IT Service Management and IT Operations
Automate and manage your IT Operations through superior IT experience.
IT itself is getting more complex by the day and in addition is also required to be more agile to deliver services to current business operations. That is; to assist the business to fast track projects providing a competitive edge in today’s digital business.
The new approach to deliver digital business are through:
- Process Automation:
Automate common activities and collate compliance against regulatory controls, mediation, and reporting;
- Dynamic IT asset management (ITAM):
Identify forgotten assets that are potential entry points for security breaches;
Assess vulnerability risk, impact, and remediation automatically to comply with regulatory and corporate policies;
- Service Analytics:
- Create a smarter service desk by enabling service desk managers to create, publish and receive automated reports;
- User self-service:
Decrease service resolution time and prevent (through problem management) the volume of incidents and direct contacts through automation and service catalogues.
What is a Help Desk?
*The IT Help Desk is typically viewed as being more tactical with the primary goal being to help quickly resolve end users immediate needs and technical issues and incidents. The IT Help Desk can be separate or part of a larger Service Desk operation to improve the overall organization’s Customer Services. The ultimate goal of the Help Desk is to resolve end user issues and requests as efficiently and quickly as possible.
Some of the key traits of the Help Desk are:
- Act as a single point of contact for IT Support
- Use a tracking solution for all incoming incidents
- Automated ticket tracking, routing and email notifications
- Basic Incident Management and Problem Management
- Offers some limited integrations with other IT Service Management Processes
- Some areas/applications supported by speciality groups outside of the help desk
- Provide level 1, 2 support and pass incident ownership if escalation is needed
- Problem resolution and escalation procedures
- Managing the Knowledge Base
- Adhering to Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
- Self-Service options for end users
BMC Track-It! help desk software offers many of the features listed above, including automatic email to ticket conversion, ticket management, automated routing, prioritization, service level agreements, automatic email notifications, reporting and more. Track-It! also offers an end user web portal where users can log tickets or check the status of their existing tickets and a Knowledgebase module where solutions to issues can be documented to help when the same issue is encountered in the future.
What is a Service Desk?
*The IT Service Desk is thought of as a broader term that is more strategic and cross organizational. This looks at the business needs rather than being solely focused on resolving the user’s needs and takes into account the broader business context. The ITIL definition of the Service Desk (Service Operation) is the Single Point of Contact between the Service Provider and the Users. A typical Service Desk manages Incidents and Service Requests, and also handles communication with the Users. The Service Desk typically has a help desk component and should have an overall goal of improving IT and business processes across the organization looking for opportunities for all IT processes (including the Help Desk) to run more efficiently.
Some key traits of the Service Desk are:
- Full integration with other IT Service Management processes;
- Act as Single Point of Contact for all IT areas/applications/business processes;
- Integrate with, provide input to and disseminate information from Change Management, Configuration Management, Release Management and Problem Management;
- Help keep the organization compliant with Service Level Management agreements;
- Self-Service/Service Catalog (Although these are sometimes for more advanced implementations, I would say that these can also be part of Help Desk solutions as well as this is becoming table stakes for users);
- Integrate with CMDB, Asset Discovery, and Asset Management;
BMC FootPrints service desk software is an ITIL verified Service Desk platform offering all the functionality of a full help desk solution, plus full support for all other Service Management processes, full customization, visual workflow, CMDB (Configuration Management Database), visual impact analysis and more.
BMC FootPrints provides a powerful suite of on premise tools that helps mid-size organizations manage the entire lifecycle of their IT services.
New to ITIL? Start here!
Most organizations consider their people, capabilities, processes, and technologies to be strategic assets. These assets help deliver and support the company’s vision and mission. Efficient and effective alignment of capabilities and resources of services and products can help create a strategic advantage in the markets that organizations serve. This is where ITIL®, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, comes into play. ITIL is the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world. It helps individuals and organizations use IT to realize business change, transformation, and growth.
The ultimate goal of ITIL is to improve how IT delivers and supports valued business services. ITIL is not just technology management or process management. It also focuses on improving the capabilities of people, processes, and technology. ITIL provides value for an organization, its resources, and capabilities, including employees and customers.
Adoption of the ITIL framework can be the foundation for the success of other initiatives such as DevOps, cybersecurity, cyber-resilience, Internet of Things (IoT), and other emerging trends and technologies.
ITIL Incident Management
Incident management is typically closely aligned with the service desk, which is the single point of contact for all users communicating with IT. When a service is disrupted or fails to deliver the promised performance during normal service hours, it is essential to restore the service to normal operation as quickly as possible. Also any condition that has the potential to result in a breach or degradation of service ought to trigger a response that prevents the actual disruption from occurring. These are the objectives of incident management.
Service desk personnel usually are identified as level 1 support, which includes the following activities:
- Incident identification
- Incident logging
- Incident categorization
- Incident prioritization
- Initial diagnosis
- Escalation, as necessary, to level 2 support
- Incident resolution
- Incident closure
- Communication with the user community throughout the life of the incident
Incident management is not expected to perform root cause analysis to identify why an incident occurred. Rather, the focus is on doing whatever is necessary to restore the service. This often requires the use of a temporary fix, or workaround. An important tool in the diagnosis of incidents is the known error database (KEDB), which is maintained by problem management. The KEDB identifies any problems or known errors that have caused incidents in the past and provides information about any workarounds that have been identified.
Another tool used by incident management is the incident model. New incidents are often similar to incidents that have occurred in the past. An incident model defines the following:
- Steps to be taken to handle the incident, the sequence of the steps, and responsibilities
- Precautions to be taken prior to resolving the incident
- Timescales for resolution
- Escalation procedures
- Evidence preservation
Incident models streamline the process and reduce risk.
Incident management has close relationships with and dependencies on other service management processes, including:
- Change management. The resolution of an incident may require the raising of a change request. Also, since a large percentage of incidents are known to be caused by implementation of changes, the number of incidents caused by change is a key performance indicator for change management.
- Problem management. Incident management, as noted above, benefits from the KEDB, which is maintained by problem management. Problem management, in turn, depends on the accurate collection of incident data in order to carry out its diagnostic responsibilities.
- Service asset and configuration management. The configuration management system (CMS) is a vital tool for incident resolution because it identifies the relationships among service components and also provides the integration of configuration data with incident and problem data.
- Service level management. The breach of a service level is itself an incident and a trigger to the service level management process. Also, service level agreements (SLAs) may define timescales and escalation procedures for different types of incidents.
What is problem management?
Problem management is one aspect of ITIL implementation that gives many organizations headaches. The difficulty lies in the similarity between incident management and problem management. The two processes are so closely aligned that differentiating the activities can become difficult for ITIL novices. At what point does one turn into the other? In some organizations, the two processes are so closely related they are combined altogether. The differences are important, however, since they are not the same and have different objectives.
The term “problem” refers to the unknown cause of one or more incidents. A useful metaphor for understanding the relationship between problems and incidents is to think of the relationship between a disease and its symptoms. In this metaphor, the disease is the problem and the symptoms are the incidents. Just as a doctor uses the symptoms to diagnose the disease, so problem management uses the incidents to diagnose the problem.
When incidents occur, the role of incident management is to restore service as rapidly as possible, without necessarily identifying or resolving the underlying cause of the incidents. If incidents occur rarely or have little impact, assigning resources to perform root-cause analysis can’t be justified. However, if an individual incident or a series of repeated incidents causes significant impact, problem management is tasked with diagnosing the underlying cause of the incidents and, ultimately, to identify a means to remove that cause.
Problem management’s first activity is to diagnose the problem and validate any workarounds. Problem management uses a problem database to track problems and to associate any identified workarounds with them. Once the problem has been diagnosed and a workaround identified, the problem is referred to as a “known error.” These are documented in the known error database (KEDB), which may be the same physical database as the problem database. The KEDB is a significant tool for incident management in resolving incidents caused by known errors.
After the known error has been identified, the next step is to determine how to fix it. This will typically involve a change to one or more CIs, so the output of the problem management process would be a request for change, which would then be evaluated by the change management process, or included in the CSI register.
Problem management is thought of as a reactive process in that it is invoked after incidents have occurred, but it is actually proactive, since its goal is to ensure that incidents do not recur in the future, or if they do, to minimize their impact.
What is ITIL Change Management?
ITIL change management is a process designed to understand and minimize risks while making IT changes. Businesses have two main expectations of the services provided by IT:
- The services should be stable, reliable, and predictable.
Although change management is a process in the Service Transition phase of the lifecycle, the decision about whether to approve a proposed change is sometimes a strategic one, and therefore it is expected that the change management process will work closely with the portfolio management process as necessary.
The services should be able to change rapidly to meet evolving business requirements.
These expectations are in conflict. The objective of change management is to enable IT service management to meet both expectations—to enable rapid change while minimizing the possibility of disruption to services.
Change management applies a formal process to accomplish change and therefore is sometimes thought of as making change more difficult by adding “red tape.” But a properly implemented change management process can enable a greater volume of useful change than would be possible without it. It does so in the following ways:
- By assuring that all proposed changes are evaluated for their benefits and risks, and that all impacts are considered.
- By prioritizing changes so that limited resources are allocated to those changes that produce the greatest benefit based on the business need.
- By requiring that all changes are thoroughly tested and that each deployment includes a back-out plan to restore the state of the environment in the event that the deployment fails.
- By ensuring that the configuration management system is updated to reflect the effect of any changes.
The change manager must always be aware of opportunities to make the change management process more efficient. There are two important tools for accomplishing this:
- Change models. It is extremely rare that a proposed change is not similar to changes made in the past. The change manager can develop a change model to standardize the procedure for implementing a specific type of change. This streamlines the process and reduces the risk of change.
- Standard changes. A standard change is a special case of a change model and applies to routine changes involving little risk. Standard changes are pre-approved, meaning that they do not have to be reviewed by change management and are typically treated as service requests by the service desk.
In deciding whether to authorize changes, the change manager is assisted by the change advisory board (CAB), which comprises experts in IT technology, finance, and the business.
Extend the Service Desk to include endpoint management:
- Delivers distributed endpoint management to help control costs, maintain compliance, and reduce security risks.
- Extends BMC FootPrints with service desk-driven endpoint management;
- Quick and easy Automation of IT Services;
- Seamlessly synchronizes endpoint configuration data with CMDBs;
- Integrates with service portals for user self-service;
- Integrates with custom solutions via comprehensive RESTful API.
BMC Client Management delivers distributed endpoint management (mobile, laptop, desktop, and server), helping IT deliver great service to end-users while minimizing cost, maintaining compliance, and reducing security risks.