Congratulations! You have successfully implemented IT Incident Management in your organization. This means you have processes and tools in place that aid your Analysts in resolving almost every type of IT issue likely to emerge in your company in a timely manner. You also have in place the ability to capture, analyze, and report on metrics that will help spot trends and measure workloads so that you can allocate resources more efficiently. Time to put your feet up and call it a day, right?
Not so fast. Incident Management is just one spoke on the ITIL wheel that will help keep your business on the road. Two other major spokes are Service Request Fulfillment and Change Management, and they are just as important.
Why Service Request Fulfillment and Change Management are Important
In most organizations when IT is young, Incident Management is usually the starting point. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) defines and Incident as an interruption of an IT service or services. Resolving these interruptions is only a part of what the IT department provides for the organization. They also provide services such as:
- Software Request fulfillment
- Hardware Request fulfillment
- Access Request fulfillment
All too often the importance of differentiating Service Requests from Incidents is not recognized and that is reflected in ITSM reporting. So why is it important to distinguish Service Requests separately? One of the simplest answers is in time management and resource allocation. Typically, an Incident will require the attention of one or two Analysts to resolve depending on the escalation process. Whereas a Service Request, such as new employee onboarding, could easily pass though the hands of three or four Analysts in different departments to complete. Predefining the various steps and responsibilities within a Service Request streamlines the completion of the request and ensures successful completion. IT organizations have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place whether they are formally documented or not. It is important to differentiate the expected time for completion of various Service Request types versus an Incident so that expectations are level set.
In comparison to Incident Management and Service Request Fulfillment, Change Management is an entirely different kind of flying, altogether. The Change Management process is designed to help control changes to IT services through standardized procedures. The goal of Change Management is to control risk and minimize disruption to associated IT services and business operations during and/or as a result of the change process. IT organizations tend to implement Change Management as their IT infrastructure grows beyond the point where it can be managed by a single team. Change Management is important because it coordinates and centralizes information about changes to the infrastructure so that issues can be avoided or resolved before they cause damage to the business that can be measured in real dollars.
What are Some Best Practices?
Best practices for implementing and maintaining Service Request and Change Management are mostly common sense. Here are a few of each:
- Identify and catalog your IT services. Gather data on what IT services you are providing the company. If you are using a ticketing system, export data into Excel. First separate out Incidents, then use the remaining data to determine a simple catalog structure that can expand as needed. For example:
- Hardware Request
- New Desktop
- New Laptop
- New Mobile Device
- Software Request
- Application Install
- Application Upgrade
- Application Uninstall
- Hardware Request
- Identify and document the processes for fulfilling different types of Service Requests. This can be done in Excel or workflow style using Visio diagrams. Be sure to include which Analyst teams are responsible for which segments of the workflow, as identifying processes makes it easier to improve efficiency. Having documentation makes it so much easier to build out the workflow process in an ITSM solution and eventually begin to automate segments of the workflow as well.
- Present Service Requests to your end users in a Self-Service Portal (SSP). SSPs are the most efficient method for requesting services because they allow IT to standardize the information gathered with the request by asking all the right questions for every request. In the short term, this saves time as Analysts do not have to reach out to the Requestor for more information. In the long term, the standard information is easier to data mine for reporting which contributes to trend analysis and can contribute to more efficient budgeting of resources. As your implementation continues to mature, this standardized information can even be used for automation, which adds even more efficiency and reduces error.
- Keep track of your services. Create and run reports detailing frequency of each Service Request in your Service Catalog. This will help you determine which services are most in demand and therefore may need more resources allocated to them. You will also be able to see which requests are dropping off in demand and may need to be considered for retirement. The use of an “Other” request in your Service Catalog will allow you to catch requests for services that are not currently a part of your Service Catalog but are being made frequently enough so that they may need to be added and formalized.
- Again, identify and categorize changes that are requested to be made to the infrastructure.
- Identify common changes that are requested more than once or twice and templatize them to make it easier to fill out the request. Also document the workflow process required to fulfill the change.
- Change Management is all about mitigating risk, so place heavy emphasis on risk assessment, implementation plans, test plans, and backout plans as part of the Change Request process.
- Identify by impact, priority, and risk which Change Requests can be approved by direct Management and which require approval by a Change Advisory Board (CAB). Be sure to involve the business units in this process.
- Provide visibility into Change Requests so identifying possible change-related issues quickly can speed up troubleshooting and resolution.
- Once you have reached a certain point in infrastructure size, begin service dependency mapping (listing all components of infrastructure required to provide a service such as servers, databases, LAN WAN resources, applications, etc.) so that potential impact points can be identified more easily during the Change Review process.
How Can SCSM & Cireson Help?
Microsoft System Center Service Manager (SCSM) is an ITSM solution that is designed around ITIL and Microsoft Operation Framework (MOF) methodology. It is a powerful tool to aid in maximizing all the above information and recommendations in your IT organization. Cireson was founded to maximize SCSM to aid your Analysts and end users managing your IT services in an efficient, accessible and intuitive manner as possible.
Here are a few examples of how SCSM and Cireson can help you with Service Request and Change Management:
- SCSM provides a powerful and scalable CMDB to store work item and configuration item data which is also extensible to your organization’s needs.
- SCSM provides separate but integrate-able work item classes for Incidents, Service Requests, Change Requests, and Release Records along with supporting Activities for request approval and process workflow.
- SCSM provides an extensible workflow engine to process Service and Change Request workflows, automated event notifications, Service Level Object calculations, and process automation.
- Cireson provides a customizable, mobile adaptive web portal interface so that Analysts and End User can access SCSM anywhere at any time.
- Cireson provides Advanced Request Offering tools to allow you to create dynamic and more efficient Request Offering forms for business users to request services.
- Cireson provides visibility into Change Management with calendar-based views of Change Requests and other scheduled work items both in the Console and in the Cireson Analyst Portal.
- Cireson helps simplify Change risk assessment with a risk calculator tool.
- Cireson enables rich web-based reporting and dashboards for tracking Service and Change Requests. Reports and Dashboards are available out of the box along with a dashboard/report building tool to make creating your own rich reports easier.
Please contact Cireson at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help you enter into life beyond Incident Management!