Best in class does not include the blame game

Every time I hear the words “I am sorry sir/mam but this is not supported by this service desk, but I can give you the number to the supplier” I want to scream. But I never do. Because it is clearly not the person saying these words that are guilty to this huge Service Desk error.

We as an IT Service provider are responsible for all aspects of IT, when signing that SLA we are accountable for the whole delivery.

It does have a great ring to it, the word “Service Provider” right? We are not your supplier, we are your partner, and we are your IT Service Provider. However, we have to remember, with these words comes great responsibility.

We are not anymore offering computers, software, backup, servers or networks, we are delivering services. This is something completely different.

So, lets everyone agree, we cannot anymore blame our suppliers, the power company, the pouring rain or any other factor that might have consequences for your IS/IT service delivery, these are part of what we have to manage, and, more importantly, neither of these things are anything that our user/client even should have to hear or worry about.

All suppliers that are responsible for parts of our daily IS/IT service delivery needs to be managed as if they were our staff, an internal department. However, this is not possible for a number of reasons.

We need to manage our suppliers in a very conscious way, making sure that they promise us what we are promising our business users. In the wonderful world of ITSM we normally call this Service Level Agreement (IT – business) and underpinning contracts (IT – supplier). Besides the contractual aspects we also have to deal with the 4 Ps also here (maybe some of you read my previous post about IT support), and yes, the work effort and level/depth of our and the suppliers commitment of course need to be aligned with the size and complexity of their delivery. The network provider or perhaps the ERP System supplier need to very tightly integrated whilst a supplier of computer network cards or other peripherals does not require the same level. Again, we always perform a calibration of our efforts, in everything we do, this is one of the fundaments of ITSM.

I am just going to do a real quick tour through the Ps, please contact me if you want to dive deeper into these. Alternatively, request me posting something later on.

People: The supplier need training, both in our services, our routines and much more, a clever way to do this is to make regular training updates to some key staff for each supplier and then have the supplier train the other staff included, a sort of train-the-trainer for our suppliers.

Process: All supplier staff are actually working in our processes, they are normally 2nd or 3rd level in our support, sometimes, should be often, included in our development efforts. They need process support, we need to measure their delivery and do follow up on KPIs. The process goals, metrics, KPIs and such are often part of the supplier contract and subject to follow-up and monitoring internally in our organization.

Product: If this is a supplier that are involved in a high percentage of our support tickets (incidents and/or requests) we should always strive to perform an integration or even permit the supplier to work in our tools. Otherwise we need to use a clever way to ensure that information is shared, not just added or, even worse, forgotten.

Having 2-4 tickets for the same support call is much like throwing a glass of water against the wind, it all comes back on you and will create a mess.

Also, let the supplier use your knowledge articles, your FAQ and other means of shortening the MTTR (Mean-Time-To-Repair, often simply called resolution time). If you did a clever implementation of your knowledge management, you can grant them access to everything that is related to their support group.

Partner: Also your supplier has suppliers. You absolutely need to ensure that they are managing their suppliers. Getting into the blame-game with your supplier is not productive.

Also, when you implement your megablaster ITSM processes, make sure to consolidate, clean and organize the services, this means taking full control of all services, which might be complicated. This is however another subject. There is baby steps included in all this, but your objective should always be very clear, you have to establish a chain of promises, starting with the SLA with your client and all the way to the last supplier included in the delivery. Take control ladies and gentlemen, and please, please, pretty please, never use the horrible words “this is not my responsibility” again.

Stay smart and have a great weekend!


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