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How to Manage a Tech-Savvy Workforce

Posted by on April 22, 2014 in General IT
Managing millennials in the workforce Look out baby boomers, the millennial generation is taking over the workforce. In fact, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. These are the individuals born between 1982 and 1993 who love technology so much that they would rather have access to social media than a bigger paycheck. Having grown up learning about technology, millennials quickly adapt to new trends and emerging technology – something that is quite beneficial for businesses that want to remain on the cutting edge.
Millennials have vastly different expectations for the workplace compared to baby boomers, so it’s important to meet their unique needs and create a workplace environment in which they can flourish. Below are some tips on how to do this:
  • Implement collaboration tools: Millennials are social by nature, meaning they prefer collaborating with others to get tasks done. Encourage collaboration by implementing tech tools such as instant messaging, videoconferencing, Skype, and Google Hangouts.
  • Let employees choose what device they use: Allowing millennials to work with the devices they are most familiar with will help improve productivity and increase engagement. In fact, research states that employees are more comfortable with their personal device, which in turn makes them more productive. So you can see how enabling a BYOD (bring your own device) environment can be valuable to your organization.
  • Ask for input and listen: Millennials tend to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest innovations. Take advantage of their knowledge and ask for their input on the best ways to implement new technology.For example, Evernote – a very popular business app these days that allows employees to store everything from photos to web pages to notes, PDF files, and audio clips – could be beneficial for employees that need to access important documents while on the go or at a tradeshow.
  • Institute a flexible work schedule: A structured workplace doesn't sit well with millennials. Give them flexibility they want by employing technology, such as remote desktop, that allows them to work anywhere, anytime from any device. Or give them the option of working remotely two to three times per week.
It’s clear to see that this new generation of tech-savvy employees needs a different managerial style. Now it's up to you to decide what works best for your company. Tell us… how do you manage your millennial employees?
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9 Ways ITAM Can Empower IT

Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Asset Management
ITAM is the trusted advisor, whispering in the CIO’s ear. IT Asset Management (ITAM) is the discipline of managing IT assets throughout their lifecycle. If IT Service Management (ITSM) is primarily concerned with efficient delivery of services, then ITAM is primarily concerned with managing the costs and risks of using the IT assets that underpin services. Like ITSM, ITAM should be considered an on-going commitment and practice rather than a short-term project. It is important for the disciplines of ITAM and ITSM to be aligned within the IT department since most lifecycle stages of an asset are delivered or in some way interact with the Service Desk. ITSM is the source of asset changes; by working close together with ITAM the organization can ensure the risks associated with changes can be proactively managed.
A good ITAM practice enables IT departments to make smarter decisions, demonstrate value, and help reduce nasty surprises. In this article we explore 9 key ways ITAM can empower the IT department: 1. Smarter Decision Making ITAM is the trusted advisor, whispering in the CIO’s ear. Better knowledge about what is being used, what is being spent, and what risks exist can allow IT decision makers to make informed decisions based on facts. For example, at the highest level, if the CIO has to manage the merger of two IT departments during an acquisition, good data from ITAM allows the CIO to take stock and make decisions based on fact – not fiction. 2. Efficient IT Spend Are we using our IT spend efficiently:
  • How much did we spend on IT last year? Did we spend it wisely?
  • Are we making best use of everything we own?
  • How much money are we spending with each supplier? Are they the right suppliers?
  • Where are the machines located that have come to the end of their lease?
  • What assets are associated with this maintenance contract that is due for renewal? Do we need to renew it?
  • How much will we spend on IT this year? Are we getting the best bang for our buck?
ITAM provides the answers to these questions and much more. 3. Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (PPPP) Trustworthy ITAM data can underpin the preparation and delivery of new IT projects and upgrades. Operating system migrations, new application deployments, and hardware refreshes can all benefit by good real time data about current configurations and asset status. For example, preparing a move to Windows 8 can be a lot easier if we can see which machines are ‘capable’ of using Windows 8 in our environment before we even begin the project. 4. Forensics and Proactive Security Monitoring A well-maintained repository of IT assets allows organizations to track installs, moves, and changes and see if they agree with scheduled changes and IT policies. A good asset repository will also allow you to keep a history of changes for future reference. Security teams can harness ITAM data to support other security practices and identify unwanted behaviour, unwanted applications, or unwanted users on the network. 5. Supercharged Support Desk This one is a no-brainer. In simple terms - the more we know about the user and their IT assets, the quicker we can resolve their issue, period. IT support staff can resolve support calls quicker when they have up to date information regarding IT assets (not based on ancient spreadsheets) and accurate data to support their diagnostic processes. 6. Lower the Risk in Change Management Good ITAM data can be called upon to reduce risks and mistakes in the change management process. For example, a request for change to a server might be approved from a delivery of service, security, and configuration management point of view – but will that change trigger an enormous licensing cost that will severely impact budgets? 7. Streamlined Service Request Process If a service request portal for end users is the shop window for IT, then ITAM data is the inventory and stock management for the shop. The ITAM repository should be unified with service requests to ensure costs are contained, stock is managed efficiently, and users are supplied with the correct software and services. 8. Proactive Problem Management If service desk administrators identify an issue being caused by a specific configuration, they can make use of ITAM data to identify users or devices that have a similar configuration and take proactive steps before the user even knows they have an issue. This is especially useful for users and devices that fall out of the scope of high-end services and systems likely to be managed in a CMDB. For example, if a user experiences issues with using an application due to a service pack being applied – support staff can quickly identify who else has had that service pack applied and take proactive steps to reduce service issues. 9. Avoiding Nasty Surprises – Containing Compliance Risk Finally, last but by no means least – ITAM helps us contain our compliance risks. Any hardware, software, or services we introduce into the business come loaded with regulations, use rights, and contractual terms. Even freeware and open source software has limitations to use and legal obligations to manage. All these items should be treated as assets and managed throughout their time in the business – from initial request through to retirement, destruction or transfer of ownership. Mismanagement of IT assets can lead to poor delivery of services, wasted budget, fines, and bad press. For example, even the simple act of buying a desktop PC for a business carries risk – the worst-case scenario is that the desktop PC ends up in a landfill site carrying company data – a loaded gun of compliance risk triggering data protection, information security, green waste regulation, and so on.

The Foundation of Good IT Management

ITAM practices allow you to understand what you have, where it is, who uses it, how it is configured, how it is used, and the value it is providing to the business. Start practicing ITAM principles today and gain control of costs, reduce risk, and enable smarter decision-making. Image credit
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CVE-2014-0160

Posted by on April 10, 2014 in General IT
Heartbleed Security The last few days have been all about the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability, officially called CVE-2014-0160. Many of you surely heard about it, read about it, and talked about it, but did you really understand what all the noise is about? TechCrunch published: Massive Security Bug In OpenSSL Could Affect A Huge Chunk Of The Internet, and IT News reported on a serious issue at the Canada Revenue Agency. Why is this specific security breach getting so much exposure compared to others? Well, to get a better understanding of what exactly we’re talking about I believe it’s first important to understand what is OpenSSL - as most of you probably have no clue what is it or you believe you don’t use it.

So what is OpenSSL?

The OpenSSL Project is a collaborative effort to develop a robust, commercial-grade, full-featured, and Open Source toolkit implementing the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL v2/v3) and Transport Layer Security (TLS v1) protocols, as well as a full-strength general purpose cryptography library. The project is managed by a worldwide community of volunteers that use the Internet to communicate, plan, and develop the OpenSSL toolkit and its related documentation.

Are you using OpenSSL?

Good question. Are you using Nginx? Apache? VPN? SMTP/POP/IMAP? Network Appliances? XMPP? Even if you aren’t using OpenSSL directly, each of these services could be using the OpenSSL library, and this makes you exposed. Now what’s all the noise about Heartbleed? Well, the Heartbleed bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows the stealing of information, which is protected under normal conditions by the SSL/TLS encryption that is used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM), and some virtual private networks (VPNs). The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users, and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users, and to impersonate services and users.

Why is this vulnerability getting so much exposure?

Well the nature of most vulnerabilities is that a trace is left somewhere along the way allowing you to recognize whether you’ve been exploited or not. Heartbleed leaves no traces of anything abnormal happening thus making it impossible to detect exploited systems, which is why it’s so dangerous.

So what should you do?

  1. Make sure your system is patched to the latest version of OpenSSL.
  2. Since you can never know whether you’ve been exploited by Heartbleed, a good recommendation is to regenerate your private key and certificate, thus information encrypted using this new key will not be de-encrypted using your old stolen key.
And for those of you using SysAid cloud services, you can sleep quietly at night knowing we already did both!
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Customer Love in London – What You May Be Missing Out On?

Posted by on April 9, 2014 in SysAid
Service Desk and IT Support Show It’s nearly that time of year again. Time to head to the annual IT service desk and support show (SITS) in London (29th-30th April), and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s not just the event itself that we’re excited about either. On the evening of Tuesday 29th April we’ll be hosting dinner and drinks at the Kensington Marriot for some of our beloved customers and its bound to be a blast.

Customer Dinner

Where: Kensington Marriot Hotel (10 minute walk from the event) When: Tuesday 29th April 5pm – 7pm Who: The invitation is open to all of our customers (and even prospects too). Just get in touch if you would like to attend. Why: Simple. We want to say thank-you for being a part of our SysAid family and we want to spend some time with you! We’ve also invited industry analysts and consultants, so this is bound to be the perfect opportunity to ask any burning process questions that you might be struggling with. You don’t have to be attending SITS to join us either (although we highly recommend that you check the event out – it’s free to attend). This invitation is open to any SysAid customer. We also appreciate that the whole of the UK doesn’t revolve around London. Do you live in the North or the Midlands? We hope you can still join us. Struggling to get approval/budget? Let us know and we’ll see what we can do to help.

The Event

Allow me to start with a shameless plug for my presentation: Is Your IT Support Passing the BYOD Challenge? Tuesday 29th April – 14.00 – 14.40 During this session (which will feature a very special guest) I will be discussing how to adapt your service desk to support BYOD and how to measure your success. I’ll be including lots of juicy info such as:
  • Analyst statistics on the future of BYOD
  • Misconceptions when it comes to saving money
  • Communications between the business and operations in reference to issues such as SLA
If you’re currently planning your schedule, in addition to adding my session (of course) to the list, here are my top picks: Tuesday 29th April
  • 10 tips for Software Asset Management (Vawns Murphy Guest, Change & Release Manager, Virgin Media) – 10.00-10.40
  • Is ITIL ready for the DevOps approach? (Kaimar Karu, AXELOS) – 12.20-13.00
Wednesday 30th April
  • Benchmarking your service desk success (Howard Kendall, SDI) – 10.00-10.40
  • Network Rail service desk: the journey from fixer to fulfiller (Matt Turner, Service Desk Manager) –10.50-11.30
  • What is ‘value’ anyway (Adam Poppleton, BrightOak Consultancy) – 15.40 – 16.20

At the SysAid Stand

As usual you’ll be able to find us by listening out for where the fun is coming from. Unlike other vendors, we don’t need a microphone to bellow in your ear about how great we are. Come and meet us and make your own decision, we’re confident that our tool speaks for itself. Besides, where else on the exhibition floor are you going to find a tool that has an integrated patch management solution and offers an IT Performance Benchmark module? Oh that’s right… nowhere! [embed=videolink]{"video":"https://youtu.be/Rmw4ls7xbDs","width":"400","height":"225"}[/embed] Pop on over and meet Joe the IT Guy (have your photo taken with him too)! And of course our now world-famous All Essential Conference bags will also be with us. Grab one for yourself filled with all the goodies and refreshments you could possibly need to get you through the conference (food is expensive in Earl's Court you know). We’ll have customers with us on the stand too, so you can discuss first hand with them how using SysAid improved their IT Support (although we urge you to remember, it’s not just about the tool… it’s about people and processes too). We appreciate that when trying to find a new solution you get tired of vendors telling you how great they are, so we’re bringing along people just like you to tell you how great we are instead (yes, we’re clever too)! See you in London at the end of the month! And don’t forget to join in the conversation on Twitter using #SITS14.
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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My Feet Are Killing Me!

Posted by on April 7, 2014 in ITSM

Help Desk Institute Conference 2014

The long hours and back pains notwithstanding, I have to say that HDI 2014 was a magnificent conference with terrific content, amazing folks, and a whole lot of fun and laughs along the way. I talked about some of that in my previous blog; here’s a continuation with more highlights from Thursday and Friday.


Highlights of Sessions

Randi Zuckerberg – Inside the Mind of the Modern Customer

The Thursday morning keynote was about the future of technology - from Google Glass to self-driving cars. Who would’ve thought 10 years ago that we’d have Facebook or iPhones for that matter?

We asked 20 people in our office what technology invention they’d like to see in 10 years’ time and got an array of responses, such as:

  • Google Glass in mass production
  • Getting rid of the keyboard, mouse, and screen - Google Glass can replace the screen and voice should replace keyboard
  • Hologram presentations
  • Flying cars
  • Time travel, and teleporting
  • More advanced wearable technology
  • Muting device for your spouse (!)
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Integration of all household and office electronic devices
  • Technology that provides outdoor light inside the home, even when windows are not accessible

We heard Patrick Bolger say that if there will be the possibility of inserting a chip to your brain, he is the first one to sign up. Can you just imagine what life for the service desk will be when people start getting chips inside their heads and then IT needs to support THAT software/hardware? Oh my.

Tell us – what would you like to see in the future? Let us know here.

Roy Atkinson - Daddy, Where Do Metrics Come From?

The answer to the question in the title: "Well, son, when a business and success decide that they truly love each other..." J

In Roy’s session, we learned that the top factors influencing support center spending in 2013 were:

  • Support business growth
  • Improve customer service
  • Improve effectiveness
  • Improve efficiency
  • Reduce costs
  • Expand services

Your metrics need to align with these factors to demonstrate the value IT provides to the business in all of these areas.

Roy then offered advice on how to approach this:

  1. Start with the goal and work backwards
  2. Break the tasks down into measurable chunks
  3. Decide which metrics fit
  4. Track the metrics over time

He also went onto stress that it’s not the metrics that are the goal. The goal is to get solutions to the customers more quickly.

We agree completely with what Roy says, and we take it a step further. We believe you need to have a baseline to compare yourself to other organizations in a similar industry, otherwise how do you know what is good enough. Also, you cannot work on everything all at once. Decide on two metrics that you want to improve, work on those, and then move on to others.

The first question Roy posed to the audience was, "How many of you have made any major changes to your metrics in the last year?"

The question was met with blank faces, to which Roy responded with "Oh dear".

Looks like the majority need some help. Sarah Lahav wrote a series of blogs on IT benchmarks, one of them about incident categories. She recommends you check how many categories you have officially set on your service desk versus how many are actually used. Chances are you’ll find that around 75% of your categories are never used, which means your category classification is too complex. Want to speed things up? Simplify your incident classification categories.

Sarah Stealey Reed - Analyst Productivity and Efficiency in the Multichannel Support Center

Sarah Stealey Reed from the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) presented some truly interesting stats:

  • Voice is still the preferred route to the support center for the following reasons:
    • Most convenient
    • Fastest response time
    • Easiest to use
    • Most thorough answer
    • Most accurate answer
  • 34% of service centers say that mutlichannel agents require more training
  • 64% of support analysts don't know when a customer has tried self-service and then opted for a live analyst

Favorite quote: "Happy agents make happy customers."

You need to understand where your customers are, where they will be, and where they should be. There is no point rolling out another channel of support if your customers aren't going to use it. Just because someone else is doing it doesn't necessarily mean that you should be doing it.

As far as offering multichannel support, SysAid advises that you make sure that every channel interaction, no matter which channel, is translated to an incident. It should all be the same process regardless of how the customer contacts your service desk. Phone, chat, email, internal portal, etc - capture the channel that the customer originated from and use the same process for all the different channels.

The Exhibition

The final part of the exhibition took place on Thursday, with everybody in a mad dash to get their hands on our All Essentials bag before they were all gone. They really were a hit and we're already working on swag ideas for future events. We even took suggestions from delegates (mini Joe's were very much desired). You can give us your ideas too.

Help Desk Institute Conference 2014

Pretty sure Patrick Bolger was trying to get some folks drunk so we wouldn’t notice if he walked off with Joe the IT Guy. But we would never let that happen!

People were tweeting us “where are you?” We said to look for the green ties. Little did we know that the trend we started at Pink14 in Vegas revolutionized conference attire, as there were other vendors who adopted the green ties too. Sorry for the mix-up. Next year we will have a big sign, so everyone can find us easily.

Everybody was in love with the fact that we now have patch management integrated within the solution. If you want to hear more about SysAid Patch Management, you should watch this webinar.

We met with more of our wonderful customers – THANK YOU ALL FOR VISITING US - and joining in our effort, initiated by Joe The IT Guy as he explains here, to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the process.

We've already signed up for next year’s event and doubled our booth space to be able to cope with demand.

Until then, here’s where you can find us next:

See you again soon!


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ITSM Magic, No Magician Required

Posted by on April 3, 2014 in ITSM
No magic needed at the Help Desk Institute Conference We're back again in the States, this time in the land of ultimate magic, Orlando, Florida, for the annual HDI Conference. Here’s our first blog from the event, after experiencing a fantastic day and half, so far.

Highlights of Sessions

Roy Atkinson – Step Away from the Computer: Customer Focus in Desktop Support

Roy's session looked at the growing importance of customer experience on the service desk. Customers used to be powerless with no choice but to accept whatever service they received from IT support, but in this day and age that is no longer the case. The most interesting part of the session for me was when Roy shared some recent research conducted by HDI in conjunction with Robert Half Technology. One question that the survey posed was: What do you think are the most important characteristics for someone working in IT? The results were as follows:
  • 88% of respondents stated "a passion for customers"
  • 80% of respondents felt that a "desire to continue to learn new technology" was the most important characteristic
  • 75% said social intelligence
  • 71% stated "a proactive approach to problem solving"
  • A further 71% stated "the ability to collaborate" as an important factor
I must admit I was surprised by some of the responses. For starters, if you're working on a service desk and aren't interested in technology then you might want to consider that you're in the wrong job! That said, it was highly reassuring to find "a passion for customers" come out on top. Customer service is something that we discuss at SysAid on a regular basis: The session led me to think about other questions. Knowing what characteristics you require to staff your IT department is a great starting point, but then, how do you source those people? What do you look for? I asked our own Joseph Zargari who heads up the SysAid Customer Relations department. He said that technical know-how is a given and a must. Experience in working with both internal and external customers is a great plus. Perhaps finding someone from the business operations within the organization can be helpful when moving to the service desk sector of the company. But most importantly, he looks for a friendly individual who is determined to close loose ends, with an open-mindedness to look beyond the typical canned fix and search outside the box. Above all, Joseph abides by a strict “no jerks allowed“ policy! If you're interested in learning more about the customer experience and how it relates to the service desk then I highly recommend following Roy on Twitter, as he really is the ultimate guru.

Matthew Neigh - Social Collaboration in ITSM: The Next Big Thing or the Next Time-Waster?

This was a really fun session to be a part of because it was very interactive. 5% included PowerPoint and the other 95% was questioning the audience and encouraging thought sharing. First of all, Matt asked everyone in the room what they thought social collaboration was. The answers varied:
  • Facebook and other social applications
  • SharePoint and other similar tools
  • Any conversation that takes place online
What was the official answer? Well technically there wasn't one but if we look to Wikipedia, social collaboration is defined as: “processes that help multiple people interact and share information to achieve any common goal. Such processes find their 'natural' environment on the internet, where collaboration and social dissemination of information are made easier by current innovations.” Surprisingly there was a lot of negativity in the room towards social collaboration. Some said it was destructive to achieving goals (because nobody ever agrees and you go round and round in circles trying to make decisions); some said it will never work because of lack of senior management buy-in; some didn't like it because of the lack of control over it; and more. At SysAid, we see social collaboration gaining traction in the Cloud era where SaaS applications are brought into the organization by the business unit more and more, and not the IT. The accumulation of this new knowledge is not part of the IT processes. So this is a great opportunity to start using social collaboration to centralize this knowledge. For example, letting the business users contribute to the FAQs is a great use of social collaboration. Or providing a thumbs-up gesture on an FAQ or a rating of a service provided is something easy to implement and effective in the long-run.

John O'Leary - Ignite Your Life

This was the closing keynote of the day, and it was very inspiring. I won't go into too much detail (you can learn more at www.rising-above.com) but the messages were clear:
  • You have two choices in life. You can choose love or fear. Make the right choice.
  • Whatever is happening right now, remember it's what you do next that counts.
  • Always ask yourself "what more can I do?"
These are 3 serious points applicable to both our business and personal lives. Next time everything seems to be falling down around you - maybe it's a major problem or a very unhappy customer - consider the first two statements and ask yourself that question.

John Custy - Metrics 101: Understanding What to Measure and Where to Use the Metric

I also attended John Custy's session on metrics but it really deserves its own blog, so stay-tuned for that…..after the conference is over.

Overview of the Exhibition

Outside of the event sessions and over in the exhibition area we were all having a blast as per usual! From treasure chests to t-shirts, from air hockey to magicians...there were plenty of inventive ideas across the floor. Our own idea went down like a storm. The exhibition kicked off a day earlier and within the space of an hour we were already nearly out of our All Essentials bags. SysAid All Essentials conference bag People were hunting us down outside of exhibition hours just to get their hands on one. We should have known that anything with Joe the IT Guy's face on it would be hot. At the SysAid booth, instead of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, you can pull some sweet chocolate out of our All Essentials bag! If you want to see magic, come see our demo, where the real magic happens. Please feel free to drop by our booth or schedule a private one-on-one demo at your convenience. It has been an absolute delight to not only meet new ITSM people, but to catch up with some of our customers too. Without them, none of this would be possible. We had some fascinating conversations with a broad range of people, and it was interesting to hear what their issues are (not just with their current tool but in general). I spoke with multiple people who expressed to me that creating a successful service catalog was a key sticking point for them, and so I wanted to share our top tip for creating a service catalogue, which is as follows:

Go and talk to the people on your IT team and ask each person to write down all the services they gave in the past 60 days. Collect the information, group them into categories, and voila this is your service catalogue. We recommend you repeat this activity every 6 months just to be sure that you cover everything (including all changes within the organization), and then amend your service catalogue accordingly.

This is obviously a big topic; we plan to write an article in full on this in the near future. Of course you may have heard about how Joe the IT Guy was disappointed to learn that HDI didn't stand for the Help Ducks Institute and so to make up for it, we decided to raise some money for a good cause. So far we've had close to 100 people take their photo with Joe so that's a $200 donation to the World Wildlife Fund to date. Hopefully we can raise much more as there are thousands of people in attendance at the event. People here seem a lot shyer than they did at the Pink Elephant event for some reason. There’s still time….please drop by our booth. Looking forward to more sessions, more conversations, and loads more fun!
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IT Benchmarks: Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Service Desk
IT Benchmarks: Customer Satisfaction Surveys Following on from my last IT Benchmark blog on Knowledge Management and Reuse, this time around we are going to look at Customer Satisfaction Surveys and how to encourage responses.

The Benchmark

The average response to Quick Surveys (upon closing tickets) is 8.67%. Service Desk satisfaction surveys This figure is alarmingly low, and there are many opinions as to why that is, but it effectively comes down to:
  • Surveys are too complicated or long
  • People tend not to respond when service was average – only the really happy end users or the really unhappy end users will probably take the time to complete a feedback survey
  • People feel as though their survey responses disappear into a black hole

The Advice

My advice for encouraging users to respond to Quick Surveys is:
  • Ensure that it is always easy for your end users to provide feedback. Even if you only opt for the most simplistic method of eliciting feedback – sad face or happy face!
  • Ask questions about the experience they had, not what you did – otherwise you know the mechanics were right, but does that necessarily mean that the end user was happy?
  • Communicate to your end users that you want to hear their feedback and that you are listening (and you need to show them that you listened by acting on the feedback they give you)
  • Share your Quick Survey response details with your end users:
    • Highlight percentage of responses and service satisfaction
    • If your service satisfaction responses are poor, highlight how you aim to improve your level of response and encourage end users to continue to provide feedback
  • Consider sending out a monthly update that states ‘this is the feedback that we received’ and ‘this is how we acted upon it’
Ultimately, the answer is that if end users knew that their time investment would help employees or the company improve its service to them, they’d be more cooperative and engaged, and thus you’d receive a higher number of responses to your Quick Surveys. Do you know what your response rate to Quick Surveys is? Do you even send out Quick Surveys? If yes, do you act on the feedback or does it somehow end up being ignored? Please share with us in the comments section below. This is the last blog from me on IT Benchmarks and advice for now, but please let me know if there are any specific benchmarks that you are interested in seeing or areas you are looking for advice in. I’d be more than happy to continue this series on the request of a reader.
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What Is Change Management For?

Posted by on March 26, 2014 in ITIL
Change management doesn't have to be slow Whenever I look at the tools, processes and metrics that IT organizations implement for their change management processes I see a huge difference between what I think change management is for and what they appear to value. When I think about change management, I see two distinct purposes:
  1. To facilitate the rate of IT change that the business needs
  2. To protect the business from the adverse impact of IT changes
These two purposes are equally important, and if change management doesn’t do a great job of both of them then it really isn’t being very effective. Most IT departments I work with focus almost exclusively on risk management (protecting the business from adverse impact of change), often causing the speed of change to be so low that it leads to customer dissatisfaction.
So, here’s an exercise for you. Have a look at your change management metrics and mark each one a) or b), or both. I suspect that the vast majority of your metrics relate to risk reduction (b) rather than to rate of change (a). Another similar exercise you can do is to review the activities in your change management process flow and assign each of those to one of these purposes. You are likely to find the same issue. Many IT organizations have change management that is so bureaucratic and slow that it becomes unpopular with the business. Part of the reason for this is that they haven’t gone to their customers and asked in a straightforward way for the business to give them guidance on how to prioritise the two purposes of change management. If they did so then I’m pretty sure they’d be surprised at the result. If you decide that you want to change the balance of your change management then here are some things you can do about it?
  1. Talk to your customers. Understand their priorities. Make sure they understand you have to balance speed of change against risk, but that this is business risk and they have to accept responsibility for it. Then agree on how you are going to prioritise these in the future. You may find that these priorities are different for different services, or for different business units. This is perfectly acceptable, but you may need to modify your processes to support this difference.
  2. Talk to the people who request changes. This may be developers, project teams, business managers or something completely different in your organization. Make sure you understand their drivers and priorities, and how you can help them to succeed. See if you can work together to improve the overall flow, rather than working with conflicting processes. One of my customers actually appointed a single process owner for both the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and IT change and release management. Execution of these processes remained separate, but the tools, activities and metrics were integrated and harmonized across the entire service lifecycle.
  3. Learn about Agile and Devops, speak to practitioners of these approaches and see if you can adopt any of the ideas into how you work. I’m not suggesting that you should completely tear up and throw away what you are doing, but simply that you should see if you can adopt parts of some alternative practices that are working very well for other IT organizations.
  4. Review your change management process activities to see if you can simplify them. You can often greatly speed up change by reducing the number of people who have to approve each change, but make the remaining change approvers accountable for the success of their changes.
  5. Review your change management metrics. Make sure you have an appropriate balance between risk management metrics and speed of change metrics, and then start tracking these.
In the end you only have to achieve two things with change management, you can throw away all the CABs, RFCs, tools and activities if you can just guarantee to support the rate of change that your customers want while protecting them from the adverse impact of change. My challenge to you is to dare to change how you work so that you can delight your customers. If your customers think of change management as that great process that helps them to achieve their business goals then you’ve done a good job, if they think of it as that bureaucracy that makes it impossible for them to be agile then you’ve still got a long way to go. Image credit

Like this article? You may also like: Defining Metrics for Change Management.

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6 Steps to Successfully Migrate Your Organization to Cloud

Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Cloud
Migrating to the Cloud Last week I posted a blog looking at the first 3 essentials steps that you need to take to ensure a successful migration to the cloud. We looked at how to:
  • Map your current environment
  • Consider candidates for migration
  • Search for cloud vendors
Today’s blog post will look at the final 3 steps required to build a workable 6-step plan to guide you through your cloud migration.

Step 4: Setup and Data Migration

Data transfer and validations are very critical to look at during this step; you may encounter issues with time zones, different features, etc. Make sure you conduct a test data transfer and set up a test environment before you attempt the actual migration. Another important aspect to consider is your bandwidth for uploading. You may have excellent download speeds, but it is important to remember that upload speeds and download speeds are not the same thing. We've seen small 200 GB database of emails take several hours to upload, so it is very important to estimate the downtime associated with your data migration. Sometimes it can take hours, and sometimes it can even take several days. To estimate this effectively you need to check what your average upload speeds are. Also, you need to make sure that your internet (which is a crucial part of accessing cloud services) is redundant, whether it’s two lines, hardware that takes care of it, or a back-up plan/line. You need to ensure that you don’t get stuck with your services and applications being in the cloud with you not being able to access them because of internet redundancy.

Step 5: Getting Ready, Training

This step is relevant in any project, not just for migrating to the cloud. You need to:
  • Expect resistance from the business
  • Set expectations – Ensure that the business knows what is happening, how it will affect them, what potential downtimes there might be during the actual migration, etc.
  • Identify key users and encourage them – Get them involved in the project from the start and listen to their feedback. Make sure they know that the knowledge they can share with you during the test period is extremely valuable, and could make all the difference as to whether the actual migration is successful or not. It’s also worth mentioning that some of your users may already have experience of cloud services such as salesforce.com or Google Apps (from a previous job); identify these people and work with them throughout the migration. Experienced users may have helpful tips that they can share with you.
  • Get all of management on board (at high- and mid-level) – You don’t want anybody in management complaining at any point during or after the migration, because other employees will follow their lead. Get them all in a room, set their expectations, explain new features, and give them training. Make sure that everybody is on the same page and ask them to be patient and to openly show their support to the project.
  • Revise your policies, working procedures – Ensure that everything is ready for the new work environment.

Step 6: Go Live

The time has finally arrived to officially conduct your migration to the cloud. I now suggest that you:
  • Switch your Service Desk to “War Room” mode – Prepare for a higher than normal volume of calls/requests. No matter how well you attempted to get the business ready for the migration, there will always be people with questions/issues as soon as you go live.
  • Staff your team with relevant experts – If you've been working with a partner, ensure that they are onsite when you go live to help with you any issues.
  • Monitor usage, interfaces, data migration – It’s easy to become distracted by focusing solely on your users when you go live, but you must remember to keep an eye on your systems too. Check that emails are coming in, check that transactions are going through, check the logs of your interfaces to ensure that they are working.
  • Make sure your previous service is not accessible (read-only) – This is super important, otherwise you risk going live and seeing that everybody in the business is happy and things are working perfectly, only then to discover that’s because half of your users are still using the old system.
  • Hold status meetings – On the first day these should be held every one-two hours, over time they can be dropped to daily, and then they will only be required weekly. Ensure that your team is all on the same page at all times.
  • Expect surprises – No matter how hard you've worked or how well you've followed these steps, there is always going to be the chance that you have missed something small. For example, during an email service migration project, when migrating your email accounts, there may be generic emails set up (e.g. jobs@xxx.com) that slipped through the net, that you were not aware were still in use, and so were not migrated. IT teams are only human, small mistakes can happen - the important thing is to fix them as soon as you are made aware of them.
And there you have it, the 6 key steps to a successful cloud migration. Are you considering a move to the cloud? Have these blogs helped? Or if you've already migrated to the cloud, did you follow a similar process? If yes, how did it work for you? If no, what did you differently? We’d love to hear any feedback that you may have, so please do get in touch.
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ITILandMe Does It SysAid Style

Posted by on March 17, 2014 in SysAid
Michael Slabodnick – ITIL and Me Today is a milestone day for SysAid – it is the 1st day of employment for our 1st USA-based employee! We could not be more thrilled to welcome Michael Slabodnick to the SysAid family. In order to introduce him to everyone inside the company as well as our extended SysAid Community, we asked him a few questions…to get to know him. Take a look:
1. What is your background in the IT industry? How many years? Where have you worked? I could say I’ve worked in IT for about twelve years, but in reality I’ve been working on computers since I was five. To try and not give too boring of an answer, I took on programming in high school because I thought computers could get me a date. I was wrong, but at least it set me up for a nice career. Eventually I landed as an intern on a helpdesk in college to help pay for beer money and that kept me in IT support for the next five years. Eventually I got to the point of hating computers and attempted to join the ranks of the highly depressed dental field. Lucky, I didn’t get into dental school and came back to IT where, by chance, I landed a job titled “Incident Coordinator” at a hospital. I really had no idea what I was doing at the time, but people told me I did a good job and eventually I ran into ITIL and IT Service Management (ITSM). As soon as I took my first ITIL foundation course, I knew that this was it; this highly boring and tedious framework would be my career. I continued my ITSM career into tool development and was able to gain name recognition for building a gaming system into IT service desk software. After riding that wave for a while, I moved into professional services and joined the ranks of the consultants. Consulting is a great way to gain experience, but I really enjoyed blogging and networking in the IT industry. It’s the networking that brought me to SysAid in the summer of 2013, where I got a chance to meet some very smart people working in a very cool company. It was that meeting that eventually led me to here. 2. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry? Most: The people. Least: The people. I love technology and the capabilities it provides, but the people who build it, implement it, and ultimately use it to help others create the value. Of course, during the life of any technology there are people out there that are resistant to new ideas and change, and it’s this group which can make or break any new technology or method. 3. Tell us a little about your blog and Twitter persona @itilandme. I started down my ITIL journey around the end of 2008. After drinking the Kool-Aid and becoming one of the zealots of ITIL, I needed a place to vent out frustrations, vet new ideas, share knowledge, and generally find a “home” for my IT Service Management content. I came up with ITILandMe name because, honestly, “The IT Skeptic” was already taken. Besides, I wanted to blog from my personal point of view and with my own opinions; something I feel few of us do as professionals. So I came up with a name that symbolizes my personal love/hate relationship with ITIL and puts in perspective that I’m just an “average joe” trying to make a buck in the IT Service Management industry. With hindsight being 20/20, I wish I would’ve gone with “ITSMandMe,” but until someone invents the flux-capacitor for timetravel, I’m stuck with the original name. 4. What’s your level of involvement in the itSMF network? Currently, I’m pretty quiet with itSMF. A few years ago I dove headfirst into itSMF, first supporting my local chapter here in Ohio, and then by chance being pulled into the social media committee for the USA chapter. If you can recall any funny tweets from itSMF_USA around 2011, that was me. Unfortunately, a day is only 24 hours long and with kids and a busy work life, itSMF lost out with my time and I’ve abandoned it like an unwanted stepchild. It’s not to say that it’s not a worthwhile organization; I highly recommend people starting with itSMF for the networking and getting a feel for IT Service Management, but it could use an overhaul and I want to jump back into it sometime in the near future. 5. What is the new position you are taking on at SysAid? Officially, it’s that of “Customer Community Manager.” Any successful business knows that a key to continuing growth is to build a strong community, both for keeping current customers happy and to have advocates in the industry that can attest to the value provided by a product or service. It’s here that I’ll be able to interact with existing SysAid clients, blog about the industry and the product, and get a chance to network with the community and to help it grow. 6. What would you like to accomplish in the first 30/60/90 days on the job? I can say for the first 30 days, I’ll be learning everything about SysAid, both as a technology and as a community. By 60 days, I hope to be enmeshed into the day-to-day community activities and will be at a point that most users will know me and trust my knowledge. By 90 days, I really want to be focusing on growing participation in the community. To me, the ultimate goal of a community is to support itself, so if I can get participants excited and contributing material, then I know I’m on the right track. 7. Will you be based out of SysAid’s office in Israel? I wish! I’ll be based in North America in Columbus, Ohio (go Buckeyes). The great thing is I have family in Israel and have visited a few times, so a trip to the Israel office feels more like a homecoming than an office visit. Unfortunately, I’ll be missing out on the Thursday happy hours in the office. I’m considering joining on Google Hangouts, but I’m not sure if drinking a beer at 10 AM is a good thing. But…it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? 8. Besides ITSM, what are you passionate about? Do you have any hobbies? Besides science and technology, I’m also passionate about history and games. Whenever I have free time, which isn’t often, I’ll either be playing Call of Duty on my Wii U, watching a historical documentary, or reading a book on some historical event. If money were no object and I could choose any career, it would be that of an archeologist, which probably explains why I’m excited to work for a company in Israel – no other country in the world has as much history. 9. What was the last book you’ve read for fun? Heights of Courage by Avigdor Kahalani. My father-in-law fought as a paratrooper in the ’73 Yom Kippur War, so I’m fascinated by any book or documentary detailing the battles fought at the time. 10. What is your favorite website? www.itilandme.com. How could I not promote myself? Putting aside my ego for a minute, I have two favorite websites. For technology, I love www.tomshardware.com. I’ve been reading articles from that website since I was 15. For laughs, I love www.epicrapbattlesofhistory.com. The Epic Rap Battles produced are simply hilarious, and often they have a pretty good tune.

ITIL and Me Joins SysAid

Quite an interesting guy, isn’t he? Please join me in providing a warm welcome for Michael, who will be making a huge impact on our vibrant Community. He can be reached of course on Twitter at @itilandme, or email him at michael.slabodnick@sysaid.com.

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