It is a truth universally acknowledged, that firefighting is one of the noblest professions in the history of humankind. Firefighters risk their lives and save thousands of lives from unfortunate accidents. However, in the business context, the term ‘Firefighting’, has a completely different meaning. Businesses have adopted the use of the word ‘Firefighting’ to refer to critical situations that require emergency allocation of resources to tackle unforeseen problems.
Firefighting is not an unfamiliar territory to an IT professional. In fact, it will not be an exaggeration to say that IT teams in most of the organizations are doing just that – resolving issues as it arises and just about ensuring the business operations are not affected. This begs the question – is IT supposed to do just that? Fix issues as it comes and never be prepared?
Reactive IT Service Management
Most service desks inevitably and involuntarily take a reactive approach to ITSM; reacting to issues and unable to prioritize business objectives. Despite adopting methodologies such as ITIL to manage ITSM, IT teams in most organizations struggle to manage the service process. Bottlenecks impeding the service process, inability to address urgent needs while maintaining costs, lack of resources, no proper processes to provide IT service, lack of long-term vision are some of the primary problems the IT teams adopting a reactive ITSM face.
Is incident management a culprit?
Incident management, one of the processes defined in the ITIL methodology, is highly effective to ensure the smooth flow of the service process. Issues are fixed based on the priority and workarounds are provided so the business functions are not affected and the service is restored to the normal state as early as possible. However, incident management does not dig deeper to analyze the root cause of the issues, which is crucial for proactive ITSM.
What is Proactive IT service management
Proactive IT service management is that perfect state in which issues can be avoided by vigilantly tracking events, patterns, and trends. In other words, proactive ITSM is when your IT service process functions efficiently by proactively diagnosing issues, continuously monitoring key assets and paving the way for preventive actions that can be taken, by relying on solutions identified from past issues and events.
How to get Proactive ITSM right?
Adopting a proactive IT service management is easier said than done. Sticking band aids on issues has become the modus operandi for IT teams in most organizations. It is imperative to change the way IT teams operate; IT teams do not just exist to fix issues but to ensure issues don’t occur in the first place so the business objectives are not impacted in any way. The following are some of the hacks to adopt and sustain proactive IT service management.
- Efficient problem management
One of the easiest ways to adopt proactive IT service management is to indulge in systematic problem management. As mentioned above, incident management provides a quick fix, a workaround. Practicing problem management effectively will go a long way in achieving a proactive ITSM. This can be achieved by forming a dedicated team focused on trend analysis to identify frequently occurring issues and create a repository of these issues with relevant, permanent solutions. Also, in order to achieve effective problem management, it is critical to change the mindset of the IT team; the modus operandi should be to do a root cause analysis of the issue to prevent it from happening again rather than just identifying a workaround.
- Anticipate end-user requirements
Every organization is different and the IT teams should adopt best practices that enable them to be aligned well with the business objectives of a particular organization. Understanding the end-users’ requirements is pivotal in achieving a proactive IT service management. Keeping track of the end-users requests, resource planning, proactive budget forecasting for service requests based on historical data and conducting a trend analysis on the issues raised will enable the IT team to take pre-emptive actions to handle major issues. Moreover, the practice of understanding the end-users’ requirements will enable the IT team to have an elaborate knowledge base, which the end-users can leverage to resolve issues themselves.
- AI/ML enabled technologies for proactive ITSM
Predictive analytics will improve average resolution rate by analyzing historical data and identifying the sentiment of the end-users. This will provide the IT team with valuable input on how to handle end-users issues/queries more efficiently. Moreover, today’s tech-savvy workforce prefer instant resolution of issues. Virtual agents can be used to resolve L1 queries and provide recommendations to end-users almost instantly, therefore saving time and resources.
- Continuous monitoring of infrastructure
Functioning of infrastructure such as networks and servers can be monitored continuously on a regular basis to ensure critical disruptions do not occur and also pave way for better performance management and availability management. AI/ML technologies would be of great assistance for this; through effective predictive analysis, continuous monitoring of infrastructure becomes much easier and preventive actions can be taken in case of any potential threat. Preventive action will go a long way in enabling an IT team to be proactive when delivering IT service management. Streamlined infrastructure maintenance with frequent audits would reduce the cost of infrastructure maintenance significantly.
How to sustain proactive ITSM
Best practices available on IT service management are exhaustive. Identifying and implementing practices that are aligned with the business objectives of an organization and taking what is relevant is crucial for success. With open communication and adopting some of the hacks suggested above, the modus operandi of an IT team can be changed from reactive to proactive.
In order to sustain proactive ITSM, it is imperative to continuously receive feedback about the IT service from the end-user and upper management. This practice would enable the IT team to ensure the two important facets of the service delivery are met- ensuring the IT service process are aligned to the business objectives while keeping the end-users happy with quick service delivery.