Santa Announces he will No Longer Accept Letters, Santa has Upgraded to a Request Management Portal

For Immediate Release

Nicolas Kringle Corporation (NK) announced today that it will update all internal IT systems and processes to bring the company into the 21st century. Elfin Lumen, Vice President of Operations explained the new direction of the company during a press conference this morning at the company’s headquarters in Northern Canada. Lumen said “Next year Santa Claus will no longer be accepting letters. Instead, NK will use a Request Management Portal”

In a letter to investors, a company representative for NK described the new Request Management Portal in greater detail. These are some of the highlights:

  • A catalog database will be populated with toys, computers, books, phones, and edible sweets. Items such as socks, underwear, toiletries, or anything else commonly misrepresented as Christmas gifts will NOT be added to the catalog.
  • Children will be required to logon to the portal. Based on their age, their report cards, and their behavior over the previous 12 months, they will be assigned to one of three groups. Naughty, Nice, or In-between.
  • Catalog items made available to children will depend on two factors; assigned group and child’s age
  • Children will only see catalog items they are eligible to see.
  • Catalog Items will have an associated cost which will enable executives of NK to effectively report the cost of all their offerings. However, associated costs will not be visible to the children making the requests.
  • Fulfillment of requests will be handled by automated ITIL v3 verified processes. Some items in the catalog, such as cell phones, tablets, motorized bikes, and Victoria’s Secret gift cards will require authorization.
  • For those assigned as “authorizers”, they will have the ability to authorize a request using a mobile device from anywhere in the world which will minimize delays for the fulfillment of the requests.
  • A central notice board will be displayed on the portal homepage to show key information relevant to everyone and personalized information relevant to the user signed onto the portal.

NK plans to go live with the new request management portal September 1, 2015. Letters by courier will no longer be accepted to fulfill requests after September 30, 2015.

About Nicolas Kringle Corporation (NK)

Nicolas Kringle Corporation (NK) is a multinational company that develops, manufactures, and delivers toys, computers, books, phones, candy, and bikes. NK was founded by Kris Kringle in the year 328. However, after a power struggle in the year 1021, Kris Kringle was fired from the company he established by the board of directors. At that time, executives believed his vision to be “out there” and out-of-touch with current times.

During the middle ages, NK was struggling and unable to repay its debts. In 1743, Kris Kringle rejoined the company and has been credited for making NK profitable once again.

-follow me on Twitter @marcelshaw

Moving to a New IT Service Management (ITSM) Solution: Lessons Learned

Migrating your current ITSM solution from an older version to a newer version can be an enormous challenge. As requirements and technology change, many organizations find themselves looking to update to a different software solution so they can meet their ITSM objectives. However, the challenge of changing your ITSM solution can be daunting and if not implemented correctly, it could be a career-ending project for decision makers.

Bill Addenbrooke, an ITSM consultant,  recently worked as a services consultant for an ITSM solution provider. Bill has worked on several projects where an ITSM software solution was migrated to a completely different ITSM software solution. I recently sat down with Bill and asked him some questions about lessons learned and suggestions for successful migration.

What would you say is going to be an organization’s biggest challenge when they do an ITSM migration to a completely new solution?

“Making sure everyone buys into the new solution. It is important to get Help Desk feedback from all analysts who will use it. Your Service Desk is typically the tool used by all support groups.  Get their feedback on what would really make them happy or make their lives easier in terms of interface design and how to automatic assignments at different points. Remember, they are champions of the customers they support. They can offer great insight as to what would make their customers’ lives easier.”

For Incident Management (or helpdesk ticketing), what information is most important to export or replicate from the ITSM solution getting replaced?

“Incident Categories – These are critical from a reporting standpoint. If you need to know what’s happening/trending within your environment at any given time, this is often what people use.  It also helps to get customers one kick up on that ITIL maturity scale to being proactive about problem management.”

Does the migration consultant require the associated processes, if available, to be exported along with the Incident Categories?

“I am a huge proponent of standardizing service delivery by means of a process, and most Service Management platforms stress the same thing if they’re ITIL based. Standard Incidents and Requests are often assumed to have a good process behind them until the actual time comes to migrate them to a new system. Then once a consultant starts going through this with a customer, there’s a lot of holes found. Typically, processes are rebuilt in the new ITSM solution, not imported.”

What is critical information that you need to migrate or, if not already available, configure in the new ITSM solution to get meaningful reports?

“User Data from AD, or eDirectory, or from an excel spreadsheet, or whatever your system of record is for your users.  This is paramount to getting good reporting out of whatever system you go with. Going forward in the new system, you have to understand that if the user data isn’t good because it isn’t CONSISTENTLY getting filled out by the analyst, you’re going to struggle to get good meaningful reports about what’s happening in your Service Management environment. You will never be able to accurately get a count on how many tickets per department, or how many people are actually affected by an outage etc. Plus it just makes your Help Desk staff lives easier if they can quickly get consistent accurate data.”

Do you have any suggestions as far as “DO’s” and “DON’TS?”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you’re handling Incident Management right now, don’t attempt to go to a new system and do Problem, Change, and Request Management if you’re not currently doing them. Rollout your ITSM solution to your users by using a phased approach instead of doing it all at one time.  Trying to bite off too much at once is by far the most common mistake  I see with a new implementation.

Also, don’t take away what customers are used to. For example, very often customers allow End Users to submit an email as a ticket. This usually makes analyst’s lives horrible because they’ve got to triage each one of those requests, and often it requires more information than the end user initially gave. It’s a huge time sink and is frequently something organizations want to change going forward. Even though we offered self-service tools to aid in that very scenario, which will over time replace the need for email request, taking away the option to email a ticket as you implement a new system does not bode well for the way a new system will be received.”

Finally, what can a customer do to reduce the cost of migration services?

“I have a spreadsheet I typically like to give out.”

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Bill says, “Give the consultant as much as you can about incidents, process flow, service catalog, request management, and problem management. The costs can skyrocket when the consultant has to look for information that could have been shared prior to the onsite visit.”

Summary

After meeting with Bill, it was clear that when migrating to a different ITSM solution, it is critical to:

  • Involve your analysts as you plan and design the solution.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to change the things they find to be hurdles, problems, or just simply annoying from the current ITSM solution.
  • Identify what is working and any improvements needed to existing processes.
  • Get your analysts’ advice when designing the user interfaces because they are the ones who will be using it every day.
  • To minimize costs, get as much information about your ITSM solution up front, then send it to your migration consultant before he/she comes on-site.

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I.T. ASSET MANAGEMENT, NOT A ONE TIME EVENT

A government agency in Washington, D.C. was informed of a hard drive recall because a certain type of hard drive in their new PCs’ could overheat and potentially start a fire. The PC vendor had three hard drive suppliers and only one of them reported hard drive issues. As a result, the government agency had to open 3,000 PCs to replace 1,000 hard drives.

If you figure it took 10 minutes every time a PC was opened to verify the type of hard drive being used, then 20,000 minutes (333 hours) was wasted opening PCs that did not actually have a hard drive issue. With asset management tools in place, the agency could have created a report that displayed the names of all the PCs with the defected hard drive.

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After replacing all hard drives, asset discovery tools would also have discovered the new hard drives as soon as they connected to the network. Remember, just because an asset was added to the management database does not mean it is being tracked. An ongoing asset inventory process is needed to track an asset.

Asset discovery should not be a one-time event. It should be a continuing process that runs on your network. Asset discovery tools provide details about your IT assets by taking inventory of all the asset components on a regular basis, then reports the information back to a central database. Without tracking, assets are easily misplaced or lost.

In one study, laptops were reported to have a 5-10 percent chance of going missing during their lifecycle. Theft accounted for 25-40 percent of those missing laptops. The rest were simply missing. Ongoing inventory processes with most asset management systems will flag assets that stop communicating on the network.

IT Asset Management starts with choosing the right asset discovery tools. To make sure you have a tool that can discover and track the asset for its entire lifecycle in your organization, use the following checklist to define your IT Asset Discovery tool requirements.

The IT Asset Discovery Tool Checklist

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Discovers Hardware Details

Choose discovery tools that give you detailed information about your devices. Information, such as part numbers and serial numbers for all the components that make up an IT asset, is not too much to ask. This type of information will come in very handy in the event of a hardware recall.

Discovers Software Details

Choose a discovery tool that can tell you about the Firmware, Drivers, Operating System, and the Software installed on all your PCs and laptops. At face value, you may not think that having this information is important for your security requirements. In actuality, having the ability to verify versions of your software is directly related to your security baselines.

Many older versions of software do not meet current security requirements. Security tools that keep software applications updated often do not account for additional installations of older versions of that same software on the same machine.

Also, do not forget about those software audits, which can cost your organization lots of money. It is important your discovery tools have the ability to give you an accurate inventory of all installed software. You need to know the version installed and the name of the PC or laptop where it is installed. I will discuss software audits in much more detail in an upcoming blog.

Checks-in Often

The asset information in your database is a snapshot in time. The accuracy of your asset information deteriorates over time. For example, imagine it has been a week since your PCs and laptops have checked into the asset management database. If you run a report today to see how many installations you have of a software application, your report will be a week old based on when the asset data was last updated.

Asset Management tools need to “monitor” the assets and report back on a regular basis. It is important to have a report that tells you how long it has been since an asset has checked in. Assets that have not checked in for several days should be flagged and investigated. The asset data should be in question and investigated until the asset is recovered.

Tracks Assets over the Internet

Many organizations allow their users to take their laptops with them for business travel or to work at home. When asked, many IT administrators feel confident about the accuracy of their IT asset information, including the security posture of those assets with one caveat, the remote users. It is important to have asset discovery tools that continue to monitor assets even when off the internal network.

Choose tools that can use the internet to connect to those assets to get any updates or changes. Many IT asset monitoring agents can be configured to “call home” using the internet. Make sure the discovery tools you choose meets this requirement. Simply waiting for the end-user to VPN on to the network so that you can get any asset updates is inefficient and unreliable. Tools that connect and update the asset management database each time the user connects to the internet should be the requirement.

Tracks Asset Changes

Choose asset management tools that can detect changes to your hardware or software. To minimize network traffic, only changes should be sent over the network to the asset management database.

Avoid tools that send ALL of the asset’s information each time the asset checks in to the asset management database. This can cause additional network traffic.

Tracks Location

Choose asset discovery tools that have the capability to provide the location of the asset. Determining the location of the asset can be done by looking at the IP address and mapping the address to the actual location. You could also track the asset location by the associated end user.

No matter how you locate the asset, choose an asset discovery tool that can provide a way for you to locate the asset you are managing. If the asset is off the network, then you should at least know who has it and that the asset is “remote.”

Eliminates End User Disruption

Choose a tool that prevents the end user from interrupting the ongoing processes and communication with the asset management database. The best way to prevent users from interrupting the asset management procedures is to make the solution transparent. If the local agent software is interrupted or removed, the asset tool should have the ability to detect and repair the local agent so that it can continue to report on the state of the asset.

Summary

The foundation of IT Asset Management is collecting all the asset information. Choose discovery tools that detect both hardware and software. Utilize discovery tools that keep the asset management database up-to-date by monitoring the assets for any changes to hardware and software. Make sure the tools you choose work on the internal network and over the internet. To ensure accuracy, implement measures to prevent users from interrupting the asset discovery tools. Remember, not only is it important to know the asset exists, it is also important to know where it is located.

Follow me on Twitter @marcelshaw