A  client recently called Info-Tech’s Advisory Service to discuss their needs for maintaining information regarding the relationship between hardware, software and various business facing IT services.  The client request signaled a need for a configuration management database (CMBD) but the maturity of their existing change management process is not quite ready for the disciplined approach required to succeed.  Info-Tech pointed out that based on the customer’s size (200 users and 20+ IT staff) there is a middle ground approach using Visio or other visualization tools to map out the relationships between systems providing a given service.

Visio offers a decent integration with Microsoft’s tools, as well as Assetgen.  By documenting their system configurations and relationships they’ll be that much more prepared do go ahead with a CMDB.

There are a number of solutions that bolt onto Visio, or vice versa, Info-Tech suggested holding off on the automation for now until they master configuration decomposition. By using a business service view to break down the configurations you seek to document it will be much clearer what items relate to each other.

Move from a diagram like this;

(Source: Info-Tech Research Group)

By breaking the service down;

(Source: Info-Tech Research Group)

To a diagram like this;

(Source: Info-Tech Research Group)

See also:

How Value Propositions Improve Network Technology Decisions

How to Write an SOP  

Select a New Help Desk Software Solution

Help Desk Vendors: Service-now.com

Help Desk Vendors: Numara FootPrints

Help Desk Vendors: Avocent LANDesk Service Desk

Help Desk Vendors: AdventNet ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

 

 

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter

When an employee leaves a company, whether they leave voluntarily or are let go, steps should be taken to ensure that the professional relationship between your employee and the company is cleanly and effectively concluded.

It is the manager’s responsibility to ensure that:

  • The employee is being treated with fairness and respect.
  • The employee understands his or her responsibility to the company.
  • All company property (including equipment and documents) is accounted for.
  • The security of the network and physical building is maintained.

Any time you have to let an employee go is stressful for everyone involved. It’s easy to make mistakes that open up the enterprise to risk – don’t take any chances. Have a clear plan (such as a standardized employee departure checklist) in place that you can rely on to cover all the bases.

Conducting an Exit Interview

Handshake

Every employee that leaves does so for a reason, and sometimes that reason is the organization itself. Exit interviews provide a valuable opportunity for you to find out what your organization could be doing better from an employee’s perspective.

You can use the information you learn during the interview to:

  • Improve or modify operational and communication processes.
  • Create a better working experience for current and future employees.

While an exit interview is not always possible or appropriate, the majority of employees should be given the opportunity to express their views openly and confidentially. Using an exit interview template is a good place to start when documenting the employee’s thoughts.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter

Laying the foundationThe skills required to execute the construction of a data center facility are rarely found in-house.  A competent General Contractor with deep experience building similar facilities (of size and scope) is required. Selecting a contractor to build your data center who has the skills, approach, and right cost is tricky.

After receiving proposals and determining a shortlist, IT should interview each potential contractor to help with the final decision. The best way to make sure you cover all the bases during each interview is to use a scripted interview process that is tailored to your organization’s specific data center needs.
Some key questions to ask your candidates include:

  1. Is there a structural engineer experienced with floor loading related to data center design in-house?
  2. Does the contractor have an in-house mechanical engineer with previous experience designing, provisioning and testing cooling and air-handling solutions for the data center?
  3. Is there an electrical engineer on staff experienced with data center electrical distribution and standby power?
  4. Does the contractor have in-house capabilities for fire protection design and provisioning particularly with gaseous clean agent suppression systems, pre-action sprinkler systems, local fire codes, safety regulations and insurance carrier requirements?
  5. Are the skills necessary for the design, provisioning and installation of structured cabling (layout, terminations, cable management processes and solution) in-house or sub-contracted?
  6. Does the contractor have a defined dispute resolution process for sub-contractors? For customers?

Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list – a decent contractor interview when planning your data center construction can (and should!) run upwards of three hours, so having a standardized list of questions is imperative.  Using a scorecard template to track each prospective builder’s responses will help you in the evaluation and selection process.

While a contractor may be fully qualified in the commercial space, they may not have the experience and knowledge required to build a data center. Selecting the wrong contractor can lead to problems in final inspections, expensive change orders, and major issues long after the data center build is complete. You should start the project right by ensuring the data center construction goes to the right contractor and not just the lowest bidder.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter

Many of our clients wonder how their IT project management plans and PMO maturity compare to those at other organizations. This, as it turns out, is a hard thing to quantify – simply because we don’t have enough data from organizations with lots of PMO experience. We asked Lead Analyst Andy Woyzbun for some resources for the IT project management office, and here’s what he had to say:

“We don’t see all that many mature PMO examples. Most are early stage efforts. There are no consistent performance measures that we can provide from our own data. Here are some links to external resources:

The highest value of a PMO relates to their effective management of the overall service portfolio, as opposed to managing a set of independent projects. Therefore, I expect that while senior management is able to assess their own company’s progress, cross organizational comparisons will be difficult.”

Do you need a project management office? Not every organization is large or complex enough to require a full-scale PMO. Here’s a project management office readiness assessment tool that can help you decide if a PMO is right for you.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter

You already have email acceptable use policies. Do you know how robust they are? Email (and instant messaging) plays such a huge role in every organization’s communications, both internal and external, that it’s worth re-visiting corporate email policy to see if there is room for improvement.

Business email policies evolve by necessity as technology use changes. You can use these sample email use policy templates to define IM/email acceptable use, plus develop an email archiving and retention policy.

And speaking of email storage and archiving…
While you’re thinking about it, perhaps it’s time to customize your email archiving strategy. This report will help you determine an appropriate e-mail archiving maturity level to mitigate risks and create process and technology efficiencies.

What are the most common driving factors at organizations implementing email archiving?

Top 6 Email Archiving Factors

The decision to implement email archiving hinges on an organization’s attitude toward email. If email is considered transitory, and users are required to remove critical messages from email, implementing email archiving doesn’t make sense. For enterprises that consider email a repository, and then must manage this storehouse of data, archiving is a logical choice. This is doubly so if email server performance deteriorates, your organization faces email retention rules, or you need to streamline e-discovery.

What are your primary reasons for establishing and maintaining an email archiving system and what benefits are you seeing?

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter