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As we approach another new year, some may already be thinking about resolutions for 2017.
Here’s a suggestion: Stop talking about your company in monolithic, size-focused terms such as “SMB” (“small to mid-sized business”) or “large enterprise.”
In all but the smallest companies, there is rarely if ever a situation where one size fits all. Why? Because in most enterprises (regardless of size) multiple initiatives and efforts are underway simultaneously. And while your business may be deeply experienced in some areas, some of those initiatives likely involve areas of focus at which you and your colleagues are novices.
IT presents several immediate and obvious examples. Your company may be expert in its primary business or businesses. But unless one or more of those is, in fact, IT, it’s unlikely that your company is as good at IT as it is at whatever it does best.
With this in mind, it may be more valuable and relevant to think less about companies in terms of “small” and “large”, and more about companies in terms of “start-up” and “scale-up” of specific initiatives. Or about processes that are more mature and less mature. Or environments or situations that are more complex or less complex.
Why words matter
This may seem at first like a pointless exercise in rhetorical hair-splitting. However, it turns out that how you frame discussions can have important effects on how those discussions play out and the results they produce.
Or, to be a bit more succinct, word choice matters.
Especially when you’re considering or pursuing initiatives important to your business.
Depending on the words you use to describe it, an initiative to, say, improve IT security or asset management may come across as a daunting, boil-the-ocean exercise, or as a worthy enhancement to the processes that run the business. And since every significant initiative involves engaging the support of others, how you present the initiative can have a major effect on its probability of success.
The challenge of word choice is equally significant regardless of the size of your enterprise. There are lots of smaller companies that face IT and other challenges as complex as those faced by larger organizations. And not every challenge faced by a larger enterprise is necessarily more complex than those faced by their smaller counterparts.
Another challenge: making sure the words used to assess challenges and plan solutions are based on accurate, credible information wherever possible. This means that in many cases, a central, well-managed repository of relevant information, stored and organized with an agreed-upon taxonomy, is the best foundation for communications based on or related to that information.
LANDESK has both the solutions and the thought leaders to help you use the right words to pursue your IT initiatives successfully, and to back those words up with the best available information about your environment.
Are you considering or pursuing an IT asset management (ITAM) initiative? You can read about how different people view assets differently, as well as what should be in your ITAM database, in this excellent blog post by ITAM Evangelist Patricia Adams: What is IT Asset Management?
You might also want to check out Patricia’s on-demand webinar in which she introduces her ITAM Attainment Model. There is also the very useful Info-Tech ITAM Report in which LANDESK was named a “Champion” vendor.
- Risk management
How about risk management? Read Effective Risk Management Without Boiling the Ocean, another great post by our CSO, Phil Richards. In it, Phil discusses why a risk register aids risk and security management initiatives, and suggests some of the words that can help avoid boiling the risk management ocean.
- Service management
Service management, within and even beyond IT? Got you covered there, too. LANDESK Service Desk combines social, mobile, and self-service support with data connectors and multiple integrations with other tools and data. Its ability to deliver a federated view of your configuration management database (CMDB) and other features are why Garter named LANDESK a “Visionary” in its 2015 IT Service Management and Support report.
Of course, we have other resources and solutions to help you succeed with initiatives in these and other areas as well. Check them out online, or contact your LANDESK, AppSense, Shavlik, or Wavelink representative to learn more.
Let LANDESK help you make 2017 the year in which your organization increases the maturity of its IT initiatives and processes, to the benefit of the entire business.
I recently visited one of the world’s emerging biotech companies who pioneer solutions in rare disease therapies.
The company has asked that we not share their name for privacy reasons.
Hardware and software asset management
Aside from the task of developing new and groundbreaking treatment options, one of the main challenges the company faced was how to effectively manage their hardware and software assets.
A recent merger increased their global workforce to 25,000 to 30,000 employees. It also brought with it a number of new devices and software, all being managed by a singular IT asset management team.
One of their greatest challenges was managing all those ‘new’ assets, a task they used to do within spreadsheets and various point products. It’s not the most accurate approach, and it could potentially expose them to serious security threats.
With solutions from LANDESK, they’ve been able to gain a deeper knowledge of what assets they have, where they’re located, and most importantly, how they’re performing.
These same solutions are also helping them shore up their IT security. Devices that potentially contain pirated software can open the door to malware, leading to costly data breaches that can permanently damage a company’s bottom line and reputation.
LANDESK Security Suite features application whitelisting and blacklisting – preventing users from putting their organization at risk.
With LANDESK Asset Central, they’re in the process of discovering and inventorying their assets in order to gain visibility on each device connected to the company’s network and the software on those devices. It’s the first step in a global ITAM strategy and a crucial task when preparing for the inevitable audit.
Previously, their IT asset management team was making software and hardware purchases based solely on requests. They’re now using LANDESK Asset Intelligence to track software installations and usage, a move that allowed them to reclaim $100,00 in software licensing.
They now know exactly what has been purchased, installed, and used. With this information, they’re able to reduce costs and better negotiate with vendors.
Many organizations are following suit, as software companies realize just how lucrative audits can prove to be.
Tracking the lifecycle of employees and their devices is also critical in the highly-regulated field of biotechnology. Having comprehensive onboarding/offboarding procedures will ensure sensitive information like patient data or proprietary assets are secure and won’t be leaked.
The switch to LANDESK has also made generating reports simpler. Before LANDESK, it took a lot of research and work hours to generate a report on a specific topic. Now, LANDESK’s solutions allow for the instant creation of comprehensive reports across a wide-range of subsets within the ITAM structure.
The scalability and customization of tools like LANDESK Asset Central and Xtraction allow users to drag and drop the information that’s most important to them, making for an easy-to-read to display.
The benefits extend beyond the core IT team. LANDESK Workspaces allows everyone from C-level to front office staff, gain visibility into their network based on their role within an organization.
Installing LANDESK Asset Central in their environment was a breeze. One software asset manager said it was the smoothest transition he’d experienced in his two decades in the industry. They’re incredibly satisfied with the support they received from LANDESK and the products we’ve provided.
So what’s next? The company is looking to use LANDESK to automate certain processes within their IT workflow. It’s a time saving move that will allow them to focus on more important mission goals. Why not join them? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and see how we can help you gain control of your IT environment while saving time and money.
Before joining LANDESK a little more than 15 months ago, I spent much of the preceding three-and-a-half decades as an industry analyst, reporter, and consultant.
In all of those roles, my colleagues and I paid close attention to the accolades accorded to the vendors we followed by their peers and other outsiders. We saw many of those kudos as real-world validations that those vendors were delivering real value to their clients and partners, as well as being good corporate citizens of their respective communities.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the people and products of LANDESK have received a fair number of interesting accolades throughout 2016. Here’s a quick review.
- LANDESK Executive VP of Global Services Josh Baxter named one of Utah Business’ Forty Under 40.
- LANDESK named Business of the Year by the Utah Association for Career and Technical Education (UACTE).
- Reza Parsia, director of the North American channel at LANDESK, named a 2016 Channel Chief by the editorial staff of CRN.
- LANDESK VP of Human Resources Sue Urses named HR Person of the Year by the Utah Technology Council.
- LANDESK CTO Tom Davis named a “CXO of the Year” by Utah Business.
- LANDESK named one of 2016’s “Top 10 Best Support Sites” by The Association of Support Professionals (ASP).
- LANDESK named a “Champion” in the 2016 IT Asset Manager (ITAM) Vendor Landscape Report from Info-Tech Research Group.
- Shavlik Protect wins the Gold Award in the Security category for “Best of VMworld 2016.”
- LANDESK Asset Central and LANDESK Service Desk achieve highest possible level of PinkVERIFY 2011 certification from Pink Elephant, leading provider of IT service management (ITSM) education and consulting.
Now, I may be a bit biased, but I see this list as both impressive and meaningful to any people or companies doing business or considering doing business with LANDESK.
Collectively, the accolades represent and underscore our company’s commitment to hire the best people, deliver the best solutions, and treat customers, partners, and our communities with the utmost respect.
When I was a callow young marketer, a far more seasoned colleague said this: “If I say it about myself, it’s just advertising. If someone else says it about me, it’s PR, and far more credible.”
While that colleague was half-joking, there’s a lot of truth underlying the humor. What others say about us often speaks far more emphatically and credibly than anything we say about ourselves.
So when looking at LANDESK or any other vendor, look beyond the offerings. Check out the above accolades, and pay attention to those accorded to every vendor with which your company does business, and every vendor that seeks to do business with your enterprise.
After all, you want to make absolutely sure that your company is always in the best possible company, don’t you?
When you hear the word agility, you think of track and field sprinters, or a running back darting through the defense at breakneck speed. Or what happens when you put jet fuel in your minivan. Well, maybe not that last one.
IT teams are learning the power of agility within their own environments and how that translates to better performance across the board.
Traditional IT service management (ITSM) is driven by stability and cost control. Detailed enterprise strategy and planning initiate requests for technical capabilities to support those plans in a waterfall style that is often slow-moving.
Although cost control remains important, the goal is now innovation and relationships with business users.
Enterprises today turn to IT as the primary means of help, and they expect IT to be at the forefront of strategy. From IT’s perspective, everything it does must be about creating business value and enabling greater enterprise agility.
What is enterprise agility?
Enterprise agility concerns the ability to react and adapt to expected and unexpected business changes and opportunities as they arise to gain leadership, market share, enter new markets, and operate in a competitive environment.
While agility encompasses numerous aspects, the constant is time. It’s the ability to identify new risks and opportunities and develop a strategic response quickly, with the flexibility to execute on the response.
The market leaders in today’s digital world are those who identify changes and respond to them with speed and agility. It’s an operational and competitive requirement for every successful enterprise. It should be no surprise that linking together IT execution and enterprise strategy within a flexible environment is the foundation of enterprise agility.
To accommodate this new operating environment, service management teams must be more responsive and adaptive to organizational changes.
IT teams must step outside the mind-set of merely supporting and maintaining email systems and such to become innovators who enable and shape business strategy. This requires changes in systems, processes, and the roles that people perform.
There’s a popular TV show on PBS called Antiques Roadshow. The premise of the show is people bringing in items that they’ve either picked up at a yard sale or inherited in order to have them professionally appraised.
Every once in a while, an unassuming bargain hunter will find out that their thrift store painting (that looks like a horse made out of lasagna) is actually a Picasso. Or the vase they’ve been putting plastic flowers in is actually from the Ming Dynasty.
The bottom line is you never know what something is actually worth until you invest in getting it valuated.
Measuring the value of ITSM
One of the most significant challenges facing IT service management (ITSM) organizations is the inability to measure and find meaningful ways to communicate metrics around the value they bring to the business.
While many organizations have effective operational performance measures in place, a focus on demonstrating and maximizing business value often isn’t evident.
Traditional metrics focus on the performance of the ITSM team and tools, e.g., first contact resolution or number of service requests logged in a given day. They describe the current and past situation but don’t provide the necessary insight to predict what to do next, spot moments of importance, and make connections between them.
These traditional metrics are not the figures that business leaders use to make strategic decisions. IT performance and productivity reporting has its place, but alone doesn’t reveal how IT assists the business or business users presently and how it can drive future strategy.
Take a typical incident report. It might indicate there were 25 major incidents over a two-week period. But for the executive level, it’s difficult to understand the business impact of this number.
Showing how those major incidents translate into hours of unavailability for each service, coupled with financial cost, helps the executive level understand the business impacts and risks of a particular service outage, and to make appropriate decisions.
Dashboards and reports
Dashboards and reports are vital to modernizing IT service management, but to be most effective, it’s necessary to understand the required outcomes and priorities of different business managers within the organization.
The most valuable reports are those that offer accurate insights into performance and how that translates into business impact.
Valuable dashboards highlight areas to drive improvements. These reports and dashboards focus communication on what’s important to each business manager viewing the data—the CIO, VP of Operations, or the CEO.
Embracing a value-based approach
It’s time to embrace a value-based approach that ties IT performance and measurement to business outcomes. Only then can you add value by disclosing insights in a business-centric way. This aggregated business view requires inputs from multiple data sources such as incident data, service availability, and cost.
Market research firm IDC predicts that by 2017, 80 percent of CIOs will have a plan in place centered on using data to drive the business past its competition. The same IDC study found that more than 70 percent of organizations that have data valuation processes in place are primarily collecting and analyzing data manually.
Use reporting tools to avoid manual, time-intensive analysis. These tools roll up old-school metrics to dashboards in a way that individual systems and tools can’t achieve easily:
- Offer the context of business impact alongside standard performance metrics.
- Ensure that dashboard data can be filtered easily so any business user can dig into the results and make a fast decision that matches your modern-responsive ITSM operation.
- Enable your service management teams to communicate effectively to business decision-makers and stay relevant to the business.
The foundation for value
The value of timely dashboards with relevant data cannot be overstated. Using visualizations that are intuitive and easy to interpret, these dashboards help managers quickly determine:
- The current state of where they are.
- If they’re on track to meet objectives.
- What changes or fine-tuning are required to stay on course.
Value-based dashboards and reports targeted at business users are a requirement for every modern ITSM organization to drive performance efficiencies, facilitate business strategy, optimize processes, monitor trends, and quickly identify new opportunities for growth.
These business-oriented dashboards create the foundation for demonstrating and improving value and effectiveness for your business by improving the speed and accuracy of decision-making.
When your IT service management team engages with business users wanting to make a request or resolve an issue, that interaction creates a lasting perception. At the operational end, there are several areas where small, fast, incremental improvements can enrich relationships substantially.
For example, when a business user interacts with your team or ITSM system, consider what information is already known or can be retrieved automatically to inform the team about the user’s current situation and state of mind.
This ensures a smoother, more pleasant interaction rather than adding to the frustration a user may feel when a service fails. You can build better relationships and achieve a faster, streamlined service that meets SLAs.
Here are a few recommendations for speedy improvements that LANDESK customers employ to ensure they maintain solid relationships with their business users and minimize frustrations that can fracture working relationships:
- Don’t force your team or business users to re-enter login information when they’re already logged into your service management system.
- Populate data fields automatically, and provide easy drop-down options to pick from.
- Clearly label mandatory fields to prevent rework and try to minimize forms.
- Consider the use of dynamic form displays to ensure your users are only presented with the questions they need to answer based on previous responses (the larger or more complex the form, the less likely the user will fill it out if it’s presented in one block, or the user will fill it out badly, slowing your response time).
Relationship building applies to your own ITSM team as well
Team motivation, engagement, and the ability to encourage the right behaviors when the team is under pressure are challenging.
Gamification can be effective in increasing engagement, reinforcing desired behaviors, and developing skills within your own team. This is a relatively modern phenomenon that is taking hold in the consumer world. For example, retail offers are employed to enhance loyalty to particular brands and drive consumers to certain purchases at fixed times of the year.
Gamification is unrelated to game design. It takes a non-game activity or task and integrates game mechanics to motivate participation and engagement. Your team earns points or badges as they complete tasks, and their scores are displayed on a leader dashboard to further stimulate performance. It plays to the intrinsic motivators of your team, such as sense of purpose, and extrinsic motivators through a dashboard that displays team scores and badges.
When employing gamification techniques, ensure the team is focused on the right outcomes, not earning points or badges only. Assign higher rewards or points based on tasks of higher value, such as the creation of knowledge articles or mentoring junior team members, over easier tasks, such as resolving a password reset, to avoid having a team cherry pick tasks to gain more points.
Communicate business value
Once you understand your users, the business, and the industry—and you’re offering the services and experiences that meet expectations—you should measure, communicate, and report the impact your team makes on the business regularly.
For positive, ongoing business relationships, you need an intimate understanding of the audience served to detect changes in satisfaction levels and take action.
Promoting and marketing your operation to the business may be unfamiliar to your team, but demonstrating your success impacts the perception and ultimately the relationship to the business and the users you support.
These simple tips for modernization can better equip your service management organization to develop strong relationships with business users and gain a comprehensive understanding of what they need to be productive. With this knowledge, you can respond in a way that fully supports business productivity goals, which is crucial to remaining relevant to the business.
Successfully modernizing IT service management operations is directly connected to how you’re engaging with the users who come to you with problems.
The risk of lack of engagement is already apparent through Shadow IT implementations when a business group or department acquires, builds, or implements a technology without IT’s participation.
This poses a significant security risk and creates issues of scalability and supportability since the system is standalone, not integrated and not scaling well. All of this translates to an increased volume of incidents to the service desk.
When you develop trust and build relationships with business users, they know they can come to you with questions. By having the conversation, IT helps the business understand its needs, and the solution will most likely be better overall because everyone is involved from the outset.
You simply can’t achieve success without the support and engagement of the business users, business leaders, and influencers you serve. Once identified, meet with them regularly and have clear objectives, whether through travel or in-person business productivity teams.
You’re more likely to be included in departmental decisions about new services and less likely to be supporting a Shadow IT service implementation that places your team in firefighting mode and casts doubt within the organization whether the ITSM operation is valuable and relevant to the business.
Remember that every interaction with your users is an opportunity to develop and improve relationships. Put yourself in their shoes as you evaluate each interaction they experience with the ITSM team. What little extras would enable you to have a better experience? This includes not only how users work and the services and experiences you need to build into your self-service, but also how they would prefer to engage.
The secret to modernizing your IT service management operation can be a lot like courtship, specifically that moment where you’re smitten to the point that you’re willing to go above and beyond to meet the needs of the object of your affection.
For successful ITSM organizations, it boils down to showing the same level of affection to their users, the problems they need resolved, and the business environment they operate in. But many ITSM organizations fail to engage and add value to their business operations due to a lack of understanding beyond their own IT domain.
Old-style support is focused on solving specific technical challenges and problems as individual users bring them to the attention of the service desk. Modern ITSM incorporates the development of relationships with business units and their business users to ensure that service delivery and support meets users’ needs.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of building a service management environment that’s based on the internal workings of the IT department, its systems, and the structure of existing workflows. But the true value of the ITSM operation flows from enabling the business to meet its objectives quickly and completely. The business simply doesn’t care about nor understand the internal ITSM structure. Users only desire to stay productive and have any issues resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible.
At the operational level, users connect with IT teams for problem resolution, information, or access to a service. This could involve:
- Creating a new incident: Someone reports an issue or raises an issue on another’s behalf.
- Raising a new request: Someone requires hardware, software, or another service.
- Seeking help: Someone is searching for information to solve an issue or feels that the problem can’t be resolved with self-service and is seeking a knowledgeable human being for assistance.
- Employee request: Someone requires an HR services request for a new or leaving employee, or other non-IT service.
A business user’s ultimate goal is fulfilling the objectives of their role to support the wider enterprise mission. Any interruption along the path is an unwelcome distraction that the user expects to be dealt with quickly.
To do so, it’s imperative that you understand the business and the industry your organization operates in, the processes your users employ, the regulations they must comply with that affect the data, and the services they need to access.
While it may not be love at first sight, successful service management teams become trusted partners.