Improving ITSM Maturity – Start with Low Hanging Fruit

It’s no secret IT departments are busy – especially now. And because so many IT departments are focused on triaging their support by focusing on the most serious incidents, it can be hard for departments to step back and find the time for larger projects. 

Often, IT departments get stuck in a cycle of resolving time-sensitive support tickets, unable to break the cycle and take a more proactive, forward-thinking approach to IT service management (ITSM). To remedy this, you can implement an approach that focuses your team on managing problems, instead of incidents. This, coupled with a self-service approach to IT support, can help improve your organization’s delivery of IT service. 

How to Manage Problems vs. Incidents

With the right ITSM platform in place, you can stop treating each incident that comes in as a separate, unconnected event that must be fixed. Instead, you can use your platform to look at the big picture. Use the data you have at your fingertips to identify larger issues and patterns. By doing this, you can uncover the root cause of the incidents and, by fixing it, prevent similar incidents in the future. 

Practical Advice for Breaking the Cycle

While moving from incident management to problem management can make a lot of sense intuitively, it’s easier said than done. There are a couple of things you MUST have to successfully make the move and break the cycle. 

  1. Service Catalog – – Sure, this seems obvious. If we all had the time we needed, we could do anything. But to move successfully to a proactive approach you need to invest time and resources into creating the proper categorization of your tickets.  Analyzing the root cause of the most frequent IT issues within your organization. By making this investment up front, you can free up IT staff who would otherwise be working on resolving repetitive service requests.  If you have a service catalog in place and are appropriately categorizing your tickets, you will be able to perform these analytics easier. 
  1. Visibility – In order to uncover your most common IT issues, you need visibility into what is happening within your organization. You need to be able to look at the data from your help desk and see what the most common requests are. Dashboards for the CIO or other key leadership roles can help bubble up the most critical areas for focus.  By having visibility into your organization, you can more accurately identify your most time-consuming problems and take a proactive approach to resolving future issues.

Why Visibility is Crucial: ITSM Dashboards Help

Without true visibility into your tickets and requests, you have no way to identify trends. Using an ITSM platform is the easiest way to get the visibility you need.

By using an ITSM platform, you can see if there are more service requests for one particular type of server, compared to others in your network, for example. This could lead to an investigation that uncovers an unreliable server in need of replacement. Or maybe you see that you get a number of requests about Wi-Fi service being interrupted within a single building and upon investigation discover faulty wiring in the building that’s causing the problem.

Now, instead of trying to solve each Wi-Fi request from that building with little to no success, you can replace the wiring and solve the problem for everyone.

It’s OK to Think Long-Term

In service-based departments, it can be very hard to not focus on quickly solving every little issue that comes in. But a long-term strategic approach can pay huge dividends with a little short-term pain. And if you are feeling overwhelmed by IT service requests that need immediate attention, there’s training available to IT leaders to help you prioritize and make the move to a more proactive approach to ITSM. 

The ITIL certification process teaches leaders how to manage problems rather than incidents, and the Help Desk Institute (HDI) has some useful resources as well. 

By reducing the number of recurring incidents your organization experiences, you can save time and make your IT department more efficient and effective.

Cornell Takes IT Service to the Next Level

Adopting a more mature approach to IT service requires three key aspects working together in harmony: people, processes, and technology. Cornell University’s Central IT division had the first two elements in place but was lacking when it came to the right technology.

Central IT staff wanted to be able to move ahead with initiatives such as enabling self-service and using key performance indicators to improve operations, but the IT service management platform they were using was holding them back.

While the platform included detailed reporting capabilities, these features weren’t very accessible or easy to use. “Our old tool had very sophisticated reporting, but you almost needed programming experience to be able to use it,” says Todd Maniscalco, assistant director for customer service and support within Cornell’s Central IT division. As a result, team members had to spend a lot of time building and scheduling reports that provided the kind of insight that leaders wanted.

The university also didn’t have an easy way to create self-service portals for students, faculty, and staff. Central IT maintained a knowledge base within Drupal, an open-source content management system, but there was no easy way to manage this information. The university was looking for an IT and enterprise service management platform that was simple to use and included robust self-service capabilities that would allow IT staff to take customer service to a new level of maturity. They found that — and more — in TeamDynamix.

Now using TeamDynamix for their IT service management (ITSM) and project portfolio management (PPM) needs, Central IT is leveraging the platform as part of its continual improvement process. “We’re looking to see whether there are workflows we can put into place that will improve service through greater automation,” Maniscalco says.

Although Central IT can’t mandate that other departments follow certain practices, the division is doing what it can to ensure that TeamDynamix is used effectively across the university. “We set up an advisory committee to share processes and practices that we have found to be effective,” Briggs says. “If there are any major incidents that affect multiple units, we coordinate our response to those incidents — and we have gained a lot of efficiencies from this.”

TeamDynamix has quickly become an indispensable tool for driving greater IT maturity campus-wide, which was a major goal behind adopting the system. However, a nice side benefit has been the quality of service and support that Cornell has realized in working with TeamDynamix as well.

“TeamDynamix has been a great vendor to work with,” Maniscalco concludes. “They are genuine, and we really get the sense that they’re listening to our needs, which is refreshing. I have worked with many vendors before, and that’s rare.”


TeamDynamix Ranked #1 in ITSM​

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