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One of the Digital Industry expert said "The entire purchase experience depends upon trust in order to be successful. Every conversion is an indication that trust has been won. Every new customer represents a person whose trust has been earned. Every return customer represents a person whose trust continues to be held"
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Is ITSM required in an organization, where most of the IT functionalities are supported by external vendors?

Outsourcing doesn’t only mean cutting cost for a company anymore. As more and more companies are turning their attention to their core competencies, they are delegating their non-core IT-enabling tasks to expert IT firms. A survey by Computer Economics reports 12% of the total IT budget is spent on outsourcing. Application development, maintenance, data center operations, database, disaster recovery services, security and network services are amongst the most common outsourced services. The benefit of being able to dedicate resources to core competencies could be overshadowed by the complexity of handling multiple vendors. But if thought through at the start, these hurdles can be overcome.

A Cohesive Strategy:

Various departments in an organization often go their own route to procure an IT service that serves their purpose, without the foresight of how it will fit into the overall IT strategy of a company.

As a result, the following issues might arise:

• Confusion of whom to contact in case of issues
• Internal customers having to figure out the hierarchy of escalation when they need help with the third party service
• Service desk not being aware of the correct verticals to route the issues to
These can be avoided by making your IT service desk the first point of contact for issues so that your customers don’t need to know all the details. Engaging external IT service providers, however small, should be aligned with the companies IT service management. Chaos can soon ensue if correct information isn't available to the people who need it most.

Another set of common issue that departments face are:

• Buying services that they don’t require
• Overestimating and underestimating infrastructure needs
• Missing out on technical considerations
A cohesive IT strategy where every department's need to engage an external IT service provider is discussed in detail should be the norm. They should be analyzed on merits of how it would fit in the grand scheme of things. These can help mitigate future issues.

Keeping Control:

There’s a lot of data that you’ll need to sift through when there are multiple vendors in the mix and each of them have their own Service management solution. To make sure that you don’t lose control of the data, that’s critical for your company's IT decision making, you need to keep control of the ITSM technology. That way you will have control over the data and processes and have a birds-eye-view of your environment.

Efficient Vendor Management:

Vendors are not always aware of customer’s internal processes or every customization; therefore the IT department of the business should have efficient vendor management capabilities. Especially to oversee SLA adherence and performance. A single point of contact facilitated via an ITSM tool for vendor interaction will significantly reduce downtime. There is a growing norm of departments moving applications to the cloud or outsourcing them to vendors. This makes it all the more important to own and manage your own ITSM process and tools.

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Measuring effectiveness of the Problem Management process can be a challenging task at times. Often there is not enough data available.

The other Service Management processes may not be mature enough to contribute to the Problem Management process. Also, expectations of the senior management can push people to the limits of their analytical skills. In order to get to a good start, the focus should be on analyzing the data readily available in the ITSM tool used in the organization. The tool should be able to record:
• dates of problem registration, update, and closure
• problem status
• the relation between problems and incidents

Based on the above, the following basic set of problem Problem Management performance indicators could be prepared:

• number of problems registered
• number of problems solved
• number and percentage of problems with root cause identified
• number and percentage of problems with a workaround available
• the average age of a problem, per business impact
• percentage of incidents related to problems compared to all incidents in a particular time period
• update frequency of open problems
Update frequency is an interesting KPI, especially in the early stages of Problem Management implementation. It shows the regularity of work performed by Problem Analysts. In order for the process to be effective, work on it must not be put away forever. It tends to happen if the people do other, more time-pressing activities in parallel. Many businesses cannot afford the luxury of having dedicated Problem Analysts and/or Problem Managers. Since Problem Management puts more focus on quality of analysis than the time of its completion, they might have issues with people focusing on the job if there is no KPI to monitor it.

Percentage of problems with root cause identified shows the management how effective is problem root cause analysis. If it lags behind, unresolved problems will keep piling up, slowly but surely overwhelming the organization. Percentage of problems with a workaround shows the effectiveness of reducing business impact of problems. Permanent solutions can be time and resource consuming to implement, while workarounds are quick and dirty ways to keep the business going.

The above KPIs should be looked at collectively to determine the quality of your Problem Management activities. There is a reason to be concerned if few problems are being opened, the way the police should be concerned if they detect few crimes. The problems are there, the question is if they are being detected or not. If any other KPI starts to deviate significantly towards its highs or lows, it should prompt the management to act. Frequently, if that happens, one can get an idea of what is going on by looking at the other KPIs.

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ITSM vs. DevOps: Mutually Exclusive or Can they Co-Exist?

Often, enterprise managers are compelled to choose sides –ITSM or DevOps- when it comes to service management. What they forget is that both these philosophies have the same objective- delivering value to the end client.

So can they not dwell in the same house? While there is some contradiction in the basic tenets of ITIL and DevOps- a skillful balance

of the two would be best for any enterprise. There really is no need to pick sides and pitch the two ideas against each other. The need of the hour is to follow a need-based adoption of IT service management and DevOps cultures.
ITSM and DevOps can Peacefully Co-Exist
While many purists would pit ITSM against DevOps and argue that for one to succeed, the other must fail, the truth couldn’t be more different. Though ITSM is more process and documentation oriented and DevOps is more fluid, they can be made compatible. What one needs to remember is that both are essential and a homogenous amalgamation would yield best results for the enterprise.

1. DevOps can be seen as an actual extension of ITIL.
DevOps can be viewed as a sub-set of ITIL. All processes and maxims of DevOps are included in ITIL. While ITIL is more of a what-to-do guide, DevOps elaborates on the how-to element. A word of caution: ITIL should not be considered an onerous wall of documents and processes to avoid accountability. Rather, it is more of a guide, open to interpretation.

2. It’s not an either/or situation.
Many IT managers feel that ITSM has become redundant and DevOps is only relevant. While ITSM doesn’t particularly advocate Agile methodologies, neither does Agile encourage knee-jerk reactions to change management. For service and support management, a road paved with robust ITIL processes and tended to with lean DevOps practices can lead to sustaining success.

3. DevOps is not only about continuous integration.
There is a common misconception that DevOps is only about iterative, automated development and continuous integration. While these do form the backbone of DevOps, a blame-free culture (Kaizen) and mutual trust between teams are what the DevOps spirit is all about. These should be adopted regardless of the service management practices you follow.

4. Enterprises need both philosophies.
The type of service management suite a company follows basically depends on the enterprise type and size. A two-person website designing firm would be least affected by the IT management protocol they follow. But a clash of values in a 1000-person banking firm would certainly be disastrous. 

AgileITSM approach, all departments need to be aligned such that collaboration and transparency between them are boosted and maintained from start to end. This is not to say that startups don’t need service management. They too need to get structured in order to scale up and grow.

To conclude, you need to go beyond lip service where service management is concerned. To deliver tangible benefits from your suite of services, ITSM and DevOps frameworks need to be adopted in letter and spirit.

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Can Integrated Service Management Aid Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation seems to be doing the round on every conversation the CIO and IT leaders are having. With the rapidly evolving technology landscape coupled with ever increasing pressure to reduce costs and competitors constantly breathing down your neck trying to grab a chunk of your market share, it’s a sink or swim situation for most companies.

Companies don’t always willingly embark on a path to digital transformation, most of them are forced.

Because companies come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors; there isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition of Digital Transformation.

Digital transformation challenges the status-quo, the existing practices of how a business is run, it encourages innovative thinking, encouraging new business models, and embracing new technologies to enhance the overall experience of everyone involved.

There’s an obvious difference between “digitization” and “digital transformation". While the former means to find an efficient way of automating existing processes, a transformation is outward looking. In transforming, businesses try to figure out new ways of doing older things more efficient and also use technology to aid them. Technology is an enabler in such transformations, not a harbinger.

The factors that are pushing firms to adapt quickly are: • Offshore IT teams are now glocal. They can work seamlessly thanks to the advance in voice and video technology.
• Subscribing to the cloud-based services as required, in place of on-premise hardware and software is a trend that has caught on and served companies well to keep costs in check.
• Analytics and AI driven processes that are automating mundane routine tasks.

Powered by these factors new products and services are constantly flooding the marketing with disruptive offerings that are making the environment even more competitive. And increasingly companies are aiming for faster, better and cheaper.  Most of the enterprise IT was built with serving the internal employees in mind rather than the customers. That’s why there has been a serious disconnect and innovation has been lacking.
For digital transformation to work for an enterprise, it is necessary to align the core functional systems and product systems. This can be achieved by embracing the principles of “Service Management”.

Many enterprises have jumped on the “DevOps” bandwagon, which is a set of practices that targets on achieving speed in IT value delivery. Though it’s about better collaboration and shunning the practice of working in isolation, it doesn’t address the whole issue as it is software specific. A robust framework would be to combine elements of ITIL Service lifecycle with DevOps and also incorporate feedback from the customer. 

If you are just getting started on the Digital Transformation journey it’s a good idea to chalk out a clear roadmap as you as its going to be a multiyear process. And make sure all the KPI’s are tracked. Keep short goals so that you can move on quickly. And the biggest momentum you’ll get is from getting Leadership buy-in.

Digital transformation is a journey that requires firms to enable cross-functional initiatives in addition to being receptive to new technology and encourage innovation. It requires companies to have the foresight to look beyond the functional components that they are comprised of. Integrated Service Management offers an efficient way to enable and make digital transformation a success.

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