Infrastructure Management Software Blog

How to frustrate end users

 


I'm currently on the receiving end of some pretty dismal service quality from my broadband (ADSL) provider. I work from home much of the time so when my broadband is unavailable I really feel unproductive and disconnected. 


 


The issues have been ongoing for a while and relate to some problems with the equipment in the local exchange.


 


I'm not going to delve into great detail or "name and shame" but I did want to take the opportunity to take a step back and use my unhappy experience as a learning opportunity. I think there are a couple of lessons in the interactions that I've had with my ISP which provide great guidance on things to avoid if you don't want to frustrate your end-users as you strive to deliver IT services to your business and your customers.


 


The first thing to avoid is a lack of transparency across the teams who are involved in service delivery. When I call the technical help line to report a red light on my ADSL Router I expect someone to KNOW that there is a problem - and to be able to explain what is being done.


 


Often times this has not been the case.


 


In many cases the help desk don't know that there is an issue. This frustrates me (I'm being used as the monitoring device) but also wastes a lot of time as they tend to follow a process of standard tests before they discover that there is a known problem at the broadband exchange.


 


Bottom line is that if your infrastructure monitoring can detect a service impacting issue then that information should be shared with all the folks who can make use of it. You need to use the information to update your help desk / service management systems so that the folks who are front and center talking to customers appear informed and can provide the customer with reassurance that the IT organization has it's act together.


 


I'm not suggesting that every infrastructure event needs to be visible to the help desk - but if it's got a high probability of affecting service delivery then it has value. And whatever is shared has GOT to be accurate. And the information needs to be updated with current status and estimated fix times so this can be relayed to customers to provide some reassurance that the technicians are dealing with the issue and some expectations on when service will be resumed.


 


We provide interfaces for this stuff for our own monitoring solutions, such as Operations Manager or BAC, into HP Service Manager (and some third party help desk packages) because we believe it's a vital part of how an incident management process connects to service management activities.  This is essential stuff that you need to be able to do as part of what we describe as a Closed Loop Incident Process (CLIP).


 


The second 'thing' that drove me nuts happened mid-afternoon the day before yesterday. I called up because the broadband was down again and the response from the help desk was that the exchange was "having an upgrade".


 


Now two possibilities spring to mind here.


The first (driven by disbelief) is that this is incorrect information - either the status in the fault record is wrong (read earlier comments about sharing accurate information) or the help desk person is trying to fob me off - and that's another big no-no if you want happy customers.


 


The second possibility (also driven by disbelief) is that someone needs to take an ITIL class and understand the basics of configuration and change management as they relate to Service Delivery / Service Management. Taking a broadband exchange offline for 4 hours on a weekday afternoon to perform an upgrade appears, on the face of it, to be a little ill-considered.


 


If you want to understand more about how HP can help with Change and Configuration management then take a look at our Service Manager product.  To be able to plan change effectively you need good, up to date configuration information regarding the CIs (configuration Items) and how they relate to each other and support IT Services. That's not something you can maintain manually - at least not cost effectively - so some automated discovery is essential - and we can help there with our discovery (DDM) and UCMDB technologies.

Extending out-of-the-box integration capabilities of HP software products with APIs

A guest post by Alfred Hermann, technical marketing manager for Operations Center.
- Peter


I was looking at Closed Loop Incident Process (CLIP) and wanted to introduce a new member of the HP operations family of products, Operations Manager i (OMi).  My goal was to use OMi as the only operational console, as I hate to switch between consoles for day-to-day operational tasks.


It quickly became apparent that there are many out-of-the-box integrations with HP Service Manager, but no direct integration between OMi and Service Manager. Since OMi is still relatively new, it does not contain some of the integration adapters. However, there is an existing integration between HP Operations Manager and HP Service Manager, and as OMi sits on top of HP Operations Manager, I explored some of the existing OM interfaces hoping to improve the situation.


And this is what I wanted to achieve: OMi has some fancy capabilities around topology based event correlation (TBEC), and thus can identify cause/symptom relationships between events. The existing “scauto” based integration between HP Operations Manager and HP Service Manager, however, will not exchange this important piece of information, a user at the Service Manager console is unable to see how events that have become incidents are related.


What I found is that HP Operations Manager (in my case the Windows management server version) has a wealth of WMI interfaces. Some of them can be used to investigate OM messages as they are stored on the OM for Windows management server. You can walk through the set of CMAs that are attached to an OM message, and create new annotations. In my case I was looking for a particular CMA “CauseEventId” being added to the message, and generated out of that an annotation. The interesting thing is that annotations are synchronized between Operations Manager and Service manager, and as a result of adding a small VB script and a WMI policy I was able to synchronize causal message relationships.


This leads me to the question how widely APIs are used with eg. HP Operations Manager for Windows? Please comment if you have been able to extend the product’s out-of-the-box capabilities by using the provided interfaces.


For HP Operations Center, Alfred Hermann.


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