Evaluating Technical Support Models: Tiered Support Vs. Swarming – Part 2

August 10, 2017

by Paul Dooley
August 10, 2017

This is part 2 in an article published in HDI’s Support World magazine.  The article begins …

“In an effort to address some of the shortcomings of the tiered support model and to take advantage of new collaborative technologies now available, a new support model known as swarming or collaborative support model has been emerging over the past several years. The Consortium for Service Innovation, which pioneered applying knowledge management in a support center with Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS), has done quite a bit of work in leading the development of this new support model. They have coined the term Intelligent Swarmingsm for this emerging model, since in their view the swarming model should act intelligently—using a database of profiles to match the best resource/team likely to immediately resolve the issue, backed by an effective knowledge management process. In the view of the Consortium:

  • There are no tiered support groups; swarming is a collaboration-based process
  • No “passing off” escalation of the issue from one group to another
  • The person who first takes the issue owns it through to resolution (as with ITIL, Total Contact Ownership is maintained in the swarming model as well)
  • The issue should be directly routed to the person most able to solve the issue

Rather than a linear/hierarchical model as in the case with tiered support, the swarming model is a network of people, a collaborative model. Rather than impede collaboration via silos, the swarming model is compatible with the way engineers and support analysts naturally work. The goal is to get the right resources to work together to resolve the issues in the timeliest fashion possible.

To get the full text of part 2, visit http://www.thinkhdi.com/library/supportworld/2017/evaluating-technical-support-models-tiered-support-vs-swarming-part-2.aspx

Evaluating Technical Support Models: Tiered Support vs. Swarming – Part 1

August 7, 2017

I recently had an article published in HDI’s SupportWorld magazine (see below for link). This is a two part article, comparing the traditional “tiered support model”, with a new support model referred to as “swarming” (or Intelligent Swarming, as the Consortium for Service Innovation prefers to call it).

Why should we consider an alternative approach to the traditional Tier 1-2-3 support model?  There are several reasons:

  • The support landscape is becoming increasingly challenging, with customers looking for an increased frequency of functional improvements in applications; demanding increasing levels of quality, with little toleration for downtime; and expecting IT to hold the line on support costs
  • To maintain customer satisfaction and competitive positioning, IT service provider must reevaluate how they deliver service and support, including traditional method and models for delivery
  • Just because a given support model has been in existence for some time, and had been successful, does not mean that it is optimal for today’s business environment, or for all situations

ITIL, the defacto framework world-wide for implementing IT Service Management, includes guidance for a service desk function, along with the concept of tiered escalation support. While this model has its advantages, and is certainly a time tested and successful approach for many organizations, some businesses and organizations – especially those in software and web based businesses – may want to consider “swarming”, or a combination of swarming and tiered support, as an alternative model for effective and efficient handling of customer technical support issues.

In cases where this alternative approach is warranted, resolution times have been drastically reduced, on-going support costs have been slashed, and customer/user satisfaction had been maintained and even boosted.

To learn more, check out Part 1 of this article at:  http://www.thinkhdi.com/library/supportworld/2017/evaluating-technical-support-models-tiered-support-vs-swarming-part-1.aspx

ITIL Foundation App on Your Mobile Phone!

May 18, 2017

There is now an official ITIL Foundation Exam Prep App available from Apple iTunes, or the Google Play store, that you can download for $4.99 to help you prepare for the ITIL Foundation Exam.

It contains a case study, and 300 sample questions to help you prepare for the official ITIL Foundation exam.

This is the ONLY official app from AXELOS – the people who create the exam.  So don’t accept imitations. Get the real thing if you need some additional practice in preparing for the exam!

BrightTalk Presentation, May 17th at 10 AM PDT: “The Case for Swarming”

May 17, 2017

Paul M. Dooley is presenting on BrightTalk on May 17, 2017 about an emerging best-practice kown as “swarming” – a new way to handle incoming support issues to service desks and support centers.

Traditionally, IT and customer support organizations have employed “tiered support” to handle issues.  But the business and IT landscape is changing in significant ways…

  • Business are demanding continuous delivery of new and improved application functionality, as well as performance
  • To help meet this demand, new emerging best-practices such as Agile and DevOps have arrived on the scene, delivering continuous software changes into the live environment
  • The trend toward self-service continues, enabling end users to handle most of the simple issues themselves – engaging the service desk only when complex issues arise
  • Support issues are becoming increasing complex, driving the need for collaboration, and knowledge sharing across IT functional groups (many of which remain “siloed”)
  • Customer and user expectations are rising in terms of higher uptime, and faster resolution to any issues

Nevertheless, many IT organizations and support center continue to implement the traditional “tiered support model” in their service desk and support centers, composed of …

Tier 1 – the front line support team of generalists that tries to resolve most issues
Tier 2 – a second line of specialists that tries to resolve the rest
Tier 3 – a third line of very specialized developers, technicians, and
supplier that deal with the most complex issues

As a result of the dynamics in the changing business and IT environment, the tiered support model – although it has worked and been very popular over the past 30 years – is now coming up short. Many issues end up backlogged in ticket queues, resolution times drag out, costs continue to rise due to the magnitude of escalations, and customer/user satisfaction suffers.

Listen to the recording in cased you missed it:  https://summits.brighttalk.com/webinar/the-compelling-case-for-swarming-an-intelligent-alternative-to-tiered-support/?utm_campaign=communication_viewer_followup&utm_medium=email&utm_source=brighttalk-transact&utm_content=webcast

10 Ways to Protect Your Users Against Ransomware

May 15, 2017

Found an interesting article in common practices to protect your company against Ransomware attacks.

  1. Understand the threat
  2. Educate your users
  3. Teach users NOT to phish
  4. Maintain layers of Anti-Ransomeware Technology
  5. Keeps Apps Up-to-date with Patching and Plug-ins
  6. Use Windows Policies to Block
  7. Disable Windows Script Hosting
  8. Filter .EXE Files in Email Servers
  9. Always Have a Curret Back-up of your Files
  10. Stay Current on Ramsomeware Developments

Check out the full article:  http://vertassets.blob.core.windows.net/download/fbceb9f7/fbceb9f7-4611-4e9c-ab3a-05941984b077/10_fundamentals_of_crypto_us.pdf

Paul M. Dooley
Optimal Connections, LLC
www.optimalconnection.com

15 Top Paying Certifications for 2017

January 24, 2017

Top Paying IT Certifications for 2017

Which certifications should be in your list of credentials based on salary? What’s the next up-and-coming certification? This article will help you answer both questions based on data from Global Knowledge’s 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey.

The survey was distributed globally, but this article focuses on the United States data and variations exist based on where you work, your years of experience and the type of company you work for, but this is still helpful in deciding where to spend your time and money in earning additional certifications.

To qualify for this year’s list:

  • A certification had to have at least 115 survey responses to ensure that the data was statistically valid.
  • The certification exam had to be available as of the writing of this article.

Rankings:

1. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) – $131,298

2. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – $128,156

3. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate – $125,091

4. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – $121,729

5. Project Management Professional (PMP®) -$119,349

6. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) -$115,471

7. Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V) -$105,086

8. ITIL® v3 Foundation – $103,408

9. VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) -$102,962

10. Citrix Certified Associate – Networking (CCA-N) – $102,598

11. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) – Server Infrastructure -$101,150

12. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – Windows Server 2008 – $99,558

13. Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V)- $99,411

14. Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Routing & Switching – $96,826

15. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – Windows Server 2012- $93,718

If you’re looking to improve your skills and possibly your salary as well, these are some certifications you could pursue. Consider your current skill set and whether a related skill or a management skill may help power your career to the next level. For example, if you already know storage or networking, consider pursuing a certification in virtualization or cloud computing. Or, break out of your technical track and get on a management track by taking an ITIL or PMP course and getting certified in one of those areas.

Learn more about how you can improve productivity, enhance efficiency and sharpen your competitive edge through training.

Read the complete article at https://www.globalknowledge.com/us-en/content/articles/top-paying-certifications/?utm_source=newsletter-email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=p153-jan17-2017-article1-topcerts

Three Must Know Financial Tools for Effective Decision Making

December 22, 2016

New Support World article now available at HDI:

Using a business-case approach with tools to assess total cost of ownership, cost/benefit analysis, and return on investment will help you minimize risks and costs associated with IT investments.

by Paul Dooley

As IT professionals, we are faced with many challenges in the course of carrying out our responsibilities. Some of these challenges may have to do with making decisions about significant investments in support systems, tools, headcount, or even key process changes. You may need to decide:

  • Should I remain with the status quo or implement a new service management system (SMS)?
  • If I implement a new SMS, which vendor’s system should I choose?
  • Is it worthwhile for us to implement a knowledge management process along with a supporting system?
  • Should I invest in remote access tool A, B, or C?
  • Is it wise for me to consolidate our multiple help desks to a centralized service desk, or should we remain decentralized?

These decisions require careful consideration so that risks and costs can be minimized and benefits can be assured and maximized. In addition, your career and future advancement in the organization may at times hinge on making the right decision that leads to success! Using a business-case approach to decision making and utilizing the right steps and three must-know financial tools can help you identify the right course of action and the right decision.

Read more in the new Support World article at HDI  ==> http://www.thinkhdi.com/library/supportworld/2016/three-must-know-financial-tools-effective-decision-making.aspx

Top article for 2016: 6 Steps to Bulding a Knowledge Management Culture

December 21, 2016

An article I wrote on “transforming to a knowledge driven culture” was named as one of the top 5 SupportWorld magazine articles for all of 2016.  Check it out and start your organization on the path to improved knowledge management!

Link: http://www.thinkhdi.com/library/supportworld/2016/6-steps-build-knowledge-management-culture.aspx

Enroll in New HDI Certification Training Classes – Jan-Feb 2017!

December 20, 2016

Happy Holidays,

With another year, almost in the books, it’s a perfect time to reflect upon our 2016 successes. Equally important, though, is setting some time aside to prioritize our goals for the New Year.

Thank you for allowing us to help you and your support center grow this past year. I hope you’ll continue to look to HDI as you improve your team’s skills in 2017. We’ve got some great things in store!

So, put another log on the fire, cozy up with an eggnog, and let’s take a look…

2017 HDI Certification Training Calendar
We made the list, checked it twice, and are ready to unveil your complete listing of HDI courses for the coming year! Dozens of job- and skill-based trainings for every tech support pro offered through public classrooms, onsite at your office, and even online.

HDI 2017 Conference & Expo- May 9-12, Washington, D.C.
More networking. More learning. More inspiration. More fun! Join us for the most important tech support event of the year and prepare to become the NEW face of IT. Remember to get your conference pass by 1/20/17 for our absolute best pricing—$200 off and a free one-day pre-conference workshop.

Upcoming courses in your area:

KCS Principles
January 24 – 26, 2017 Denver, CO
HDI Support Center Manager
January 23 – 25, 2017 Los Angeles, CA
HDI Support Center Analyst
January 26 – 27, 2017 Los Angeles, CA
HDI Support Center Manager
February 13 – 15, 2017 Sacramento, CA
HDI Support Center Analyst
February 16 – 17, 2017 Sacramento, CA

I wish you a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year! I look forward to accomplishing great things together in 2017.

Best,

Paul M. Dooley
Optimal Connections, LLC

New White Paper: What’s Next after ITIL Foundation?

December 3, 2016

So you have just completed ITIL Foundation training, and are all set you think? Ready to move ahead with implementing this amazing framework of IT best-practices? Not so fast – there are a few more things you should consider.

I’ve just completed a White Paper for Global Knowledge entitled “You’ve Completed ITIL Foundation: Now How to Implement it”. For the free download to read more about this, go to https://www.globalknowledge.com/us-en/resources/resource-library/white-papers/you-ve-completed-itil-foundation-now-how-to-implement-it/