You need a proactive technology environment. One that reduces risks and prevents disruptions. The only predictable way to deliver it is with a System Analyst that focuses exclusively on prevention. There are only three things you need the System Analysts to accomplish:
Let’s review each of the three items you need, and how XL.net addresses them.
We are one of the first firms to provide exclusively an unlimited, 24/7/365, outsourced IT department. This means that anytime someone contacts our Service Desk our margins, and yours, erode as we are spending on labor to resolve a disruption that is impacting you. This pricing model allows us to align our interests in preventing disruptions.
Unfortunately it took us 3 years to figure out how to effectively and predictably reduce disruptions for our clients. The insight in hindsight was very simple.
We knew from the beginning that we had to be proactive. So we developed 19 technology items to check on a monthly basis for every client. We then asked our Service Desk, the firefighters, to make sure they went through the checklist.
We waited, and noticed our reactive issues per person we supported remain at 1.18 technology disruptions per month. Nothing changed for a long time. Finally, our founder sat down with a Service Desk Engineer at his request. He was asked to watch the Service Desk Engineer attempt to go through the checklist.
First thing in the morning, he saw the Service Desk Engineer open up the checklist and start on the 1 checklist item. And then a call for help came in. About 20 minutes later, the Service Desk Engineer went back to the list. And as you can guess, another call came in. At the end of the day, only 4 of the 19 checks were completed, and not too effectively at that due to the split on focus.
This meant there were never less disruptions to resolve tomorrow than today, and in fact there were more as we grew. We began to enter the reactive spiral of death.
The lightbulb went off in our founders head, and we realized we needed a whole new department focused exclusively on proactively checking for misalignments in technology while allowing the Service Desk to focus exclusively on urgently resolving reactive technology disruptions.
Urgent firefighters (Service Desk) and important fire preventers (System Analysts). Understanding how the Eisenhower principle applied to IT would have helped us reach this insight sooner as there was never time for the Service Desk to leave the first quadrant of urgent and important tasks.
We began hiring for our new System Analyst department, but had two significant challenges. First, which still exists today, our payroll costs are higher than our reactive competitors. We have to effectively communicate the value to our clients of investing 30% more in our service in order to reduce their technology risks and disruptions by 80%.
Once we solved this challenge, within a year technology disruptions were cut in half!
The next challenge presented itself about a year afterwards. All of our System Analysts started quitting. Here is one of the three exit interviews:
XL Founder: “I thought you liked it here?”
Departer: “I love it here!”
XL Founder: “Do we pay you well enough, are the benefits good?”
Departer: “Absolutely, actually a bit better than where I am going.”
XL Founder: “I don’t get it, why are you leaving?”
Departer: “I am bored! I want to work on implementing exciting new technologies. But all I do is update documentation and go through checklists.”
The second lightbulb went off. We were hiring the wrong people for the System Analyst department. Instead we need to hire sociable technology auditors with a similar profile to financial auditors.
We hired Culture Index and created an assessment that now is extremely accurate in predicting the success of a System Analyst and have virtually eliminated turnover.
The additional benefit showed up a year or two later when our technology disruptions were cut in half again! In hindsight we realized as the System Analysts were highly engaged in their role, the results became exceptional.
Luckily, we kept the historical records and now can show proof of our results and the impact of the two insights:
Today, we utilize the ISO 9001 quality management system to further reduce technology disruptions and myITprocess to manage our technology audits. As our policies, procedures and processes have grown, we adopted a governance management system called SweetProcess to simplify the documentation of your environment and procedures.
The foundation of a safe technology environment is running a quality operation as described above. We got to it backwards.
We started with implementing an ISO 27001 information security policy and associated standard operating procedures. Once we did the gap analysis against our ISO 27001 information security policy, we realized we had to go back and implement the ISO 9001 quality management system.
Our next step in our evolution has been to prioritize addressing from highest to lowest risk. We use the CIS Controls roadmap provided by the Center for Internet Security:
The System Analysts along with Central Services maintain controls 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 16, 17. Additional controls require implementation by the Project Department as decided with your Technology Officer.
Our System Analysts have a significant amount of documentation to acquire and procedures, like New User Setup, to jointly create with you. System Analysts are accountable to reduce the amount of time spent by the Service Desk per request which reduces the amount of time you wait to get your request resolved:
Prior to our monthly review of your environment, your System Analyst will send you a Check In form, followed with sending a completed version of it after the visit. This allows you and your Technology Officer to have clarity of what transpired and what needs attention:
Included in the Check In form is the reference to the myITProcess review, our system that manages our alignment audits. This was previously the 19 item checklist audit. Now there are hundreds of controls we check. The alignment audit reports are utilized by your Technology Officer to together with you plan technology changes:
We realize we are not perfect, but we strive for it constantly!