…why this training programme should be your first choice for developing IT support staff and managers.
Mastering IT Support Delivery (MISD) is a curriculum of accredited, career-spanning, training and certifications for people working in information and communications technology. It is about the practical, how-to of IT support. It is neither technical nor ‘soft-skills’, yet its four qualifications address the day-to-day running of any form of IT support, for both internal and external customer bases.
There are lots of other qualifications available in the wider area of IT service management (ITSM). So how is MISD different?
First of all, MISD is a methodology, not a framework. Most IT frameworks advise about the internal workings of IT for governance purposes; thus putting bureaucracy before output. MISD focuses on the business and its users; namely what IT support in all its forms must do for the sake of a provably high performance for its customers.
MISD acknowledges that IT Support is what most people think of when they think of IT at all. MISD puts the users first.
“Give me the technology to help me do my job, and someone to fix it quickly when it goes wrong.”
Because MISD is unique in the scope of its recommendations to user support, it is able to deal with concepts that do not occur in other IT frameworks. For this reason, MISD has a specialist terminology for IT support delivery, not addressed in those other frameworks, yet vital for pushing support delivery beyond mediocrity.
MISD is relevant wherever an IT support solution may be produced. This includes first line, second line, network specialists, vertical technology specialists, developers, and external support providers. MISD teaches how to organise a nominally non-support department to cope with its primary workload, as well as with interruptions caused by IT support enquiries. MISD methods ensure that project work is not impeded by support and support resolutions are not delayed by other imperatives.
As ‘frameworks’, most other IT approaches are deliberately non-prescriptive; in other words they don’t tell you exactly what to do, or how to do it. They just offer a range of processes and allow you to pick and choose from them. However, they don’t tell you how to choose, which parts will suit your business and crucially, they don’t tell you how to implement your choices – instead their proponents state that framework implementation is a matter for individual businesses. It seems that other frameworks’ attitude to their own recommendations is an unconvincing “take it or leave it”, which is of questionable use to the client looking for guidance.
The MISD approach differs markedly here. Its methods have been tried, tested and proven over a range of industries over many years, so it is completely confident about its recommendations. Compatible with any industry or economic sector, MISD describes exactly what to do, in what order to do it – this first, followed by that – and what results to expect.
MISD teaches staff at all ranks in IT how to deliver a professional user and systems support service that is properly resourced, well-organised, consistent and, above all, quick.
Unlike MISD, no IT framework covers IT support strategy. For example; there are frameworks that recommend that IT Support should be delivered through a Service Desk, but do not explain why that policy should be adopted, and give no formal basis of decision for following that policy.
Conversely, as a methodology, rather than a framework, MISD makes management decisions on the basis of management information, not just on convention. It teaches precisely how to find, generate, or mine that information to make those informed decisions.
Most other IT qualifications offer training that is invariably about how to comply with their proprietary framework. They tend not to tell you how to do your job well.
MISD, on the other hand is deeply practical. MISD’s essence is how to do your job well; ‘your job’ being how you keep the business’s technology users productive through IT.
No other IT training construct has the day-to-day practicality of MISD.
There are IT frameworks with courses that allow staff to pass through ranks of qualification. However, the path those courses describe is one of various levels of complexity of the framework, and not necessarily through stages of a career.
The Level 1 ‘Foundation and Operative’ certification is the starting point for the coal-face worker whose knowledge and involvement is called upon to deliver support. It describes IT support’s specialised concepts and terminology. It shows the nature of professionalism and the operative’s relationship with IT support’s customers and managers and the differences between internal and external support. The operative comes to see not just how, but why the department operates the way it does and why managers make certain decisions. As with all MISD certificates, it shows people how to do their job better, faster, and more rewardingly for themselves as well as for their customers.
MISD’s Level 2 ‘Aspiring Manager’ certificate is utterly unique. It recognises that promoting a technician to a management role will not necessarily make a manager. Promoted technicians must make the considerable shift in horizons from a concentration on the workings of a technology, to orchestrating and motivating the resources of a workgroup to deliver an aggregate service in a business and even political environment. No other mainstream IT qualification even addresses this vital transformation of mentality.
At Level 3, the ‘Operational Manager’ certificate is for any leader of any technical workgroup in IT where a support request may land. It is concentrated how-to of the management of resource, workers, and services, and building alliances inside and outside one’s scope of influence. Because the difference between a good support performance and a mediocre one is almost always a question of the quality of the leader, this certificate is the beating heart of MISD.
At Level 4, there is no real industry equivalent of the ‘Support Strategy Manager’ certificate. No published IT framework looks specifically at IT Support strategy from the viewpoint of the ultimate service to end users. This is not just the ‘how’ to deliver IT support, but why any given approach should be adopted and how to justify it on a business and financial level.
IT frameworks invariably do not feature a statistical basis for operational performance.
However, MISD teaches statistical measurement in all aspects of IT, in how to benchmark its own before and after, in the development of staff skillsets and much more. It goes beyond mere service levels, into the operational data points that make service levels possible. Experience shows that a support service run under MISD lines will always outperform those following the better-known frameworks, usually by a sizeable margin, perhaps even by factors.
The absence of statistics from most other frameworks also questions those frameworks’ claims to be ‘management’. Many management practitioners and philosophers including Fayol, Deming, and Peters insist that decisions not based on data are, at best, guesswork.
In MISD management is used in the more universal sense of the orchestration of resources, staff direction and motivation, planning, and statistically-based decision-making. Resource orchestration is not a consideration in other IT frameworks – yet without it, backlogs and service delays are inevitable.
IT management frameworks tend to focus on ITSM, services provided in-house to users in-house. MISD is simply unique in offering content specifically for external support providers, such as vendors, value-added resellers and managed-service providers (collectively known as ‘The Channel’). To this end, MISD incorporates the principles and methods of External Customer Support Management (ECSM) in addition to ITSM.
Most other IT frameworks pay only passing attention to the implications of IT support costs.
In MISD, cost is seen as a key factor in decision making. MISD not only claims that good service is cheaper than bad, it provides the algorithms to prove it. No IT framework incorporates calculations to answer the question “Shall we invest in IT Support or not?” MISD provides a sophisticated, numerical method for answering the far more appropriate and useful question “Shall I invest in IT Support, or by not doing so incur a cost elsewhere – and which is the greater of the two?” MISD recognises that cost-benefit analysis should be part of any investment decision.
MISD goes further still, by providing a formula for channel companies investing in customer support. This goes beyond the simple consideration of support contract maintenance revenue, to what may be an even greater, hidden revenue stream.
MISD puts the business users of technology first. It is about the professional delivery of a service to users of business technology, more than the internal functions of IT. It describes how to conduct IT support, how to organise a technical department to produce it, and how to deliver a service with alacrity, consistency and professionalism.
For internal users, MISD keeps service levels up and costs down – good support is cheaper by far than mediocre service levels. Professionalism trumps reactivity. Organisation obviates backlogs. Strategy makes for meaningful, justifiable decisions. Financial considerations are built-in.
Moreover, by design MISD fits into any scale of IT support operation from the largest to the smallest, while being scalable at all stages. It does this by being practical rather than bureaucratic, focusing on what actually makes a difference to support delivery and formulates its lessons into a practical methodology.
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