By Jeremy Humphrey
Many IT professionals would agree that the quality of an IT operations people, process and tools, is intrinsically linked to the quality if service it delivers.
However, when it comes to selecting an outsourced IT provider, many organisations will focus their efforts on evaluating the providers people, tools and price; rather than their processes. The evaluation of processes is often brief, other than confirming alignment with ITIL and the achievement of various ISO certifications.
The way in which a provider’s processes are documented, governed and most importantly followed by stakeholders, will underpin the quality, and in particular the on-going consistency of the service they provide. This is especially true for complex service designs where your service requirements may deviate from a providers ‘standard’ operating processes.
Whilst good quality IT service management tools will ensure a provider broadly aligns with ITIL; these tools only manage a small percentage of the end-to-end process. They don’t guide the engineer through manual steps or tasks performed in other systems. For example, what happens if you want to follow a specific asset management process when hardware is replaced; or a specific post incident review process? These kind of processes will rarely be configured in the provider’s service management tool; instead, they often rely upon staff ‘remembering’ how to do it, or following a work instruction stored ‘somewhere’. When you then factor in a modest amount of provider staff churn or process updates, it’s no wonder services often fail to meet expectations.
Roc is fortunate to have a business process transformation practice with excellent consultants and some unique tools and methods. When our Technology Practice is engaged as a potential IT service provider, standard operating processes are shared with clients early in the service design phase and we then update those processes during the service transition. Every process step in our portal has an input, output, resource (human and system), work instructions, business controls and an assigned process owner. We even attribute unit costs/metrics to each step of a process – for example the cost per minute for the assigned resource. Once the service is live, any proposed changes can be made in our portal when required and customer stakeholders are automatically notified and their approval sought. Service users can also be given access to “story-boards” which walk them through the process step by step, helping them to understand their interaction with the process (e.g. logging an incident).
As you would expect, the process we follow to undertake a service transition is also mapped within our toolset and shared with our clients via a portal. This process has been refined over many years and engagements; and ensures every transition is detailed, efficient and successful, not just at the point of go-live, but in the years that follow.
Finally, many clients are ensuring outsourcing success by mapping their processes in advance of selecting a IT provider. This approach ensures customers can be clear about the scope of tasks they intend to be partner delivered, explain how they integrate with wider processes, and retain IP/control should they need to improve service or change partner.
The service delivery people at your chosen IT provider will change often, especially service desk members. So ensuring your provider has great processes and a clear way to get their teams to follow them is the most important factor in getting the service you desire.