Chapter 13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Chapter 13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:

Why is it so important to spend so much time on developing a service strategy?

A:

With technology so widespread and readily available today, competitive advantage must be sought through other avenues. These days, a main competitive advantage comes through customer care and satisfaction. Whether it is PCs, appliances, cars , or computing operations services, customers all want to be "handled with care," to be satisfied. How many times have you been willing to pay more for a good or service because your level of satisfaction was so high? If the customer is not satisfied with the goods or services you provide, you can be sure they will either be looking elsewhere or escalating their concerns. It is for this reason that you must take a customer approach.

Q:

Which part of the organization would own this process?

A:

We developed a "new" organization within the IT organization called Integrated Service Delivery (ISD). This organization is cross-program and cross-department and should report in at a high enough level to be able to efficiently leverage and share resources and services.

Q:

What makes a successful outsource partnership?

A:

Outsourcing makes the most sense in an environment, business area, or set of services that is definable, stable, and measurable. If these factors are lacking, then your outsource partner will not be able to provide the timely delivery of quality, predictable services in a cost-effective manner. The key word here is partnership.

Q:

Why are some outsourcing ventures unsuccessful ?

A:

There can be many reasons for an outsourcing venture to be unsuccessful. If you analyze the root cause of each, it is most likely poorly defined requirements that lack the appropriate metrics. Or, the environment is not stable and has ever-changing requirements. Both of these will drive level-of-service issues and could even affect cost.

Q:

Communication throughout IT is worse than ever before. What can be done?

A:

Establish service-level agreements and metrics upfront and maintain frequent and comprehensive communications on performance against the agreed targets. It is also extremely important to ensure that you have the appropriate processes, associated tools, and documentation necessary to report and track customer requirements and issues. A well-documented and easily executable escalation procedure is a good example of this.

Q:

What are the minimum set of processes required to have a cost-effective enterprise?

A:

The minimum set of processes are a function of the comprehensiveness of the services that are required to adequately support the business and the level of service to be provided. Problem Management, Change Management, and Production Acceptance (CMPA) [1] are among the top processes to consider.

Q:

How can risk be minimized when moving to a different technology environment?

A:

A technology shift is something that cannot happen from the bottom up, it must happen from the top down. Gaining early and complete buy-in from the highest level of management is, therefore, essential. To truly minimize the risk, it is essential that you first understand the set of customer requirements, or technical requirements, that you will be satisfying with the technology move. Once you understand how you will be applying the technology, you can organize, staff, and train appropriately. Stay focused on satisfying the customer!

Q:

Outsourcing vendors are telling executive management that they can manage their infrastructure more efficiently. Is this the case?

A:

Whether or not you should look at outsourcing vendors depends largely on the stability, definabilty, and measurability of the infrastructure. As detailed inChapter 1, if you cannot define what you want, chances are an outsource vendor will have less success. Customer satisfaction should be the gauge by which you base your decisions. If you are dealing with a well-defined and stable infrastructure experiencing a predictable amount of change, and your internal IT shop is not delivering the expected level of service, then outsourcing vendors will definitely be appealing to management.

Q:

I manage the IT infrastructure at my company and my CIO comes from a development background. How can I convince her of the urgency to focus on an ISD model?

A:

It all points to customer satisfaction. Take a hard look at what your customers are saying today about the services being offered by your IT organization. If you do not have concrete data, send out a survey and solicit real customer feedback. You will find that this survey will most likely support your suspicions, as well as the conversations you overhear in the hallway, regarding unsatisfied customers. Present these fact-based results to management, along with a course of action, and they will agree that change is neccessary.

Q:

I have had little success benchmarking. What is the best way to approach it?

A:

Computer operations in a global distributed environment is, relatively speaking, a new paradigm. Challenges exist with being able to clearly define the technical environment along with its associated portfolio of services. As a result, few benchmarks exist to use as a guide for setting up a successful operation.

Classic benchmarking efforts oriented to manufacturing-type environments can often be quite extensive , exhaustive, and expensive. In the rapidly changing and evolving IT environment, time is of the essence and return on investment is challenging to calculate. Apply a focused approach to benchmarking while retaining the following primary key steps:

  • Establish the reason to benchmark.

  • Develop an understanding of the current environment's needs.

  • Identify appropriate target companies.

  • Develop a methodology of collecting information.

  • Commit to a plan of utilizing the information collected.

Q:

Our IT shop is growing very quickly and the pressure to try and keep up with business requirements is enormous . We know that we need to do the things you talk about in the book, but there is never enough time for even the minimum and sufficient set of processes. How should we approach this?

A:

You are in this situation for a reason, and there is really little choice. Running in a continuously reactive mode is not the answer. Have you ever heard the saying, " No time to do it right, but plenty of time to do it over! " I can almost assure you that the time that you do not have is being spent on "redoing" work that is not being done "right" the first time.

You need to make the time and start somewhere, and if we were to prioritize for you, we would start with first understanding your customer's requirements and delivery expectations. From here you can begin a ground-up approach to developing a service model, then move right into organizing and resourcing. Again, there are no "magic formulas." Start slowly. It might take you six months to a year to develop a model, but you do need to start. You can also phase the implementation incrementally to achieve benefit along the way.



IT Services Costs, Metrics, Benchmarking and Marketing
IT Services: Costs, Metrics, Benchmarking and Marketing (paperback) (Enterprise Computing Series)
ISBN: 0132621959
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2000
Pages: 93

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