Service culture in an Information System function

In Information System departments,customer satisfaction is not always its prime objective as departments are too obsessed with technology. However, infrastructure and basic applications are seen as a service to business users

  • Pressure to change evolution
  • Outsourcing and need to measure performance
  • Compulsory competitive tendering and user power;
  • Push to deliver high-quality service while driving out costs;
  • Improve overall governance, risk, and compliance management
  • Business process standardization has forced real business change -this shift meant a clearer understanding of demand and supply roles across business and including IS function
  • Need for a service culture in the IS/IT function across all its areas of responsibility; Need to change model for IS organization –skills transition from managing staff to negotiating & delivering service

Customer requirements

  • Specify –require services that provide solutions
  • Conformance –measured
  • Consistency
  • Value
  • Communication –clear and agreed
  • Business perspective

IS Function requirements

  • Basic good practice with any service
  • Logging all requests for service
  • Responding in line with customers urgency
  • Informing customer at all stages
  • Professional, minimum disruption while fixing
  • Review and confirm Customer happy
  • Clear published processes
  • Cycle –Agree, Measure, Evaluate & Report –continuous improvement
  • Provision of Service –different mindset, implications for structure and skills

Service Culture –Potential Benefits

  • Increased user involvement & understanding with defined processes, service commitments & clear governance
  • Operating costs decrease –services closer to customer needs. Opportunity to be more transparent –pay per user/service.
  • Efficiency improves with teamwork, morale improves and staff turnover may reduce
  • Quality improves, enhances IT reputation
  • IT Department more effective and more responsive to business change –clarity around demand and supply roles within IS function
  • All measurable and therefore transparent and capable of improvement –user involvement in these discussions
  • Operational Management should be clearer
  • Facilitates ‘cleaner’ outsourcing capability if needed

The different focus should also give an opportunity to streamline and focus structure of IS Function -Service Management…e.g. ITIL standard

Service Support Management

  • Help Desk or Service Desk
  • Central point of contact between user and IT services –operational interface
  • Role depends on structure and scale of organization
  • Basis for capturing all usage information
  • Role includes –‘Face of IS Function’
  • Receives and records call deals with simple items
  • Initial assessment of all incidents and refers onward to next level -Scale may need technology for recording
  • Monitors and escalates per service levels
  • Handles all communication with users
  • Management & performance reporting

Some Benefits

  • Improved user service and perception
  • Increased accessibility for users
  • Faster response
  • Enables Service Catalogue/CMDB to be easily maintained
  • Consistent and clear communications
  • More efficient and effective use of support resources
  • Enables more effective problem and incident management
  • Potential Problem Areas
  • Lack of commitment –user management/IS support
  • Insufficient resources, staff, funding etc
  • Resistance to change both within IS and among broader company
  • Inadequate on-going user communications to manage perception

Service Delivery Management -SLAs

  • Agreement between an IT Service Provider and an IT Customer or Supplier which defines the key service targets and responsibilities of both parties –IS Dept / End-User Dept / Suppliers etc.
  • Important for continuous improvement & vital for move towards partnership relationship
  • The SLA is concerned with quantifying the minimum acceptable service between the parties. Where IT performance standards are unquantified and badly defined disenchantment of users frequently follows.
  • The value of an SLA is that it facilitates a “Service Culture” within which quality control standards can operate. In effect, it serves to unify the aim of the provider with the user. It commits user to forecast volumes and other such operating conditions in return for which the provider omits to an agreed level of service, quality and cost. (SLA, OLA etc)

Service Level Agreements – SLA –how to introduce and embed

  • Agree on all processes required around services covered in Services Catalogue
  • Plan appropriate SLAs –may need different ones for different areas
  • Agreement requirements and draft SLA –maybe pilot SLA for communication purposes with lots of publicity
  • Multi-layer if required –public sector
  • Put rigorous vendor management process in place –IS with key suppliers
  • Don’t start without targets or review timetable and don’t include items that cannot be measured –agree on some incentives and penalties
  • Educate & involve users (all levels especially influencers) and sell the idea. Review and improve/change targets with business/customers
  • Opportunity to review all support and other contracts with both internal and external bodies

Service Level Agreements – SLA -Sample Contents

  • Itemized list of services covered –support, change etc.
  • Service hours and extensions –calendar showing support hours and extensions with target response and resolution times, key processes, escalation paths & responsible decision makers
  • Availability & Reliability measures –percentages, number of service breaks etc, throughput & transaction response times
  • Changes to infrastructure -agreed levels of service –new technology or new locations –minor to major items
  • Charging –Base and Exceptions
  • Measures and key performance target reporting
  • Service reporting cycle and reviews –When, Who, Agenda
  • Continuous Improvement -Incentives (and penalties)

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