IT Services – Preface
It was not our initial intention to write a book dealing with IT services. We were assembled as a team to solve a real business problem. We were given our mission, put on our armor, jumped on our horses, and rode off to “slay dragons” in the name of customer satisfaction. The reason we draw this distinction is to point out the advantage this has for you, the reader, of being able to see demonstrated and proven results. It becomes obvious as you progress through each chapter that you are not getting a bunch of theory or unproved strategy. Instead, you are getting the benefit of a strategy and approach that has been implemented and refined, and is providing results.
It is without question that we now live in an age where customer satisfaction is the primary motivating factor among industries. Businesses are focusing their efforts toward improved, expeditious, and more convenient products and services. There is a growing customer “obsession” that is having a net effect not only on what products and services a company or organization is offering, but how they are organized to deliver them. IT services are no exception.
In the not too distant past, business was tied to its internal IT shop as the “only game in town” to deliver their requirements. With consulting and outsourcing strongly making their way onto the scene in the early nineties, the need to get services “inside” has waned, opening up delivery options to the business. This competition alone has probably done more for customer satisfaction than any single factor in the IT arena. As a business manager and customer of IT services, you want the most cost-effective solution that best meets your requirements regardless of who delivers them. As an IT provider of services, you want to maximize customer satisfaction by optimizing the level of service and optimizing cost. Whether the service delivery remains in-house or goes outside is almost immaterial. The delivery must go to the supplier most capable of delivering to the metrics defined. It is meeting or exceeding the customer’s requirements that matters most.
The “knowledge revolution” has spawned an army of “knowledge workers” equipped with “intellectual property” ready to do battle in today’s “information on demand” market. As a result, there is an ever-increasing need for applications and associated infrastructure to be up and available when the customer requires them, and to keep the critical supply of information flowing. It is for this reason that your business needs to have the delivery of its IT services organized and resourced to meet the current business requirements, and at the same time be flexible enough to be able to change with the same frequency and velocity that the business does.
For years, customers of IT computer services have long enjoyed the stability and predictability of centralized legacy mainframe applications. Most of their interactions with systems were through straightforward, unsophisticated, character-based screens, which essentially reflected a relatively simple single-threaded work process. Uncomplicated data structures served as the solid foundation on which the well-established custom application would reliably “chug” along. Database and system administrators lived a pretty uneventful existence, given the maturity of not only the application and hardware, but also the monitoring and maintenance tools.
In the scheme of things, it is really only recently that large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, residing on a distributed UNIX environment with sophisticated front-ends served by PC-based servers and workstations, have really begun their assault on the mainframe market. Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) ERP packages are becoming commonplace and more and more appear to be among the strategy of major industries. With the systems trend moving in this direction, IT operations have turned their attention to the infrastructure required, both environment and support structure, to deliver the level of service to which the customer base has become accustomed.
Having had the experience of little information and benchmarking from which to draw, it seemed to make sense that we put pen to paper, or more appropriately finger to keyboard. Our goal was simple: to document and share our findings, and more importantly, share the process we used to develop an integrated service delivery (ISD) model. IT Services: Costs, Metrics, Benchmarking, and Marketing was written to address the issues and challenges surrounding the development and implementation of an enterprise-wide operations center for application software. It’s no mystery, if you are able to clearly define your end state, where you want to be, and if you have a “map” clearly marked with how to get there, and you have the resources and the means, then you will successfully make the “trip!” This book is your “map” to successfully developing, implementing, and measuring an ISD model.
As you progress through the book you will see that there are no “magic formulas” or proprietary methodologies, just a straightforward, organized, customer-oriented approach. The key being customer-oriented. With technology so widespread and readily available, competitive advantage must be sought through other avenues. These days a main competitive advantage comes through customer care and satisfaction. Think about your last PC shopping experience. In your search you probably noticed that PCs, for the most part, are essentially all the same. What factors went into your choice? After-sale support and service, 800 number ease of use, onsite repair versus depot or mail-in repair? All of these are customer-related factors. It is for this reason that we took a customer approach in developing our ISD model. Whether it is PCs, appliances, cars, or computing operations services, customers all want to be “handled with care.” Using a ground-up approach, we modeled the services required and expected by our customer base, and it was from this base set of services that we developed and defined the entire ISD model. An approach that is implemented, is working, and is proven!
Here is a brief overview of what is contained within the book:
- Chapter 1 frames the book by describing the background and the reason for developing an integrated service delivery model. This chapter basically puts the book in perspective and gives you a frame of reference.
- Chapters 2 and 3 provide the detailed steps necessary to get started-from writing the “job ticket” and “charting the approach” to organizing the project and management teams.
- Chapters 4 and 5 describe the business linkages from a services and services framework perspective while defining the marketing and communication aspects of service development and delivery.
- Chapters 6 and 7 describe the development of requirements and the service model from a customer perspective. The chapters further detail how to develop the processes necessary to deliver the service model to the defined level of service.
- Chapters 8 and 9 detail how to structure the organization to deliver the service model, as well as how to develop a correlating resource and cost model.
- Chapters 10 and 11 walk you through the benchmarking process, help you to define the metrics against which you should measure your ISD delivery, and define how you know when you reach success.
- Chapters 12 and 13 review lessons learned and “key messages” along with the answers to frequently asked questions.
Who Should Read This Book?
IT Services: Costs, Metrics, Benchmarking, and Marketing was written to be viewed from multiple perspectives: the IT professional, the business manager, the customer, and the student.
It serves as a “road map” for IT executives, IT managers, and IT senior technical personnel who are tackling the issues surrounding the development and implementation of an enterprise-wide operations center for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) application software.
It is a practical guide for business managers working with the IT community to develop a stable, predictable, cost-effective support infrastructure for COTS application software supporting the enterprise.
It is an educational vehicle to help customers better understand what they should expect from their COTS application software support infrastructure and to be better able to articulate their requirements.
It is also an educational vehicle that provides the student, the aspiring IT and business professional, with a real-life practical application of developing and implementing an integrated service delivery model. Practical, not just theory.