IT Problem Management
||Author: Gary Walker, Gary S. Walker|
List Price: $39.99
Our Price: Click to see the latest and low price
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR (March, 2001)
Sales Rank: 68,964
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Customer ReviewsRating: 3 out of 5
good content - badly written
The content of the book is obviously interesting for people starting a help desk or any IT service department. I would just like to stress that it is badly written. Typical I-don't-have-much-to-say-but-I-will-say-it-in-200-pages syndrom. Example? p36 "Problem can be discovered either before or after they occur" Waow, that's information! p35 "Problem identification is simply the processes, methods, and tools used by the service center to indentify a problem". Hey M Walker, never learnt one should not use a word in its own definition?
What's more the book isn't much instructive. Example? It is said that one can use the "queuing theory" the anticipate resource needs but don't expect the book to explain what this theory is.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Complete Guide to Service Center Processes
This is a great book for anyone involved in help desk or service center activities. I recommend this book for all IT professionals involved with production systems or anyone interested in IT methodology. This book gives the reader an appreciation for the documented processes and documentation that must be in place for a successful help desk venture.
This book has process flows for the entire problem management arena complete with guidelines on how to pick the most successful strategy for your company. It helps you with the decision process by offering pros and cons for each strategy so that you can tailor the strategy for your own goals and objectives. Also present are strategies for escalating problems and the structure that must be in place to support the strategy.
Other strong points of this book include the detail provided concerning the problem prioritization process, documented Triage processes, and escalation procedures. It also covers the documentation that must exist in order for a help desk to strive for cost effectiveness while meeting the goals of its customers.
This books helps IT professionals in the decision making process, whether you are currently involved in help desk activities, preparing to start a help desk, or migrating your current help desk into a service center. I gave this book to our help desk and they quickly ordered a couple of copies for the other managers. This is truly a first rate narrative.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Unique book that fills a gap in service delivery literature
This book does, indeed, represent the first of its kind to extend problem management from a help desk function to an enterprise-wide process. Moreover, it contains some of the best practices and processes I have ever seen in print.
Here are some of the highlights of what the book proposes that I know from experience works in an optimal fashion:
*Managed response model, where the help desk validates issues, prioritizes them and sends them immediately to the proper tier-2 group for resolution. This is far superior to a model where the help desk attempts to resolve the issue because too many go to tier-2 anyway. In my experience the managed response model more closely aligns IT to business (tier-2 also functions in an account management role if the process and organization is mature), and there is no hand-off (tier-2 owns the problem, the help desk owns the problem management process).
*The concept of a service catalog (sometimes called reference data or systems taxonomy) that allows you to capture metrics that lend themselves to Pareto analysis for system failures, etc. This is important for prioritizing fixes and patches to be released in future versions of an application.
*Clear definitions of severity, priority, escalation and elevation. These are too often misunderstood or misused terms, yet each is an important element of problem management.
*Detailed process for escalation and notification, which is not always implemented properly if implemented at all.
*Linking problem management to service level objectives and business goals. This is alluded to in many help desk books, but rarely addressed in the detail that this book provides.
*Alignment of problem management to other related processes, notably, change management. Finally, this dependency is recognized and discussed in a mainstream book. *Complete strategy for gathering and analyzing *relevant* metrics. Some gaps, but the approach is on target.
*Service delivery as a concept and process is clearly described. I cannot count the times I have had to define "service delivery" and distinguish it from "application delivery" (the former addresses supporting applications in production, the latter is how they are developed and released into production - operations and maintenance vs. development and project management).
Nothing is perfect, and here are some of the gaps I found:
*No clearly defined acceptance criteria for bringing applications into production - the service center (help desk) should get, at a minimum, service level agreements, application profiles, troubleshooting guides and a criticality profile for every application going into production. These should be considered to be the minimum entry criteria for supporting an application.
*Excellent discussion on priorities was marred by a lack of discussion about how to go about establishing a uniform baseline. I use a spreadsheet developed with a colleague that computes a criticality profile based on quantitative and qualitative measures. In my opinion there needs to be an enterprise-wide set of criteria for determining the criticality of applications if prioritization of issues is going to be repeatable.
*While the metrics approach is comprehensive it does not address aged issues. Consider how much more effective and meaningful it is to know how many open issues are over 1, 2, 4 and 6 weeks old, and how many from each of these buckets have been closed during a current reporting week. Contrast this with a simpler total open vs. closed this week measurement and you will see how the simpler measurement does not show the true effectiveness of the support organization.
Despite the gaps I noted this book makes an invaluable contribution to service delivery and IT process maturity. Overall I am impressed with the author's approach and consider this book to be essential reading for help desk managers, service delivery professionals and upper IT management. This book with jump-start service delivery if your company does not have clearly defined processes and procedures, and will give those that do some excellent ideas on raising the bar. Gaps notwithstanding, this book earns a solid 5 stars.
· IT Organization: Building A Worldclass Infrastructure
· Foundations of Service Level Management
· IT Services Costs, Metrics, Benchmarking and Marketing
· A Practical Guide to Information Systems Process Improvement
· Building & Managing a World Class IT Help Desk