Cisco IT is transforming itself to deliver IT As A Service (ITAAS), and this is changing the way we deliver all IT services internally, including our unified communications (UC) and video services. For the business, we offer transparent IT cost information and (over time) cost reduction, as well as the ability to re-use service components for faster delivery of new services. For our employees, we are making the processes for ordering and provisioning IT services fast, automated, simple, and consistent. This goal is particularly important for our UC and video services, which provide essential voice and video communications tools for our employees.
To enable this more accountable, efficient, and customer-focused service delivery we have been creating and maturing our IT service management framework (see diagram).
This service management framework addresses the major process and functional components to deliver and support our internal unified communications and video services. This framework is organized around three major areas of service management activity: strategy and planning, introduction, and assurance.
Service Strategy and Planning. Every quarter, we develop and maintain the service roadmaps through a formal planning process. Executive-level representatives from IT, our user base, and Cisco product business units serve on a steering committee to prioritize a list of business requirements and from that build a high-level service capabilities roadmap. We use that list to create roadmaps for specific Cisco IT service programs covering the coming year and the 3-5 years that follow. These roadmaps define the service capabilities and the programs and projects that are required to deliver them. Service roadmaps take into consideration budget and resource needs, as well as architecture plans for Cisco’s IT infrastructure.
Service introduction. Our IT service and project management offices work in close partnership to design the service, engineer the technical solution, and manage the production release of new or changed services. Changes to services already in the IT service catalog may encompass new or modified capabilities or service levels. Within the service management office, the service introduction team is accountable for all changes that impact services offered to our users. This team has a strong quality focus and uses service acceptance checklists to ensure appropriate diligence is applied to projects at each significant lifecycle point.
Service Assurance. Our service assurance function verifies that incident and problem management processes are being operated efficiently across the IT functional teams. We measure the service support activities according to our internal SLAs and look for opportunities to improve the quality and efficiency of our support processes.
As part of our support strategy, we aim to address most user issues by providing intuitive, self-help resources. We refer to this as Level 0 support. Our internal service help desk handles Level 1 & 2 user problems for UC services. We also use the Cisco Remote Management Services (RMS) team to provide a Level 1 & 2 service desk for video, especially because of the urgency of solving any problems that come up in Cisco TelePresence meetings.
Level 3 support is provided by the IT Operations team, which is staffed by engineers who handle the most complex problems that extend across all IT platforms and domains. The real-time response to high-level and critical incidents across all IT services is coordinated by our Operations Command Center.
Our support effort doesn’t always end when the immediate issue is fixed. For all high-priority incidents, we transfer the report from an incident ticket to a problem ticket, where the focus becomes making sure it doesn’t happen again. At this stage, we often involve engineers from the Cisco TAC, who bring their expert knowledge and analysis skills to help us identify the root causes, whether in technologies, implementations and configurations, or processes. Our problem management team also looks for ways to stop the reoccurrence of common, but medium-priority incidents.
Cisco customers benefit from this problem management approach because any needed bug fixes found by IT in a Cisco product are sent to the business unit for resolution in future product updates.
Continuous Improvement through Service Management
For our users and Cisco as a company, the Cisco IT service management framework means IT services that meet user needs, are easy to provision and support, and gain ongoing improvements in reliability and performance.
Learn more: See how Cisco IT specifically manages video services in this post: The 7 Habits for Successful Video Management. And for more detail on IT as a Service roles within Cisco IT, see the best practice IT as a Services Organization.