Category Archives: Bright Horse

  • Does your ITSM tool impact service experience?

    Bright Horse

    If you are experiencing issues with your ITSM tool, whether it’s poorly configured due to a lack of requirements definition or workflow design, no self service capability, incorrectly labeled fields, no mandatory data fields, no reporting… the chances are you are not able to deliver a great experience. Rather than effective automation you end up with massive inefficiencies and a whole host of manual workarounds – in order for support to attempt to get the job done.

    When the support teams are unable to effectively manage and view their workload, tickets, queues and escalations, it makes efficiencies impossible to realise. Much of the agents, team leader and managers time will be spent in labour intensive, manual administrative tasks trying to figure out what the support ‘landscape’ looks like with the inability to measure what it ‘feels’ like to the customers.

    Individuals may work very hard to deliver great service one to one for customers and users as they call on support – but their ability to process support tickets may be sorely impacted by the workflow design (or lack thereof), before even getting to resolve the issues at hand.

    We have written before about how many hours are wasted by people manually exporting data to be manipulated in excel spreadsheets before being imported into presentation format for further editing. Hours and hours of management time is spent creating these reports which have lagging data. The value of this information to the business is lost in time.

    So alongside great people and well defined process, whether you have the right tool or not is a key question. What makes the tool right? There are lots to choose from in the ITSM space, whether you are scaling from start-up to enterprise class there is a product and pricing structure to suit. The really important thing is to decide what you want the tool to do, then map how it should do it, then map those requirements to the stated abilities of the tools. Many come out of the box with ITIL based process flows embedded in them.

    But NONE of them come ready to service your individual organisation! ITIL gives you the what – you need to determine the how. Treat this as a core stream of an improvement project and you will get the efficiency gains and benefits of automation.

    However, what if all of this is still the wrong approach?

    At Bright Horse we are advocates of challenging traditional ways of thinking and have partnered with thought leaders such as Nexthink and Citrus Collab to demonstrate how IT needs to change from being a reactive support function to a proactive service enabling productivity.

    If you want to know more, get in touch to discuss how we can help you on your service maturity journey. We will soon be announcing the next set of tour dates for our 2020 SLA to XLA Roadshow events ‘From Service to Experience’. We hope to see you there.

    • How ITIL4® helps the Service Experience?

      Bright Horse

      Many of the projects we have worked on historically are medium to large corporates with complex, legacy IT systems and services. If the goal was always to better align IT with meeting business objectives, that has now been eclipsed more and more by IT becoming the business. However, if we revisit the premise of IT service management, it is about organisation, culture, leadership, people, process and technology in alignment, whatever the size, environment or objectives.

      ITIL was often felt to be too cumbersome, too vague and too bureaucratic to be adopted with any level of success, and nobody likes additional admin! The thing with ITIL4 is that it has addressed the issue of relevance in today’s ever changing world and now seeks to address the issues of digital transformation.

      The thing is, this is now not only relevant to medium and large sized organisations – but to the smaller start-ups where tech is THE business. Whether it’s the whole business organisation or a large IT function the principles still apply.

      If everyone has focus on delivering Customer Value when defining how products and services will be designed, built and implemented, with control over implementation, delivery and support, then the desired outcomes can be delivered by focusing on the Service Value Stream. ITIL4 has aligned to Agile methods for product and DevOps for better integration between development and technical operations. Combine this with traditional delivery and support processes and you have a much more robust set of integrated practices.

      The familiar incident, request, problem management appear, however end to end change management is being scaled back to an appropriate level of change control which will be more appealing. All of this is exciting and promises to help organisations align – but surely the ultimate goal is to meet business objectives and whether financial or growth based – that can only be achieved through delivering great service.

      Your customers will tell you how you are performing, and if you need to scale up or get control, it is key to understand the components of your services and how they are delivered to achieve business value. Perhaps 2020 and the start of a new decade is the time to review how you are performing and to understand where you are on the Service Maturity journey.

      We welcomed over 100 prospects and clients in 4 locations around the UK this year at our special SLA To XLA events. Our mission is to help IT professionals better understand the concept of service and how that impacts the customer experience. If you missed this years events, it is our intention to run these events into the new year so look out for the upcoming announcements on location and dates.

      Here’s wishing you seasons greetings and a very prosperous New Year!

      • What is the Essence of Experience?

        Bright Horse

        Throughout 2019 we have run our SLA To XLA Roadshow – ‘From Service To Experience’ across the country. We have visited London, Leeds and Manchester and end the year (and the decade) in Edinburgh on 4th December.

        The concept of XLA’s (Experience Level Agreements) is gaining traction and whilst we appreciate there is a growing interest in the subject – we also want to continue to add value to our clients and therefore are keen to really understand what this means and how they can be effectively implemented.

        Taking concepts into reality is not easy, but with demand is necessary. We have been discussing and presenting ideas around ‘Watermelon SLA’s’ those that appear green on the outside but are red in the eyes of the customer. Meeting all your performance and service targets, but still having unhappy customers – which might be an indicator that you need to review what you are measuring.

        Our partners, Nexthink have been demonstrating how their tool takes the users perspective in, rather than the IT perspective outwards, combining hard metrics with user sentiment. This is a huge step for many IT functions, moving from a reactive position to a more proactive stance.

        User sentiment is hard to capture – service is consumed at the point of the experience, it’s about how you make someone feel. Another huge part of delivering service effectively is to actively manage expectations.

        We are delighted to announce that for our last roadshow of the year we have a couple of *bonus sessions* to support our existing content.

        Alan Nance from Citrus Collab will be discussing the science of experience and how they are developing a range of courses and workshops that help to bring the theory into reality. The Essence of Experience is key to understanding concepts.

        Also announcing that Henry Strouts and Jason McClay of SXP, who have launched a brand new business simulation product – offering experiential learning around Digital Transformation, will be joining us.

        If you haven’t been to one of our events and feel that this is an area you need to explore we would be delighted to help you on your service journey. We call it From Service To Experience, and you can still book to attend. If you can’t make this one but are interested in future dates and locations then please do let us know at info@brighthorse.co.uk.

        We hope to see you there!

        • Manage XLA service expectations not SLA assumptions!!

          Bright Horse

          How does it feel when you work so hard to meet all the terms of your SLA’s – BUT the customer is still unhappy!

          Historically many Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) were written by IT, for IT, in order to measure their ability to deliver the expected levels of response, resolution, availability and performance of systems and services. The Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and metrics were created so that they could be recorded, monitored and reported on, within the vast range of ITSM tools available on the market, and many were (and still are) included in contracts that have no bearing on the reality of the service experience – from the customers perspective.

          When everything is changing and transforming at ever increasing speed – we have to constantly ask (Continuous Service Improvement (CSI)) whether the people, processes and tools being used by IT are still equipped to manage the expectations of todays employee demands for productivity.

          There is increasing coverage of XLA’s – (Experience Level Agreements) – replacing the traditional SLA’s (Service Level Agreements). The original purpose of SLA’s from an ITIL® perspective was to help move the IT function from a purely technical capability to one which organised its systems and technology into business services supporting the organisations goals. This was and still is a valid effort – because for every organisation that has matured in service delivery terms there are still those who ‘talk’ service – but deliver technology – in silos.

          The rise in the number of frameworks designed to address IT and business issues is a clear indicator that there is no simple solution to a very complex set of variables. However, if we simplify the issues into the three core pillars of people, process and technology – we can begin to review whether they are fit for purpose and how far on the maturity journey SLA’s can take a service.

          What has to happen to better manage customers’ expectations and experience into the future?

          Defining the customer experience requirements – from the customers perspective – will always be very subjective – but you have to put a stake in the ground. Start somewhere. The power of a positive experience is the best marketing tool you have. Ask the customer, speak to them (in their language), what is most important to them. Don’t make assumptions about what they need and more importantly when they need it, manage expectations about what is realistic and achievable then plan how to surpass the basic levels of service delivery and commit those into the design of the services.

          During our series of roadshow events this year which explores this topic in detail we have been asked a lot of questions about HOW to transition, where to start, is there a framework, a method, a defined step by step approach we can take? One of the key considerations is about how you move from being a reactive service provider to a proactive one. Consider the fundamental difference between the following statements:

          • We fixed 90% incidents within SLA
          • We fixed 90% of incidents before the user was affected

          This requires a complete shift in culture and operations with regards to HOW we set and manage expectations and to not make assumptions about what the customer wants – which many SLA’s are guilty of.

          This is clearly demonstrated by the following examples of the distinction between the approaches:

          • Oracle financials was available 90% of the time
          • We enabled the invoicing/payment process when finance needed it

          This is where XLA’s are gaining prominence and increased attention. It is all about the customers perception and experience. Many ITSM professionals have been saying this for years – but how has IT now evolved to a point where this can actually be delivered as a reality in the digital age?

          Moving from reactive to proactive operations means that the culture of the organisation needs to change from one where ‘the revered firefighting hero needs to be replaced with the fire prevention officer’.

          With proactivity comes increased productivity, but you need the right tools to facilitate the change in approach, for the people, the processes and the technology!

          To find out more about the service maturity journey and how to formalise XLA’s to benefit your organisation – join us in Edinburgh for the last roadshow of 2019, dates for 2020 in London and Birmingham being announced soon. Alternatively, drop us a line info@brighthorse.co.uk or give us a call 07785 540171.

          • Why you’ll never ‘be ready’ to improve user experience

            Bright Horse

            We continue to enjoy running half-day workshops across the UK, designed to explore the steps required to build towards pro-active service delivery that prioritises driving value around user experience. At these events we discuss how to shift from service level agreements (SLAs) to experience level agreements (XLAs).

            The discussions our workshops foster, coupled with attendee feedback, show that organisations are at varying stages of this transformation and that it requires a cultural step-change in thinking – Nexthinking you could say!

            “Really great ideas to implement into the XLA journey’ Wolseley Group”

            A quote often attributed to Henry Ford is ‘if I had asked people what they wanted, it would have been faster horses’, and our esteemed industry colleague Paul Wilkinson has a great quote about CSI, that ‘continual improvement of the candle did not invent the light bulb’.

            For us this symbolises service delivery keeping IT in reactive, fire-fighting mode, versus taking steps to improve user experience in a proactive way, that better aligns IT to the business.
            It requires a different way of thinking, after all “the thinking that got you to where you are now, won’t get you to where you need to be”

            Does your current service model and technology allow you to effectively measure end user experience in real time, from the employee’s perspective? Focus tends to be on issues reported to the service desk, but how many are never reported? What if degraded performance has become the norm? The perception of IT is also degraded. When your users don’t bother to complain anymore – because there is no point – you are not winning the service journey.

            So when is the right time to make the shift? Afterall, IT cannot fire-fight their way to continual improvement, it requires a decision today to take the first step in a new direction.
            Nexthink empowers organisations to gain full visibility into user experience and where to improve. Their digital experience score provides IT with a single score out of 10 that comprises rich data and real user feedback to inform IT where to make pro-active changes that will boost employee IT experience, and increase productivity and engagement.

            With our most recent roadshow sessions stopping in London and Leeds, we look forward to meeting with more organisations in Manchester in September, and Edinburgh in December. Reserve your free ticket today and become part of the journey.

            • Can chatbots really improve digital employee experience?

              Bright Horse

              Bright Horse always look for new innovations, tools and services that can help our customers on their service maturity journey.

              Everywhere, the talk is of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and NLP (Natural language processing), and the rise of chatbots and virtual agents are seen as core routes to improving the experience of IT support for today’s workforce.

              So where do you need to be on the maturity journey for chatbots to be appropriate and how do they improve and modernise IT support as we currently know it?

              Nexthink recently published an article ‘Evolving Digital Employee Experience – The Next Generation of Chatbots is Powered with Actionable Insight’ which is relevant as we are currently running a series of events with Nexthink entitled – From Service To Experience, which charts the IT maturity path from ‘chaos’ to optimisation’ and all the steps in between. Book Now

              The bigger reason this is so relevant, is that our customers ask “what must we have in place to make this a reality?”.

              According to Gartner analysts, “By 2021, more than 50 percent of enterprises will be spending more per annum on bots and chatbot creations than on traditional mobile app developers”.

              What abilities, capabilities, technologies and supporting processes should be embedded to ensure the adoption of new technologies delivers not only on ROI but on results and business objectives for improved productivity and experience?

              At the most basic level, surely it has to be about the quality of the underlying data used to inform the chatbots. The integration of front-end communication channels can only satisfy user requests if they are able to access information that is accurate. There is a technical requirement to integrate chatbots to an existing ITSM tool (suite) or new toolset for any organisation, but also to have real time information feeding it that provides the required level of service expected by users.

              Service requests are primarily managed by the service desk and therefore whichever chatbot technology is chosen, it must route users seamlessly if it cannot answer the question through the appropriate escalations to match their expectations. People don’t want to be ‘passed around’ from one support channel to another, for example, from self-service, to email, to telephone.

              The beauty of Nexthink technologies is that it provides the ability to find and fix issues and incidents faster than ever possible with a traditional tool, because it views the infrastructure from the end points’ perspective; back in towards IT, rather from an IT perspective out. It informs the ITSM tool and the chatbot about the user’s equipment and devices, which applications and versions of software are installed, as well as connectivity.

              If it is possible to automate a higher percentage of low level, manual repetitive tasks and queries, then perhaps staff can be freed up to focus on the higher value work, making everyone more productive and cost effective! That would then be a very positive outcome for the overall employee experience.

              There is a great BrightTALK webinar—it’s free to sign up to the platform if you are not already—called ‘The Bots Are Coming! An overview of Virtual Agents and How They Modernize Support’ by Richard Graves of Luma.

              If you want to talk to us about how we help you with any aspect of your IT service maturity journey (regardless of where you are) we would be delighted to help you identify which of our automation partners can help you to deliver your business outcomes for employee experience.

              • How Does ITIL4 Help Digital Workplace Experience?

                Bright Horse

                If the premise of ITIL® was always to ensure that IT services were fit for quality and purpose and ensured business would remain competitive and responsive– it is safe to say there have been a few issues with it over the past few years.

                Many IT practitioners become obsessed with ITIL for ITIL sake – and lose sight of the overall purpose of the framework. Lots of emphasis on qualifications over practical application. Many clients want to know which version of the framework or which books you can now find Change Management in! Why is this relevant if the purpose is to improve services. Who cares which version it is, or which book its in – or whether it was in the original library and made a come back two versions later. Surely the point is as above – every organisation must design their services to suit the size, scale and complexity of the business they support – or what is the point?

                There is increasing interest in the relevance of IT Service Management as we move into the digital era with promises of AI and Cognitive Automation, but surely the point is that business must adapt and survive, or die in a world where start-ups now seem to have the agile advantage over the very large corporates who struggle to adjust. So, if Service Management supports that objective, then surely it’s still relevant?

                Historically we have seen the use (or misuse) of SLA’s – Service Level Agreements. These are now being superseded by Experience Level Agreements (XLA’s) – does this mean IT is finally listening to its customers? The new outside in view of IT Service is being driven primarily by a new generation and workforce of technically savvy demanding employees who don’t care what KPI’s IT has written – they are all about the PRODUCTIVITY. Can they do their jobs? Surely it was always about this.

                So, whether you are a supporter or vehement hater of ITIL and all that has gone before in versions 1-3 – does version 4 serve a purpose that is current, valid and that offers REAL value to the organisations who intend to adopt the principles? I decided to take a look to see what I could establish as it is still early days.

                Using an integrated framework approach this new version of ITIL acknowledges almost all business processes are now digital and focus has to be on value delivery from the service provider, incorporating many concepts from DevOps, LEAN and Agile. Value is a core area of focus for this new version. Increasing speed, reducing cost and improving quality are the key areas delivered through a LEAN approach. These are all necessary to meet the challenges businesses are facing today. The premise of DevOps was to create a culture of collaboration in consistently siloed teams and ways of working.

                As the environment and workforce demand more and at greater speed – traditional IT may struggle to keep up and the customers will find alternative service suppliers – shadow IT is becoming more and more of an issue – but this is due to a lack of delivering VALUE to the organisation. The focus of v3 was on processes – 26 of them no less. The new version looks more at what capabilities are required for IT to service and enable the business. One of my previous blogs talked about how many frameworks now exist and how tribal people have been about the adoption of these in isolation. The value comes with the integration of lots of principles which is where ITIL4 has aimed.

                ITIL was always good at saying WHAT should be done – it didn’t tell HOW that should happen which created issues for many organisations who then sought external assistance. The Service Value System is a central tenet, holistic thinking around how all the parts of any system need to work together.

                It seems to have included the concept of managing projects and building and developing software products or services into the framework rather than it sitting outside of the framework.

                Process has evolved to become practices, something that IT needs to be good at. There are 34 basic practices broken into 3 key areas, general business, service management and technical categories into logical groupings. Additions include organisational change, talent management and risk. Some have updates such as relationship management. Ultimately the Service Value Chain crosses many practices to deliver value.

                So whilst bringing together multiple frameworks might elevate the value proposition – how that translates to delivering VALUE to customers who in turn are trying to deliver VALUE internally has yet to be seen!

                I believe the guiding principles are valid, however all of this still relies on organisational culture, great leadership, collaboration, communication and co-operation across current organisation structures not necessarily aligned with shared vision or objectives. Overcoming this is paramount to whether adoption of ITIL4 happens – much as it was with ITIL 1, 2 and 3 -in my opinion!

                Would love to hear our customers opinions on this subject.

                ITIL® – “ITIL® is a (registered) Trade Mark of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.”

                • From Service To Experience

                  Bright Horse

                  Bright Horse recently ran an event based on the Service Maturity journey, talking about how to move from Chaos and Reactive support, to an Automated environment and Optimised support to deliver an excellent digital employee experience.

                  When we look at the characteristics of each of these maturity stages, organisations are able to recognise where they are in their own journey.

                  There is a new area of focus emerging for ITSM, as technology has moved on in orders of magnitude and this coincides with the launch of the new ITIL 4 model for the digital era.

                  Employees are put first, as an outside in perspective of how they experience the technology they use in the workplace. Bearing in mind most people’s expectations are now driven by the technology they consume on a personal level. Cloud based apps, no ownership of data and immediate response and delivery of service. This is usually not the experience they receive in the workplace, where often response times to requests or issues take a long time to resolve, IT are reactive, and systems are unstable, slow or unavailable when needed.

                  Combine the fact that employees only use the Service Desk when there is a problem and it is a short step to IT being identified AS the problem.

                  IT needs to move from the fire-fighting mentality – to one of the fire prevention officer, to look at a more proactive approach that comes with well-trained IT teams who collaborate, have the right tools and robust fit-for-purpose tools in place that facilitate proactive support.

                  On average, research shows that UK workers lose 9 days per year due to technology troubles. However hard downtime metrics are only part of the problem, there are issues with focus when people are constantly interrupted and attention is shifted – it is difficult to recover and when this happens repeatedly – productivity is significantly reduced.

                  IT need to understand whether the ITSM tool (Cherwell etc) they have in place is fit for purpose, does it facilitate not only servicing requests and incidents, but also Problem Management as this is one of the next steps into proactive support.

                  The key issue with statistics is that they don’t capture the whole issue. Firstly, the tool cannot collate all of the data to present a view of what the users experience on a daily basis. Secondly employees don’t report many of the issues they have with technology and applications. If their applications are constantly crashing they may well be rebooting on a daily basis, and IT have no sight of this. Lastly Service Level Agreements historically have been written by IT and for IT, knowing they can achieve them, rather than it being an agreement of what the business needs.

                  A service level can be achieved an show ‘green’ for IT performance KPI’s but the degraded levels of service may mean the employee experience is a world away from satisfied.

                  The next generation of service tools such as Nexthink, are able to capture and process data from employee end points and analyse it so that support and resolution can be delivered BEFORE the employee has called to register their complaints. This collector and data analysis allows IT to see what is happening from the employees perspective – IN REAL TIME.

                  No lagging reports with data a month or 3 out of date, this is real time analytics that show the health of the employees experience from every connected part of their experience from their device all the way back into the data centre. It can help with device performance, productivity tools such as office 365, and combine hard scores with employee sentiment – collected at the point of experience.

                  Nexthink have a Digital Experience score which is used alongside Hard Metrics to provide a more accurate representation of the customers experience.

                  Combine all of this with a need to ensure IT staff are trained in good Customer Service to ensure they have the Essential Skills needed to deliver a positive personal experience each time they interact with a customer – they need to communicate, to manage expectation, treat customers with respect, be available and speak the customers language.

                  The definition of Experience is something that leaves an impression on someone.

                  The definition of Empathy is seeing something from the other persons Experience.

                  IT needs to get much better at delivering a quality Experience that supports workplace productivity and leaves an excellent lasting impression!

                  • From Service To Experience – The journey from chaos to optimised!

                    Bright Horse

                    Over the past 30 years we have often discussed elements of IT Service Management maturity with our clients, whether related to tools, process or change, but now we are talking more and more frequently about the overall maturity of the services – as they relate to the ability to deliver what the business needs in the digital era.

                    There are other maturity models that can be referenced, such as Business Relationship Management (BRM) and the maturity of the alignment with the business. We are talking here specifically about the maturity of managing the services.

                    IT historically had technical, infrastructure-based focus, and IT Service management evolved to align closer to the business with a service focus, but with that shift has also come an inward focused view.

                    Service level agreements are needed as part of the journey to maturity – but may mean the efforts of service delivery are focused on how well IT perform – regardless of how the customers or end users are experiencing that service.

                    If Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) have been created from an IT perspective with no real view of the priorities of the business services – the targets set and reports on those achieving and those breaching targets – may bear no relation whatsoever to the experience of those using the services.

                    An example of this is the reporting of ‘degradation of service’ still showing services as available and running within the parameters set and measured whether they align with timings, critical business periods and outages for the customers or not – the customers perspective and experience is not visible to IT within this reporting mechanism (especially if they don’t report to the service desk and are not asked for their feedback).

                    The risk for IT in this scenario is that the customers are wholly dissatisfied with the service at certain points in time – and this level of potential misunderstanding means the reputation of IT as a whole is based upon their daily experience at the desktop – justified or otherwise.

                    The evolution of digital transformation and the business demand for services in the enterprise that match the personal experience – means there is now an increasing focus on Experience Level Agreement (XLA’s) and the customer.

                    Experience Level Agreements and Digital End User Experience is one of the subjects we will be covering at our upcoming event – ‘From Service To Experience’

                    If you are interested to find out what this means in relation to your maturity as a service provider – click here and take a look at the agenda and register your place now – seats are limited!

                    • Thinking Differently – SLA to XLA?

                      Bright Horse

                      Moving from reactive to proactive IT Services?

                      Many IT teams are working ‘flat out’ just to keep the infrastructure running, and even with a state of the art ITSM implementation – still can’t get beyond the basic processes of Incident, Request, Problem and Change Management. Even in those areas, practitioners face real challenges and a lack of ownership, discipline, understanding or ‘care’ means IT service can still seem pretty poor in the eyes of the customers.

                      If the majority of time is spent re-actively responding to issues with the infrastructure – how refreshing would it be to proactively reduce incidents and identify trends and problems – BEFORE the customer has decided they are unhappy enough with it to call the Service Desk.

                      Research has shown that many unsatisfactory breaks in productivity are not even reported for resolution – if the impression of IT or the Service Desk is that they are incompetent and unresponsive – the chances are the users will perform their own reboot and fix the issue themselves – whilst IT are none the wiser of issue.  If all of these ‘minor’ incidents were extrapolated across the employees within the organisation – what would that look like in lost time and money?

                      What if you could find a solution that would allow you to see the following:

                      – Clarity on wasted salaries paid to employees unable to work?
                      – Potential issues or success levels for a recent migration project?
                      – The lifespan and performance of certain types of hardware and allow for memory upgrades rather than expensive hardware refresh across the entire organisation – because it has been depreciated on the books?
                      – How many employees had disabled their anti-virus or malware software creating a breach of policy and security risk for the organisation?

                      What if you could see things differently? What if there was a way of collecting information from every connected end point on the network that sent real time performance information to an engine that feeds a dashboard showing the real health of the IT estate? What if you had a tool that could overlay all the process functionality in your chosen ITSM tool – and collate real time, leading indicators and analytics about the performance of IT and the customers ‘real’ experience?

                      Surely this would be a step forward for service maturity giving better indicators than monthly management reports, lagging by at least one month which focus on the performance of the Service Desk against KPI’s than the actual productivity experience within the business. Is this the start of the next big thing? A time where experience level agreements are given priority over service level agreements…

                      If you think this is something to consider and resonates – perhaps you should join us for our next FREE event – register here, places are limited!