One of the biggest challenges for an organization is producing IT response models that accurately reflect real-world scenarios. It’s pretty straightforward to establish protocols for predictable situations. We call these “standard” scenarios.
It gets harder when you have to tackle the unknown.
“Case management,” as it’s called, involves establishing strategies and methods to approach unpredictable situations. In my recent whitepaper, titled, “How IT Response Models Drive Modern Operations,” I explain the benefits of combining these two approaches to have a complete model for all forms of responses that arise.
Standard response models establish and standardize processes for certain situations. Companies that I have worked with use standardization to increase performance and improve outcomes through to faster response times, more efficient resource usage and proven methodologies. Agile methods have accelerated the pace of change; to keep up, your organization should pinpoint opportunities for automation and enhanced collaboration. Many companies are using DevOps to do so, boosting workflows by integrating new communication and collaboration tools.
It’s all great until a situation arises that has no response template to follow. Then organizations fill the gap with case management. Unfortunately, most IT organizations are not even aware that case management discipline exists. Sometimes their business has case managers, but it does not occur to apply the same methods to IT. These organizations perform ad hoc case management without any formal guidance, rules, resources or methods. As a result, they often perpetuate unnecessary inefficiencies and fail to address business-critical problems.
By applying a level of formality to case management, organizations can confront the unfamiliar head on and maximize their chances of handling incidents successfully. By acquiring and analyzing useful data, and devising ways to improve mechanisms over time, they eventually can create new standard models.
Embracing the flexibility and agility afforded by DevOps is key to a solid case management strategy. Case workers can choose procedures from any number of sources to assemble a case management process. They can create toolchains to connect the procedures, making team hand-offs and collaboration more efficient and effective. This allows organizations to structure and control the response process as much as possible, even in unpredictable situations. If you have the right tools to help your teams work together, you can better adapt and respond to new information, external events and actions taken. And, as I explain in my white paper, the benefits of case management can extend beyond expectations and lead to greater flexibility in responding to user needs as well as higher customer and user satisfaction.
Standardization is the goal: Although we can never completely standardize the world, you should do your best to transform the uncharted into the defined. Having a robust case management process allows you to identify new unfamiliar scenarios and ultimately develop mechanisms for standard models of response. By treating cases with the same level of rigor as standardized procedure, your IT department can truly maximize the benefits of DevOps.
The standard+case approach introduces case management to our thinking for the same reason that we introduced DevOps: to bring in defined practices, mature management, relevant reporting and structured improvement so we can be more effective and efficient at responding to the situations the world presents to us.
Check out my white paper for more on info on how to implement standard+case.
About the Author/Rob England
Rob England B.Sc., MIITP, CITP is an independent IT management consultant, trainer and commentator based in Wellington, New Zealand. Rob is an internationally recognized thought leader in IT Service Management (ITSM) and a published author of seven books and many articles, best known for his controversial blog and alter-ego, the IT Skeptic. He speaks regularly at international conferences. In 2005 Rob founded his company, Two Hills, with the motto “Sensible Business Practices.”