Deploypartners White Paper

Introduction

DeployPartners’ Service Assurance Solutions are designed to help clients quickly and efficiently identify and resolve communications network and IT service problems that are having an impact on internal and external customers.

DeployPartners’ Service Assurance expertise and experience is geared entirely towards giving clients better visibility of their ITC service delivery operations and then following this with proven methodologies to improve operational maturity. Ultimately this creates better business value.

The DeployPartners methodology aligns an organisation’s technology, people and processes to reduce risk and reduce costs while improving overall efficiency and operational benchmarks. As part of its delivery model, DeployPartners has created a unique Service Assurance Maturity Assessment service.

The assessment applies benchmarks to an organisation’s current processes as they relate to the existing IT infrastructure and Service Assurance tools and practices.

The Service Assurance Maturity Assessment gives clients an objective view of their current Service Assurance capability and a clear path to optimising and improving this capability. The Assessment outlines discrete actions and investments that clients can make to progress the maturity of their IT operations.

Each recommendation is accompanied by a high-level business case that clearly explains where cost savings can be made, and where the efficiencies can be gained. Each Maturity Assessment is made individually, and is tailored to the circumstances of each individual organisation.

This whitepaper describes the DeployPartners Service Assurance Maturity Assessment process, and outlines the five levels within its maturity assessment stack. It provides a high-level, generic overview of common service assurance problems and pain-points, and highlights the “low hanging fruit” solutions that can make a big positive impact in the shortest amount of time. Its aim is to give non-technology management better insight into how frustrating service delivery issues can be identified and remediated, and secondly into how proactive Service Assurance environments can deliver bottom-line benefits.

The paper is presented in a deliberately generic format and does not specifically reference any industry sector or technology platform. In doing so, this whitepaper seeks to highlight top-level issues common across all industries.

The Current Environment

Regardless of which industry it operates in, the efficiency and effectiveness of an organisation’s IT operations is a bottom-line issue. The ability to deliver high-quality technology services is a fundamental differentiator for most businesses.

In relation to service quality, today’s most effective business and government enterprises understand what their customers are experiencing in as close to real-time as possible – regardless of whether those customers are internal or external to the organisation.

These organisations can quickly identify service issues and remediate these problems in the most timely, cost effective manner possible.

Across large networks of disparate technologies, the most effective enterprises have been able to build visibility into a complex service delivery chain.

Few IT organisations are able to achieve the levels of operational visibility that their CEO’s demand. And for the ones that do, maintaining this high level of operational efficiency is a constant struggle and usually the result of constantly reviewing and refining the technology, processes and people that drive them.

This state of continuous improvement and constant innovation should be the goal of any organisation seeking to reduce costs and improve the service delivery capability of their IT operations.

Service Maturity Assessment

What is the Service Assurance Maturity Assessment?   

Complexity is the enemy of efficiency. And yet as new software and new systems become incorporated into different parts of an organisation’s IT operations, complexity is an inevitable characteristic of the modern technology practice.

Managing this complexity while maintaining the availability and performance of an organisation’s critical IT applications and services is a core requirement of management. Regular reviews of people, technology and processes are essential to keeping on top of complexity issues.

The DeployPartners Service Assurance Maturity Assessment is a methodology that quickly makes sense of this complexity, and gives clients a clear perspective on what is required to manage their IT infrastructure in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

The assessment identifies skills gaps, process problems, and technology shortfalls, enabling the development of a roadmap forward to a mature, reliable and efficient IT operation.

In practical terms, this might mean a consolidation of tools, the introduction of more efficient processes, or the acquisition of strategic skills and technology – all of which lead to improved efficiency and long term cost savings.

How is the Service Assurance Maturity Assessment Used?

The Service Assurance Maturity Assessment gives clients an independent catalogue of current Service Assurance capability status and delivers a clear, achievable, roadmap to improving this capability.

The Assessment outlines the range of actions and investments that clients can make to improve the maturity and effectiveness of technology operations.

Recommendations are made with an accompanying high-level business case that details how cost savings can be achieved, and what other efficiencies can be gained. Each Maturity is tailored to the circumstances of each individual organisation.

In a technology landscape characterised by low-cost, off-the-shelf offerings like Cloud services or infrastructure-as-a-service now presenting a real alternative to in-house infrastructure, the Service Assurance Maturity Assessment is a good starting point to articulating a sensible, low-risk plan that identifies the practical benefits of a range of these alternatives.

DeployPartners Five Stage Maturity Model

DeployPartners has modelled the operational support systems and business support systems (OSS/BSS) of all companies into five distinct process streams. These are graded independently using a maturity scale from Zero to Five – where Zero means no capability and Five is the highest level of capability in the corresponding process stream.

By grading the organisation’s maturity level in each OSS/BSS process stream using DeployPartners’ independent and objective methodology, we can quickly assess both where an organisation places high importance, and where it needs improvement.

This initial assessment provides the foundation for DeployPartners to then develop individually tailored maturity improvement recommendations and a detailed roadmap of how to get there.

For most organisations entering a Service Assurance Maturity Assessment, the focus is on Levels 1 and 2 – the Reactive and Proactive stages of maturity.

The DeployPartners methodology emphasises the quick, relatively straightforward strategies that move a company from the difficult and painful Level 1 reactive IT operations, to a Level 2 proactive state. The DeployPartners assessment puts Level Two as a minimum point from which the IT operation within an organisation can start to think more strategically about its infrastructure and processes.

Level One – Reactive

Most technology managers will recognise the kind of pain associated with a “reactive” IT operation. The characteristics of a Level One operation are common across different industries and share the same headaches and pain-points.

This kind of technology operation is typically called “firefighting mode,” where managers and operations teams are so busy dealing with problems as they arise, there is little time for IT staff to develop coherent strategies for identifying issues before they become problems.

These environments share common attributes:

  • Multiple tools providing reporting on multiple disparate networks, often vendor-based and with little integration
  • Technology gaps, often covered by throwing additional resources at the issue, or time-consuming manual processes
  • Important tools unused, usually because of staff not trained or change-management teams that never introduced them properly to teams
  • Processes poorly defined, or not followed by operational staff
  • No overarching philosophy guiding operations management, and especially alarm management
  • Operations most likely not aligned to business outcomes. People and processes not connected to the business

The difficulties and pressures these Level One IT operations are under is often unseen by the rest of the organisation. And because the IT operation is unaligned to business outcomes, operational staff have little visibility of the impact of poor services on the business.

Organisations with a Level One technology operational environment are typically in a world of pain, looking for any strategy that will clear the air for long enough for them to take a breath. Management is screaming for productive, longer term plans to be put in place.

  •  Leveraging the organisation’s existing tools – which may simply be a case of training staff – and making the best use of existing tools through integration.
  • Adopting a process methodology – common process standards include ITIL/eTOM, but there are others. This includes establishing a common framework for the organisation for developing and managing process and communications
  • Building a better understanding of the business goals within the IT operational environment, and creating new support benchmarks

Level Two – Proactive

This is considered by most senior management as the base level from where an organisation’s IT operation can start to function with some efficiency. This is the “proactive” layer, where the operational staff are starting to gain some control over what is happening on the network, and has some ability to plan for changes as they are required.

Broadly, at the ‘proactive’ Level Two stage, the IT operation has the ability to identify faults early and to automate a response. Technology operational staff have a better understanding of network behavioural quirks, and will have planned for dealing with repeated problems.

These organisations have better operational visibility over the network and at least some cross vendor integration or reporting tools.

At Level Two, the organisation is well resourced and understands the value of investing in people and technology and whose IT operations are better aligned to business outcomes and have overcome largely the disconnect that often exists between technology services and line of business operations.

These organisations have already tackled problem management, and have started to look with a more sophisticated eye at capacity management, performance management and potentially service management.

Generally organisations that have reached a proactive stage have the ability to start thinking in terms of offering more sophisticated service level agreements. They have already become better at tracking metrics and using evidence based operational methodologies.

Organisations that have met Level Two standards of operational control have a stable platform on which to start building more mature cross functional processes and building service innovation into their process routines.

Level Three – Maturing

Organisations that have moved network operations to Level Three are now running a maturing operation and are likely to be working productively to Service Level Agreements and Operational Level Agreements with internal and external clients and customers.

The SLA’s and OLA’s typically mean these operations are more aligned to the business operations, although this is an on-going challenge to create a truly supporting architecture.

At this stage management is often looking at ways to rationalise processes and to automate. A lot of operations products and tools throw a huge quantity of metrics at network staff right out of the box. The trick for senior management is to make sure they are looking at – and listening to – the right metrics to optimise operational efficiency.

That means rationalising down to the right tools and the right processes, so that staff aren’t drowning in alarms, or being forced to chase down red flags that have not been prioritised.

For senior operational management, the right metrics that are delivered to the right people at the right time – and backed by the right processes – can change your world. This is DeployPartners’ core expertise, in helping customers understand and act on the network data that in many cases they are already collecting.

The Level Three maturing organisation is starting to automate many of the repetitive and mundane processes, especially around alarm management and alarm response.

Importantly, at a Level Three stage of maturity, the operational teams are starting to put in place systems and processes for measuring the customer experience – and processes of continuous improvement against those customer experiences.

Level Four – Transforming

The bottom tiers of the DeployPartners Maturity Assessment model are focused on finding and fixing problems – albeit in ever more efficient ways. At the Level Four Transforming stage, operations management are starting to look at multiple issues, and at the things that always need to be fixed or improved.

There is much greater automated intelligence applied to system metrics and a priority management system put in place – always against the fundamental questions of: What is most important to the business, what has the highest business impact, and what has the greatest risk?

By modulating response against these core benchmarks, efforts get easily prioritised and the most important incidents or problems are handled first.

This advanced level of operational maturity involves a far greater degree of automation. These might be automated fixes to routine problems, or the automation of common tasks. Diagnostic tasks are certainly common automation targets, and automating corrective actions is certainly where senior operations management will want to take the organisation.

Automation delivers benefits beyond operational efficiency improvements and cost savings. It can improve staff morale as the burden of the mundane is lifted, and reduce staff turnover, which itself can lead to a virtuous cycle of cost savings and productivity improvement.

Level Five – Revenue Generating

The Level Five on DeployPartners Maturity Assessment should not be considered an unobtainable Zen state of network nirvana. This is where the most competitive companies operate. A business at Level Five maturity has the people, technology and processes in place to run a genuine cycle of continuous improvement. The operational side of its technology has built a system that delivers the right metrics to the right people at the right time, and is agile enough to calibrate service delivery on the fly.

These successful businesses do not eliminate problems. Problems are a part of an evolving and competitive landscape. But they have engineered the tech operation to deal with the problems as they emerge, faster and more effectively.

Ultimately these Level Five maturity technology operations deliver increased revenue by delivering better services and at lower cost, thus giving a business the confidence to roll out innovative services and promotions in the knowledge that these can be managed effectively by the supporting operations teams.

These companies have given the operational areas of the organisation the flexibility and resources to truly innovate. This is rare. Many organisations – to their cost – keep the operational side of the business bolted down. They are rarely given the freedom to innovate, or they are not given the tools to innovate. But having brought systems and processes under control, and having become proactive about issue management by putting the IT operational processes in place to allow for genuine transformation, a Level Five organisation is able to implement the machinery of continuous operational improvement.

This is where costs savings and efficiency improvements have already been enjoyed, and an IT operation’s contribution to revenue generation consistently contributes to the business.

Conclusion

DeployPartners’ Service Assurance Solutions are designed to help clients quickly identify and resolve network and service problems that are having an impact on customers.

DeployPartners has deep experience in Service Assurance Solutions and expertise in delivering clients better visibility of service delivery operations. It has proven methodologies that improve operational maturity and create better business value.

The company has a maturity assessment methodology that aligns people, processes and technology that helps its clients to quickly reduce risk exposure while improving services, overall efficiency and operational benchmarks.

The Software Assurance Solution Maturity Assessment Service applies benchmarks to an organisation’s current processes as they relate to the organisation’s existing IT infrastructure and Service Assurance tools and practices.

The Maturity Assessment methodology lets client organisations very quickly identify specific operational problems. The DeployPartners assessment delivers a frank reporting of the root causes of an organisation’s operational pain-points.

Once this maturity benchmark is applied, it becomes easier for management to see an achievable roadmap to improved operational efficiency, lower risk, and better overall service outcomes.