Asset management Discussion topic Secrets of the IT department

The inventory you didn’t know existed – Secrets of the IT department

In this series of short articles, we uncover some of the secret workings of the IT department, finding out what is jargon and what is just common sense that can apply to all of us, regardless of our role, work, or profession.

Did you know that mismanaging IT assets could cost your company thousands of pounds? Whether you’re a fan of your IT department or not, there comes a time when everyone needs to interact with them. After exploring service level management in our last article, today we’re diving into the fascinating world of asset management.

What is asset management?

Asset management in IT is all about keeping track of the hardware and software that make your organisation tick. Think of it like organising your kitchen. You need to know where every utensil is, its condition, and when to replace it. In IT terms, hardware refers to the physical components like computers, monitors, and printers, while software includes programs like Microsoft Word or your favourite mobile app.

Why asset management matters

Organisations need effective asset management to save time, money and other resources that might otherwise be wasted on unused or redundant technology. Moreover, compliance with licenses and contracts is crucial to avoid legal ramifications.

Key elements of asset management

These include:

  1. Software licenses – ensure that your organisation legally owns the software it uses
  2. Hardware inventory – a list of all hardware devices and where they are located
  3. Lifecycle management – tracking an asset from acquisition to disposal
  4. Compliance checks – regular audits to ensure that all assets are being used per relevant laws and agreements.

The benefits of doing this well

Effective asset management isn’t just about saving money; it’s about creating a more efficient and secure environment. Just like a well-organised warehouse ensures faster customer delivery, effective asset management ensures smoother operations and better service across the board.

  • Cost savings – avoid unnecessary purchases and get the most out of your existing assets.
  • Compliance – stay within the legal boundaries of software licenses and contracts.
  • Efficiency – streamline daily operations by knowing what you have and where it is.
  • Security – identify and mitigate potential risks tied to outdated or unaccounted-for assets.

Example: A school library

Imagine asset management as a school library’s system to track books, DVDs, and computers. It would be a mess if the librarian didn’t know which items were checked out, by whom, and for how long.

Example: Your personal belongings

In a household context, consider it as keeping an inventory of your valuable belongings for insurance purposes. You would want to know what you have, its condition, and its worth.

Your thoughts

Now that you’re familiar with how asset management works behind the scenes, how does this change your perspective on the IT department and how they support you? Feel free to share your stories and insights.

This article is the fifth in our ‘Secrets of the IT Department’ series, aiming to demystify the essential elements that keep IT running smoothly. Keep an eye out for our next insightful piece.

Discussion topic Secrets of the IT department service management

Measure and improve – Secrets of the IT department

Like them or loathe them, all employees will need, at some point, to interact with the support services offered by the IT department. In this series of short articles, we uncover some of the secret workings of the IT department, finding out what is jargon and what is just common sense that can apply to all of us, regardless of our role, work, or profession.

After exploring incident, change, and problem management, it’s time to delve into how IT departments ensure that all these components work together harmoniously. Think of service level management as the local council that ensures the UK’s National Health Service, rubbish collection, and local schools operate efficiently and meet the community’s needs.

What is service level management?

Service level management involves defining, managing, and tracking the quality of IT services. It sets expectations, measures performance against them, and suggests improvements to ensure IT services meet business needs and objectives.

Why service level management matters

The quality of service provided is crucial for any organisation. It can significantly impact customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and profitability.

Key elements of service level management

These include:

  1. Service level agreements (SLAs) – contracts that outline the quality of service expected
  2. Experience level agreements (XLAs) – these focus on the quality of the user experience, rather than just the technical metrics
  3. Key performance indicators (KPIs) – metrics used to measure and evaluate service quality
  4. Regular reviews – periodic assessments to check if services are meeting the defined expectations.

The benefits of doing this well

By employing strong service level management, organisations can realise several significant advantages, including:

  • Competitive advantage – by consistently delivering high-quality services, your organisation stands out in the market.
  • Risk mitigation – SLAs and ongoing monitoring help you identify and rectify issues before they escalate, reducing financial and reputational risks.
  • Strategic alignment – well-defined service levels help align IT operations with your organisation’s broader objectives.
  • Enhanced scalability – effective management provides the framework for scaling services up or down based on demand, enhancing operational flexibility.
  • Data-driven decision-making – metrics and KPIs provide actionable insights contributing to the organisation’s long-term success.

Example: Train services

Imagine service level management as the body that ensures UK trains run punctually, are clean, and offer good customer service. They set the benchmarks, measure performance, and implement improvements.

Example: A busy café

In a café setting, service level management would monitor how quickly customers are served, the quality of the coffee, and customer feedback. Remedial action is taken to improve the service if any of these metrics fall below the defined standards.

Your thoughts

Now that you’ve learned how service level management impacts the quality of services you interact with daily, what are your thoughts? Feel free to share your stories and insights.

This article is the fourth in our ‘Secrets of the IT Department’ series, aiming to demystify the essential elements that keep IT running smoothly. Keep an eye out for our next insightful piece.

Discussion topic Problem management Root cause Secrets of the IT department

When problems make things run more smoothly – Secrets of the IT department

Like them or loathe them, all employees will need, at some point, to interact with the support services offered by the IT department. In this series of short articles, we uncover some of the secret workings of the IT department, finding out what is jargon and what is just common sense that can apply to all of us, regardless of our role, work, or profession.

After diving into the workings of incident and change management, let’s explore another hidden secret of the IT department – this time, problem management. Think of it as the Sherlock Holmes of the IT world, based in a bustling London borough. It’s not just about responding to incidents or facilitating changes; its role is to investigate and uncover why those incidents happened in the first place.

What is problem management?

Problem management is the systematic approach to identifying the root causes of incidents, devising a fix, and preventing recurrence. Unlike incident management, which focuses on quick resolution, or change management, which ensures smooth transitions, problem management aims for long-term solutions.

Why problem management matters

Problem management aims to remove recurring incidents and minimise the impact on the services used across the company. It contributes to a more stable and reliable IT environment, saving time and money in the long run.

The problem management life cycle

The life cycle of problem management usually includes these stages:

  1. Problem identification – recognising recurring or significant incidents
  2. Problem categorisation and prioritisation – assessing the impact and urgency
  3. Root cause analysis – digging deep to find the actual cause
  4. Resolution and closure – implementing a long-term solution

Example: A leaky roof

Imagine a leaky roof in an office building. Fixing the leak is akin to incident management, but finding out why the leak happened in the first place is problem management. Was it poor construction or maybe ageing materials? Once identified, preventive measures can be put in place, using change management.

Example: The frequently crashing software

Let’s consider software that crashes frequently. Incident management will restart the software each time to restore service, but problem management will delve into why it crashes so often. Is it a bug or a hardware incompatibility? Upon finding the root cause, a permanent fix can be implemented, using change management.

The benefits of doing this well

Adopting a robust problem management strategy can lead to:

  • Operational excellence – organisations streamline their operations by identifying and eradicating root causes of incidents, leading to higher productivity and efficiency.
  • Financial savings – resolving the root causes of issues means fewer incidents and less downtime, translating into significant cost savings over time.
  • Increased customer loyalty – a stable, reliable system or service creates a better user experience, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Proactive risk management – identifying issues before they become incidents can mitigate potential risks, safeguarding the organisation’s reputation.
  • Business agility – understanding the root causes of problems provides valuable insights that can inform business strategy, allowing the organisation to adapt more quickly to market changes.

By embracing robust problem management, organisations resolve issues and turn them into opportunities for continual improvement.

Your thoughts

We’ve now cracked the case on problem management and its role in ensuring a hassle-free IT environment. Do you have any experiences where identifying the root cause of an issue led to a more effective, long-term solution? Share your stories and insights.

This is the third article in our ‘Secrets of the IT Department’ series. Don’t miss our future explorations into the often-overlooked facets of IT.

Change management Discussion topic Productivity Secrets of the IT department

Calm, not chaos – Secrets of the IT department

Like them or loathe them, all employees will need, at some point, to interact with the support services offered by the IT department. In this series of short articles, we uncover some of the secret workings of the IT department, finding out what is jargon and what is just common sense that can apply to all of us, regardless of our role, work, or profession.

If our previous article on incident management was your introduction to the emergency services of the IT world, then think of change management as the town planner. It’s not just about responding to emergencies but laying out the whole town or city in a way that minimises accidents and traffic jams in the first place.

What is a change management?

Change management is the coordinated approach to transitioning from one state to another, especially when introducing new services, technologies, or processes. Unlike incident management, which is reactive, change management is proactive – it aims to prevent issues before they happen.

Why change management matters

A well-managed change process minimises the risk of service disruptions and improves the system’s overall effectiveness. This means fewer incidents to manage for organisations, better productivity, and happier clients.

The change management life cycle

Similar to incident management, change management also follows a life cycle:

  1. Request for change – identifying the need for a change
  2. Assessment and planning – evaluating the impact and preparing the roadmap
  3. Implementation – rolling out the change
  4. Review – evaluating the success and any lessons learned.

Example: Introducing a new office layout

Imagine your organisation has just expanded its team, leading to a need for additional workspaces. You can’t just move desks and computers without a plan – that’s where change management comes in. It ensures that everyone has access to what they need and that the transition is as smooth as possible.

Example: Upgrading the point-of-sale system at a shop

Let’s say you run a retail shop, and you’ve decided to upgrade your point-of-sale system. If not done correctly, this could result in chaos – unhappy customers and a drop in sales. A well-managed change process would ensure that all employees are trained on the new system and that backups are in place, minimising disruptions.

The benefits of doing this well

Implementing a robust change management strategy offers several advantages:

  • Business resilience – effective change management allows your organisation to adapt quickly to market shifts, new regulations, or emerging technologies.
  • Reduced downtime – a well-executed change reduces the risk of service disruption, thereby maintaining business continuity.
  • Optimised resources – efficient change management processes mean fewer resources are wasted, leading to more cost-effective operations.
  • Enhanced stakeholder trust – when changes are managed well, it instils confidence in both employees and customers, reinforcing their trust in the organisation’s competence.
  • Data-informed decision-making – the structured approach of change management ensures that decisions are backed by comprehensive assessments, making each change a calculated, strategic move.

Effective change management isn’t just about averting disaster; it’s about positioning the organisation for greater success through well-executed modifications and improvements.

Your thoughts?

Now that you have a grip on change management, we’d love to know how you’ve experienced change in your work environment. Was it seamless, or did it lead to a cascade of incidents? Share your stories and insights.

This is the second article in our series aimed at demystifying the IT department’s inner workings. Check back for more.

Discussion topic Incident management Productivity Secrets of the IT department

Crisis, what crisis? – Secrets of the IT department

Like them or loathe them, all employees will need, at some point, to interact with the support services offered by the IT department. In this series of short articles, we uncover some of the secret workings of the IT department, finding out what is jargon and what is just common sense that can apply to all of us, regardless of our role, work, or profession.

The art of managing incidents

Incident management isn’t just industry jargon; it’s an essential process that aids organisations of all sizes swiftly and efficiently resolving unexpected issues. Picture it as the hospital A&E department for any problems that crop up, from glitches in a computer network to a broken kettle in the staff room.

What is an incident?

Simply put, an incident is an unexpected interruption or a decline in the quality of a service or process. Incidents can vary from minor inconveniences to major disruptions, impacting anything from your home Wi-Fi to a multinational firm’s data centre.

Why incident management matters

Employing a structured approach to incident management ensures that any issues are rectified in the fastest, least intrusive way possible. This not only pleases customers or employees but also preserves the organisation’s reputation while conserving time and resources.

The incident management life cycle

The life cycle of incident management typically consists of four stages:

  1. Identification – spotting the issue
  2. Classification and prioritisation – assessing its impact and urgency
  3. Investigation and diagnosis – finding out what’s wrong
  4. Response and recovery – fixing the problem and restoring normal service.

Example: The broken kettle

Picture arriving at your workplace only to discover the kettle isn’t working. In incident management, this is categorised as a low-priority incident, and someone gets tasked to sort it out.

Example: The inaccessible company website

Next, imagine if your company’s website crashes. This is a high-priority incident as without it, your company’s customers cannot buy new insurance policies or administer existing ones. A team would be hastily assembled to diagnose and remedy the problem, minimising the outage duration.

The benefits of doing this well

Implementing a top-notch incident management strategy yields many advantages:

  • Rapid recovery – effective incident management ensures that disruptions are contained quickly, limiting any negative impact on business operations.
  • Customer retention – swift resolution of issues enhances customer experience and contributes to customer loyalty.
  • Streamlined communication – a well-defined incident management process improves internal and external communication, providing timely stakeholder updates.
  • Regulatory compliance – many industries have standards for incident response times; efficient incident management helps you meet these regulations and avoid penalties.
  • Data-driven improvements – analysing past incidents can offer actionable insights that drive ongoing improvements in the IT environment and broader organisational strategy.

With excellent incident management, organisations can maintain high service quality, even when things go awry, building trust and long-term success.

Your thoughts?

Now that you’re acquainted with the fundamentals of incident management, we’re eager to hear your views. Have you ever had to manage an incident in your workplace? What approach did you take?

Does this small secret from your IT department make what they do make more sense? Does it explain why you have a good or bad impression of your IT department when you contact them for support? What do they do well? What infuriates you?

Discussion topic Productivity

Your secret weapon on the IT battlefield

Whether you’re the lone tech guru in a small start-up or a part of the sprawling IT landscape in a multinational, you’ll agree that we’re constantly in the trenches, solving problems and quelling IT uprisings.

But, ever thought how much easier it would be if we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time? That’s where knowledge management enters the scene.

We often stumble upon the same issues, and without an efficient knowledge management system, we’re forced to solve them from scratch, like a hapless mouse stuck in a maze, repeatedly trying to find the exit. How about that pesky printing issue Mary from Marketing had? John from HR faced the same thing just last week. But, in the absence of shared knowledge, Mary’s solution took two hours, which could have been just a few minutes if somebody had documented John’s experience. 

Let’s look at five key benefits of effective knowledge management, each serving as a guide to get us out of the chaos maze, saving time and money, and significantly improving the service experience.

The continuity chronicle

Knowledge transfer isn’t just for when a team member moves on. Indeed, you’ll save countless hours not having to play detective with a former employee’s cryptic code, but what about holidays, sick days, or when specialists are in back-to-back meetings? Knowledge management can be the user manual ensuring business as usual, even when key players are unavailable.

The time travel advantage

Remember how the last system upgrade took ages because the team was learning as they went? With knowledge management, you don’t need a DeLorean to travel back in time. Recalling previous upgrade protocols can slash the learning curve and project timeline dramatically. 

The customer service champion

Imagine a frantic client calls about a lost file. With knowledge management, the support team can search the database, find a similar past issue, and restore it in minutes. The client is thrilled, your team shines, and your coffee is still warm. That’s the power of knowledge management in elevating the customer experience.

The innovation incubator

Innovation isn’t just about ideas; it’s about effective execution. By documenting the what, how, and why of past failures and successes, teams avoid past pitfalls and build upon previous achievements, freeing up resources to pioneer new solutions to new issues instead of repeatedly retracing old steps.

The risk mitigation maestro

Say a misconfiguration caused a system downtime last month. Without knowledge management, a team member could unknowingly repeat the same mistake. But, with an updated knowledge management system, this risk is significantly reduced or, ideally, removed. 

Sounds fantastic. But how does it translate into actual savings?

Well, consider this – Gartner estimates that a well-implemented knowledge management system can reduce information search time by up to 75%. Let’s say your IT team of 10 spends 20 hours a week on information search and troubleshooting. That’s 800+ hours a month. A 75% reduction means 600+ hours saved. Time that can be redirected to critical projects. If we conservatively estimate the hourly cost at £50, that’s a whopping £30,000 monthly saving, every month.

As for service experience, Aberdeen Group states that companies with a formalised knowledge management initiative achieve an 85% greater customer retention rate. Happy customers equate to repeat business, positive reviews, and referrals – invaluable gains in today’s digital marketplace. 

So, IT comrades, it’s high time we embraced knowledge management – not as a buzzword but as a trigger for efficiency, innovation, and growth. Yes, it demands an initial investment of time and effort. But once in place, knowledge management is the gift that keeps giving. From seamless continuity to stellar customer service, from nurturing innovation to mitigating risk – the realm of knowledge management benefits is boundless. 

Turn those battle cries into victory roars with the power of knowledge management.

Can GWIT help you develop this secret weapon in your IT team and realise its benefits?

Discussion topic Productivity

Unlock success by promoting innovative ServiceNow uses and recognising the service management heroes

You drive your organisation’s success as a dynamic team that maintains and enhances ServiceNow for IT and various other core business functions. Within your team lie the unsung heroes: developers, solution designers, product owners, architects, and other skilled professionals.

This article emphasises the importance of effectively promoting your work, showcasing the innovative uses of the ServiceNow platform in service management, and personally introducing your team members to the broader organisation. By doing so, you create awareness and recognition for your efforts while highlighting your team’s valuable contributions to delivering exceptional service management solutions.

Driving innovation and collaboration in service management

By openly sharing successful projects and enhancements, you demonstrate the ServiceNow platform’s ability to streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and elevate the employee experience within service management. This motivates other teams to explore fresh possibilities and nurtures a culture where innovation and collaboration thrive, fostering an environment where ideas are exchanged, and collective growth is encouraged.

Highlighting cost savings in service management

By promoting successful projects and enhancements, you showcase the benefits of leveraging the ServiceNow platform and highlight the measurable cost savings attained. Through specific examples that illustrate the platform’s ability to automate manual tasks, optimise workflows, and reduce operational costs, your team raises awareness regarding the significant financial advantages that could be realised across other business functions through effective service management practices.

Sharing service management best practices and lessons learned

Through effective communication, your team can openly share valuable insights, best practices, and lessons learned from successful service management projects and enhancements. This knowledge-sharing approach prevents duplicated effort, expedites project delivery and ensures that the organisation benefits from the collective expertise in service management. By leveraging these shared insights, your team can continuously improve service delivery and enhance overall organisational effectiveness in service management practices.

Enhancing cross-functional collaboration in service management

By promoting your team’s accomplishments and showcasing the innovative uses of the ServiceNow platform in service management, you foster collaboration among diverse business functions. Increasing awareness of the platform’s capabilities and successful implementations inspires cross-functional teams to align their efforts and work together. This heightened collaboration improves service delivery and cultivates a sense of unity and shared purpose across the organisation’s service management endeavours, leading to enhanced outcomes and a more cohesive working environment.

Introducing team members

Besides promoting the ServiceNow platform and its innovative uses, it is important to introduce your team members to the broader organisation. Doing so creates awareness and recognition for the individuals behind the scenes who contribute to delivering effective service management solutions. This can be achieved through various engaging methods, such as short Q&A sessions or ‘Five minutes with’ discussions, providing an opportunity for a lighthearted introduction to the people in your team. Through these introductions, you highlight your team members’ key roles and expertise, fostering a greater appreciation for their work within the organisation and strengthening collaboration and understanding across teams.

Promoting platform adoption and enhancing employee satisfaction in service management

Effectively communicating successful projects and enhancements in service management significantly influences platform adoption and boosts employee satisfaction. By showcasing the advantages of the ServiceNow platform and the positive outcomes it delivers in service management, employees are encouraged to embrace and utilise its capabilities. This increased platform adoption leads to improved self-service options, reduced service response times, and enhanced employee satisfaction with service management processes. By effectively conveying the benefits of the ServiceNow platform, your team empowers employees to fully embrace it, resulting in heightened satisfaction with service management operations.

Final thoughts

The key to driving awareness, increasing collaboration, and maximising the benefits of the ServiceNow platform in service management lies in effective communication, promoting innovative platform uses, and introducing team members to the broader organisation.

Your team gains a reputation for continuous improvement, collaboration, and innovation in service management by actively showcasing successful projects, sharing best practices, and raising awareness of cost savings.

Additionally, introducing team members brings visibility to their invaluable contributions, nurturing a sense of recognition and appreciation. These collective efforts strengthen cross-functional relationships, enhance platform adoption and satisfaction, and ultimately contribute to the overall success of service management within the organisation.

Keen to learn more about how GWIT could help your team to communicate its successes? We’d love to hear from you.

Discussion topic Employee experience

First-time fix rate: friend or foe?

In IT Service Management (ITSM), the ‘first-time fix’ rate often takes the spotlight as a key metric. Indeed, some outsourced IT contracts over the years have incentivised suppliers to deliver high and increasing incident first-time fix performance.

However, let’s explore a different perspective: why a low ‘first-time fix’ rate might be better in incident management. By prioritising root cause resolution, ITSM practitioners can uncover hidden opportunities for improvement and elevate their incident management practices.

Understanding the limitations of ‘first-time fix’

The ‘first-time fix’ rate represents the percentage of incidents resolved without further escalation or rework. While a high ‘first-time fix’ rate is often desirable, solely chasing this metric can overlook the importance of addressing the root cause of incidents. By fixating on closing incidents quickly, we risk perpetuating a cycle of recurring issues, which leads to frustrated users and inefficiencies within the IT support team.

Unleashing the power of root cause resolution

Instead of focusing on a high ‘first-time fix’ rate, ITSM practitioners should embrace a low rate as an opportunity for growth and improvement. By prioritising root cause resolution, we can address the underlying issues contributing to recurring incidents and create lasting solutions.

Consider a scenario where a user experiences frequent application crashes. A technician could quickly restart the application to achieve a high ‘first-time fix’ rate. However, a low ‘first-time fix’ rate would encourage the technician to investigate further, uncovering that the crashes are caused by compatibility issues with a specific operating system update. By addressing the root cause – updating the application to support the new OS version – the technician resolves the current incident and prevents future occurrences for other users.

Benefits of a low ‘first-time fix’ rate

Sustainable Resolutions
A low ‘first-time fix’ rate signifies a commitment to long-term stability. Investing time and effort into root cause resolution minimises the chances of incidents reoccurring, resulting in improved user experience and reduced workload for the IT support team.

Continuous Improvement
A low ‘first-time fix’ rate fosters a culture of continuous improvement within the ITSM team. It encourages technicians to dig deeper, analyse trends, and identify systemic issues that require proactive measures. This approach leads to more robust systems, enhanced service delivery, and increased customer and employee satisfaction.

Learning and Knowledge Sharing
A low ‘first-time fix’ rate prompts knowledge sharing and collaboration among the ITSM team. By encouraging technicians to document their investigations, findings, and solutions, we create a knowledge base that benefits the entire organisation. This shared knowledge empowers team members to develop their skills and capabilities, improving incident resolution and fostering innovation.

Final thoughts

While a high ‘first-time fix’ rate is often considered ideal in IT incident management, embracing a low rate can unlock the power of root cause resolution. By prioritising thorough investigations and sustainable solutions, we create a culture of continuous improvement and drive meaningful change within our ITSM practices. A low ‘first-time fix’ rate signifies our commitment to addressing underlying issues, enhancing user experience, and propelling our organisations towards greater efficiency and success.