Service management for a more mobile world – is anything different?

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Don’t get lost in the mobile world

Ask any consumer what their favorite new tech gadget is, and odds-on it won’t be a new PC, but a tablet or smartphone. It’s the same in the enterprise: the number of traditional desktop machines being bought is continuing to slide according to Gartner, with a drop of around 8.4% in sales this year compared to 2012. At the same time, tablet sales for 2013 grew by 53.4% to an estimated 184 million devices.

This changing landscape not only changes the way we work, it also greatly impacts IT service management and support strategies. Gartner recently reported that the volume of requests for support of mobile devices will increase significantly, from less than 10% of help-desk requests today to more than 25% of requests by 2016.

This shift in device types and working locations will lead to changes in the type of support issues that service desk technicians will have to deal with. This will force the service desk to skill up around all those different platforms that will be in use, rather than just understanding traditional desktop operating systems, as well as handling requests in new ways.

To help service desks cope with this influx of calls, there are a number of things that service desk managers and ITSM professionals should consider.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM) tools may not provide everything you need

MDM and MAM typically allow enterprises to secure, provision and manage mobile devices, whether they are company-owned or bought in by employees. Most of these activities are performed on a mass scale across groups of devices. But beyond remote locking and wiping features, most mobile management tools provide limited functionality for incident support.

Remote support refers to the tools and technologies that service desks use to access, troubleshoot and control remote systems, typically when an individual has an issue with one specific device or application. Basic remote support functionality has been used for years to access and fix traditional desktops and laptops, but many of the legacy remote access tools don’t work with smartphones and tablets.

Part of the issue is that some mobile operating systems, such as Apple iOS and some instances of Android, limit screen-sharing functionality, but there are a number of remote support tools that let you view system information, configure settings, co-browse, and transfer files to and from the device, which all greatly improve the service desk’s ability to fix an issue. In addition, some solutions offer application-level remote support, where the service desk technician can view and control a specific application.

Users want consistency in their support experience, no matter the device

Unsurprisingly, another limitation with MDM and MAM tools are that they only work with mobile devices. But according to a recent report by Enterprise Management Associates, 87% of all business device users regularly use a PC and at least one mobile device. If users have a bad support experience on one device, this typically drags down their perception of the provider as a whole.

Since service desks normally provide support for end-users that are utilizing both traditional and mobile devices, they should have the ability to use the same remote support tools regardless of what the end user device is. This is important both for efficiency of the service desk – after all, having to run multiple tools to achieve a specific result is a significant drag on productivity – and it enhances the end-user experience if it is seamless and crisp.

New skills will be required for mobile support, and collaboration

As part of its research into service desks, Gartner reports that mobile devices have increased the service desk workload over the last two years for 81% of organizations. However, the majority of these have not increased their staff in line with this. While smarter use of tools like self-service portals, chat technologies and remote support have made service desk professionals more efficient in general, the rise in mobile devices will call for more training and a wider knowledge base across the team.

One way IT teams can boost on-the-job training is by using collaboration functionality and session recordings within remote support sessions. Some solutions allow a front line representative to invite an internal or external subject matter expert (SME) into a session so they can share the case history, do joint issue research, share screen control and ultimately help fix the issue.

Bringing this SME into a support session can help get a customer problem fixed faster, but it also allows the frontline representatives to see how to fix the issue first-hand. It’s even better if that session can be videoed for internal training or used as the basis for a knowledge base article. This means that those esoteric issues can then be dealt with by the first-tier team in the future, reducing costs and improving first-call resolution rates.

In summary

The influx of mobile devices into the work place will have an impact on what service desks have to provide to end-users. However, planning for this now should enable service to be consistent and efficient in meeting those ever-changing needs.

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Process Owner, Process Manager or Process Engineer


Process Owner, Process Manager or Process Engineer?
While they might appear much the same at first glance, these roles are actually very different

Many times people who are just getting started with ITIL (or broader speaking ITSM) stumble over what the differences are between a Process Owner and Process Manager and, to a lesser extent, a Process Engineer.

These are different roles, with different skill sets and expectations but there are some overlaps. Often, especially in smaller organizations, these roles are all served by a single person. Even in that case, it is important to know the different objectives of each role so we can ensure we are in the right frame of mind when working to either promote, create, edit, or report on a process.

Process Owner

In general then the Process Owner is the ultimate authority on what the process should help the company accomplish, ensures the process supports company policies, represents and promotes the process to the business, IT leadership and other process owners, continuously verifies the process is still fit for purpose and use and finally, manages any and all exceptions that may occur.

Overall Accountability and Responsibility:

  • Overall design
  • Ensuring the process delivers business value
  • Ensures compliance with any and all related Policies
  • Process role definitions
  • Identification of Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators
  • Process advocacy and ensuring proper training is conducted
  • Process integration with other processes
  • Continual Process Improvement efforts
  • Managing process exceptions

As you can see the Process Owner is really the process champion. Typically the person filling this role is in a higher level in Leadership to help ensure the process gets the protection and attention it deserves.

The Process Owner will be the main driving force for the process creation, any value the process produces, to include acceptance and compliance within the organization and also any improvements. It is therefore crucial that the Process Owner really understands the organization and its goals as well as its own culture. This is not about reading a book and trying to implement a book version of a process but really understanding how to create a process that will deliver the most value for this particular organization.

General Skills and Knowledge needed:

  • Company and IT Department goals and objectives
  • IT Department organizational structure and culture
  • Ability to create a collaborative environment and deliver a consensus agreement with key IT personnel
  • Authority to manage exceptions as required.
  • ITIL Foundation is recommended
  • ITIL Service Design and Continual Service Improvement could be helpful

Level of Authority in the Organization

  • Director
  • Senior Manager

Process Manager

The Process Manager is more operational than the Process Owner. You may have multiple Process Managers but you will only ever have a single Process Owner.

You can have a Process Manager for different regions or different groups within your IT Department. Think of IT Service Continuity with a ITSC Process Manager for each of your different Data Centers or Change Management having a different Change Process Manager for Applications versus Infrastructure. The Process Owner will define the roles as appropriate for the organizational structure and culture (see above). The Process Manager is there to manage the day to day execution of the process. The Process Manager should also serve as the first line for any process escalation, they should be very familiar with the ins and outs of the process and will be able to determine the appropriate path or if he/she needs to involve the ultimate authority – the Process Owner.

Overall Accountability and Responsibility:

  • Ensuring the process is executed appropriately at each described step
  • Ensuring the appropriate inputs/outputs are being produced
  • Guiding process practitioners (those moving through the process) appropriately
  • Producing and monitoring process KPI reports

The Process Manager is key to the day to day operations of the process. Without a good and helpful Process Manager it won’t matter how well a process was designed and promoted by the Process Owner, the process will flounder in the rough seas of IT day to day execution.

General Skills and Knowledge needed:

  • In depth knowledge of the process workflow and process CSF/KPI’s
  • Ability and authority to accept/reject all inputs/outputs related to the process
  • Ability to successful explain and guide people through the process and handle any low level process issues
  • ITIL Foundation is recommended
  • ITIL Intermediate in an area that covers their particular process could be helpful

Level of Authority in the Organization

  • Mid Level Manager
  • First Line Manager
  • Supervisor

Process Engineer

The Process Engineer is likely to have a lot of Business Analysis and Technical Writer skills and knowledge. This person needs to be able to take the Process Owner’s vision and intent of the process and actually create the process document that will be functionally usable by Process Managers and Process Practitioners. Another useful role of the Process Engineer is help ensure that each process in the enterprise is written in a common manner to ensure consistency in approach and method.

Overall Accountability and Responsibility:

  • Understanding the Process Owner’s vision and intent
  • Documenting the process in a usable and readable manner
    • Organized
    • Simple
    • Unambiguous
    • Ensuring flow charts match text
    • Ensuring processes are documented in a common manner across the enterprise

General Skills and Knowledge needed:

  • Ability to capture process requirements and translate them into a process document
  • Ability to write well
  • Ability to create effective work flow diagrams
  • ITIL Foundation could be helpful

Level of Authority in the Organization

  • Individual Contributor

As you can see a Process Engineer can be quite helpful in ensuring that the vision of the Process Owner is translated into a functional process document.

Conclusion

It is possible that a single person can do all three roles effectively but more likely the person will be more effective at one of these roles and less so at the others. If your organization is such that it is not possible that the three can be filled separately with people possessing the appropriate skills it is still advisable that a separate Process Engineer is utilized across the enterprise. A Process Engineer can work on several processes at once and will always be helpful for any process improvement efforts. A Process Owner can also function as a Process Manager without much issue given an appropriate scope and demand.

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