Friday, September 18, 2020

Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 5

Fifth in a Ten Part Series

By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool.  Below is the fifth in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #5: Have Service & Configuration Item (CI) Owners.  The concept here is simple; there is a single person listed in the ITSM platform that is responsible for the availability and working operation of the service and the configuration item.  When a new service record is logged against a service and a CI in the ITSM platform, the appropriate owners are automatically notified.  Similarly, if a request for change (RFC) is raised against a service or a CI, the ITSM platform knows to automatically append these persons as approvers of the RFC. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 4

Fourth in a Ten Part Series

By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool.  Below is the fourth in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #4: Log Incidents, Service Requests, Problems, Change, and Releases against Services AND Configuration Items.  As I’ve mentioned in the previous lessons, when a new service record comes into the Service Desk, you’ll want to ensure that accurate meta-data relative to the Service and Configuration Items impacted are accurately associated to the service record.  Now, it’s not necessary that the customer correctly identify the Service or Configuration Item, only that they submit as much information as they have to the Service Desk.  It’s the responsibility of Service Operations to ensure that the data ultimately appended to the service record is accurate.  Without the Service and Configuration Items being appended to the service record, it’s impossible to report on a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) relative to the service and / or the configuration items.  For example, if a major incident record does not identify the service impacted, how can you accurately report on the availability of that service?  As I mentioned in point #3 above, if you make development of the Service Catalog prerequisite to launching your ITSM platform, logging the Service & CI impacted by the service record will be easy.  If you don’t, your ITSM platform will simply be just another “ticketing” application.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 3

Third in a Ten Part Series

By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool.  Below is the third in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #3: Have a Service Catalog.  The Service Catalog is the foundation of any ITIL-based IT environment.  If you don’t have a Service Catalog, then you don’t have true Service Management.  Developing a Service Catalog is not easy and its something that should be undertaken before any discussion of a potential ITSM tool should take place. 

There is much literature relative to developing an IT Service Catalog, but a few key points to keep in mind are:
(a) It should be done in conjunction with the business (customers)
(b) It serves as the “menu” for what IT’s customers can order
(c) “Services” deliver business outcomes and are NOT applications or configuration items
(d) An IT organization’s assets (applications & configuration items) align to deliver services
(e) When a customer raises a request for service (an Incident, Problem, Service Request, Change, or Release), the “Service” that the customer is requesting assistance for, should be clearly identified.

Keep in mind that a customer doesn’t care that an application or network is down, they only care that their business outcome is not able to be achieved.  Having services defined in a catalog, and then reporting on the availability of them, is the true first step towards IT service management.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Lessons Learned from IT Service Management Tool Implementation: Part 2

Second in a Ten Part Series

By Chad Greenslade

I have often been asked about my lessons learned in implementing an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool.  Below is the second in a ten part series examining my ITSM lessons learned.  I hope that these lessons help you on your journey to ITSM nirvana.

Lesson #2: Avoid “Other”.  When you’re going down the path of configuring your ITSM modules (e.g. Incident, Problem, Service Request, Change, Release), there are various meta-data elements you’ll be asked to configure.  When a user creates a new Incident record, for example, they will usually be prompted to select the Service being impacted, and possibly the Configuration Items (CIs).  In some deployments, the user may also be prompted to select the Category, Sub-Category, and Item values to be appended to the service record.  In some ITSM deployments, these meta-data can be uniform across all record types.  In others, separate and distinct meta-data may be able to be applied to the different ITSM records. 

In any case, you’ll want to avoid giving anyone in the organization the ability to select “Other” as a valid value.  If you allow users and technicians to append “Other” to a service record, invariably this will eventually become abused will result in reporting discrepancies in your tool. 

The advent of “Other” in the reporting tool arises from a short-sighted or incomplete strategy, so instead of allowing the user to select “Other”, do your homework and determine what the user is really attempting to accomplish.  If you allow a user to select the Service being impacted by the Incident, there should be no “Other” service listed in your Service Catalog.  Likewise, if you allow the user to select the Configuration Item (CI) being impacted by the Incident, there should be no “Other” CI listed in your CMDB. 

Removing “Other” from Category, Sub-Category, and Item drop-down lists can be a little more daunting, but not insurmountable.  Most configurations of Category, Sub-Category, and Item that I have witnessed in production have been ad-hoc, short-sighted, and not valuable.  Further, I have seen reporting built on top of this flawed implementation approach.  My professional opinion is that the combination of Category, Sub-Category, and Item should distinctly identify the configuration item, and the aspect of that CI that is being impacted. 

We can all agree that the only service items that exist in an IT environment are hardware and software.  Let “Hardware” and “Software” be the only choices for “Category”.  Sub-categories under the “Hardware” category would be entries such as, “Data Network”, “Desktop PC”, “Laptop PC”, “Messaging”, “Printers”, “Scanners / Imaging Devices”, “Server – Intel”, “Server – Unix”, “Telephone Network”, and “UPS”.  Sub-categories under “Software” would be entries such as, “Antivirus”, “Business Applications”, “Data Files”, “Data Network”, “Database”, “Desktop PC”, “Desktop Publishing”, “Development Tools”, “Infrastructure Tools”, “Laptop PC”, “Messaging”, “Middleware”, “Operating System”, “Printers”, “Reports”, “Scanners / Imaging Devices”, “Security Applications”, “Server – Intel”, “Server – Unix”, “Telephone Network”, “UPS”, “User ID Administration”, and “Web Browsing”. 

Now you may have noticed that some of the sub-categories that I listed for “Hardware” are duplicated in “Software”.  Take “Printers” for example.  There is both hardware and software that goes into a printer, and each could potentially fail and / or require service.  You want to be able to report on each of these items separately.  Lastly, the “Item” choices would most closely mirror the actual CI setup in your CMDB.  Now you may be asking yourself, “Why do I need to have an “Item” entry if I already have a CI entry?”  The answer is simple; it’s so that you can more granularly report on exactly what is affected by the ITSM record.  For example, if I just choose “Dell Color Laser 5110cn” as the CI affected by the Incident record, I don’t know if its hardware or software that’s the problem.  By applying the appropriate Category, Sub-Category, Item, CI, and Service I can accurately report the true nature of all ITSM records across the environment.