Time, Money, Service Quality, and People; How to do more with less?

Jun 17, 2015 11:59:51 PM

Time, Money, Service Quality, and People; these factors and the balance between them are the foundation of any improvement initiative. They are fairly easy to identify and measure but do they address the root cause of your woes?


When improvement initiatives go beyond these four factors in a balanced and measured way, our clients have experienced an exponential improvement in their bottom line results. We will show you how these factors are interrelated, how they impact one another, and how by addressing a single root cause of these factors, surprising results have been achieved.

Whether you are wrestling with nagging technical issues, fighting ever-rising costs, managing the increasing demands on your staff’s time in a deadline driven environment, you need to target certain key metrics.

Understand the key metrics to be targeted

There is a cause and effect relationships between costs, time, service availability, work life balance and the occurrence of incidents. Here’s an example of what we’re talking about. The contributing factors to poor service availability are known to be a combination of the following:

Poor_ProductivityThe two key metrics are REWORK and DOWNTIME. These are manifesting themselves in your IT Operations in different ways. The typical everyday issues you are struggling with such as roll backs, recurring incidents, re-visiting decisions, security breaches, long investigation cycle times and escalations are all contributing to inefficient operations on a chain of cause and effect. All six issues are contributing causes to unwanted REWORK and DOWNTIME.

Just ask yourself the question: How do each of these typical issues contribute to your operational costs, time cycles and resource utilization? Here are two examples:

Example One: Recurring incidents – the impact on costs is multiple: the problem ticket is still open and the impact on people is devastating. Both downtime and costs are increased, service availability is impaired and it has a huge negative impact on resources.

Example Two: Security Breaches – the costs could be accumulated over several levels, everybody is working flat out because this is the most important and urgent issue to be addressed with impact on other metrics; the impact on resources is self explanatory.

The key to reversing the above mentioned factors is the ability of your staff to identify, analyze and fix an incident quickly, accurately and permanently. We are constantly experiencing IT Divisions that are struggling with the following situations:


  • Unacceptable cycle times for Incident Tickets: They in the “days” when it should be a maximum of three to four hours and ideally within 60 minutes to restore service.

  • Unacceptable cycle times with Problem Tickets: a long list of unsolved and still open tickets. There is no excuse for having such a list at all.

  • According to PMI, more than 50% of projects run out of control. One of our clients is currently at 76%.

Sadly, the above list goes on and on. However, if you do manage to get to the position where all or at least 80% of incidents are resolved first time every time, you will see dramatic improvements in the following measures:

  1. Rollbacks – Staff would be able to find the reason for a roll out problem on the spot and develop a workaround.

  2. Re-visiting decisions – If all stakeholders were identified and involved in the decision you should not happen any more.

  3. Recurring incidents – Your staff would have identified, verified and fixed both the technical and root cause for the initial incident.

  4. Security breaches – Staff would perform constant possible causes while generating and implementing preventive and contingent actions.

  5. Long cycle times – Staff working together with cross-silo colleagues on common templates to arrive at answers in 10%-20% of the time normally taken.

  6. Escalations – This would not be necessary anymore, because staff will solve issues at source.


Understand the key skills for achieving the targets

The often assumed and long neglected skill of analytical problem solving is the missing component in this scenario. It is essential to get key staff members, especially SMEs, to be trained as professional problem solvers. They must learn and know how to use company-sponsored problem solving processes to:

  1. Identify the core issue in a problem situation.

  2. Find both the technical and root cause of an incident.

  3. Find solutions for in-company preferred situations, avoiding expensive options and postponing the closure of a problem ticket.

  4. Find risks in any upgrade, update, roll out or patch and have the ability to generate and implement effective mitigating actions.

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Topics: Cost Reduction

Mat-thys Fourie

Written by Mat-thys Fourie

Washington, DC, United States | Founder & Chairman of Thinking Dimensions Global
Mr. Fourie is a thought leader on how IT professionals apply Incident Investigation techniques on a repeatable and sustainable basis within their organizations. His strength lies in customizing and embedding the various techniques within existing CSI, Incident and Problem Management practices.


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