Becoming a Proactive IT Operation

Becoming a Proactive IT Operation

Man that’s a loaded title, isn’t it?! But it’s one of the key objectives we often hear when speaking with IT leaders.

How does a struggling, reactive team move from:

  • Firefighting...
    • Hunting down unknown root causes to outages and degradation
    • Routing and re-routing requests and incidents
    • Constant stream of inbound calls and emails (sometimes just for a status update)
  • To finding problems before they’re PROBLEMS...
  • To spending a majority of their time adding...
    • revenue-generating,
    • cost-saving,
    • innovation-accelerating value to their organization?

Here’s another loaded statement...It’s a journey! Allow us to unpack the vagueness and, more importantly, provide a bit of a roadmap.

Start with the Foundation

It’s not the most intriguing part of the roadmap, but it’s absolutely the most critical! Establish a CMDB that can be trusted. Your single source of truth for all CI’s and Assets. While there are tools to automate the population of these items and assets, it’s just as important to establish policies for governance.

  • Who’s going to be accountable for upkeep and changes?
  • How do we prevent stale items from lingering in the database?

EV-ER-Y-THING that you’ll see and take action on in the next steps, will inevitably fall back on the accuracy of your CMDB. If you’re pulling data from an untrusted source...there’s simply no point in going any further. Process, policy and governance needs to be laid out.

All of these components will help to capitalize on the impactful stages of the journey ahead.

In our next section, we’ll begin to lay down the bricks for this foundation (tacky-metaphor), and talk about the next few steps: Freeing up your Service Desk and Infrastructure/NOC Teams.

Give Your Service Desk Some Freedom

Find a platform that your Service Desk will thank you for! ServiceNow, as an example, has made great strides alleviating burden in a few ways:

  • Driving self-service adoption through Service Portal and Virtual Agent
    • Lowering phone and email dialogue for simple items like password reset or software access
    • Auto-Route approvals for hardware/software requests
      • Eliminate unnecessary actions
      • These requests SHOULD hit the service desk when the device is approved and ready to be shipped!
      • Why let the ordering process be manual? - Vendor integrations can automate that process as well.
    • Automating tasks for critical employee lifecycle moments
      • (i.e. On/Off-Boarding, Employee Transitions)
  • Automating menial tasks with Predictive Intelligence and Machine Learning
    • Route and triage incidents automatically based on historical data
    • Searching for incident similarities (to propose a potential Problem submission )

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Forrester Research indicated a 20% productivity increase across the Service Desk for ServiceNow customers, giving them the freedom to focus on more impactful areas.

Know Thy infrastructure. Link Thy infrastructure.

Here’s where you get to capitalize on the CMDB, process and policy work from the start of our journey. Now that the make-up of your infrastructure is trusted through your populated and well-kept CMDB...it’s time to add some visibility.

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So...we understand dependencies within our infrastructure, but how can we now get visibility into how our business services (like Email, ERP systems, CRM, etc.) are mapped?

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This will allow you to start flirting with a “Proactive Operation” in a few ways:

  • Keep your Service Owners updated on performance
  • If a Service Outage occurs (i.e. ERP system is down), pinpoint root cause quickly
    • ServiceNow ITOM Visibility allows you to view CI’s supporting the ERP system, for example, and quickly locate the item causing the service degradation/outage.
  • Understand how a proposed Change might impact the Business Service landscape

Become Proactive

Now that we have visibility, the next stage brings us to a Proactive IT Operation.

The last section certainly helped us understand more about how our infrastructure truly “supports the business”. But there’s still manual work. There’s still a hint of a reactive mindset as well. The biggest stride we made was being able to resolve bigger problems more quickly.

Most organizations will have monitoring tools that are identifying events surfacing across the environment. While that’s great already, it can be cumbersome, sifting through the noise and swivel-chairing to assign incidents.

The upper echelon Proactive IT teams are:

  • Pulling Events into one place
  • Applying rules to filter out unnecessary noise
  • Auto-Creating and Auto-Assigning event-initiated incidents
    • Catching and addressing red flags before they turn into problems
    • Notifying impacted service owners and users before phone/email blows up

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In some cases, they’re even automatically remediating certain events based on the business-rules and guidelines they’ve set up.

A very similar approach can be done for SecOps teams, as they look for Vulnerabilities and work to improve patch management.

Optimize

This is where IT can start to position themselves as a major hero in the business. We’ve seen several clients leverage these past steps, and then start to focus on areas like:

  • Expanding workflow improvements to other teams/BU’s
    • Employee On/Off-Boarding and Transitions
    • Proactive CUSTOMER support
    • SecOps as briefly mentioned earlier
  • Software Asset Management (shown below)
    • Leveraging the CMDB to know our Software Spend
    • Avoid compliance risk
    • Kill overspend with certain unused applications

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  • KPI and Metric Alignment
    • Now that we’re done firefighting, link KPI’s to business objectives
    • Build out team and individual goals to support these KPI’s
    • Catch trends (in either direction) and adapt
      • Reach KPI targets more quickly
  • More Effective Project Work
    • Start understanding how to strategically use your resources
    • Establish better processes for demand management
    • Ensure your key initiatives and projects are aligned with business goals

That’s it! That’s all you have to do! Okay, yes there’s a hint of sarcasm. The hardest part though is knowing where to start and where to go next. And hopefully we’ve clearly laid that out for you.

In our clients’ most successful transitions, we’ve seen a solid 1-2 year roadmap. And most often, it has played out as we referenced above.

If you’ve had time to step away from the fire(s) for five minutes, know that Raptek has been improving Service Management for their clients since 1996.

We’re here to help you take that first step!