.” BUT Paul was asked to present the same session he delivered in 2012 given that it was one of the top 3 well-received the previous year. I personally thoroughly enjoyed it – Paul is good at making you believe that there is “a better way” when it comes to changing the way we think about IT service delivery.
What were Paul’s key messages?
What was so important? Why should you read on? What should YOU now do differently?
Paul set the scene nicely. In his words (with a little editing by yours truly):
I guess I should have expected this (but alas I didn’t) – the Capita ITIL, the IT service management best practice framework, joint venture with the UK government wasn’t big news. If anything, the story made ripples rather than waves; and from a UK government “finances” rather than IT service management (ITSM) best practice perspective.
It’s interesting to consider why – particularly when enterprises are so adamant on requesting ITIL-alignment in ITSM tool selection RFPs. But first a few links:
It’s not often that I get to write about breaking news in the IT service management (ITSM) world but this definitely is it (I think the last time was this).
Well I say “breaking news,” many of us were talking about the rumor of Capita winning the “ITIL auction” on Wednesday evening while together at the Service Desk and IT Support Show. The odd thing is that it was probably the only time we were talking about ITIL, the ITSM best practice framework, outside of the sessions over the two days (other than some vendors who were still spouting that their tools are “ITIL-compliant”). But that is a topic for a later date.
If you want the “scoop” on the Capita announcement then please look at:
In a previous blog post, SysAid – a provider of IT management solutions – was kind enough to share some metrics/performance snapshots collected from its customers. As a quick recap, SysAid captures service desk benchmarking information through its customers’ use of its software (on an opt-in basis of course) for the benefit of all.
At some point we should sit down and compare the SysAid stats to those provided by HDI – a great independent source of service desk benchmarks – that’s a challenge to you Roy Atkinson … BTW, I hope the HDI 2013 event is going well in Las Vegas this week (the Twitter hash tag is #hdiconf13 for people, like me, who aren’t there). Anyway, back to those SysAid stats …
A selection of community-based service desk stats …
There are two points to note here: not all SysAid customers participate (according to its website, SysAid now has over 100,000 customer organizations); and I have cherry-picked a handful of the available stats from March 2013. There is also one caveat from me – there is no differentiation of organization size in these stats, we need to drill down further to account for any small or very large organization bias.
Percentage of incident tickets originating from the End User Portal, Average 60.31%
This blog has been contributed by Barclay Rae, an independent management consultant, and is the first of a new series of blogs written by IT service management (ITSM) thought leaders. Please read in Barclay's Scottish brogue ...
ITSMers often need help
Much of the demand for knowledge and support that I see in my regular consulting work centers around a simple request: “what are the key things to be doing for successful IT Service Management?”
People tell me they’ve read ITSM books and been trained (and certified) in ITIL and other frameworks, but because there’s so much content, plus multiple processes and standards. They lack a clear understanding of where to start and how to focus on what is important and successful in practice.
Focus on the critical activities
For me there’s a critical set of activities and actions that need to be achieved in order to deliver quality and effective service delivery – customer engagement, service definition, service desk quality, problem management, reporting and metrics, organizational change, and marketing. For many years this is what I’ve provided via workshops and consulting, and now I’ve turned this into a simple, straightforward, and practical approach and portfolio of knowledge – ITSMGoodness.
I’d not been to Norway for 32 years (I’m now embarrassed to say), so I really didn’t know what to expect as I travelled to the annual itSMF Norway conference in Oslo last week. I certainly didn’t expect the high price of just about everything; and I wondered if I would get a true picture of Norway in an airport hotel (in Oslo) with over 600 IT and IT service management (ITSM) professionals.
Now this is where my blogging could get me into trouble (or even more trouble), as I make a few personal observations as well as ITSM observations. But please humor me – they are all said in a very positive manner as I wonder what I missed in the Norwegian-language sessions and what those outside of Norway miss everyday. I’ll also write a second blog to cover some of the valuable content as soon as I make time.
My initial observations …
Firstly – “Wow, over 600 attendees for a country the size of Norway.” According to Wikipedia, Norway has five million citizens. You can do the math (or, as I would say, “maths”) relative to other countries. We have 63 million citizens in the UK …
Forrester recently published “IT Service Management (ITSM) Case Study: Making The Transition From On Premises To SaaS With BMC” which is available to clients here. For non-clients (or hopefully “future clients”) I thought I’d create a blog on the good practices distilled from the discussion with the BMC client.
The situation … does it sound familiar?
The customer had found itself hamstrung by a highly customized on-premises ITSM tool that was: 1) too costly to run; 2) a poor fit to operational and customer requirements; 3) complicated and cumbersome to use; 4) unable to keep pace with the latest service management thinking; and 5) stranded on an out-of-date version because it would cost too much to upgrade.
The solution …
The customer used a honed set of requirements to select BMC Remedyforce from a shortlist of six SaaS ITSM offerings. In their words, they chose BMC Remedyforce because: 1) it was best suited to the agency's existing and future needs; 2) it was built on the salesforce.com platform; 3) its user experience was similar to (but better than that of) the incumbent Service Desk Express; and 4) it was the most cost effective.
Here's what they did:
The initial deployment managed requests and tasks from both customers and internal IT.
The customer took advantage of subscription-based licensing's ability to flex with demand.
They also used BMC Remedyforce in different scenarios: in internally and externally facing call centers and, in addition to traditional IT support, addressing customer support, app development issues, and human resources (HR).
As I write this, I am in seat 1A of United flight 1607 from Philly to Houston. playing on the screen in front of me is CNBC. I make no secret of my disdain for much of the so called "news media" so I won't launch into my usual rant there (there are some superb journalists out there, but Murrow and Cronkite must be rolling in their graves!). I am bristling over the coverage right now that is focused on the 787's latest woes. As usual, the talking heads are clueless and painting a doomsday scenario for Boeing! It's a bunch of finance people who don't understand the engineering realities. They're smart bean counters, but not engineers. I am an old engineer, so let me shed light on what the Wall Street mouths don't know. There is an important lesson here for I&O leaders!
The changing business and IT landscapes bring increased demand for IT (or IT services) AND increasing complexity. The slide below (a tweaked version of a genuine Glenn O’Donnell original) paints a picture of increasing complexity and an impending capability gulf; if it isn’t already here.
So can IT organizations cope by increasing their manual ability, usually by employing or buying in more people resource?
Even if they could get suitable resource (availability and recruitment can be issues), could the parent business afford the jump in labor costs as these continue to be a highly-visible element of overall IT service delivery costs? Adding more people doesn’t necessarily fit in with the now oft-quoted mantra of “do (or deliver) more with less.”
A recent webinar with ServiceNow looked at drivers for and opportunities from automation, and how to approach building the business case for service management AND automation. Where Forrester defines automation as:
“Tools that perform functions otherwise done by humans.”
If you want to cut to the chase (i.e. don’t want to read the blog) …