4 min read

Service Management is More Than an IT Service Desk

By Kye Hittle on Aug 11, 2021 3:21:35 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-August_Enterprise Service Management Should Share More Than IT Service Desk Capabilities

So, your organization is investing in an Enterprise Service Management (ESM) strategy. It’s a great move! But could it be doing more? Well, if your organization is doing what most organizations do, the short answer is a resounding “yes.” Now, you might think that the opportunity here is the wider use of IT Service Management (ITSM) capabilities across your organization – in other business functions – which will, of course, be beneficial when executed well. But instead, I’m referring to the wider use of available ITSM best practices. Especially since the new version of the ITIL ITSM best practice guidance – ITIL 4 – introduced so much new Service Management guidance.

Looking at Service Management adoption levels

The world of ITSM doesn’t see as much statistical data as it used to, unfortunately. This is also true for Enterprise Service Management, where any adoption-level statistics usually refer to how many organizations are “doing” ESM.

This, however, is a difficult percentage to pin down because of the likelihood that apples are being compared to oranges rather than other apples. For example, the corporate ITSM tool might be used by another part of the organization to fulfill a need, but there’s no Enterprise Service Management strategy. Or where there is a strategy being executed, it might be for half a dozen other business functions, but it could also just be for just one. It’s very similar to where an organization can quite rightly say that it has adopted ITIL when it’s simply using a small part of just one of the 34 management practices in ITIL 4.

What’s more interesting and relevant for this blog post is the relative level of ITSM/ITIL process adoption as part of enterprise service management strategies, i.e. the ITSM capabilities that are more likely to be shared and perhaps adapted for other business functions such as human resources (HR), finance, legal, facilities, security, procurement, and customer services/support.

The adoption levels of Service Management processes by other business functions

During Praecipio Consulting's recently published State of Service Management survey, we saw fairly broad adoption of some Service Management practices outside of IT. In fact, more than half of respondents told us that the top six practices were implemented in their organizations. That's a great improvement from previous surveys on this topic, but it shows there's still plenty of room to apply the power of the other Service Management practices. Service Management Practice Adoption

To download the entire report for a detailed look into Service Management adoption across a wide variety of organizations, follow this link:  2021 State of Enterprise Service Management Report - Praecipio Consulting.

Of course, the above percentages are also influenced by the relative adoption levels of each ITSM capability by IT organizations themselves. For example, if only 60-70% of IT organizations claim to employ problem management best practices, then it’s highly unlikely that the third of organizations that don’t use it would try to share the capability with other business functions.

The key focus is that Enterprise Service Management strategies or approaches are sharing ITSM capabilities that can be considered the domain of the IT Service Desk, such as the ability to deal with requests for help, information, service, and change, all while enabling capabilities such as knowledge management, self-service, and workflow automation/platform-based capabilities.

Hence, while we talk of Enterprise Service Management as the sharing of ITSM capabilities with other business functions, it’s only a small subset of ITSM capabilities that are commonly shared. And organizations and their various business functions could further benefit from the greater adoption of other ITSM capabilities.

Taking enterprise service management beyond the service desk

There were many opportunities to extend the use of ITSM, or ITIL best practice in particular, with ITIL v3/2011. The introduction of ITIL 4 not only increased the guidance content from 26 processes to 34 management practices, it also:

  • Presented the guidance from a Service Management, rather than an ITSM, perspective such that it’s more easily understandable and accessible outside of IT
  • Built the guidance around the concept of the co-creation of value through Service Management

The latter of these in particular is something that should now be included in the extension of Service Management capabilities – including the use of ITSM tools – to other business functions. The obvious caveat is that it’s highly unlikely to happen without IT itself transitioning from ITIL v3/2011 to ITIL 4 first.

This future transition offers up a suitable decision point for the ongoing focus of an organization’s Enterprise Service Management investments: if the IT Service Desk’s capabilities are changed in light of the new ITIL 4 guidance, then the same would also benefit the other business functions that currently operate their variants of the original ITSM capabilities. It’s also a great opportunity to understand which other ITSM capabilities – both old and new – would additionally benefit the operations and outcomes of these business functions.

Examples of enterprise service management beyond the service desk

Even before the release of ITIL 4, some existing ITSM/ITIL capabilities were readily suited for and would have benefited other business functions. Problem management is a good example, with Customer Service/Support departments and Facilities teams able to employ similar problem management capabilities to IT – across people, processes, and technology – to identify and remove the root causes of regularly seen/reported issues.

Another good example is Continual Service Improvement (CSI) – which is now simply “continual improvement” in ITIL 4. After all, every part of your organization would likely benefit from having a formalized approach to the improvement of operations, services, experiences, and outcomes.

With the broader scope of ITIL 4, there are many additional practices that can be shared with other business functions to drive improved operations and outcomes, such as organizational change management, risk management, service design, strategy management, and workforce and talent management.

So, your organization’s Enterprise Service Management strategy could encompass far more than the IT service desk elements of ITSM – where the benefits outweigh the costs.

Hopefully, this post has you thinking about your organization’s current Enterprise Service Management successes and the potential for even more going forward. If you would like to find out more about the opportunities to improve the operations and outcomes across your entire organization - or if you need to get started with Enterprise Service Management - get in touch with us at Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: blog best-practices service-desk service-management itil itsm jira-service-desk
10 min read

ITSM and ITIL: Not So Different After All

By Yogi Kanakamedala on Jun 9, 2021 4:01:01 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-June_ITSM-ITILThe change to remote work has forced Information Technology (IT) teams to quickly and efficiently serve their customers. Due to this, many people talk about using ITSM processes or ITIL strategies to help their teams. But what does this mean? Are they the same? Or completely different? What does an IT team implementing these practices look like? To understand this, we first have to understand ITSM and ITIL. 

What is ITSM?

Atlassian defines Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) as a way IT teams manage the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers. This includes a defined set of processes to design, create, deliver, and support IT services. 

The core concept of ITSM is the belief that IT should be delivered as a service

I think of ITSM simply as a set of tools you can use to improve your IT team. Just like you would use a handsaw to cut a piece of wood or a screwdriver and a screw to connect two pieces of wood together, you have to think about what you would like to accomplish with your IT team and which tool would be best for the job. 

ITSM processes focus on your customer's needs and services rather than the IT systems behind the scenes. These processes, when implemented properly, can help cross-department collaboration, increase control and governance, deliver and maximize asset efficiency, provide better and quicker customer support, and reduce costs across the organization. What are some of these magical processes? Glad you asked! 

  1. Service Request Management
    Any incoming inquires asking for access to applications, software licenses, password resets, or new hardware is classified as Service Requests. These requests are often recurring and can be made into simple, duplicable procedures. These repeatable procedures will help IT teams provide quick service for the recurring requests. Applying well-designed practices to your Jira Service Management application can streamline the process for an organizations' customer to create Service Requests and for internal IT teams to act on the Service Requests.  

  2. Knowledge Management
    The process of making, sharing, utilizing, and managing data of an organization to attain its business objectives can all be a part of Knowledge Management. Creating a Knowledge Base (KB) for IT teams to create content is crucial for teams to learn from the past and maximize productivity. Having a collaborative workspace, such as Confluence, for all teams to work within can help create one source of truth of information. KB articles can also be shared with your customers through the Jira Service Management portal to help resolve common or simple Service Request without having to contact the IT Team. 

  3. IT Asset Management (ITAM)
    IT Asset Management (also known as ITAM) can help ensure valuable company resources are accounted for, deployed, maintained, upgrades, or properly disposed of. Because assets have a relatively short life-cycle, it is important to make the best use of all assets. Integrating tools such as Insight with your Jira instance can help track all valuable assets throughout your organization conveniently within Jira issues in real-time. 

  4. Incident Management
    Any process that is responding to an unplanned event or downtime will fall under the Incident Management bucket. The only goal of Incident Management is to make sure that problematic services are brought back to their original operational status in the shortest time possible. For any incident to be quickly resolved, the original reporter has to be able to quickly communicate with the proper IT team asking for help and the IT team must be able to easily communicate back with the reporter to gather any relevant information needed to solve the problem. Jira Service Management can help make this crucial communication effortless.

  5. Problem Management
    Taking lessons learned from an incident and determining the root cause of the problem so that future incidents can be prevented or, at minimum, limiting downtime is the basis of Problem Management. Once a root cause analysis is performed on an incident and documented within your Confluence instance, the impact of future incidents can be reduced. 

  6. Change Management
    Change Management can be used to control and understand the impact of changes being made to all IT Infrastructure. The Change Advisory Board (CAB), a group of individuals tasked with evaluating, scheduling, and validating a change, can be leveraged to better maintain and ensure the stability of your IT Infrastructure. By taking advantage of Jira, employees can easily suggest changes and the CAB will be able to review the proposed changes, approving and scheduling the change as they see fit. 

To see these processes in action, let's consider a tangible example that will help bring it all together:

"Austin Snow" is a new employee at your company. As part of the onboarding process, they will need a brand new laptop. As their manager, you submit a Service Request to your IT team through the Jira Service Management Help Center. An agent in your accounting department is then assigned to this task. Using information from a KB article that has been built out in a Confluence page, the agent can see that they are supposed to put in a purchase order for the new device. From the Confluence page, the agent also knows to add this new asset in Insight and assign ownership to Austin.

Once the laptop is delivered and Austin tries to access an application and finds that they get a 404 error message. Austin reaches out to the IT team through the Help Center to create an incident with them. The IT team then proceeds to investigate this issue. They can find the root cause of the problem and fix it. Using the lessons learned from this incident, the IT team performs a root cause analysis (RCA) for the problem. As a result of the RCA, it is found that a change to the organizations' infrastructure can help prevent this problem in the future. The IT proposed the change to the Change Advisor Board (CAB) who then investigates the impact of this change, weighs pros and cons and schedules an outage window to perform this change. 

As can be seen in this example, ITSM processes can help quickly fulfill requests, transfer knowledge, keep track of assets, respond to problems, identify the cause of a problem, and implement any changes needed to prevent problems in the future. 

What is ITIL?

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of best practices designed to support a company's IT operations. ITIL was introduced in the late 20th century as a series of books by a government agency in Great Britain in an attempt to help the British Government provide a better quality of IT service at a lower cost. ITIL v2 condensed all of the content in the early 2000s into nine publications. These two older versions are seldom used, most organizations currently implement ITIL v3 or ITIL 4.

ITIL v3

In 2007, ITIL v3 introduced the service lifecycle, a set of five core publications, to help organizations focus on continual improvement. The ITIL Service Lifecycle consists of five stages; Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continuous Service Improvement.

ITIL3-service-lifecycleSource: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 3 Edition” (2007 - Updated 2011)

The Service Strategy stage helps level set the expectations of an organization so that a service provider can meet the organization's business outcomes. The Service Design stage helps the service provider gather all the requirements and create a plan to turn an idea into reality. The Service Transition stage is when the design from the previous stage is implemented and made ready to go live as smoothly as possible. The Service Operation stage focuses on making sure the services being provided are being fulfilled as agreed upon. Finally, the Continuous Service Improvement stage focuses on service provided staying agile and keeping up with the ever-changing needs of the organization. 

ITIL 4

Most recently, ITIL 4 took into consideration the latest trends in technologies and service management to help organizations as they undergo digital transformation. ITIL 4 consists of two main components; the four dimensions model and the service value system (SVS).

ITIL4-service-value-system-1

Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

The four dimensions model lays out four key areas to consider to ensure a holistic approach to service management. These four dimensions are Organizations and People, Information and Technology, Partners and Suppliers, and Value Streams and Processes. The four dimensions have to work together to help ensure that any Product or Service provided to the customer is able to provide value in an effective and efficient manner.

For example, in the above Austin Snow use case, the Organizations & People would be the HR Team performing the onboarding, the IT team helping deliver the laptop, the Support team handling the outage, and Austin Snow themself. The Information & Technology would be all the tools, Jira Service Management, Insight, etc. that were used to help Austin. The Partners & Suppliers would consist of the internal IT team in charge of the service request and incident management or any other external team that as leveraged to deliver the request or fix the incident. finally, the Value Streams & Processes would consist of any well-defined procedures that were used to help deliver the service to Austin.

ITIL4-service-value-chain

Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

The service value system lays out how all the components of an organization have to work together to provide maximum value. To accomplish this, 5 main elements are used produce Value from an Opportunity or Demand; Guiding Principles, Governance, Service Value Chain, Practices, Continual Improvement. 

Guiding Principles help define how an organization will respond in all circumstances. These principles should be considered when making any decisions. Governance defines how an organization is directed and controlled and always stem from Guiding Principles. The Service Value Chain is a set of inter-united processes used to deliver a product or service to a customer. Practices are resources to help perform work. Continual Improvement is how the process can be improved to help provide the most amount of Value to an organization. When all of the elements of the SVS are implemented and used properly, an organization will be able to capitalize on every Opportunity. The four dimensions must be considered with all elements of the SVS to ensure a great quality of service is provided to your customers. 

ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 are essentially guiding the same fundamental ideas of service management. ITIL 4 takes a new approach to provide this guidance. It is important to consider the inner workings of your organization to understand a set of principles that will best mesh with your organization. 

How are they related?

Now that we have laid down a foundation for ITSM and ITIL concepts, let's explore the relationship between ITSM and ITIL.

Unlike the title of this blog may suggest, these two concepts are not opposing ideas. ITIL is a framework of ITSM, meaning ITIL takes the concepts and values of ITSM and lays out a set of defined best practices that organizations can easily apply to their business to help improve IT services. In other words, ITSM processes describe the "what" while ITIL best practices describe the "how". 

ITIL is not the only ITSM framework; frameworks or processes such as DevOps, Kaizen, Lean, and Six Sigma are also implemented by organizations. ITIL is the most popular ITSM framework to help improve IT service delivery.

In summary, ITSM is a defined set of processes to design, create, deliver, and support IT services. ITIL, a framework of ITSM best practices, can be used as a set of guidelines to quickly adopt ITSM principles into your organization. These guidelines can then be continuously improved to be a perfect fit for your unique IT team. 

As The Digital Transformation(ists), Praecipio Consulting can help you integrate digital technology into all areas of your business. For more information, please check out these case studies: FORTUNE 20 ELECTRONICS COMPANY OPTIMIZES JIRA AND CONFLUENCE FOR ITSM BEST PRACTICES and WORLD'S LARGEST BEVERAGE AND BREWING COMPANY MIGRATES TO ATLASSIAN ITSM PLATFORM and blogs Three Weeks to an ITIL-based Service Desk—No, Really

If you have questions on ITSM or ITIL, and wonder if your organization can benefit from these powerful methodologies, contact us, and one of our experts will be glad to help.

Topics: jira blog confluence process insight itil itsm digital-transformation jira-service-management remote-work frameworks
4 min read

How Service Management Capabilities Improve Your Organization’s Employee Onboarding

By Joseph Lane on Mar 26, 2021 9:13:38 AM

Blogpost-display-image_How Service Management Capabilities Improve Your Organization’s Employee OnboardingHave you ever started work at a new organization as an eager new employee, only to find that you don’t have everything needed to “hit the ground running”? It might be that your laptop isn’t ready. Or you have a laptop but you’re missing a critical piece of software (or access to a critical online service). Of course, it’s not only the IT department that can fail to provide a new employee with what they need to be productive from day one. Human resources (HR) might have missed a new employee from the mandatory onboarding training course. Or the facilities team might have failed to arrange building access or to provide them with a suitably equipped place to work.

Alternatively, the issue might not be that these things are repeatedly missing on new employee arrival. Instead, it might be the necessary lead time has an unwanted business impact – that employees can’t start in their new role for two months while the manually-intensive employee onboarding process slowly grinds out what’s needed for them. Or it might be that recruiting managers need to waste their precious time “keeping on top of” all the various departments responsible for ensuring that their new employee can work productively from day one.

To help, this blog explains how Service Management can be used to improve employee onboarding operations and outcomes.

Why employee onboarding is a common issue

None of the above scenarios are ideal – for the new employee, the recruiting manager, and business operations – yet they still happen too frequently when the onboarding process and its many “splinter” sub-processes are manually intensive. It might be that the sheer complexity of all the moving parts, with multiple business functions needing to do “their bit,” causes the issue in terms of the logistics. Or it might be that the immediate lack of urgency for the individual tasks means that they’re a low priority in each business function’s work pipeline, such that some tasks unfortunately “slip through the cracks” when people are bombarded with a continuous flow of higher priorities. Or it might be that the high level of manual effort is the cause of organizational and provisioning mistakes being made.

As to how common onboarding issues are, a commonly-quoted employee onboarding statistic on the Internet – which is sadly from 2017 but still worth pointing to with an age caveat – is that:

Only “12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees.”

Source: Gallup, State of the American Workplace Report (2017)

Thankfully, Service Management – the use of IT service management (ITSM) principles, best practice capabilities, and technology to improve business function operations, services, experiences, and outcomes – offers a digital-workflow-based onboarding solution that’s commonly one of the first adopted use cases of Service Management within an organization.

Plus, the global pandemic has made employee onboarding more difficult

While onboarding has traditionally been problematic for organizations, the operational impact of the global pandemic has made the potential issues worse. First, because new employees might be remote workers, meaning that any failure to fully enable them on day one is now harder for them to work around. For example, using a spare office “capability” isn’t viable when you aren’t in an office. Second, some of the various business function employees charged with setting up new employees might be home working, which makes it harder for the manually intensive process flows to work across what are now both functional and locational divides.

How Service Management helps with employee onboarding

The ITSM principles, best practice capabilities, and technology employed within Service Management offer a platform for business-wide digital workflows and optimized operations and outcomes. The technology, in particular, helps in terms of making employee onboarding all three of “better, faster, cheaper” through:

  • Workflow automation and service orchestration
  • Service level monitoring, alerting, and notifications
  • New technology-enabled capabilities, such as AI-enabled intelligent automation
  • Self-service portals and other digital channels
  • Knowledge management enablement
  • Dashboards and reporting capabilities

More importantly, Service Management not only helps internal business function operations but also the intra-business-function operations that are a big part of employee onboarding – with the need processed by both HR and the invocation of services from other business functions.

Examples of Service Management at work in employee onboarding

The digital workflows required to get an employee road-ready and productive from their first day of work can be taken back to the initial need for a new employee to fill an existing or new role. The initial workflows can therefore cover all of the following:

  • The line manager notification of the need to recruit (to HR)
  • The approval of the recruitment
  • Job description creation and/or validation
  • The advertising of the role
  • The screening of candidates
  • The interviewing of candidates
  • The selection and notification of the successful candidate

You might argue that this is recruitment rather than onboarding but, in a truly digital environment, this can be an end-to-end workflow such that the successful candidate’s acceptance of the offer, perhaps after personal negotiations, triggers the next set of onboarding steps. These can include:

  • The HR team sourcing and populating the required information in the new employee's HR record
  • The legal team making the appropriate background checks, processing contract paperwork, and ensuring that other legal necessities are met
  • The HR team arranging employee benefits, which could include a company vehicle lease agreement via either the corporate procurement or fleet teams
  • The HR team arranging and maybe delivering the required onboarding training – that covers employee polices, IT usage, finance-related “how-tos,” etc. – plus any other immediate learning needs (physical and/or virtual)
  • The IT team ensuring that the required devices, software, and access permissions for the role are all provisioned in time for the employee’s start date
  • The facilities team sourcing and provisioning the required working environment for office-based working, home working, or both
  • The security or facilities team providing appropriate physical access permissions and means
  • The facilities team providing corporate car parking facilities if warranted

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s indicative of how starting the employee onboarding workflow(s) – perhaps via a self-service portal – can trigger the prioritized execution of a wide range of required processes and tasks across multiple business functions using automation and logic. Where the enabling technology not only monitors and manages task progression, but it also integrates with other systems (for record updating, ordering, and provisioning), seeks task-related approvals when needed, provides reminder notifications, and flags up delays and other onboarding issues for appropriate human intervention.

Why wouldn’t your organization want to automate the end-to-end employee onboarding process with digital workflows to save time and costs and to deliver a better employee experience? If you would like to find out more on how Service Management can improve your employee onboarding capabilities, reach out to the Praecipio Consulting team

Topics: blog service-management cost-effective human-resource itsm digital-transformation
7 min read

Root Cause Analysis: Leonard, Howard, and the 5 Whys

By Amanda Babb on Mar 10, 2021 9:50:40 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Root Cause Analysis- Leonard, Howard, and the Five WhysDIY or DIE!

For those of you watching from home, I have been on a home improvement journey for quite some time. Applying an Agile mindset to home improvement (or really anything I do) is one of my passions. Even at my most recent Women in Agile meeting, we discussed applying Agile concepts to daily life and feeding these back into building a great resumé. One of the principles of the Agile Manifesto reads: At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. We all know this applies to Agile development practices, but it also applies to IT Service Management. Specifically, Incident and Problem Management. For me, it applies to my recent home improvement adventure. 

Strong fences make great neighbors

My neighbor and I spent the better part of a Saturday fixing our mutual fence. You see, I have two dogs: Leonard and Howard.

 IMG_4511IMG_4512

Both are rescues. Leonard is eight and was "free to a good home" while Howard is four and was adopted from my county's animal shelter. Both dogs have been with us since their puppyhood and, as any dog owner will say, they are the BEST. DOGS. EVER. Except when they're not. This was not the first time my neighbor and I had to work on the fence. Observe one of the troublemakers in his natural habitat. 

IMG_4507

This epic saga started in May of last year. I would diligently fix loose boards, prop items against the fence to "patch" holes, and monitor their outdoor activity while I was awake (awake being the key word here: 3am barking and fence-patching sessions are no fun). I supplied my neighbor with fence planks because, well, they're my dogs. We fixed the section above and let the others lapse until a series of shenanigans prompted my neighbor and I to spend our Saturday replacing three additional sections. My neighbor and I became united in making sure my two didn't escape. While my neighbor "doesn't care" that my dogs are in his yard, my (very good) boys take the opportunity to break out of his fence and wander the neighborhood. Howard usually comes back, but Leonard meanders through the streets, swims in pools or the lake, and generally causes mayhem until I can coax him in my car to come home. 

IMG_4508

Not in my back yard...

Before this latest patch, I was determined to find the root cause. Previous to May of last year, this was not a problem. My puppers would frolic in the backyard and simply bark at other dogs in the neighborhood as they walked by. I made sure they were let out several times per day to make sure they were relieved in addition to daily walks. While I was traveling, they were also well-taken care of and monitored. What changed? 

Root cause analysis is, simply put, problem solving. While it is widely used in sciences and engineering, it is also a key element of IT Service Management Incident and Problem Management. When reacting to an incident, the team must restore functionality as quickly as possible. Upon resolution, root cause analysis helps us understand why. It then prompts us to ask, "Is there an action I can take to prevent this from happening again?" Incident Management leads to Problem management and through root cause analysis, we can move from a reactive organization to a proactive organization. 

Of the many techniques of root cause analysis, my favorite is the "Five Whys". It is the simplest technique: ask why until you've identified the root cause. Not like a petulant child, however. Asking the first why should be easy, then continuing to ask well-curated questions based on the previous answer helps you determine the root cause. I applied this to my situation: 

  • Why do I have to replace parts of the fence? 
    Because the dogs are chewing through the fence.
  • Why are the dogs chewing through the fence?
    Because they can access the backyard whenever they need.
  • Why can the dogs access the backyard whenever they need?
    Because we installed a dog door.

IMG_4509

HA! I found it. The root cause. And it didn't even take me all five whys. 

Any root cause analysis technique does not stand alone. There exists a plethora of other techniques. Pareto charts determine that 80 percent of your problems are derived from 20 percent of the causes. An Ishikawa (fishbone) diagram looks at measurement, materials, methods, machines, management, and mother nature. Scatter plots let us look at correlation and causation. Was the dog door the root cause? The existence of a dog door doesn't change the behavior of my boys. Having access to the backyard doesn't make them chew through the fence planks. Did we ask enough questions to actually identify the root cause? Did I also consider a Pareto analysis, an Ishikawa diagram, or a scatter graph to understand why I was constantly chasing my boys through the neighborhood? 

I stopped at three whys: "I have a dog door."

What happens if I keep asking why? 

  • Why did we install a dog door? 
    Because Howard wasn't fully potty trained. 
  • Why wasn't Howard fully potty trained? 
    Because I didn't take the necessary time to train him. 

AHA! My Ishikawa diagram identified "management" as the issue. My Pareto identified the 80 percent as my time to train my puppers. My scatter plot showed the amount of time spent correlated to the amount of dog-induced shenanigans. I would add these to the post, but won't because...reasons. More importantly, I simply kept asking, "Why?" until I identified the root cause. 

Actions speak louder than words

Now that I have a root cause, what is it that I can do to prevent this issue from recurring? When looking at Incident and Problem Management, Atlassian products such Opsgenie and Statuspage can ingest, aggregate, correlate, and trigger the creation of Jira Service Management issues. With Confluence, we can create specific root cause analysis templates to be shared with our customers and stakeholders. However, it's up to our techniques and processes to help us determine the actions we need to take going forward. 

For me and my puppers, it's simple. 

  1. Take at least 30 minutes out of my day for dedicated doggie exercise
  2. Reinforce good behavior while in the yard
  3. Lock the dog door overnight (no more 3AM "let me sing you the song of my people" moments)
  4. Finish replacing the aged planks on the fence

By taking these actions based on my root cause analysis, I should have this solved quickly with redundancies built in. My puppers will be safer and happier, I will have a beautiful new feature of my home, and the three of us will have less stress day-to-day. Using root cause analysis techniques, and Agile mindset, and drawing from IT Problem Management, I can easily solve this problem and any additional ones around my home.

BRB, gotta run and get some more fence planks.

IMG_4510

Topics: blog confluence plan problem statuspage incident-management itsm women-in-technology agile opsgenie jira-service-management health-check
5 min read

Tips for Performing a Successful Root Cause Analysis

By Mary Roper on Mar 5, 2021 10:55:01 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Tips for Performing a Successful Root Cause AnalysisRoot Cause Analysis: The Under-appreciated Hero

When implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) system, I always look forward to spending time on root cause analysis (RCA). Of course Incident and Problem Management play the central role in ITSM design- it's crucial to give your teams, customers, and systems intuitive ways to communicate when something has gone wrong. However, it is equally important that organizations spend time identifying the key driver of these problems by performing an RCA to prevent them from reoccurring. This is because, at the end of the day, incidents and problems cost your organization money, and a good RCA can help save it. It's this viewpoint that has led me to dub RCA the under-appreciated hero of ITSM and in this post I will share with you the aspects of a successful RCA that can help vanquish problems once and for all. 

It's important to distinguish between Problem Management and Incident Management. In broad strokes: the goal of Problem Management is to get to root cause, and we can understand its goal to be increasing the meantime between failures by determining root cause of one or more incidents thereby addressing with appropriate change to prevent recurrence of the incident; in this sense it's a proactive approach. On the other hand, Incident Management's goal is to reduce the meantime to recovery by responding and resolving fast; its approach is reactive.

What is Root Cause Analysis?

The core function of root cause analysis is to uncover the core reason why a problem occurred. While there are many different tools and approaches to perform an RCA, I've consolidated the key steps into the diagram below: 

Root Cause Analysis Blog Post

  • Define the problem: First, make sure you and your teams align on "What happened?" and are speaking to the same problem.
  • Collect Data: Then, the focus needs to be "How did this happen?" and gathering data around the problem, whether customer testimony or incident reports.
  • Identify Casual Factors: Casual factors also help to answer "How did this happen," and in this step, teams should be guided to identifying fixable causes.
  • Identify the Root Cause: Next, teams should leverage one of the techniques of the RCA process, such as the "Five Whys," Fishbone Diagram, or Fault-Tree Analysis, to drive to the root cause of all the causal factors. 
  • Recommend and Test the Solution: After the root cause has been identified, teams should work to develop a solution that gets recommended to the Executive team for approval before testing can begin. Once approved, the solution should enter a testing phase, where it can be rolled back if not successful. 
  • Implement and Monitor: Once the solution is implemented, teams should continue to monitor it in the production environment to ensure that it is working as expected. This active analysis step is why RCA is depicted as a cycle; if the solution did not resolve the problem, it could be that the problem was a casual factor and the team needs to begin the RCA process again. 

Why Does It Matter?

I've worked with teams who have a well-defined RCA process and others who are just beginning. I reference this diagram when we focus on RCA because it helps to illustrate how simple of a process RCA can be. There aren't rigid guidelines or rules to follow; organizations can adopt their own RCA policies. What many don't realize, especially those who have yet to adopt RCA as a business process, is that it has a big pay-off: cost savings.

Root cause analysis can be a cost saving tool for organizations for a couple of reasons. First, identifying and acting on problems early saves money. The longer a problem goes on the more money it costs the organization, and a properly deployed RCA process is built to help organizations become more proactive rather than reactive. Second, the main goal of the RCA process is to prevent incidents from cropping up again. If the incident does not reoccur, then there won't be downtime or lost production, saving money in the long run.  

How Can I Help My Organization Embrace RCA?

When working with organizations to implement an RCA process, there are several aspects that I help coach my clients on which can help the organization embrace RCA. They are:

  1. Talk about what went well.....and what could have gone better
    1. When the team is starting the RCA process, guide them to start by discussing what happened and framing the problem. Then, go one step further and document what went well. This will provide you data and help to explain what is not the issue or what not to blame. It's equally important to talk about what could have gone better, as this will likely begin the discussion and documentation of your causal factors. 
  2. Make it work for you
    1. In some organizations, "Root Cause Analysis" can be viewed as too formal and intimidating. I've come across some resistance to them due to their structure or even the invitee list. For these reasons, it's important to make sure you're adopting a RCA structure that feels natural for your organization. This could mean:
      1. Being mindful of the attendees, especially if the invitees include senior management and above. Ensure you include the right people in the room at the right time. Your front line team has the most firsthand knowledge of the systems or processes, and you will want them to feel comfortable participating candidly in any discovery meetings. 
      2. Having a neutral party leading the meetings. The leader shouldn't have anything to gain by the results of the RCA process and should be able to maintain a "blame free" atmosphere.
      3. Reframing RCA as something more approachable, such as a "Lessons Learned meeting,"  where the RCA process is still followed, but in a less formal way. Feedback and idea can be gathered via sticky notes and shared on a board so that it is anonymous for example. 
  3. Root causes can only solve one problem
    1. Remember that the main goal of RCA is to avoid future incidents. Teams should not be applying a previous root cause to a current or future problem- if that is the case, then it indicates that rather than identifying the root cause, the team actually identified a casual factor. In these instances, I've coached teams to go back and take their RCA process one step deeper, for example asking another "Why" question if the "Five Whys" is used. 

The goal of Problem Management is to get to root cause. Incident Mgmt goal: reduce the meantime to recovery (by responding and resolving fast); reactive
Problem Mgmt goal: increase the meantime between failures (by determining root cause of one or more incidents thereby addressing with appropriate change to prevent recurrence of the incident); proactive.

Ultimately, where incidents and problems cost your organizations money, RCA saves it. It is for this reason that I think of RCA as an under-appreciated hero of ITSM. While the biggest barrier to accomplishing RCA can be time, putting in the time upfront to accomplish the RCA process will prevent repeat incidents from cropping up, saving your company time and resources in the long run. By implementing a few of these tips, I hope you come to appreciate RCA as I have, and if you have any questions let us know, we'd love to help. 

Topics: blog plan incident-management itsm health-check
2 min read

Jira Service Management for HR

By Courtney Pool on Jan 13, 2021 12:58:15 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Service Management for HRIn November of 2020, Atlassian rebranded Jira Service Desk to Jira Service Management. With this rebranding, Atlassian sought to make one thing clear: JSM isn’t just for IT. In fact, any team who receives requests from others, whether from external or internal customers, can utilize JSM.

Similarly, IT Service Management (ITSM) doesn’t have to be just for IT either. IT organizations around the world benefit daily from applying ITSM principles and processes to their own organizations. Enterprise Service Management (ESM) sees this success and seeks to take it a step further, contending that ITSM practices can be applied even outside of IT teams, which allows for similar successes in other departments. JSM agrees, and it even has quick-starts in Atlassian Cloud for some business teams, including HR.

By now, you may have already read about the ITSM capabilities that can be leveraged by your HR department. You may even already have a few use cases in mind. At Praecipio Consulting, one of the most frequent JSM use cases that we encounter for HR is onboarding and offboarding. 

To start, you’ll want to be sure that you have one request form for onboarding and another for offboarding. One of the things that makes JSM great for non-tech teams is the ability to change display names for fields and add help text to forms, making it even easier for people who aren’t familiar with Jira to submit requests.

As onboarding and offboarding are typically handled by multiple teams and individuals, you can also utilize an app to auto-generate subtasks for each Request or Issue Type on issue creation. This is also possible in Jira Core and Jira Software, of course, but having this driven by a request created through the portal means that a user can set it in motion with more ease than they would be able to otherwise.

Queues are another JSM feature that will be helpful for your HR team once a request is submitted. You could set queues up for just onboarding and offboarding, or you could even go deeper, having queues that differentiate between full-time employees, part-time employees, and contractors, as an example. Queues can be set to run on anything you’re collecting in your form.

Once a request comes in, you’ll benefit from the Service Level Agreements, or SLAs, that JSM can apply. SLAs can be set based on any number of criteria, so your HR team can easily track if they’re meeting expected targets, as well as have another way to prioritize their work. For example, a high-priority offboarding will need more attention than onboarding that’s more than a week out, so the SLAs can be set accordingly, with more time afforded to less pressing tasks.

Onboarding and offboarding are common needs in every HR department, but these same features can be applied to most HR tasks you can think of, like PTO requests, asking for assistance with benefits, or even recognizing a colleague.

The rebranding of JSM is a message to all teams, in all companies, that service tools are not just for IT. They can be a huge benefit to many teams, and HR is a great place to start. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we offer a wide range of services for HR teams (or any team, for that matter) looking to use best-in-class ITSM tools. Reach out today and let us know how we can help you make the most out of JSM

Topics: human-resource itsm jira-service-management
4 min read

Use Self-Service to Transform Your Legal Operations and Outcomes

By Joseph Lane on Dec 30, 2020 1:41:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_How to Use Self-Service to Transform Your Legal Operations and OutcomesYour Legal Services team plays an important role in your organization, not only by ensuring that its traditional legal needs are met but also playing a part in its corporate digital transformation activities. This is true especially in light of the acceleration of digital transformation that many organizations have experienced on the back of the COVID-19 crisis – which highlighted the many failure points and inefficiencies of traditional, manually-reliant processes.

However, it’s also important to recognize that there’s a need for your legal operations to digitally transform too. Because any reliance on manual activities and processes – especially where there’s now a mix of office-based and remote working – is likely to slow down operations at a time when the effective handling of increased demand and the need for speed are paramount.

Digital transformation and Legal Services

Much of the discussion around digital transformation over the last half-decade has been focused on two “front-office” elements:

  1. The creation of new products and services that exploit technology and data to create new revenue streams.
  2. The improvement of customer engagement mechanisms, throughout the customer lifecycle, that again exploit technology and data.

Your Legal Services team is also playing its part in both transformations. 

However, there’s also a third – and critical – element that shouldn’t be overlooked: the need to improve business operations such that they’re fit to support the delivery of the new products and services and the improved customer engagement mechanisms.

This “back-office digital transformation” is generally replacing antiquated, manually-reliant business practices with improved, technology-enabled ways of working. It’s very much in line with a proven IT approach called “Enterprise Service Management” where IT service management (ITSM) principles, best practices, and technology are used by other business functions to improve their services, performance, and business outcomes.

A good example of this is the provision of self-service capabilities to customers (employees) to provide them with a single, simple route to legal assistance and a better service experience – including self-help when appropriate.

Employing self-service capabilities to improve legal services and support

On the one hand, it’s easy to view self-service as something that’s now expected by employees based on their often-superior, consumer-world service and support experiences. On the other, there are many benefits available to your Legal Services team and the people it supports.

Done right, self-service provides a “better, faster, and cheaper” way to deal with the corporate demand for legal services. Everyone wins! For example:

  • Customers (employees) get an easier way to engage with your Legal Services team. Plus, quicker access to information and resolutions, especially when self-help can be used.
  • Legal staff can firstly benefit from the “deflection” of a high proportion of demand thanks to self-help. Second, automated workflows ensure that work is efficiently passed to the right people, and back-end capabilities such as notifications, approvals, and alerts further enhance the flow of work and outcome delivery. Third, there’s improved insight into demand, workloads, and performance that can be used to further enhance the self-service capability and other areas of your legal operations.
  • The business as a whole benefits from the lower costs of legal assistance and increases in capacity and speed.

Ultimately, a Legal Services self-service capability will be the most efficient and effective way of handling corporate requests for legal assistance – from their receipt (through a single channel), through their handling and management, to delivering the desired outcomes. With this capability readily available to your Legal Services team through the use of the corporate ITSM tool – such as Jira Service Management – and service management principles via an enterprise service management approach.

Learning from the self-service experiences of IT

While self-service adoption is prevalent in the consumer world, the use of self-service capabilities by IT departments – as an ITSM best practice – has brought with it a number of common issues and associated insight into the factors that cause them.

These can all be learned from so that your Legal Services team can offer a self-service capability that will not only be actively used by employees but will also deliver a better service experience, speed up work and outcomes, and reduce the effort required of lawyers and paralegals. Freeing up your legal experts to focus their time on the most important things.

So, when planning and implementing a legal self-service capability, ensure that those involved:

  • Understand that the successful introduction of self-service capabilities is more about the need to effectively manage people change – using organizational change management capabilities – than it is the implementation of new technology. This is because it’s a change to the traditional ways of working for both the service requester and the service provider.
  • Design the self-service capability around the wants, needs, and expectations of employees rather than those of the Legal Services (or the IT) team. Failing to do this will simply cause employees to remain fixed to the use of the existing telephone, email, and walk-up routes.
  • Provide a sufficient level of knowledge articles for the capability’s launch. This is because the ability to self-help, with an immediate resolution, is a key factor in creating repeat users of the self-service capability.
  • Automate the backend. If this isn’t done, then the shiny new self-service capability is nothing more than a web-based request submission system – that’s little different to email – and the potential speed and cost benefits of self-service are forgone.

Got questions? We got answers! Contact us and find out how Praecipio Consulting can help your Legal Services team.

Topics: legal self-service itsm digital-transformation covid-19
4 min read

Provide the Digital Transformation Your HR Department Needs

By Joseph Lane on Dec 28, 2020 1:56:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_It’s Time to Provide the Digital Transformation Your HR Department NeedsThe COVID-19 crisis has changed the world forever, from how we interact with others in our personal lives to the more complicated requirements of business operations. These changes have evidenced the need to accelerate the corporate digital transformation strategies that have previously been slow in execution.

Now, as your human resources (HR) department assists your organization in rebounding from the adverse impact of the crisis on operations and revenues, there’s much that needs to be done to ensure that your traditional practices can quickly evolve to the higher needs of the “new normal.”

Surviving the long tail of the COVID-19 crisis

At the height of the crisis, with people working from home or perhaps not working at all, there was an immediate need for new IT services and support practices to ensure that working employees could still work effectively and remain safe. For many organizations, “mountains were moved” in quickly creating the technology-based ways of working needed to keep things going. And employees hopefully appreciated the potentially new IT capabilities that enabled their remote working – both in terms of their personal productivity and the need to collaborate with others when working within business processes.

Now, with some employees returning to offices and others continuing to work remotely – at least in the short term – there’s a need to formalize and improve upon the “emergency” capabilities that helped your organization through the crisis. There’s also likely a need to respond to the mandated budget cuts that come as a result of the initial and ongoing effect of the crisis on company sales and revenues. Plus, the move to homeworking, in particular, has further increased the importance of employee experience and the need for organizations to maximize employee productivity.

In light of all these needs, and potential pressures, your HR department likely needs new ways of working that remove – or at least minimize – the reliance on manual practices, that while always potentially inefficient, are now difficult to operate in a distributed working environment.

Leveraging technology and service management principles to digitally transform

While digital transformation might seem like something that’s focused on technology and data, it’s ultimately about new ways of working and driving successful people change. So, while this blog covers the improvement possibilities available through the greater use of technology and IT service management (ITSM) best practices, there’s still the need to apply organizational change management tools and techniques to what might feel like a daunting change to many.

In terms of quickly transforming your manually-reliant operations, your organization’s IT department might already have the necessary ingredients for improvement at its fingertips. Through an approach it calls “Enterprise Service Management” – “the use of proven ITSM capabilities to improve other business function operations, services, and outcomes” – with this providing a backbone for the required back-office digital transformation in HR and other business functions. In fact, at a business-level, “back-office digital transformation” is a better term for this approach to leveraging technology and service management principles outside of IT.

Even before the crisis highlighted the many failure points of the traditional reliance on manual operations, IT organizations had already bought into the business benefits of enterprise service management – with the 2019 ITSM.tools Future of ITSM Survey finding that two-thirds of organizations either had or were planning to develop an ESM strategy.

How digital transformation will help your HR department

Whether it’s through the adoption of an enterprise service management approach or via another route to organizational improvement, the use of service management principles and the associated enabling technology will make your HR department all three of “better, faster, and cheaper.”

Examples of the ITSM capabilities that can be leveraged by your HR department include:

  • Automated workflows for issue handling and request fulfillment – saving time and costs, and providing a better employee experience.
  • Knowledge management – augmenting the knowledge of HR staff and providing the foundation for employee self-help, making for better, faster, and cheaper HR services.
  • Self-service and self-help – empowering employees to help themselves via a now-expected, consumer-like capability. It also reduces the demand-based pressures on your HR support capability.
  • Problem management for repeat issue minimization – preventing common issues altogether rather than simply trying to remedy them more swiftly.
  • Greater insight into performance and improvement – with it easier to gain the visibility required for better decision making when work is no longer trapped inside personal email accounts and spreadsheets.
  • The use of newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to improve across all three of better, faster, and cheaper.

Common HR digital transformation use-case scenarios

All of these proven ITSM capabilities, and others, can be successfully employed by HR departments to improve their service and support capabilities, the employee experience, and business outcomes.

Common examples of HR practices that are already benefitting from service management and digital transformation – perhaps via an enterprise service management approach – include:

  • Employee query and case handling
  • Recruitment
  • Employee on-boarding and off-boarding
  • Learning and development
  • Payroll and employee benefit administration
  • Demand planning.

Using service management best practices and an ITSM tools, there’s no limit to how your HR practices can be improved to deliver the better, faster, and cheaper ways of working that are needed in the “new normal.”

At Preacipio Consulting, we can help your organization take advantage of the opportunities of digital transformation and enterprise service management to HR: Reach out, we'd love to help.

Topics: service-management human-resource itsm digital-transformation covid-19
5 min read

Your Finance Department Needs to Digitally Transform Too!

By Joseph Lane on Dec 23, 2020 2:07:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Your Finance Department Needs to Digitally Transform Too“Digital transformation? We already have lots of technology employed in Finance.” And you’re not wrong – whether it’s an enterprise resource management (ERP) system or finance-focused systems or tools.  But the corporate requirement for digital transformation isn’t simply the addition or increased exploitation of technology and data but is, instead, a mechanism for improvement and better business outcomes that just happens to be using technology to greater effect.

Your Finance Department needs digital transformation: here's what this entails.

The “why” and “what” of digital transformation

A common misconception is that technology keeps getting added to organizations simply because it’s available – and sometimes this does happen. But digital transformation is different. It’s a corporate, not an IT, strategy that’s aimed at delivering better business operations and outcomes not merely the increased use of technology. Importantly, it covers far more ground than you might expect.

So, it’s not simply the use of technology and data to create new products and services, plus the associated new revenue streams. Nor is it only the use of technology to improve customer engagement mechanisms too – something that you might have experienced in your personal life.

There’s also a third part to digital transformation – and this is what’s relevant to your Finance Department and its operations: the use of technology and data to improve back-office operations across your organization, within its many business functions. From the introduction of digital workflows, through the use of self-service and self-help capabilities, to the many benefits of gaining greater insight into business function workloads, operations, service performance, outcomes, and improvements. Importantly, this back-office digital transformation is a vital enabler of the more prominent front-office improvements.

Think of it as making your operations and outcomes all three of “better, faster, cheaper.” It's using technology to make your Finance personnel the best possible versions of themselves, especially in light of the current and ongoing need for remote and distanced working, including effective communication and collaboration. With no organization or business function immune to the need to change traditional, often manually intensive, ways of working to better reflect the physically disconnected nature of modern work.

It’s a need that's likely to continue, because organizations have realized that the required operational resilience can’t be met by their traditional, manually intensive processes that rely too heavily on face-to-face interactions, email exchanges, and spreadsheets.

The “how” of digital transformation

In enabling the required new ways of working, there’s a need for greater technology exploitation that provides not only the ability for work to flow better between individuals and teams but also:

  • Speeds up that work and the decision points needed within it. For example, some work tasks can be automated, and alerts and notifications employed to ensure that the work keeps moving swiftly through to the desired endpoint and outcome.
  • Facilitates interactions with those requesting service and support from your Finance team(s) – with self-service, via a self-service portal, a better way of managing incoming requests on the supplier side. And, on the demand side, a more effective route to access finance-related assistance for your department’s internal customers.
  • Self-help capabilities that deflect both emails and telephone calls from your busy Finance personnel. With the inquiring employee instead self-accessing what they need to know, and likely getting a quicker solution in doing so. For example, something as simple as checking whether an expenses claim has been approved and when it will be paid.
  • Knowledge management capabilities that, on the one hand, help Finance staff to collectively know more than they individually know – which is especially helpful for new starters. And, on the other, the captured knowledge can be employed to help defect emails and telephone requests through self-help.
  • Greater insight into past, present, and future operations. From how well work has been handled and whether service promises met (perhaps versus agreed service level targets), through managing the current workloads across teams and individuals and the likelihood of delays, to future projections of how things will continue based on trends or simulations modeled on proposed changes to the status quo. This greater insight also provides the platform for improvement identification and actions across all of operations, service quality, employee experience, and business outcomes.

In addition to the above, the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI), in the form of machine learning, adds even greater opportunity to leverage the new digital capabilities to speed up operations, provide a better service experience, and to allow Finance staff to focus on what they do best (and prevent them from wasting time and costs on high-volume, low-value tasks).

These digital-transformation-enabling capabilities might already be available in your organization

While digital transformation can feel like a relatively new concept, it has been on corporate radars for at least a decade. And for those organizations that have already taken steps to digitally transform part or all of their back-office operations, including Finance operations, many have taken an “enterprise service management” approach. This is where the proven corporate IT service management (ITSM) capabilities – processes and the associated technology-enablement – are applied to other business functions to improve their operations, service and support, and outcomes.

In many ways, enterprise service management and the use of the corporate ITSM tool are seen as a platform for delivering the technology and data elements of back-office digital transformation needs, from digital workflow enablement, through self-service capabilities, to the introduction of new machine-learning-based capabilities.

From an employee perspective, an additional benefit from Finance’s digital transformation is that they’ll be using similar service and support methods to those employed in other business functions such as human resources (HR) and IT. This not only offers a guaranteed level of service experience, but it also provides a level of enterprise-wide consistency that makes interacting with the Finance Department (and other business functions) so much easier.

Examples of how your corporate ITSM tool can help your Finance Department

There are many Finance-related opportunities to leverage digital workflows and the other capabilities outlined above. For example, for:

  • Receiving new finance-related requests, and allowing employees to check request status, via self-service
  • Using automation rules or machine learning to route new requests to the right work groups, with some requests responded to automatically using intelligent automation
  • Handling queries and requests for information, help, and change more efficiently
  • Budget, invoice, and employee expense management
  • The automation of high-volume, low-risk requests for Finance approval
  • Escalation handling
  • Business case reviews.

These opportunities will, of course, be dependent on your organization’s current ITSM tool being deemed suitable for the many possible enterprise service management and back-office digital transformation use cases.

The need for digital transformation within your Finance Department is clear, and here at Praecipio Consulting, we can help you with the process.

Topics: automation finance itsm digital-transformation
3 min read

What's important for growing pre-IPO companies?

By Christian Lane on Sep 17, 2020 12:15:00 PM

What's important for growing pre-IPO companies_

It’s a dream we all have: To be the founder or early employee in a company so disruptive that it has a real chance to hit it big. With success comes prestige, security, respect, and of course, lots of money. 

How can you set up your small business to become the next big thing?

The key is to learn from others who blazed the path before you and not make the same mistakes they did. 

Jim Collins, author of the iconic business book Good to Great, suggests that one of the most important factors in building a great company is to adopt the right technology early in your business lifecycle.  

“When used right, technology becomes an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.”

-Jim Collins

Whether your business is the manufacturing of widgets, service, or software development, technology is what allows you to spin up faster, pivot, and gain a competitive edge through efficiencies. Praecipio Consulting specializes in helping organizations leverage technology through the use of Atlassian’s suite of products and leading frameworks like Agile and Scaled Agile, ITSM, DevOps, and Enterprise Service Management. EVERY company is a technology company or is currently undergoing a transformation to operate with those capabilities and mindset.

Michael Corbat, CEO of Citi, agrees. In a recent keynote at Mobile World Congress, he said, “We see ourselves as a technology company with a banking license." Capital One’s CIO, Rob Alexander, says they are a “software development company that does financial services.” Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, says she wants the public to “see GM as a technology company rather than an automaker.” Uber, Amazon, and other high-profile companies have made similar comments. It’s a common theme from organizations that have already had their IPO. Pre-IPO companies should take notice and follow their lead because it's what investors are looking for. 

Early investors want to see customer growth, not necessarily profitability. Having a plan to scale using technology can help a company get to a critical mass. For example, Twitter had 321 million users before they turned an annual profit in 2018. That figure would have been impossible to reach without cutting edge technology and processes.

But before you’re a big company eyeing a public offering, you have to start somewhere. When a business first starts, you usually have a founder or two with a good idea and the ambition to match. In a few months, when the concept is market-validated, a few motivated employees are hired. The excited team runs hard and fast but without established processes. Good ole’ fashioned hustle covers up any existing weaknesses. But eventually, the lack of infrastructure and tools catches up with the founders, and the business will begin to falter. If not acted upon quickly, failure is imminent. 

It’s at this point in a pre-IPO’s lifecycle that technology infusion becomes so critically important. It’s smart to set up your small business like it’s going to be a big business and plan for success.

We recommend moving toward standardization and being a cloud-first business. Utilizing platforms like Jira and Confluence keeps projects moving forward and with a high degree of predictability and reliability. Tools like these allow you to scale and will never be a choke point in your growth.   

It’s not just about growth either. It’s about sustainability and resilience. Even established companies like General Electric, Kroger, and Fitbit have found cloud computing success. Investors and boards of directors appreciate the risk mitigation in times of crisis and the flexibility that comes with the updated IT strategy. 

As a startup-founder myself, understanding the cost-benefit technology can bring you is just the first step. The details lie in implementation and design. It will always be worth the investment to bring in an outside consulting firm to design a workflow to reflect your desired processes. Training your team on how to use this technology as the backbone of your operations means you have a system for accountability and quality. Once in place, you can concentrate on building more, selling more, and not worrying whether or not your IT infrastructure can keep up.

Getting to the IPO means your company has joined a very select group of highly-efficient and promising companies of a generation, and the proper technology tools can help you get there faster.

At Praecipio Consulting, we are total Atlassian enthusiasts, so if you want to know more about how Atlassian products can help your business grow while becoming more resilient, we can answer any questions you may have!

Topics: atlassian devops technology service-management cloud itsm digital-transformation
2 min read

5 Stages of ITIL and the Atlassian Suite 

By Martin Spears on Jan 7, 2020 12:30:00 PM

What is ITIL? The Five Stages of ITIL

As a process consultant for a Platinum Atlassian Solution Partner, my responsibilities include helping our customers set up their ITSM solutions and providing guidance in-line with best practices and industry standards. The ITIL framework has been accepted as a collection of best practices for ITSM and the ITIL processes are designed in a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle with the end goal being continual improvement. The Five Stages of ITIL are as follows:

Stage 1: Service Strategy - Understanding customer needs and determining which services and capabilities will provide the most value

Stage 2: Service Design - Designing new services or changes and improvements to existing services 

Stage 3: Service Transition - Coordinated effort to build and deploy services

Stage 4: Service Operation - Fulfilling requests, fixing problems and performing maintenance tasks

Stage 5: Continual Service Improvement - Capturing lessons from successes and failures and incorporating those learnings in the process

Getting Started with ITIL and the Atlassian Suite 

Based on the Five Stages of ITIL, I'll walk through how the Atlassian suite of products can help you and your company continuously improve your ITSM offerings.

Stage 1: Service Strategy - Confluence and Jira 

In the strategy phase, you are gathering market research and determining customer needs. Confluence is a great place to document these ideas and requirements. When integrated with Jira, you will be able to create a Jira issue for each requirement from the Confluence page.

Stage 2: Service Design - Confluence

In the service design phase, you are determining the services and service levels based on the decisions made in the strategy phase. You will want to document these design decisions in Confluence. Confluence also has built in diagram capabilities for modeling processes.

Stage 3: Service Transition - Jira and Jira Service Management

In the service transition phase, you will use Jira to track the work on the requirements while you build the services in Jira Service Management. Jira Service Management will allow you to create different services, workflows, permissions, SLAs and automations. You can also customize the portal and what the customers see.

Stage 4: Service Operation - Jira Service Management and Confluence

In the service operation phase, you will use Jira Service Management queues to manage requests and you can communicate with customers through the Jira Service Management tickets. Confluence will be used to document fixes and how-to articles. Customers will also have access to Confluence's Knowledge Base – as a way to identify or resolve in a self-service manner.

Stage 5: Continual Service Improvement - Jira Service Management and Confluence

In the continual service improvement phase, you will use Jira Service Management's satisfaction surveys and documented lessons learned in Confluence to help determine how to improve services. 

After all of this - Rinse and repeat.

Building an ITSM Solution

By utilizing the Atlassian tools, you have many of the recommended capabilities to create a great ITSM solution that is continuously improving. If you don't have the time, resources, or experience to do this yourself – Praecipio Consulting offers an ITSM QuickStart that can set you up with many of these recommended practices (in a fraction of the time it would normally take to design and develop your own ITSM solution). To learn more about the ITSM QuickStart or other services please visit our ITSM consulting offering.

Topics: atlassian blog devops itil itsm jira-service-desk frameworks
2 min read

What's the real value of Managed Services?

By Chris Hofbauer on Sep 17, 2018 11:00:00 AM

For organizations that use the Atlassian product suite, it's critical to decide whether to administer the products in-house. After all, there are significant considerations with infrastructure, networking, product tuning, let alone the configuration of the products. Choosing to engage in a Managed Services agreement can be extremely beneficial. A great Managed Services team can be a great asset and provide tremendous value to any size organization.

One of the greatest values provided is the administrative relief you get from a Managed Services team. The Atlassian products require devoted attention, especially within organizations that use it for all sources of truth. Having a Managed Services team allows an organization to have fewer full-time employees dedicated to the tools and instead on their primary area of expertise. Depending on the contract, signing onto Managed Services is typically half the cost of hiring on a full-time Atlassian administrator as well.

System monitoring, performance, and upkeep can also become a major burden to bear. Atlassian products and add-ons are frequently updated and if the applications are not well kept, the system can become outdated fairly quickly. With a Managed Services team, we work closely to ensure performance and maintenance doesn't fall behind so teams can continue to leverage the power of the Atlassian toolset.

One of the most valuable aspects of hiring a Managed Services team is the tribal knowledge and best practices that come along with it. When an organization has one or few Atlassian administrators, they are limited to the knowledge of those individuals. With a Managed Services team, you have the entire company to leverage. We have a large team that has seen various installations and configurations (both supported and unsupported) of the Atlassian tools, including those we host in Cumulus, our Atlassian Hybrid environment. By seeing all these variations, we are able to provide the best solutions that have been tested and proven.

The Atlassian product suite requires attention and care from people who are dedicated to the tools. Our Managed Services team helps to relieve administrative overhead for every organization through system performance and monitoring as well as best practices through tribal knowledge, all at less expensive option compared to a full-time employee or team. With this, hiring a Managed Service team provides peace of mind and great value. 

Topics: blog managed-services hosting itsm
3 min read

How to Extinguish Fires with Jira Service Desk Automations

By Brian Nye on Aug 27, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

While service desk agents do everything they can to avoid firefighting, they are often focused on extinguishing one fire and moving to the next. This usually causes tickets to smolder in some status of "not quite done" until months later when they will finally be closed out (thanks bulk edit!). The good news: there is a way to keep things moving using out-of-the-box functionality. No longer will your metrics be inaccurate because people aren't "moving their tickets through the system." Jira Service Desk can help do the moving for you with automation.

Putting out Smoldering tickets

Many workflows offer customers a chance to review the ticket before closing. But, replying to the work request isn't always the top priority of the customer, which in turn, leaves the ticket to smolder in an almost done state. Instead, Jira Service Desk can help you do a fully extinguish the request by doing a couple of things, messaging the customer on impending closure and auto closing the ticket with no response. Just follow these steps below.

Step 1: Create SLAs

While this may seem odd, SLAs can be used for more than just metrics, they are a great trigger for automations due to the extended functionality SLAs bring in Jira Service Desk. Start by creating two SLAs, call them Time in Resolved - Customer Notification and Time in Resolved. Set Time in Resolved - Customer Notification to the parameters shown in the screenshot below. Note, the SLA time can be changed depending on the amount of time you want to elapse before notifying the customer that their ticket will be closed. The SLA for Time in Resolved will have the same start and stop conditions, but put the goal time to be more than the goal of the notification trigger (for example, if the notification is set to send 120 hours after entering the status, than set the goal for the auto close to be 168 hours as this will give 48 hours for the customer to respond).

Step 2: Create Jira Service Desk Automations

Great, now that these SLAs are in place, let's use them to trigger Jira Service Desk Automations.  

Step 2a: Time in Resolved - Customer Notification

For this Automation, you will want to set the When to trigger off of the Time in Resolved - Customer Notification SLA when the SLA has been breached. Feel free to add an optional If statement should there be situations in which the SLA should not be executed. Lastly use the Public Comment option for the Then statement to send a message that the customer will receive. Included is a screenshot of this automation.

Step 2b: Auto Close Resolved Ticket

For this Automation, you will want to set the When to trigger off of the Time in Resolved SLA when the SLA has been breached. Feel free to add an optional If statement should there be situations in which the SLA should not be executed. Lastly use the Transition Issue option for the Then statement to move the issue to the final status. Note that it is best to use a hidden transition which does not require any fields or info as this is done through an automation. Included is a screenshot of this automation.

Step 3: Find other small fires to put out using automations

This is just one example of how automations can be used to keep customers engaged on the ticket and closing out issues that have been resolved. This same logic can be applied to many different areas in Jira Service Desk and can keep your front line firefighters focused on the hot spots and less time doing clean up!

If you still want to learn more about Jira Service Desk automations in action, join us for our next webinar on September 12, 11 a.m. CST: Automation with Jira Service Desk.

Topics: jira blog automation optimization process-consulting consulting-services itsm jira-service-desk jira-service-management
3 min read

The Five Things You Should be Automating For More Effective Incident Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 14, 2018 11:00:00 AM

 

Guest blog post by Erin Jones, Partner Manager, xMatters

Access your monitoring platform and find the alert. Export the data report. Create an issue in Jira, then attach the data report. Search assignees and add all necessary parties to the ticket. Spin up a chat room for the incident to facilitate swarming. Log into your StatusPage and let your users know about the incident, at each stage, as you can now finally get around to resolving it.

These are all the things Incident Managers may find themselves doing when a major issue or outage occurs - and all of these put together increase the time to when your teams can actually begin working on fixing the issue. Not to mention, if this incident occurs in the middle of the night - imagine repeating all these steps, under stress, and at 2 a.m.

When the average cost of downtime is $300,000 per hour, doing all these steps manually can easily add six figures to this total - so, why aren’t you leveraging proactive notifications to decrease this time?

We’ve assembled a simple checklist of the top proactive measures you should be automating to decrease time to report and engage for a faster time to incident resolution.

  1. Create a Jira Issue

With the push of a button from the xMatters notification, you can create a Jira issue in your team’s project, including issue type (as you’ve customized it for your use case) and proper assignee. Plus, the data from the incident alert in your monitoring tool (ex. Splunk, Dynatrace, AppDynamics) will automatically be added to the issue - so your assignee and watchers have all the information they need to get started on the issue 

2.              Start a Chat  Room

Swarming is one of the most effective ways to get your team collaborating on incident resolution in real time. From xMatters, you can also push a button to start a chat room in HipChat, Stride, and/or Slack. Then, select from your on-call schedule to pull in the necessary people. And just like with the Jira automation, your monitoring alert data appears in the chat room without any additional work.

3.              Spin up a Conference Bridge

            Need to get the right people on the phone? You guessed it - another button click and you’ve got a Conference Bridge with the right people invited to join. No more logging into your call system, setting up a number, and texting/ emailing folks to share this info. Now, you have more time to get to what matters. 

4.              Notify Stakeholders

At this point, you have stakeholders needing updates - but you probably don’t have the time to stop working and craft an email with all the information. By customizing your Comm Plan[DG3]  in xMatters, all this can be automated too. Simply set up who needs to know what and when (i.e. “Email this list of people only for a P1”) and you have one less thing pulling you away from resolving your incident. 

5.              Post to StatusPage

            Outside of your internal teams, you also have other important stakeholders: your customers. To keep them up to date on the issue and your steps to resolve, click the StatusPage button in xMatters to automatically push updates. Not only does this let your clients know what’s going on (without added time away from incident resolving), but it also significantly decreases the number of new tickets you’ll get from clients who don’t know you’re aware of (and working on fixing) the problem.

Automating any of the five above steps drastically reduces your mean time to resolve - and with xMatters, you can easily accomplish all five. Optimizing your Incident Management process saves your company money and keeps your teams, stakeholders, and clients happy. Plus, it makes those 2 a.m. outages a lot less stressful. 

Ready to implement these 5 steps to faster MTTR?

Contact Praecipio Consulting about licensing and implementing xMatters.

 

Topics: blog itsm
3 min read

Metrics for ITSM in Jira Service Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 13, 2018 11:00:00 AM

There's a common saying that you can't manage what you can't (or don't) measure. Often attributed to Peter Drucker, the godfather of Business Management, the thought here is one must clearly define success criteria, establish a benchmark, and track variance in order to realize improvement and/or identify problems. A quick Google search returns articles both lauding and contesting this maxim. In a Forbes article from 2014, Liz Ryan writes, "That's BS... the vast majority of important things we manage at work aren't measurable, from the quality of our new hires to the confidence we instill in a fledgling manager." She continues to explain that by focusing too much on the numbers, companies often miss out on the big picture. 

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

While it's true there are intangibles in business and IT that are difficult to measure, there are several clearly defined metrics that can be reported on easily in Jira Service Desk. Personally, I'm a fan of measurement. I believe the acts of defining goals, baselines, and tracking variance bring about a shift in psychology that naturally increases the probability of achieving successful outcomes. Listed below are three important IT Service Management (ITSM) Service Level Agreements (SLA) and some links to Atlassian articles explaining how to implement them using Jira Service Desk.

MTTR: Mean Time to Resolution 

The R can stand for Resolution, Restore or Recovery. Whatever the translation, this metric generally measures the cycle time of unresolved issues. This can be measured as an SLA in Jira Service Desk, and reported on in a number of different ways.

Here's an article from Atlassian on how to do this: How to calculate Average Time to Resolution SLA for Service Desk

FCR: First Call Resolution

Also called First Contact Resolution, FCR measures the percentage of issues where the customer's needs are fully addressed within the first call or first contact with support. FCR is closely related to other metrics:

  • FCR and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction): Customers tend to be more satisfied when their issues are resolved within their initial call to support. It makes sense - they don't have to wait and check their email or the portal regularly to see issue updates. They just call support and their issue is resolved as a result.

  • FCR and CPT (Cost per Ticket): When FCR goes up, Cost per Ticket goes down. One of the key reasons for this correlation is that you have the customer on the phone or in the chat session. Capitalize on the opportunity of synchronous communication with the customer. In many cases, the support agent will need more information or will ask the customer to perform troubleshooting steps in order to resolve the issue. Having the customer available shortens the amount of time the agent dedicates to the ticket, lowering the MTTR as well as CPT.

For more information on the importance of FCR, see the Atlassian blog article: Why first-call resolution (FCR) matters.

CSAT: Customer Satisfaction

At the end of the day, it's all about customer satisfaction. Without customers, there would be no services to manage. Jira Service Desk has a built-in CSAT collection functionality that is easy to set up and extremely effective. Jira will send out a questionnaire on issue resolution to collect a score and record comments from the customer. 

Atlassian shares more about Collecting customer satisfaction (CSAT) feedback.

TL;DR

  • Metrics are important and they're here to stay.
  • Keep in mind, however, that they're only a proxy to the real thing. The better you define the success criteria, the goals, and the measurement logic - the closer you'll get to measuring the real thing.
  • The three metrics above are extremely important and there are links to how to set them up in Jira Service Desk
Topics: jira blog best-practices tips itsm
4 min read

Save Millions in a Matter of Minutes with Jira Service Desk

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 23, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Automation saves teams from the monotony of repeatable processes. More importantly, it saves businesses time and money. According to a recent report by our partner Splunk and Quocirca, organizations face an average of 1,200 IT Incidents every month. Using automation to reduce the time it takes to resolve these incidents is a no-brainer. In this article, we'll describe how you can implement time and cost saving business process automation rules in a matter of minutes using Jira Service Desk.

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

Out-of-the-Box Automation with Jira Service Desk

Many tasks are iterative, time-consuming and potentially prone to error, and are therefore great candidates for automation. Jira Service Desk (JSD) offers out-of-the-box automation functionality that can be configured in the Project Settings of your JSD project. Some of the preconfigured automation blueprints allow teams to set up rules that can do the following:

  • Close resolved issues after a period of inactivity
  • Re-open issues when a customer comments on a resolved issue
  • Transition issues between 'Waiting on customer' and 'Waiting for support' statuses on comment
  • Notify agents when issues are at risk of breaching SLAs
  • Triage email requests based on keywords 
  • Update linked issues when related issues are transitioned or edited

Jira Service Desk also enables Custom Rules to automate business processes that are outside the predefined scenarios. 

 In the Jira Service Desk interface, users can easily add parameters for triggers, conditions, and actions to create custom rules.

The logic follows a WHEN → IF → THEN formula with the following options:

When (triggers):

  • Comment added
  • Comment edited
  • Issue created
  • Issue resolution changed
  • Status changed
  • A linked issue is transitioned
  • Participant added
  • Organizations added to issue 
  • Approval required
  • SLA time remaining

If (conditions):

  • Issue matches (JQL)
  • Comment Visibility (internal/public)
  • User type (customer, not a customer, agent, not an agent)
  • Comment contains (key phrase)

Then (actions):

  • Transition issue
  • Add comment
  • Alert user
  • Edit request type
  • Edit issue
  • Webhook
  • Send email

Automation in Practice

Setting the priority of incoming incidents

The Priority field in Jira can (and should) be used to help triage incoming incidents upon creation. That being said, exposing the field to Service Desk customers is usually not a good idea, as most people tend to over-emphasize the priority of incidents affecting them. One of the best ways to set the Priority field is to use one or more data points to automatically set it while the issue is being created. We helped a Fortune 15 Technology company implement a Prioritization Matrix that calculated (among other things) the custom fields Impact and Severity to set the priority of the issue. 

  • The field Impact can be used to measure the number of users affected with values such as 1, 2-10, 11-50, 51-250, 251-1000, 1001+. These values could also be represented in words such as "I am impacted", "My team is impacted", "My organization is impacted", "The whole company", or for customer-facing incidents, "1 user impacted", "Several users impacted", "All users impacted". 
  • The field Severity can be used to measure the degree of impact. Some standard values that we've seen used for this field are, from least to most severe: "Enhancement", "Inconvenience", "Normal", "Critical", and "Blocking."

A similar solution is described in more detail in this Atlassian Support article: Calculating priority automatically

Save Millions–Really?

“The average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Downtime, at the low end, can be as much as $140,000 per hour, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour at the higher end."

Gartner

According to Gartner, “The average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Downtime, at the low end, can be as much as $140,000 per hour, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour at the higher end." Using the average downtime cost of $5,600 per minute, the average company hits $1,000,000 in just under 3 hours. So, yes, millions are at stake and the costs can add up very quickly.

Almost any reduction in mean-time-to-recovery (MTTR) can represent a cost savings, and a quality service desk can help achieve those savings. The Jira Service Desk automation functionality is intuitive to use and the short time it takes to implement will pay dividends by saving your employees time and by avoiding lost revenue by resolving IT incidents more quickly. 

Learn more about how Jira Service Desk is the right ITSM solution for you. And if you're already using Jira Service Desk but need to maximize your investment and implement ITIL best practices, we can help.

Topics: jira atlassian blog assessments optimization consulting-services itsm
2 min read

Jira Service Desk: Accelerator vs. Custom Implementation

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 23, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Once organizations make the decision to adopt Jira Service Desk, they often choose one of two implementation options: they either do it themselves or engage a consultancy for a custom implementation—neither of which is ideal for any but the largest enterprises. Few organizations have the skillsets to do the work in-house, and a custom implementation can be both pricey and time-consuming. Fortunately, there’s a third option: An Accelerator implementation by Praecipio Consulting.

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

There are distinct differences between a traditional Jira Service Desk implementation and an Accelerator implementation by Praecipio Consulting. To choose the best implementation method for your organization, it’s important to understand how the options differ as well as your organization’s requirements.

Let’s look first at a traditional implementation. Because of the scope of a Jira Service Desk implementation, an experienced consulting firm will work iteratively to ensure your satisfaction throughout the process. The consultant(s) will meet with your stakeholders daily to gather requirements and demonstrate the previous day’s deliverables. With the right consulting firm, this process will result in a top-notch Jira Service Desk deployment that meets your exact needs. However, the deployment will take several months.

A traditional implementation is ideal if your organization requires:

  • Multiple, complex workflows
  • Heavily customized workflows
  • Heavily customized interface
  • Flexibility

A Accelerator implementation is also performed in an iterative manner. However, the scope of the project is much smaller. Instead of building out complex custom workflows, the project provides prescribed configurations based on ITIL best practices. Our team applies its extensive experience to build out industry standard workflows with improvements that we’ve identified over the past decade. As a result, we deliver a Jira Service Desk implementation in just three weeks with workflows that are a step above the textbook recommendation.

An Accelerator implementation is ideal if your organization requires:

  • Rapid delivery
  • Basic workflows such as service request, change management, and incident management
  • Minimal time spent configuring using prescribed methods and schemes
  • Deployment based on industry best practices
  • A solid foundation for future growth and/or customization

The bottom line: An Accelerator implementation allows you to trade customization for speed of delivery and cost. Many small and mid-sized organizations make this trade willingly as they have little need for heavy customizations. If this sounds like you—or even if it doesn’t—our consultants would be happy to discuss our implementation options with you. Check out praecipio.com to learn more about our Accelerator options and other ITSM resources.

Topics: jira blog assessments itsm jira-service-desk
2 min read

Five Signs You Can Forgo A Custom Jira Service Desk Implementation

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 23, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Implementation

In many walks of life, the word custom is synonymous with time and money. This is particularly true of technical solutions, and Jira Service Desk is no exception. It’s not unusual for a Jira Service Desk implementation to result in an intensive months-long project involving significant resources for the development of custom workflows. If that doesn’t sound ideal, you’ll be relieved to learn that there’s another option: A Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting.

Quick Start implementation is exactly what it sounds like. We get you up and running with Jira Service Desk in weeks rather than months, allowing you to realize a speedy return on your investment and reduced time to value. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we take our baseline best practice implementation and tune it further to fit your organization's needs.

So how do you know if this approach is best for you? Here are five signs that you can safely forgo a fully customized Jira Service Desk implementation and realize the benefits of Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting.

1. You’re not looking for bells and whistles.

Jira Service Desk is touted as an enterprise-grade service desk platform. But the nice thing about it is you don’t have to be a large enterprise to take advantage of its benefits. If you know you don’t need extra customizations, don’t let a large consulting provider tell you otherwise. You can still realize Jira’s value by implementing common workflows that we have developed for other organizations over the last decade under ITIL best practices.

2. Your service organization is small, new or both.

As service desk organizations grow, their workflows tend to become more complex, and Jira’s flexibility is an advantage. However, if your organization is small, new or both, you probably only require basic workflows. Don’t worry—you can always take advantage of Jira’s flexibility later when you have a business need to evolve your workflows.

3. You want to adopt ITIL—but haven’t a clue where to start.

As a framework of best practices for delivering IT services, ITIL aligns IT services with the needs of the business. While Jira Service Desk is ITIL certified, it requires careful oversight and expertise to implement. The out-of-the-box workflows require some tweaking to enable you to fully realize ITIL’s benefits—but there’s not a lot of variation from one implementation to another. A well-experienced consultancy can implement ITIL-compliant workflows without significantly increasing your implementation time or cost.

4. Your organization has a low-risk tolerance.

Every project has some risk associated with it. It stands to reason that the longer, more complex the project, the higher the level of risk. If you can’t afford to wait months to use Jira Service Desk “in the field” and demonstrate success, then you need a Quick Start. Once you realize a quick win with an industry standard implementation, then you can go back and expand your implementation. 

5. Your organization lacks the necessary resources.

A custom implementation is great if you lack the necessary skills in-house, but it won’t necessarily remove the burden from your staff. Their input will be needed to determine what workflows are needed and how they should be customized. Relying on these resources for several months can have quite an impact on productivity and morale.

If any of the above are true for your organization, then we encourage you to consider a Quick Start implementation. Our number one goal is your success and we are committed to helping you realize your goals. Contact us and we’ll help you determine if a Quick Start is right for you.

Topics: jira atlassian blog assessments implementation optimization process-consulting consulting-services itsm
3 min read

Five Things to Love about Jira Service Desk

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 17, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

Over the years, Praecipio Consulting has developed and implemented service desk solutions for a range of clients using Jira's powerful out-of-the-box capabilities and a few key add-ons; however, there was always something missing. When Jira Service Desk was first introduced, we were excited to see Atlassian embracing their customer (and partner) feedback. Over the few short years it has been in the market, Jira Service Desk has revolutionized the way teams serve their customers both internal and external. If you couldn't tell, we're in love with Jira Service Desk. Here are five things to make you fall in love with it too. 

Customer Portals make requesting help easy

Jira Service Desk provides customer-friendly portals to assist your customers in creating Requests. The portal can be configured to speak your customer's language while providing Agents pre-set information describing the customers' issues. Give your request types custom names and icons while mapping them to existing Jira issues. Add your company's branding, color schemes, and flair to personalize your Portals. These customizations look great and are a great way to automatically triage and resolve your customers' requests.

Approval tracking and visibility

Visibility is key when it comes to approvals. By assigning an Approver to an issue, Agents can see who needs to approve Requests at each step. Approvers will be listed on the Agent view as well as the Portal along with the details of what they're approving. Once the Request has been approved, this decision will be recorded with the ticket and can be referenced at any point during the lifecycle of the work. This helps everyone keep track of the official stamp of approval.

Handy Automation

Jira Service Desk has many out-of-the-box automations to trigger different steps in your workflows. Using automation to facilitate interaction between Customers and Agents stops support Requests from getting lost. Since a Request can almost always be 'Waiting on Customer' or 'Waiting on Support', you can use automation to transition between these two statuses when someone comments on the Request. When the ticket is 'Waiting on Support' and the support team asks a question in a comment, this Request can automatically move to 'Waiting on Customer'. Never worry about tickets being forgotten again! If you don't see what you need, create a custom automation rule using simple When, If, Else, Then logic to automate everything from a Notification to a Workflow Transition. 

SLAs that work for you

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) should help increase visibility into how a team can best work together, not something that adds pressure to situations outside of your control. Configure SLAs so that they are paused when a ticket is 'Waiting on Customer' or 'Blocked'. This lets you understand how your team is working while measuring performance in a fair, practical way. Using Jira Query Language (JQL), tune your SLAs to a specific Customer, Request type, even Priority or Severity to ensure your team meets or exceeds your Customer agreements. 

Confluence Knowledge-Base Integration

Integrate your Confluence knowledge base to help your customers fix their problems before they're submitted to the team. While a customer is typing in a request name, Confluence uses SmartGraph (tm) to suggest articles that relate to the request. The suggestions could be articles with similar words in the title or articles that other Customers have clicked on while submitting similar requests. Customers can self-serve and ultimately finish what might have gone through the entire support process. This saves the support team time and helps the customer get their problem fixed right away.

While there are many more reasons we love Jira Service Desk, these five things make us here at Praecipio Consulting fall in love with it even more every day. If you haven't experienced this for yourself, contact us for a demo or visit our collection of ITSM with Jira Service Desk Webinars here. We're more than happy to share the love. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog itsm jira-service-desk jira-service-management
4 min read

Reduce the Costs of Outages by Using Jira Service Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 3, 2018 11:00:00 AM

During an outage, if you feel like your computer is on fire, chaos is abounding, and the world is coming to an end, it's typically a good sign that your incident management process could use a bit of tuning. Gartner indicated in a now-famous blog post that an outage typically costs an organization $5,600 per minute of downtime. An hour-long outage at that rate can cost an organization nearly $350,000. As Amazon or Knight Capital will tell you, that number can be significantly increased if it occurs in a revenue-generating system. 

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

IT teams must find a smart, stable response and resolution to these incidents, usually very quickly in hopes of calming down a manager doing his best Vernon Dursley impression. With the myriad of tools available, at Praecipio Consulting, we've seen IT teams develop creative solutions to acknowledge, respond, and ultimately resolve downed services and systems. But like most processes, we've also seen overly-complicated procedures requiring messy integrations that are unreliable, at best. The key to managing an outage gracefully is to understand not only that the system is down, but ownership, recovery procedures, and communication. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we typically see three big inhibitors IT teams face in reducing downtime:

  • working in multiple systems 
  • alert overload 
  • lack of communication and visibility

Working in Multiple Systems

As microservices become more prevalent in IT organizations, ops engineers are frequently required to work in several disparate systems, resulting in costly context switches that impact productivity. In addition to the (very expensive) wasted time that this incurs, information can be lost in the transition. An effective solution is a single system with several integration points, where information can flow into and be actioned on. Reducing the need for context switches helps users retain information and provides a single source of truth. As a bonus, after the incident is triaged and resolved, the information on how the incident was resolved is all in one location.

This is just one of the many reasons we love the Atlassian products. Jira Service Desk, in combination with Confluence as a knowledge base, can serve as the central location for all things outage. Whether or not the creation of a request is triggered automatically or manually, the creation of a central ticket where the team can swarm, communicate, and collaborate is essential in dealing with the outage quickly. Coupled with the knowledge base filled with Standard Operating Procedures, the IT team can reduce the chaos and confusion of an outage and move toward resolution. Notifications can be sent automatically through Jira Service Desk to any interested parties using Filter Subscriptions and the root cause analysis can be shared via a page in Confluence. 

Alert Overload

There are a plethora of wonderful monitoring tools in the market today providing a wealth of information to system engineers. The problem is that during an outage, we don't want to wade through a mountain of data to figure out what happened. Instead, we need a way to reduce the noise and get straight to the source of the incident.

Enter companies like Moogsoft, who specialize in aggregating all of that data and sifting through it to identify cause and effect. Building out timelines of when certain alerts were triggered and applying machine learning to identify patterns can greatly reduce the time it takes to get to a root cause.

Of course, an integration into your single system for work is critical. The information should funnel in automatically, thus enhancing the system instead of pulling users away from it. Integrating alert systems into Jira Service Desk to trigger the creation of an Outage, running out of disk space, or even access alerts is invaluable to an IT team looking to respond and resolve as quickly as possible. 

Lack of Communication and Visibility

We spoke with a client recently who was reminiscing on 70-person emergency bridges, recalling how chaotic and comical they were. After a good laugh, we were glad he was able to reminisce on those times, as for many IT teams this is still an all-too-real part of the job. 

We prefer systems that provide an integration with a collaboration tool and enable a user to proactively reach out to the right support. Ideally, once we're in the communication and collaboration stage, relevant information has already been gathered to a single ticket. Spinning up a chat room from that ticket, and then using an application like xMatters to proactively alert the on-call members of the right support group, enables us to quickly and effectively get the right people looking at the issue. When integrated with Jira Service Desk, the chat room is created via the click of a button and if integrated with an asset management tool such as Insight by Riada, the right people are automatically notified and can join the conversation. 

Connecting the right people with the right process in the right tools empowers IT teams to quickly and effectively address incidents. While we all know incidents are painful, the process to identify, work on, and resolve them doesn't have to be. Having a mission control system that intelligently handles alerts, allows for proactive notifications, and promotes collaboration can drastically reduce the time spent working incidents. 

How we can help

If you're interested in learning more about how you can establish your own mission control system, give us a call. We can assess your current toolchain configuration and provide next steps on how you can move forward with the technology you have, or help you find the tools that work best for your team. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog assessments process-consulting consulting-services itsm
2 min read

Three Weeks to an ITIL-based Service Desk—No, Really

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 12, 2018 11:00:00 AM

If you’ve attempted a Jira Service Desk (JSD) implementation on your own or reviewed proposals from consulting firms offering to do the work, chances are a three-week implementation sounds pretty far-fetched. But I assure you, not only is it possible—it’s something we do regularly.

Jira Service Desk is a highly regarded service desk platform. When an organization decides to implement the platform, they’re often eager to leverage its flexibility and enterprise-grade capabilities to increase team productivity, meet demanding service-level agreements, and improve customer satisfaction. Just one thing stands in the way: implementation.

Most organizations consider two options for implementing Jira Service Desk. They either do it themselves—provided they have the proper skillsets—or they hire a consulting firm to do the work. For some, implementing Jira Service Desk is not always as simple as it looks, and organizations that choose the do-it-yourself option are often disappointed several months later when they aren’t realizing the platform’s full benefits.

Engaging with a consulting firm may seem to be the logical choice then. However, this isn’t the best option if you hope to see a return on your investment sooner rather than later. An experienced consulting firm will work iteratively, meeting with stakeholders daily to gather requirements and demonstrate the previous day’s deliverables. With the right consulting firm, this process will result in a top-notch, custom-built Jira Service Desk deployment—but it will take several months.

If you do not have the time and/or budget for a customized implementation, then you might consider a Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting. We have over a decade of experience with successful service desk implementations using Jira, and we have taken this experience to build schemes that deliver a faster implementation based on ITIL best practices. With a Quick Start implementation, we get you up and running with a functional Jira Service Desk implementation in just a few short weeks.

Come On. Three Weeks?

Yes! Two critical factors make a Quick Start implementation possible. The first is the fact that most ITSM organizations don’t need heavily customized workflows. In fact, what most service organizations need is a properly configured service desk that meets ITIL best practices. By forgoing unnecessary customizations and implementing Praecipio Consulting's Quick Start, we can significantly reduce deployment time and, subsequently, the costs associated with it.

The other piece of this, of course, is expertise. Based on our 10+ year, varied and extensive experience working with companies of all sizes, we can give you exactly what you need and nothing you don’t. We have taken real-world application and experience with industry-leaders to implement JSD and ITSM/ITIL based on best practices to provide companies with processes that are a step above the textbook recommendation. As a provider that knows ITIL, Praecipio Consulting can deliver an industry-standard implementation of Jira Service Desk—with lighter customizations to make it yours—in half the time it takes for a traditional deployment.

Some organizations, unfortunately, never realize the benefits of a Jira Service Desk adoption because they get stuck in the implementation phase. Don’t let that be your fate.

Download our white paper to learn more about our Quick Start implementations or give us a call at (512) 266-8271.

Topics: jira blog implementation process-consulting consulting-services itsm jira-software
1 min read

Praecipio Consulting is First Atlassian Solution Partner in New Relic Navigator Program

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 19, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Praecipio Consulting was recently named one of the first New Relic Navigators in New Relic's Partners Program. As an Atlassian Enterprise Platinum Solutions Partner, Praecipio Consulting has also developed strong partnerships and expertise with a variety of complementary technologies, like New Relic, to ensure its customers are implementing the most effective solutions.

The New Relic Navigators Program was designed to help organizations interested in using New Relic to drive speed and visibility for joint customers with cloud migration best practices.

The program required Praecipio Consulting sales, delivery, and support team members to become trained and certified as New Relic Certified Performance Pros, learning all there is to know regarding the New Relic platform and how to build its capabilities around services for cloud migration and application performance monitoring.

Praecipio Consulting, founded in 2006, is a business process management and technology consulting firm leveraging the Atlassian toolset to deliver first-class solutions for DevOps, Agile, and IT Ops practices. Praecipio Consulting services include process and technology consulting, managed services/hosting, and product and software development. As an Atlassian Platinum Solutions Partner and process expert, Praecipio Consulting leverages the best technologies and methodologies to enable true DevOps transformations.

Topics: blog new-relic process-consulting itsm
4 min read

How Samsung does lean ITIL® with Jira Service Desk

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 13, 2017 11:00:00 AM

October 12, 2017

This is a guest blog written on behalf of Jack Harding, IT Consultant at Praecipio Consulting and Larry Brock, IT Chief of Staff at Samsung Austin R&D Center and Austin AUG Leader. Based on their presentation “The Power of Process: How Samsung Implemented ITIL” at Summit San Jose 2017.


The IT team at Samsung’s Austin R&D Center had the talent to be successful. Yet, there were bottlenecks getting in the way of their efficiency and productivity. Poor communication, lack of visibility, bad process, and unorganized tools were hampering their ability to support the rest of the organization and realize their full potential. Sound familiar?

As an IT organization within a very successful processor design business unit, they realized they needed to do better or they could potentially cost their business unit speed and design quality – the things their reputation was built upon.

 

Samsung’s Austin R&D Center, with the help of Praecipio Consulting, decided to go lean and set up a simple ITIL®  implementation of Jira Service Desk for Incident, Problem, and Change Management processes. Over the course of only 3 weeks, they were able to mitigate those pitfalls and ultimately increase productivity across their IT organization.

What exactly is ITIL and how should my team use it?

ITIL®  (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is the most widely-used IT service management framework in the world. It’s essential for organizations to align the assets and functions of IT to the overall business. As the de-facto standard for ITSM, ITIL places your organization on the path to deliver the best, customer-centric service management.

The ITIL framework has been developed over the course of 25+ years and the entire library consists of numerous volumes containing thousands of pages of prescriptive process definition. While there is much to be gained from the specification as a whole, sometimes a lighter touch is needed – maybe even necessary. In Samsung’s case, they needed core ITIL processes but also needed to prove ROI quickly.

Before you even decide to implement a framework like ITIL, you should identify your team’s pain points and think about what processes are critical for your IT team. Most teams start with the four key ITIL disciplines, Incident ManagementProblem Management,  Change ManagementService Request Management, and decide which are the highest priority.

Find your pain points

Start by assessing your team. How do they communicate with each other, customers and other teams? Do they have the right processes? Are those processes being followed? Do customers have visibility into their request status? Some of the most common ITSM pain points that IT teams experience are:

  • Process: Processes are often poorly defined or not implemented properly within the tools

  • Communication: Teams work independently of one another and don’t focus on communication outside of their silo

  • Transparency: Customer or partner teams are often unable to see into pertinent processes and work items

Identifying these pain points will help you prioritize which ITIL processes to implement first and how to structure them for your team.

Samsung’s lean ITIL processes

Samsung’s Austin R&D Center had similar challenges. They didn’t have a process for incident, problem or change management, no single source of truth, disjointed communication and a total lack of transparency.

We realized, we have got to do this better than what we’re doing now. – Larry Brock, IT Chief of Staff, Samsung Austin R&D

They already had a clear process in Jira Service Desk for service request management, but none of the other core ITIL processes. They knew they needed structure for incident, problem and change management but needed help to implement them in a lean way. So, Praecipio Consulting helped them take these processes from just theory, to practice in order to see ROI quickly.

Process

The team began to define, publish and follow processes built from their own experience in addition to input and feedback from customers. They also built a multi-faceted workflow allowing for easy escalation of an event into an incident, while automatically generating and linking problem and change issues.

Communication

Praecipio Consulting helped the team create notification templates in order to build comprehensive and consistent messaging into their process. Using queues, they built an attractive change review dashboard with automated removal of stale and abandoned requests. Now, change issues have become the single source of truth regarding what IT has planned, in progress, and completed regarding infrastructure or computing environment.

Transparency

Because changes are now all documented, customers are finding creative ways to access and use this information, including in their own dashboards. The IT change calendar now shows when changes are scheduled and they’ve even seen it layered into Team and Department calendars outside of the IT team.

Evaluating their pain points and creating lean processes to improve productivity has helped them be more transparent within the team, with customers and key business stakeholders and has allowed them to provide better and more timely reporting. The ITIL framework is just that: a framework. It’s up to your team to determine what matters most and how robust or lean you want your processes to be.

Topics: atlassian blog implementation consulting-services itsm jira-service-desk jira-software
2 min read

2017: The Year of the Human

By Christian Lane on Jan 19, 2017 11:00:00 AM

It's only a few days into the new year, but already we see the latest tech crazes for the next 346 days in the headlines: DevOps, ITSM, and SAFe. With Atlassian, the world's industry leaders have had great success in these frameworks (many with our expert help) and technology is producing the most ground-breaking things in human history. Everybody wants to put a proverbial man on the moon with their next release, and these are the proven methods to do so. 


But one integral factor in the equation remains- beyond products, beyond methodologies: human beings. Behind each of these revolutionary web applications, overseeing each of these cutting edge processes, are our most important resources: our team. We must automate our technology to give us more time to collaborate with each other; to facilitate the tribal knowledge sharing that allows a community – a business – to thrive and grow. 

In a recent presentation, Praecipio Consulting partner, Christopher Pepe remarked on the paramount asset of human knowledge within organizations. Behind each great innovation is a team who did their work to the best of their ability to reach this next level. People are the ones who make DevOps, ITSM, and SAFe the successful frameworks they are. People are the ones who developed Puppet, Splunk, Tempo and Atlassian to help us do our jobs more efficiently. We choose and configure our tools in the most advantageous way to give us both the best competitive edge and to, ultimately, free up our resources (our people) to come up with the next, history-making idea.

Each of these products and frameworks enables us to be more efficient. To build things faster, better, and smarter that help us (and others) do the same. With that time we save - be it programming an application to triage errors to give back support time, or an app that helps you order groceries for pickup so you have an extra hour to spend with your family. The things that will move our industries (and our world) to the next phase are being created by the companies that configure their tools to give them that time. We know - we've helped them.

Everybody says they will give you your greatest technology ROI. When we say that, we mean that we're sending the best team in the world to help YOU be the best team in the world. We have the knowledge and the expertise to put your proverbial man on the moon - whether that's breaking the Fortune 500 or doubling the size of your new business in a year. Our clients and partners (like DocuSign, Splunk, and Tempo) are a testament to our commitment to delivering this ROI to you at exponential rates. We don't just care about you getting a functional product - we want to see you use it perform optimally so you can go back to what you're passionate about. 

Give us a shout and let's talk about your most valuable resources- your team- and how we can get you the technology solutions to focus on their best work. We're ready to help you get to your proverbial moon. 

Topics: atlassian blog scaled-agile devops itsm
2 min read

2017 Technology Resolutions

By Christian Lane on Dec 29, 2016 11:00:00 AM

As 2016 draws to a close, it's time to reflect on the past 12 months and set forth goals a.k.a. resolutions for 2017. Where do you want to be in the new year? For many, this includes adopting new technologies or new practices like DevOps. Whatever your new year's technology resolutions, we're here to help.

2017 Technology Resolutions

5. Always be iterating

The faster one can learn and improve, the better your results. This goes for building products as well as continuously improving your processes. Look for opportunities to grow and eliminate inefficiencies. Those who have the tools and processes to achieve this agility will reap the greatest rewards.

4. Automate more

What are the repeatable processes in your day-to-day work life that can be automated? Save countless resource hours spent doing work manually by smartly automating repetitive tasks like sending esignature documents or creating issues at a workflow transition. This automation allows you more time to focus on your core competencies. 

3. Plan ahead

Having the capability to forecast project delivery is key. Using tools like Portfolio for JIRA and Tempo Budgets, you gain the perspective you need to ensure timely, on budget delivery of projects by leveraging your teams' historical velocity and resource availability. 

2. Speak up

Keep the lines of team communication open with daily standups and HipChat. Being able to quickly identify any blockers and swarm to fix them helps you to keep work flowing and gives your team the support they need to be productive. 

1. Try something new

Take this new year as an opportunity to embrace change. Ready to dip your toe into DevOps or try out AWS services? Now's the time! Set goals to measure the success of your new endeavor and challenge your team to embrace your new initiatives. We even provide training to help you get started faster and easier!

Whatever your technology resolutions, we have the expertise and services to help you achieve success. Our team is here to help you meet (and exceed) your goals- so don't wait to make your resolutions. Contact us to find out what you can accomplish in the new year. 

Happy 2017 to you and your team,
Your friends at Praecipio Consulting

Topics: blog support itsm
7 min read

Seen It, Solved It: Jira Service Desk for ITIL

By Praecipio Consulting on May 4, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Growth Through Change 

"Organizations that do not or cannot evolve will not last." In the business world, change is constant and necessary, especially when it comes to meeting the dynamic needs of customers. ITIL, or Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a methodology that helps organizations effectively manage change while putting the customer at the center of the process. ITIL prescribes processes to ensure the customer's needs and requests are handled with ease – from acknowledgement of an issue through the application and evaluation of the solution. One of the greatest values of the ITIL methodology is that it embeds continual improvement into the process. The ITIL framework can be leveraged by anyone, including non-technical teams, to better manage change and serve customers. Atlassian's fastest growing product, Jira Service Desk, facilitates ITIL adoption in an organization by encouraging traceability, collaboration, and reporting. 

As business process experts certified in ITIL, we leverage the ITIL methodology in unison with Jira Service Desk to institute best practices for our clients. Here are 5 real-world examples of how Praecipio Consulting helped our clients implement lasting organizational change by embracing key ITIL concepts of automation, visibility, knowledge base, change management and evaluation, and continuous improvement. 

Automation

"Using service automation to streamline both simple and more complex workflows of course impacts the overall efficiency of the organization... it also allows for a much better end-user experience for everyone at the company." - ITIL beyond IT: What is Service Automation & Service Relationship Management?

Problem: A major utility company powering the U.S. Eastern seaboard was manually reporting security equipment issues and coordinating with external vendors to fix the issues. This manual process was prone to errors and didn't allow for tracking of service level agreements (SLAs), which would determine which vendors were breaching their contracts. The company was using spreadsheets to track these crucial assets and their maintenance. The spreadsheet system was inefficient and created duplicate versions – leading to confusion, frustration, and waste. Furthermore, the spreadsheets could not track SLAs for Acknowledgement or Resolution for vendors.

Solution: To reduce redundancy and enforce SLAs, our experts implemented Jira Service Desk for the major utility company. By replacing their spreadsheets with Jira Core and Jira Service Desk, we helped them add a level of automation to their workflow. This reduced waste of time and resources, allowed for better communication with third-party vendors, and created a clear path for escalation. The custom configuration we created for the company maintained their security, while also allowing vendors to be a part of of the conversation. Furthermore, reporting features from both Jira Core and Jira Service Desk allowed for a central point of truth. The utility company could check the status of service tickets and see how well vendors were adhering to their SLAs. Through the process of improving their security equipment reporting and vendor coordination, the company found other areas of improvement and have chosen to continue working with us to maximize those workflows. 

Visibility

"It can be very difficult to know the health of your service desk, run reports, and find way to improve your support if you don’t have the right data." - The ABCs of Jira Service Desk: measuring success

Problem: A major U.S. waste management company wanted to adopt a more structured reporting system, replace an old enterprise software application, and incorporate the ITIL framework into their organization. The company's goal was to standardize tools in order to improve communication and rally around a consistent project management methodology. The waste management company desired a suite of tools with the ability to integrate functions across IT service areas, leading to better service for the end customer.

Solution: In addition to implementing several other Atlassian products, our experts helped the company leverage Jira Service Desk to achieve their business goals. We helped them create a central application with the ability to distinguish request types through a structured workflow. This included a more robust user interface to better triage issues and send them to the appropriate teams. The ability to categorize requests and label them with levels of urgency allowed the company to have better reporting, leading to improved enforcements of SLAs. 

Knowledge Base

"[A knowledge base] gets [customers] the help they need at the speed they’ve become accustomed to – i.e., in the time it takes to swipe around on their phones – and it frees service desk agents from stressing out while anxious customers wait on hold or answering the same question over email for the 10th time this week." - 4 tips for getting started with knowledge management

Problem: A large, private U.S. university wanted to revamp an old software application and replace it with a more robust and dynamic knowledge base. The university's goal was to increase usability for both their students and faculty regarding technical and campus-related questions, deflecting tickets by providing requesters with FAQ's and other resources to help them self-serve to find their answers. 

Solution: Our experts helped the university leverage Jira Service Desk and Confluence to achieve their goal. Combining Jira Service Desk with Questions for Confluence (a Confluence add-on that provides a knowledge base inside the already powerful wiki tool) allowed the university to implement a centralized knowledge database. Jira Service Desk allowed for better help engagement using queues and other helpful functionalities. Questions for Confluence empowered external users to help themselves by accessing a database of pre-answered questions, without tying up service desk agents with redundant problems.

Change Management and Evaluation

"Listening to your customers is the single most important thing you can do for the health of your company." 5 tips to transform your IT team from zero to superhero

Problem: The largest provider of support services to general and multi-specialty dental groups in the United States needed the ability to receive and respond to client feedback in addition to handling client issues. They did not have a clearly defined process for patients to interact with the organization and to raise issues. Their marketing team was searching for a new software tool that would manage feedback in a way that led to issue resolution and change management. The team's ideal tool would be able to enforce and report on multiple SLAs through issues submitted via the company's public website.

Solution: Our experts helped the dental corporation adopt Jira Core and Jira Service Desk to manage issue tracking and change management. With Jira Service Desk, the company was able to cleanly sort through client feedback and create a workflow to address issues that arose. Beyond managing client feedback, the dental corporation also used these tools for clinical tasks, billing, and other activities that needed life cycle tracking. In addition to tracking, the Atlassian tools helped the organization evaluate the effectiveness of their changes and quantified the improvements made – empowering all teams, not just marketing, to better serve their customers. 

Continuous Improvement

"With a single-product approach, configuring an SLA or modifying a workflow is easy, because they share core processes." How Jira Service Desk approaches ITSM 

Problem: A major U.S. insurance company was using three different software applications for code management, issue tracking, and service desk management – leading to inefficiencies and miscommunication. Their use of three separate applications resulted in duplicate tickets and the inability to enforce SLAs across the organization.The insurance company wanted to improve these processes and embrace ITIL's practice of continuous improvement. 

Solution: Our assessment encouraged the company to adopt a single application, Jira Service Desk, to provide a single source of truth. With Jira Service Desk, there was a common point of collaboration for issue management. This reduced duplicate tickets and saved valuable time and resources. Leveraging entities, workflows, and issue linking, we helped the insurance company align their processes to make reporting and enforcing SLAs easier, more efficient, and more effective. By strengthening their ability to track what changes are needed and to act upon those needs, we helped them develop a cycle for continuous improvement.  

ITIL for One, and ITIL for All 

"Just because one service desk streamlines the IT and service departments, it doesn’t mean that other teams can’t also benefit from them." - 5 tips to transform your IT team from zero to superhero

These real-world examples from our clients highlight how ITIL and Jira Service Desk can help organizations evolve and change – without the growing pains. ITIL concepts of automation, visibility, knowledge base, change management and evaluation, and continuous improvement aren't just for IT teams. These powerful ideas also provides immense value to other parts of any organization, technical and business teams alike. At Praecipio Consulting, we excel at leveraging the ITIL methodology and Jira Service Desk to help organizations do what they do better. Want more proof? Contact us to learn how we can help your organization evolve and do your best business. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile automation business confluence process standardize workflows traceability collaboration continuous-improvement integration it itil itsm jira-service-desk operations reporting white-paper
5 min read

All-Star Incident Management: How to Be Like Mike

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 21, 2016 11:00:00 AM

The best teams sync with each other. Think of the intangible magic conjured by the Championship-sweeping Chicago Bulls of the 90's, helmed by Michael Jordan. They ran their offense to perfection, playing to the strengths of each team member and executing each step in perfect rhythm to put points on the board. Any member of those teams will tell you their success came not only from having high-performing people but from working together within an established offense, or process. Because they bought in and trusted the process, each team member knew his responsibility at all times. The team ran time-tested methodologies for getting the win, adjusting as needed after analyzing the other team's strategy. Basketball is all about strategy, process, and teamwork.


Now think of that team that loses to the Bulls- that loses to everyone. The team that's always scrambling after a broken play, unsure of how to set up their offense or what to do after a missed basket. They spend the entire game – and all their focus and energy – trying to just keep up. These are the teams that don't trust in their process, usually because it hasn't worked in the past or they haven't learned how to work with each other. It's hard for each player to handle his responsibilities because he feels like he has to win the game by himself instead of together with his teammates. It's not a good way to win games, and it's certainly not a good way to structure your IT team.

As Atlassian Platinum Enterprise partners and experts in all things process, we've got your playbook for all-star incident management:

Top 3 Tips for Championship ITSM

      1. Track your failures for greater success.

Basketball teams use stats to identify strengths and root out weaknesses. Tracking areas for improvement is key. When agents solve issues in silos they can't tell when an issue reoccurs or causes other issues, indicating a root cause that should be investigated. Ability to link issues is paramount to give your problem-solvers visibility into what keeps going wrong and, ultimately, what should be changed to keep it from happening again. 

2. Success loves preparation.

The 90's Bulls probably lost count of how many times they ran the same plays during practice. The better we prepare, the more successful we are. In the IT world, reporting, documentation, analytics, and other functionalities of our ITSM tool of choice make it easier to prepare well. When we're able to forecast issues based on prior knowledge, we're prepared for what's ahead. Data like a team's sprint velocity or average resource allocation per type of project inform planning for all foreseeable project outcomes.

3. Establish repeatable processes.

Michael Jordan is one of the most successful athletes in history because he was the first one in the gym and the last one out. He was always running drills and perfecting his shot, establishing repeatable processes that became muscle memory. Applying this concept to your organization allows your team to handle day to day operations with relative ease - each agent knows what to do, and they trust in the established process. This is a key to effective incident management and it allows you to focus on improving and advancing solutions rather than fighting fires.

Seen It, Solved It: Major U.S. Insurance Provider

Ready to see these plays in action? Here's how these 3 tips helped our client do better work, faster.

THE PROBLEM

Issues are like potato chips: you never have just one. In a business, any single issue that arises is usually experienced by multiple end-users and often starts a domino effect that causes more related issues. Without the ability to see across all these related issues, each agent responding to an individual issue only sees just that, failing to see the forest for the trees and moving on with an issue fix that doesn't address the root cause.

A major U.S. insurance provider came to us with concerns about their incident management. They already knew that their processes were poorly designed and not well adhered to, but they needed help figuring out how to improve them. In particular, incidents were not well documented or properly managed, putting them at risk for violating regulatory compliances. The client's struggles included:

  • ITSM Processes with No Buy-In (Too complex, too outdated, or too redundant)
  • Lack of Integration Across Tools (Lots of time wasted in context switching, Inability to analyze across platforms)
  • No SLAs or Metrics to Gauge Effectiveness

In short: They were focusing all their time and resources trying to just keep up, but could never get ahead in the game.

THE GAME CHANGER

Enter Coach Praecipio Consulting and Jira Service Desk to deliver a slam dunk incident management solution.

 
New Process Playbook

Because our client had different tools for managing incidents, their lack of visibility across platforms led to slow speed to market with fixes. Jira Service Desk not only solves this issue, but also supports best practices for incident management. By standardizing automated workflows and establishing lean processes, our client is no longer burdened by redundancies and can gather meaningful metrics across incidents.

 
Pass to other Players, er... Tools

In order to deflect the amount of incoming tickets, Jira Service Desk integrates with Confluence to provide a self-serve knowledge base. By leveraging this integration, our client gets back time and resources, no longer tied up on tickets to which an answer already exists. Leveraging machine-learning, the Confluence knowledge base identifies frequently searched topics and strengthens its query language to provide the best answers to questions around incidents. 

 
Set the Shot Clock

As an insurance provider, our client needed to ensure that they stayed within regulatory compliance with vendors and customers alike. Configuring SLAs in Jira Service Desk allows for the client to start the timer the minute a ticket is assigned, tracking time to resolution and producing reports to identify SLAs in danger of being breached. By doing this, the client gains visibility into incident management and can use metrics against goals for continuous improvement. 

Be Like Mike

Like the Bulls' 1-2 punch of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the tandem of Jira Service Desk and experience-driven process expertise gives our clients a heightened ability to execute ITSM best practices and keep their teams in a cycle of continual improvement. Maximizing your processes makes your day-to-day work simpler, allows you to focus on higher level objectives for better business, and helps you get numbers on the board (with dollar signs in front!). 

Practice makes perfect- it also makes money. Michael Jordan and his teammates knew it, and the best IT teams in the world know it. Take your team's performance to championship levels with the right processes and the right tools- and, if you need help, think of Praecipio Consulting as your coach with a lot of championship experience. 

 

About Sam Besozzi

Sam is a Consultant at Praecipio Consulting where he delivers expert solutions to our top clients. He has an extensive background in process improvement and design and draws heavily from Six Sigma, Lean, and other efficiency-focused models. As a new Austin, TX transplant (originally from Ohio), Sam enjoys exploring his new hometown, hiking, and searching for the perfect taco.

Topics: atlassian case-studies blog analysis best-practices business experts implementation process process-consulting technology workflows support configuration consulting-services itil itsm jira-service-desk request
3 min read

Everybody Gets a Pony! Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Hosting & Managed Services

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 15, 2014 11:00:00 AM

As the holiday season approaches, my family will undoubtedly ask me the same thing they do every year - What do I want? Since I was a little kid, I've always given the same answer to no avail, my request steadfast and unchanging: I want a pony. The likelihood of my receiving a pony this Christmas is still as unlikely as it's ever been, and I ask knowing that I'll be getting pajamas, stationery, and other non-pony related items like every previous holiday. While I repeatedly ask for the pony, the regular maintenance and upkeep (not to mention storage) of a pony is more than I can handle. Believe me, I'd still love a pony for Christmas. My life and schedule might permit some allocated riding time, but I don't have the resources or bandwidth to commit to everything else that goes into pony ownership. 

Wouldn't it be great to get something you really want, that would make your life better, and never deal with the time-draining, resource-monopolizing hassle of upkeep?

Companies around the world have recognized for years that the Atlassian product suite is the ultimate in scalable, reliable Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and business management products. Offering both Cloud and Server versions of the tool set, users get varying levels of functionality and add-on capability. While Server versions offer extra options, businesses often opt for Cloud instead, as it brings them an Atlassian-hosted solution. Now, with Praecipio Consulting's Hosting and Managed Services, you get the benefits of a Server instance with the freedom of outsourced hosting by our Atlassian Enterprise Platinum experts. 

Our Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Hosting and Managed Services

5. Save Your Space

My hypothetical Christmas pony needs room to run and graze, so keeping it in my small, urban backyard is impractical. Likewise, software needs room to run and the power to do so. Server instances consume RAM and can slow the speed of other processes running concurrently. With Praecipio Consulting's Hosting services, we host your Atlassian instance on our dedicated Rackspace servers, giving you uninterrupted process flow and unburdened memory. Enterprise industry leaders choose our Atlassian hosting because it frees them up to do their business faster, increasing process and profit. 

4. Trusted Expertise

I love ponies, but am no pony expert (nor do I have time to become one). Similarly, you may not have the bandwidth or expertise to be your team's go-to on your Atlassian instance when something goes awry. With Praecipio Consulting's Hosting and Managed Services, you get an Atlassian Platinum Enterprise consultant dedicated to your instance. By outsourcing your Atlassian expertise to Praecipio Consulting, we deliver the answers and results that your team relies on for continued functionality and success of your instance. Our consultants have a deep expertise around the entire product suite, stemming from years of implementations, configurations and optimizations - so you know your instance is in the best hands possible! 

3. Increase Time and Resources

Keeping up with a pony would require a significant portion of my time and finances to maintain - even if nothing was wrong with the pony. Your software also requires regular touches, from upgrades to regular maintenance, which can all take people, time and money away from your organization. Wouldn't you rather focus on your job and let someone else do the work? Praecipio Consulting can make that happen. Our Hosting and Managed Services include all the scheduled maintenance and upgrades required to keep your instance at its best. No more blocking out time in your schedule to perform that upgrade. Praecipio Consulting has you covered!

2. Maximized Performance

If I had a pony, I would want it to have the very best of everything- including environment. A stable, well maintained environment is as critical for pony care as it is for your instance and, using Rackspace servers, our Hosting ensures that your Atlassian platform has the utmost uptime and availability. You know you can always count on your instance to perform the way you need, when you need it. 

1. Rapid Resolution

Sometimes ponies get sick. Or wander away from the pasture. Or any other number of pony-related problems befall them. With all that I have to deal with in my daily life, I can't guarantee that I'll be the quickest person to respond to the needs of my pony. When your instance goes haywire, you need it fixed immediately. Downtime and system issues equate to lost time and money (not only spent fixing the problem, but in the stop of workflow). When your instance goes down, don't waste time and money- just call Praecipio Consuting and get it fixed quickly!

While getting a pony for Christmas may be something I can only dream of (along with the team it would require to house and maintain said pony), a well maintained, expertly cared for Atlassian instance is within everyone's reach with Praecipio Consulting's Hosting and Managed Services. By letting us manage your Atlassian instance, you save time, money and resources while getting the best functionality and service for your software platform. Increase your ROI, maximize processes and drive down costs with our Hosting and Managed Services for your Atlassian products. We promise to take excellent care of your "pony."

Topics: blog best-practices managed-services reliability uptime hosting itsm
2 min read

Jira: Not Just for Software Development

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 17, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Jira’s an issue tracking application, but its core flexibility and strengths mean it can become much more than a tool limited to a development group. Jira’s incredibly adept at helping teams track and accomplish tasks. Jira also has a masterful ability to manage life cycles - and it’s found great success in numerous use cases.

Use Cases

The following use case guides are meant to explain a bit of the details related to using Jira for a specific use case. The info you’ll find in here highlights much of what we’ve learned from working with clients in a variety of different industries, as well as our internal expertise and use of Jira.

For each of these use cases, we’ll attempt to highlight:

  • Particular Jira functionality specific to the use
  • Related plugins we’re aware of
  • Customization and tweaks
  • …and sometimes a sample file to help get you started

General and Non-Software Uses

Agile Software Development

Project Management

HelpDesk / Support / Trouble Ticketing

Test Case Management

This can be done by using either of the following approaches:

Requirements Management

Change Management

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile austin automation business efficiency enterprise issues management process services technology value tracking change cloud collaboration computing continuous-improvement incident-management information integration it itil itsm operations
2 min read

Jira + ITIL Working Together

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 24, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Atlassian Jira's a remarkably flexible tool. For most who hear “Jira,” things like issue tracking, project management, and software development come to mind. Very rarely do people think of ITIL in relation to Jira. But then again, many don’t know what ITIL is.

If you’re a developer or in IT and don’t know what ITIL is, you should. It’s a set of processes for managing lifecycles with relationships to one another. It’s the most widely-accepted approach to IT service management in the world – a set of best practices drawn from public and private sectors around the world. ITIL doesn’t just apply to IT service management (ITSM), though – it’s a reliable methodology for managing any type of complex technological process.

Jira’s an Atlassian tool that’s phenomenal at lifecycle management (workflows, custom fields, etc). It’s designed to be issue-centric, built around managing issues or bugs that pop up within a product or service’s lifecycle. This functionality extends far and wide when you expand how you define an “issue.” On the surface, an issue is more like a problem – but considering an issue’s attributes, it can easily qualify as a task or milestone. With that in mind, Jira can facilitate far more than simple issue tracking. It can support complex process lifecycles.

Every process is a web of highly dependent relationships between regular and conditional tasks – including ITIL processes like Incident Management and Problem Management. The huge breakthrough here is making Jira projects and workflows represent (and support) ITIL processes. Let’s take an incident for example. An incident goes through several states:

(1) detection and recording
(2) classification and initial support
(3) investigation and diagnosis
(4) incident closure

A good Incident Management process within a good technology helps reduce meantime to recovery – i.e. recover from an incident. We all know how well Jira facilitates transitions and workflow. Let’s take it a step further…in ITIL-based Incident Management, we are supposed to designate incident ownership, actively monitor, track and communicate. BINGO! This what Jira does.

Let’s take this another step further. Problem Management is a process used to identify root cause to reduce the number of incidents – thereby increasing the meantime between failures. Using Jira, we can manage root cause analysis and associate the individual incidents (manifestations) back to the Problem Management record we’re analyzing. This ability to link records and collaborate makes Jira a great Problem Management solution. Add Confluence to the mix and the effectiveness is improved further.

Going another step further – having ITIL-based ITSM processes running in Jira alongside your organizations SDLC further helps IT align its capabilities to deliver the highest, best quality software and service delivery.

We’ve helped clients implement Jira to manage Incident Management, Change Management, Problem Management, Asset Management, Software Development, Testing… we love the Altassian products and so do our clients.

Topics: jira atlassian blog asset-management confluence issues management problem process reliability sdlc services software workflows tracking change development incident-management it itil itsm lifecycle methodology bespoke
4 min read

Cloud Computing Risks and Rewards

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 29, 2010 11:00:00 AM

The relationship between ITSM and cloud computing is still a hot topic. Companies are still asking questions regarding what the cloud is, IT versus business roles in adopting cloud infrastructure, and whether the shift toward cloud computing is optional or inevitable. Ambiguity abounds.

We all know the business wants results, and requires IT to offer swift responses to business demands. The business ultimately wants to remain agile and flexible – able to adjust quickly to changing needs. IT can’t always deliver solutions as quickly as the business wants. The cloud can.

It’s easy and logical, then, for the business to leap toward cloud providers to meet their needs. In the cloud, the business can be in control of their relationship with providers – though if one doesn’t suit their fancy, switching isn’t always easy or possible.

There are hundreds of questions that pop up here – most about the risks and rewards of leveraging cloud platforming. Before we delve any further, consider this list:

Risks

  1. Security. Where’s your data – with your provider, or with a third, fourth, or fifth party? Is it safe? Does your cloud provider explicitly state rights to outsource your data? You should clearly understand your provider’s security-related responsibilities and guarantees described in its service level agreement.
  2. Re: Security – SAS70 and PCI compliance. SAS70 (a set of auditing standards designed to measure handling of sensitive data) and PCI (a worldwide information security standard) assure companies that their storage vendors are handling their data properly – so they don’t have to audit vendors themselves. SAS70 and PCI compliance policies may uncover details that aren’t specified in service agreements. Since server outsourcing can put your data anywhere in the world without the end user noticing a change, SAS70 and PCI are standards for cloud peace of mind. Google realized this early when they announced their SAS70 Type II certification in 2008.
  3. Re: Security Data Protection. If your data isn’t stored within your in-house network, it’s stored in someone else’s. It’s therefore subject to someone else’s protection framework. Be sure to ask for specifics from your cloud provider regarding the intrusion detection system (IDS), intrusion prevention system (IPS), firewall, and other security technologies they’ve deployed to clarify their integrity. These security appliances are required by PCI.
  4. Integration with existing systems. Will cloud-based applications integrate well with your internal network configuration, security infrastructure, and software?
  5. Governance. Who’s in charge of your data – you or your provider? Who’s in charge of application adoption and making decisions based on performance – the business or IT?
  6. Internet connectivity. Since the cloud operates through the internet, it’s completely bound to connectivity. No internet, no work.

Rewards

  1. Lower IT infrastructure costs. IT can supplement or replace internal computing resources; no need to purchase equipment to handle peak needs.
  2. Lower software costs. IT won’t be burdened with the costs of installing and maintaining programs on every desktop in the business.
  3. Unlimited, pay-as-you-need-to storage capacity. As much as you need, whenever you need it. Most providers allow you to pay for more space as you need it so you don’t have to commit to a large sum of space.
  4. Operating system compatibility. The cloud is built on browser-based applications, meaning OS’s just don’t matter.
  5. Easy group collaboration. Sharing documents? Anyone anywhere can collaborate in real-time.
  6. You’re no longer bound to specific devices. Change computers and your applications and documents follow you wherever you go.
  7. Low systems cost. You don’t need a high-powered system to run cloud applications, so the computer doesn’t need the processing power or hard disk space demanded by traditional software.

It’s clear why the momentum toward the cloud is so strong – the rewards appear to outweigh the risks. Notice, though, that the risks are coming from IT while the rewards make up most of what the business side is drooling over. It’s no wonder we’re concerned with IT and business alignment in this context. That alignment may determine the success or nightmare of cloud migration.

recent CIO survey reported that among companies not leveraging the cloud, many aren’t confident the cloud will reduce their IT costs. Half of IT decision makers, the report said, expect little reduction in IT spending after cloud adoption. Another 42 percent weren’t sure they’d save any money.

Among companies who had adopted cloud applications, however, cost savings topped scalability and flexibility as the top reason for adopting cloud computing. 83 percent of those respondents were using SaaS models.

CIO’s results indicate a lingering apprehension about cloud services, but also a prevailing wind toward the cost savings the cloud offers. Pew Research’s study on the future of cloud computing blew in the same direction: 71 percent of respondents said most people won’t be working with conventional PC software by 2020, leveraging internet-based applications instead; 27 percent said most people would still use superior PC-based applications.

We’re going to see more companies begin implementing cloud services in the next few years. This is clear. The IT-business strategy alliance is critical to the success of cloud implementations. Since more pressure lies on IT to adjust their infrastructure and methodology to accommodate cloud services, IT faces a greater challenge: grow toward an intimate partnership with the business, or grow in irrelevance to the business.

The question has one right answer – and with that answer come a host of more questions for another post.

For a more thorough look at cloud security, check out our upcoming security post.

Want to get in touch? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog business enterprise library management process-consulting services technology tips tricks value cloud collaboration computing information infrastructure it itil itsm
2 min read

ITSM: The Backbone of Cloud Computing

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 15, 2010 11:00:00 AM

IT Service Management (ITSM) and cloud computing don’t always appear in the same discussion – even though one can’t be done well without the other. Integrating the two is especially important as we move further into (what could be) the fundamental shift toward cloud computing.

First – since the phrase “cloud computing” has taken on ambiguity as a buzzword – a quick clarification is necessary. Cloud computing doesn’t change what’s being delivered to end users. It changes how services are delivered. End users should receive the same services from you whether your data’s stored on a server you manage yourself in-house or on a server that’s managed by a provider in Timbuktu.

That being said, IT needs to understand the services they deliver to end users – whether the end user is the employee or the customer. This is the core of ITSM.

Some primary benefits of the cloud include:

  • Pay-as-you-go server costs; planned capacity
  • Annual savings in hardware and man power
  • Instant “green” IT options without long-term transformation costs
  • Higher rate of connectivity that extends anywhere

Those perks are the driving forces behind the cloud’s popularity – and have already borne fruit in organizations who’ve incorporated the cloud as a platform for daily operations. Some, however, raise concern over the difficulty to align the cloud with ITSM, which regularly involves:

  • A slow rate of delivery of tangible business benefits
  • An inability to relate the consumption of IT resources to customer activities
  • A lack of stakeholder support
  • Trouble integrating facilities management, security, and business continuity
  • Scarce resources

These difficulties won’t surprise anyone in ITSM. They’re simply the nature of the beast. Every ITSM team has to deal with a lack of stakeholder support, pressure to produce tangible benefits in short amounts of time, etc. When news of a new business decision reaches IT’s desk after it’s already been decided on, however, these difficulties become even more difficult – and the alignment of IT investments and business continuity is disrupted. The business has moved along without IT, and IT is left to run after it.

The same is true for the alignment between ITSM and cloud computing. Companies may rightfully lust after cloud services and decide to begin moving toward a cloud platform. While the results for end users (employees and in turn customers) may be clear, how to deliver them may not be. If the ITSM team isn’t intimately involved, the business risks ambiguity on both sides.

Ideally, the business should work to ensure inter-operability between IT assets and cloud applications. That (like everything else) requires the business to understand IT’s responsibilities, and IT to understand cloud concepts. The software market’s shifting toward ease-of-access software/SaaS; ITSM software vendors are having to market their simplicity and cloud-usability to stay competitive. Because of this, inter-operability is becoming more of an issue since businesses may be tempted to consider ease of use and cloud integration more important than ITSM.

The alignment is essential. With business strategy and IT well-aligned, leveraging the cloud can expand your ability to be flexible in doing business and save you overhead costs while preserving what’s delivered to end users.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Topics: blog business library management services technology value saas cloud computing information infrastructure it itil itsm
2 min read

Leveraging Technology to Drive Intelligence

By Praecipio Consulting on May 10, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Richard Veryard’s thought-provoking powerpoint “Technologies for Organizational Intelligence” claims that intelligent organizations:

  • recognize that business opportunities are complex
  • respond to them coherently
  • pay attention to weak and strong signs of inefficiencies for the purpose of collective learning and innovation

Veryard stresses later that intelligence is vital to a business’ survival. That idea should not sound revolutionary, but provokes one to question if businesses frequently consider how well they’re working to understand themselves and improve their knowledge and efficiency in order to grow.

This is highly relevant in the context of IT Service Management (ITSM) – an introspective, process-focused approach to managing IT systems. IT professionals who care about ITSM try to stay informed about technology advances, ways to improve customer experience, and align IT with business needs. It’s the duty of those in ITSM to maintain and promote a healthy, innovative IT environment that fuels the innovative capabilities of the business as a whole.

Those ambitions correlate closely with the actions Veryard attributes to intelligent organizations. He exalts a sort of “collective learning and innovation,” in which those in the business continually collaborate in order to learn more about how they do things. Fixing problems and developing innovative ideas are both natural products of this introspection. Each, in turn, impact the end product offered to customers.

While it may be difficult at times to devote attention to efficiency, it’s vital to the continued growth of a business. After all, those who fail to fix their problems and innovate aren’t the ones we talk about ten years down the road.

So, how does a business make sure they’re “intelligent”? Veryard lists quite a few ways, including:

  • Understanding that business environments are complex
  • Approaching problems with rational, collective solutions
  • Employing people and technology that works well together

The third remedy is the primary concern of ITSM. IT can build a foundation for organizational intelligence by implementing an enterprise-level platforming technology that can facilitate collaboration within the organization – especially if the platform is adopted across the entire enterprise.

Without an effective, efficient technology that integrates well with a business’ existing software, the collective effort toward ITSM growth is kept on the ground. Frequently gathering information that paints an accurate picture of performance requires predictable, repeatable processes that can be technologically executed. Such a technology drives consistent progress toward efficiency and innovation – and serves as part of the backbone of an intelligent organization.

As Veryard said in his presentation, intelligence is vital to survival. As introspective folks with technological literacy, those in ITSM can have a profound impact on the progress of their organization by leveraging technology to build an intelligent business.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Topics: blog bpm business enterprise library management process technology value collaboration continuous-improvement information infrastructure intelligence itil itsm operations
2 min read

5 Quick ITIL Implementation Tips

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 17, 2010 11:00:00 AM

According to Forrester’s latest research, IT spending is expected to grow 6.6 percent in 2010 to $568 billion. In order to realize the value of these investments, organizations may adopt industry-consistent frameworks like ITIL to improve IT process and establish reliable data points to measure success.

Here are 5 useful ITIL implementation tips:

1. ITIL is an IT-Wide Strategy
Any ITIL process implementation has IT-wide impacts. Because of this, the implementation must be aligned with other IT initiatives within the organization, focusing on accomplishing ITIL success while preserving the overall benefit to the organization. ITIL should guide all strategic initiatives.

2. Consider Post-ITIL Organization Before Jumping Into Implementation
Introducing ITIL processes creates new tasks and roles that could impact an organization’s current IT service management structure. Foreseeing this possibility helps guide management toward supporting a new IT organization.

3. Prioritize Process Selection
Implementing every ITIL process at the same time isn’t necessary. ITIL processes should be selected based on areas where the organization needs improvement, and areas that will drive the most business value/greatest ROI.

4. Set Your Baseline Early; Have Realistic Expectations
The acceptance of change, of course, takes time. ITIL’s implementation is a significant change to an organization’s IT environment, and its processes will have to mature before subsequent ROIs are recognized. The delay of ROI-producing data points will delay the qualified legitimacy of the ITIL venture—making the change harder for employees to swallow.

Establishing an early baseline of key performance indicators (KPIs) from which to monitor ITIL success helps employees be more open to and engaged with the change. Chosen KPIs should be business-focused and clearly understood, so employees don’t waste time measuring unnecessary data points.

5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate Success
Let’s face it: implementing ITIL isn’t a quick job. The longer a project takes, the harder it is for employees to see its worth.

This is why communicating success to everyone involved in the implementation is essential—so employees are reminded they’re working toward something that will make them more efficient and profitable, and prepared for change. Success not only boosts morale. It qualifies and legitimizes the project. Failure to communicate success may double employee resistance to change over time.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog implementation library management process-consulting services technology tips tricks change information infrastructure it itil itsm
3 min read

The Cost of Quality

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 24, 2009 11:00:00 AM

The Cost of Quality (COQ) business model describes a method of increasing profits without increasing revenues.

Here’s how it works: COQ increases profit by shrinking business costs. If your business has a 5% profit margin, for example – and you decrease costs by 5% – you’ve doubled your profits. That’s simple enough, but how do you decrease costs?

COQ identifies the importance of shrinking costs without taking the usual cost-cutting measures like not buying everyone’s favorite pens or not stocking refreshments in the break room — the “let’s avoid morale buzz-kills to save a few bucks” approach to increasing profit. Instead, COQ promotes lessening mistakes and increasing business process efficiency.

Companies adopt and tweak COQ to reflect their business goals and in turn their profitability. The model applies to not-for-profit businesses too: budgets are tight; grants, revenues, or contributions may not increase, but the same valuable services need to be delivered with less and less money, right?

COQ is made up of three elements: conformance costs, non-conformance costs, and opportunity costs. We’ll explain these before we explain the rest of what the graphic illustrates:

Conformance Costs

  • Communicate
  • Review
  • Report
  • Status-Check
  • Inspect
  • Train
  • Validate
  • Benchmark
  • Test
  • Prevent
  • Plan
  • Preinstall
  • Check
  • Audit
  • Appraise
  • Survey
  • Evaluate
  • Proofread

Non-Conformance Costs

  • Fix
  • Repair
  • Rework
  • Retrofit
  • Revisit
  • Overstock
  • Re-do
  • Refer
  • Reorganize
  • Scrap
  • Error
  • Constraint
  • Incorrect
  • Excessive
  • Late

Opportunity Costs

  • Under-utilize
  • Cancel
  • Downgrade

Notice these three cost categories are not associated with the cost of producing the output. Materials needed to assemble a product (labor, supplies, etc) are not included. The three elements merely reflect the costs associated with the business process. As we always say, “the profit’s in the process.” The efficiency of your business processes determines your efficiency as a business. If you’re going to maximize your efficiency and profitability, you need a sound understanding of the cost of quality.

Think about it: process is where value is added and where profit is made. Consumers don’t squeeze oranges to make juice anymore. Okay, maybe on rare occasion, but who cuts down trees and processes timber as a raw material to make paper?

The cost of quality is associated with the cost incurred to ensure process outputs (products and services) meet customer requirements. For example, let’s say Company A manufactures pens, a process that takes ten steps to complete. About half of the time, the process works effectively, and high-quality pens are made. The other half of the time, however, is plagued by faulty manufacturing— lackluster execution in the assembly process. As a result, Company A has to keep half of its pens in its shop for a bit longer for fixing/repairing, incurring non-conformance costs. This leads to a lack of consistency. Ultimately, this waste is passed onto the customer with an increased price per unit and/or inferior product— making it more and more difficult to compete.

That’s why COQ’s biggest cost adjustment occurs in reducing non-conformance costs— tightening the process and ensuring customer requirements are met. This may require spending extra money to do some work over again.

Now, to run through the graphic:

  • Conformance costs are important and help ensure a business’ success and stability. when optimizing your business, conformance costs should stay the same or in many cases increase.
  • Non-conformance costs, as we’ve mentioned, need to drop significantly— though you can never expect to be without them, strive to get rid of them.
  • Opportunity cost is the value of the next best choice. It’s the “what could have been.” If a business is suffering from non-conformance costs, the “what could have been,” is higher in the left portion of the graphic, where non-conformance costs are much higher. If a business is succeeding financially, there is little “what could have been,” therefore reducing the opportunity cost.
  • Operating costs are constant. They’re the costs of a business’ building, utilities, licenses, etc— which fluctuate, but not enough to factor into this model.
  • Profit looks like this: $$$. Reducing non-conformance generates more $$$.

So, how do you reduce non-conformance? Remember: the $$$’s are in the process.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog bpm business efficiency library management practices predicatability process services technology value continuous-improvement information infrastructure it itil itsm operations
2 min read

Turn and Face the Change—with ITIL

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 21, 2009 11:00:00 AM

As with any aspect of business, great processes and infrastructure do not always stay great—new technologies and customer needs arise all the time, and usually require changes to business procedures. The same is true in the context of IT Service Management, as new IT needs and technologies inevitably arise as time goes by—creating the need for the ITIL discipline of “Change Management.”

ITIL defines the goal of Change Management in the context of IT Service Management as “to ensure that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient and prompt handling of all changes, in order to minimize the impact of change-related incidents upon service quality, and consequently improve the day-to-day operations of the organization.” If the ITIL language sounds a bit daunting to you, the definition more basically means Change Management is meant to ensure standardized methods and processes are used to implement all changes in a timely manner, and to achieve and maintain a healthy balance between the need for change and the potential impacts changes might have on the business processes they affect—ie predictability. Every change to IT infrastructure must of course be managed and controlled systematically, minimizing the impact of IT services delivered to the customer.

The need to change IT infrastructure may result from problems observed in a business process or from external legislation—or merely from the desire to make a business process more efficient and productive. Once a need is identified and proven, a change may be developed. ITIL’s discipline becomes valuable at this point as a change becomes drafted, documented, and implemented.

ITIL V3 prescribes these seven questions to ask when proposing the implementation of a change—titled the Seven “R’s:”

  • Who raised the change?
  • What is the reason for the change?
  • What is the return required from the change?
  • What are the risks involved in the change?
  • What resources are required to deliver the change?
  • Who is responsible for the build, test and implementation of the change?
  • What is the relationship between this change and other changes?

Other relevant questions to ask when proposing a change may be:

  • What is the cost of the change?
  • What is the timeline for implementing the change?

The leadership team at Praecipio Consulting consists of experts whose job is to implement change for companies based on ITIL. We have helped our clients implement valuable changes to their IT infrastructure, and have a great deal of familiarity with defining good and bad processes by leveraging ITIL best practices. Change Management provides a way of managing and controlling the way changes are initiated, assessed, planned for, scheduled and implemented—Praecipio Consulting offers you the intelligence and support you need to not only guide you through implementing IT Service Management Changes, but also to provide you with a proven model and valuable business direction for a future of changes.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog library management predicatability services technology change information infrastructure it itil itsm
2 min read

Incident Management: The Responsible Way to Gold-Star Customer Service

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 14, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Incident Management is debatably the most important area of IT Service Management because of its direct impact to the Services customers rely on. One of the ITIL disciplines, the focus of Incident Management is to restore services following an incident as quickly as possible—be it a business operations issue or merely an internal or external lack of technical understanding. Incident Management activities, often executed by a Service Desk, include:

  • Discovering details of an incident
  • Matching incidents against known problems
  • Resolving incidents quickly
  • Prioritizing incidents according to their impact and urgency
  • Escalating incidents to other teams when needed to ensure timely resolution

Incident Management is one of the most difficult ITIL disciplines to maintain—operating a Service Desk for anyone struggling with technology can be a daunting task given the consistent learning curves existing as businesses adopt new technologies and optimize old ones. This is why Incident Management should be a big deal to businesses.

ITIL Incident Management aims to minimize disruption to the business by restoring service operation to agreed levels as quickly as possible. The total Incident Life Cycle is described as follows:

  • Occurrence
  • Detection
  • Diagnosis
  • Repair
  • Recovery / Restoration

The above steps of the Incident Life Cycle serve as key data points that, when measured, provide a great deal of value. The intelligence that is derived from these data points helps IT organizations focus and invest their time in those projects and activities that will shrink the Meantime to Recovery (aka Mean Time to Repair). In the event the time it takes to detect an outage is long (Detection Time Stamp minus Occurrence Time Stamp), an IT organization can focus on automating outage detection or increase the ease of reporting issues by clients to the Service Desk. In the event the Diagnosis time (Diagnosis Time Stamp minus Detection Time Stamp) is long, the IT Organization should focus on training, escalation path definition/automation and/or tool sets to ensure IT staff has the adequate means to make an accurate assessment. Without going into more detail, it is clear that a well-defined process like Incident Management can help streamline and shorten the Incident Life Cycle thereby minimizing the Meantime to Recovery.

Incident Management is often the first process instigated when introducing the ITIL-quality framework to a Service Desk, and offers the most immediate and highly visible cost reduction and quality gains. Some brief reasons why you should consider implementing ITIL-based Incident Management:

  • Achieve and maintain impressive levels of customer service
  • Provide outstanding service availability
  • Achieve overall staff efficiency and productivity
  • Significantly improve customer satisfaction

Praecipio Consulting has a proven track record of excellent Incident Management/Service Desk support for its clients, and intentionally aims to minimize disruption to their clients’ business by restoring and applying ITIL framework to incident recording, tracking, and resolution.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog library management services technology incident-management information infrastructure it itil itsm
2 min read

ITIL: An Overview

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 2, 2009 11:00:00 AM

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is currently the best (and only) comprehensive documentation of IT Service Management best practices.

The library is made up of a series of books which thoroughly explain (in really, really big laymen’s terms) what quality IT services should look like. The books describe how IT services should operate—as well as what base structure and functionality an organization needs to be able to effectively support IT.

Thousands of companies around the world have adopted an ITIL philosophy from the library, which clearly defines the organizational structure and skills requirements for an IT organization. ITIL theory works. The library’s standard operational management procedures and practices allow the organization to effectively manage an IT operation. The operational procedures and practices apply to all aspects within the IT Infrastructure.

The major disciplines (main focuses applicable to IT service providers) of ITIL are as follows:

  • Service Desk (Help Desk)
  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Release Management (Software Control and Distribution)
  • Configuration Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Capacity Management
  • Continuity Management (Contingency Planning)
  • Availability Management
  • Financial Management (Cost Management for IT Services)

While these terms are probably familiar to most ITIL personnel, the formal explanation ITIL gives these disciplines is typically far beyond the level of sophistication in the majority of IT organizations. Additionally, the specificities and separation of IT tasks within each of these ITIL support disciplines are considerably more defined than those which most companies have implemented in the past. The distinction between “incidents” and “problems,” for example, is something companies still do not usually recognize—whereas ITIL clearly defines the two terms as separate disciplines with their own unique set of processes.

An incident is active only until service is restored; a problem continues to be active until appropriate outputs/remedies are created and implemented. Incidents and problems are therefore not synonymous—instead incidents, problems, and changes have thorough relations with each other.

The “library” itself continues to evolve. ITILv3, the library’s third edition, was released in May 2007 and includes five distinct volumes: ITIL Service Strategy, ITIL Service Design, ITIL Service Transition, ITIL Service Operation, and ITIL Continual Service Improvement. The volumes can be purchased from their publisher, TSO Books.

ITIL is a framework. Praecipio Consulting has qualified ITIL-certified consultants with the experience, intelligence, and innovative ability to help your company implement ITIL confidently and effectively. Understanding ITIL can be difficult; if this is the first content you’re reading about it, you’ll probably agree. We wish to implement ITIL in a manner that makes the most sense for our clients’ business models. As the de facto standard and model for IT Service Management, ITIL not only enables businesses to run more efficiently and reliably—it also helps IT managers reduce incurred costs associated with IT Service Delivery.

If you’re curious, ITIL was originally created by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) with the sponsorship of the British government, and is a registered trademark of the UK Government’s Office of Government Commerce (usually known as the OGC).

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog library management services technology change information infrastructure it itil itsm

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