Customer Satisfaction Insights: IT Service Management (ITSM)

This morning’s activity has been an offshoot of the Business Model research I’ve been working on.  One of the possibilities of business models for Modern IT Portfolio Management is to create a “IT Service” as an addition to the advisory/consulting services that are under development.  Currently I have an inventory of tools in the form of database applications, spreadsheets and word templates that I’ve created over the years.  While I integrate these into a unified practice I continually think back to the consulting platform, B.A.S.E., I built decades ago. I had built it as a consultant’s workbench using MS Access V1, which operated much like SharePoint.  The tool has data collection forms, analysis functions, and reports that enabled a consultant to use interview and other collected information as input to multiple forms of analysis.  When I used it on several engagements it saved me days of collating, classifying, categorizing and sorting work enabling me to focus on analyzing,  developing insights, brainstorming, and recommendations for my customer which is the true added value they hire a consultant for**.

A case for customer focus in ITSM

Today the need for knowledge worker augmentation is even more critical as management becomes aware of the cost of information overload to staff.  Not only does it cause more stress on employees, but errors increase putting projects and companies at risk.  The ability to manage information effectively as opposed to just efficiently has become a critical success factor.  Corporations that fail to grasp that point are now suffering from these errors.  The recovery time for these is longer than just the remediation time of the error.  The costs go beyond that to reputation and trust.  Once a corporation has lost trust with its customers is takes much longer to regain.  Kotler points out that it cost more to acquire a new customer than retain and old.  I would profess it takes double the cost of acquiring a new customer to reacquire an old customer that has lost trust with the company, and in many cases may never be required.

ITSM Ecosystems

This bring me back to IT Service Management (ITSM).  The first point, any IT Service works in a market whether a captive or open -if the IT Service is offered to external to the firm customers.  While a captive market for IT Services appears to have less concerns, if the Service Manager and IT Executive Management look at the situation, they have more to be concerned about.  In a free market situation both customer and provider are free to goes their separate ways.  A customer can seek other providers, a provider can seek other customers.  In a captive market customer and provider are joined together.  However, if the customer is unhappy with the provider and proves the case to executive management that the service is not needed or the provider is not efficient and effective to the business; replacement or outsourcing becomes the order of the day.  The IT Service staff are gone with no prospects of finding a new customer as the virtual firm has been dissolved or they are no longer a part of it.

The second point, while researching IT Service Management implementations around the global recently, it became obvious that most IT Functions: 1)View ITSM as a operations, mainly help desk, concern separate for the rest of the function.  2) Do not see ITSM as a strategy to design, build and grow the business.  The first issue that ITSM is just helpdesk or operations suggests that IT organizations are still functioning as 1970s style product factories.  Mass production of products and a possible focus on as designed quality (i.e., did not vary from design specifications).  Product manufacturing companies that operate this way are shutting their doors every day.  Despite the disposable society orientation of the market today, if a customer finds fault with the product they’ll return it and by from a competitor.  These returns due to defects whether variance from design or various for from customer expectations –which is more important- cost the corporation significant funds.  The ITSM equivalent means line of business down time or line of business rework, either is likely to generate a complaint to the CxO suite.  The second issue, related to the first, using a systems engineering approach to design services is a new concept, but one that pays back several fold.  Looking at not only the technical aspects of service delivery but the entire surround of that service is going to provide a higher quality, more cist effective service that provides a better customer experience which in the end results in a request for more services.

Management Consulting Models

**As noted in most management consulting books, a small army of entry level consultants are typically assigned to an engagement to do this data collection and organizing.  While a productive way to onboard and develop consulting skills for new consultants, this often creates a bang/bust syndrome for the practice: Hire lots of new consultants for an engagement which results in a big bench (consultants waiting for work) at the end of the engagement.  Immediate manager doesn’t wish to lay off staff as it: 1) Indicates poor business planning or sales skills on his/her behalf  2) Lowers perceived prestige as there are less people assign to be managed.  If the firm does lay off and hire consultants in a repeated cycle it generates a poor image for the firm as well as a bad reputation with existing employees and potential candidates.


Office365 Small Business

Installed and started to configure Office365 Small Business Premium yesterday.  A little buggy and limited on guidance.  Still have a lot to cleanup on configuring; Issues with ID or Email Address, etc.  Guess that means there’s a market for someone to write a “how-to” book on install, configuration and operation.  Of course this has been one of the major deficiencies in Microsoft’s Business Model.  They can tell you how to flip switches on the product, but not how and why for your business.  The entire ITSM concept for Microsoft is still primitive which is why I keep getting questions from friends & family on how-to manage their IT environment.  Additionally that last several engagements I supported behind the scenes, customers where asking for the Microsoft equivalent of an IBM Redbook.  Unfortunately my old group was not chartered to fulfill such a request despite the growing need.  This suggests that when I’m finished my first book project, I start on a IT Operations Methodology and Guidebook similar to the Strategy and Market Planning methodology IP I developed for other Global 100 corps.

Today’s agenda is more physical office clean-up, troubleshooting structured wiring system, and Structure in Threes book layout wireframe design and if time permits back to configuring Office365 Small Business (wireframe layout for external site)


A friend posted a summary of CRM soultion used at Microsoft.  Been working on and off with MSIT again. They’ve been doing good stuff behind the firewall

Implementation, Deployment and Adoption

A few months ago a peer of mine and I took an afternoon to mindmap her presentation on User Adoption.  During that time we realized that the topic was going to require more than one presentation and could fill an entire conference track.  This was her first time on the speaking circuit; actually second as she tagged team with me on one of my sessions a few months before.  But this was her first without training wheels.  I was pleased that her session was well received, actually better than well received; she got applause from the entire audience.   It’s been a few months since and now she’s eager to present at another major conference.   

This brought to mind the topic of adoption on a visceral level.   Initially I had tried to get members of my team to present at conferences.   It had been an uphill battle.  My score at been 0:6.  So I decided to try another tactic.  I figured I’d remove some of the anxiety of presenting by co-presenting; therefore my peer didn’t have to carry the session all by herself.  She had a little bit of nervousness, but, came through just fine.  Nobody noticed or commented on mistakes, she didn’t freeze nor die of fright.

Months later she came to me asking me to help.  She wanted to present by herself at another conference.  She was confident about presenting but unsure about the topic or what to say.   After a few questions back and forth we decided that the topic of adoption would be something she could add value to.  She had previously specialized in change management as part of her career, so adoption seemed like a rich topic.

For her first presentation she decided an overview covering the topic would be of value.  During our brainstorming / mindmapping session thoughts of implementation, deployment and adoption came to mind.  I put these aside till today as I’m poised to work with her again assembling another session for a conference next year where we’ll tagged team again.  But this time she’ll be confident presenting.

The reason I bring this up is often as professionals we confuse implementation and deployment with adoption.   I was after implementation having teammates present at conferences.   My efforts at deployment trying to enlist members resulted in limited success until I changed my deployment methods.  I needed to understand why teammates were hesitant to present.  Once I address their concerns of fear of the unknown I got adoption. 

This was an interesting lesson to relearn.  Years ago I had read an excellent article from Sloan Magazine on Stakeholder Analysis that highlighted for change to be successful you need to address other’s concerns in order to realize your goals

SharePointDirections Reports

Fresh back from SharePoint 2011 Conference, SharePoint Salon, SharePoint Sushi; now I am fired up.  During the conference Owen Allen and I discussed framing a series of reports for SharePointDirections to produce after October; that’s the easy part.  Now I’m assembling information on ISVs that I gathered during deep dives with each. 

We’ll be revising the SharePoint EcoSystem Map during November for publication on the SharePointDirections website.  The map will take on more of an Enterprise flavor given SharePoint’s acceptance as an Enterprise level platform with the introduction of 2010.   The first report under consideration will cover the information management segment, followed by the process and workflow segment.  However, I’ve yet to schedule deep drives with ISVs in that segment.

Our goal is to provide a qualitative assessment of products in each segment initially, position them on a grid to help clients make informed decisions, and eventually perform a qualitative analysis on each.  I know that later is a big task, participating in similar activities in the engineering software market.  Check out Cyon Research.  

In the meantime my personal Blog will still continue exploring concepts and issues around Enterprise Architecture as well as a collaboration area with peers.             

Markets, Market Planning, Marketing, Business Development and Sales

I’m in the process of considering going out on my own again, after almost two years with a small “boutique” firm. The exercise in trying to help them grow had its pluses and minuses. One of the insights I already knew, but this experience provided a more current data point: Without an ongoing effort every day to identify opportunities, move those through a sales pipeline to eventual close your destiny is bleak. A lot like sitting on the wrong end of a tree branch and sawing away. You may feel you’re making progress but you’re actually undercutting your future.

With that said, I wonder why the message at the executive level didn’t take on a sense of urgency until it became a crisis. In the past when I consulted to Senior Executives they were well aware of this insight, they just didn’t know how to go about it, so it was easy to lay out a simple structure each could grow with. I happen to like Keith Eades book, The New Solution Selling. He refined Bosworth’s principles down to a implementable process for large organizations. Corporations such as IBM and Microsoft have created and deployed customized versions of such, I had assisted in those efforts.

However, for small businesses the approach was not scalable down. Over the past few years I’ve taken the core concepts and reengineer these into a family of tools which I’ve posted onto Microsoft Office Templates Online under my corporate logo Intellectual Arbitrage Group. These are available for free for a limited time, as I’ve been informed the site will be taken down in October. While distribution for free from Microsoft will not be available I will still freely distribute in the future.

But with the advent of the Cloud; Azure, Office365, etc. I am in the process of designing a service that will integrate these core functions into a system that will enable small businesses to manage the Marketing and Sales function at or beyond the level that corporations struggle to attain or maintain. While it will not be as sophisticated as systems I’ve done for these larger corporations effectiveness should raise for these firms an order of magnitude. Originally I had planned to release a SharePoint version, and I still might, but a Cloud Service makes more sense to address the small businesses I’m so fond of

Sabbatical Research Results: Model of client acquisition process

Over the weekend I started to build a simple model of client acquisition process with the intent of revising process models I previously created and deployed.  My sabbatical researching and working in the business development and sales functions the past several years is coming to a close.  This month I will be rationalizing all my notes and insights into a holistic model that includes Technology Evangelism, Sales Engineering and Sales/Account Management.  The follow on month will then be to integrated it with the marketing.  The top level model I came up with is below:


Each of these large activities has been further partitioned into smaller activities, many I’ve either identified or developed job aids to assist in performance at best practice level.   Concepts from this research will be a chapter in my Enterprise Architecture book which will include the social networking research I’m doing now.