Problem? What Problem?
By Kevin L. McLaughlin and Jerry Kenney "What do you mean?" I asked. "We're already doing this work and that is why we are too busy!" "Hear me out," Bob replied. "What I want you to do is install this automated ticketing process, and then reassign seven of your higher level resources to other teams and bring seven junior level resources on board to perform incident logging, tracking, and escalating tasks."If this really worked, I calculated an immediate benefit to save on my annual budget - that is, if it really worked. I trusted Bob, he had been around for a long time and had a good track record for successful IT initiatives. So I figured I would give it a try.
"Bob, how will this make things better for me and my staff?" I asked. Here is how he explained the idea to me. It was really very simple. You have a dedicated team of lower cost resources for initial Incident Management. They answer the phone, log, track, and resolve the issue if they know how. If they cannot restore normal service operations as quickly as possible, they escalate it to the high-level team who spends the time they need on Problem resolution, including root cause analysis.
Since the lower-level resources are absorbing 65% of their prior load, the team with the higher-level skills now has the time and attention needed for trend and root cause analysis. They can also develop and maintain a database of known errors and handle other proactive activities. I tried Bob's suggestion for a six-month period. At the end of the six months, I was amazed at how well my support system was working and how easy it was for us to meet SLA targets that used to be very challenging. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and for me this was very good pudding, indeed. Just take a quick look at the math. I started with 15 L3 contract resources at $120,000.00 per year, each. They were always hard pressed to do the amount of work required of them. The new system also has 15 resources deployed in the configuration of 7 L1 incident management workers each at $60,000.00 per year and 8 L3 contract resources still at $120,000.00 each. At the end of six months, we found we were completing the work without excessive hours. The amount of work did not change; the processes we used did. In addition to reducing the pressure on all of us, I was also able to decrease my annual budget by $420,000.00. At the end of six months, I really liked what I was seeing, so I asked Bob what else he had in store for me. He said that he had ideas and processes about Change, Capacity, Availability, Service Level, Reliability, Financial, and Configuration Management that he would like to share with me over lunch in the future. But we'll have to wait for that luncheon conversation, because next time we meet, I want to show you how I found a way to cut my $1,380,000.00 annual support desk budget in half; I cut my annual costs to $675,000.00 with no work reduction, no cutback in force, and no slippage in my measures. So if the idea of saving $705,000.00 looks good to you and your company, look out for my next article in ITSMWatch.com. The above article is fiction and written to discuss the ITIL processes. It may be reprinted with the Author's permission. Kevin Mclaughlin is a Service and Security Manager for Procter & Gamble; he has his MS in Computer Science, BS in MIS, is a PMP, has been an ITIL practitioner for more than 5 years, is an ITIL exam grader, and has his Manager's Certification in IT Service Management.
Jerry Kenney is currently a Ph. D. candidate in Texts and Technology at the University of Central Florida; for the last four decades he has been a writer, trainer, and QA manager for a number of global corporations. Want to discuss this article and/or Problem Management further? Visit our IT Service Management Forum .