1 – Industry Absence of IT Support Strategy
Most organisations do not have an IT Support strategy as such. Instead, they have clusters of technicians and programmers surrounding a given technology. Then if a user needs help with that technology, there is usually a call-centre (AKA “Service Desk”) to contact, which will route the enquiry to the appropriate technical group. And by and large, that is the extent of corporate user support strategy, as described by the prevailing conventions of IT Services management models.
This is wholly inadequate. It is clearly techno-centric rather than realising the true, business and financial reasons for IT Support. In other words, current IT Support “strategies” put the machinery squarely before the users. IT often behaves as though its technology were more important than the business that requires it.
Those business, rather than just technical reasons for the existence of IT Support are studied in depth in MISD, and they give rise to a considerably more advanced approach. The result is better service for the users, built on a business and financial basis rather than a technological one.
No other training provision covers IT Support Strategy, and yet it is vital to IT Support success and business continuity. As IT training goes, this breadth of perspective is found only in MISD.
2 – IT’s Lack of Management
By and large, IT as an industry leaves IT Support to the goodwill and technical talents of its technicians. Reactivity is the name of the game, professionalism is left up to individuals rather than departments. IT technical workgroups are invariably under the charge of senior technicians rather than managers. As a result, these groups, on which so much of business productivity ultimately depends, are not really organised as such, but led by the priorities of the moment and the whim of the staffers who work there. This leads to commonly and unnecessarily long fix times, aged backlogs, limited career opportunities, and stressful working environments.
What is needed is training in how to organise technical workgroups so they operate in a managed way of guided production, rather than relying on reactivity and the whimsy of individual technicians. This is what MISD covers in depth.
3 – IT Support Does Not Stop at the Service Desk
The IT industry’s attention to support inadequacies has been faltering and incomplete. Ask a question of IT and the answer will come from the most appropriate technical group. Nevertheless, industry bodies, vendors and conventional IT management frameworks limit their attention to only one support resource, usually known as the ‘Service Desk’. But the Service Desk is by design only a call-centre, a front end to route incoming enquiries to resolver workgroups all over IT. The answer to the user’s question can come from anywhere in IT besides the Service Desk, and statistically, usually does.
IT Support affects the whole of IT, not just the Service Desk. MISD is unique in training for this truth by offering qualifications wherever in IT the IT Support is produced.
Most of those other workgroups have typically been constituted to fulfill other purposes; developing software, maintaining network continuity, building and installing systems. To them, an incoming Support Call is an aberration, a misdirection from their core purpose. Often, a user enquiry landing here will face a lower priority than other work, and the solution thus unnecessarily delayed.
But there are ways for these workgroups to be able to resolve user enquiries quickly – typically within minutes rather than days – and still have sufficient resources to meet their prime mission. These ways are taught in MISD, along with ways of making strategic decisions such as whether a call-centre is the best way to deliver support.
4 – IT’s Bureaucracy Without Science
The conventional IT services management frameworks have no prescribed means for measuring their output. Instead, specific metrics must be adopted by IT departments. The one most often arrived at for IT Support is the ‘Service Level’, essentially a time-to-fix. But success or failure of this ‘level’ is judged against entirely arbitrary targets, typically based on habit and conformity rather than science. As a result, management decisions are often guesswork and hunch rather than objectively concluded, and performance is slowed by irrelevant targets.
For example; conventionally, IT has little way of knowing how many staff it needs for IT support, except by recruiting in reaction to workload pressure. Considerations such as efficiency and productivity, essential to other business functions, are not usually built into how IT support conducts itself.
Conversely, in MISD, measurement is an essential management tool. It focuses not just on what output was produced, but the internal parameters of the process that made that level of output possible. For this reason, a support service that follows MISD will typically outperform, by a considerable margin, one that does not. MISD managers make decisions from a basis of information, not merely the dogma of a given management framework.
5 – The External Support Dimension
External support is that supplied by a vendor, value-added reseller (VAR), cloud service, or managed service provider (MSP) outside the company where the technology is being used. Collectively known as ‘the channel’, this is a very different world than that of ‘IT Service Management’ (ITSM), where the main management frameworks prevail. It is different enough to require its own definition of ‘External Client Support Management’ (ECSM). Here, unlike in ITSM, competition is part of life, the profit motive is a central consideration and poor service is not just a user inconvenience, but a matter of business survival. Conventional IT management models simply do not fit.
MISD pioneers here by containing qualifications and instruction specific to ECSM success.
6 – The Business Reality of IT Support
Clearly IT Support resolves IT problems and impediments encountered by the user. But this should not be seen as the end result. There is a reason the business wants those resolutions, and it is to do with its own continuity. A computer difficulty goes beyond the problem itself – it stops one or more users from producing.
That production, taken in aggregate across all corporate staff including computer users, is what makes up the output of the business as a whole. That output in turn is quoted on the profit and loss account of the business as its total turnover or revenue figure. That turnover covers the total cost of running the business, plus the provision of the goods or services, and perhaps a shareholder dividend. Where a computer user is impeded, or a support technician decides to delay a resolution, a calculable amount of corporate productivity is lost, and thus a concomitant proportion of fiscal turnover fails to be created.
MISD teaches that poor IT support is not just a user inconvenience – it is a calculable and manageable business cost. IT support does not just fix broken computers – that is just a means to an end. Professional IT support, as taught by MISD, recognises that its purpose is financial, not just technical. This business reality affects the very core of IT Support strategy and not taking account of it makes some of our current IT service conventions – e.g. 4-hour fix times – look silly and wasteful by comparison. MISD-trained technicians fix in minutes, not days.
Do Not Leave IT Support to Chance
The difference between dysfunctional and professional IT support is not just a matter of convenience. It is one of contribution to corporate business success. Do not leave IT Support to chance – insist on its professionalisation. MISD goes beyond the support mediocrity foisted upon businesses by the absence of appropriate instruction in the usual ITSM models – and yet can run alongside those models as required.
Get your IT Support staff taught how to do the job properly. Get them an accredited qualification in Mastering IT Support Delivery.