Responsive ITSM

Put the customer in the center

Customer and service orientation
The primary direction we are pursuing is to make ITSM as "responsive" as possible. When weighing interests, this means:

- customer-centric processes before exact mapping of IT structures
- preventive measures before reactive incident management
- rich conversation before digitalized "correspondence" (ticketing)

This does not mean that we consider the values on the respective right-hand side to be unimportant. But when designing ITSM systems, we tend to recommend and propagate the values on the left-hand side, although of course the framework conditions and context of the specific project always take precedence.

Customer-centric processes

ITSM systems are (of course) procured by IT organizations. However, we have noticed that the end customer, whom the ITSM organization wants to serve, is often included too superficially in the design of the system. For example, service catalogs are structured precisely on the basis of the detailed technical services that the ITSM organization provides. But it would be better to ask, as a first priority, which services the customer wants to access individually. Often this results in a gap between need and offer. We recommend that effective stakeholder management be practiced in implementation projects and that user-centric methods such as customer journey mapping to ensure a high-quality customer experience also be applied to internally provided IT services for the benefit of the business. After all, it is not uncommon for users to make their requests under time pressure. Smooth processing and transparent, professional communication are correspondingly important.


Preventive measures

"Prevention is better than cure" -Erasmus of Rotterdam

What applies to healthcare can also be applied to IT. For the cure of IT diseases does not only generate the costs for the then necessary intervention by IT. Very often, it results above all in expensive work stoppages on the part of the users. And the more digitalization advances business, the less this can be bridged with tasks in the "analog world".

But how can you become proactive? The key is to make ITSM data-driven. Only with well-developed sensor technology will it be possible to recreate the quality of service perceived by the customer in everyday life.

In day-to-day ITSM, the relevant early indicators are often missing, which would make it possible to act on developing problems in good time. The figure on the right shows a single example indicator. If, on the other hand, the dashboard of the IT professionals looked like the following figure, they would immediately know which problems that have not yet been reported should be addressed.
Incidents can be reduced by up to 50% with good sensor technology and preventive interventions. At the same time, the performance quality of IT becomes objectively measurable. This makes it possible to make discussions with the service recipients much more goal-oriented. In particular, subjective perceptions can also be made more objective through a better factual situation.

Rich conversation

Setting up an ITSM usually means introducing a ticketing system. Systems such as ServiceNow or Jira Service Desk make a significant contribution to transparent and controllable ITSM. A major limitation of most ticketing systems, however, is that the communication pattern between end users and IT, as well as between the various support level managers, resembles an "exchange of letters" between two departments. This works very well for simple tasks, but for more complex tasks, a lengthy "ping pong" can quickly ensue, resulting in very long resolution times. It therefore makes sense to supplement the ticketing tool with digital rooms in which a chat-based conversation can be conducted with the active participation of all necessary specialists. By choosing the right setting for communication, a more constructive cooperation can be promoted in a natural way and serial ticket rejections à la "problem not with us" occur less frequently or can at least be resolved more quickly in a goal-oriented manner.At the same time, chat-based support channels are currently establishing themselves more and more frequently vis-à-vis the customer. They have the great advantage that customers immediately feel that someone is taking care of the problem and initial queries can be answered immediately without delay.The connection of ticketing with other communication channels enables tasks to be processed more quickly and in a more targeted manner.

Our approach: Tailor-made solutions

We implement tailor-made ITSM solutions. We follow a "best of breed" approach, i.e. we have a toolbox consisting of our preferred tools, which we combine to create the desired solution depending on the problem and integrate it into the existing environment.We do not take a dogmatic approach to determining the tools for a project. As far as it makes sense, we build on the customer's existing components and supplement them with the desired range of functions by integrating missing components.When evaluating components, we place particular emphasis on a high level of cost-effectiveness and integration capability with other tools or our own developments. While we pre-evaluate preferred products, we verify requirement coverage and suitability in each project. If necessary, we then replace or extend components with our own developments or with other solutions.

Our toolbox: "best of breed" solution components

Frontend Tools: Interaction with end users and IT teams

The front-end tools provide the customer interface of the ITSM.

The Status Information component is used to communicate the service status to the end users. This includes the communication of availability restrictions, maintenance announcements, etc. In the context of business continuity management, this component is used to ensure that information is provided even if all other communication channels fail. Our preferred product for this is statuspage.

In chat rooms, end users can be provided with uncomplicated support in a conversation ("conversational ticketing"). Depending on the customer journey concept, the chat-based interaction can be initiated either directly by the end user or by IT. The people invited to the chat room are precisely those who need to work together to solve the ticket. Chat rooms are therefore very effective in ITSM because they allow several parties to make parallel contributions to the problem solution and to follow it up. The conversation can be conducted directly both with or without a time delay, which is why the best time to resolution can be achieved even if the availability of the people involved varies greatly. We prefer to work with Halp, Chatlio and Slackwhen a cloud solution involving US companies can be deployed, or with Mattermost and jitsi if an operation in Switzerland is required. If Microsoft Teams is available, integration is obvious.

The Ticketing Portal allows end users to submit and track their service requests. This includes the provision of order forms, their approval by the relevant departments and the processing of the service provision. We prefer to work with Jira Service Desk or supplement Jira with our own portal development if there are special requirements for the design or integration of the portal.

Backend Tools: Data-driven ITSM and Process Support

The goal of Knowledge Management is to enable problems to be solved more quickly. On the one hand, keyword-based relevant troubleshooting articles can be displayed to the end users when tickets are created, with the aim that they either solve the problem themselves or at least provide the relevant information for describing the problem. On the other hand, it also serves to transfer know-how through the support chain (2nd level to 1st level, etc.). We work with Confluence.

In Asset Management, the components and their properties for which the ITSM provides services are managed in the sense of an inventory. This information is then read when tickets are created or to determine dependencies when solving problems. Ideally, the information is not only entered manually, but is also supplemented as far as possible by automated service or user device monitoring. We prefer to use Insight - Asset Management for Jira.

Alarming is used to summon the employees required to solve a problem according to the stored shift plan or to trigger escalation chains as soon as certain criteria occur. For example, shortly before the expiry of a guaranteed SLA response time or in the event of a service failure. We prefer to work with OpsGenie.

Service monitoring is used to monitor the status of IT services. In particular, this includes checking service availability (uptime), performance (response times) and resource usage (such as disk space, RAM, etc.) for capacity management. In this area For rather simpler problems we like to use StatusCake and Prometheus. However, experience has shown that the problems in service monitoring are very heterogeneous.

User Device Monitoring deals with the monitoring of PC workstations used by end users. Traditionally, thanks to software distribution tools such as Microsoft SCCM, IT has good information about the target state of the end devices, e.g. which software should be installed. However, the quality perceived by the user in use cannot usually be readily identified. However, proactive management of the devices only becomes possible when accurate information about the actual state can be evaluated across the organization. Frequent crashes, decreasing storage space, declining performance, etc. can thus be detected and dealt with before the end user creates a ticket, which then has to be resolved under time pressure. Endpoint monitoring is particularly relevant in environments with less management control by IT (Bring Your Own Device, school IT, software development, etc.) to ensure an appropriate level of endpoint security.

Project Management is used to handle projects or more complex operational processes that cannot be adequately managed by individual tasks. In this area we work with Jira Softwarewhich is widely used for software projects, but can also be used for any organizational and IT projects.

The time worked is reported and evaluated in Time Reporting. This can include:

- evaluation of working time (attendances, overtime, holidays, etc.),
- evaluation of performance time (project effort, time spent per ticket, etc.)
- and billable time (effort to be billed outside of a flat rate).

We prefer to use Tempo Timesheets in this area.

Our options for deployment

There are the following options for the deployment and IT operation of the solution, all of which we can offer and support:

Variant 1 - Atlassian Cloud: The solution can be implemented on the cloud solution operated by Atlassian from the USA.

Variant2 - linkyard Cloud: The solution can be implemented on the cloud solution operated by linkyard in Switzerland.

Variant 3 - Managed Service on Private Cloud or on Premise Infrastructure: The solution can be implemented and operated on the private cloud or infrastructure provided by linkyard. The customer's IT operator takes over the operation of the infrastructure, while linkyard takes care of application operation and maintenance.

Option 4 - On Premise with Support: The solution can be implemented on systems provided by the customer. The operation is carried out by the customer, linkyard provides support if required.

Most of our customers choose Variant 2 linkyard Cloud due to a combination of economic and security considerations, such as the Swiss Federal Tax Administration FTA. However, we are already using all deployment scenarios with customers.

Your contact

Stefan Haller | Managing Partner