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Information Technology Service Management

Over the last few years I have facilitated several Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) work sessions within the oil and gas and utility industries. The challenge was to build consensus through identifying what is important, making recommendations and decisions and establish direction that would enable the IT organization to improve processes and services offered to their customers. The following article briefly outlines a number of lessons learned that came from our experiences.

An ITSM Work Session should provide the foundation for your organization to create the blueprint to propel IT services and business value forward. In establishing an ITSM initiative the following key groups must be involved:

Strategic: CIO and Directors to establish strategic intent, vision and enterprise objectives

Tactical: Directors and Managers to establish improvement objectives, priorities and program charter

Operational: Managers and Key Stake-holders to establish solution, roadmap, business case and project charters.

Fundamental to any ITSM session when engaging these groups is to develop a clear problem definition, defined and approved by the executives or senior steering committee. This is an area which IT often falls short. The lack of a clear problem definition negatively impacts the tactical and operational levels of the organization and limits the ability to move forward.

When working with your teams, build an understanding of all the work that is taking place in the IT department right now and how it fits within the ITSM support and delivery relationship models. Discussion, training and clarity will be required to ensure your people understand the ITSM relationship and delivery model. By engaging people in a defined work exercise, your teams can map out and see how their work aligns with your ITSM program requirements. This is effective in establishing leadership and team buy-in.

Establish a clear understanding of your points of pain (PoPs) and the IT maturity. PoPs can be established through focused brainstorming sessions. Once collected, your PoPs should be looked at from an organizational and process maturity perspective. This is often missed as IT has a habit of looking only at processes and tools to solve problems. Align your PoPs with the industry maturity model standards (non-existence, chaos, reactive, proactive, service, value). It is important that the content be translated into a service management maturity grid and aligned with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) process categories. Work to obtain various IT teams, customers and business representatives’ perspective on the ITSM organizational and process maturity levels. This builds some reality into the PoPs and maturity levels thinking by dislodging IT from a position of working in isolation.

Build a business case and program plan that can be activated by your people. At this point you are seeking clear recommendations and improvement objectives (what), benefit realization (why), tactical needs (how) and time frame (when) for which to move your organization forward with your ITSM program. This is the foundation for your ITSM program business case and charter that will be divided into project and operational requirements. You will need a solid approved business case and charter to enable you to navigate the challenges that will unfold on your journey and to clearly articulate the streams of work to be completed. There needs to be an executive team or steering committee assigned to provide clear strategic guidance. When forming and using a steering committee, their mandate must be strategic and clear. Tactical task-based reporting can be left to the project management teams and their need for task-based results and status meetings.

Recognize that ITSM is not an IT tool solution. From a business perspective, IT needs to stop chasing tool solutions, and “flavor-of-the-month quick fixes.” Ultimately, the ITSM program is a business organizational change program that seeks to align IT with the business objectives and requirements, improve processes and change culture in an effort to control or decrease costs, increase productivity and contribute to the bottom-line. ITSM programs need to be effectively operationalized. Therefore change management and communication must be at the forefront.

Work with your teams to have them answer “WIIFM” and “WIIFT” questions (what is in it for me and what is in it for them). Ensure you established the fears, uncertainties and doubts (FUDs). Be prepared to have a long FUDs list. These will need to be acknowledged and managed within the context of the ITSM program and the change management and communications plan. Use your teams and people to establish a communication plan that takes into consideration your target audience and communication needs. Every organization has an approach to communications that may or may not align with their corporate culture. Prepare a clear communications strategy and follow it.

The information in this article is based on feedback obtained during facilitated ITSM work sessions and the work of dedicated IT professionals. Efforts focused on consideration for the strategic, tactical and operational requirements. Ultimately the goal was to improve IT. It can be done. Good luck.

BraveWorld Inc. ©2007

Richard is a professional speaker, facilitator, trainer and coach with extensive senior management and leadership experience within business and the IT industry.

He partners with technical organizations and professionals to align the business enterprise and technical skills to the organization’s objectives. In essence to identify what’s important, establish direction and build skills that positively impact the bottom-line.

Technology Service Bundles Reduce Cost to the Consumer

Most people these days use the Internet for finding information on things, shopping for things and taking care of the mundane chore of paying their bills. They also use it to seek out the best deals on products and services.

Search engines make finding what you’re looking for much easier than in the good ol’ days of using the yellow pages. Whereas the yellow pages are fine for local listings, the world wide web opens international doors. Simply type in the keyword term, for what you want, and BINGO! you have a wealth of information right in front of you. However, it may take some time to weed through all of that information, to get at what you want out of it.

Consider these technology service related keyword examples and the results they yield on Google:

* Home Office Supplies: 450,000,000 results

* Satellite TV: 61,900,000 results

* High Speed Internet Access: 123,000,000 results

* VOIP: 112,000,000 results

* Long Distance Services: 67,000,000 results

* Internet Conferencing: 40,600,000 results

* Web Hosting: 295,000,000 results

* Home Security Systems: 481,000,000 results

If a person wanted to comparison shop for these technology services, they would spend days, even weeks, going through all of these results, in order to find the best deal on all of these services. And the businesses selling these services are hard pressed to get into the top 100,000 of these listings, because there is so much competition.

Because of the amount of competition for individual keywords, many online businesses are attempting to create an edge over their competitors by offering multiple services, or bundled services, under one roof. By doing this, they can generate more income for themselves, and provide an environment of customer loyalty.

Take for example, insurance companies… Most major insurance companies offer more than a single type of insurance. Allstate insurance doesn’t just offer home owners insurance any more. They provide discounts to their customers who purchase more than one type of policy. For instance, you can get your home owners, auto, identity theft and other policies from them, making your life easier, your premiums smaller, and generating a larger account for Allstate. They give you more options; you buy more insurance. It is win-win for both the consumer and the company.

Another example of this is seen in consumer goods purchasing. Consumers can save time and money by going to a discount store, such as WalMart, over a department store. First of all, at the large discount store, a person can buy a wider variety of products, eliminating the need to go from specialty store to specialty store, for what they need. The company itself can buy in greater volume, reducing their own cost, and then pass that savings on to their customers.

This type of service bundling is no longer the exception in business. It is becoming more the rule and it is expanding to cover a whole new realm of consumer products and services, technology services being one of the largest.

Today, the companies who can offer a wide range of services, or access to service providers are going to become the front runners in affordability. Not only that, but they are going to be able to capture more business than their single item competitors, because they will be able to tap into multiple keyword searches, rather than simple searches for individual items.

Taking the keyword examples above; if someone were looking for information on high speed Internet access, satellite TV, and long distance services, individually, most would either give up just because the sheer numbers of results would overwhelm them into just sticking with what they’ve got, or only looking at the first few pages of results, and opting for the best deal out of those. This is particularly damaging to companies who may have the best deal to offer, but don’t appear in Google’s indexing until page 100, or so.

To make it easier on consumers and to exercise better SEO, companies are offering multiple services, grouping similar services under one domain. And the large corporations are subbing out services to smaller, independent brokers, to take advantage of the concept themselves.

As an example, there is a companies that has effectively bundled high demand services together, making it easier for consumers to comparison shop from their single location. The services they offer are specific to certain markets without being isolated to a single market.

Find services grouped together technology services such as:

Local / long distance services

High speed Internet access

VOIP

Bundled business services

Internet conferencing

Web hosting

Home office supplies and services

Satellite TV

Home security systems

Wireless / cellular services

By doing this, they have made it easier for the person looking for these services to get them without spending days and weeks pouring through millions of search results. They have everything that a person could possibly be looking for in the area of technology services in one place.

They have taken advantage of the multiple keyword search system and have partnered with other reputable companies to provide both the best in products and customer service.

Let’s have a look at some of the technology services they are offering and the companies who they’ve partnered with.

* Local/ long distance services — GTC Telecom

* High speed Internet access — Adelphia, Bell South, Charter, Comcast, Earthlink, to name a few…

* VOIP — Packet 8 (8×8 Inc.)

* Bundled business services — Qwest

* Internet conferencing — Go Solo

* Wireless/ cellular services — AT&T, Cingular, Nextel, T-Mobile, and others…

* Satellite TV — Dish Network

* Home security systems — Protect America Inc.

Remember the individual search results listed above? They were all in the hundreds of millions. Well, if you type this string: home security systems, satellite tv, high speed internet access, voip, long distance services, into a Google box, you will reduce the results to 360,000. That is a significant reduction.

Another benefit that companies like is an opportunity for customers to earn an additional income as an affiliate reseller of these services. Doing business this way not only brings the cost of services down, but also provides a bonus for those who are interested in referring new customers. Pick the right one here and remember it takes many many customers to make any real amounts of money to go on your own. I think ACN was about 5000 customers if I remember it. If you bundle your services pay by a rewards or miles card to earn points / frequent flyer miles for you daily purchases.

Income opportunities like these actually reduce the cost that consumers pay for their services, because it reduces the advertising costs to the company itself.

Benefit From Professional Technology Services With IT Outsourcing

Cost reduction and the lack of resources are two major reasons why businesses enlist the services of IT outsourcing companies. Many business owners like you may not have the time, experience, or capital to invest in training staff, procuring expensive equipment, and managing your systems. With the help of outsourcing, you can benefit from the professional technology services provided by an expert IT consulting firm and still have the time and resources to focus on fulfilling your core business objectives.

The constant evolution and the rapid changes that occur in the realm of information technology means that IT-related tasks are best handed over to professionals. Entrusting these responsibilities to experts enables you to access specialized technology that is normally too expensive to maintain in-house. Furthermore, you can keep up with the competition and even dominate the marketplace as you take advantage of the latest and most reliable desktop, server, and network equipment provided to you by an IT outsourcing firm.

Having the fastest and most reliable technology available does not only give you an edge over your competitors, it also gets rid of excessive in-house downtime. Problems with internet connectivity, corrupted data, and unreliable email communications are immediately prevented or resolved with regular maintenance and effective data and backup management. Furthermore, you won’t need to spend so much on recruiting and training mid-level IT personnel, because an IT consulting firm can provide you with certified IT engineers and architects and make sure that all the costs of the IT services that they offer are planned and controlled according to your budget.

Resource Box:

Various small to medium-sized businesses consider All Covered Inc. as the country’s leading IT outsourcing company. For over a decade, it has provided a reliable, constantly evolving, and cost-effective IT service to thousands of organizations in the United States.

The Importance of Risk Management of Outsourced Technology Services

Outsourcing is one activity that can bring in a lot of money. We all know that. What is not well known is the fact that there are several risks involved. The problem is that a lot of companies do not consider this and they are faced with cost overruns or smaller profits than they planned in the beginning. This usually happens when one point in the company’s outsourcing strategy is not well covered. We are talking about risk management. This is highly important and can save you a lot of money on the long run, especially when we are talking about technology services.

Outsourced technology services are tricky to handle because there are numerous aspects that have to be considered. This starts with costs and finishes with time needed to perform certain tasks. It does not really matter what type of technology service we are talking about because all of them need risk management.

When we outsource technology services we aim to get something back and a part of our profit is directed towards that activity. This is done in order for the project to be finished faster in most circumstances. Finishing something fast brings in profit because our work flow is increased. Risk management of outsourced technology services is needed in order to prevent all problems that can appear. Unfortunately we can only do this if we include it in our outsourcing strategy. This basically means that risk management needs to be included in the overall plan and must not be neglected.

There are 2 ways to handle risk management of outsourced technology services. The one that is most cost effective is to have a team on board that monitors everything and deals with this part of the business. On the other hand we can also hire a specialized outsourcing risk management team that will do everything for us. It is needless to say that the second option is the one that will cost us more money. Even if in both cases we do obtain profit, in the first one it is bigger. This is what we are aiming towards: bigger profits. In this case we have to seriously consider including outsourcing strategy in our business. The good news is that we can do this easily if we are faced with proper information. To put it simple, we need to understand everything that is involved with risk management of outsourced technology services in order to be successful and maximize our profits.

How to Focus Your Business in the Technology Service Sector

Before the current economic state, the quality of customer service was rarely considered an important aspect of technology services. Technology was a part of everyday life and became more of a necessity rather than a luxury. With this in mind, many businesses decided to cut costs in the customer service departments to the bare minimum, which was directly reflected in the low-quality relationships between customer and company. A few unhappy customers were well worth the decrease in costs as the potential to attract new customers was endless.

Since then, the technology service sector has changed dramatically and has taken a detrimental hit in the process. When the income stream of businesses started to dwindle, they immediately looked at their IT professionals as a source of unnecessary income and decided to sever their professional relationships with them. While IT workers can make things easier for a company, they ultimately are not essential for the survival of a business.

The job market for IT professionals is incredibly competitive as potential candidates for openings have flooded the market. Openings as an IT consultant or working for a temporary employment agency are the only positions in any demand right now. If you planned on being hired based solely on your experience and personal knowledge of the IT sector, then you should know that your chances of being hired are quite slim for the time being.

When applying for an IT service job, you need to create an in-depth business plan for the company you are inquiring to. This shows your potential employer that you truly know what you are doing and are proactive in helping their business grow. You can easily do this by conducting some research on the company you are applying for and identifying areas that need your expertise.

Instead of hiring individual IT professionals, many businesses are relying on managed service providers to fulfill their IT service needs. These firms can complete essentially any task related to business and technology, from direct customer service to software development. Additionally, these firms can provide consulting services which can help you determine problem areas in the company and devise a solid business plan to ensure that your work flows as efficiently as possible.

Technology can literally sell itself in a booming economy, but that is not the situation now. Consumers are looking at every aspect before making a purchase – from customer service to product integrity – and will most likely move on if they hear your business has a sub-par reputation in customer relations. In order to survive in this current economic state, all technology service companies need to realize that the customer is now in control of the market. With this in mind, additional effort should be made by businesses to ensure an exceptional customer experience.

Mobile Field Service Is Implementing New Field Technologies

Mobile field service is implementing new field technologies making services more manageable with web tools. The new tools are reducing time frames for field services and increasing customer satisfaction with speedier responses. Implementing new field technologies removes breakdowns from the current business model making better use of time for field service. Web tool integration with business processes makes them more efficient and improves communications between office, field and customers.

Executing new technologies with success is part of the realization for mobile technology. There will always be some hesitation when changes are implemented, ensuring the proper tools are assigned to field service is essential to the project’s success. The benefit for customer service is the availability of reference and up to the moment data without decreasing field productively and easier navigation for making field decisions.

Mobile technology has evolved using advanced approaches and systems to capture and mange field data. This new development has answered business challenges that have been characteristic of service disruptions. Paper forms are being replaced by system platforms making it easier to collect actual data using real time and specialized technology. Mobile field service is able to view plans, check availability and review upcoming schedules, preventing duplication of efforts. Implementing new technologies increases functionally, minimizing the workflow and paperwork associated with customer service. Departments needing access to the field data can now take advantage of data sharing with the ability to expedite services, saving project time and costs. The accuracy of mobile field data is improving the accuracy of office tasks and eventually archival information. The effects of getting precise field data is productive to the internal processing for staff related tasks leading to better customer relations.

New field technologies are part of the cost savings effort, particularly in the areas of time and travel for field service. It’s this streamlining of an existing business model incorporating new technologies that has enhanced the current processes, contributing to the success of mobile field service performances. It gets better as the efforts begin to show improved results by predicting both company and customer projected outcomes. Companies need to look at specific circumstances linked to field service and identify measurability of the components due to human errors of missing field information or incorrect internal data entry of facts. Getting the new processes in place warrants training on new tools is completed are the basics to implementing successful new mobile technology services.

Your Career Goals in Information Technology Services

If you have dabbled in the information technology services before, you know that IT is a fast moving profession where you can easily become a little lost if you don’t keep up with the latest technologies. Computers are improving almost at a daily basis and things are getting more and more complicated on the IT side. If you have studied Information Technology before and you want to get back into it after a little lull, then you might want to first attend IT boot camps in your area just to familiarize yourself with what is new in the business since you have been gone.

An IT boot camp will reinforce everything that you might have learned in college or high school without going too fast. It can be an intensive situation if you have not been enrolled in classes for a while and it might take a little while to get used to, but you will ultimately gain so much new knowledge from the courses that it will be essential to moving forward with your career. No matter what your career goals are in the field of IT, you will be helped by this kind of IT boot camp. It caters to all skill levels and you only need to register to become better informed in the IT industry.

If you are trying to find a job in information technology services, then finding a knowledge base is definitely a great jumping off point for your career goals. If you have already done some things to get yourself moving forward during the last few months, then you might want to think about getting certified in something. IT certification boot camp can really help you find the right position for you. Once you are certified in one thing or another, it will look quite a bit better on your resume and your skill set will suddenly match up with the needs of many companies in your area. It is a small initial investment to educate yourself during this tough time during the economy, but the valuable skills you obtain will help you out with a great career in the near future. If you are interested in IT or you have some knowledge of it already, then it is strongly encouraged that you enroll yourself in one of these classes so you don’t get left out on one of the better industries at the moment.

Caitlina Fuller is a freelance writer. If you have studied Information Technology before and you want to get back into it after a little lull, then you might want to first attend IT boot camps in your area just to familiarize yourself with what is new in the business since you have been gone. IT certification boot camp can really help you find the right position for you.