Two recent Application Managed Services engagements that I participated in have brought to light one of the key characteristics I believe helps make good CIOs great – visibility into IT services. It’s not enough to know where you are doing well; it takes daily visibility and tracking across the good situations, the bad ones, and sometimes under the ugliest of conditions, to continually improve.
One global customer aspired to find and troubleshoot system issues before anyone in their retail or online stores could experience them. The other hoped to differentiate and grow their business through new digital services for US consumers – but first needed a stable infrastructure.
In both customer cases, IT leaders were relying on their third party service providers to gather and monitor performance metrics. In both cases, the data was so filtered that it unfortunately could not depict the reality on the ground.
The lack of service visibility became apparent over time. In quarterly reviews, leaders were shown metrics that implied all was well. However, in fact, the very customers the US enterprise had hoped to attract were frustrated with poor service availability. The global retailer’s employees were bypassing processes and opening up security risks. Some would repeatedly raise IT issues, but without resolution. The leaders never saw this reality and thus could never act on it.
Both of these enterprises decided to move closer to a realistic view of their IT operations, selecting BMC to operate and run their systems daily. In the global retailer’s case, BMC specialists were already on site, consulting on architecture to unify and scale service desk operations. In the US retailer’s case, they were heavily reliant upon BMC tools, but had not yet brought in BMC people.
What I heard from these customers are the following comments, which I’m sharing because I think this visibility issue is something that every great leader might be struggling with. I also hope you’ll share your feedback experiences on this topic in our Communities forum. Especially as every enterprise looks to digital transformation for competitive advantage, knowing the good, bad and ugly will be essential for successful IT leadership.
“Finally, I can see reality”
We heard from leadership in these two cases that the BMC Application Managed Services approach not only stabilized the service desk environment, but gave them increasing confidence that the data reported reflected reality. Reporting data is pulled directly from BMC tools and mapped to agreed-upon metrics. Through the scheduled performance and service reviews, or as needed, the leadership team can readily view the operating conditions based on what matters to them (the good), as well as any exceptions to goals or SLAs (the bad).
As happens in complex operating environments, they can also rapidly see any service performance changes or issues impacting users (the ugly) and act quickly. In the case of a global retailer, this means rebuilt credibility with internal stakeholders.
When technical teams know their IT solutions inside out, a different picture of reality emerges. They know what data to get from where, and how. This is true with anyone proficiently trained on your software, but is more apparent when it’s the software vendor managing its own tools for you.
Through adept configuration and active management across a rich set of tools, the same vendor who runs your overall platform can share the actual data pertaining to service quality, performance and health. This unfiltered view can form the basis of better decision making.
“When something comes up, there is a governance model to fix it”
Another common thread in the customer feedback in these two cases is the correlation between better visibility and the ability to act on insights. Since an Application Managed Service approach involves business contracts, there is no getting around clearly defined roles and responsibilities. This is scoped early on. Issues that do come up from the unfiltered data can be routed to a pre-determined set of resources.
In BMC’s case, there is the added benefit of tapping into BMC consultants, offshore and onshore, as a talent pool. A defined BMC Service Excellence Customer Success Service Delivery methodology builds that into each services role, but regardless, teams that work for a software vendor are highly motivated to make that software work at its peak. BMC has a vested interest in supporting the customer to get the very best out of BMC products.
With Application Managed Services, relationships to get things done are hard wired into the engagement business terms. A dedicated Service Delivery Manager is the face of a BMC Application Managed Service, walking the customers’ corridors as a trusted member of the team. Both the customer’s internal IT employees and any partners involved in the customer operations are aware of all aspects of the service. In this governance model, BMC provides “the single throat to choke.”
“It keeps us honest”
Great leaders strive to succeed, always looking for solutions and better ways of working. Sometimes problems are hidden as collaborative teams work jointly on projects. It can be difficult to find solutions when the root causes are not clear. In other cases, the readiness or technical maturity level of the organization has never been tested.
Through an Application Managed Services agreement, the combination of tool-derived data and clearly defined roles will shed light on the truth. Visibility may raise the fact that in-house teams don’t have the right skillsets. It’s possible that prior work on systems from temporary contractors caused issues. Or perhaps resources were never scoped and staff simply doesn’t exist. More commonly, the organization may never have thought about implementing a particular step first, like SSO, to mature their environment before taking on more complicated service goals.
By partnering in an Application Managed Services relationship, a high level of trust and shared interests is developed. The ongoing data, communications, and relationships keeps everyone honest and aware of what has to be done. This joint working relationship not only improves the ROI of your BMC investment, but it also strengthens your organization’s readiness for digital transformation.
In many cases, having experts run your solutions brings clarity to just how ready and mature your organization really is for change. Great leaders can then act and drive ahead on these insights to lead to operational excellence.
Do you know the good, the bad and the ugly as you manage to your company’s best? Please visit our Consulting Services pages to learn more about reaching your digital enterprise destination.
These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.
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