Before getting started to examine Access Management and Request Fulfilment it is better to understand the concept of ITSM. In this introduction we will try to describe it and name its processes. Knowing what it stands for is going to help us to undertand other detailed explanations. Service Management is a customer-focused approach to delivering information technology. Service Management provides a framework to structure IT-related activities and the interactions of IT technical personnel with customers and clients. Services allow customers to do business without worrying about underlying technology or IT infrastructure. Services must evolve in order to continue to meet the needs of the customer and respond to technological changes and advances. The Service Lifecycle is the overall framework used to identify, define, manage, and retire IT services.
IT Service Management (ITSM) is defined as a process-based practice intended to align the delivery of information technology (IT) services with needs of the business, which emphasizes benefits to customers. While the process at its core concerns technology, this focus on the client is key.
The purpose of Service Operations can be summed as:
- To coordinate and deliver key activities and processes required to provide and manage services at agreed levels to the business, users and customers
- To manage the technology and toolsets that are used to deliver and support services
- To manage, measure, control and feedback improvements in the day to day operations
- To monitor performance, assess metrics and gather data to input into the Continual Service Improvement Process Area
ITSM is often implemented through a set of frameworks. There are many, some of which are complimentary to others, such as ITIL, COBIT, PMBOK, PRINCE, CMMI. IT Services has selected to build its path on ITIL.
After all these general knowledge about ITSM we can say that it is mainly about handling user requests, fixing services carrying operation problem tasks.This view handles a service after is has been deployed and is active to the customer.
This volume has following processes:
- Event Management
- Incident Management
- Request Fulfilment
- Access Management
- Problem Management
- IT Operations Management
- IT Facilities Management
On the other hand we need to have knowledge about some expressions, some important main terms and guidelines of Service Operations:
- Internal view (x) external view: internal IT view is the way components are managed to deliver a service. External business view is the way a client sees a service. There is an eternal conflict between this two views in a company and there is a need to try to achieve a balance between them.
- Stability (x) responsiveness: no matter how a good service is provided, there will be always a need to change something. Considering that every change is a potential risk in service stability, a change would not be good. But business needs changes, and they are going to happen anyway. Balance here is to change services without losing stability.
- These changes may be at several levels, as technology, capacity management, grow strategy, problems experienced.
- Quality of service (x) cost of service: this is about having continous Quality Improvements and consequences of all these effort to cost to deliver the service.
- Reactive (x) proactive: management that is solely reactive is not effective, but management that is overly proactive is not effective either. When staff are too proactive, this may result in increased expense and distracted staff.
- Event orAlert: a change in state that has significance for management.
- Incident: an unplanned interruption in service or loss of quality.
- Failure: a loss of ability to operate service. Normally a failure results in an incident.
- Error: a design malfunction that causes a failure.
- Problem: A cause of one or more Incidents. The cause is not usually known at the time a Problem Record is created
- Known error: a problem that has documented root cause or a workaround.
- Request For a Change (RFC): formal request for a change to be made.
We will be working on the two important parts of these processes of Service Management: Access Management and Request Fullfillment. You will be directed to other pages for further information by clicking the blog links next to them.
1) Access Management
People in IT Departments faces difficult challenges every single day. For all the people work in IT departments providing an excellent service is not an easy task. The information in your company must flow easily throughout the organizations in a quick and secure way. So in all these considerations, you must ensure its availability and have the necessary resources to access it.
The question is: how can your IT department know what information must be available to each user? And how can you control that every user has access only to the information that is strictly necessary? The answer is having a well organized Access Management organization.
People can come to you with questions like “I haven’t been using this application for a long time so I just forgot my password. What am I supposed to do?” or “I have a new position in this company so I need to be able to Access new specific parts of the system. How can I get this permissions?” etc. All these questions can be answered easily and quickly if you have a well organized management system of accessing in the company.
The image above presents an example of accessing several different points by different users with a not well- organized Access management system. To make things even worse, if there is no IT Service Catalogue defined, it’s almost impossible to maintain any form of Access Management.
Well-organized Access Management relies on other parts of Service Management to do their part as well, e.g. Change Management, Service Desk, and Information Security
Process activities of Access Management
The role of Access Management is to enable users (and groups of users) with appropriate levels of access to the services presented in the IT Service Catalogue. Access is the term that describes the level and extent of the service functionality available to the user, and is related to the user identity, which uniquely distinguishes one individual from another, verifying / confirming their status within the organization. User rights (or privileges) refer to actual settings within a service that are granted to the user or user group, e.g. read, write, list, execute, delete, change, etc. With all necessary basics covered, lets look at process activities of the Access Management.
Policies and principles of Access Management with basic concepts
Access Management is the process that enables users to use the services that are documented in the Service Catalogue. It comprises the following basic concepts:
- Access refers to the level and extent of a service’s functionality or data that a user is entitled to use.
- Identity refers to the information about them that distinguishes them as an individual and which verifies their status within the organization. By definition, the Identity of a user is unique to that user.
- Rights (also called privileges) refer to the actual settings whereby a user is provided access to a service or group of services. Typical rights, or levels of access, include read, write, execute, change, delete.
- Services or service groups. Most users do not use only one service, and users performing a similar set of activities will use a similar set of services. Instead of providing access to each service for each user separately, it is more efficient to be able to grant each user – or group of users – Access to the whole set of services that they are entitled to use at the same time.
- Directory Services refers to a specific type of tool that is used to manage access and rights.
Process activities, methods and techniques
1.1) Requesting Access
This is an excellent place to start defining your Access Management procedures, as requests to change an access level generally emanate from only a few, well-defined areas. For instance, the Human Resources system could generate a standard request for access whenever someone is hired, promoted or transferred or leaves the company. Other entry points for a request for access could be a Request for Change (RFC) into the Change Management System (Service Transition) or a Service Request from the Request Fulfilment System (Service Operation). You can include the procedure for requesting access as part of the Service Catalog (Service Design).
In general, the Security policies will define which areas and departments may request access, and the Access Management process will design the mechanisms to carry out that request. So, if need to sum all the features of requesting Access we can list them like this. Access (or restriction) can be requested using one of any number of mechanisms, including:
- A standard request generated by the Human Resource system. This is generally done whenever a person is hired, promoted, transferred or when they leave the company
- A Request for Change
- A Service Request submitted via the Request Fulfilment system
- By executing a pre-authorized script or option (e.g. downloading an application from a staging server as and when it is needed).
The verification activity verifies a request for access to ensure that the user requesting the access is who he/she says he/she is, and that the user has a legitimate requirement for the service. There are many methods for verifying the user’s identity, ranging from low-tech personal recognition to high-tech biometric data. Establishing the legitimacy of the request requires a few more verification steps. For instance, you may require the Human Resources department or the appropriate manager to co-sign requests to add new users. The Change Management process should include a review of Access Management rights as it evaluates RFCs to specify who should have access to the service and whether existing users are still valid. Depending on the levels of risk to the organization, the Security policies may define different levels of verifications to access different services. For example, a request to access the banking system may carry a much higher level of verification than a request to add a new employee to the internal network. Access Management needs to verify every request for access to an IT service from two perspectives:
- That the user requesting access is who they say they are
- That they have a legitimate requirement for that service.
The first category is usually achieved by the user providing their username and password. Depending on the organization’s security policies, the use of the username and password are usually accepted as proof that the person is a legitimate user. However, for more sensitive services further identification may be required (biometric, use of an electronic access key or encryption device, etc.). The second category will require some independent verification, other than the user’s request. For example:
- Notification from Human Resources that the person is a new employee and requires both a username and access to a standard set of services
- Notification from Human Resources that the user has been promoted and requires access to additional resources
- Authorization from an appropriate (defined in the process) manager
- Submission of a Service Request (with supporting evidence) through the Service Desk
- Submission of an RFC (with supporting evidence) through Change Management, or execution of a pre-defined Standard Change
- A policy stating that the user may have access to an optional service if they need it.
For new services the Change Record should specify which users or groups of users will have access to the Service. Access Management will then check to see that all the users are still valid and automatically provide access as specified in the RFC.
Contractor employees requiring Access to the Portal. In this example, the contractor user initiates a request for Access to the Enterprise Portal.
1.3) Providing Rights
Once it has verified a user, Access Management provides the appropriate rights to him/her. However, Access Management should also be on the lookout for any role conflicts
that might occur. For example, two separate accesses might be granted by different requesters to a single contract worker – one authorizing him to log time sheets for a project and the other authorizing him to approve all payment on work for the same project. In addition, large organizations may have many roles and groups, and sometimes a user may end up with mutually exclusive roles. Access Management does not fix role conflicts or duplications itself, but it informs the originators of the access requests about the issues. Again, the Security policy defines the rights that should be available to an individual, and Access Management grants rights based on this information. The Security team and the Access Management team must work together to build awareness within Access Management regarding potential role conflicts and mutual exclusions.
As soon as a user has been verified, Access Management will provide that user with rights to use the requested service. In most cases this will result in a request to every team or department involved in supporting that service to take the necessary action. If possible, these tasks should be automated.
The more roles and groups that exist, the more likely that Role Conflict will arise. Role Conflict in this context refers to a situation where two specific roles or groups, if assigned to a single user, will create issues with separation of duties or conflict of interest. Role Conflict can be avoided by careful creation of roles and groups, but more often they are caused by policies and decisions made outside of Service Operation – either by the business or by
different project teams working during Service Design. In each case the conflict must be documented and escalated to the stakeholders to resolve. Whenever roles and groups are defined, it is possible that they could be defined too broadly or too narrowly. There will always be users who need something slightly different from the pre-defined roles. In these cases, it is possible to use standard roles and then add or subtract specific rights as required – similar to the concept of Baselines and Variants in Configuration Management (see Service
Transition publication). However, the decision to do this is not in the hands of individual operational staff members. Each exception should be coordinated by Access Management and approved through the originating process. Access Management should perform a regular review of the roles and groups that it has created and manage to ensure that they are appropriate for the services that IT delivers and supports – and obsolete or unwanted roles/groups should be removed.
1.4) Monitoring Identity Status
One of the problems with many manual Access Management systems in use today is that there is no easy way to monitor when a user changes roles or Identity Status. Typical events that trigger a change in Identity Status are job changes, promotions or demotions, transfers, resignation or death, retirement, disciplinary action, dismissals. By identifying trigger events similar to the above, it is possible to seek Access Management tools that will automate the Access Management process and provide an audit trail. Security policies define such trigger events, and Access Management builds ways to capture them.
As users work in the organization, their roles change and so also do their needs to access services. Examples of changes include:
- Job changes. In this case the user will possibly need access to different or additional services.
- Promotions or demotions. The user will probably use the same set of services, but will need access to different levels of functionality or data.
- Transfers. In this situation, the user may need access to exactly the same set of services, but in a different region with different working practices and different sets of data.
- Resignation or death. Access needs to be completely removed to prevent the username being used as a security loophole
- Retirement. In many organizations, an employee who retires may still have access to a limited set of services, including benefits systems or systems that allow them to purchase company products at a reduced rate.
- Disciplinary action. In some cases the organization will require a temporary restriction to prevent the user from accessing some or all of the services that they would normally have access to. There should be a feature in the process and tools to do this, rather than having to delete and reinstate the user’s access rights.
- Dismissals. Where an employee or contractor is dismissed, or where legal action is taken against a customer (for example for defaulting on payment for products purchased on the Internet), access should be revoked immediately. In addition, Access Management, working together with Information Security Management, should take active measures to prevent and detect malicious action against the organization from that user.
Access Management should understand and document the typical User Lifecycle for each type of user and use it to automate the process. Access Management tools should provide features that enable a user to be moved from one state to another, or from one group to another, easily and with an audit trail.
1.5) Logging and Tracking Access
All Technical and Application Management monitoring activities should include reviews of Access rights and utilization to ensure that the rights are being properly used. The review should direct all exceptions to Incident Management for investigation. Of course, it may be necessary to restrict the view of the Incident Record to only those people with a right to know as it could reveal vulnerabilities in the organization’s security tools or policies.
Furthermore, Access Management may provide access records to assist corporate investigations into user activity. The Security group develops the requirements for monitoring and tracking, and Access Management develops the pursuant capabilities.
Access Management should not only respond to requests. It is also responsible for ensuring that the rights that they have provided are being properly used. In this respect, Access Monitoring and Control must be included in the monitoring activities of all Technical and Application Management functions and all Service Operation processes. Exceptions should be handled by Incident Management, possibly using Incident Models specifically designed to deal with abuse of access rights. It should be noted that the visibility of such actions should be restricted. Making this information available to all who have access to the Incident Management system will expose vulnerabilities.
Information Security Management plays a vital role in detecting unauthorized access and comparing it with the rights that were provided by Access Management. This will require Access Management involvement in defining the parameters for use in Intrusion Detection tools. Access Management may also be required to provide a record of access for specific Services during forensic investigations. If a user is suspected of breaches of policy, inappropriate use of resources, or fraudulent use of data, Access Management may be required to provide evidence of dates, times and even content of that user’s access to specific Services. This is normally provided by the Operational staff of that service, but working as part of the Access Management process.
1.6) Removing or Restricting Rights
Users do not stay in the same jobs or roles forever, and neither should their access rights. This is another place to set up standard procedures and policies to more easily identify events requiring the removal or restriction of rights. Some examples are death, resignation, dismissal, changed user roles, and physical moves to areas with different access rights. Based on such changes in User status or access requirements, Access Management adjusts Access rights according to Security policy.
Just as Access Management provides rights to use a Service, it is also responsible for revoking those rights. Again, this is not a decision that it makes on its own. Rather, it will execute the decisions and policies made during Service Strategy and Design and also decisions made by managers in the organization. Removing access is usually done in the following circumstances:
- When the user has changed roles and no longer requires access to the service
- Transfer or travel to an area where different regional access applies.
You can see the Access Management process flow in detail by clicking the link (It was not put in this document because it is a quite large image to see details here)
2) Request Fulfilment
To understand this field we need to describe what is a service request before getting started. Then we will know what we need to do and actually what we fulfill when we receive a request. After all we need to explain what is an “incident” and “request”. Incidents and Requests are often lumped together in the Service Desk as “calls” or “tickets”. And to some degree, they are both very similar – but Requests tend to get lost among the urgency of Incidents, and the result is unhappy customers. How are the two different?
Incident – an unplanned interruption to a service. (something was or should be working but is not.)
Request – customer requires a service they currently do not have. Request are often for small changes that are done frequently and have low risk. Things like access to a resource, applications or server – new or replacement computer hardware, mobility, and remote access tokens.
The term service request is used as a generic description for many, varying types of request from users that are made to the IT department. Many of these service requests are actually small changes – low risk, frequently occurring, low cost, etc. Examples of service requests include a request to install an additional software application onto a particular workstation, a request to relocate some items of desktop equipment or maybe just a question requiring information. Their size, frequency and low risk nature means that they are more appropriately handled by a separate process, rather than being allowed to congest the normal incident and change management processes. This process is request fulfilment. The purpose and scope of request fulfilment: Request fulfilment is the process of dealing with service requests from the users. The objectives of the request fulfilment process include: To provide a channel for users to request and receive standard services for which a pre-defined approval and qualification process exists. To provide information to users and customers about the availability of services and the procedure for obtaining them. To source and deliver the components of requested standard services (e.g. licences and software media).
Process Activities, Methods and Techniques of Request Fulfilment
Service requests can be requested by users via the Service Desk; however, request fulfilment offers the opportunity to use self help practices where users can generate a service request themselves using technology that links into service management tools. Users should be offered a menu type selection via a web interface, so that they can select and input details of service requests from a pre-defined list.
Specialist web tools to offer this type of ‘shopping basket’ experience can be used together with interfaces directly to the back-end integrated ITSM tools, or other more general business process automation or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools that may be used for management of the Request Fulfilment activities.
2.2) Financial Approval
One important extra step that is likely to be needed when dealing with a service
request is that of financial approval. Most requests will have some form of financial implications, regardless of the type of commercial arrangements in place. The cost of
fulfilling the request must first be established. It may be possible to agree fixed prices for ‘standard’ requests – and prior approval for such requests may be given as part of the organization’s overall annual financial management. In all other cases, an estimate of the cost must be produced and submitted to the user for financial approval (the user may need to seek approval up their management/financial chain). If approval is given, in addition to fulfilling the request, the process must also include charging (billing or cross-charging) for the work done – if charging is in place. Some service requests may need an additional step to add financial approval.
2.3) Other Approval
Some service requests may need further approval such as compliance related or wider business approval. Request fulfilment must have the ability to define and check such approvals where needed.
The actual fulfilment activity/activities will depend upon the nature of the service request. Some simpler requests may be completed by the Service Desk, acting as first line support, while others will have to be forwarded to specialist groups and/or suppliers for fulfilment.
Some organizations may have specialist fulfilment groups (to ‘pick, pack and dispatch’) – or may have outsourced some fulfilment activities to a third-party supplier(s). The Service Desk should monitor and chase progress and keep users informed throughout, regardless of the actual fulfilment source.
When the service request has been fulfilled it must be referred back to the Service Desk for closure. The Service Desk should check that the user is satisfied with the outcome before closure takes place
Most requests will be triggered through either a user calling the Service Desk or a user completing some form of self-help web-based input screen to make their request. The latter will often involve a selection from a portfolio of available request types. The primary interfaces with Request Fulfilment include:
- Service Desk/Incident Management: Many Service Requests may come in via the Service Desk and may be initially handled through the Incident Management process. Some organizations may choose that all requests are handled via this route – but others may choose to have a separate process, for reasons already discussed earlier in this chapter.
You can see the Request Fulfilment process flow in detail by clicking the link (It was not put in this document because it is a quite large image to see details here)
Events are typically notifications created by an IT service, Configuration Item (CI) or monitoring tool.
Effective Service Operation is dependent on knowing the status of the infrastructure and detecting any deviation from normal or expected operation. This is provided by good monitoring and control systems, which are based on two types of tools:
- Active monitoring tools that poll key CIs to determine their status and availability. Any exceptions will generate an alert that needs to be communicated to the appropriate tool or team for action
- Passive monitoring tools that detect and correlate operational alerts or communications generated by CIs.
The ability to detect events, make sense of them and determine the appropriate control action is provided by Event Management. Event Management is therefore the basis for Operational Monitoring and Control. In addition, if these events are programmed to communicate operational information as well as warnings and exceptions, they can be used as a basis for automating many routine Operations Management activities, for example executing scripts on remote devices, or submitting jobs for processing, or even dynamically balancing the demand for a service across multiple devices to enhance performance.
Event Management therefore provides the entry point for the execution of many Service Operation processes and activities.
Event Management can be applied to any aspect of Service Management that needs to be controlled and which can be automated. These include:
- Configuration Items:
- Some CIs will be included because their status needs to change frequently and Event Management can be used to automate this and update the CMS (e.g. the updating of a file server).
- Security (e.g. intrusion detection)
- Normal activity (e.g. tracking the use of an application or the performance of a server).
The difference between monitoring and Event Management
These two areas are very closely related, but slightly different in nature. Event Management is focused on generating and detecting meaningful notifications about the status of the IT Infrastructure and services.
While it is true that monitoring is required to detect and track these notifications, monitoring is broader than Event Management.
Value to Business
Event Management’s value to the business is generally indirect; however, it is possible to determine the basis for its value as follows:
- Event Management provides mechanisms for early detection of incidents.
In many cases it is possible for the incident to be detected and assigned to the appropriate group for action before any actual service outage occurs.
- Event Management makes it possible for some types of automated activity to be monitored by exception – thus removing the need for expensive and resource intensive real-time monitoring, while reducing downtime.
There are many different types of events, for example:
- Events that signify regular operation:
- notification that a scheduled workload has completed
- Events that signify an exception
- a PC scan reveals the installation of unauthorized software.
Process activities, methods and techniques
This figure is a high-level and generic representation of Event Management. It should be used as a reference and definition point, rather than an actual Event Management flowchart. Each activity in this process is described below.
Events occur continuously, but not all of them are detected or registered. It is therefore important that everybody involved in designing, developing, managing and supporting IT services and the IT Infrastructure that they run on understands what types of event need to be detected.
Most CIs are designed to communicate certain information about themselves in one of two ways:
- A device is interrogated by a management tool, which collects certain targeted data. This is often referred to as polling.
Many CIs are configured to generate a standard set of events, based on the designer’s experience of what is required to operate the CI, with the ability to generate additional types of event by ‘turning on’ the relevant event generation mechanism. For other CI types, some form of ‘agent’ software will have to be installed in order to initiate the monitoring. Often this monitoring feature is free, but sometimes there is a cost to the licensing of the tool.
In an ideal world, the Service Design process should define which events need to be generated and then specify how this can be done for each type of CI. During Service Transition, the event generation options would be set and tested.
Once an Event notification has been generated, it will be detected by an agent running on the same system, or transmitted directly to a management tool specifically designed to read and interpret the meaning of the event.
The purpose of filtering is to decide whether to communicate the event to a management tool or to ignore it. If ignored, the event will usually be recorded in a log file on the device, but no further action will be taken.
The reason for filtering is that it is not always possible to turn Event notification off, even though a decision has been made that it is not necessary to generate that type of event. It may also be decided that only the first in a series of repeated Event notifications will be transmitted.
Significance of events
Every organization will have its own categorization of the significance of an event, but it is suggested that at least these three broad categories be represented:
- Informational: This refers to an event that does not require any action and does not represent an exception. They are typically stored in the system or service log files and kept for a predetermined period.
Informational events are typically used to check on the status of a device or service, or to confirm the successful completion of an activity.
Informational events can also be used to generate statistics (such as the number of users logged on to an application during a certain period) and as input into investigations (such as which jobs completed successfully before the transaction processing queue hung). Examples of informational events include:
- A user logs onto an application
- A job in the batch queue completes successfully
- A device has come online
- A transaction is completed successfully.
- Warning: A warning is an event that is generated when a service or device is approaching a threshold. Warnings are intended to notify the appropriate person, process or tool so that the situation can be checked and the appropriate action taken to prevent an exception. Warnings are not typically raised for a device failure.
Although there is some debate about whether the failure of a redundant evidence is a warning or an exception (since the service is still available). A good rule is that every failure should be treated as an exception, since the risk of an incident impacting the business is much greater. Examples of warnings are:
- Memory utilization on a server is currently at 65% and increasing. If
it reaches 75%, response times will be unacceptably long and the
OLA for that department will be breached.
- The collision rate on a network has increased by 15% over the past The collision rate on a network has increased by 15% over the past hour.
- Exception: An exception means that a service or device is currently operating abnormally (however that has been defined). Typically, this means that an OLA and SLA have been breached and the business is being impacted. Exceptions could represent a total failure, impaired functionality or degraded performance. Please note, though, that an exception does not always represent an incident. For example, an exception could be generated when an unauthorized device is discovered on the network. This can be managed by using either an Incident Record or a Request for Change (or even both), depending on the organization’s Incident and Change Management policies. Examples of exceptions include:
- A server is down
- Response time of a standard transaction across the network has slowed to more than 15 seconds
- More than 150 users have logged on to the General Ledger application concurrently
- A segment of the network is not responding to routine requests.
If an event is significant, a decision has to be made about exactly what the significance is and what actions need to be taken to deal with it. It is here that the meaning of the event is determined.
Correlation is normally done by a ‘Correlation Engine’, usually part of a management tool that compares the event with a set of criteria and rules in a prescribed order. These criteria are often called Business Rules, although they are generally fairly technical.
A Correlation Engine is programmed according to the performance standards created during Service Design and any additional guidance specific to the operating environment.
Examples of what Correlation Engines will take into account include:
- Number of similar events (e.g. this is the third time that the same user has logged in with the incorrect password, a business application reports that there has been an unusual pattern of usage of a mobile telephone that could indicate that the device has been lost or stolen)
- Number of CIs generating similar events
- Whether a specific action is associated with the code or data in the event
- Whether the event represents an exception
- A comparison of utilization information in the event with a maximum or minimum standard (e.g. has the device exceeded a threshold?)
- Whether additional data is required to investigate the event further, and possibly even a collection of that data by polling another system or database
- Categorization of the event
- Assigning a priority level to the event
In ITIL terminology, an ‘incident’ is defined as:
An unplanned interruption to an IT service or reduction in the quality of an IT service. Failure of a configuration item that has not yet impacted service is also an incident, for example failure of one disk from a mirror set.
Incident Management is the process for dealing with all incidents; this can include failures, questions or queries reported by the users (usually via a telephone call to the Service Desk), by technical staff, or automatically detected and reported by event monitoring tools.
The primary goal of the Incident Management process is to restore normal service operation as quickly as possible and minimize the adverse impact on business operations, thus ensuring that the best possible levels of service quality and availability are maintained. ‘Normal service operation’ is defined here as service operation within SLA limits.
Incident Management includes any event which disrupts, or which could disrupt, a service. This includes events which are communicated directly by users, either through the Service Desk or through an interface from Event Management to Incident Management tools.
Incidents can also be reported and/or logged by technical staff (if, for example, they notice something untoward with a hardware or network component they may report or log an incident and refer it to the Service Desk).
Although both incidents and service requests are reported to the Service Desk, this does not mean that they are the same. Service requests do not represent a disruption to agreed service, but are a way of meeting the customer’s needs and may be addressing an agreed target in an SLA. Service requests are dealt with by the Request Fulfilment process.
Many incidents are not new – they involve dealing with something that has happened before and may well happen again. For this reason, many organizations will find it helpful to pre-define ‘standard’ Incident Models – and apply them to appropriate incidents when they occur.
An Incident Model is a way of pre-defining the steps that should be taken to handle a process (in this case a process for dealing with a particular type of incident) in an agreed way. Support tools can then be used to manage the defined path and within pre-defined timescales.
Incidents which would require specialized handling can be treated in this way (for example, security-related incidents can be routed to Information Security Management and capacity- or performance-related incidents that would be routed to Capacity Management.
The Incident Model should include:
- The steps that should be taken to handle the incident
- The chronological order these steps should be taken in, with any dependences or co-processing defined
- Responsibilities; who should do what
- Timescales and thresholds for completion of the actions
- Escalation procedures; who should be contacted and when
- Any necessary evidence-preservation activities (particularly relevant for security- and capacity-related incidents).
The models should be input to the incident-handling support tools in use and the tools should then automate the handling, management and escalation of the process.
A separate procedure, with shorter timescales and greater urgency, must be used for ‘major’ incidents. A definition of what constitutes a major incident must be agreed and ideally mapped on to the overall incident prioritization system – such that they will be dealt with through the major incident process.
Where necessary, the major incident procedure should include the dynamic establishment of a separate major incident team under the direct leadership of the Incident Manager, formulated to concentrate on this incident alone to ensure that adequate resources and focus are provided to finding a swift resolution. If the Service Desk Manager is also fulfilling the role of Incident Manager (say in a small organization), then a separate person may need to be designated to lead the major incident investigation team – so as to avoid conflict of time or priorities – but should ultimately report back to the Incident Manager.
If the cause of the incident needs to be investigated at the same time, then the Problem Manager would be involved as well but the Incident Manager must ensure that service restoration and underlying cause are kept separate.
Process activities, methods and techniques
Work cannot begin on dealing with an incident until it is known that an incident has occurred. It is usually unacceptable, from a business perspective, to wait until a user is impacted and contacts the Service Desk. As far as possible, all key components should be monitored so that failures or potential failures are detected early so that the Incident Management process can be started quickly.
Ideally, incidents should be resolved before they have an impact on users!
All incidents must be fully logged and date/time stamped, regardless of whether they are raised through a Service Desk telephone call or whether automatically detected via an event alert.
It is important that if this is done, a separate Incident Record is logged for each additional incident handled and so that if the incident has to be referred to other support group(s), they will have all relevant information to hand to assist them.
The information needed for each incident is likely to include:
- Unique reference number
- Incident categorization (often broken down into between two and four levels of sub-categories)
- Incident urgency
- Incident impact
- Incident prioritization
- Date/time recorded
- Name/ID of the person and/or group recording the incident
- Method of notification (telephone, automatic, e-mail, in person, etc.)
- Name/department/phone/location of user
- Incident status (active, waiting, closed, etc.)
- Related problem/Known Error
- Resolution date and time
- Closure category
- Closure date and time.
Part of the initial logging must be to allocate suitable incident categorization coding so that the exact type of the call is recorded. This will be important later when looking at incident types/frequencies to establish trends for use in Problem Management, Supplier Management and other ITSM activities.
Multi-level categorization is available in most tools – usually to three or four levels of granularity. For example, an incident may be categorized as shown in Figure which is below this sentence.
All organizations are unique and it is therefore difficult to give generic guidance on the categories an organization should use, particularly at the lower levels. However, there is a technique that can be used to assist an organization to achieve a correct and complete set of categories – if they are starting from scratch! The steps involve:
- Hold a brainstorming session among the relevant support groups, involving the SD Supervisor and Incident and Problem Managers.
- Use this session to decide the ‘best guess’ top-level categories – and include an ‘other’ category. Set up the relevant logging tools to use these categories for a trial period.
- Use the categories for a short trial period (long enough for several hundred incidents to fall into each category, but not too long that an analysis will take too long to perform).
- Perform an analysis of the incidents logged during the trial period. The number of incidents logged in each higher-level category will confirm whether the categories are worth having – and a more detailed analysis of the ‘other’ category should allow identification of any additional higher level categories that will be needed.
- A breakdown analysis of the incidents within each higher-level category should be used to decide the lower-level categories that will be required.
- Review and repeat these activities after a further period – of, say, one to three months – and again regularly to ensure that they remain relevant. Be aware that any significant changes to categorization may cause some difficulties for incident trending or management reporting – so they should be stabilized unless changes are genuinely required.
Another important aspect of logging every incident is to agree and allocate an appropriate prioritization code – as this will determine how the incident is handled both by support tools and support staff.
Prioritization can normally be determined by taking into account both the urgency of the incident (how quickly the business needs a resolution) and the level of impact it is causing. An indication of impact is often (but not always) the number of users being affected. In some cases, and very importantly, the loss of service to a single user can have a major business impact – it all depends upon who is trying to do what – so numbers alone is not enough to evaluate overall priority!
Other factors that can also contribute to impact levels are:
- Risk to life or limb
- The number of services affected – may be multiple services
- The level of financial losses
- Effect on business reputation
- Regulatory or legislative breaches.
An effective way of calculating these elements and deriving an overall priority level for each incident is given in Table.
In all cases, clear guidance – with practical examples – should be provided for all support staff to enable them to determine the correct urgency and impact levels, so the correct priority is allocated. Such guidance should be produced during service level negotiations.
However, it must be noted that there will be occasions when, because of particular business expediency or whatever, normal priority levels have to be overridden. When a user is adamant that an incident’s priority level should exceed normal guidelines, the Service Desk should comply with such a request – and if it subsequently turns out to be incorrect this can be resolved as an off-line management level issue, rather than a dispute occurring when the user is on the telephone.
Some organizations may also recognize VIPs (high-ranking executives, officers, diplomats, politicians, etc.) whose incidents would be handled on a higher priority than normal – but in such cases this is best catered for and documented within the guidance provided to the Service Desk staff on how to apply the priority levels, so they are all aware of the agreed rules for VIPs, and who falls into this category.
It should be noted that an incident’s priority may be dynamic – if circumstances change, or if an incident is not resolved within SLA target times, then the priority must be altered to reflect the new situation.
If the incident has been routed via the Service Desk, the Service Desk Analyst must carry out initial diagnosis, typically while the user is still on the telephone – if the call is raised in this way – to try to discover the full symptoms of the incident and to determine exactly what has gone wrong and how to correct it. It is at this stage that diagnostic scripts and known error information can be most valuable in allowing earlier and accurate diagnosis.
If possible, the Service Desk Analyst will resolve the incident while the user is still on the telephone – and close the incident if the resolution is successful. If the Service Desk Analyst cannot resolve the incident while the user is still on the telephone, but there is a prospect that the Service Desk may be able to do so within the agreed time limit without assistance from other support groups.
Analyst should inform the user of their intentions, give the user the incident reference number and attempt to find a resolution.
- Functional escalation. As soon as it becomes clear that the Service Desk is unable to resolve the incident itself (or when target times for first-point resolution have been exceeded – whichever comes first!) the incident must be immediately escalated for further support. If the organization has a second-level support group and the Service Desk believes that the incident can be resolved by that group, it should refer the incident to them. If it is obvious that the incident will need deeper technical knowledge – or when the second-level group has not been able to resolve the incident within agreed target times (whichever comes first), the incident must be immediately escalated to the appropriate third-level support group.
- Hierarchic escalation. If incidents are of a serious nature (for example
Priority 1 incidents) the appropriate IT managers must be notified, for informational purposes at least. Hierarchic escalation is also used if the ‘Investigation and Diagnosis’ and ‘Resolution and Recovery’ steps are taking too long or proving too difficult. Hierarchic escalation should continue up the management chain so that senior managers are aware and can be prepared and take any necessary action, such as allocating additional resources or involving suppliers/maintainers. Hierarchic escalation is also used when there is contention about to whom the incident is allocated.
The exact levels and timescales for both functional and hierarchic escalation need to be agreed, taking into account SLA targets, and embedded within support tools which can then be used to police and control the process flow within agreed timescales.
The Service Desk should keep the user informed of any relevant escalation that takes place and ensure the Incident Record is updated accordingly to keep a full history of actions.
Investigation and Diagnosis
In the case of incidents where the user is just seeking information, the Service Desk should be able to provide this fairly quickly and resolve the service request – but if a fault is being reported, this is an incident and likely to require some degree of investigation and diagnosis.
Each of the support groups involved with the incident handling will investigate and diagnose what has gone wrong – and all such activities (including details of any actions taken
to try to resolve or re-create the incident) should be fully documented in the incident record so that a complete historical record of all activities is maintained at all times.
This investigation is likely to include such actions as:
- Establishing exactly what has gone wrong or being sought by the user
- Understanding the chronological order of events
- Confirming the full impact of the incident, including the number and range of users affected
- Identifying any events that could have triggered the incident (e.g. a recent change, some user action?)
- Knowledge searches looking for previous occurrences by searching previous Incident/Problem Records and/or Known Error Databases or manufacturers’/suppliers’ Error Logs or Knowledge Databases.
Resolution and Recovery
When a potential resolution has been identified, this should be applied and tested. The specific actions to be undertaken and the people who will be involved in taking the recovery actions may vary, depending upon the nature of the fault – but could involve:
- The Service Desk implementing the resolution either centrally (say, rebooting a server) or remotely using software to take control of the user’s desktop to diagnose and implement a resolution.
The Service Desk should check that the incident is fully resolved and that the users are satisfied and willing to agree the incident can be closed. The Service Desk should also check the following:
- Closure categorization. Check and confirm that the initial incident categorization was correct or, where the categorization subsequently turned out to be incorrect, update the record so that a correct closure categorization is recorded for the incident – seeking advise or guidance from the resolving group(s) as necessary.
- User satisfaction survey. Carry out a user satisfaction call-back or e-mail survey for the agreed percentage of incidents.
- Incident documentation. Chase any outstanding details and ensure that the Incident Record is fully documented so that a full historic record at a sufficient level of detail is complete.
- Ongoing or recurring problem? Determine (in conjunction with resolver
groups) whether it is likely that the incident could recur and decide whether any preventive action is necessary to avoid this. In conjunction with Problem Management, raise a Problem Record in all such cases so that preventive action is initiated.
ITIL defines a ‘problem’ as the cause of one or more incidents.
Problem Management is the process responsible for managing the lifecycle of all problems. The primary objectives of Problem Management are to prevent problems and resulting incidents from happening, to eliminate recurring incidents
and to minimize the impact of incidents that cannot be prevented.
Problem Management includes the activities required to diagnose the root cause of incidents and to determine the resolution to those problems. It is also responsible for ensuring that the resolution is implemented through the appropriate control procedures, especially Change Management and Release Management.
Problem Management will also maintain information about problems and the appropriate workarounds and resolutions, so that the organization is able to reduce the number and impact of incidents over time. In this respect, Problem Management has a strong interface with Knowledge Management, and tools such as the Known Error Database will be used for both.
Although Incident and Problem Management are separate processes, they are closely related and will typically use the same tools, and may use similar categorization, impact and priority coding systems. This will ensure effective communication when dealing with related incidents and problems.
Value to business
Problem Management works together with Incident Management and Change Management to ensure that IT service availability and quality are increased. When incidents are resolved, information about the resolution is recorded. Over time, this information is used to speed up the resolution time and identify permanent solutions, reducing the number and resolution time of incidents. This results in less downtime and less disruption to business critical systems. Additional value is derived from the following:
- Higher availability of IT services
- Higher productivity of business and IT staff
- Reduced expenditure on workarounds or fixes that do not work
- Reduction in cost of effort in fire-fighting or resolving repeat incidents.
Many problems will be unique and will require handling in an individual way – but it is conceivable that some incidents may recur because of dormant or underlying problems (for example, where the cost of a permanent resolution will be high and a decision has been taken not to go ahead with an expensive solution – but to ‘live with’ the problem).
Process activities, methods and techniques
Problem Management consists of two major processes:
- Reactive Problem Management, which is generally executed as part of
Service Operation – and is therefore covered in this publication
- Proactive Problem Management which is initiated in Service Operation, but generally driven as part of Continual Service Improvement. The reactive Problem Management process is shown in Figure which is below under this paragraph. This is a simplified chart to show the normal process flow, but in reality some of the states may be iterative or variations may have to be made in order to handle particular situations.
It is likely that multiple ways of detecting problems will exist in all organizations.
These will include:
- Suspicion or detection of a cause of one or more incidents by the Service Desk, resulting in a Problem Record being raised – the desk may have resolved the incident but has not determined a definitive cause and suspects that it is likely to recur, so will raise a Problem Record to allow the underlying cause to be resolved. Alternatively, it may be immediately obvious from the outset that an incident, or incidents, has been caused by a major problem, so a Problem Record will be raised without delay.
- Analysis of an incident by a technical support group which reveals that an underlying problem exists, or is likely to exist.
- Automated detection of an infrastructure or application fault, using event/alert tools automatically to raise an incident which may reveal the need for a Problem Record.
- A notification from a supplier or contractor that a problem exists that has to be resolved.
- Analysis of incidents as part of proactive Problem Management – resulting
in the need to raise a Problem Record so that the underlying fault can be investigated further.
Regardless of the detection method, all the relevant details of the problem must be recorded so that a full historic record exists. This must be date and time stamped to allow suitable control and escalation.
A cross-reference must be made to the incident(s) which initiated the Problem Record – and all relevant details must be copied from the Incident Record(s) to the Problem Record. It is difficult to be exact, as cases may vary, but typically this will include details such as:
- User details
- Service details
- Equipment details
- Date/time initially logged
- Priority and categorization details
- Incident description
- Details of all diagnostic or attempted recovery actions taken.
Problems must be categorized in the same way as incidents (and it is advisable to use the same coding system) so that the true nature of the problem can be easily traced in the future and meaningful management information can be obtained.
Problems must be prioritized in the same way and for the same reasons as incidents – but the frequency and impact of related incidents must also be taken into account. The coding system described earlier in Table 4.1 (which combines impact with urgency to give an overall priority level) can be used to prioritize problems in the same way that it might be used for incidents, though the definitions and guidance to support staff on what constitutes a problem, and the related service targets at each level, must obviously be devised separately.
Problem prioritization should also take into account the severity of the problems.
Severity in this context refers to how serious the problem is from an infrastructure perspective, for example:
- Can the system be recovered, or does it need to be replaced?
- How much will it cost?
- How many people, with what skills, will be needed to fix the problem?
- How extensive is the problem (e.g. how many CIs are affected)?
Problem Investigation and Diagnosis
An investigation should be conducted to try to diagnose the root cause of the problem – the speed and nature of this investigation will vary depending upon the impact, severity and urgency of the problem – but the appropriate level of resources and expertise should be applied to finding a resolution commensurate with the priority code allocated and the service target in place for that priority level.
It is often valuable to try to recreate the failure, so as to understand what has gone wrong, and then to try various ways of finding the most appropriate and cost-effective resolution to the problem. To do this effectively without causing further disruption to the users, a test system will be necessary that mirrors the production environment.
There are many problem analysis, diagnosis and solving techniques available and much research has been done in this area. Some of the most useful and frequently used techniques include:
- Chronological analysis: When dealing with a difficult problem, there are often conflicting reports about exactly what has happened and when. It is therefore very helpful briefly to document all events in chronological order to provide a timeline of events. This often makes it possible to see which events may have been triggered by others – or to discount any claims that are not supported by the sequence of events.
- Pain Value Analysis: This is where a broader view is taken of the impact of an incident or problem, or incident/problem type. Instead of just analyzing the number of incidents/problems of a particular type in a particular period, a more in-depth analysis is done to determine exactly what level of pain has been caused to the organization/business by these incidents/problems.
Typically this might include taking into account:
- The number of people affected
- The duration of the downtime caused
- The cost to the business (if this can be readily calculated or estimated).
By taking all of these factors into account, a much more detailed picture of those incidents/problems or incident/problem types that are causing most pain can be determined – to allow a better focus on those things that really matter and deserve highest priority in resolving.
- Pareto Analysis: This is a technique for separating important potential causes from more trivial issues. The following steps should be taken:
- Form a table listing the causes and their frequency as a percentage.
- Arrange the rows in the decreasing order of importance of the causes, i.e. the most important cause first.
- Add a cumulative percentage column to the table. By this step, the chart should look something like Table which is under this paragraph, which illustrates 10 causes of network failure in an organization.
- Create a bar chart with the causes, in order of their percentage of total.
- Superimpose a line chart of the cumulative percentages. The completed graph is illustrated in Figure which is under this paragraph.
- Draw line at 80% on the y-axis parallel to the x-axis. Then drop the line at the point of intersection with the curve on the x-axis. This point on the x-axis separates the important causes and trivial causes. This line is represented as a dotted line in Figure which is under this paragraph.
From this chart it is clear to see that there are three primary causes for network failure in the organization. These should therefore be targeted first.
In some cases it may be possible to find a workaround to the incidents caused by the problem – a temporary way of overcoming the difficulties. For example, a manual amendment may be made to an input file to allow a program to complete its run successfully and allow a billing process to complete satisfactorily, but it is important that work on a permanent resolution continues where this is justified – in this example the reason for the file becoming corrupted in the first place must be found and corrected to prevent this happening again.
Raising a Known Error Record
As soon as the diagnosis is complete, and particularly where a workaround has been found (even though it may not yet be a permanent resolution), a Known Error Record must be raised and placed in the Known Error Database – so that if further incidents or problems arise, they can be identified and the service restored more quickly.
Ideally, as soon as a solution has been found, it should be applied to resolve the problem – but in reality safeguards may be needed to ensure that this does not cause further difficulties. If any change in functionality is required this will require an RFC to be raised and approved before the resolution can be applied. If the problem is very serious and an urgent fix is needed for business reasons, then an Emergency RFC should be handled by the Emergency Change Advisory Board (ECAB). Otherwise, the RFC should follow the established Change Management process for that type of change – and the resolution should be applied only when the change has been approved and scheduled for release.
When any change has been completed (and successfully reviewed), and the resolution has been applied, the Problem Record should be formally closed – as should any related Incident Records that are still open. A check should be performed at this time to ensure that the record contains a full historical description of all events – and if not, the record should be updated.
The status of any related Known Error Record should be updated to shown that the resolution has been applied.
Major Problem Review
After every major problem (as determined by the organization’s priority system), while memories are still fresh a review should be conducted to learn any lessons for the future. Specifically, the review should examine:
- Those things that were done correctly
- Those things that were done wrong
- What could be done better in the future?
- How to prevent recurrence
- Whether there has been any third-party responsibility and whether follow up actions are needed.
Overview of Service Desk
A Service Desk, is a primary IT service within the discipline of IT service management (ITSM) as defined by the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). It is intended to provide a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) to meet the communication needs of both users and IT employees. But also to satisfy both Customer and IT Provider objectives. “User” refers to the actual user of the service, while “Customer” refers to the entity that is paying for service.
According to ITIL, the definition of a Service Desk is a the single point of contact between users and IT Service Management. Tasks include handling incidents and requests, and providing an interface for other ITIL processes. The primary functions of the Service Desk are incident control, life cycle management of all service requests, and communicating with the customer.
Interactions of Service Desk
Service Desk, is a center that provides a Single Point of Contact between a company’s customers, employees and business partners. The Service Desk is designed to optimize services on behalf of the business and oversee IT functions. Thus, a Service Desk does more than making sure IT services are being delivered at that moment, it manages the various lifecycles of software packages used to provide critical information flow by utilizing ITIL best practices.
These best practices enable an IT service provider to ensure end user data is being delivered consistently under many different scenarios. Since the Service Desk is a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) it understands that there are many reasons services can be interrupted. A Service Desk has the means within its hierarchy to monitor and manage each layer of service from beginning to end. These layers are classified by:
Network Operations: The ability to monitor all network devices and connections remotely. A Service Desk manages and monitors incident reports, traffic, performs network reviews, implements backups and manages change on the network. Thus, a Service Desk ensures the infrastructure of the network is optimized to meet the business needs of the enterprise.
Systems Operations: The ability to perform core systems management tasks. Core systems management include performance monitoring, installation of patches, change management, account management and support for specific platforms, Linux, Unix, etc.
Database Operations: The ability to maintain and optimize database tasks. Performance monitoring, fault monitoring, log reviews, access management, and change control for database software such at Oracle, DB2, etc.
Security Management: The ability to protect the enterprise from external/internal threats. A Service Desk will perform vulnerability scans, monitor IPS logs and map this data to the information security related regulatory mandates.
Service Desk Types
Many organizations have implemented a central point of contact for handling customer, user and other issues. The service desk types are based on the skill level and resolution rates for service calls. The different service desk types include:
Call Center: The main purpose is to handle large volumes of telephone based transactions like telesales or order processing.Call center is a centralised office used for receiving or transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone. An inbound call centre is operated by a company to ADMINister incoming product support or information inquiries from consumers. Outbound call centers are operated for telemarketing, solicitation of charitable or political donations, debt collection and market research.
Contact Center: A contact center is a central point in an enterprise from which all customer contacts are managed. The contact center typically includes one or more online call centers but may include other types of customer contact as well, including e-mail newsletters, postal mail catalogs, Web site inquiries and chats, and the collection of information from customers during in-store purchasing. A contact center is generally part of an enterprise’s overall customer relationship management.(CRM)
Help Desk: The main purpose is to manage and resolve incidents quickly and effectively, and to make sure that all requests are followed up . Help desk is a resource intended to provide the customer or end user with information and support related to a company’s or institution’s products and services. The purpose of a help desk is usually to troubleshoot problems or provide guidance about products such as computers, electronic equipment, food, apparel, or software.
Corporations usually provide help desk support to their customers through various channels such as toll-free numbers, websites, instant messaging, or email. There are also in-house help desks designed to provide assistance to employees.
Service Desk Roles:
The following roles are needed for the Service Desk.
1.Service Desk Manager
In larger organizations where the Service Desk is of a significant size, a Service Desk Manager role may be justified with the Service Desk Supervisor(s) reporting to him or her. In such cases this role may take responsibility for some of the activities listed above and may additionally perform the following activities:
- Manage the overall desk activities, including the supervisors
- Act as a further escalation point for the supervisor(s)
- Take on a wider customer-services role
- Report to senior managers on any issue that could significantly impact the
- Attend Change Advisory Board meetings
- Take overall responsibility for incident and Service Request handling on the Service Desk. This could also be expanded to any other activity taken on by the Service Desk – e.g. monitoring certain classes of event.
- Service Desk Supervisor
In very small desks it is possible that the senior Service Desk Analyst will also act as the Supervisor – but in larger desks it is likely that a dedicated Service Desk Supervisor role will be needed. Where shift hours dictate it, there may be two or
more post-holders who fulfil the role, usually on an overlapping basis. The Supervisor’s role is likely to include:
- Ensuring that staffing and skill levels are maintained throughout operational hours by managing shift staffing schedules, etc.
- Production of statistics and management reports Representing the Service Desk at meetings
- Arranging staff training and awareness sessions
- Liaising with Change Management
- Performing briefings to Service Desk staff on changes or deployments that may affect volumes at the Service Desk
- Assisting analysts in providing first-line support when workloads are high, or where additional experience is required.
3.Service Desk Analysts
The primary Service Desk Analyst role is that of providing first-level support through taking calls and handling the resulting incidents or Service Requests using the Incident Reporting and Request Fulfilment processes, in line with the objectives described earlier.
2-)Overview of Technical Management
ITIL Technical Management provides technical expertise and support for the management of the IT infrastructure. Technical Managements plays an important role in the technical aspects of designing, testing, operating and improving IT services, as well as in developing the skills required to operate the IT infrastructure required. Technical Management is a part of Service Operation.
Technical Management plays a dual role:
- It is the technical knowledge and expertise related to managing the IT Infrastructure. In this role, Technical Management ensures that the knowledge required to design, test, manage and improve IT services is identified, developed and refined.
- It provides the actual resources to support the ITSM Lifecycle. In this role Technical Management ensures that resources are effectively trained and deployed to design, build, transition, operate and improve the technology required to deliver and support IT services.
Technical Management objectives
The objectives of Technical Management are to help plan, implement and maintain a stable technical infrastructure to support the organization’s business processes through:
- Well designed and highly resilient, cost-effective technical topology The use of adequate technical skills to maintain the technical infrastructure in optimum condition
- Swift use of technical skills to speedily diagnose and resolve any technical failures that do occur.
Technical Management Organization
Technical Management is not normally provided by a single department or group. One or more Technical Support teams or departments will be needed to provide technical management and support for the IT Infrastructure. In all but the smallest organizations, where a single combined team or department may suffice, separate teams or departments will be needed for each type of infrastructure being used.
The primary criterion of Technical Management organizational structure is that of
specialization or division of labour. The principle is that people are grouped according to their technical skill sets, and that these skill sets are determined by the technology that needs to be managed.
Below the list provides some examples of typical Technical Management teams or departments:
- Mainframe team or department : if one or more mainframe types are still being used by the organization,
- Server team or department : often split again by technology types (e.g.Unix server, Wintel server),
- Storage team or department : responsible for the management of all data
storage devices and media,
- Network Support team or department, looking after the organization’s internal WANs/LANs and managing any external network suppliers,
- Desktop team or department, responsible for all installed desktop equipment,
- Database team or department, responsible for the creation, maintenance and support of the organization’s databases,
- Middleware team or department, responsible for the integration, testing and maintenance of all middleware in use in the organization,
- Directory Services team or department, responsible for maintaining access and rights to service elements in the infrastructure.
Technical Management roles
The following roles are needed in the Technical Management areas:
Technical Manager or Team-leader (depending upon the size or importance of the team and the organization’s structure and culture) may be needed for each of the technical teams or departments. The role will:
- Take overall responsibility for leadership, control and decision-making for the technical team or department,
- Provide technical knowledge and leadership in the specific technical areas covered by the team or department,
- Ensure necessary technical training, awareness and experience levels are maintained within the team or department,
- Report to senior management on all technical issues relevant to their area of responsibility,
- Perform line-management for all team or department members.
- Working with users, sponsors, Application Management and all other stakeholders to determine their evolving needs,
- Working with Application Management and other areas in Technical Management to determine the highest level of system requirements required to meet the requirements within budget and technology constraints,
- Defining and maintaining knowledge about how systems are related and ensuring that dependencies are understood and managed accordingly,
- Performing cost–benefit analyses to determine the most appropriate means to meet the stated requirements,
IT Operations Management
What is Operations Mageanment?
Operations Management deals with the design and management of products, processes, services and supply chains. It considers the acquisition, development, and utilization of resources that firms need to deliver the goods and services their clients want.
The purvey of OM ranges from strategic to tactical and operational levels. Representative strategic issues include determining the size and location of manufacturing plants, deciding the structure of service or telecommunications networks, and designing technology supply chains.
Tactical issues include plant layout and structure, project management methods, and equipment selection and replacement. Operational issues include production scheduling and control, inventory management, quality control and inspection, traffic and materials handling, and equipment maintenance policies.
Operations management is an area of management concerned with overseeing, designing, and controlling the process of production and redesigning business operations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_operations) in the production of goods or services. It involves the responsibility of ensuring that business operations are efficient in terms of using as few resources as needed, and effective in terms of meeting customer requirements. It is concerned with managing the process that converts inputs (in the forms of raw materials ,
labor and energy) into outputs (in the form of goods and/or services). The relationship of operations management to senior management in commercial contexts can be compared to the relationship of line officers to highest-level senior officers in military science . The highest-level officers shape the strategy and revise it over time, while the line officers make tactical decisions in support of carrying out the strategy. In business as in military affairs, the boundaries between levels are not always distinct; tactical information dynamically informs strategy, and individual people often move between roles over time.
Take of Service Operation
The purpose of this painting includes service operations and goals.
Scope of Service Operation
Implementation of all ongoing activities :
- The services themselves, i.e., all activities that are part of a service, independent of who is performing it (IT service provider, external supplier, user or customer).
- Service management processes, i.e., all operational activities, even if they originate from another phase of the service life cycle.
- Technology, e., integrated management of the technology provided for the services takes place during Service Operation.
- Persons, e. scheduling and management of the necessary know how for performing the Service Operations.
Value to the business:
- Reduction of unplanned staffing expenses and costs.
- Reduction of the duration and frequency of service failures.
- Providing quick and effective access to Standard services.
- Providing a basis for an automated operation.
Roles of good communication in Service Operation:
- Good communication is required.
- Avoids problematic situations.
- Principle: must pursue a specific purpose or triggeran action.
- Communication includes:
- Routine communication at the facility.
- Performance reporting.
- Communication in projects.
- Training regarding new processes or Service Designs.
To focus on delivering the service as agreed with the customer, the service provider will first have to manage the technical infrastructure that is used to deliver the services. Even when no new customers are added and no new services have to be introduced, no incidents occur in existing services, and no changes have to be made in existing services services – the IT organization will be busy with a range of service operation. These activities focus on actually delivering the agreed service.
IT Operations Management
In business, the term ‘Operations Management’ is used to mean the department, group or team of people responsible for performing the organization’s day-to-day operational activities – such as running the production line in a manufacturing environment or managing the distribution centres and fleet movements within a logistics organization.
Operations Management generally has the following characteristics:
- There is work to ensure that a device, system or process is actually running or working (as opposed to strategy or planning)
- This is where plans are turned into actions
- The focus is on daily or shorter-term activities, although it should be noted that these activities will generally be performed and repeated over a relatively long period (as opposed to one-off project type activities)
- These activities are executed by specialized technical staff, who often have to undergo technical training to learn how to perform each activity
- There is a focus on building repeatable, consistent actions that – if repeated frequently enough at the right level of quality – will ensure the success of the operation
- This is where the actual value of the organization is delivered and measured
- There is a dependency on investment in equipment or human resources or both
- The value generated, must exceed the cost of the investment and all other organizational overheads (such as management and marketing costs) if the business is to succeed.
In a similar way, IT Operations Management can be defined as the function responsible for the ongoing management and maintenance of an organization’s IT Infrastructure to ensure delivery of the agreed level of IT services to the business.
IT Operations can be defined as the set of activities involved in the day-to-day running of the IT Infrastructure for the purpose of delivering IT services at agreed levels to meet stated business objectives.
IT operations management has two functions: IT operations control, which ensures that routine operational tasks are carried out to deliver agreed IT services, and facilities management, for the management of physical IT environment, usually data centers or computer rooms.
IT operations control oversees all operational activities and IT infrastructure events. This can be done with the help of an operations bridge or network operations center. IT operations control is responsible for tasks including console management, job scheduling, backup and restore, print and output management, and performance and maintenance activities. In many cases, staff from technical and application management groups form part of the IT operations management function.
IT operations management is responsible for documentation like standard operating procedures(SOPs), operation logs, shift schedules and reports, and operation schedules.
IT operations is a separate function within the IT organization, with clear tasks and rights. However, the technical and application management frequently also take over parts of the day-to-day operation and therefore perform an integrated operations function covering multiple teams. There is no central method for the clear separation of tasks between operation and engineering as this is dependent to a significant extent upon the IT infrastructure’s degree of maturity and stability.
In the business the term “operations management” is used for that part of the organization which controls and monitors the operational day-to-day business.
This is also the case within the IT: there is a whole range of activities which relate to all aspects of IT service delivery. These can be ensuring that systems are started up, data is backed up, reports printed or batch jobs executed.
The role of IT operations management consists of performing continuous activities as well as the control and maintenance of the IT infrastructure so the services can be delivered and supported in accordance with the agreed service level agreement.
This role can be summarized as follows:
- On the one side, operations control, in other words the processing of the console management, job scheduling, backup & restore procedures, printout and output management as well as the maintenance work for the various Technologies
- On the other side, this also includes the facility management which relates to the management of the physical IT environment. Typically this includes the data center rooms, recovery sites or network room as well as securing the air-conditioning and a reliable power supply.
IT Operations Management role
The role of Operations Management is to execute the ongoing activities and procedures required to manage and maintain the IT Infrastructure so as to deliver and support IT Services at the agreed levels. These have already been described in section 5, but are summarized here for completeness:
- Operations Control, which oversees the execution and monitoring of the operational activities and events in the IT Infrastructure. This can be done with the assistance of an Operations Bridge or Network Operations Centre. In addition to executing routine tasks from all technical areas,
Operations Control also performs the following specific tasks:
- Console Management, which refers to defining central observation and monitoring capability and then using those consoles to exercise monitoring and control activities
- Job Scheduling, or the management of routine batch jobs or scripts
- Backup and Restore on behalf of all Technical and Application Management teams and departments and often on behalf of users
- Print and Output management for the collation and distribution of all centralized printing or electronic output
- Performance of maintenance activities on behalf of Technical or Application Management teams or departments.
- Facilities Management, which refers to the management of the physical IT environment, typically a Data Centre or computer rooms and recovery sites together with all the power and cooling equipment. Facilities Management also includes the coordination of large-scale consolidation projects, e.g. Data Centre consolidation or server consolidation projects.
In some cases the management of a data centre is outsourced, in which case Facilities Management refers to the management of the outsourcing contract.
As with many IT Service Management processes and functions, IT Operations Management plays a dual role.
- IT Operations Management is responsible for executing the activities and performance standards defined during Service Design and tested during Service Transition. In this sense IT Operations’ role is primarily to maintain the status quo. The stability of the IT Infrastructure and consistency of IT services is a primary concern of IT Operations. Even operationalimprovements are aimed at finding simpler and better ways of doing the same thing.
- At the same time, IT Operations is part of the process of adding value to the different lines of business and to support the value network (see the ITIL Service Strategy publication). The ability of the business to meet its objectives and to remain competitive depends on the output and reliability of the day-to-day operation of IT. As such, IT Operations Management
must be able to continually adapt to business requirements and demand.The Business does not care that IT Operations complied with a Standard procedure or that a server performed optimally. As business demand and requirements change, IT Operations Management must be able to keep pace with them, often challenging the status quo.
Scope and Role:
- Department, group or team with responsibility for day-to-day operational activities.
- On-going management and administration of the IT infrastructure to assure the aggreed upon service level goals.
- Maintaining the current status of service provisioning.
- Regular inspection and improvement of the service at reduced costs.
- Quick deployment of operational capabilities for diagnosis and solution of interruptions and problem in IT operations.
Application Management is responsible for managing applications throughout their lifecycle. The Application Management function is performed by any department, group or team involved in managing and supporting operational applications. Application Management also plays an important role in the design, testing and improvement of applications that form part of IT services. As such, it may be involved in development projects, but is not usually the same as the Applications Development teams.
Application Management role
Application Management is to applications what Technical Management is to the IT Infrastructure. Application Management plays a role in all applications, whether purchased or developed in-house. One of the key decisions that they contribute to is the decision of whether to buy an application or build it (this is discussed in detail in the Service Design publication). Once that decision is made, Application Management will play a dual role:
- It is the custodian of technical knowledge and expertise related to managing applications. In this role Application Management, working together with Technical Management, ensures that the knowledge required to design, test, manage and improve IT services is identified, developed and refined.
- It provides the actual resources to support the ITSM Lifecycle. In this role, Application Management ensures that resources are effectively trained and deployed to design, build, transition, operate and improve the technology required to deliver and support IT services.
By performing these two roles, Application Management is able to ensure that the organization has access to the right type and level of human resources to manage applications and thus to meet business objectives. This starts in Service Strategy and is expanded in Service Design, tested in Service Transition and refined in Continual Service Improvement (see other ITIL publications in this series) these resources.
In additional to these two high-level roles, Application Management also performs the following two specific roles:
- Providing guidance to IT Operations about how best to carry out the ongoing operational management of applications. This role is partly carried out during the Service Design process, but it is also a part of everyday communication with IT Operations Management as they seek to achieve stability and optimum performance.
- The integration of the Application Management Lifecycle into the ITSM Lifecycle. This is discussed below.
The objectives, activities and structures that enable Application Management to play these roles effectively are discussed below.
Application Management Lifecycle
The lifecycle followed to develop and manage applications has been referred to by many names, including the Software Lifecycle (SLC) and Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). These are generally used by Applications Development teams and their Project Managers to define their involvement in designing, building, testing, deploying and supporting applications. Examples of these approaches are Structured Systems Analysis and Design Methodology (SSADM), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Rapid Application Development (RAD), etc.
ITIL is primarily interested in the overall management of applications as part of IT services, whether they are developed in-house or purchased from a third party. For this reason, the term Application Management Lifecycle has been used, as it implies a more holistic view. This should not replace the SDLC, which is still a valid approach used by developers, especially by third-party software companies. However, it does mean that there should be greater alignment between the development view of applications and the ‘live’ management of those applications.
This is more difficult in large-scale purchased applications, such as e-mail, since the developers do not typically interact individually with their application’s users. However, the basic lifecycle still holds true in that the application needs requirements, design, customization, operation and deployment. Optimization is achieved through better management, improvements to customization and upgrades.
The Application Management Lifecycle is illustrated as follows:
Application Management Lifecycle
ITSM processes and Applications Development processes have to be aligned as part of the overall strategy of delivering IT services in support of the business. Applications Development and Operations are part of the same overall lifecycle and both should be involved at all stages, although their level of involvement will vary depending on the stage of the lifecycle.
Relationship between the Application Management and Service Management Lifecycles
The Application Management Lifecycle should not be seen as an alternative to the Service Management Lifecycle. Applications are part of services and have to be managed as such. Nevertheless, applications are a unique blend of technology and functionality and this requires a specialized focus at each stage of the Service Management Lifecycle.
Each stage of the Application Management Lifecycle has its own specific set of objectives, activities, deliverables and dedicated teams. Each stage also has a clear responsibility to ensure that their outputs match up to the specific objectives of the Service Management Lifecycle. Different aspects of Application Management are covered in detail in each of the ITIL publications, as follows:
- Service Strategy: Defines the overall architecture of applications and infrastructure. This will include defining the criteria for developing inhouse, outsourcing development, or purchasing and customizing applications. Service Strategy will also assist in defining the Service Portfolio (including applications) which also includes information about the Return on Investment of applications and the services they support. Thus high-level requirements are set during this phase.
- Service Design: Helps to establish requirements for functionality and manageability of applications and works with Development teams to ensure that they meet these objectives. Service Design covers most of the Requirements phase and is involved during the Build phase of the Application Management Lifecycle.
- Service Transition: Application Development and Management teams are involved in testing and validating what has been built and deploying it operationally.
- Service Operation: This covers the Operate phase of the Application Management Lifecycle. These processes and structures are discussed in detail in this publication.
- Continual Service Improvement: Covers the Optimize phase of the Application Management Lifecycle. Continual Service Improvement measures the quality and relevance of applications in operation and provides recommendations on how to improve applications if there is a clear Return on Investment for doing so.
Application Management teams or departments will be needed for all key
applications. The exact nature of the role will vary depending upon the applications being supported, but generic responsibilities are likely to include:
- Third-level support for incidents related to the application(s) covered by that team or department
- Involvement in operation testing plans and deployment issues
- Application bug tracking and patch management (coding fixes for in-house code, transports/patches for third-party code)
- Involvement in application operability and supportability issues such as error code design, error messaging, event management hooks
- Application sizing and performance; volume metrics and load testing etc.
This is in support of Capacity and Availability Management processes :
- Involvement in developing Release Policies
- Identification of enhancements to existing software, both from a functionality and manageability perspective.
Traditionally, Application Development and Management teams and departments have been autonomous units. Each one manages its own environment in its own way and each has a separate interface to the business. This is illustrated in Table 1.
Table 1 Organizational roles
Over the last several years, these two worlds are being brought together by recent moves to Object Oriented and SOA approaches, together with growing pressure from the Business to be more responsive and easy to work with.
This means that Application Development will have greater accountability for the successful operation of applications they design, while Application Management will have greater involvement in the development of applications.
Figure 5 : Role of teams in the Application Management Lifecycle
Figure 5 shows a common Application Management Lifecycle with involvement from both groups. In this diagram it is clear that Application Development will be driving some phases with input from Application Management. In other cases Application Management will be driving the phase with input and support from Application Development. Both groups are subordinated to the IT Service Strategy of the organization and their efforts are coordinated through Service Transition mechanisms and processes.
- Great Operations: What is Operations Management. Retrieved on July 3, 2013
- Training Document ITIL ® 2011 Foundation