Archives for category: Information Technology

Louisville training partners Service Management Dynamix and Tandem Solution deliver certified ITIL® consulting, training, and implementations that provide best practice solutions for your IT department.

   The Foundation Certificate enables people to understand the terminology used within ITIL®. It focuses upon foundation knowledge with regard to the ITIL® Lifecycle and Capability sets as well as covering generic ITIL® philosophy and its background. It is a prerequisite for the ITIL® v3 Intermediate courses. Attend public / instructor-led classes at our site or yours. You may also attend these same live classes from your home/office PC via our Remote Classroom Instruction. If you have 6 or more students, you can schedule private / Instructor-led classes that have been designed with your specific needs in mind. Private classes may be scheduled at your site or ours.

Jason Hinder comments on the recent analysis of IT best practices made by Garter’s Ken McGee. Are these drastic measures the answer?

Get drastic: 15 IT Best Practices to kill

By Jason Hiner October 25, 2011, 2:16 PM PDT
 
 
 

 Takeaway: Gartner analyst Ken McGee has a radical assessment of IT and what CIOs need to do about. Read his principles of the “new CIO manifesto.”

The traditional IT department has entered a period of massive transformation and CIOs are having to completely rethink the way they lead, strategize, and manage their careers. That was the message from Gartner analyst Ken McGee at arguably the boldest and most honest session at Gartner Symposium 2011.

McGee told the convocation of CIOs that it’s time for drastic action and they need to stop doing a lot of the things that are traditional mainstays of IT strategy, and it needs to happen as soon as possible. He said that if you want to use IT to create value in your company as well as develop valuable experience for your career then you need to embrace “creative destruction.”

The idea is that you create something new and don’t worry about the fact that it will kill something old in the process. That’s a natural part of transformation, in this line of thinking. McGee said CIOs should be guided by a “new CIO manifesto” in driving these changes and he gave four principles of this new manifesto, which I’ve listed below.

McGee then listed 16 IT best practices that IT leaders should eliminate as soon as possible. The list below has 15 items because McGee had No. 4 as a two-parter (business apps + technical infrastructure). I simply left it as a single item.

Photo credit: Jason Hiner | TechRepublic
Photo credit: Jason Hiner | TechRepublic

“New CIO manifesto”

  1. Information is just as important, if not more important than information technology.
  2. More than 50% of annual CIO project spending will be directed toward measurably improving the financial conditions of an enterprise.
  3. More than 50% of all enterprise information and IT spending will directly support revenue generating rather than expense related business processes.
  4. The incentive portion of CIO compensation will be derived from the amount of money created by the efforts of CIOs and their staffs.

IT practices to eliminate

  1. Reject annual mismatch between CEO priorities and IT’s most funded projects
  2. Terminate support of projects that will not improve the income statement
  3. Abandon CIO priorities that do not directly support CEO priorities
  4. Stop recommending IT mega projects
  5. Abolish environment of little or no IT spending accountability
  6. Terminate existing applications that do not yield measurable business value
  7. End the practice of placing enterprise IT spending within the CIO’s budget
  8. Eliminate IT-caused business model disruption “surprises”
  9. Eradicate “cloud-a-phobia”
  10. Abandon level 1, 2, and 3 tech support
  11. Cancel most IT chargeback systems
  12. Cease issuing most competitive bids
  13. Stop holding on to unfunded projects
  14. End discrimination against behavioral skills and social sciences
  15. Abandon IT’s unbalanced support between front and back office

Sanity check

You’ve got to like Ken McGee’s boldness here, because it is absolutely warranted. IT is facing rising responsibilities with stagnant budgets and it simply can’t go on doing things the way it has in the past. It’s completely unsustainable. IT has to stop thinking of itself as a business utility and start seeing itself as a business catalyst. In order to do that, it’s going to have to think in business terms and economic impact for everything it does, from asking for a replacement router in a branch office to recommending a new cloud app to run customer service. That’s ultimately what McGee is getting at, and while the idea has received lip service for years, it’s time to use that principle to make some painful decisions that will reshape IT.

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 “If Mama’s not happy, then nobody is happy.” There is a reason that Training and Education are number one on the list to keep employees happy. Happy employees mean more productivity, higher retention rates, and a boost to everyone’s bottom line.  Here are 5 Best Practices to show your most valuable assets what their happiness means to you. (Or for the rest of us to show our bosses what we need to show ’em the money!) 

 5 ways to Keep your Rockstar Employees Happy

By Daniel Debow, Rypple Oct. 15, 2011, 9:00am PT

The Googleplex, Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View California, is legendary for its perks. Employees have access to unlimited free meals, haircuts, dry cleaning, massages, and even onsite medical care.

Yet earlier this year, when Google interviewed its employees about what they valued most at work, none of these extravagant benefits made the top of the list. Neither did salary. Instead, employees cited access to “even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.”

Tangibles like salary and benefits aren’t enough to guarantee that your best and brightest creatives will remain engaged. Indeed, a recent landmark study by Arnold Worldwide of 3,000 employees and 500 executive leaders across a range of communication and advertising firms found that 30 percent of the advertising workforce say they’ll be gone from their job within 12 months.

 Take Jill, an outstanding, experienced copy editor whom Agency X recently recruited at considerable expense from one of its chief rivals. Despite her outward success, she’s unsure how she’s performing, where she stands in the company, and how she fits into the overall goals of the agency. Her pay is great, she loves the Friday office happy hour, but over time, she finds herself feeling demotivated by the lack of communication, and checks out.

The loss of star performers like Jill doesn’t just leave a talent vacuum to fill; it also leaves a gaping hole in the bottom line. Indeed, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal calculated that it typically costs a company about half a position’s annual salary to recruit for that job ¾ and several times that if the position requires rare skills.

So how can your company keep its stars engaged? It comes down to creating a culture of communication — one in which employees know where the organization is headed, how they fit into these plans, and what’s expected of them. Here are a few key strategies your agency can employ to make this happen.

1. Create a culture of education

The average Starbucks barista gets more training in a year than the average employee in a communications company, according to the Arnold Worldwide study. For employees, the single most important motivational factor was the ability to learn. Yet the study found a huge disconnect when it comes to perceptions about company training. While 90 percent of employees say they learn by figuring things out on their own, only 25 percent of executives think that employees learn independently.

To keep employees motivated, agencies need to build a culture of learning, where employees leave more enriched at the end of each day.

2. Provide regular, consistent feedback

Employee feedback is a critical part of the education process, and shouldn’t just be relegated to the annual review. To be effective, feedback needs to be specific and actionable. But that’s not always how it works.

In a study by Leadership IQ, 53 percent of employees said that when their boss praises excellent performance, the feedback does not provide enough useful information to help them repeat it. And 65 percent responded that when their boss criticizes poor performance, it doesn’t provide enough useful information to help them correct the issue.

Feedback, both positive and constructive, is most effective when given right away. Negative feedback given a month after the fact can lead to a passive-aggressive environment in which an employee feels powerless to act on the advice.

Think of it this way: no one wants to go a full day knowing their price tag was hanging from the back of their shirt, or the remnants of the salad they had for lunch were still stuck in their teeth. If an employee does something well, that activity should be encouraged. And if there’s room for improvement, they should be given the opportunity to learn for their next task.

3. Set time aside for weekly 1:1 meetings

At first, most employees and managers will cringe at the idea of yet another meeting. But instituting weekly 1:1 meetings can be the most important step you take to retaining your top performers.

In its quest to build a better boss, Google discovered that its worst managers weren’t consistent in their 1:1 meetings; some focused on meeting with people who were underperforming, while others met primarily with the top performers.

Consequently, Google implemented the best practice of 1:1 meetings with all team members.

These meetings can cover anything and everything ¾ from upcoming projects to the latest client news. With each week, discussions about goals, feedback, and concerns become a lot more natural ¾ unlike the awkward, starchy conversations during annual reviews. Over time, it becomes easier for both sides to raise potential problems and deal with them early on, before they fester into something destructive.

4. Manage the grunt work properly

Not every project is going to be awesome. That’s just the way business works. And chances are your employees understand this.

However, managers need to handle such projects responsibly and that means a few things. Boring projects should always be balanced with more stimulating work. Employees should always be told how any grunt works fits into the overall needs of the company (“If we do a good job on x, we’re hoping the client will give us their cool launch next year”). And specific parameters should always be set for the boring stuff ¾ meaning employees should always see light at the end of the tunnel.

5. Publicly acknowledge good work

All too often, managers see motivation in terms of financial compensation, but money is far from the only way to effectively reward talented employees. A 2009 survey by McKinsey Quarterly asked which incentives were the most effective in motivating employees. The top two responses were: “Praise and commendation from immediate manager” (67 percent), and “Attention from leaders” (62 percent).

Praise and commendation go a long way in making employees feel noticed and valued. And the impact of a pat on the back is multiplied when it’s done publicly. Through public commendations, employees not only feel the support and respect of their manager, but the entire organization as well (including top-level executives). Creating a framework for “social recognition” will encourage a culture of appreciation throughout your firm.

Keeping your rockstar employees on board has always been important, and don’t think that economic uncertainty will keep your employees around. Your company has worked hard to recruit some bright people and great talent; make sure an opaque work environment doesn’t drive them into the arms of your competition.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Esparta. 

Five tips for bridging the gap between Millennials and IT

By Nathan McNeill via TechRepublic
August 30, 2011, 2:18 PM PDT

Takeaway: Self-reliant, tech savvy, connected: Millennials have different needs and expectations from previous generations. And that could make your job easier.

There’s a notion that the Millennial generation represents a nightmare for IT support, with their tech-savvy nature and demands for the latest and greatest tools. But a recent survey conducted by GigaOM Pro and Isurus Market Research, and sponsored by Bomgar, shows that Millennials may bring more opportunities than problems to the table. This group is largely self-sufficient and collaborative when it comes to problem solving, and it’s open to using more efficient communication channels.

To take advantage of those opportunities, IT professionals need to find ways to close the gaps between Millennials’ expectations and what most IT support departments provide today.

1: Embrace mobility

The terms Millennial and mobile are nearly synonymous. It’s no secret that this generation relies on smartphones and often uses personal devices for professional purposes. Because this unchains Millennials from their desks, they tend to work more outside the office and traditional work hours. In fact, according to the survey, 50 percent of Millennials report working after hours on a weekly basis. This means that IT needs to be able to support Millennials’ devices on a 24/7 basis, no matter where they’re located.

Implement multi-platform support tools that allow you to remotely connect to and fix mobile devices. Also, consider staggering your support personnel’s hours or leveraging reps in different time zones to provide support coverage around the clock.

2: Pick up the pace — try chat

The gap between what Millennials believe is a reasonable amount of time to wait for a response and what IT is prepared to promise is significant. Thanks to customer service solutions such as OnStar and the ubiquity of Google, Millennials expect to get answers at the touch of a button.

A solution to this problem? Evaluate alternative communication channels, such as chat, to expedite the problem-to-resolution process. Unlike the phone, chat allows support reps to help multiple end users at once, which can significantly cut hold time. Plus, Millennials are used to and often prefer text-based communications to the phone. The survey found that six out of 10 Millennials said the telephone was not their first choice, and chat was among the top three choices for more than half of Millennials surveyed.

3: Tailor support to Millennials’ problem-solving patterns

The research also shows that 61 percent of Millennials look first to sources outside the company (e.g., Google) when initially trying to solve a problem. While some may think they’re just being dismissive of IT policies, Millennials are actually driven by a need to be self-sufficient and understand their technology issues. This makes them prime candidates for both self-help solutions and collaborative problem solving, which helps them learn about the issue.

Smart IT managers will engineer FAQs or self-help centers to behave more like search engines, social networks, or forums. They’ll also leverage screen-sharing technology that allows end users to watch the tech fix their computer or mobile device and learn how to avoid or fix the issue in the future. This will not only reduce future help desk calls, but reduce potential damage from Millennials receiving erroneous outsider advice.

4: Educate Millennials on IT policies

While more than half of Millennials report they follow all or most of their company’s IT policies, IT managers are skeptical, believing less than a third are actually compliant. But Millennials actually do want to follow the rules and understand the risks of not doing so. Improving education and communication about IT policies is the key. Go beyond just including a list of policies in the employee handbook; host a few lunch-and-learns to refresh everyone on the do’s and don’ts or create a fun video. Remember to explain why the policies are in place. Millennials will be more likely to follow the rules if they understand what’s behind them.

5: Collaborate to better leverage skill sets

With the introduction of new devices and applications into your IT landscape, the number and complexity of help requests will inevitably increase. Your IT support reps will need the ability to quickly leverage both internal and external SMEs to avoid a spike in escalations. With technology such as remote screen-sharing, reps can invite peers or external experts who specialize on a device into a support session, hand over the controls, and watch and learn from the experts as they fix the end users’ devices. Through better collaboration behind the scenes, you can handle most of the Millennials’ issues, in the resolution time they expect, without adding IT support staff.

Nathan McNeill is co-founder and chief strategy officer for Bomgar.

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The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) is a framework of best practices and approaches that will best facilitate the delivery of high quality information technology (IT) services. ITIL® outlines an extensive set of management procedures that are intended to support businesses in achieving high quality services and valuable IT operations. Is ITIL right for you? What are the benefits and possibilities from return on investment?  Augusto Perazzo a principal consultant at PA Consulting group lays it out.

 

Is it Possible to Achieve a Return on ITIL?

July 12, 2011 By Augusto Perazzo

There has been quite a few arguments in trying to prove or debunk that ITIL can produce any kind of ROI. The pragmatic answer is: Yes it can, but not as easy as ITIL guidance can hope for.Let’s step back and define what ITIL is. A simplistic view is that ITILis a set of best practices that seek to improve the management and delivery of IT services. Like most best practices or processes guidance, it has been put together by drawing from the collective experience of practitioners and organizations that have tried to solve the IT efficiency problem in the past.ITIL’s first version was developed in the 1980s on behalf of the British government. Thus ITILv3, released in the summer of 2007, is an attempt to integrate and systemize best practices that have been previously loosely applied to the IT service management (ITSM) domain within the last 25 or so years.When looking at improving IT service management there are then two main options: try to figure out an effective way in isolation or to leverage an existing framework such as ITIL (which has been adopted and tested by thousands of organizations worldwide). Chances are that ITIL will provide better odds to the challenge.

 ITIL ROI

ROI has the following components: Cost of investment (COI) and results of the investment. A positive ROI, which we seek, means that the results should be larger than the investment. Cost of implementing ITIL is the investment and the ITSM improvements we seek are the results. The challenge then becomes the quantification of ITIL costs and IT service improvements.

ITIL costs are anything and everything you will spend in order to design and implement your custom ITIL solution, including any tools, internal resources and external help. The technical aspects of an ITIL implementation are relatively easier to estimate and carry on; organization change management is where the devil works!

Any process improvement program, which an ITIL implementation surely is, will carry a high and usually hidden cost for change management (efforts to bring people on board and provide them with the willingness, abilities and capabilities to succeed and to follow and leverage the ITIL based processes). Your ROI calculation must include a good chunk of change for that part of the investment. Most ITIL implementations fail because little attention is given to the devil’s playground.

IT service improvements

To know how far you have traveled, you need information on both the departure point and the destination you have reached. Once you reach a destination, it is relatively easy to quantify where you are: How much time and thus FTEs and thus money your organization spends on managing and delivering IT services. The problem is in baselining your departure point before you leave.

Most organizations do not have a clue about the true cost of their current ITSM practices (or lack thereof). The assessment, once you reach your destination, is easier because after an ITIL program you should be better equipped to do so.

Because of this ITIL ROI conundrum, we usually recommend to clients that they embark on a process improvement program — ITIL or other — using an iterative and a long-term timeline. For example, improve your Incident management processes first so that you can start collecting meaningful data and measure the cost of incidents and its impact on productivity. Improve IT financial management early so that you can calculate the true cost of IT services and so on. Once you have basic IT performance information that can be baselined, move on to bigger investments.

In sum, to determine ROI, you need to define what the cost to deliver IT services is today, what the cost of the investment to improve is and what the cost to deliver IT services will eventually be once you reach your destination. Most organizations with more mature policies around program funding will require a business case before approving the journey. Nonetheless do understand that this is only an estimate as you will not know for sure how much the investment will cost you and how much the future cost of delivering IT services will be once you are done.

A good piece of advice: Make sure you have several waypoints defined between your departure and final destination and leverage the lessons you learned from these small trips to calibrate the remainder of your journey. Comparing the estimated ROI for these waypoints to the actual ROI and the causes for discrepancy can provide much valuable information on how to go about the rest of the program and how to reset expectations.

Augusto Perazzo is a Principal Consultant at PA Consulting Group. Augusto works closely with Business and IT executives to define strategies and operating models, optimize processes and empower people, leveraging the power of information technology to design and deliver better services and products. Augusto has an MBA degree from USC Marshall Business School and holds ITIL and PMP certifications.

 IT Training Company, Tandem Solution, has partnered with Service Management Dynamix™ to provide a broad spectrum of ITSM training options for students. In addition to public and private training (Class Outlines), together they also provide a full complement of ITIL® Consulting Services: The Experienced Consultants/Trainers (Keith Sutherland  &  Butch Sheets) have long been considered  industry experts. Moreover, they serve on multiple ITIL® examination review boards and have over 70 years of combined IT experience and 20 years of formal IT Service Management knowledge. Contact info@training4it.com for more information or your free needs assesment.

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