Trends and opinions for improved IT service management and client management

Posted By: Udo Waibel
08 Sep 2014

Some Apple aficionados have been queuing since the end of last week to be first to get their hands on the new device.  For those determined few, the wait will soon be over but, for many IT departments around the world, the process of rolling out the new device is only just beginning.

rendering of rumored sizes of new iPhone and iPad

I know it’s not the first thing that springs to mind about the iPhone but, when you consider the challenges that such a ubiquitously popular new device can create from an IT management perspective, the size of the screen or the possibility of enhanced fitness tracking features start to become a bit less important.

I’m sure this will strike a chord with many of my fellow IT professionals and have drawn up a checklist that, if nothing else, should help to get you thinking about whether or not you’re prepared, not just for the new iPhone, but for any new device that will have employees clambering at the IT department’s door.  

Employee demands

Demanding employees will certainly be an issue when it comes to the launch of any popular new device.  Vast numbers of employees have probably already posed the question to their IT admins: ‘So when do we get the new iPhone?’  and, if they haven’t already, come tomorrow, in the wake of all the media coverage, I’d imagine it will be on their mind to do so.

If an organisation’s corporate mobile contract is still running, I can’t see IT departments having much trouble politely informing employees that they’ll simply have to wait. If that’s the situation you’re in, feel free to breathe a quick sigh of relief, as the real problems will be incurred by organisations coming to the end of their mobile contracts, which brings me to issue number two.

Out with the old (tried and tested) in with new (entering the unknown)

According to various rumour sites, blog posts and product leaks, we can expect the new iPhone/iOS to have lots of new features or changes to existing ones.  Even if the changes are somewhat incremental, any new features lack real-world testing.  Indeed, many could be unfit for enterprise-use.   While this is not always the case, early adopters of the iPhone 5S, excited by the prospect of enhanced security through finger-print scanning, probably weren’t impressed to hear stories about the system being duped by hackers using glue, or users unlocking phones by scanning other body parts instead of their fingerprints.

New users can in effect be unwitting test subjects.  If a new high profile device launches with a security flaw, it will likely get patched pretty quickly, but that’s not to say the patches will come soon enough for early adopters.  Rolling out new devices on launch isn’t just expensive; it can also be high risk, while organisations wait for any teething issues to be resolved.

The great migration

The usability and intuitive interface of the iPhone is well documented, benefitting your average technophobe no end.  However, mobile users new to the iPhone operating system will still need some level of training on the device in a corporate environment – sending a text message is markedly different to knowing how to set up email or back up to iCloud.  Unfortunately, mobile migration processes are not always the smoothest, especially if we’re talking about an employee moving from one OS to another, and that’s before you even start to think about rolling out company-specific apps and services.

How to prepare

Given these issues, it’s vital that organisations are able to continue providing mobile support for employees and ensure the new devices cause minimal disruption to daily operations.  Implementing effective Enterprise Mobility Management policies should be a top priority and, although most organisations will already have this in place, it’s helpful to review EMM practice well ahead of each and every rollout of new devices.

The first steps towards this are understanding your organisation’s expectations before switching to a new device, identifying your mobile use cases and defining specific guidelines and policies based on what’s right for your organisation.  It also means determining what information and applications each department needs access to, outlining security procedures important to each business unit and understanding the regulations governing data usage and data access in the countries you operate in.

While mobile migration is unlikely to be an entirely enjoyable experience, by following these steps it may be less painful.  

Posted By: Mareike Fondufe
27 Aug 2014

impact of flexible workingIf you’re operating a service desk in the UK, you're probably already aware of new employment legislation that ensures every full-time worker is allowed to apply for flexible working, something that was previously only available to parents with children under 17 years of age. What might be less clear is how this affects the service desk and what can be done to prepare.

Flexible working will mean more people logging on from home and a more disparate workforce. As a result, there will be a greater emphasis on new ways of working and communicating; operating in and collaborating in real-time with access to corporate information will be vital for these flexible workers, not to mention their employers and colleagues of course. Unsurprisingly perhaps, this will translate to greater IT complexity and put extra strain on IT teams, as they’ll need to ensure flexible workers are properly set up to work in such a way and able to remain as productive as their on-premise counterparts.    

With this in mind, what stands out from an IT perspective is enterprise mobility management (EMM), which will be critical for organisations and IT service desks coming to terms with these new laws. It is an area our blogs have covered extensively in the past few weeks, where vital tips can be found for enterprises coming to terms with flexible working.

10-15 years ago it was much harder to set up an employee to work from home. Indeed, the vast majority of today’s employees will already have a good proportion of home office essentials such as a PC or laptop, network connection and office software. This would suggest that the introduction of flexible working may be an easy task, but I can assure you that this is far from the case.

If businesses want their employees to operate effectively from home, there are plenty of considerations besides these essentials. For instance, office software needs to be installed, updated and supported; PCs need to be secured with the necessary IT security features installed and the network maintained. It’s no good telling employees to do this themselves, even if they are capable of installing office software correctly. It needs to be managed effectively so that the same processes are in place for every IT user and so that every IT user can perform effectively as per his/her role in the organisation.

Finally, in light of the new legislation, IT teams may also want to reconsider remote support as part of their overall strategy. Unfortunately mobile devices, like any form of IT, are prone to error—be it malware, user error or compatibility issues. For workers exercising their right to work outside of the usual office confines, it’s no good attempting to take the device away for further examination. IT administrators need to be able to troubleshoot devices remotely and take control of them to view the device screen and use the device keyboard.

For more information on enterprise mobility, an essential component for handling flexible working, download our latest whitepaper on enterprise mobility challenges.

Posted By: Anonymous
11 Aug 2014

This article was origionally posted on by Dan Kusnetzky.

Speaking with IT Decision makers about the problems they're facing, what products they considered to address those problems, what product they chose and why is very useful. These conversations cut directly to the chase and avoid a great deal of catch phrase marketing from vendors.

This time I spoke with David Mora and Kevin Scott of Randstad US about their selection of management services offered by FrontRange.

Please introduce yourself and your organization.

We're David Mora, Helpdesk Manager and Kevin Scott, Director Technical Support, of Randstad US, a wholly owned subsidiary of Randstad Holding nv, a $22.0 billion global provider of HR services. As the third largest staffing organization in the U.S., Randstad holds top positions in permanent placement, office and administrative, IT and accounting and finance.

Randstad offers professional services, commercial staffing, recruitment process outsourcing, managed services and more. The company delivers a comprehensive range of temporary, temporary-to-hire, permanent placement and outsourced placement services.

It has 5,324 employment experts and puts an average of approximately 100,000 people to work in the U.S. each week, through its network of nearly 1,000 branches and client-dedicated locations.

What were you doing that required this type of technology?

We were using a ticketing solution, which was an older version of HEAT. It was an on-premise version. We needed an off-premise, cloud-based solution. The decision was driven by the development team who were tasked to manage and maintain the servers and software. They wanted to move to a cloud-based solution so they could focus more on developing systems than supporting hardware and software.

We needed a solution both powerful and flexible enough to support both the staffing and professional parts of the overall organization.

What products did you consider before making a selection?

We had reviewed two BMC products, Service Desk Express and Remedy, SysAid, SunView's ChangeGear and Rocket Aldon.

Why did you select this product?

We selected HEAT for several reasons. Some vendors didn't offer a cloud-based solution. The specific criteria we evaluated was power, ease of use, scalability and flexibility. HEAT continually came out on top based on this criteria.

What tangible benefit have you received through the use of this product?

We now have the ability to adapt the system to our business processes. The basic functionality was available out of the box. From there we were able to fine-tune the features without having to go through an extensive development process.

HEAT Service Management also has the flexibility and capabilities that allowed us to build a new module that supported employee on-boarding, off-boarding, and requests for hardware, software or additional system access. The module makes it easy for employees to make IT requests, which can be audited at a later time.

The Incident Voice module that we built, allows the caller to be identified and the call can be directed to the appropriate team. This reduces the burden on call center agents.It was much easier to use the HEAT solution to connect employee records, equipment records and build complex reporting and automation processes that allowed integration with change management, asset management and incident management tools. We can take advantage of all of them working together.

In essence, a single incident can be recorded and the module can assign multiple tasks to different teams for resolution.

What advice would you offer others who are facing similar circumstances?

Do your due diligence. Make sure the solution you select has the functionality to address your key business needs. Also make sure the solution isn't overly complicated so that the software itself doesn't become a burden.

Posted By: Mareike Fondufe
23 Jul 2014

Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) WhitepaperThe last of our four-part blog series on Enterprise Mobility Challenges discusses how you can empower your employees. See part 1: Defining Company-Specific Best Practices, part 2: Supporting Employees on Multiple Endpoints, and part 3: Maximizing Security.

The shift toward personal device ownership and the consumer-like nature of mobile platforms lends itself to user self-sufficiency.  This strategy provides users with the tools and information to be able to help themselves, rather than traditional forms of self-service that focus on providing answers to common questions.

Enterprise Mobility end users should be able to provision their own devices; this will help to reduce the number of service requests IT receives. A consolidated application delivery system, such as a mobile AppStore, can provide a “one-stop shop” experience for accessing all business applications, virtual applications, and web applications. Similarly, data can be stored and distributed through a secure share or other centralized repository. All provisioning procedures should include approval and authentication processes to ensure resources are only accessed by authorized personnel.

Sometimes, however, end users will require admin assistance.  Users should be able to easily initiate a service request and provide all details of the incident for support personnel to understand the problem.  Since users have a wide range of technical abilities, it is often not practical for administrators to talk them through a problem resolution (particularly if the device they are having problems with is the smartphone they are talking on).

To simplify this process and enable prompt problem resolution, administrators should have remote access to all supported endpoints, allowing them to see and resolve any issues. In the event a device is damaged beyond repair, all business data on it should be backed up and easily recoverable

For more information about the four biggest Enterprise Mobility challenges and how to resolve them, register for the complete whitepaper

Posted By: Mareike Fondufe
18 Jul 2014

The last two blog posts (part 1: Defining Company-Specific Best Practices, and part 2: Supporting Employees on Multiple Endpoints) discussed how to define mobility best practices and policies, and how to support employees on multiple endpoints.  This post, the third in our four-part series, covers how you can maximize your security to reduce your overall risk.

BYOD poses many security risks, but certain steps can be taken to alleviate them.

Inevitably, devices will be lost or stolen. Because of this, it’s important that you have defined your policies for replacement or compensation, as well as your security protocol for protecting stolen data.

One best practice is to ensure that you have the ability to remotely wipe all mobile devices used by employees, ensuring that sensitive data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Backup and restore capabilities can also help reduce the risk of lost data, and device location services can help locate a lost device without having to involve IT.

Employee-owned devices may sometimes bypass inbound corporate filters, leaving them vulnerable to malware. Adding security layers to mobile devices can help prevent this, but you should anticipate resistance from your users. As always, be sure to consider legal privacy requirements before instituting security policies for personal devices. 

For more information about the four biggest Enterprise Mobility challenges and how to resolve them, register for the complete whitepaper 

Posted By: Mareike Fondufe
15 Jul 2014

Our last post covered how to resolve the first challenge of Enterprise Mobility: defining best practices and policies for your organization. This post discusses how to support employees on multiple endpoints.

Once there is a clear understanding of your organizational and security requirements, you need to understand your users – where and how they access corporate information and resources, and what devices they are using to do this.

Today’s enterprise workforce is dependent on multiple devices: according to industry analyst EMA, 87% of all business professionals employ a PC, along with either a smartphone or tablet (or both). [EMA: Supporting Workforce Mobility: Best Practices in Enterprise Mobility Management, October 2013.]

The biggest impact of mobile devices on IT is not the volume of devices, but the style of support that is necessary. BYOD limits the scope of service IT is required to provide, and puts more of the responsibility on the end user. The variety of mobile devices (i.e., iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc.) and the frequency with which they are changed also limits the breadth of platform expertise the IT staff can realistically possess.

Mobile platforms place more control in the hands of the user. If the user owns the device, IT can’t push changes and configurations autonomously;  the end user plays an active role in the process. This means that some updates will be more critical, and thus the mechanisms that enforce compliance will vary.  Policies that define which types or models of devices will be supported and the extent to which IT will provide technical support for these devices must also be covered.

For more information about the four biggest Enterprise Mobility challenges and how to resolve them, register for the complete whitepaper

Posted By: Mareike Fondufe
10 Jul 2014

EMM WhitepaperOver the next few blog posts, we’ll discuss how to take your Enterprise Mobility challenges and turn them into business advantages.  Today’s post focuses on the challenge of defining company-specific best practices and policies for mobility.

Every business is different, and therefore no two mobility strategies will be the same.  To be successful, you must:

  • Understand your organization’s expectations before you tackle mobility and bring-your-own-device (BYOD).
  • Identify your mobile use cases and define specific guidelines and policies based on what’s right for your organization.
  • Determine what information and applications each department needs access to.
  • Outline security procedures important to each business unit.
  • Understand the regulations governing data usage and data access in the countries you operate in.
  • Look into your specific data usage requirements, and any regulatory or compliance requirements.

Once you understand your internal policies and future requirements, you can begin to draft your Enterprise Mobility and BYOD policy framework.  Make sure to coordinate with your legal department to learn the impact of privacy regulations.

For more information about the four biggest Enterprise Mobility challenges and how to resolve them, register for the complete whitepaper

Posted By: Kevin J Smith
07 Jul 2014

When it comes to choosing a cloud versus on-premise IT Service Management (ITSM) solution, is a cloud-based model inherently superior? CIOs and IT managers have been wrestling with this question for some time now. This question can be difficult to answer, because no two organizations are identical, nor are their ITSM requirements. They don’t fit neatly into one or the other deployment model.

If a business unit is leveraging an ITSM solution that is adequately supported by on-premise technical resources capable of customizing and updating ongoing services management requirements, does it make sense to deploy the solution in the cloud? Probably not. But what if that business unit operates remotely out of a branch office that has little to no technical support? Can a case be made for a cloud deployment? Absolutely.

So, what are the key questions you should ask yourself when choosing a cloud versus on-premise ITSM deployment?

questions to ask when choosing a cloud versus on-premises ITSM deployment

To learn more and see our recommended questions check out this page:

Posted By: Kevin J Smith
26 Jun 2014

Sedgman, an Australian engineering firm in the mining industry, has long been subject to the cyclical nature of commodity prices. The industry has been in a downturn recently, causing Sedgman to reassess spending in every department—including IT.

Sedgman, Australian engineering firm, moves to HEAT IT service management platform

Sedgman found that its ServiceNow IT management platform was providing more functionality than the company could use at a price it could no longer afford. IT manager Andrew Reid turned to FrontRange HEAT, the most affordable, flexible, advanced, and complete solution available. The results were immediate.

“We were already paying less money for the HEAT Service Management platform on the very first day,” said Reid. “The move to the HEAT platform paid for itself within the first year.”

Reid soon found that by replacing antiquated paper processes with easy-to-use forms in FrontRange HEAT, the business was able to save huge amounts of time. “On average, a typical service request in HEAT takes no more than two or three minutes, which is a time savings of about 80 percent from a paper-based service request,” said Reid.

FrontRange HEAT is also empowering Sedgman employees with more services while easing the burden on IT. With HEAT Self-Service and Service Catalog, employees now have Web-based access and control over IT and business services, so they can easily submit new service requests, report service incidents, track progress, and even find information on their own that would normally require a call to the service desk. And they can do it in the way they prefer, whether using the self-service portal, the phone, or email.

Access an infographic or the full case study now to see how FrontRange helped Sedgman change IT and business for the better.

View the infographic >>

Read the case study >>

Posted By: Steve Gardner
12 Jun 2014

World Cup 2014With today marking the start of the 20th edition of the world’s biggest sporting event, it’s interesting to think what kind of effect the tournament could have for businesses. Of course it depends on where in the world you’re located, but there will be plenty of football fans and patriotic supporters keen to keep on top of the action during traditional working hours. It’s fair to say that in the past four years a lot has happened in the world of streaming and viewing habits – can you believe that the Apple iPad had barely just launched when the 2010 World Cup kicked off in South Africa?

Regardless of what kind of strain that streaming the games might have on network performance (and productivity!), big events like the World Cup are inherently likely to result in a drop in headcount as people take time off to watch, or even visit the action if they’re lucky enough. When these events take place during the summer months as they often do, the situation is compounded by the fact that people are already taking holidays.

IT managers could well be worried that a critical drop in headcount in their teams will unavoidably see the time it takes to handle service requests rise, affecting productivity across the entire business and therefore putting their department under the microscope.

The best way to address this is to make sure that employees can self-service as much as possible for routine IT issues like setting up new users, installing software or resetting passwords. If, for example, a new employee starts – to cover for someone travelling to Brazil maybe – it should be as easy as possible for the HR team to set them up solo. This means no calls to the IT department asking them to set up their workstation, the tools should be in place that this can be done in just a few clicks.

By empowering areas of the business to set up their own services and manage appropriate requests without having to rely on IT, unplanned for or unavoidable dips in manpower can have much less of an impact on the running of the organisation than you might initially expect. We can only hope that the players in Brazil don’t have too many productivity issues to contend with!