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The only predictable way to deliver an IT environment that is not causing productivity loss, is with a System Analyst that focuses exclusively on prevention through regular audits.
Let’s take a closer look at System Analysts. There are three main components:
A 2019 study by the Ponemon Institute found that 66% of SMBs worldwide were attacked by hackers in the year prior.And 69% of SMBs in the U.S. reported losing sensitive corporate or customer information. That's not a risk many businesses can afford to take.
Without accurate documentation, the Service Desk will struggle to support your staff, and your Technology Officer will find it difficult to steer technology. Proper documentation keeps everyone on the same page and clearly outlines important information, rationale, processes and other aspects necessary to solve business problems.
Since our founding in 2009, we intended to keep your staff productive by eliminating 10%-25% of productivity loss from technology disruptions. In fact, “Keeping You Productive” was our initial tagline!
We were one of the first firms to offer an exclusive, unlimited, 24/7/365, outsourced IT department. This means that anytime someone contacts our Service Desk, our margins, and yours, erode as we spend time and money to resolve a disruption that is impacting you. This pricing model allows us to align our interests in preventing disruptions.
Unfortunately, it took us three years to figure out how to effectively and predictably reduce disruptions for our clients.
We knew from the beginning that we had to be proactive. So we developed 19 technology items to check regularly for every client. We then asked our Service Desk, the firefighters, to make sure they went through the checklist monthly.
We waited, and noticed that the 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 first 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 four of the 19 checks were completed, and not too effectively, due to the split on focus.
This meant there were never fewer 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 founder’s 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.
We then divided up the work into that of our 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. The Eisenhower principle splits tasks up by their importance and urgency, or lack thereof. Looking back, there was never time for the Service Desk to leave the first quadrant of tasks that were both urgent and important.
We began hiring for our new System Analyst department but had two significant challenges. The first, which still exists today, is that 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 to reduce their technology risks and disruptions by 80%.
Within a year of solving this issue, technology disruptions were cut in half!
The next challenge presented itself about a year afterward when all of our System Analysts started quitting. Here is a snippet from one of the three exit interviews:
The second lightbulb went off. We were hiring the wrong people for the System Analyst department. We needed 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 that high engagement from our System Analysts created exceptional results.
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 there somewhat backwards, though.
We started with implementing an ISO 27001 information security policy and associated standard operating procedures. Once we did some assessments regarding our performance and our ISO 27001 information security policy, we realized we had to go back and implement the ISO 9001 quality management system.
The next step in our evolution was to address issues 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.
With these kinds of tools, we can effectively monitor your system and look for weak points that could open up the potential for security breaches. With the help of the XL.net team, we can address and fix issues as they appear.
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 for reducing the amount of time spent by the Service Desk per request. By doing this, we can reduce the amount of time you wait to get your request resolved:
Prior to our monthly review of your technology environment, your System Analyst will send you a check-in form, as well as 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, which helps outline 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:
To learn more about our IT services, reach out to an XLnetter today.
We realize we are not perfect, but we strive for it constantly!