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Does your customer know what you do?

(Published on behalf of Praveen Vedula)


IT departments are constantly engaged in a battle to provide quality services to their customers. In such a case, the communication regarding these services is equally important given the high stakes involved.. With the advent of SaaS based tools like ServiceNow, automation has been the mantra for the management of various processes. Communication regarding service outages or application downtimes to IT & business stakeholders is one such area that can be improved using the automation engine. Every organization has different communication needs depending on their core business.

If IT is to be considered as an enabler of business instead of a cost center it needs to act as any service provider would- ensuring its service levels are articulated  with no room for errors. So it goes without saying that any miscommunication or improper communication could impact the business for mission critical services.  There have been numerous instances of big outages which could have been averted through effective communication to the service desk.

Okay, so we know how important it is to communicate - how do we go about it?

The key focus of most ITSM tools has been in the area of the traditional ITIL processes such as CMDB, incident, problem, change and release management - predictably, communication based solely through these modules leaves a lot to be desired.
SaaS based ITSM tools have been the game changers when it comes to integrating the communication required for ITSM processes. Thanks to flexible tools like ServiceNow, an integrated communication model can be envisioned which caters to special customer requirements in relation to ITSM processes. The flexibility to package the communications and showcase on the IT portal dashboard has been an amazing output of automation.

As a consultant, I witnessed the potency of this approach in a recent engagement. For a client, pre-defined communication templates were used to integrate the communication for incident, release and deployment management processes for both unplanned and planned outages. This made it very simple for the communication teams to just enter the details in the incident or release and propagate communication on click of a button. The templates also had the ability to communicate on an ad-hoc basis through IT portal when details of an outage are not recorded in an incident or if the mail servers are down.

This was an interesting challenge as the application subscription data was not available readily. In order to drive the communication objectives, it was important to provide a platform for the IT and business users to subscribe to applications for communication and to be kept informed about weekly maintenance and infrastructure maintenance updates. With this in mind, the result was a dynamic visual dashboard that showed the summary of various outages, be it unplanned or planned; while also enabling a personalized email communication based on application subscription data. This was a great exercise on how the integration of ITSM processes for communication can be managed when subscription data is scattered around various tools and repositories. This reminds me of another intriguing topic to write about in my next post i.e. application access role data management and its implications on ITSM processes.

(Praveen Vedula has over 7 years of industry experience. He specializes in ITIL best practice oriented process designs and implementation)

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