Tackling the Known and Unknown with Modern Response Models
July 07, 2016

Rob England
The IT Skeptic

One of the biggest challenges for an organization is to conceptualize IT response models that accurately reflect real-world scenarios. From an IT perspective, this means being able to handle situations that are predictable (we call these "Standard" scenarios) as well as ones that are unfamiliar (e.g., "Case" management). In my recent whitepaper titled How IT Response Models Drive Modern Operations, I explain the benefits of combining these two approaches. In order to minimize downtime and optimize resource utilization, users must account for both Standard and Case activities.

Why Do We Need Standard Models?

First, why do we need Standard models? Having established and standardized processes for certain situations can lead to increased performance and better outcomes, thanks to faster response times, more efficient resource usage and proven methodologies. Agile methods have accelerated the pace of change, and in order to keep up, organizations 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.

Of course, some situations have no response template to follow. When Standard models run out, Case management should step in. Most IT organizations perform ad-hoc Case management without any formal guidance, rules, resources or methods. Applying a level of formality to Case management enables organizations to confront unfamiliar problems head-on, and maximize their opportunities to handle them successfully. This includes not only acquiring and analyzing useful data, but devising ways to improve mechanisms over time to eventually create new Standard models.

How Do You Devise a Case Management Strategy?

How do you devise a Case Management strategy? Embrace the flexibility and agility afforded by DevOps. Case workers can choose procedures from any number of sources to assemble a Case Management process, and toolchains can support this process by making team handoffs 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.

Having a robust Case Management process allows you to identify new unfamiliar scenarios and ultimately develop mechanisms for Standard models of response. Standardization is the goal: although we can never completely standardize the world, organizations should do their best to transform the uncharted into the defined. By treating Cases with the same level of rigor as standardized procedure, IT departments 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 that we can be more effective and efficient at responding to the situations the world presents to us.

Rob England is an IT Management Consultant, Founder of Two Hills, and Author of "The IT Skeptic" Blog.

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