Remote Support: Appliance vs Agent

One of the questions that always comes up when deploying service desk solutions for our customer, is now do we increase out first call resolution rates. Now the first thing you need to get straight is what does first call resolution mean at your organization. That will be a topic for another article at a later date. This particular thought process revolves around making that first call resolution number go up, customer satisfaction survey ratings go up and your cost per call go down.

Not all calls to the service desk are created equal. Some are fairly simple like how to, informational, requests for ne equipment, most service requests. Where it gets more difficult is when you start dealing with Incident Management. An incident can involve a few minutes of troubleshooting followed by a quick resolution, or it can be more involved and require a look at the callers computer, cell phone or other device. Most organizations will dispatch a service desk representative in those situations which ends up raising the cost of resolving an incident.

A better and less expensive way to handle those types of calls in with a secure remote support solution like BOMGAR. Many organizations already have some type of remote control solution in house but they may be unsecure, don’t provide access to ‘off-network’ devices and don’t record your sessions for future analysis and Knowledge Base building.

I don’t usually call out a specific product as a recommendation but in this case, BOMGAR has been a secure, efficient, multi platform, cost effective solution for many of our clients. It even has tight integration with some of the ITSM tools that we install and support, making it a fantastic addition to existing support desks and organizations migrating to a more mature service desk tool.

So before you dispatch an agent yet again to troubleshoot and resolve an issue, think about reducing your costs, reducing your time spent and increasing your first call resolution rate by using a secure remote support tool.

Get Your Knowledge Together

To effectively manage our knowledge, we first need to understand what Knowledge is. At its most basic, knowledge is a collection of experiences and insights. Good Knowledge Management lessens the time people waste “rediscovering” knowledge and allows people to be more efficient, effective, and empowered at their job because the right knowledge is at their fingertips.

Knowledge Management has been around as a concept since the early 1990s and has been continually evolving. Adoption of the concept has grown as more comprehensive knowledge tools have entered the market allowing even the largest organizations a way to centrally manage and distribute knowledge. If we can leverage our disparate silos of information, we can more effectively support our customers and more quickly and efficiently resolve their issues.

There are three basic types of knowledge, Explicit, Implicit and Tacit

Explicit knowledge is information that is available in a tangible form, whether that be in a document, on a web site, or in a database somewhere. Explicit knowledge is already documented in some form and is usually the easiest type to make available to your Knowledge Management System. Explicit knowledge is objective and it can in many if not all cases, be taught and is usually bound by definitions, rules, and exact limits.

Implicit knowledge is information that is NOT available in a tangible form, but could be made explicit with a little effort. Implicit knowledge is usually the knowledge that many individuals know, but they have not taken the time to document it yet.

Tacit knowledge is the kind of knowledge that is difficult and may be even impossible to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it. Tacit knowledge is sometimes referred to as “tribal knowledge” and it is not formally documented and is loosely held by a variety of individuals who use it.

Lets give an example of the three types

Explicit – You can state to someone that an Incident is an unplanned interruption to an IT Service or a reduction in the quality of an IT Service, and you can write that down, transmit it to someone, and it can be understood by a recipient.

Implicit – When a customer calls the service desk to report an incident, that incident could be categorized in many different ways, and depending on the way it is categorized, a different resolution may be given to the customer. Although the resolutions have not yet been made available in tangible form for each type of incident, they could fairly easily be captured and documented for use in a Knowledge Management System.

Tacit -The ability to explain how to restore service when a complex WAN environment is in use and is held together by a complex combination of equipment, duct tape and voodoo, requires all sorts of knowledge that is not always known explicitly, even by expert practitioners and that knowledge can be very difficult to transfer to users.

So how do you begin to capture knowledge and what are the challenges that organization’s face when starting out with a Knowledge Management initiative. You have to figure out your process for capturing knowledge first and answer the following questions within your organization.

Sources of Knowledge

You know you have it somewhere, but where is it?

How do you get that knowledge out of peoples heads and into a KMS (or Knowledge Management System) for use by those who could benefit

Some knowledge may be impossible to transfer, but you need to at least identify the pieces of Knowledge you can capture and the pieces you can’t

Creating New Knowledge

Your organization is constantly introducing new hardware, software, and processes into the environment. How do you keep your knowledge management system up-to-date with the latest information about those new items?

Who is allowed to add new knowledge? You need to think about what security needs to be in place around who should be able to add, edit or delete knowledge.

Who approves a new piece of knowledge as fit-for-use? Do you need an automated approval process for new knowledge?

Who should be notified when new knowledge is added to the KMS?

Does the new knowledge require a Subject Matter Expert to review the content before it is published for public consumption?

Keeping Only Relevant Knowledge

All knowledge becomes stale after a certain period of time. Just because you cleared the hurdle of populating your KMS, checking the data for accuracy and making it available to users, does not mean your work is done.

Your environment changes over time, and some of your knowledge will no longer be relevant. Do you purge that knowledge or just retire it and make it unavailable to be searched. If you keep usage metrics on your knowledge, you may just want to retire the knowledge instead of deleting it from the KMS so you don’t loose those statistics.

How will you capture new knowledge?

Make your staff responsible for entering new knowledge. This is a great way to get the KMS populated with knowledge that is timely and valuable.

You can also get creative and make knowledge entry part of their quarterly MBO’s .Make them responsible for entering ‘X’ number of quality articles per month and make them responsible for reviewing ‘X’ number or other peoples submitted articles per month

Measure Success

Make sure you can measure the usage of your knowledge. If you don’t track those metrics, how do you know all the work you put in populating your KMS has been worth the time and effort?

These are just a few examples of what knowledge is, how you might find it, and what you might do with it. Look for our upcoming white paper on how to leverage the knowledge in your organization.

There Are Rules For A Reason

We are in the process of a tool engagement that involves Change Management process improvement for a new customer. The customer is a few states away so my visits there involve flights back and fourth on a regular basis. In my personal and professional life, I am always on the lookout for new pieces of information, new experiences and sometimes even new material for my posts. On a recent trip to the customer site, a passenger on the flight provided me with a good example of why rules are important even if you don’t want to follow them.


Happy New Year

Another year is upon us and with that comes a renewed sense of drive and purpose. As I write this I am sitting in the United lounge at ORD (where I spend too much time with all the travel I have been doing) on the way to our company retreat, where we will be putting together our plan for the next year. That plan will include not only our individual and company goals, but how we intend to achieve those goals. Being a process company among other things, we have chosen to be very careful about living what we teach. We find it impossible to expect our customers to believe in us if we don’t live and breath the very frameworks we suggest they follow. I have worked for and have done work for many companies that expound upon the virtues of a certain way to do something, but then completely ignore those same rules for themselves.


Process Improvement via Shuttle

I recently flew to Houston to do a demo for a new prospect that was looking to replace a legacy tool with one of the tools that we represent. Everything was going smoothly (both flights of the day were on time and not overly crowded) until I arrived at the airport.

The hotel that I had chosen was about 15 minutes away from the airport and offered free shuttle service from the curb to their facility. When I arrived on time, I was all ready to ‘consume’ that service they were offering, a hassle free ride to their property. Or so I thought.

I use the hotel lodging example in may of our classes as the main ‘service’ that I expect to receive when I arrive at a hotel. The shuttle is another ‘service’ that many hotels offer. What I expected to receive from the hotel was a clean comfortable van or bus, a courteous driver, an agreed to SLA (wait time) and an event free trip to the hotel.

In order to consume that service, I as the customer had to do a few


It Might Be Time To Get Your PMP

I attended an HDI meeting in while on a trip to Washington DC a few weeks ago and had a good conversation about service desk tools and processes in general, with a local HDI member. Near the end of the conversation, he mentioned that his company was moving its headquarters to Florida and he had decided that it would be best for his family not to move along with his employer. So, he was at the point in his career where he wanted and needed to continue his education and polish his skill sets. He had some project management experience in his current position and he knew that we offer PMP training among other certification training classes, so he asked my opinion on how best to purse his PMP.

My initial comment was that one of the biggest parts of applying for


Happy Thanksgiving. Will You Be Standing In Line For Services Tomorrow?

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. A day for us all to remember what we are thankful for be it family, friends, health, a good job, whatever is important to you.

Tomorrow, on the other hand, is Black Friday – a day when people line up to wait for hours to buy more stuff. You get up at  4am, get in a line, stand in the same stationary spot and wait. Now I’m not judging here; I just choose not to get involved in that circus as I feel my time is better spent on other activities I feel are more important.

Which brings me in a round about way to the title of this post. If you choose to wait in line for door busters or or super savings or prices so low you cant’ believe it, why not use some of that idle time in line doing something constructive. Bring a pen and a pad of paper with you and spend that time thinking about what kinds of services your (more…)

What is the difference between a Service and a Process?

During a recent ITSM tool implementation engagement, the question came up form one of the system administrators. What is the difference between a Service and a Process? The admin had not been to any ITIL training and was really just looking for a simple explanation so he could get a handle on what they were trying to offer their customers and how to get there.

ITIL defines a service as a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve without (more…)

Better ITIL Change Management with Standard Changes

The importance of Change Management within an IT Service Provider is generally well understood.  The need to document, evaluate, approve, schedule, and ultimately govern changes to services or IT Infrastructure is well documented.   Generic process flow templates are widely available, a wide variety of suitable tools exist to support the process.  So, why do so many organizations still struggle with this?

“Organizational Culture” is also frequently cited as a culprit.  “Lack of Management Commitment” is another one (and, in fairness, will sink a Change Management initiative every time).   It’s easy to paint the causes of failure with a wider brush and say “People” issues are the root cause.  While all of these areas are important to consider, I’d like to suggest that the leading cause of ineffective change management is, ultimately, (more…)

Process Makes us Effective; Tools Make us Efficient

Stop me if you’ve heard this from any of your staff:  “I hate [INSERT NAME OF ITSM TOOL HERE]!  It just slows us down, and it doesn’t do anything we need.”

Don’t feel bad.  You are not alone.  Most IT organizations are frustrated with the tool they have implemented to solve all of their service issues.  But why?  These tools come with the promise of automated processes, better reporting, and easier incident handling – and many tools do these things very well.  I am sorry to report, however, that the problem is not the tool.  It’s the process.

The fact of the matter is we all want the quick fix.  Press the ‘GO FAST’ button.  But, like most things, there is no magic pill to solve all of our IT process problems.  We buy the newest, greatest tool and then try to shoehorn in our daily activities.  And, to the surprise of absolutely no one, it causes more problems than it solves.  And all this frustration has us searching for the next amazing tool.

What’s the fix?  Stop waiting for the tool to do the work our staff should be doing.  Properly implemented, ITSM tools can make everyone’s jobs more efficient.  But it has to start with (more…)