In complex IT environments, asking the right questions is the key to discovering and solving challenges and risks—and questions can be a powerful way to shift thinking and culture.
Q1. How happy are our customers with the services they get from IT?
IT infrastructure and operations people are often in heads-down mode, working on daily maintenance tasks, fixes, and project work. They’re focused on what’s in front of them, not the end product: the creation of value for people across the business through the use of technology.
Value-oriented thinking is something that CIOs often have to promote aggressively, because it drives alignment between what IT people do and what the organization needs. But a CIO shouldn’t need to keep reminding people of the why. What’s needed is a cultural shift towards a customer-centric philosophy—to make the why part of the DNA of IT.
If you’re not already surveying, introduce a customer satisfaction survey with a simple metric (like Net Promoter Score)—to measure customer sentiment (both periodically and after selected interactions). Insist that the results are studied. Create, sponsor, and fund an improvement program to act on feedback and improve customer satisfaction. Put customer satisfaction front-and-center in the minds of your people by making customer happiness a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). As a KPI, it becomes embedded as a permanent reminder that the IT service experience matters.
• Are we measuring IT customer satisfaction? When and how?
• What’s the current situation? What does the trend look like?
• Do we do anything with survey results? Are these driving an improvement program? (It is frustrating for a customer to spend time providing feedback only to see that nothing changes).
• Does anybody own the overall IT customer experience? Someone must be responsible for representing the customer.
Where technology fits in:
• IFS assyst integrates customer surveys into IT operations—giving you capabilities to gather satisfaction data (periodically and post-service experience), and dashboard reports so that CXOs and IT managers have an at-a-glance view of performance as customers see it.
Q2. How many IT processes do we have, and which can we automate?
This can be a difficult question to answer. Most organizations have never had a strategic approach to automation. Over time, IT people have automated tasks to make their day easier, so automations live on different platforms and are rarely documented.
The real question is this: How much time is wasted on manual work that could be automated? How many opportunities for improvement and innovation are missed because IT people are tied up with unnecessary manual work?
The first part of the question is to get people thinking about the tasks they do as a process—because process mapping is the first step towards process automation. The second part of the question addresses which workloads could and should be automated. IT people have an idea of what ought to be automatable, so the real challenge is in prioritising where to start.
Uncontrolled automation of work carries risks. Automation sprawl—hundreds or thousands of automations happening across dozens of systems—can make change management difficult and risky. No individual can understand the whole automation landscape in a large organization.
Centralization is the answer. Automations should be centralized in one system, so they are visible and maintainable. And the integrations that enable cross-platform automation should be created and managed in a single integrations hub—again, for better manageability.
• What are the top 5 most frequent, automatable tasks that you do?
• Do you have documented processes?
• Does our service management solution have the functionality we need to quickly automate these processes?
Where technology fits in:
• IFS assyst identifies which tasks occur most frequently (and take up the most time) so that you can pinpoint where automation will save the most time.
• Centralizing automation in one system gives you visibility. Drag-and-drop workflow creation gives you agility.
• Integration with IT systems is critical. If your workflow system connects easily, it can stitch together actions across different systems to automate complex work. IFS assyst has a unique integration hub with off-the-shelf-connectors which make it easy to create and manage integrations in one place—making more automation possible.
• IFS assyst democratizes service automation—putting it within reach of non-technical teams like HR, Facilities, and Finance, who can self-create and self-manage their process automations.
Q3. What’s our software license position today?
This is the question CIOs usually start asking after their organization has been hit by a six or seven-figure license fine. So don’t wait until it’s too late. Ask the question today.
Organizations that are reactive about vendor audits suffer fines and loss of productivity while staff manually scrape and collate license data. Poor audit response capabilities mean budget and time are diverted away from vital digital transformation projects that are needed to move the organization forward.
Organizations that are pro-active about vendor audits can get ahead of the risks. A clear view of the present situation is essential. Organizations need to know which licenses they own, and which licenses are in use—so that they can see gaps and resolve them quickly. The aim is to achieve compliance by design; a combination of real-time visibility of non-compliance, coupled with the tools to quickly resolve risks so that compliance can be re-established in minutes. When a vendor audit letter arrives, a slick response process means the organization is always ready—and audits are a quick, stress-free experience.
• How many vendor audits have we had in the last 12-24 months?
• When and where did audits result in true-up charges and fines?
• Which vendors are the aggressive auditors? Are we expecting any re-audits?
• What can we learn from last time round?
• What is our average audit cycle time?
• Do we have a process in place?
• What data are we missing? What data are we collecting manually?
The trick here is to audit your audits, learn lessons, regain control, get better visibility of your software ownership and use, and build an efficient audit-response capability.
Where technology fits in:
• IFS assyst stores the details of your software contracts, including license allocations for each vendor and application. It automatically discovers software installed on your IT assets to give you an up-to-date view of software in use. By connecting the two data sets—what you own and what you use—it gives you a clear view of your Effective License Position (EFP), highlighting precisely where you are under-licensed (a risk) or over-licensed (budget wasted).
If you’re asking these questions, you’re going in the right direction. Get in touch to find out how we can help you get there faster with modern service management tech that’s simple to buy, simple to set up, and simple to use.