Jul 28, 2015

Problem Management: Challenges and Opportunities - Part 3

“We have Process definition, Tool with problem management enabled & Data related to Incidents and also Incident Resolution Categorization information though it’s not 100%, we still can go ahead and use” Rajeev says.
“Criteria’s are also well established” Raghu adds.
“We have identified Problem Analysts from each service delivery groups and also training has been provided to all” Narasimha points out.
“We should have dedicated team as we have for change management and dedicated team on defined frequency should perform trending using statistical tools” Agastya says and continues “Unless and until we have dedicated team and members awareness on the concept, we will not be able to achieve the required outputs”
“Agree as discussed with you Agastya, we will identify team & members to perform the problem management activities” Madhu Raj clarifies.
“There are many freeware tools available which can be interfaced with our ticketing tool; the analytic tools will help in Data analysis, discovery & visualization and provides insight view on the incident trends which will help us in identifying the focus areas” Narasimha explains.
“With Information of resolution categorization in ticketing tool, the analytical/statistical tool can identify the focus areas using Pareto charts” Raghu says.
“Till today; we have not put our focused effort on problem management, to provide value and to gain client’s confidence in terms of service delivery we should focus on proactive management” Prashanth Says.
“We have identified what needs to be done and we know the challenges, issues and also more importantly now, we have common understanding on the concept & practice so it’s better late than never, let’s kick start” Prashanth says with excitement.
“To answer Praveen point on problem management brings breakthrough; yes it might in the culture and Problem Management will mainly help in providing permanent solution to the incidents which are reoccurring which will gradually reduce incidents with respect to applications & infrastructure there by hardening/stabilizing the applications, minimizes failures & business impact and also helps in achieving better first time fix rates; Finally practice or culture establishes client confidence in our service delivery there by business growth” Agastya explains in detail.
“Absolutely, we got to show progress towards Reactive to Proactive and Corrective to Perfective” Madhu Raj Concludes.


“Agastya, I would like to know & understand from you the challenges faced while implementing Problem Management” Prashanth asks.
“Problem Management concepts are interpreted & differentiated in two ways/methods; Reactive & Proactive Problem Management”
“Reactive is post incident occurrences, Analyzing and resolving the causes of incidents” Narasimha quickly adds
“Proactive includes the performing occurred incidents trending analysis to identify potential weaknesses; mainly to detect & prevent future problems/incidents” Raghu who was silent till now, quickly adds his inputs.
“Very true” Agastya nods head.
“The challenges faced are many; firstly, buy in from members and management due to lack of understanding on the concept” Agastya starts to explain.
“Agree; but since you and your team have given us trainings & also shared knowledge on the concepts in almost all the meeting so it should not be an issue now” Narasimha clarifies.
“We will have Class Based trainings for all members and also we can come up with E-learnings on problem management. Sure, this will be taken care” Prashanth assures Agastya.
“Secondly, Tool issues” Agastya says.
“Previous ticketing tool did not have problem management module opened for our account but now the module is accessible so we will go ahead and use it” Raghu adds.
“I remember this guy & his team used to torture us to extract all incidents and to classify all the incidents manually” Rajeev says.
“I understand the pain but that was the only option we had; we wanted to initiate & imbed problem management practice in to our account & also to members” Agastya provides explanations.
“True if we have supported you then till now we would have had practice institulized across account” Narasimha adds.
“Very true, we wouldn’t have this brainstorming session” Rajeev says as everyone bursts in to laugh.
“Manual effort of going back to each incident which are closed and looking in to work logs/journals to understand the issue and workarounds/temporary solution provide was very huge and many members were not willing to perform this activity” Agastya explains.
“And also challenge was member who had worked on the incident was not the one who was classifying so it took lot of time for the member to understand the incident & its resolution steps, Which added more manual effort” Narasimha points out.
“To overcome discussed challenges we worked with onshore team & client; Problem management module has been opened in new ticketing tool and also Resolution Categorization section” Agastya explains.
“We have started using the problem management module but still way to go on how & what, criteria and systematic usage of the module” Praveen says.
“I know that few service delivery groups are using the module but the criteria used to open problem ticket is not right, we should align and have common understanding on problem management practice across account” Agastya says.
“Problem Management process is already defined, we need to get educated on the process & also need to educate team members on the practices” Madhu Raj points out as he joins the conversation.
“Resolution Categorization; oh my god, there was lot of hall bol” Supreeth says.
“That was a biggest challenge” Agastya exhales.
“We understand; but now the exercise is completed right?” Madhu Raj asks.
“Couple of points which I want to reiterate; The Resolution categorization has been established in-line with well know industry concept, CTI – Category, Type & Item”
“Googling” Supreeth says
“Classification helps in problem management initial analysis & evaluation; it helps to route similar type of incidents” Sujan says.
“True, that Incident classification is not to identify problems but rather guide workflow” Nikhil adds.
“Googled; CTI is a three-tiered approach of defining "Category," a "Type" associated with the "Category," and an "Item" associated with the "Type." One popular approach suggests that Category and Type be "nouns," and Item be a "verb." Supreeth reads from google page.
“Too generic, can you explain bit details with example?” Rajeev asks.
“We can’t achieve 100% correct classification using any method but overall CTI classification is proven one; to give simple example, if Incident is related to Database then Category will be Database, then Type will be Oracle and item will be Up-gradation of oracle in simple terms Upgrade” Agastya explains with simple example.
“Oh that’s easy” Rajeev mutters and everyone nods.
“Oh really; it took us 4 months for us to follow up with teams to get CTI classifications for respective delivery groups” Agastya says with little hesitations.
“Did you get the information as per your expectations?” Madhu Raj questions.
“The classifications needs to be done with respect to each applications and what we have done now is at delivery group level, which is not the perfect solution and more ever the classifications were not effectively done” Agastya answers.
“Application level classifications” Rajeev asks.
“Yes, when you select CI in ticketing tool; the Three Tier classification should pop up with respect to CI” Agastya clarifies.
“You mean to say, we should have classifications that to 3 level with respect to all the 100+ applications we have in our group?” Praveen Gaur asks.
“Yes, that’s correct. Classification should be mapped to CI/Applications but in current scenario we have mapped it with Delivery groups which is not the perfect thing to do” Agastya explains.
“It would be very difficult to map classifications to CI considering the number of applications we support” Praveen says.
“The challenge is always there; thought let’s start at some point and make member to update the available resolution categorization whenever they are resolving & closing the incident which will save manual effort of classifying the incident later point of time and also as Narasimha pointed out, the person who resolved will identify the resolution categorization which will also reduce the effort of revisiting the work logs/journals” Agastya exhales.
“Very good and there is always a room for improvement; Classification mapping to CI can be done as we progress” Madhu raj adds.
“What about Operational categorization; why don’t we use that instead of Resolution categorization” Rajeev asks as he looks confused.
“Operational categorization is updated by the helpdesk and during their conversation with user, only certain information will be gathered and sometime it might be sufficient and sometime it might not be; so with the available info they will classify the incidents in operational section” Narasimha explains.
“The classification might be correct but during resolution of incident members who resolves incident will find out whether it is related to application, database or network and it gives an opportunity for the members to validate the classification provided by the helpdesk and the actual resolution categorization” Sujan adds more points.
“Also, we can do feasibility study or analysis or comparison of Operation and resolution categorization which will state the effectiveness of helpdesk classification and the interference information can also help helpdesk team to go back & identify the missing or focus areas, in turn helpdesk team can work towards effective classification” Nikhil adds.
“One thing which we missed is, Know Error data base; once we start implementing the practice we have to focus on prepare knowledge articles which should be used by the support members to resolve incidents as quickly as possible” Nikhil says.
“Nice to hear the inputs from all” Prashanth tandon says.

Problem Management: Challenges and Opportunities - Part 1

“Please not again!!!” Srinivas Prabhu says as he looks Agastya’s eyes.
“Prabhu ..Srinivas, Let us understand his point of view and thought process on problem management” Narasimha Murthy says to Srinivas. 
“Problem Management is always a gray area in our account” Adds Prashanth Tandon.
“Poor guy Agastya, he is behind us to implement problem management practice from past 2 to 3 years; let’s understand the intent of it first” Rajeev says.
“In a recent Gartner document (Improving IT Service Support with Incident and Problem Management Integration), it states that only 20% of organizations surveyed have well-integrated Incident & Problem Management from a people, process and technology perspective” Agastya says and continues “our organization is in the same group as the other 80% of the companies in this Gartner survey”
“Will Problem Management bring in breakthrough?” Praveen Gaur questions.
“Praveen let’s understand the basics first; on why we need problem management practice to be implemented in our account and what are the value additions” Teja says.
“True teja, many of us does not even know the basics of problem management but we act like we are the experts” Rajeev says as he looks at few managers seated beside him in the conference room.
“Can I explain” Asks Sujan.
“Sujan, I thought you have done PMP and I don’t think PMP covers problem management aspects” Nikhil asks.
“The concept is generic; it depends on how you interpret and how one will apply in Application development and Application maintenance scenario” Sujan provides clarifications to Nikhil.
“Let’s get on to the business” Prashanth interrupts the conversation, to make it more specific to the identified initiative.
“Firstly, we should understand the difference between incident and problem. The most common mistakes we do in service industry are to treat a Problem like a “Big Incident”” Sujan shares his thoughts.
“Very true, we have tendency to treat incident as problem” Narasimha clarifies.
“The key question to ask is “Can my user now work?” If yes, then close the incident and if appropriate raise problem” Agastya explains.
“Can you provide more clarity, I am bit confused” Rajeev asks Agastya.
“Objective of incident is to restore service as quickly as possible, right” Agastya ask everyone in the room.
“Right” Everyone nods head with cheerful voice.
“Incident ends when user is able to carry on with their job regardless whether or not the cause is identified and resolved; right” Agastya asks again.
“Right” once again loud voice was heard and few heads nodding to right n left side.
Nikhil pitches in and says “Problem Management deals with solving the underlying cause of one or more incidents; therefore, the emphasis of Problem Management is to resolve the root cause and to find permanent solutions”
“”One or more incidents”, perfect definition” Agastya says with smile.
Looks like mugged up and came for the meeting Rajeev mutters.

Jul 16, 2015

White Papers and the New Approach: Business Growth - Application Consolidation

Traditional/Conventional white papers will have sections includes; Introduction, Challenges, Constraints, Implementation methodology/Process Flow, Advantages/Benefits and finally conclusions with no choices :-)

Always thought, why are we sticking to age old concept; Why are we not coming up with interesting thought/concept, which will tickle readers brain while reading & conveys message with less effort.
The Approach paper on Business Growth is my experiment output of new thought process;

“We need to think strategically” Prashanth, the group director says to Rajeev.
“Reducing Overheads and Juniorization are the only way to increase our profit margin?” Rajeev Narayan, the delivery manager says.
“Productivity improvement” Narasimha who was standing behind, pitches his thoughts.
Agastya Raj, the quality manager walked over to join the conversation after hearing Rajeev supersonic voice.
“Those are internal strategies but those will take sweet time to show value to add to clients” Aravind Krishnan explains and continues “ There are many competitors waiting outside the door; if we don’t barge in sweetly then there is chance of losing contract in near term”
“We got to think beyond Juniorization, shift optimization or shift money reduction, overhead optimization and problem management” Laxmi Teja, the delivery manager provides his perception as he joins the conversation.
“Nothing left to think as you excluded all possibilities” Srinivas Prabhu, delivery manager adds as he joins the discussion.
“Apart from all the above stated, if you want me to state then it would be Business Growth” Sujan Reddy who completed PMP recently adds as he wanted to prove his capability badly.
“Here comes PMP !!” Nikhil Prasad mutters.

“Organic growth will happen when the client is happy with our service delivery” As Rajeev says, he looks at Agastya. 
“Let’s not worry about too many things; we should be more worried about our account and how we optimize cost and make customer happy which will eventually bring in more business there by profit to our BU” Agastya says and looks in to all the curious faces.
“Let’s not wait for something bad to happen; proactively we will do something to make customer happy first” Sujan being a PMP certified recently puts his views.
“Hmm….what is Something PMP …what is the value we can provide to business or client which will make them happy apart from effective on-time and defect free delivery?” Amit sathe questions all.
Everyone jaws slipped and all were more curious to know who will answer.
“Application consolidation” Agastya says.
“What? Application consolidation; what it means?” Rajeev asks with surprise.
“The only way we can improve our organic growth is by reducing cost of IT to client and providing value which will lead business growth” Sujan clarifies.
“How are we going to do it” Amit sathe asks.
“Is it same consolidation concept which is happening in all the major companies?” Teja asks.
“IT Client Organizations are looking far greater savings than saving from problem management and proactive monitoring” Sujan says.
“Agastya, are you talking about server consolidation or Application consolidation?” Prashanth asks.
“Both may be; as far as our account is concerned we should be more worried about the application consolidation but if we do both Server and Infra consolidation then it would have far more benefits” Agastya says as he looks in to Prashanth eyes.
“My point is, since we are supporting client on AM & infra; we should look in to both” Prashanth tenders his thoughts.
Sujan pitches in and says “As I was preparing for PMP; I read few articles on application consolidation and they state that application consolidation will be incremental & more difficult than the server/infra consolidation”
 “Sujan, I also read one of the articles by Michael Biddick. He says “In terms of business justification, the case for consolidating apps is one of the easiest to make but the hardest to implement. Every application has a loyal constituency of users adamant about not losing the perceived unique capabilities of (and their comfort level with) their app of choice. App consolidation often becomes a political nightmare that scares IT away from forcing tough choices”” Aravind Adds.
“Hello smarty’s, still I am not clear on consolidation concept. At least give me overview and how are we going to benefit” Rajeev pleads.
“Rajeev, in simple words; Consolidation is nothing but termination of unused, discontinued, redundant or non-strategic products, resources or services” Agastya explains.
“Now, I got it; can you explain bit more on benefits and how we will do it in lay man terms please” Rajeev says as he looks bit relaxed.
“Simple example is our recent acquisition; what we did is to remove unnecessary duplication of business processes, IT applications and infrastructure” Agastya puts his thoughts.
“Yes, like HR tools and finance tools” Rajeev was curious.
“Perfect; why did we do that?” Agastya questions.
“Cost cutting and remove duplications” Rajeev says as he gets in to the concept.        
“Right; but there will be numerous challenges while doing application rationalization so management has to come up with strategies on Platinum, Gold and Silver apps consolidations” Agastya says.
“Platinum, Gold and Silver apps consolidations?” Praveen asks with question marks on his face.
“Platinum is long term, Gold is Mid-term and Silver is Short-term. Silver apps can be identified which are not used & no users, can be terminated with little analysis on the impact” Narasimha pitches to the ring with his inputs.
“In few cases like our HR tool; old applications are retained even though new ones are implemented just because of having access to historic data” Prashanth tells with surprise on his face for which everyone nods there head.
“Gold apps can be identified which has redundant functionalities” Sujan adds.
“Finally, platinum apps are more related to business process reengineering aspects like optimization, redesigning the architecture” Rajeev says with full confidence.
“In our terminology, Platinum change can be perfective maintenance and obviously which needs larger investment but give benefits in longer terms” Teja adds.
“How do we start?”Narasimha asks.
“Guess we need business approval to drive this initiative” Praveen says.
“Of course, this kind of strategic decision should be taken by our management in coordination with Business IT people” Sujan adds.
“Each application exchange may require changes in working processes, and thereby training and communication for the affected users. These are like joint ventures; to be driven client business & IT support” Teja adds and Vikram who is account manager joins the conversation.
“Guys, before going to management we should come up with solid framework, systematic approach and metadata which will help us in convincing management on this drive” Rajeev says as he gets in to the nerves of the discussion.
 “Agastya is the right person to suggest us what need to be done” Sujan says.
“Little easier for our account as we have application information readily available and we have already portfolio grouping for each application based on Line of service, type & usability of the application” Vikram suggests.
“And also, we have clear cut information on the upstream & downstream applications in SLA pdf document, info related apps architecture - technical and infra environment & user info in production guides or in Wikipedia or we can also look at the KM App map” Agastya adds to Vikram statement.
“So, you are saying; we should start with detailed analysis may be gap analysis/assessment, second Information gathering and third implementation” Rajeev concludes.
“Challenges, constraints and dependencies will always be there in all the organization or in accounts or in projects and with this kind of initiative there will be but to we got to ensure to identify challenges & constraints in the early stage during gap analysis with required mitigation plans” Vikram gives his best speech of his life and all were able to feel the heat.   
“Let’s start and prepare proposal to management on the application consolidation” Rajeev says and everyone nods with full josh.
“As I stated earlier; it’s not easy as we put forth out thoughts but it is not impossible at all and this is the only way to gain customer confidence and loyalty which might bring in business” Agastya adds.
“Goal of consolidation should be reduced complexity, reduce cost of operations and increased flexibility” Vikram provides inputs.
“Overall Objectives will be Increase in customer satisfaction on the business value and organic growth which will lead to business growth & profit” Teja adds.
Agastya concludes “Growth can be achieved thorough Application Consolidation”.