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Welcome to the SysAid Blog - the place to go to find out where the IT industry is going, and what is SysAid’s role in it.

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Posted by on in Service Desk

Service desk myths

TV programs such as The IT Crowd and the Dilbert comic strips convey IT teams and service desks in a comical yet often negative manner. They are very funny, I know I laugh at them, but they are funny mainly because they are based on truths – truths that have been with IT and the service desk for far too long. Sadly, I’m sure that many people resist calling service desks based on the assumption that what they've seen and read is correct. 

However, the humor is often based on generalizations or snapshots from a previous time in the history of the corporate IT organization. Many IT organizations have moved on from the 1990s and I’d like to think that most service desks definitely have. So in this blog, I’d like to challenge some of these IT assumptions and help you to bust some typical service desk myths...

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Posted by on in Service Desk

self-service-webinar-blog.jpg

Many IT organizations see employee self-service as a ‘knight in shining armor’, ready to solve all their service desk issues in one quick project.

However, for many organizations, their investment in self-service often results in a white elephant rather than a white knight, i.e. it’s a possession that is useless or troublesome and which soaks up money and other resources without delivering much return on the investment. A self-service white elephant typically has low rates of adoption and utilization – often due to an overemphasis on the technology.

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Posted by on in ITIL

ITSM Basics: A Simple Introduction to Problem Management

If you regularly read my blog you’ll know that I’ve already written a fair bit on the tough nut to crack that is problem management. It’s often something that’s started as part of the latest IT service management (ITSM) tool implementation project, but it’s not unusual for this initial investment in problem management (processes) to fail in execution due to one or more reasons.

From a problem management uptake perspective, if you believe what the annual industry surveys report, roughlytwo-thirds of IT organizations are already “doing” problem management. But it’s not always what it should be, i.e. the investment of time and resources to proactively investigate and address recurring IT and business issues, and their root causes. It’s this type of investigation that helps to identify the issues that cause (or may ultimately cause) repetitive and potentially serious IT and business issues or failures. Instead, IT organizations are often just doing major incident reviews, using problem management techniques, as and when needed. It’s problem management of sorts but not truly effective problem management.

In reality, problem management is often somewhat of the “poor relative” to service desk and incident management activities. Whereas service desk and incident management are commonly receiving adequate investment in terms of staff, definition, training, and ongoing operation, problem management, on the other hand, is often “something to be done later” and therefore often not done at all.

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Posted by on in ITIL

Improve availability of an IT service

I was recently involved in a discussion about IT services and how to deliver acceptable levels of availability. This discussion was triggered by a failure of the London air traffic control (ATC) system on 12 December 2014, but the ideas apply to any system, not just safety critical services like air traffic control.

Although the ATC failure did not last long, the impact was enormous, as many flights were diverted, resulting in lots of aircraft being in the wrong place. Airline schedules took a full day to get back to normal, many passengers were stranded, and there was a lot of disruption to travel plans.

There are two ways to improve the availability of an IT service.  One is to reduce the frequency of failure.  The other is to reduce the time needed to recover from it. The ATC system is a safety critical service.  Failure is unacceptable, since it will result in deaths and injuries, and this is why planes had to be grounded. Some of my colleagues argued that since failure of the ATC system is unacceptable, it should have been designed to prevent any possible failure; fast recovery would not have helped as planes would still have been grounded. I, however, argued that in the real world we can never prevent every possible failure, so reduced recovery time will always be essential.

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Posted by on in Service Desk

Service desks in academic institutions

Georgetown University Law Center is home to high-profile professors who have served for the U.S. Supreme Court as well as graduate students streaming in from 67 countries. Situated just a few blocks from DC's Capitol Hill, Georgetown Law is a bustling hub for law-making and academia. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask the university’s Tier 3 Senior Technician, Dustin Nigro, about his insights into managing the service desk for a prominent educational institution.

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Posted by on in ITIL

ITIL's service desk Ps

The corporate IT service desk gets a lot of criticism. More specifically, service desk agents get a lot of criticism. They often get accused of using their service desk role as a stepping stone to "a better IT job." They are commonly chastised for following scripts, even when the scripts are completely inappropriate (but are the best they have under the circumstances).

On a more personal level, they are often treated as a herd rather than individuals; tar brushed with generalizations such as having poor interpersonal and customer service skills. On the upside though, they are assumed to know more about IT than most.

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Posted by on in SysAid

Service desk operations with barcode add-on

I’m delighted to announce that we’ve added a new mobile asset management add-on and application (on iOS), which provides barcode scanning, audit, and reporting capabilities to the SysAid Service Desk. This is available as an add-on to our Configuration Management Database (CMDB).

The add-on (which has been driven by SysAid customers), will help those facing challenges such as:

  • Loss of assets
  • The inability to track inventory, including checking out and in scenarios
  • Limited auditing and reporting capabilities
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Posted by on in ITIL

Using Theory of Constraints in ITSM

I’ve written about continual service improvement (CSI) before. If you haven’t read my previous articles then you might like to look at Continual Service Improvement (CSI) - The Most Important Service Management Process and The Help You Need to Adopt Continual Service Improvement. These will give you some background on what CSI is, and how you can get started.

Theory of Constraints (TOC) is a set of “thinking tools” that were developed by Eliyahu Goldratt. TOC was popularised in a novel called The Goal, which described how TOC solved a range of problems at a fictional manufacturing plant. I can’t describe the various TOC tools in detail in this blog, but I will try to show how some of the TOC tools can make a significant contribution to your CSI efforts.

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Posted by on in Events

The ITSM (Service Desk and IT Support) Show

The ITSM Show (formerly known as the Service Desk and IT Support Show, SITS) is done and dusted for another year – congratulations to Toby Moore and his colleagues on a very well organized and delivered IT service management (ITSM) event.

We are all hopefully back at work now but what did we learn? Or for those that didn’t attend did they learn anything from the event’s Twitter stream (#SITS15)? I hope we and they did, but just in case I have pulled together some sage advice from the sessions I attended and the Twitter stream.

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Posted by on in SysAid

SysAid's new service desk release

I have a confession to make: for me, the most exciting times, in the realm of my job, which I have the privilege to take part in, are the official releases of SysAid Help Desk Software. Even today, after orchestrating over a dozen On-Premise official releases, I still get the same excitement and butterflies in my stomach….

I am writing this blog after finalizing a great beta with our Pathfinders who helped test and fine-tune this release so it will be optimized for all of you.

The content of this release is especially focused on your requests. 100% of the enhancements and fixes came directly from all of you — our customers. We always put resources on issues and challenges you raise to us; this time we put all of our resources on your issues.

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