– A new philosophy in IT Management to the Digital Enterprise
Every IT Infrastructure needs Operational Support. IT management is a mature area with great references/standards/best practices. The concepts of Service Desk, ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), etc., are there for decades now. Service Levels Objectives, Service Level Agreements are part of the common vocabulary even for non-IT functions.
However, there are a few things that still prevent IT management function getting due recognition for its contribution to business objectives. One of this is the lack of alignment of IT management policies to business goals.
Many years ago in a seminar, a highly influential industry professional made a statement, “the best delivered service is when there is no service support.” Expanding he said that maximum customer satisfaction is achieved when customer needs no operational support or service support. In other words he was speaking about a scenario where his product or services would never break down or customer would never need to punch the service desk number.
We will perhaps realise this utopian dream some day. But today’s reality is that operations support is essential because the service rendered to the customer is a result of an eco-system coming together of many products, connectivity provided through wired and wireless networks, service providers rendering different QoS (Quality of Service) links, interworking operating systems, hardware platforms and on top of it all applications working with various middleware, backend databases, SAN/NAS, etc. In other words IT is complex in its architecture and integration, unique to each enterprise, exclusive to each department in the way it is consumed by end users.
In view of this, the better way or the only way to deliver positive service experience is through IT Services Management rendered on basis of outcomes.
The old practice of providing support by deploying a certain number of resources known as FTE (Full Time Engineers/Executives) is fast running out of steam. IT Service Management is being defined by outcomes and delivery based on FTE is being replaced by service measurements like, number of tickets resolved, number of activities managed and solved, number of user supported, etc. This is often referred to as the SLA based approach.
While meeting SLAs through such performance measures may be regarded as positive outcomes for contractual purposes, it is important to also define customer experience oriented measures as forming part of expected positive outcomes.
Some aspects to look at include:
- How is an end user or enterprise consuming IT?
- What are the CTQ (Critical to Quality) parameters needed for the IT user to meet his business objectives?
- What is the priority of his service request against business?
- Is the Service Levels meeting the end objectives in a holistic manner?
On these questions rest customer satisfaction. Increasingly IT Management providers are failing to renew contracts where SLAs are met but customer satisfaction or sense of service is not perceived positively.
To break this deadlock, the new way is to address ‘Customer Experience’ as the most important part of Service Management. Positive Customer Experience is absolutely necessary in every interaction between Customer/IT user and IT Service Management provider. Positive Customer Experience is an essential parameter in every IT management contract.
At InKnowTech we give great importance to Customer Experience as an overlay to the Service Level Agreements. All our service contracts have stringent SLAs, but in addition, we also are accountable for customer experience measured by metrics such as:
- Communication Quality during a service request
- Quality of Solution provided
- Comfort feel with the knowledge and skills of the engineer handling the service
- Ownership on the problem
- Overall Satisfaction on the whole experience
The emerging Digital Enterprise is placing new demands on IT management, and these can be met only when IT management becomes accountable to the end user. InKnowTech’s philosophy of ‘IT Management by Outcomes and Positive Customer Experience’ represents our understanding of the new realities in enterprise IT.