Sunday, September 22, 2013

Successful People Secrets

1. Time doesn't fill me. I fill time.
Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. The average person who is given two weeks to complete a task will instinctively adjust his effort so it actually takes two weeks. Forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your "free" time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively. Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.

2. The people around me are the people I chose.
Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks. You chose them. If the people around you make you unhappy it's not their fault. It's your fault. They're in your professional or personal life because you drew them to you--and you let them remain. Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you want to have. Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people. Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Remarkable employees want to work for remarkable bosses. Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.

3. I have never paid my dues.
Dues aren't paid, past tense. Dues get paid, each and every day. The only real measure of your value is the tangible contribution you make on a daily basis. No matter what you've done or accomplished in the past, you're never too good to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and do the grunt work.  No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring. Remarkably successful people never feel entitled--except to the fruits of their labor.

4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.
You have "10 years in the Web design business." Whoopee. I don't care how long you've been doing what you do. Years of service indicate nothing; you could be the worst 10-year programmer in the world. I care about what you've done: how many sites you've created, how many back-end systems you've installed, how many customer-specific applications you've developed (and what kind)... all that matters is what you've done. Successful people don't need to describe themselves using hyperbolic adjectives like passionate, innovative, driven, etc. They can just describe, hopefully in a humble way, what they've done.

5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn't just happen to me.
Ask people why they have been successful. Their answers will be filled with personal pronouns: I, me, and the sometimes too occasional we. Ask them why they failed. Most will revert to childhood and instinctively distance themselves, like the kid who says, "My toy got broken..." instead of, "I broke my toy."

They'll say the economy tanked. They'll say the market wasn't ready. They'll say their suppliers couldn't keep up. They'll say it was someone or something else.

And by distancing themselves, they don't learn from their failures.
Occasionally something completely outside your control will cause you to fail. Most of the time, though, it's you. And that's okay. Every successful person has failed. Numerous times. Most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That's why they're successful now.
Embrace every failure: Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.

6. Volunteers always win.
Whenever you raise your hand you wind up being asked to do more. That's great. Doing more is an opportunity: to learn, to impress, to gain skills, to build new relationships--to do something more than you would otherwise been able to do. Success is based on action. The more you volunteer, the more you get to act. Successful people step forward to create opportunities.

7. As long as I'm paid well, it's all good.
Specialization is good. Focus is good. Finding a niche is good. Generating revenue is great.
Anything a customer will pay you a reasonable price to do--as long as it isn't unethical, immoral, or illegal--is something you should do. Your customers want you to deliver outside your normal territory? If they'll pay you for it, fine. They want you to add services you don't normally include? If they'll pay you for it, fine. The customer wants you to perform some relatively manual labor and you're a high-tech shop? Shut up, roll 'em up, do the work, and get paid. Only do what you want to do and you might build an okay business. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can build a successful business. Be willing to do even more and you can build a remarkable business.
And speaking of customers...

8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.
Get over your cocky, pretentious, I-must-be-free-to-express-my-individuality self. Be that way on your own time. The people who pay you, whether customers or employers, earn the right to dictate what you do and how you do it--sometimes down to the last detail. Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do. Then you turn issues like control and micro-management into non-issues.

9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.
Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does. Most people who go there think, "Wait... no one else is here... why am I doing this?" and leave, never to return. That's why the extra mile is such a lonely place. That's also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.
Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don't wait to be asked; offer. Don't just tell employees what to do--show them what to do and work beside them. Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do--especially if other people aren't doing that one thing. Sure, it's hard. But that's what will make you different. And over time, that's what will make you incredibly successful.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically on a Daily Basis

1.  Make Others Feel Safe to Speak-Up
Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room.   Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions.  They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view.   They use their executive presence to create an approachable environment.
2.  Make Decisions
Successful leaders are expert decision makers.    They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves.  They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision making activities that sustain progress.   Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum.  They know how to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes.
3.  Communicate Expectations
Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to “performance expectations.”   In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement – ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.

I had a boss that managed the team by reminding us of the expectations that she had of the group.   She made it easy for the team to stay focused and on track.  The protocol she implemented – by clearly communicating expectations – increased performance and helped to identify those on the team that could not keep up with the standards she expected from us.
4.  Challenge People to Think
The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement.  They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.   These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.
If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.
5.  Be Accountable to Others
Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them.  This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs.
Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.

6.  Lead by Example
Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.   Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

7.  Measure & Reward Performance
Great leaders always have a strong “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, they are active in acknowledging hard work and efforts (no matter the result).    Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them.

8. Provide Continuous Feedback
Employees want their leaders to know that they are paying attention to them and they appreciate any insights along the way.  Successful leaders always provide feedback and they welcome reciprocal feedback by creating trustworthy relationships with their colleagues..   They understand the power of perspective and have learned the importance of feedback early on in their career as it has served them to enable workplace advancement.

9. Properly Allocate and Deploy Talent
Successful leaders know their talent pool and how to use it.  They are experts at activating the capabilities of their colleagues and knowing when to deploy their unique skill sets given the circumstances at hand. 

10.  Ask Questions, Seek Counsel
Successful leaders ask questions and seek counsel all the time.  From the outside, they appear to know-it-all – yet on the inside, they have a deep thirst for knowledge and constantly are on the look-out to learn new things because of their commitment to making themselves better through the wisdom of others.

11.  Problem Solve; Avoid Procrastination
Successful leaders tackle issues head-on and know how to discover the heart of the matter at hand.    They don’t procrastinate and thus become incredibly proficient at problem solving; they learn from and don’t avoid uncomfortable circumstances (they welcome them).
Getting ahead in life is about doing the things that most people don’t like doing.

12. Positive Energy & Attitude
Successful leaders create a positive and inspiring workplace culture.  They know how to set the tone and bring an attitude that motivates their colleagues to take action.   As such, they are likeable, respected and strong willed.  They don’t allow failures to disrupt momentum.

13.  Be a Great Teacher
Many employees in the workplace will tell you that their leaders have stopped being teachers.   Successful leaders never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves.  They use teaching to keep their colleagues well-informed and knowledgeable through statistics, trends, and other newsworthy items.

Successful leaders take the time to mentor their colleagues and make the investment to sponsor those who have proven they are able and eager to advance.

14.  Invest in Relationships
Successful leaders don’t focus on protecting their domain – instead they expand it by investing in mutually beneficial relationships. Successful leaders associate themselves with “lifters and other leaders” – the types of people that can broaden their sphere of influence.  Not only for their own advancement, but that of others.

Leaders share the harvest of their success to help build momentum for those around them.

15.  Genuinely Enjoy Responsibilities
Successful leaders love being leaders – not for the sake of power but for the meaningful and purposeful impact they can create.   When you have reached a senior level of leadership – it’s about your ability to serve others and this can’t be accomplished unless you genuinely enjoy what you do.
In the end, successful leaders are able to sustain their success because these 15 things ultimately allow them to increase the value of their organization’s brand – while at the same time minimize the operating risk profile.   They serve as the enablers of talent, culture and results.




Monday, April 15, 2013

Resource Management Strategy

Resource Management Strategy


  • Create a single resource pool across all projects.  This will provide better visibility and accuracy of resource utilization and availability.

  • Develop a skills library associated to resources to ensure that you have the necessary capabilities when developing a team to deliver on your project.

  • Maintain a centralized schedule of your resources so that you can accurately determine workloads and identify possible conflicts.

  • Build a strategy to address possible resource shortages in your projects by defining accurate work efforts for the tasks at hand.

  • Incorporate capacity tracking reports into your strategy that will provide additional visibility into departmental and staffing statuses to work on projects.

  • Prioritize resources and categorize them in different buckets so that you can efficiently get the most out of your team.

  • Include contingency plans in your resource management strategy that allows for a ‘Plan B’ when unexpected changes occur.

  • Implement a forecasting strategy that will facilitate better pipeline and staffing for imminent and future projects.

  • Develop an employee incentive program that will limit turnover and help build continuity in your resource pool for better planning.

  • Use technology to automate these processes and strategies and to provide a more streamlined approach to resource management and planning.

  • Vendor Management Success

    Vendor Management Success 101

     
     
    Vendor management allows you to build a relationship with your suppliers and service providers that will strengthen both businesses. Vendor management is not negotiating the lowest price possible. Vendor management is constantly working with your vendors to come to agreements that will mutually benefit both companies.

    1. Share Information and Priorities

    The most important success factor of vendor management is to share information and priorities with your vendors. That does not mean that you throw open the accounting books and give them user IDs and passwords to your systems. Appropriate vendor management practices provide only the necessary information at the right time that will allow a vendor to better service your needs. This may include limited forecast information, new product launches, changes in design and expansion or relocation changes, just to name a few.
     

    2. Balance Commitment and Competition

    One of the goals in vendor management is to gain the commitment of your vendors to assist and support the operations of your business. On-the-other-hand, the vendor is expecting a certain level of commitment from you. This does not mean that you should blindly accept the prices they provide. Always get competitive bids.

    3. Allow Key Vendors to Help You Strategize

    If a vendor supplies a key part or service to your operation, invite that vendor to strategic meetings that involve the product they work with. Remember, you brought in the vendor because they could make the product or service better and/or cheaper than you could. They are the experts in that area and you can tap into that expertise in order to give you a competitive advantage.

    4. Build Partnerships For The Long Term

    Vendor management seeks long term relationships over short term gains and marginal cost savings. Constantly changing vendors in order to save a penny here or there will cost more money in the long run and will impact quality. Other benefits of a long term relationship include trust, preferential treatment and access to insider or expert knowledge.

    5. Seek to Understand Your Vendor's Business Too

    Remember, your vendor is in business to make money too. If you are constantly leaning on them to cut costs, either quality will suffer or they will go out of business. Part of vendor management is to contribute knowledge or resources that may help the vendor better serve you. Asking questions of your vendors will help you understand their side of the business and build a better relationship between the two of you.

    6. Negotiate to a Win-Win Agreement

    Good vendor management dictates that negotiations are completed in good faith. Look for negotiation points that can help both sides accomplish their goals. A strong-arm negotiation tactic will only work for so long before one party walks away from the deal.

    7. Come Together on Value

    Vendor management is more than getting the lowest price. Most often the lowest price also brings the lowest quality. Vendor management will focus quality for the money that is paid. In other words: value! You should be willing to pay more in order to receive better quality. If the vendor is serious about the quality they deliver, they won't have a problem specifying the quality details in the contract.

    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    Tips How Become a Better Leader

    Tips How Become a Better Leader which leads to to better manager
     
    Planning & Strategy
    • Understand what the core principles of being a leader are. It’s not about power, but rather about installing direction and influencing others to follow that direction.
    • Do you have the character traits to be a successful leader? If not, can you learn them?
    • There are different ways of managing people; Develop a leadership style.
    • As a leader or manager, you’re constantly soaking up information. Know how to properly collect that information.
    • Know how to use proper coordination between people and technology.
    • As you build your machine, know how to maintain it.
    • Constantly analyze progress.
    • Be prepared. Not every disaster will involve nature, but the process of preparation can be the same.
    • Use prevention methods, keeping filth out of not only your trash cans but out of your employees as well.
    • If a bomb does drop, be ready to recover from it and move on.
     
    Team Building
    •  Know how to hire good employees.
    • During the interview process, make sure to ask the right questions.
    • Compensate: know when and how much to pay your team.
    • Build trust; this has to work both ways (you trust your team and your team trusts you.)
    • Develop and communicate your vision so the team can help achieve goals.
    • Show commitment to those goals and ask the same from your staff.
    • Understand the core value of employee inclusion and it’s effects.
    • Interdependence – making sure your employees are sharing responsible principles.
    • Guide your team by being a strong influence, and let yourself be influenced by other leaders.
    • Control the climate or the feel of your organization.
    Communication
    • Make sure you are aware of proper etiquette, especially amongst other business elite.
    • Ethics play a huge role in both the workplace as well as your company’s image in your industry.
    • Strong public speaking abilities will help you get the message across to larger groups.
    • Keep your employees up-to-date with things they need to know.
    • Don’t be shady with your team.
    • Be aware of not only your body language but everyone else’s as well.
    • Improve your listening skills.
    • Speak clearly and concisely.
    • Develop your ability to negotiate.
    • Make sure to keep your cool when dealing with difficult situations.
    Build Trust & Confidence
    • First, be sure to really understand the definition of trust.
    • Try to believe in your team, and work extra hard to find the good in people.
    • Reduce your sense of competition, as well as the same within the company.
    • In order to accept new people, things, and ideas into your life, you’ll need to have an open mind.
    • Appear more creditable and real by allowing yourself to show a little vulnerability.
    • Be prepared to face your fears, because doing so will conserve your energy and empower you.
    • Know your strong points and when to use them.
    • Work hard to improve on your weak points and shortcomings.
    • Look at yourself in a different way.
    • Exude confidence and your charisma will draw people to you.
    Time Management
    •  Setting goals will help you focus on getting important things done first.
    • Have an action plan you can use to achieve those goals.
    • Stop procrastinating, and you’re attitude about work will change.
    • You can’t do it all yourself; know when and how to delegate work.
    • Get rid of any and all kinds of distractions while working.
    • Keep track of your life by writing things down.
    • Learn to say no; you’ll save lots of time focusing on the most important tasks.
    • Just like in college, you can’t party and study at the same time. Try to keep a schedule.
    • Know your bad habits (and how to break them).
    Being Responsible
    • Show character by being responsible for your actions.
    • Be responsible for your name, brand, and company.
    • Make sure you practice what you preach.
    • As a responsible leader, you must always be aware of what you’re saying.
    • Create responsible employees, but also be responsible for their actions.
    • Assume responsibility, even if something is not your fault.
    • Take care of your health. If you don’t care for yourself, why would anyone think you care at all?
    • Teach responsibility to others, including your children.
    • Constantly work on building a strong team.
    • Showcase social responsibility.
    Never Stop Learning
    • Continue to build your leadership skills by reading management and leadership books.
    • Subscribe to some of the many business and management magazines on the newsstand today.
    • Keep a leadership blog to document your learning.
    • Don’t feel ashamed to take some online leadership courses; it’s always good to brush up on things.
    • Attend management seminars.
    • Find yourself a mentor; their wisdom will prove to be priceless.
    • Hone your skills through community involvement.
    • Don’t be afraid to learn from your employees and associates.
    • Embrace new technology, for it will only help you grow smarter.
    • Understand and learn from yourself.
    Become a role model
    • Maintain a positive attitude – always.
    • A great leader portrays strength before power.
    • Lead by example.
    • Demonstrate acts of chivalry.
    • Treat customers and coworkers with respect.
    • Be sure to dress for success.
    • Always encourage others; they will probably encourage you back.
    • Be calm and show patience in your efforts.
    • Know how to properly manage life’s disappointments, both inside and outside of work.
    • Value all life.
    Know When to Be Real
    • Show your employees (and customers!) that you really do care about them.
    • Know that it’s okay to share your emotions from time to time.
    • Allow people to see your shortcomings.
    • Try not to sugarcoat things because you’re afraid of conflict.
    • Do not lie to your employees about what’s going on.
    • Times will come when you have to put your foot down and correct employees when they are wrong.
    • Be sure to look and learn from your employee’s vantage point.
    • Promote job “ownership”, even if it entails seeing the ups and downs of business.
    • For everybody’s sake, make sure you have a life outside of work.
    • Have fun at work! It will show.
    Give Back
    • Make it a point for you and your business to donate to charity.
    • Or, start your own charity or benefit.
    • Help your employees learn and develop.
    • Good leadership means sharing your knowledge
    • Give raises to your team; just be mindful of how you do it.
    • Recognize good performances and award it.
    • Give your employees discounts and perks.
    • Use your skills and knowledge to write a book.
    • Reach out to youth and become a teacher.
     
     
     

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Similarities & Difference Between the Project Manager & Business Analyst

    Similarities & Difference Between the Project Manager & Business Analyst
     
     
    The best way to guarantee success of any type of project is to have a strong, experienced Project Manager and a strong, experienced Business Analyst. These two individuals, working together from the beginning of the project, set the stage for success by accurately planning and clearly defining the expected outcomes. Both roles are necessary because they are each responsible for a different set of tasks and they each possess a set of skills that complement each other. The two roles are closely tied, but exactly what are the similarities and differences, and why does a project need both? In many organizations, one individual is being asked to play both roles.
     
     
    Why Does a Project Need a PM and a BA?
    Having both a Project Manager (PM) and a Business Analyst (BA) is critical to a project success. Each role provides specialized capabilities that make the difference between whether a project succeeds or struggles.
     
    PMs and BAs each have unique skills and knowledge areas that, when used together, produce a high quality product. They both want the project to be successful and want to satisfy their customer the Executive Sponsor. They both understand the ultimate goal of the project to meet the project objectives. They each work on their own tasks within the project to achieve these objectives. There are some areas of a project where the PM and BA work together or serve as a back-up for each other. There are many other areas where the two individuals diverge and do very different types of tasks.

    The PM is responsible for ensuring that the product is delivered to the customer on time and within budget. The BA is responsible for ensuring that the product is built according to the requirements and is built correctly. This difference in focus is the reason that having both roles on the team is critical. The product will be built correctly, according to requirements, on time and within budget!
     
    Working Together
    So how do the PM and BA work together to make the project a success? Fundamentally, the PM manages project resources (people, money) and the BA manages the business stakeholders. The BA reports to the PM on his or her progress on the tasks in the work breakdown structure (WBS) in relation to requirements. Usually at the beginning of the project the PM and BA work very closely together and often work on the same tasks.

    Later as the project gets going, they each focus on their particular responsibilities and talk frequently to share their progress. Excellent PMs and BAs will work hand-in-hand to make the most of each other strengths. It is the healthy tension between the PM and the BA the PM pushing to move forward and the BA cautiously wanting to gather just one more detail before going forward that makes the combination so successful. They are inter-dependent because their goals are in conflict.

    At the beginning of the project there are areas of overlapping responsibilities such as project scope definition, development of the project statement of purpose, project objectives and identification of business risks. A strong PM will utilize the analysis skills of the BA to make sure that the scope is feasible and well defined.

    The Project Manager
    • Is usually the first person assigned to the project.
    • Is responsible for planning the project and ensuring the team follows the plan.
    • Manages changes, handles problems and keeps the project moving.
    • Manages people, money and risk.
    • Is the chief communicator of good or bad news to the Business Sponsors and IT Management.
    The Business Analyst
    • Is usually assigned to the project after it has started.
    • Is responsible for bridging the gap between the business area and IT.
    • Learns the business inside and out.
    • Essentially serves as the architect of effective business systems.
    • Is viewed inconsistently across the industry in regard to job title, definition and responsibilities.

    As requirements are gathered, analyzed and documented by the BA, the PM is closely involved, reviewing the requirements and adjusting the plan as necessary. The PM also reviews the decisions made when the BA and technical architect design the solution. Typically the PM reviews all project deliverables at a high level looking for project adjustments and issues. The BA reviews all project deliverables that are related to requirements, solution design and testing; looking in detail to make sure that the business needs are being addressed.

    The BA is the advocate for the business area and the PM will report project status and work to resolve issues.
    

    The Service Support Process Model by Pink Elephant

    IT Management Process Maturity Model Level



    Where is your company?

    Transformation Help Desk To Service Desk

    Transformation from classic Help Desk To Service Desk environment should include:
    • People
      • Performance
      • Structure
      • Communication
    • Process
      • Incident & Request
      • Knowledge
      • Feedback
    • Technology
      • Service Management
      • Telephony
      • Remote Control
    The Help Desk has long been the appropriate solution to enable IT to meet the demands of users. As is often the case in business, they call in case of problem and technicians are working to address them as quickly as possible, mainly by “playing firemen.” However, as the business grows, the service management becomes more complex and requires a new approach. To take the next step and spend plugging gaps in preventive planning, companies must be prepared to move from reactive support to proactive support services business.

    We must first abandon the old  Help Desk function in favor of a centralized Service Desk. This allows us to offer customers a single point of access and a front coordinated the resolution of any problem, it is related to software, hardware or other factors. In this scenario, a service request can be addressed via multiple channels (phone, e-mail, Internet). The Service Desk is in communication with the customer until the problem is routed to the appropriate specialist and resolved.

    The resolution from reactive to proactive

    Centralization of services must be accompanied by the centralization of data. The Help Desks traditional suffer mostly from a lack of centralized information forcing teams to gather bits of information to try to get a complete view of a problem. Often, technicians respond to correct a problem … and realize later that the repair has created another problem, potentially more serious.

    A Service Desk can avoid this guessing game and proactively manage incidents and problems, providing a complete view and better tools for reporting and analysis. It is thus possible to reduce the duration of outages due to early detection, a more efficient establishment of priorities and faster identification of the root cause of incidents.

    Manual processes to automation

    Once centralized services, the department is able to automate business processes hitherto manuals. Structured around the Service Desk as a platform for communication and workflow management, process automation brings many advantages: reducing the time required to perform repetitive tasks, reducing the cost of maintenance and support and improved results.

    Oriented KPIs KPIs oriented SLA incidents

    Even if the key performance indicators (KPIs) based incidents are required to keep their important commitments to customer service level (SLA) comes to the fore in the context of managing a Service Desk. Too often, computer users and do not speak the same language. The information from the first have no meaning for the latter, who do not understand why their problems are not classified as “urgent”. Implementation of SLAs can bridge this gap by defining common indicators that promote more effective communication.

    The Seven Deadly Mistakes
    When placing a proactive Service Desk, implementing a successful knowledge base avoids the “seven deadly Mistakes” that affect traditionally Help Desks:
    1. The increase in call volumes, one of the main causes is the failure to implement an existing solution to a recurring problem. Knowledge base should allow technicians to quickly and easily enter a new solution in the form of paper, each time a new problem is diagnosed and resolved. In a proactive perspective, the knowledge base to automatically alert management of recurring problems.
    2. Increased training costs  – A centralized knowledge base reduces the training time by eliminating the need to memorize information and to seek answers from multiple sources. It can also reduce the learning curve jargon internal Service Desk and the company, which is often a barrier to effective research answers (allowing the definition of specific terms in a glossary customizable).
    3. Increased lift call – According to the Help Desk Institute, the rise of an incident from a site self-service to a first level technician can get the cost of 1.50 to 19 $(cost level two technician as high as 60 $). To limit the rising appeal, increase the likelihood that customers self-service technicians and first level without assistance are the correct answers in the knowledge base.
    4. Duplication of efforts – Redundant efforts are a waste of resources and a source of frustration for technicians second and third level, who prefer to tackle specific problems, rather than having to constantly stopgap. A solution that optimizes the process of reviewing items Knowledge Base also takes on its full meaning.
    5. Inconsistency of response -The provision of inaccurate or inconsistent responses undermines the credibility of the Service Desk. It can lead users to bypass procedures in place to contact technicians who have already managed to solve their problems. A centralized knowledge base can contribute to the credibility, since the recorded information is up to date and accurate.
    6. The length of time for resolutions -If there are multiple factors that may lengthen the time resolution (severity of problems, queue calls, etc..), The resulting print is always the same: that of a poor service . The ability for customers to access directly a part of the knowledge base reduces the time resolution and increases the rate of satisfaction.
    7. Brain Drain -The high staff turnover is a reality the Service Desk. However, it is possible to mitigate the negative impact by ensuring that if departure of experienced technicians, knowledge is not lost. This includes a culture of knowledge sharing.
    Successful self-service
    The self-service access to customers is not new, but most companies are still struggling to implement it successfully. Simple measures can encourage the adoption of self-service by customers, reducing the need for interaction with call center and allowing the Service Desk resources to focus on more strategic issues and complex.
    • Use a familiar interface, simple and clear
    • Book free service to non-priority problems. Some problems are handled more efficiently by a dialogue between the user and The adviser. However, one of the most frequent calls to the Service Desk is also one of those best suited to self-service user account activation.
    • Leveraging the capabilities of voice server to meet the expectations of customers self-service. Free phone service is particularly useful in the case of incidents affecting many customers, such as email outage.
    • Open access to knowledge base – Surveys consistently show customers that they greatly appreciate the opportunity to manage their own problems by self-service.

    Mistake or Issues Business Analyst should avoid

    Problems in the Meeting

    Failure to Relate to Participants: This is the most commonly mistake made by the facilitator and is usually caused when the facilitator has not prepared for the meeting by reviewing the background of the participants and categorizing them. Each participant has a different background and different characteristics. The facilitator cannot treat the participants the same or as a generic person.
    Failure to focus on the Meeting Content: When too much information is being exchanged during the dialogue of the group, it becomes difficult to direct the participants to focus on the key point of the discussion. The facilitator must identify key words for each point as a summary of the content to help visualize the discussion. If this is not done the team may become frustrated, especially if the discussion is going around and around resulting in a state of confusion. The facilitator must identify each point, capture it, organize it, synthesize it and clearly document it. People expect the meeting process to be well managed and these steps will help meet that expectation.

    Failure to Use Group Memory: People can only tolerate so much pure discussion without having something written down. If the facilitator encourages discussion and listening without writing anything down, participants may begin to feel that this is a just an informal discussion. Facilitators must create or reference visual memory at least every fifteen minutes. As the meeting proceeds, the amount of written documentation will continue to grow. It is also important to make use of any support materials before, during or after the meeting. Remember that written words, and diagrams, are more memorable than spoken words.

    Problems with Participants

    There may be minor problems with some of the participants during a session. However, there may be some serious problems with an individual participant that can impact the entire team. So let me explain what I have encountered.

    Blue-Sky: Blue-Sky participants are progressive and optimistic people who believe they can accomplish complex tasks. They tend to view their objective as part of the group as a mission to seek out new information, to discover new ways of doing business and to venture where no other team has ventured before. This type of person wants to take on as much as possible, to change as much as possible and to totally re‑engineer the business often using new and advanced technology. The problem is that the organization may not be ready for such drastic changes. The intent of this type of participants is good but the facilitator must rein in this person by directing questions to all of the other participants. The facilitator should determine if the ideas in the discussion are realistic and achievable within the boundaries and the budget of the project scope. The facilitator should involve the team in determining the direction of the conversation rather than trying to cut off the discussion point.

    Snowball: This type of participants likes to continually add one more item to the discussion. They usually say, "While we are doing that, let's also do this..." The difference between a blue sky and a snow ball participant is that the blue sky participant will talk about doing everything at once, while the snow ball participant adds one thing at a time. This technique can add quite a bit to the discussion points over the course of the meeting. The facilitator needs to recognize that the added item identified in this manner is not directly part of the effort. The facilitator should validate with the group if the discussion point is within the team's scope and a part of the team's objectives.

    Wanderers: This type of participant likes to meander during their discussion point or talk about something that is not related to the topic nor follows the dialogue that was in progress. Wanderers enjoy tangents and digressions. They tend to begin to speak before they have thought out their ideas. The facilitator must stop the wanderer before too much time has been wasted and/or as soon as the facilitator recognizes that the discussion point is not relevant to the topic. The facilitator should consider if it is a digression or not in order to get back to the topic. Often these points can be put on a "parking lot" to stop the discussion and return to the points at hand.

    Philosophers: This type of participant likes to inject academics into each discussion topic. This person's language skills are advanced and often speak using a large vocabulary of difficult and often unrecognizable words. Participants who are more practical will find it difficult to work with the philosopher. The facilitator will need to rephrase, or summarize, what the philosopher has said in order for all the participants to comprehend the discussion point. The facilitator needs to verify with the group if the ideas expressed in the discussion point are practical and feasible for the organization. The facilitator must not allow the philosopher to carry‑on without the idea being documented in the group memory.

    Conversers: These participants are usually more social and tend to seek out other participants who share the same characteristics. Most of the ideas they express are not related directly to the topic, although it may appear that way as they begin their discussion. They are similar to the wanderer, who also like tangents and digressions. However, they are not as far off from the topics as the wanderers are. The facilitator needs to listen to the converser's idea, assess if it relates to the topic and limit that person's time to speak. The facilitator should determine their ideas are a part of the topic or relate to something else. The facilitator must monitor this person's contributions more closely than others in order to keep the other participants from becoming frustrated with what appears to be unnecessary and time wasting discussions.

    Devil's Advocates: This person is always negative when expressing their ideas. They tend to state that things will never work, that things can't be done or that the technology is too complex. These pessimistic people can become a real downer to the other participants because they will be viewed as being against the rest of the team. The facilitator must request that this person keeps an open mind to the ideas that are expressed and only when there is a negative aspect that others haven't identified, should they point this aspect out. This type of person can become very harmful to the overall team's motivation. Too much negativism can turn the meeting process into a frustrating experience for all participants.

    Followers: These people like to follow the lead of the others, especially others from their own department. They always align themselves with their manager or an influential person in the group. They are always in agreement with that person and are reluctant to express their personal view. This may be due to previous experiences when having been in meetings with their manager or this influential person. The facilitator needs to recognize that this person is continually repeating what others have said and should try to ask a specific question that will enable them to express what they really feel about the topic. The facilitator may need to stand between the follower and his/her manager to block his/her view.

    Business Analysis Work Plan

    Typically, a BA Work Plan is a subset of the project management plan that defines the business analysis efforts and approach for both the overall project as well as for each phase or stage.

    According the IIBA’s Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®), the BA Work Plan determines the activities needed to complete a business analysis effort for a project. It also governs performance of all business analysis tasks and defines the roles and responsibilities that come along for the ride.

    Many activities can take place under the framework of a BA Work Plan, such as identifying key stakeholders, selecting appropriate business analysis techniques, defining the process for managing requirements on the project and deciding how BA work progress will be assessed. There are 6 key components of a BA Work Plan: approach, stakeholders, activities/deliverables, communications, requirements and manage/report.

    Building a BA Work Plan is much like any project planning effort – you need to describe the scope of business analysis work, build a WBS and an activity list, estimate each activity, allocate and optimize resources and figure out how you will deal with the inevitable changes that will come your way. If all goes well, the BA Work Plan enables the business analysis team to work well with the project manager and to engage the project stakeholders.

    Here’s a brief checklist of things to consider when building a BA work plan:
     Define the scope of work
     Plan the activities or tasks
     Generate a task list
     Develop the WBS
     List task attributes and characteristics
     Devise acceptance criteria for tasks and deliverables
     Construct task dependencies
     Identify critical and slack paths
     Make resource and scheduling decisions
     Assign resources
     Assess resource requirements
     Derive the BA-focused schedule
     Calculate the budget
     Integrate with the project plan and schedule
     
    Effective business analysis is essential to defining and completing projects that deliver the right solutions to stakeholders and to the organization. A BAWP is an excellent tool to help us make that happen.

    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    Five Effective Business Analysis Techniques outside MOSCOW

    Five Effective Business Analysis Techniques not incluidng MOSCOW
     
     
    MOST
    The MOST technique is an internal analysis. It contains four attributes that are defined by the business analyst to ensure the project you are working on is aligned and on track. These attributes are as follows:
    • Mission (where the business intends to go)
    • Objectives (the key goals that will help achieve mission)
    • Strategies (the different options for moving forward)
    • Tactics (how the different strategies are put into action)
    PESTLE
    The PESTLE technique is an external analysis designed to examine the many different external elements affecting a business and its operations. It includes six attributes:
    • Political (Current and future political influences)
    • Economic (The local, national and world economy impact)
    • Sociological (Different ways society can affect an organization)
    • Technological (The effect of new and emerging technology)
    • Legal (The effect of national and world legislation)
    • Environmental (Local, national and world environmental issues)
    CATWOE
    CATWOE is a technique used to encourage critical thinking about what the business is trying to achieve. There are six different elements included in this technique:
    • Customers (who benefits from the highest level business process and how does the issue affect them?)
    • Actors (who is involved in the situation? Who is implementing solutions? What will impact their success?)
    • Transformation Process (what processes or systems are affected by the issue?)
    • World View (what is the big picture and what are the wider impacts of the issue?)
    • Owner (who owns the process or situation being investigated and what is their role in the solution?)
    • Environmental Constraints (what are the limitations that will impact the solution and its success?)
    SWOT
    A SWOT analysis is used to give a more complete overview of both internal and external factors affecting a business. There are four attributes to SWOT:
    • Strengths (examine advantages and what is done well within the company)
    • Weaknesses (examine the disadvantages and areas that need improvement)
    • Opportunities (examine opportunities for improvement in all areas, including market share)
    • Threats (examine the obstacles the business faces in accomplishing their goals)
    FIVE WHY'S
    The Five Why's technique is used to help get to the root of any given problem within the business. It is a question asking method to examine the cause and effect of a particular situation.
    • You will start with a problem, such as "my car won't start," then ask a succession of why questions until the root of the problem is uncovered and a solution is evident.
    Business Analysis can be a complex and intricate process. Within this broad spectrum lie several sub-disciplines, roles and even more techniques.

    All businesses encounter situations and problems that need attention to help keep them moving forward. With a skilled business analyst employing the right techniques, a solution won't be far behind.

     

    Business Analysis and IT Business Analyst

    Introduction to Business Analysis and IT Business Analyst
     
     
    The term ‘ Business Analyst ‘is synonymous with a career in the Information Techonlogy industry. The most successful and valuable analysts are those who understand the “business” rather than those who understand "IT".
     
     Business analysis is the discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems. Solutions may include a systems development component and may also consist of process improvement or organizational change or strategic planning and policy development.
     
    The people who carry out the process of Business Analysis are called a Business Analysts or BA. BAs who work specifically on developing software systems may be called IT Business Analysts , Technical Business Analysts, or Systems Analysts. Each organization may have its own ideas about the role, skills, responsibilities and expectations for the Business Analyst.
     
    Most often, the Business Analyst (B.A.) is termed as communicator, because the B.A. is the link between the requirements (the client) and the software solution (the development team).
     
     
    Role of the IT Business Analyst:
    • In the project initiation phase, the B.A. may be expected to investigate, formulate & agree terms of reference, and establish relationships.
    • In the analysis and specification phase, the B.A. may be expected to investigate business systems, to establish & agree business requirements, establish cultural & organizational changes required and advise on technology options.
    • In the design phase, the B.A. may be expected to propose, outline, design & specify business functions, to design manual interfaces and design implementation & training processes. In the build phase , the B.A. may be expected to liaise with the technical services provider, and plan/build/present system.
    • In the test phase, the B.A. may be expected to liaise and manage acceptance testing.
    • In the implementation phase, the B.A. may be expected to liaise and manage the implementation.
      • A Business Analyst may find them involved in some or all of the above roles.
    The skills required by the B.A. are much more than just good inter-personal communication skills and experience with wide range of tools and techniques are needed, as well as an appropriate background and personality.
     
    While the modern B.A. performs a highly critical role in software development, the real skills needed for success are not technology centric. At the core of the Business Analyst’s skills are process modeling, requirements gathering and requirements specification. However, the B.A. has a highly visible role in the project and extends through the life of the project.
    
    

    What is MoSCoW Analysis

    MoSCoW is a prioritization technique used in business analysis and software development to reach a common understanding with stakeholders on the importance they place on the delivery of each requirement – also known as MoSCoW prioritization or MoSCoW analysis.

    The capital letters in MoSCoW stand for:
    •M – MUST have this.
    •S – SHOULD have this if at all possible.
    •C – COULD have this if it does not affect anything else.
    •W – WON’T have this time but WOULD like in the future.

    All requirements are important, but they are prioritized to deliver the greatest and most immediate business benefits early. Developers will initially try to deliver all the M, S and C requirements but the S and C requirements will be the first to go if the delivery timescale looks threatened. The plain English meaning of the MoSCoW words has value in getting customers to understand what they are doing during prioritization in a way that other ways of attaching priority, like high, medium and low, do not.

    Use this technique in creating marketing copy. It is an easy way to prioritize what needs to be said, how much space might be needed (which may assist you in your delivery method), and even make plans for follow-up and/or additional marketing copy to support the main message.

    Must have requirements labeled as MUST have to be included in the current delivery. What has to be said in the message in order for it to be a success. If even one MUST requirement is not included, the copy would be considered a failure (note: requirements can be downgraded from MUST, by agreement with all relevant stakeholders; for example, when new requirements are deemed more important).

    Should have requirements are also critical to the success of the project, but are not necessary for delivery in the current delivery. This may be additional copy, follow up such as another direct mail piece, autoresponder, phone call, etc. SHOULD requirements are as important as MUST, although SHOULD requirements are often not as time-critical or have workarounds, allowing another way of satisfying the requirement, so can be held back until a future delivery.

    Could have requirements labeled are less critical and often seen as nice to have. A few easily satisfied COULD requirements in a delivery can increase customer satisfaction if known. Used many times if filler material is needed or if space allows for little extra cost

    Won’t have (but Would like) requirements are either the least-critical, lowest-payback items, or not appropriate at that time. As a result, WON’T requirements are not planned into the process for delivery. WON’T requirements are either dropped or reconsidered for inclusion in later copy. Sometimes this is described simply as “Would like to have” in the future and the initial copy may assist in increasing the importance of these WON’T have. I still believe this is important to list these items, without doing this you may miss some opportunity during your evaluation process.

    Monday, April 8, 2013

    Business Analyst in Agile Projects

    Understanding Business Analyst in Agile Projects
     
     There is a gap in much of the literature about Agile software development practices, and on many Agile teams. This gap is the role of Business Analysis in Agile projects - who does it, what is the use and value, and how does it change? The implied (and I have heard stated at least once) attitude is "we don't need no stinkin' analysts" - needless to say I feel this is WRONG!
     
    It is my contention that, without the analyst, real gaps occur. For example:
    • Who looks at the bigger organizational problems?
    • Who identifies the underlying conflict between what management want (the Customer who pays for the software development, after all) and what the "Users" (a horrible term - but that will be the subject of another discussion) need in order to do their jobs effectively?
    • Who identifies the fact that there are (say) 1500 people who are currently doing their jobs in one way, and that after we've implemented the new software will need to significantly change their work patterns?
    • Who helps these people design new organizational procedures to ensure that the business continues to run smoothly as the changes are made?
    • Who identifies the potential lost business due to a poorly thought out customer interaction?
     

    Business Analysts Contribute to Team Success

    I strongly believe that the de-emphasis of the importance of this role is one of the major gaps in many Agile teams today. In many organizations the analyst role is hobbled - unable to effectively deliver the value they promise due to organization structure and lack of management support. The business analyst needs to be seen as the customer advocate, part of the business-focused solution provision team, rather than a purveyor of technology. Politically empowered, trusted and acknowledged for the perspective and understanding they bring, the business analyst should ideally report into a business improvement area, not into the information technology group. In this structure the business analyst will be empowered to recommend changes with a clear focus on the business value, rather than being perceived as the "lackey of technology" as part of the technology group.

    What about Systems Analysts?

    Note the distinction here: we are talking about Business Analysts, not Systems Analysts. Where does the "Systems Analyst" fit? While the systems analyst often has the skills to undertake business analysis effectively, I make a distinction between the two roles based on their perspective - the business analyst focuses on and is driven by an understanding of the business needs whereas the systems analyst is often biased towards, and focused on, a technology-based solution, sometimes to the point of being detrimental to actually solving the business problem ("Wow, have I got a solution for you!"). Systems analysts can be good business analysts, but they need to be very careful to suppress their urge to propose technical solutions!

    Why Use an Analyst? We Want a "Customer"

    The analyst spends time getting close to the diverse "stakeholders" - people who represent groups and organizations that care about the successful delivery of the business change. The analyst needs to understand the multiple dimensions of the business need; discussing with management the overall goals and objectives; working with the legal department to identify any legislative or litigious impacts of the new/changed business processes, working with the logistics department to identify changes to office space or warehouse layout and to understand the potential impact of the processes on the flow of materials or products through to dispatch; with the administrative staff to understand the potential bottlenecks that could result from a new approval process... and so on.

    At some point in the analysis investigation it will become clear that solving this business problem potentially warrants an investment in technology. At this point the analyst role changes a bit and we get involved in the technical feasibility discussions - the "build vs buy" decision, the insource or outsource decision. At this stage traditionally the BA role is involved in developing the Business Case, which is still needed by the business when using the Agile approach - projects still should be justified in terms of the business benefits they will deliver to the organization. Without this valuation, the ongoing prioritization effort required for Agile backlog management can lack "big picture" vision, resulting in requirements thrash.

    Once these decisions have been made and it is decided to spend some money on the technology, the analyst role changes yet again - now we become the shepherd of requirements; the collector and guide of stories. This is where the analyst actively intersects with the Agile project and becomes a vital participant with the Agile software development project team, representing customers and end users, and collaborating with the other team members to meet a clearly identified Business Need which we believe will benefit from a technology-based solution.

    The Analyst works with the project team to corral the stories - acting as the customer advocate to the team, facilitating User Story definition, and being the project advocate to the wider stakeholder community, taking responsibility for getting the right customer voice to the project team at the right time. This "customer", so blithely referred to in much of the Agile literature, is not usually a single homogeneous individual, rather they are an amorphous mass of "stakeholders" - a diverse, often contradictory, frequently competitive, sometimes negative group with divergent points of view about what the business need is and what "done" looks like.

    Does the previous paragraph imply that I don't believe in the "on site customer" - NO! I believe very strongly that we need an onsite customer for the Agile development process to be successful. The challenge we face is that there will be many customer voices, often shouting contradictory orders at the team. The Analyst must be able to filter the signal from the noise and help to identify the right representative customer(s) who should be involved with the project at any point in time.

    So What Does this Analyst Actually Do?

    On an Agile project, the Analyst also becomes the shepherd of stories - guiding the discovery process and facilitating the communication among the team, helping the customer representative(s) by asking probing "what if, what about" type questions, based on the broader investigation which initiated the project; building on their mapping of the stakeholder community, their understanding of the intricate political and influence relationships which underlie the formal structure of the organization and their ability to tap into funding sources to gain access to real-world clients (the people who actually pay for the services the system will provide) to gain an understanding of what is needed to create competitive advantage and Customer Delight - which ultimately results in commercial success.

    The analyst needs to have a broad range of investigative and interpersonal skills, the ability to think critically and skeptically, using a variety of modeling techniques and other tools to help the customer representatives discover the range of stories which will ultimately make up the system. The analyst helps them express these stories in clear and understandable ways that make "done" explicit and knife edged, works with the testers and customer representatives to help identify and clarify the acceptance criteria for the whole gambit of stories.

    The best analysts are involved in every aspect of story identification, and actively involved in the interaction design for the system. They have an understanding of the various ways the broad community of users will need to interact with the system, understanding the divergent needs and smoothing the differences to identify the design aspects which will work for the disparate stakeholders.

    Agile Analysts are Designers as well - with an understanding which goes far deeper than simply identifying and documenting the requirements for the system. They understand the implications of screen flow and ensuring that process flows match the way people actually work, they are aware of the impact of colors and fonts, of screen layout and response times on the productivity of the people who use our systems. They look for opportunities to create truly useful systems that people want to work with, and work to guide the creation of intuitive and natural interfaces; ideally interfaces that seem to disappear, so easy to use that the operator doesn't even notice that they are there.
    The traditional analysis "what before how" approach doesn't apply on Agile projects - most often we understand the "what" by showing the "how", in a productive and iterative cycle that is an inherent part of the Agile development process.

    Look and Feel matters - the Agile Analyst helps bring this into sharp focus when the interaction aspects of the system are being worked on.

    The Agile Analyst focuses on ensuring that real business value is exposed and uncovered by working with the project team and customer representatives to find those aspects which make their work easier, more productive and deliver Customer Delight, the "stickiness" which keeps our clients coming back to do business with us over and over again.

    Who Should Play the Analyst Role?

    The Product Owner or chief customer advocate in a Scrum project is a role ideally suited to the Agile Analyst, provided they are empowered and supported to act on behalf of the customer. The Analyst is in the position to actively manage the product backlog and identify product priorities. Building on relationships with business stakeholders and an understanding of technical realities the Analyst can actively manage the delivery of value in the project.

    The Agile Analyst needs to be an active and productive member of the business project team, not trying to produce a lengthy tome of "shall" statements, but representing, advocating and shepherding the many customer voices, asking the hard "have you thought about. . ." questions, ensuring that the products we deliver meet the diverse and competing needs of our customers, understanding and identifying flaws, flows and issues with discussions and interactions within the entire project team, based on the User Stories current and past.

    Skills Required For Business Analysts

    Skills Required For Business Analysts
     
     
    The Key Roles of Business Analysts; a business analysis typically carries out the following tasks:
    1. Analyzing and understanding project scope and objectives
    2. Analyzing business requirements
    3. Gathering and organizing requirements into logical order
    4. Prioritizing them on the basis of business
     
    Preparing requirement specification and Functional design documents using:
    • Use cases
    • Process maps
    • Data flow diagrams
    • Coordinating with development team
    • Ensuring that the team understand the requirements well to execute the solutions/develop the product
    • Conducting various testing such
    • Unit testing
    • Integrated testing
    • Functional testing
    • Determining techniques and requirements that are appropriate to process the data
    • Providing recommendations for business improvements
    • Training employees
    • Developing standards and procedures to be followed 

    The following skills are highly desired and very essential to becoming a successful BA.

    1. Excellent process mapping skills
    2. Excellent communication skills
    3. Written communication
    4. Interpersonal skills
    5. Verbal communication skills
    6. Analytical skills — a candidate should have excellent analytical skills to conduct requirement analysis and impact analysis.
    7. Logical thinking
    8. Decision making skills
    9. Information Technology skills
    10. Knowledge of software applications and architectures
    11. Knowledge of RDBMS concepts
    12. Familiarity with Software Development Life Cycle
    13. Project Management methodologies
    14. Knowledge of PLC / SQL / Online & MS Tools 

    Business Analyst in Agile Project

    In Agile projects the main task that a Business Analyst performs is to maintain a prioritized queue of work; only define requirement for new work when the Queue steps forward. It is that point in a project when the development team selects an item from the Queue and BA starts elicitation of requirements for the next piece of work.
    Just like it happens with most of the tasks in Agile, Business Analysis activities are also performed in an iterative manner. Once the new requirement has been added, Business Analyst should prioritize the requirements based on the Business Value, it will ensure that all the requirements are sequenced in correct order. Having the correct business perspective will help the Business Analyst to continuously scope the project. It is essential to keep a tab on the scope of the project else there is a possibility of project going on, forever.

    There may be a case that a Business Analyst might take less time to elicit the requirement than the Development Team takes to develop the task; or a Business Analyst might take longer than the Development team. As it happens with the majority of the planning in Agile, by the third sprint, processes mature based on the experience in first 2 sprints. Hence keep improving your plan based on your experience in the last sprint. 
    • Elicit New Feature
    • Prioritize Requirements based on Business Value
    • Managing the Queue of Requirements
    • Continually Scoping the  Project

    Friday, April 5, 2013

    Management - Help Desk vs Service Desk


    Differences between A Help Desk And A Service Desk

    Today, the name help desk or service desk doesn’t necessarily describe the type of support center it is. As Jayne Groll, President of ITSM Academy (a US based ITIL training organization) notes, “A service desk is not just a help desk with a new name.” Instead, according to ITIL, the service desk handles a range of services, acting as the single point of contact for not only incidents, but also change requests, the forward schedule of changes, problem management and configuration changes. Groll states that the differentiator between a help desk and a service desk is a services orientation. In ITIL, a service is one or more IT systems that enable a business process. A services orientation moves the service desk away from providing incident management for technical issues to providing integrated support that considers the business impact of every issue.

     

    Help Desks

    A help desk provides excellent incident management, ensuring that all customer issues are resolved in a timely and orderly manner that does not allow tickets to get lost. Typically, a help desk has access to asset management data (information about IT assets, including hardware and software) and assists in keeping asset information up-to-date. A help desk uses an effective method to create and maintain knowledge and might offer web-based self-help functionality to customers, such as access to the support knowledge base. A help desk may have a Service Level Agreement that is technology-oriented rather than business-oriented. The help desk may or may not see the need to create Operating Level Agreements with other IT groups. (Operating Level Agreements are the internal contracts between a help desk and its support partners, such as application support or network administration. The agreement includes operational promises such as response and resolution time to escalated tickets, communication methods between the groups and reporting requirements.) The change management process in this IT organization may be informal but highly effective. Oftentimes the IT organization is small and help desk personnel will multi-task and perform duties that in a larger organization would be assigned to dedicated employees. When multiple roles are performed by a single person, there is less need for formal processes, meetings and oversight.

     

    Service Desks

    A service desk is created when business executives identify the need for a services orientation in the IT department, which integrates IT into the fabric of the business. It also assumes that the organization’s executives have embraced ITIL as the framework for its operations. In a nutshell, the service desk deals with more complexity and more formalized, integrated processes than a help desk. The service desk is the single point of contact for all IT-related customer requests and is the face of IT to the customer. The service desk provides incident management, the goal of which is to restore the customer to a productive state as quickly as possible, either through education, resolution or a work-around. At the same time, the service desk is tightly integrated into many IT processes, including problem management (the process of identifying the root cause of reported problems), change management (the methodology to make orderly changes to the IT infrastructure) and configuration management1 (the means to record asset information plus the relationships among them). A service desk is part of an IT organization that maintains a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) or a repository for all configuration data. Customers contact the service desk to report change requests and to ask questions about planned changes. The service desk communicates the forward schedule of changes to the customer community, and represents the voice of the customer on the Change Advisory Board. The service desk participates in the creation, implementation and maintenance of

    the Service Level Agreement and Operating Level Agreements.

    Some notes:

    Change Management: The formal process of accepting change requests, prioritizing, testing and implementing them in a controlled manner.

     

    Configuration Items: Elements of software, infrastructure and documentation.

    Configuration Management: Provides information about all assets and configuration items.  Provides information about the relationship among configuration items.

     

    Incident Management: The process to restore the customer to a productive state as quickly as possible.

     

    Operating Level Agreement: The agreement between the Service Desk and its internal support partners regarding how they will work together.

     

    Problem Management: The process of identifying the root cause of incident(s) and eliminating the cause to prevent future incidents.

     

    Service Level Agreement: The document that describes the services and expectations of customers as they use IT services


    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Project Management - IT Service Management

    IT Service Management / ITSM 101
     
    ITSM  Service Management is a set of specialized organizational ‘capabilities’ for providing value to customers in the form of services Roles, Functions, Methods, & Processes.
     
    ITSM Objectives IT Service Management is concerned with the delivery and support of IT services in alignment to the business requirements of the organization.
     
    Its objectives are:
    • To ensure that the IT Services are aligned to the present and future needs of the business to improve the quality of the IT services delivered
    • To be cost-effective and cost-efficient in IT service provision
    • ‘increase service performance, while at the same time reducing the cost’
    ITSM is involve Adopting IT Service Management means that you are adopting a “service culture” which focuses on your business requirements; to achieve this involves at least the following:
    • Analyzing the real business needs
    • Planning the services and support to underpin those needs
    • Implementing the ‘capabilities’ i.e. people, process and technologies to deliver those services Continuously monitoring, controlling and improving IT delivery and support
     
    The benefits of ITSM Effective implementation of IT Service Management best practice processes within an IT service operation will enable the business to realize the following benefits:
    • Improved customer satisfaction
    • Reduced risk in service provision
    • Reduced cost of delivery and support
    • End to end service visibility
    • Simplified IT operating model
    • Increased productivity within the business
    • Better supplier & partner management
    • Compliance with best practice which can be audited (and therefore proven)
    • Faster “go to market” capability for the ‘core’ business
     
    Customers want Services
    • Customers don’t want servers, routers and storage systems they want services
    • Infrastructure is ‘behind the scenes’ – one of many aspects of a service
    • Services are shaped by the Customer usage
    • SLA’s are worthless if they are unable to measure what the Customer recognizes as a service
    • In any business you must know your market and understand your Customers better than the competition - IT Service Providers are no different!
    • Service Management is about managing the customer experience and everything that underpins it
     
    Rules for Designing a ITSM Process
    1.       Identify GAP
    a.       Incident Management
                                                                  i.      What is working or not
                                                                ii.      What gaps are there when escalate from L1 to Level 2
    b.      Don’t start from scratch
    2.       Validate
    3.       Get people involve
    4.       Educate
    5.       Governance
    Good governance requires that you establish accountability for the process, assign the appropriate tasks and measure that they are actually getting done
     
     
    ITSM audits are based on analysis of four key performance indicators in specific ways:
    • Growth and value, which involves tracking revenue growth against investment and utilization.
    • Budget adherence, which involves optimizing the use of available funds and avoiding unnecessary expenditures.
    • Risk impact, which involves identifying and evaluating the consequences of risks taken or avoided.
    • Communication effectiveness, which involves examining customer feedback and gauging customer satisfaction and awareness.