Wednesday, April 29, 2009
About Processes – Part Two
A process converts inputs into outputs. A process is a structured set of activities designed to accomplish a specific objective. A process takes one or more defined inputs and turns them into defined outputs. The outputs are driven by the objectives. The process owner assures that the objectives are met. The process is defined by activities and their procedures/work instructions, specific process roles, metrics (help determine if the controls are functioning appropriately) and any improvements to the process. Processes are examples of closed-loop systems because they provide change and transformation towards a goal. They utilize feedback for self-reinforcing and self-corrective action.
Processes have four basic characteristics.
Processes are measurable
• The process can be measured in a relevant manner
• It is performance driven
• Managers want to measure cost, quality and other variables while practitioners are concerned with duration and productivity
Processes deliver specific results
• The reason a process exists is to deliver a specific result. This result must be individually identifiable and countable
Processes are customers focused
• Every process delivers its primary results to a customer or stakeholder
• They may be internal or external to the organization, but the process must meet their expectations
Processes respond to a specific event
• While a process may be ongoing or iterative, it should be traceable to a specific trigger
A process activity is a set of actions that are designed to achieve a particular objective. The process activities are often represented in the form of a process flow. Each activity is often represented or defined by a procedure. A procedure is a document containing steps that specify how to achieve an activity. Steps in procedures can be further broken down in work instructions.
Process Work Instructions
Process Work Instructions are captured in a document that details out exactly what steps to carry out in order to complete an activity. Work instructions are much more granular then a procedure and are only created if detailed instructions are required. For example:
• Click in category field
• Select category
• Save record
Metrics, CSF and KPI
Metrics are a scale of measurement defined in terms of a standard or a well-defined unit. When we quantify an event or other measurable object, we rely on explicit or implicit metrics. Metrics define what is to be measured. In many cases, metrics are specialized to a particular subject area but there are generalized metrics which can be aggregated across subject areas, business units or the enterprise.
Process metrics – These metrics are captured in the form of CSFs, KPIs and activity metrics for the service management processes. These metrics can help determine the overall health of a process. Four key questions that KPIs can help answer are around quality, performance, value and compliance of following the process. CSI would use these metrics as input in identifying improvement opportunities for each process.
A Critical Success Factor (CSF) is the outcomes that must happen in order for the process objective to be achieved. Critical Success Factors are those elements of a process or service that are vital to delivering the expected outcome or creating value. The service or process should not have more than 3 to 5 CSF.
A Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is a metric that is used to help manage a process, IT service, or activity. A good KPI should provide some idea of whether the CSF or goal is being achieved; should be relatively easy to interpret; should be easily obtainable and thus measured; and should be easily changeable in the event the CSF or goal changes. A CSF should not have any more than 2 to 3 KPI.
There are two additional types of metrics that managers are interested in addition to processes metrics. They are
• Technology metrics – These metrics are often associated with component and application-based metrics such as performance, availability etc.
• Service metrics – These metrics are the results of the end-to-end service. Component metrics are used to compute the service metrics.
It is important that all three types of metrics are addressed. Focusing only on one type of metric will create challenges and not provide a true picture the current situation.
Metrics from a business perspective:
Often there is a disconnect between what IT reports and what is of interest
Now more than ever, IT must invest the time to understand specific business goals and translate IT metrics to reflect impact to these goals. Businesses invest in tools and services that affect productivity, and support should be one of those services. The major challenge, and one that can be met, is to effectively communicate the business benefits of a well run IT support group. The starting point is a new perspective on how IT actions affect business results.
Service and process reporting
Service and process reports are produced to meet identified needs and customer requirements. Service and process reporting usually include:
• Performance against service level targets
• Non-compliance and issues such as service level or security breaches
• Workload characteristics such as volume and resource utilization
• Performance reporting following major Incidents and Changes
• Trend information
• Satisfaction analysis
• Key process areas
There are six key process areas (KPA) within each of the process maturity levels. They are:
• The vision and strategy – the overall direction as it relates to the role and position of IT within the business
• The steering (or direction) – the objectives and goals of IT in relation to realizing the strategy
• The processes – the procedures needed to achieve the goals and objectives
• The people – the skills and abilities needed to perform the processes
• The technology – the supporting infrastructure to enable the processes to be carried out
• The culture – the behavior and attitude required in relation to the role of IT within the business
Reporting policy and rules
An ideal approach to building a business perspective service and process reporting framework is to take the time to define and agree the policy and rules with the business with regards to how reporting will be implemented and managed. This includes:
• targeted audience(s) and the related business views on what the service delivered is
• agreed definitions of all terms and boundaries
• basis of all calculations
• reporting schedules
• access to reports and medium to be used
• meetings scheduled to review and discuss reports
A role is a set of responsibilities, activities, and authorities granted to a person or a team. People or groups may be assigned multiple roles within a process Typical process roles include the Process Owner, the Process Manager and Process Agents. The first two roles are defined in the literature and are usually well understood. However, the role of process agent is not often used or even mentioned. A process agent is typically the person or group of people executing the activities, procedures, and work instructions. Tools can be included as process agents when automation is involved for specific tasks.
A critical success factor in Service and Process design is to define the roles and responsibilities within the organization for the various activities. A trademark of high-performing organizations is the ability to make the right decisions quickly and execute them effectively. The RACI is an authority matrix used to align roles and responsibilities with processes and activities. Such matrices are often used within organizations to indicate roles and responsibilities in relation to processes and activities. RACI stands for:
R Responsible The one responsible for getting the job done
A Accountable Only one person can be accountable for each task
C Consulted Involvement through input of knowledge and information
I Informed Receiving information about process execution and quality
Of course, where do we find the process agents? Process agents are found among the following four functions, explained in details in the Service Operation book. The are the Service Desk, Technical Management, Application Management and IT Operations Management. It is important to remember that external collaborates (partners, vendors, and suppliers) are also process agents when any form of outsourcing in involved.
It is important to identify and to differentiate between two basic groupings of roles within process improvement. The first grouping, the production roles, is about process improvements as a way of life within an organization. These roles exist on a permanent basis and deal continuously with ongoing service improvement efforts.
This first grouping includes such roles as service manager, service owner, process owner, operations analyst, measurement analyst, and quality assurance analyst among many others. These roles are often associated with those responsible for the day-to-day operations of the IT Infrastructure, but will also include those who are working at all levels of the organization from defining strategies, designing and transitioning new or changed services to the production environment.
The second grouping, the project roles, reflects the more traditional approach to improvement efforts based on programs and projects. Taking a leadership position in the creation and adoption of processes and services this second group includes roles such as executive sponsor, process owners, process design/implementation/re-engineering team, process advisor and project manager as examples.
All processes have an activity focused on improving that process. The improvements should target one or more of the following areas:
• Real and perceived value to the customer
• Quality of the process activities and outputs
• Amount of throughput produced
• Internal or external compliance to the process
Pink Elephant Expands Foundations Certification Options
Long-Term Learning Becomes Part Of Public & In-House Training Formats
BURLINGTON, ON – Pink Elephant today announced the introduction of two online ITIL V3 Foundations courses and additional enhancements to its traditional classroom courses.
The two new ITIL V3 Foundations courses are:
ITIL V3 Foundations Self-Paced Online
- Available June 1, 2009
- Time efficient – learn and get certified anytime, anywhere and at your own pace
- Secure – unique sign-on assures that only you track your course progress and sample exam results
- Best value – US$475 per seat (volume discounts available on request); no travel and accommodation costs
ITIL V3 Foundations Instructor-Led Online
- Available June 22, 2009
- Interactive – benefit from the experience of a highly certified Pink expert in a secure, live online environment over 4 days
- Convenient dates scheduled regularly through the year in regional time zones
- Competitively priced – US$1,495 per seat (volume discounts available on request); no travel and accommodation costs
These offerings complement the traditional classroom courses Pink Elephant have delivered since the organization developed the world’s first ITIL course in 1992.
In further effort to enable a continual learning experience for all of its customers, Pink Elephant is also offering three added-value components at no additional charge:
- The Self-Paced Online course is available to all Pink Elephant customers for 12 months following the completion of any ITIL V3 Foundations course.
- A new PinkEXPERT feature provides further guidance and support from the organization’s expert consulting team for 12 months following the completion of any ITIL V3 Foundations course.
- Membership of PinkFORUM, a new online community connecting course participants to their peers and other experts in the industry.
“We believe that an education investment must result in practical and measurable improvements back at the workplace,” says Pink Elephant President David Ratcliffe. “That’s why we want to provide all Foundations customers with an ongoing support network to help them identify improvement opportunities for the benefit of their organization. For example, even though the online Foundations course takes about four days to complete, having free access to it for a full year, as well as interaction with our expert Consultants and their industry peers, allows participants to regularly review key concepts and drive continual improvements.”
Pink Elephant will continue to schedule courses publicly in major cities, and offer companies onsite training for IT staff to maximize training budgets. Special discounts are available for public and onsite education. View more information.
To learn more about Pink Elephant’s four ITIL V3 Foundations training options, please call 1-888-273-7465 or visit our website.
ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.
For further information, please contact:
Toll Free: 1-888-273-7465, Ext. 295
Monday, April 20, 2009
About technology architectures
The Service Design book, section 3.6.3 on page 35, provides a specific context for the terms architecture and system.
‘Architecture’ is a term used in many different contexts. In this context, it is defined as:
The fundamental organization of a system, embodied in its components, their relationships to each other and to the environment, and the principles guiding its design and evolution
‘System ‘in this definition is used in the most general, not necessarily IT, sense:
A collection of components organized to accomplish a specific function or set of functions
The section then defines ‘architectural design’ as
The development and maintenance of IT policies, strategies, architectures, designs, documents, plans and processes for the deployment and subsequent operation and improvement of appropriate IT services and solutions throughout an organization
Let us look at the above in more details.
IT policies and strategies
This is defined by senior management during the Service Strategy phase of the service lifecycle. Designers will need to consider the resources (financial capital, infrastructures, applications, information, and people) and capabilities (management, organization, processes, knowledge, and people) of the organization (See SS book, figure 3.8, on page 38). Of course, all of this must coordinated with the business requirements (see SS book, figure 3.9, on page 39).
Using inputs from the business and service strategy, the designs needs to take into considerations the four P’s of service design namely, people, processes, products, and partners. Looking back at the generic process model (figure 3.11 SD book, page 43) we find many of the required elements such as process policies, documenting and mapping roles, and responsibilities to procedures and work instructions. The process is in turn part of the monitor-control loop that is part of the management method used by the organization.
The designers must take into considerations, the vision, mission, goals, and objectives in order to translate them into critical success factors, key performance indicators, and metrics (see CSI book, Figure 4.8, on page 62).
Another key aspect to consider is the relationship with partners and suppliers. This is a significant constraints since most of the contracts are already signed and in place.
There is a wealth of data and information in various forms throughout the organization. There are plans, contracts, job descriptions, organizational structures, process workflows, procedures, instructions, configuration, lists, and databases among many other document types. One of the major difficulties for the designers will be to sort through this documentation and remove that which is obsolete, duplicate, incomplete, or erroneous.
Although plans should be considered as documents, it is important to identify and sift through the myriads of plans that are in use in the organization. Some of the difficulties will include gathering them, make sense of them and more importantly, make sure they align.
In an ideal situation, and we know nothing is ideal in the real world, an organization would have business plans, financial plans, contingency plans, continuity plans, and the plethora of IT plans mentioned in the ITIL literature.
Now that we have covered the various aspects of architectural design, what are those architectures? As I read numerous articles, whitepapers, hardware and software vendor literature and books, I think I can summarize the list of architectures as follows:
• Data and information
• Hardware such as desktops, mobile devices, servers, and mainframes
• Software and applications
• Network and telephony
• Environment such as heat, ventilation, , air conditioning
• Physical workspace including safety
• Business, organization and enterprise
• And finally, service
Looking at any organization, we quickly realize that the above architectures are already in place. Of course, many components and their management may be outsourced. Of course, many people may not agree with business plans and decisions. These people would do things differently if they ran the show. These people knew ‘this’ would not work or that ‘it’ would happen. Of course, insight is 20/20. Let’s stop being cynical.
We have to deal with the cards we are dealt. This means that we have to sue what we have and through gathering information, processing it and analyzing it we can find ways to improve things.
There are many documented practices out there for designing, deploying, and operating the above architecture. I wish thee was an easy answer to all of the above but there isn’t.
So roll up your sleeves and have fun.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Pink Elephant Named One Of Canada’s Top IT Companies
BURLINGTON, ON – April 17, 2009 – Pink Elephant today announced it was named one of Canada’s top 300 technology companies in the Branham300. Entering its 16th year, the Branham300 highlights leading Canadian and multinational IT companies operating in Canada and is widely considered to be a leading source of intelligence on Canada’s IT industry.
The Branham300 consists of the following major categories, ranked by revenue:
Other than the multinational listing, to qualify for the Branham300 the company must be founded in Canada with headquarters remaining in Canada, and have corporate direction determined in Canada.
Pink Elephant was ranked in the top 250 category. Headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, Pink Elephant operates in regions globally, providing IT Service Management (ITSM) consulting and education to organizations of all sizes and industries. The company also presents the world’s largest ITSM conference and exhibition annually in Las Vegas.
Pink Elephant is recognized as a progressive and successful company and, in addition to the Branham300, is the recipient of several other awards that reflect its corporate leadership excellence and business results:
• Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Canada – Awarded annually by PROFIT Magazine
• Top 100 Woman Entrepreneurs – Awarded to Pink Elephant CEO, Fatima Cabral, by PROFIT magazine
• Ontario Global Traders Award – Awarded by the Ontario Government for achievements in innovation, leadership, product excellence and expansion into new markets
About Pink Elephant
Pink Elephant is proud to be celebrating 20 years of ITIL experience – more than any other supplier. Operating through many offices across the globe, the company is the world’s #1 supplier of ITIL and ITSM conferences, education and consulting services. To date, more than 200,000 IT professionals have benefited from Pink Elephant’s expertise. Pink Elephant has been championing the growth of ITIL worldwide since its inception in 1989, and was selected as an international expert to contribute to the ITIL V3 project as authors of the Continual Service Improvement book and through representation on the International Exam Panel. For more information, please visit www.pinkelephant.com.
About Branham Group
Branham Group is a leading industry analyst and strategic consulting firm servicing the global information technology marketplace. Branham Group assists information technology companies and related institutions in achieving market success through its custom consulting services (Planning, Marketing and Partnering), and through its multi-client research subscription programs (eHealth, Outsourcing, Green IT and Wireless). Branham also produces an annual listing of the top information technology companies in Canada (www.branham300.com), tracks the Canadian Outsourcing industry (www.branhamoutsourcing.com) and monitors over 450 eHealth vendors. For more information regarding Branham Group, please visit www.branhamgroup.com.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
The Economy Blues
Have you noticed the economy is kinda tanked right now? Wall Street is in a tither, banks are closing and merging, companies are laying off workers and trying to cut costs, etc. So how does IT Service Management come into the present economic picture?
With fewer people to do the work, IT organizations are under even more pressure than before to find ways to be more effective, efficient and cost efficient. Without some guidance, however, this is really difficult to accomplish.
When companies are flush with money during good times they often seek out training or other ways to improve how they operate. Not a bad idea really. But when things are not going well money-wise, organizations want to cut back on these expenses to “save money.” But at the same time they urge everyone, including IT to get better at what they do with less money. So with no training budget that puts us in a big quandary. How can we improve how we operate without the means to make our operations more efficient?
I used to work for an east coast transportation company years ago that was struggling financially. They desperately needed more sales so revenue could find its way to the bottom line. So what was their strategy? To save money from salaries they began laying off a number of experienced sales people. Yikes! What a great move. Yes, they saved money from those salaries, then wondered why they couldn’t increase sales. I think they would have eventually filed for bankruptcy, but the heavens opened up and their largest competitor beat them to it by going out of business. So many new customers came their way from the company that went out of business. Success through “dumb luck!”
Now I wouldn’t want to gamble that my company would be successful through ‘dumb luck,’ so I would be looking for more logical ways to get better so I could do more with less. With the economy at a standstill, now is the best time to scrape some budget together to find a Service Management framework to use to become more efficient, effective and cost effective.
Why, maybe that framework could be ITIL!! So get your hands on the books from the ITIL library and engage a firm, like Pink Elephant for example, to help guide you through the adoption of IT Service Management. We have lots of good advice to help you in your journey. In fact, keep checking this blog for more stuff about the Service Desk and how it can be a strategic asset for the IT organization.