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Delivering Valuable Information to Executives

Aug 21, 2005

ITSM Watch Staff

By Bob McDonough

Our Service Management team draws on the experience of key contributors across the organization. These contributors report each morning on their own area of responsibility. Together with the Service Management team, they identify which incidents, problems and upcoming changes that are noteworthy from a management perspective. For each of these process records, the Service Management team updates three special fields: Background, Action and Impact.

What do we consider noteworthy? We review the criticality of the service impacted and the number of users affected. Further we must ask: Is this service public facing? Are we going to be on the front page of the newspaper because of this? Is this a hot-button issue? Is our client unhappy already? Are we at risk of violating a Court order or Federal mandate? Do we need to protect our management by informing them before the client does?

    The Background entry consists of all basic information needed to understand the issue. Because of the diversity of the audience, this information must be brief and make only minimal assumptions of audiences' prior knowledge.
    The Action entry contains concrete statements of what has happened, what is happening, and what we are planning to do next. This is presented in non-jargon terms that management can quickly comprehend and present directly to clients without need of translation.
    The Impact entry gives the issue its scope and therefore its importance. Who is impacted? How many people are impacted? What service is degraded, down, or at risk? What public business isnt being conducted? What Government function is in jeopardy?
We provide an Operations Status Board (OSB) which presents the Background, Action, and Impact entries as a management summary for each noteworthy incident, problem and scheduled change. Hyperlinks allow managers to drill down and subsequent hyperlinks access the actual work tickets if a deep analysis is desired.

Fig 2 - The Web presentation of the Operations Status Board

The resulting information is broadcasted via three communication channels:

  • The first is the Operations Status Board which is continuously updated and available on the Web.
  • The second method is the Daystart Teleconference hosted by the Service Management team every weekday morning at 7:30 AM. The teleconference presents the same information as the OSB with key decision maker participation and opportunities for questions.
  • The third method is e-mail distribution of the Daystart Digest. This is the same information from the OSB, but presented as a snapshot in time. It allows managers to create an archive, search prior Daystart issues and perform follow-up.
Capturing and disseminating this type of critical information in a manner that is convenient and meaningful for decision-makers has created genuine excitement within our management team. As a result, the process development staff has maintained management interest throughout the ITIL Service Support process rollout and into the Continuous Improvement phase. We have created a valuable tool by understanding the needs of our executive team. We have achieved management buy-in by having a tangible, quality product to sell.

Bob McDonough is IT Manager, Process Development and Support and has recently become a full-time information technology manager with the State of Michigan after 17 years of IT consulting in private industry. He has a BA in business management from Michigan State University.