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How to Stay Relevant in the Changing World of ITSM

When it comes to continual improvement, the focus often lands on systems, processes, applications and policies. What it tends to neglect is the importance of keeping human skills up to date. The fact is, the world around us is changing and the skills and abilities that were once considered valuable are not at risk of becoming obsolete. Today’s ITSM professionals must be diligent about developing and honing the skills and knowledge that will be needed in the future. Here’s a bit of advice on how to do just that.

Technology has evolved over the years. Whereas in the past an IT tech may have required in-depth experience using an oscilloscope and soldering iron to diagnose and repair computer problems, today an entirely different set of trouble-shooting skills are needed. Those who continue to realize success in ITSM are the ones that recognize and adapt to the changes as they are occurring. If one were to try and make a living using an oscilloscope in this day and age, they simply wouldn’t be marketable.

This same concept applies to just about any skill that one has developed over the years. If you became versed in ITSM a decade ago, chances are you learned all about the importance of having well-planned and documented processes or that defining metrics and reporting them in SLAs was critical. These things aren’t necessarily obsolete (yet). It’s just that, they’re simply no longer enough. It seems that every day we’re uncovering newer and better ways to manage incidents, deal with problems and engage with customers.

To remain relevant and continue to deliver value as an ITSM specialist, there are three key areas you should be concentrating on, as follows.

Focus on Agile Principles

A shift has occurred between delivering software and/or service to delivering value. Agile service management, in simplest of terms, means working smarter and watching solutions evolve through strategic collaboration. These days, customers want instant gratification. Launching massive projects that take months or years before they produce value are no longer acceptable. Instead, ITSM professionals should take an agile approach – one which involves continuous experimentation, ongoing learning and rapid adaptation.  

In short, focus on the following:

  • Pinpoint what could be improved upon
  • Develop a hypothesis around what’s standing in the way of progress
  • Establish a plan for fail-safe experimentation
  • Experiment, measure results and proceed accordingly

Go Lean

If you’re unfamiliar, the concept of “Lean” focuses on creating and delivering maximum value to the customer while minimizing waste. In terms of ITSM, the most relevant facets of Lean include:

  • Identifying end-to-end value chains
  • Mapping out specific steps to ensure full understanding of the work
  • Eliminating waste in every area to create maximum value
  • Ensuring that every action is value-added

Emulate DevOps

Many individuals involved in ITSM are under the false impression that DevOps is solely about development. As such, they miss a tremendous opportunity to (you guessed it) create value for the customer. There are five key DevOps characteristics ITSM teams can mirror:

  • Culture
  • Intelligent Automation
  • Lean Policies
  • Continual Process Improvement
  • Collaboration

These qualities can just as easily be applied to IT service management as they are in development.

Closing Thoughts…

The previous approaches to ITSM aren’t necessarily wrong. We still need to deal with change, manage incidents and resolve problems. But it’s how we go about doing these things efficiently and effectively that has to evolve. There are many new approaches that, if adopted, can help ITSM professionals do their jobs better and create more value, both for their employers as well as their customers. Those who are willing to adapt their skillset accordingly will be the ones who win the opportunities of tomorrow.

And remember – having an agile tool in your corner can’t hurt either. Ayehu’s Next Generation Automation platform is designed to streamline ITSM while freeing up agents to focus on honing and applying their evolving skills most effectively. Now you can try it free for 30 days by clicking here.

7 Time-Saving Tips for Busy IT Leaders

Without a doubt, the IT industry is one in which time is a precious commodity. It’s incredibly easy to become bogged down with the nitty gritty details and waste resources putting out fires to the point where other key areas of the organization begin to suffer. If optimizing your time is a priority for you (and/or your team), this article is for you. Read on to learn a few expert tips on how to find efficiencies, eliminate time-wasters and kick bad habits to the curb once and for all.

Tighten up your email practices.

Checking, sending and responding to emails is a huge time suck. But until it officially becomes a thing of the past, email is still something most IT folks will have to deal with. Optimizing your practices can make things more efficient. For instance, schedule specified time to manage email and use other communication methods, such as SMS, for urgent requests. Also, watch who you cc. If you’re including people on your messages who don’t really need to be included, you’re wasting your team’s time as well.

Ditch the waterfall.

Once a widely accepted project management methodology, waterfall has proven to be more of a hassle than what it’s worth, mainly because it can result in tremendous inefficiency. For instance, if developers discover something faulty with a previous step, the entire project must be scrapped and started afresh. And because testing doesn’t happen until later in the process, any existing bugs could have resulted in incorrect coding. If your team is still using waterfall practices, it may be time to consider making the switch to agile.

Expand your network.

It’s easy to feel as though the problems you, your team or your organization are experiencing are unique, but in reality most IT leaders are struggling with the same issues. Some of these other folks may already have figured out the best solution. Rather than wasting time, spinning your wheels and brainstorming on your own, why not tap into your network of peers. By leveraging the insight and advice of others, your decision-making will be faster and more on-point.

Automate.

To some, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many IT leaders are still dragging their feet on the automation front. Yet, when you look at the actual, quantifiable numbers, the benefits of automation and AI are staggering. According to a recent report by WorkMarket, 53% of employees say automation could save them up to 2 work hours per day (240 hours per year) and that number goes up to 3 work hours (360 hours per year) for 78% business leaders. At an average workweek of 40 hours, that equates to a time savings of 6 weeks for employees and 9 full weeks for leaders. What could you and your team do with that much time savings?

Scratch the standups.

Daily standup meetings may seem like a good idea on the surface, but when you gather your team on such a frequent basis, the results hardly make it worth the time. The real value of meetings lies in problem-solving, brainstorming and real-time collaboration. Daily scrum, on the other hand, tend to be more about status updates, which isn’t really the best use of anyone’s time. If daily huddles are currently your thing, you may want to consider spacing those meetings out and reserving them for specific needs rather than check-ins.

Fail fast and ditch what isn’t working.

Just because something’s always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. In fact, you or your team could very well be wasting precious time on practices and policies that are out-of-date and wildly inefficient. Agile isn’t just a methodology for project management. It’s also an important mindset – particularly for an IT leader. Make the coming year one in which you work to identify things that aren’t working and take the necessary steps to change them for the better.

Don’t be an island.

Just because you happen to be in a position of power at your organization doesn’t mean you have to solve problems entirely on your own. To the contrary, the most efficient and successful IT leaders not only value but actively seek the assistance of others. Think about it. You are already leading a team of educated problem-solvers. Your job should be to expose existing issues and then let the team determine the best resolution. Not only will this save you time and aggravation, but it’ll also enable you to develop a sense of trust and respect amongst your employees, which can go a long way toward retention.

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Innovation without Breaking the Bank. Yes, it’s Possible.

Innovation without Breaking the Bank. Yes, it’s Possible.In a recent survey conducted by IDC, 45% of CIOs and senior IT executives stated that one of their top three objectives is to “create competitive advantage for the business.” Today’s IT leaders are, perhaps more than ever before, being asked to deliver more. More reliability. Faster responsiveness. Greater flexibility. They are expected to leverage digital transformation to create disruption. And they are expected to do all of this while keeping financial impact at a minimum.

These IT leaders find themselves facing quite the challenge: finding a way to continuously innovate in the face of increasing budgetary restraints. The good news is, with the right strategy, this is – indeed – possible. Here’s how.

Leverage Your Data

Today’s forward-thinking organizations are increasingly driving business value and seeking to achieve competitive advantage through deeper data insights. This enables business leaders to uncover hidden value in existing services or products. With the right approach, innovation doesn’t have to be expensive. Simply prioritize the results of data discovery in order of those initiatives that require minimal risk and investment but have the potential for high returns.

Ultimately, the key to innovation lies in having a data-oriented mindset. Initiatives that focus on reducing costs and streamlining processes can be successful, but only when the right data is being used the right way to facilitate better decision-making. The ability to rapidly execute on those findings is also important.

Review Risks and Seek Out Greater Efficiency

Another critical key to cost-effective innovation is risk analysis and efficiency planning. Review the risks the business has and assess the impact and likelihood those risks may have on customers and operations. From there, you can prioritize and monetize, making more informed decisions about which areas budget cuts can be made while still meeting business needs.

Budget cuts enable business leaders to focus their efforts on maximizing efficiency. Establishing leaner teams, optimizing process management and improving the effectiveness of certain key elements, such as data storage, can all result in a better product or service at a lower cost. And, of course, adoption of technologies, such as intelligent automation (which we touch on in greater detail below), to help streamline processes and maximize efficiency.

Optimize, Optimize and Optimize Some More

The most innovative organizations – especially those on tight budgets – make a concerted effort to continuously optimize ongoing operations and costs. It’s never a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. It’s a never-ending battle – one for which technology can provide a leg up.

IT leaders must take advantage of targeted applications and cloud opportunities to extend and enhance their core capabilities. By leveraging the power of tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning, operations can be fully optimized. Not only does this create a more productive, efficient work environment, but it also frees up human workers to apply their creative, cognitive skills toward innovative business initiatives.

According to Gartner, 90% of the IT budget is currently consumed by the support of legacy systems. These costs can be dramatically lowered through IT optimization. Adopting the right technologies – preferably ones that seamlessly integrate with legacy systems – can reduce expenditure, improve customer service and provide distinct competitive advantage. At the end of the day, innovation takes funding and resources. IT optimization can free up both.

Looking for a platform that can bring your legacy systems together, improve efficiency and help you harness the power of data for better decision-making support? Ayehu offers all of this and more. Experience it for yourself. Request a live demo today and get your organization on the path to affordable innovation.

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ITSM: The 5 Keys to Intelligent Automation Adoption

ITSM: The 5 Keys to Intelligent Automation AdoptionOne of the biggest hurdles those in IT service management face is the misconception that all the necessary tools and information for success are already available, understood and being put into practice. As such, introducing intelligent automation is often met with resistance that hinders progress and impedes the ability to further improve operations. So, what’s the solution? Well, it starts with good communication. To follow are five steps to help establish a foundation of consistent, open and organization-changing communication that will facilitate positive results.

Don’t take on too much.

You don’t have to solve all of your organizational problems in one sitting, so don’t wear yourself or your team out attempting to do so. Define your goals and set manageable milestones, incorporating intelligent automation into the mix. Then communicate those smaller, incremental objectives to the team via open-plan meetings that keep everyone in the loop. Over time, you’ll begin to figure out what works and what doesn’t so you can improve the meeting process moving forward.

Leave management out of the mix.

Obviously having IT leaders heading up key projects is important, but often times – particularly in a group meeting-type setting – having management present can be intimidating, ultimately hindering progress. The goal is to facilitate more open, honest communication and a more positive relationship with intelligent automation, so it may be wise to hold at least some of the scheduled gatherings sans management representatives. When front-line workers are free to express themselves, it can help to identify new and better ways to improve operations.

Keep things short, simple and focused.

The goal of meetings is to improve communication, but if these gatherings drag on and on without clear focus, they’ll have the opposite effect. Remember, the reason for implementing intelligent automation is to make the lives of IT personnel easier and make operations more efficient. Design meetings with the same purpose in mind. Have an agenda and encourage attendees to arrive with their ideas already prepared. A round-robin type setting where everyone has a set amount of time to share their thoughts and sell their ideas can keep things moving smoothly and on schedule to maximize everyone’s time.

Keep the conversation going.

Ideas, thoughts, feedback and suggestions don’t only arise just prior to or during a meeting, so make sure you’re making it easy and straightforward to keep the conversation going by creating an avenue where people can share and engage with one another any time the need arises. It can also be helpful to have a source of documented ideas to refer back to. Some companies use a Wiki or other open-source forum tool. Others use an enterprise social network that is devoted to all things intelligent automation related. Whatever happens to work for your group, get on it.

Take action.

Ideas and suggestions are great, but they won’t do you or anyone else any good until you actually put them into action. By facilitating open communication and inviting your team members to share their thoughts and feedback, you’ll have a pool of valuable data from which to start building out some intelligent automation initiatives. The best part is, when employees see that their voices are heard and that their opinions make a difference, it will further promote and foster communication going forward.

Support your great communication policy with a powerful intelligent automation tool. Request a product demo of Ayehu today.

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7 Tips for Reducing IT Personnel Turnover

7 Tips for Reducing IT Staff TurnoverAs any IT leader will acknowledge, attracting top talent is only half the battle. It’s keeping them on that’s the real challenge. And with an average employee tenure of only about 3 years, it’s a serious concern for many organizations across the globe. Add in the complex, fast paced and highly stressful role of IT and you’ve got quite the conundrum. So, what’s the secret? How can you keep your talented employees on for the long haul? Here are 7 tips to point you in the right direction.

Keep them challenged. The last thing you want is for your IT personnel to become bored and stagnant in their current positions. Avoid this by investing in ongoing training, setting up mentoring programs, and offering opportunities to learn about and master new strategies and technologies. The more you keep your IT employees engaged and involved, the less likely they’ll be to look elsewhere.

Rotate project time. Being stuck on the same project day in and day out can lead to fatigue and frustration. Consider rotating employees onto various IT projects so that they don’t feel stuck. This will provide exposure to and the opportunity to learn about new skills and also open up the door to be able to approach long-term projects from differing perspectives – both of which can benefit your organization.

Give them the tools they need. These days, keeping up with the onslaught of incoming requests is nothing short of exhausting. Don’t leave your IT personnel out to dry by making them handle this monumental task manually. Arm them with the technology they need to do their jobs better, faster, more efficiently and more effectively, such as IT automation.

Provide a safe place to vent. Without question, the job of keeping an entire organization safe from the potentially devastating financial and reputational damage a successful breach can have is incredibly stressful. Additionally, IT personal often feel tense due to the amount of classified and confidential information they are entrusted with. Provide an opportunity and a secure avenue for these employees to vent their feelings.

Encourage time off. Everybody needs a little down time, but given the fast-paced and highly stressful field of IT, these employees could probably use some time off more than anyone else in your organization. This is where technology can help. By automating a good portion of tasks and leveraging the cloud to embrace more flexibility, your team can take the much needed time off they deserve without the company feeling any negative impact.

Use realistic metrics to measure success. One of the biggest reasons IT professionals find themselves dissatisfied at work is because they feel they aren’t being adequately recognized. This is often due to a lack of clear and specific metrics for success. Management should set realistic expectations, communicate openly and routinely measure progress. Good work should be rewarded and areas of improvement identified and addressed in a positive, productive way.

Empower them. If your employees feel that their only option is to come in every day and put in 10-12 hours of labor, they’re not going to develop any kind of connection or loyalty to your organization. On the other hand, if they know that the work they do plays a direct role in the “big picture” and that their achievements are tied into the company’s overall success, they’ll be much more plugged in, which means they’re more likely to stay on for the long haul. Empower them by inviting ideas and encouraging autonomy.

Are you doing enough to keep your IT personnel satisfied, engaged and plugged in? If not, you could be facing higher turnover, which can negatively impact your company’s bottom line and also leave you more vulnerable. By implementing the above tips, you’ll create a more positive work environment that fosters longevity. Happy employees will work harder to ensure that your organization remains strong, secure and successful.

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How to reduce employee onboarding time by 90%

How to reduce employee onboarding time by 90%Did you know that the average company spends $4,000 for each new hire? And that number doesn’t take into account the amount of lost productivity during those first few months on the job. Some sources estimate that it can take up to eight full months for a new employee to become fully productive. But since employees who are successfully onboarded are 69% more likely to stay, reducing costly turnover, it’s a process that is necessary. The good news is, there are ways you can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to onboard new hires. Let’s take a look at one such case study below.

Recently, one of Ayehu’s long-term customers – a large international shipping organization, won an award in automation and infrastructure from a respected magazine in Israel named ‘People & Computers’. This recognition was given due in large part to the impressive reduction the company has been able to achieve on their employee onboarding process. How did they achieve this? Simple. By shifting the process from human to machine through intelligent automation.

The company’s director of IT, together with the company’s HR Project Manager, realized that each time they hired a new employee, more than a week of time was being wasted performing the necessary but tedious onboarding functions such as opening an account and granting appropriate permissions. There was also lack of synchronization between the company’s cloud HR system and on-prem IT infrastructure. Furthermore, every time an employee changed status, the same time would be required to process his or her permission changes as well.

The managers began searching for a solution to reduce the time being wasted in performing these processes and workflows, and ultimately chose Ayehu to automate it. Together with Ayehu, the IT team created a fully-automated process that handles this task in mere minutes, rather than the previously required week of manual work across multiple departments.

In general, the automated workflow they created performs the following steps:

  1. Import the users’ details to a CSV file from the Active Directory
  2. Compare the changes in the current details to last weeks’ details, using their existing cloud HR system and IT infrastructure
  3. Update the new users and their permissions in Active Directory and several SQL databases
  4. Open and close permissions and send a report to IT team

This entire process is now handled automatically with zero human input, which has cut the process time down by an incredible 90%!

How much time is your company wasting on manual processes and workflows? More importantly, what could your employees achieve if they were no longer bogged down by these tasks? Experience for yourself the same liberating time and cost-savings that hundreds of global organizations have already achieved. Click here to experience Ayehu’s revolutionary next generation intelligent automation and orchestration platform today.