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What the Donald Duck Are You Measuring THAT For?

Posted by on March 12, 2014 in General IT
Meet SysAid at Help Desk Institute Conference At the end of March we'll be heading to Orlando, the home of Disney World for the HDI Annual Conference (HDI 2014) taking place 1-4 April. There's lots of things for us, and you, to get excited about when it comes to this event but there is one thing in particular that I'm personally really looking forward to, and that's the "metrics and measurements" track. For all of you reading this who are familiar with SysAid, you'll know that this is a topic that we hold very close to our hearts. As far as we are aware, we are the only ITSM tools vendor who provides customer-generated performance benchmarks as part of its solution. For us, our IT benchmarking module is just as important as any of the standard service desk features. Benchmarking allows you to understand where you sit in the industry and how you compare to your peers. More importantly it provides you with critical information to be able to make informed business decisions and improve your IT performance.

How Can Benchmarking Help Me?

By creating and gathering your own benchmark data, or by using the benchmarking module within SysAid, you can see where your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to your IT operations.
  • How many incidents have been handled per by hour?
  • How many tickets have been closed in the past 24 hours?
  • What is your average response time to a service request?
  • How many of your users are utilizing the knowledge base?
  • How many ticket categories are being utilized by your end users?
You can find more information about the SysAid IT Benchmarks here.

What Do I Do With This Information?

You must remember that it's not the measurements themselves, but what you do with them that's important. All of this data is of no benefit to you and your organization unless you analyze it, draw conclusions, and make recommendations based on it. You can refer to my earlier blogs on the topic for specific tips and advice on how to improve service using benchmark data:

At the Event

If you are attending HDI 2014, please come and see us! I'll be at the SysAid booth and would be delighted to help you with any of your queries about benchmarks and metrics, regardless of whether you're a customer, potential customer, or not interested in our ITSM tool at all! If you'd like to pre-book a 1:1 with us, just let us know. We'll also have the delightful Joe the IT Guy in attendance with us, and as always he will be posing for photos. Plus, just like at PINK14, we'll be handing out our free All Essentials bags full of everything you could possibly need to get you through a four day conference (we're talking water, granola bars, etc.). I also highly recommend checking out the stream of content on metrics and measurement: I can't stress enough how much of a critical activity benchmarking and metrics are to the business. In the words of HDI "this information can help you make the proper decisions and take the appropriate actions for continuous improvement". It is therefore incredibly important that you know what to measure and how to utilize measurement reports to better your business.

A Shout Out to Our Wonderful Customers

If you're already a SysAid customer and are planning to attend HDI 2014 please get in touch. Not only do we have a special gift for you, but we'd love to catch up with you, grab a drink and/or have dinner. Any customers attending will be given top priority over any of our sales activities. Without you, we don't exist.

Join In the Conversation

You can keep track of the HDI 2014 conference by following the #HDIConf14 hashtag on Twitter. I want to stress here how valuable these Twitter streams are, specifically if you cannot attend the event in person. Tips and advice are shared on Twitter throughout the day so that you can still benefit from the conference even if you're sitting in the office. It also goes without saying that we'll be sharing all of our photographs from the event on our Facebook page, showcasing to the world just how much fun there is to be had with SysAid. Here's to another great event! Image credit
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What Are the First 3 Steps You Need to Take to Successfully Migrate Your Organization to Cloud?

Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Cloud
Migrating your service desk to the Cloud You can’t escape the fact that IT systems – both software and hardware – tend to get out of date and require high maintenance costs very fast. You can invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a large project and just three years later you will have to re-invest the same amount over again. This makes migrating to the cloud a very important option to consider. In most cases, migrating to the cloud opens a whole new set of services – like DRP, backups, better security, regulations and certifications and more – and ensures that you are always up to date without re-investing all that time and money. So it makes sense that many of you would be considering making the move to cloud, but where do you start? To help you with this question, I have mapped out the 6 key steps that you need to take when migrating to the cloud and this blog post will review the first 3.

Step 1: Map Current Environment

This is toughest of the six steps, and unfortunately there are no shortcuts. Some of the things that you need to look at are:
  • Business users – Who are they?
  • License costs / plan – Do you understand them? You must check what you already have in place and what your budgets are. Are your licenses on subscription or are they lifetime licenses?
  • R&D development / Maintenance costs –Are the costs internal? Are they outsourced? Are they as part of a service?
  • Integrations / Interfaces – Are you aware of all the places that your systems connect, integrate, and interface with other systems and other services (whether inside or outside of your organization)? This is something that you do no want to discover post-migration.
  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) ­­–Make sure that you understand what your current SLAs are. You need to use these to estimate what SLAs you will need in the future.
  • Risks – Do you know what your current risks are? Many people associate higher risks with moving to the cloud, but unless you have annual audits you may potentially not understand how high your current risks are. Find out what risks you are already exposed to and determine how you can overcome these in your move to the cloud.
Other things that you will need to ensure that you look at in your current environments are: customizations, actual costs, compliance, documentation, spaghetti application architectures, growth plans, and DRP.

Step 2: Candidates for Migration

After you’ve mapped your current environment you need to find candidates for migration among those services that you have already mapped, e.g. your finance software, your CRM, your email services, or perhaps even your hardware. You must then evaluate the complexity of the migration, and not just the change itself, you need to consider your users as well:
  • How will your users cope with the change?
  • Will your users be able to grasp and work with the new technology?
Other internal considerations are:
  • Hardware upgrades / software renewals
  • Timing
  • Team and knowledge
  • Future plans
Remember to make your selection for migration wisely, if your migration fails it is unlikely that you will get a second chance to migrate other services.

Step 3: Search for Cloud Vendors

Once you have decided upon what you are going to migrate and in what order, it’s time to determine which vendor you are going to work with. Some of the things that you need to consider when selecting a vendor are:
  • Track record – Has the vendor been successful with other customers?
  • Commitment – Does the vendor provide the option to switch to another provider if something goes wrong, or if something changes within your organization?
  • Data security – Check with your internal security officer that the vendor you are considering complies with standard security policies, and can comply with any security demands that your company may have .
  • Backups – It’s the vendors’ responsibility to provide contingency of the data, but you may also decide that you personally want to hold a back up (or outsource the secondary back up to another supplier). If this is the case you need to ensure that the vendor you are considering will allow it.
  • Scaling – Define your current and future needs. Ensure that when you enter negotiations with a vendor that they fully understand all of your requirements (and make sure that you know all the individual costs associated with them meeting your requirements).
You’ll also need to look at things such as: data transfer (the migration process); vendor data storage plans and locations; service level agreements (including upgrade and maintenance schedules). And always remember to check things with a lawyer when it comes to specific policies and the overall proposed agreement. You may also want to consider working with local partners. It can be highly beneficial to work with somebody who has already been through the process.

The Next 3 Steps

Now that I’ve talked you through the first 3 steps what are your thoughts? Do you have any questions about any particular steps? Are the steps as you expected? Please post any questions in the comment sections and I will gladly answer them. Next week I will publish the second half of this blog with the final 3 steps and tips, which are:
  • Setup and data migration
  • Getting ready, training
  • Go live
Make sure you check back next week, to ensure that you have all 6 essential steps to ensure a successful migration to the cloud.
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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IT Benchmarks: Knowledge Management and Reuse

Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Service Desk
IT Benchmarks: Knowledge Management and Reuse Following on from my last IT Benchmark blog on Incident Classification Categories, this time around we are going to look at Knowledge Management and Reuse with statistics, benefits, and advice on how to implement a Knowledge Base.

The Benchmark

On average:
  • Amongst small IT departments with up to 3 admins, only 37% of them utilize an end-user Knowledge Base
  • For 4-10 admins, it’s 44%
  • 11-20 admins, it’s 57%
  • 21 and above admins, its 50%
Knowledge Management Utilization An effective Knowledge Base has multiple benefits, including but not limited to:
  • It helps the end user get up and running more quickly (and it saves time and costs too)
  • It helps new admins become effective more quickly
  • Consistency – it provides consistent information to employees in one centralized location
  • 24x7 access – it is available at any time and anywhere online for members to use at their convenience
  • Secure connection – end users can get answers securely online, unlike via email and telephone
However, it is of no use spending the time and resources setting up a Knowledge Base if you aren’t going to effectively communicate it to the business, ensure that it remains updated, and encourage your end users to use it. Implementing an end-user Knowledge Base of Frequently Asked Questions to help make you users self-sufficient is a win-win situation. You empower your users by enabling them to troubleshoot their own issues, and you also cut down on the number of incidents received to the helpdesk.

The Advice

My advice for setting up an end-user Knowledge Base would be:
  • Review past tickets to determine common, reoccurring issues and ensure that these are answered in your Knowledge Base (as an added benefit this might also highlight the need for any end-user training)
  • Implement ‘auto-suggest’ to populate pre-defined solutions as end users type in their request
  • Include a rating system for each answer to allow end users to give feedback on how helpful a pre-defined response was
  • Remember that Knowledge can be delivered in different formats - you don’t necessarily have to write up text responses for each query; you can point to other webpages (e.g. Apple if the query relates to an Apple Device issue), or make use of videos
  • Determine a way to drive and reward system administrators to capture knowledge and add it to the Knowledge Base, e.g. by using performance metrics and celebrating successes
Questions you should ask yourself if you have already implemented a Knowledge Base are:
  • Are admins using it?
  • Can your end users use it for self-help?
  • Is it making a difference?
  • Is good knowledge highlighted?
  • Are poor knowledge articles flagged for review?
If you don’t have a Knowledge Base, why? Please share with us all of your answers/feedback. In my opinion the benefits to a Knowledge Base far outweigh any potential causes for concern (initial resource, time, etc.) but it would be interesting to hear from you all on your opinions. My next IT Benchmark blog will be on Customer Satisfaction Surveys and how to encourage responses, so check back soon!
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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Continual Service Improvement (CSI) – The Most Important Service Management Process

Posted by on February 25, 2014 in ITIL
Continual Service Improvement in ITSM Sometimes people ask me which service management process they should implement first, or which process is the most important. They probably expect me to give the typical consultant’s answer of "it depends", but I don’t because there is one clear and obvious answer. Every IT organization that wants to implement service management should start with continual service improvement (CSI). (Yes, CSI doesn't always mean Crime Scene Investigation!) I’ve never come across an IT organization that does nothing at all to manage their IT services. They all manage incidents, changes and releases, and they all monitor the infrastructure and design new solutions to meet business needs. I have carried out ITSM assessments for organizations that insist they have no capacity management or availability management, and discovered that technical staff are actually doing most of the required work, they just haven’t formalized the process and they don’t measure and report what they are doing.
What do you think would happen if you attempt to “implement” a process such as problem management or availability management without first really understanding what work is currently being done, what outputs it is creating, how effective it is, and what resources it is using? The most likely outcome is that you would design a process that conflicts with existing activities, that people won’t accept the new process, and that the overall effect will be to reduce service quality rather than improve it. Many people think that implementing continual service improvement involves lots of bureaucracy and extra work, but it can actually be done as a very light-touch process, with lots of value and little additional work. Here are the key things that you need to do:
  • Create a continual improvement register. This can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet. It enables you to capture all the suggestions that people come up with so that you can compare the costs and benefits and pick the improvements that offer the best ROI. The continual improvement register also enables you to track the status of outstanding improvement actions, to ensure they make progress.
  • Review what reports you are creating. Make sure that these reports are useful to the people you deliver them to. Often you can save time and cost by eliminating reports that aren’t creating value, and this will also generate goodwill among technical staff who don’t like creating reports that nobody uses. Then you can define the new or updated reports you really need to understand how well your processes, services and technology are working.
  • Make sure you are measuring the things that matter to you. Since you have already defined what reporting you need, it should be fairly easy to identify what needs to be measured.
  • Carry out regular assessments of your services, processes and technology. You could do this yourself or you could get external consultants to help you, but make sure the output includes benchmarks against industry norms and best practices that you can use to help identify improvement opportunities.
These simple steps will provide the framework you need to continually improve everything you do as an IT organization. By measuring and reporting the things that matter and carrying out regular assessments you will identify the improvements you need, and by managing your improvement register you will ensure that these improvements are correctly prioritised and that the ones you decide to implement are managed to completion. It is really easy to start, and the benefits can be enormous. At first you may not notice the impact, but as CSI becomes embedded in your culture the IT organization will become more efficient, more effective and will deliver higher quality services to your customers. I worked with one organization that implemented CSI and some years later the parent company asked outsourcing companies for proposals to take over from their in-house IT. After they had selected a preferred bidder, the chosen outsourcer reviewed the existing IT organization and withdrew, because they couldn’t improve on the efficiencies that were already being achieved. If you want to be a world-class IT organization then start implementing CSI now, you will reap the benefits for many years to come. Image credit

Like this article? You may also like: What’s the Point of Configuration Management?.

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The Power of People at Pink 14

Posted by on February 20, 2014 in ITSM
The PINK ITSM Conference was all about the people On the third day at Pink14 I was fortunate to have a much better opportunity to chat with delegates and attend more sessions, which gave me great insight into some of the challenges and struggles attendees are currently dealing with. One theme that seemed to keep appearing was that no matter what the specific problem was that someone was dealing with, the stumbling block was people. This was heard throughout the presentations too, that ITSM is becoming less and less about tools and processes and increasingly more about the people.
Another reoccurring theme that kept popping up from practitioners was that they knew what they needed to do to be successful in ITSM, they knew what they needed to change, but that they can't get management interested. Unfortunately we see this a lot across the industry; it's easy for us to assume that problems stem from the IT department not knowing what to do on specific projects, but in a large number of cases it's not a matter of what they know or don’t know that is the problem. It is understandably difficult to get management to buy-in, specifically when no relationship really exists between the management and IT teams, and unfortunately there is no holy grail answer to this. However at SysAid we recommend that you start with transparency. Set up and hold weekly meetings with management for sharing and reporting your deliverables. If management doesn’t know what you're doing they’re likely to be less interested when you approach them about anything you're working on. This will give you a great opportunity to not only show what you're doing NOW and the effects your work is having on the business, but also to outline what you COULD do with changes, and the increased benefits that those changes would have on the business. If IT can show its ROI to management, then this helps. IT needs to speak in the business language. Another hot topic of the day was service catalogue. In a session by David Cannon, VP, Consulting Director at Forrester Research, he stated that 30% of ITSM organizations don't have a service catalogue, which leads to me wonder how many of the other 70% are actually USING their service catalogue? At SysAid we highly recommend that everybody set up a service catalogue, because without one:
  • You're highly likely to have IT teams doing things they are not meant to do
  • You increase the likelihood of conflicts and arguments with your end users regarding the service you give or not give, and the associated SLAs with them
We see the primary benefits to having a service catalogue as:
  • Creating transparency between IT and the business
  • Having mutually agreed expectations
  • Providing focus and structure; it helps define the connection between the services you give and the processes behind these services
Our top tip for creating a service catalogue is to 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. In a session by Jack Probst, Principal Consultant at Pink Elephant, he recommended a few example service catalogues to look at including: There are plenty of other resources online discussing service catalogues too, such as this one from the IT Skeptic, or Barclay Rae’s paper on the subject. And of course if you have any questions or need help creating your service catalogue, please just let us know we'd be more than happy to help! Another question that came up in a session that appeared to cause confusion amongst delegates was: How should you approach root cause investigation? Again there are plenty of resources online to help you better understand processes around root cause investigations, but our recommendation is to:
  1. Collect all current known open issues suspected to be related to the problem.
  2. Analyze the problem based on time, location, and setting:
    • What happened just before the problem occurred, and what happened right after?
    • When does it happen - what time of day?
    • Consider environmental factors – is it very cold or very hot?
  3. Research previously resolved issues that are related to the problem.
  4. Search external sources that may have ran into the problem and resolved it.
Finally, back on the topic of people, there were questions raised about what characteristics make great service desk professionals, given that hiring the right people is key to success. There was a wide range of answers, and really there is no right or wrong answer and only opinions, so here is ours - we believe the following characteristics are needed by ITSM professionals:
  • They need to be service-oriented
  • Should be a "Techie" – updated in the world of technology
  • Someone who can handle operations
  • Have the ability to communicate both with service providers and the service consumers (end users)
  • Have the ability to listen!
What do you think? Overall it was another great day at Pink, not least at our booth where the fun of Sunday and Monday continued! Joe the IT Guy continued to be the superstar that he is, with other vendors clambering to be photographed with our resident IT celebrity. In between all the kisses and cuddles from the ladies at the event he was busy making lots of new connections for his vendor interview series, that has already kicked off with features from Hornbill and Microsoft. We hope we made a great impression at our first exhibition on US soil. As far as we could tell people liked us (if bumping into people in the lifts for them to say "oh you're the fun guys" is anything to go by), and we really loved all the amazing people we met. A shout out too to some of our incredible customers who dropped by to catch up and pick up their SysAid portable mobile charger. You really should check out the photos on our Facebook page to see just how much fun we had. If you didn't attend Pink I highly recommend looking up the Twitter stream for #Pink14 and keeping an eye out for other write ups. There were some real gems of information at the event, not just from the sessions, but to be perfectly honest from the discussions in the bar! If you're fortunate enough to be able to get to any event like Pink, my primary recommendation would be when you get there find out which bar people are gathering at in the evening. The networking at these events is invaluable, and often what you learn in that relaxed atmosphere at the bar with your peers is ten times more useful than anything you can learn in the actual presentations. If you're thinking of attending an ITSM event in the near future, we highly recommend checking out HDI, 1-4 April in Orlando (there’s a charge to attend) and/or SITS, 29-30 April in London (free to attend). Oh and if you do decide to go to either of these please let us know, our team will be there providing the fun at both events! Again if you have any questions about any of the topics discussed here, or events in general please get in touch. We'd love to help you. Finally, I just want to take the opportunity to thank Pink Elephant for having us involved in their event. We learnt a lot, met amazing people, and all in all had a fun packed few days in Vegas. We hope to see them again in 2015!
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Day 2 for SysAid at Pink14 Conference and Exhibition

Posted by on February 18, 2014 in ITSM
Day 2 at PINK IT service management conference Monday, Feb 17th – Steady streams of visitors to the SysAid booth continued on the 2nd day of Pink14. What a thrill to get such fantastic feedback, not only on what we offer as an IT service desk tool, but also in regards to our physical booth. Several exhibitors even approached to take pictures of our booth and ask for details on our booth designer…for that, we’re honored and thankful to our internal art department and Quadrant2Design. Additionally, keeping with the IT superhero theme of the conference, a big shout-out must go to our lovable Joe The IT Guy who is indeed our special IT hero. The kissing and hugging and photo-shoots with Joe don’t seem to be slowing down…maybe he’ll even get a billboard in Las Vegas before this is all over :).

Session Highlights

Lucky for me, I was able to move away from the booth for a few hours and attend some incredible sessions. I’d like to mention a bit of what I saw: The opening keynote with Colonel Chris Hadfield was extraordinarily inspiring. There wasn't a dry eye in the house for his presentation. Besides being a famous and accomplished astronaut, he is also a skilled and funny presenter, with a wonderful singing voice too – this I learned from his rendition of “Ground Control to Major Tom” at the end of his presentation. Stories from The Colonel’s life conveyed messages important to the IT service management industry; his advice really resonated with the audience. Peter Hepworth, CEO at AXELOS, came on the stage right after the keynote. Although it might have been difficult for him to follow a singing astronaut, he managed to grab our attention with a few announcements, one being the appointment of Kaimar Karu as the new ITIL Director. Upon hearing this, SysAid’s VP Product Oded Moshe, asked me to pass this message on: “I would like to personally congratulate Kaimar who is definitely the right person at the right time for the job. I had the pleasure to spend some quality time with Kaimar in Estonia during the great itSMF Estonia event he put together, and I am sure that his experience and knowledge, combined with his energy and passion will bring great value to us all!” Another big announcement was about the launch of Cyber Security as an addition to the best practice portfolio. This just proves that ITIL is always adapting itself to the ever-changing world we live in. We’re excited that our dear friend Stuart Rance will be heading up the publication side of said Cyber Security. Congrats, Stuart! Peter came back later in the day with Frances Scarf, Product Development Director, to present the AXELOS session Putting the Community At The Heart Of ITIL. They reviewed some global research they had done on ITIL. For example, they found that a whopping 81% of CIOs surveyed said that ITIL is very or exceedingly valuable to them. Good to know! They also talked about AXELOS launching a new partner network, adding that they will be releasing more information about it in the coming weeks. SysAid, by the way, is lined up to talk to them about being involved in this program. The session called Slow IT: Meet in the Middle by Rob England (aka @theitskeptic) was another highlight for me. Rob was very clear in his message to businesses – that they can't have everything all at once, and they need to reset their expectations. Businesses can't expect service from IT like we get from places like the Apple Store. It's a very touchy subject, 50% agree and 50% really disagree. Personally I think we have to be more realistic about the service we want from IT, but at the same time I do think that IT needs to realize it's a changing world and they have to adapt. In regards to Slow IT, we should probably always look at the value that the technology brings to the business, including ROI (return on investment) and TCI (total cost of ownership) and not the narrow view of staying updated with the latest technology. You can read more about Slow IT in Rob’s blog.

Q&A

During the sessions, several questions came up and I thought it’d be interesting to crowdsource the answers with SysAid experts, so here we go: What makes a good leader? True followers. How can IT make the business understand that IT can't do everything all at once and as soon as they want it? IT can do anything the business wants, but it comes at a cost. So, for a price, everything is possible. The key is prioritizing and then the business can decide on what they want to invest in. Everything all at once is not the way. Everyone in the business needs to agree on the priorities! SLA defines all of this of course, so a main issue is to publish the SLA. How to approach the communication barrier between IT and business?
  • Defining a service catalogue is the way to begin. It needs to be agreed upon with the business.
  • Be transparent – e.g. show a ticket’s status, what’s holding it up, etc
  • Consider sharing costs of service
  • Don’t use “high-end” words to the wrong people; use terminology that the business understands
Should IT provide service as good as the Apple model or is it unrealistic? It depends. In some ways IT can provide Apple-like services – the courtesy, the smile, the willingness to help. But we have to understand that part of Apple’s core value is their service and it has a cost…why do you think their products are so pricey? In the competitive business world we live in today, it’s unrealistic for internal IT service departments to get enough resources to live up to the model Apple provides. They need to be creative and try. IT budgets are measured and benchmarked against a percent of a business’ revenue, which varies per industry. So bottom line: budgets are limited and you have to do the best you can with the existing resources. What would be your answers to these questions?
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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Day 1 for SysAid at Pink14 Conference and Exhibition

Posted by on February 17, 2014 in ITSM
PINK14 ITSM Conference and Exhibition Sunday, Feb. 16th – Along with my Dream Team, wake-up time was early, Yes, we’re in Las Vegas but I didn’t really care what everyone was doing the night before because we are first-time exhibitors at the Pink Elephant show and I wanted to be sure that we would be 100% ready when the exhibition doors opened at 5:00 pm. Needless to say, we were more than ready, and absolutely amazed by the throngs of people passing through the aisles and by the positive and enthusiastic reaction to our booth/presence at PINK14.
The SysAid booth was bursting with people eager to know more about us and wanting to take photos with the famous Joe The IT Guy. Check out some of the photos on our Facebook album. I was surprised to hear so many people tell me that they have no idea about our customer numbers, specifically in the USA (where 40% of our customers reside). I was also surprised by the number of people who said they have no ITSM tool at all and manage everything manually or via an in-house built-in tool. A lot of people said the reason is cost. The truth is managing service is all about the process, so with a good process you can probably even manage a service without a tool. Last year we encountered a customer who was providing excellent service and did not use any tool at all. They had three different sheets of paper in different colors, representing the priority of the case, and they managed just fine without a tool. For the most part, these types of organizations do this because of some historical reason, kind of a “status quo”. But it can’t fulfill all the needs. Manual processes or in-house built-in solutions end up at a point where they are able to deliver the process itself, but there are so many surrounding supported processes and functions that just don't exist, such as reports, KPIs and measurements, integrations and more. It is not worth the organizations’ resources to develop and maintain such solutions - it is not their core business! So they develop ticket management, then they want to grow to request management, and then maybe change and problem management. Basically, they end up forcing a system to do something it wasn't designed to manage. Here's my advice: With excellent tools and alternatives available in the market by vendors that focus on creating ITSM tools, with an attractive pricing and even as a SaaS offering – there truly is no reason to use and maintain your own home-made solution. But it wasn't all serious business…the atmosphere was very relaxed…lots of fun and giggles. Lines were forming for demos and people asking for price quotes, which our sales guys were happy to take care of on the spot. Our ALL ESSENTIALS bag – filled with water, potato chips, granola bars, candy rolls, Kit Kats, and chewing gum – was a huge hit! We totally zipped through the 1st day’s batch super quick. But don’t worry, for those of you who didn’t get – we’ll have more on Day 2. We've already met so many incredible people passionate about IT service management and it was only the first evening! We're hoping to meet even more fabulous ITSMers over the next days. And here is hoping that the #PINK14 Twitter stream will be filled with more than just other vendors tweeting booth numbers. Come on practitioners, start sharing what you're learning in the Twitter stream!
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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10 Tips to Help Prepare You for Your Next Conference

Posted by on February 10, 2014 in General IT
Be prepared for your next conference! After experiencing a lull during the holiday season, the conference and exhibition circuit is back in action. In fact, just this past month, the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) posted its largest and best show to date, hosting 32,000 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees. Attending a conference is a great opportunity to network with others, learn new things and best practices, investigate new products, and strengthen existing relationships. For those of you in the ITSM sphere, there are several very popular and large conferences happening in the upcoming months – Pink14 in Las Vegas on Feb 16-19, HDI in Orlando on April 1-4, followed by The Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS) in London on April 29-30. If you're planning on attending any of these (or others), you should consider the following 10 tips to help you prepare:
1. Plan Ahead for Out of Office: One of the biggest challenges in attending a conference is leaving your normal business duties behind. In the weeks leading up to the conference be sure to get work done ahead of time to ease your workload. Moreover, let your clients know that you will be traveling during the allotted time. 2. Determine a Budget: Although extremely beneficial, conferences and tradeshows can be costly as there are many elements to consider such as hotel accommodations, registration fees, travel, transportation, and more. Make sure you sit down with the appropriate people in your organization to set a budget. 3. Set a Goal: Setting a well-defined goal is important. If you're simply attending (not exhibiting), your goal may be to learn about the new emerging technologies that are on the market to help streamline your most pressing business challenges. 4. Do Your Homework: Take advantage of exhibition handbooks and resources you receive before the conference to choose which session events and keynotes are right for you. This way, you will be able to effectively prioritize your time and ensure you don’t miss out on anything important. 5. Stay Close: Check to see if the conference organizers have reserved hotel rooms at a special discounted rate. If possible, book a hotel that is in close proximity to the conference so you don't have to worry about taxis or shuttles. It's also a good idea to book lodging and transportation well in advance. 6. Book Any Appointments in Advance: As you know, conferences are extremely busy. If you plan on meeting with exhibitors, delegates, or press, be sure to make appointments well in advance. This will ensure that you allot time to those who are most important. 7. Prepare Promotional Materials: Conferences are a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with vendors, industry experts, and fellow delegates in your respected space. Always carry business cards with you and make sure your badge is in plain sight while walking around. You never know who you might run into, so practice your best elevator pitch so you can articulate your company's story at a moment's notice. 8. Dress Professional, Yet Comfortable: Remember you’re a representative of your company so dress professionally, yet comfortable. Ladies, ditch the high heels and guys, don’t wear a brand new pair of shoes as you will be walking around for extended periods of time. 9. Network Before the Event: Leverage social media before and during the conference to let vendors and other industry experts know that you will be attending. This way, you can get the word out and possibly set up appointments in advance. 10. Bring a Buddy: Depending on the size of the conference, it might be a good idea to bring another colleague along so you don’t miss out on any opportunities. Make sure to choose someone who is experienced and can also benefit from attending. At SysAid, we have a jam-packed schedule ahead of us, as we'll be exhibiting at ITSM conferences (those I mentioned at the top) in the US and UK in February and April. We hope to see you there! Tell us… what conferences do you plan on attending?
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Top 5 Tips on How to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Service Desk
Deliver Exceptional Customer Service There's no doubt that today's 21st century customers are in the driver's seat. Not only do they have higher expectations than ever before, but they have no qualms about ditching their current provider for the competition. And with the cost of acquiring a new customer far exceeding what it costs to retain an existing one, it's critical for businesses to provide world-class customer service. For some companies, however, this is often easier said than done. With the large number of communication channels available for consumers to connect with businesses, it can be difficult to quell every customer complaint. Yet, if businesses follow the Golden Rule – treat others how would you like to be treated – and these top five tips, customer service can be made easy. Here we go...
1.Stop Talking and Start Listening (Everywhere): Today’s consumers are everywhere. Not only are they ringing your phone, but they are surfacing en masse in your email inbox and social media platforms. Because of this, it is critical to have a pulse on your company’s communication channels as one missed interaction can lead to one less customer or worse. One unanswered customer complaint on social media can be seen by thousands of users, which needless to say reflects poorly on the company, not to mention can cause a major PR headache. Some of the best help desk representatives spend most of their time listening, not talking. Avoid having the customer repeatedly explain their dilemma to multiple representatives, as this will only frustrate them more. 2. The Five A’s: When resolving a problem it’s helpful to think of the Five A’s: Acknowledge the problem. Apologize for the inconvenience or mishap. Accept responsibility. Adjust the situation by fixing the problem or point to someone who can. And lastly, assure the customer that you will follow through on your promises. 3. Respond Quickly and Accurately: Today’s consumers are impatient. In fact, 86 percent of recently surveyed customers say they expect a response to their issue within 4 hours after calling, while 55 percent say they expect the same when using Facebook and Twitter, according to a new study from Steven Van Belleghem, in association with SSI and No Problem. 4. Build a System to Track Interactions: Whether it’s a robust ticket management system or self-service portal, it’s important to have a system that manages and supports the help desk processes from beginning to resolution, keeping users informed every step of the way. 5. Measure Your Success: It’s imperative to measure and understand how well you are doing or not doing. Send end users surveys upon closure of each interaction to help collect feedback. Then use this feedback to identify areas that need improvement or areas that you exceed. To help boost response rates, try adding an incentive. Research from SurveyMonkey states that incentives increase response rates by 50 percent on average. Don't let bad customer service plague your business. Always remember the Golden Rule and the never outdated motto: “The customer is always right.”
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4 Tips: How to Get the Most Benefit from the New SysAid Announcements Feature

Posted by on February 3, 2014 in SysAid
Did you get a chance to look at the new Announcements feature in our latest release? The new SysAid UI launched in SysAid 9.1 introduced many improvements to the user experience, including a more organized menu layout (with new permissions system per menu item!), better usage of page width, and one structured page for all Settings.. But on top of all that, I think the new Announcement feature is absolutely the best. It’s right on the top menu bar, in a bright green color that stands out so you can’t miss it. This is the place where all important messages appear for the IT administrator(s). In previous versions, the messages used to show up in three different places, depending on the message type. With the new Announcements feature, all messages are now showing in one location - visible anywhere within SysAid - and all admins on the system are instantly updated when a new message is posted. SysAid Service Desk Announcements feature
The types of messages showing in Announcements are:
  • News published in SysAid by the administrator
  • Instant messages between IT admins
  • Notifications on new Service Records
  • Notifications from SysAid regarding new releases, maintenance alerts, etc.

How to Make Good Use of the Announcements Feature

Keeping the Announcements list clean and tidy will allow you to benefit from it. Here’s a few tips on how you can do that:
  1. Disable unnecessary notifications. If you find it difficult to keep up with all the announcements (you get more messages than you can read), then it becomes useless. Therefore, I recommend disabling notifications on new Service Records (you get them by email anyway, don’t you?). To disable these messages, go to the Service Desk General Settings page, and uncheck “Send instant message to administrator regarding a new Service Record”.
  2. Dismiss messages as you read them. News that you already read and instant messages you already replied to are irrelevant to keep. You can easily dismiss all messages with the DISMISS ALL link. Dismiss Announcements with a click
  3. Educate others in the organization to read Announcements. The more people use it, the more chance you have to benefit from it. Truth is that nowadays people are more responsive on instant messages - everyone appreciates how information is easily transferred in this manner. They just need to learn what’s available and how to use it.
  4. Look for the SysAid icon. SysAid posts important updates to the Announcement list. This is most relevant for Cloud customers (updates about upcoming maintenance alerts, new versions, etc.) but it is also relevant for On-Premise customers, who will get announcements telling them about the availability of new versions. Get the most out of your Help Desk
If you've been using the Announcements, please let me know how it’s going. Maybe you have even more tips. You can easily reach me on Twitter: @josephzargari or any of the SysAid channels as written below.
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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