Proactive Service Management: 5 Steps To A More Proactive Approach

An organization’s IT environment has a lot of moving parts. Yet, the combined sheer volume of hardware and software components, the integration of old and new technologies, and a base of increasingly diverse users practically ensures that something will go awry. Whether it’s a faulty desktop hard drive, a software application that’s hogging network bandwidth, or connectivity issues for remote workers, many organizations are engaged in a perpetual state of IT firefighting. 

These 5 steps can get you closer – faster – to a more proactive approach to IT service management:

Assign Ownership

Even if you’re not able to dedicate budget and multiple resources to a formal IT solution team, you can still take action to help your organization begin the shift toward more proactive planning. Assign a gatekeeper who is “responsible and accountable for problem management,” says Peter Summers of Hornbill Systems Management. This individual can establish some basic processes for consistent identification and documentation of issues and their resolutions.

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Establish Clear Definitions

While “problem” and “incident” may appear to mean the same thing, there are important distinctions. An incident as a one-time occurrence, and a problem is a series of similar, recurring incidents. Typical incident management strives to restore service as soon as possible. Proactive problem management often requires more in-depth analysis of the related incidents with a goal of determining a root cause. Clear definition of terms will set expectations and help everyone – from the service desk to IT firefighters to the business stakeholders – support an appropriate response for immediate and for long-term resolutions.

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Prioritize Based on Business Impact

Issues are not all five-alarm fires. Each issue will have a different impact on the business, and that’s a great way to help you prioritize your response. Summers suggests that you “identify ‘major impact’ incidents: those that result in lost productivity, repeat incidents, or similar incidents…and – based on that impact – their urgency levels (e.g., 1 = immediate, 4 = five days).” Be sure to involve your business stakeholders early in the discussion to ensure that your priorities are aligned with the business needs.

What does proactive IT look like for iCorps' clients? Find out in this quick video:

iCorps Encompass Program - IT Support Services for SMBs
iCorps Encompass Program - IT Support Services for SMBs

Document the Issues

Consistency is critical in how incidents are logged, categorized, and documented – through resolution. Documentation can serve as a valuable reference that can help your team resolve similar incidents more quickly. That same documentation can help you identify and analyze patterns and recurring issues, and surface root causes.

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Communicate with Key Business Stakeholders

Even the best plans won’t be effective if no one knows about them. One of the most important duties of your newly established gatekeeper is to facilitate regular (weekly, monthly, quarterly) communications among the key business stakeholders, IT teams, and service desk to discuss your approach to problem management – and to adjust iteratively – in order to continue to align effectively with the business.

Ultimately, the results of implementing basic problem management processes within your environment will result in improved IT reliability, less firefighting, and happier users – and may even help pave the way for a more formal proactive IT service management approach. If you're looking for a different class of managed service, our experts can help. From cloud computing to compliance, we can customize IT solutions to meet your unique business needs. For more information, please reach out to iCorps for a free consultation.

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