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Anindo Ganguly, AVP and Head, IT Infrastructure Practice, Sasken Communication Technologies
A few things that the smart CIO needs to look at to improve operational efficiency in managed services.
CIOs are under increased pressure to manage heterogeneous and multi-generational infrastructure, while balancing the need to optimize operating expenditure and investments. ‘Cloud’, ‘Mobility’, ‘Automation’ and ‘Analytics’ are buzzwords that help today’s CIO keep IT spend under control. However, these must be complemented by other measures as well. Getting the enterprise in order, by driving internal IT teams or service providers to improve operational efficiencies is equally essential. The challenge remains – doing more with less and meeting business’ expectations from IT. In addition to that, CIOs need to grapple with the challenge of transforming their enterprises to thrive in the platform era.
It is therefore imperative that organizations pay attention to maximizing the throughput of employees engaged in servicing IT users. In a normal working day, time spent by employees to service tickets for end customers is far lesser than the actual working hours available. Enterprises need to ensure they put in place systems that can manage multiple interruptions to work such as digital distractions, phone calls and personal work so that the productivity of employees are maintained at optimal levels.
These challenges can be alleviated by using levers that are bucketed under time availability, employee productivity, effort elimination and other cost optimization. Now let us explore how these levers can be put to work in an enterprise.
Enhancing availability goes a long way in ensuring employees spend the maximum amount of their time productively servicing IT tickets. Corrective methods include scrutiny of time spent on the floor, reduction in wasteful deployment of resources by right skilling and right sizing teams. Frequent audits can be used to analyze the time spent by employees to help identify and eliminate waste of time. Checks and balances can be put in place to minimize employees’ accessing non-office related browsing and checking personal emails thereby de-prioritizing time spent on personal work. Use of techniques like agenda-driven stand-up meetings and clearly defined roles will enhance throughput of meetings which are otherwise seen as taking up enormous bandwidth.
On the employee productivity front, there are compelling choices like knowledge management tools, known error databases and standard operating procedure documents (SOPs) that help reduce redundant time and significantly improve output within available time. These methods enable “left-shift”, or moving work from higher cost to lower cost resources. The use of a CTI (category, time and item) framework will go a long way in reducing needless rebound between multiple problem resolver groups. Categorization of tickets based on complexity and severity will help route them to appropriate resolver groups. Clear demarcation of boundaries and responsibilities will ensure that users interface with the best matched member within a team for incident resolution. This is particularly important when dealing with major incidents that involve multiple teams.
IT organizations have put to use a number of tools to manage IT Infrastructure, applications and related services. However, most organizations fail to accurately configure tools leading to issues such as false alerts that can impair productivity of employees. Automation ensures effort elimination in resolving issues by way of minimizing user intervention, while maintaining quality of output. Automation also increases efficiency by eliminating effort in mundane tasks such as daily checklists and eyeball monitoring. A combination of tool configuration and automation leads to reduction in cycle time, increase in service availability and agility. Automation driven data analytics help provide meaningful insights for service management teams to plan and execute better support strategies for their end users.
At the risk of stating the obvious, IT services outsourcing has already created a paradigm shift in the way IT Operations are run today. Other cost optimization can be achieved by moving delivery services to tier-2 or tier-3 cities where resource pools are available at a lower cost. It would also be prudent to validate the fitment of resources and sourcing against the type of tickets. Adequate training of resources will improve ticket cycle time, bring down ticket rebound and positively impact customer satisfaction. Cross-skilling of resources, especially at lower levels, can have a significant impact to the overall cost of delivery.
Smart CIO's are moving away from the herd by using above mentioned levers to help bridge the gap between business expectations and IT service delivery. In fact, the savings gained from using these levers can fund new transformation projects to further delight the business. Improvement is a continual process and these levers are not restricted to a one-time endeavour but must become part of the DNA, if value has to be realised from investments made in IT.