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Using Six Sigma to Drive Service Desk Improvements
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Using Six Sigma to Drive Service Desk Improvements


In this talk, the speaker provides an overview of Lean Six Sigma and walks through a case study that used the techniques to improve an IT Service Desk.

In this talk, the speaker provides an overview of Lean Six Sigma and walks through a case study that used the techniques to improve an IT Service Desk.

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  • My name. Good afternoon. I trust everyone is having a good day and we thank you for joining us
  • Our objective is to keep it real and help you make things happen in your own organization. I am not a Six Sigma expert and do not have any color belt. I am a consultant and a general manager. My point is that you can make a significant impact if you make use of the framework with the help of your local friendly Six Sigma Black Belt. For this case study, I had the support of a black belt and a Master Black belt so our theory was well covered. Before we get started, let me gauge the audience with a poll question.First Question: What is your level of familiarity with ITIL and Six Sigma? Please use the tool to select the answer that best describes youSecond Question: What is your primary role in your organization?Comment on the questions
  • Examples of Reducing WasteTransportation, Inventory , Motion,Waiting,Overproduction, Overprocessing,Defects/ReworkAlso People (un-used or under-utilized talents)
  • So here is my real case that will remain unnamed for this presentation. It is a non-small operation serving an important mission supporting many users located elsewhere. Rising call volumeRising cost per callLow satisfaction= unhappy customers = reduced support for fundingSo, you can see the problem. ITIL gives some “good practices”. But what do you do about these trends? How do you dig to deeper levels?
  • We made some initial improvements using ITIL as well as some other frameworks. I am a big proponent of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and that also proved helpful. We also used benchmarks from industry and guides from the Help Desk Institute.
  • Even after making some improvements, I still saw what I call “Death by KPIs”. Story: I sporadically attended a daily stand-up meeting where these metrics are reviewed. The charts are flipped through, almost like looking at modern art. “Oh that’s nice”. “oh, that’s quite a big bump”Data is not Information. What does it mean? Are things really getting better or worse? PLEASE RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU CAN RELATE TO THIS SITUATION? DOES THIS HAPPEN WHERE YOU ARE?
  • The problem with Death by KPI can be that senior management becomes very reactionary. Big bumps happen and everyone runs out of the meeting with their hair on fire. POLL: How reactive is your environment? Please indicate based on the scale from 1 to 5Biggest problem seems to be escalations that never close. Especially in immature environments where OLAs and SLAs based on ITIL are not clear or optimal. What do you do? How do you use data to help fix this?
  • Extract from balanced scorecard
  • 89 percent of consumers would like to receive proactive communications87 percentof customers would have a more positive opinion if they were contacted57 percent have NOT received such a callSource: Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc., 2007POLL. How often do you measure customer satisfaction (as opposed to sending end-user follow-up surveys)?
  • Improvement in Mean TTR from 14.7 days to 5.6 daysDramatic reduction in variability (UCL reduction from 40.5 to 12.6 days)Fewer and less extreme instances outside the control range (red dots)


  • 1. Powerful and Practical Tools for Service Desk Quality Improvements and Cost SavingsKirk HolmesPresident, Holmes and Associates, Inc.kirk@holmesinc.nethttp://www.holmesinc.net
  • 2. About ITSM Academy  Accredited Education  Since 2003 - Tens of  Certified Process Design Engineer Thousands Trained and (CPDE) Certified  ITIL® Foundation  ITSM Professional Diplomas  ITIL Capability (OSA|PPO|RCV|SOA)  Change/Support/SLM  ITIL Lifecycle (SS|SD|ST|SO|CSI)  Public Classes throughout  ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle U.S. (MALC)  Corporate On-Site Classes  ISO/IEC 20000 Foundation & Bridge  Virtual Classes  MOF Foundation  Courseware Licensing  Practical, Value-Add Workshops  Corporate & Partner (GEM)  ITSM Leadership, Roles, Service Catalog  Alumni Program  ITIL, MOF, ISO 20K Overviews  PMI Global Education  Apollo 13, Visible Ops: The Class ProviderITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Cabinet Office.© ITSM Academy  And more! 2 Welcome!  Certified Woman-Owned
  • 3. Objectives and Agenda of this Presentation Objective: Keep it Real !! • Explain usage of tools like Lean Six Sigma • Provide tips, guidance simple, tangible take-away’s • Give glimpse of other useful tools and frameworks • Get you moving towards tangible improvement Agenda • LSS overview • Case Study background • Case study results© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 4. About Kirk Holmes• 30 year management, technology, & strategy consultant• Appointed as 2011 Examiner for Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award• First General Manager for Broadband Internet within Comcast• Founding Advisory Board member for Enterprise SPICE (part of ISO 15504)• Education: MIT B.S. Electrical Engineering; Stanford MBA • Member, itSMF USA Board of Directors Jan 2007 – Dec 2010 • Portfolios included Publications, Bus Dev, Treasurer, Knowledge Management (responsible for USA launch of ITIL® Version 3) National Capital • One of original 23 founding members in 2003 Area LIG • LIG President from 2006 – 2009 (grew to largest LIG in world)© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 5. About Holmes and Associates, Inc. • Executive advisory and operational consulting • IT Service Management Excellence • Operational performance improvement • Business Transformation (culture, Organizational Change Management, organizational design) • Service Solutions • Clients have included IRS, NIH, Army, Time Warner, Comcast, State of Montana© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 6. What is Lean Six Sigma? Lean Reduce Waste Reduce Cost And and Time Complexity Improve Six Sigma Quality Improve Mean and Count Reduce Meet Variation Customer Duration Needs© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 7. Some Popular Lean Six Sigma Tools Pareto Charts Value Stream Mapping Cause & Effect Diagrams Frequency Plots (Histograms) Scatter Plots Control Charts (SPC) Mistake Proofing Four Step Rapid Setup Reduction Process Flow Improvement© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 8. DMAIC Methodology Overview© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved 8
  • 9. CASE STUDY: Large Service Desk Facing Growth Pains • Rising demand (calls) Call Volume • Challenging abandonment • Big seasonality • Rising cost per call THE BIGGEST CUSTOMER CONCERN: Resolution of user issues sometimes takes as long as 180 days or more© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 10. Initial Improvement Through Assessments Helped EVALUATION TOPIC GAP COMMENTPre-Requisites1 1 Does a Service Desk exist which manages, co-ordinates N Baldrige National Quality Award HD only takes calls but does not manage, co-ordinate and resolve HD does not meet Service Desk criteria for being and resolves incidents reported by customers? (Organizational Maturity) and benefits not understood. Incidents. They may pass major incidents onto the COMC but the SPOC and management/coordination of all Help Desk does not co-ordinate or manage. incidents. Purpose • Leadership Not much proactive communication to users on IT Infrastructure Library ® • Customer Satisfaction level changes). behalf of AKO (e.g., planned changes, service1 3 Does the Service Desk provide information to customers regarding planned changes? N • People No information to callers about planned changesManagement Intent • Process1.5 4 Is the business need for a Service Desk clearly identified and understood? N • Information and Analysis The need for Help Desk is clearly identified, but some of management team but because of combined responsibilities • for serving Army AKO Customer, it is between Govt and ContractorPlanning not clear about combined commitment to ITIL Service Desk1.5 7 Has the purpose and benefits of the Service Desk been N Purpose and benefits of an ITIL-compliant Service Desk not clear. disseminated within the organization?1.5 8 Has an education and/or training program been conducted N While there is general understanding of Help Desk functions, more for customers and users in the use of the Service Desk and effort needed to educate and pre-empt calls, and to expand the its benefits benefitsProcess Capability2 11 Does the Service Desk provide the customer/user with N Does not follow-up on calls or relationship between calls. They Does not provide proactive updates on incidents information on service availability, an incident number or handle each contact on its own (mostly resolved on initial call, e.g., reference for use in follow-up communications, and progress password resets) updates on any request being managed by the service team?2 13 Does the Service Desk communicate planned and short- N Does not focus on communicating or even tracking planned Does not play a central role in Change Benchmarks • Lower Cost/call term changes of service levels to customers? changes. They do not always know right away, and they do not Management always get updates unless they call the COMC so they cant always communicate. No reference to a single Forward Schedule of Change • Lower Average Handle Time2 14 Does the Service Desk provide a status update to the N No follow up or ownership of Incidents or requests until close. customer on the closure of incidents? Each call-in is acted on independently2 15 Does the Service Desk provide management information N Does not analyze data to contribute to service improvement, but No central role in Service Improvement Help Desk Institute (HDI) and make recommendations for service improvement? only on ticket and contact data (volume received and handling2 16 Has a study of the workload mix been conducted to reference determine the required staff levels, skill type and the associated costs of the Service Desk? metrics). analyzed for staffing levels) • Improved Service Levels N Workload mix not analyzed for costs and efficiency (but now being Workload mix not analyzed for costs and efficiency. HD2 17 Are customer satisfaction surveys carried out by the Service Desk? web upgrade to enable sampling. …but still no prevention of N Satisfaction surveys have been discussed. Waiting for RightNow No satisfaction surveys sporadic high-MTTR tickets © Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 11. Death by KPIs: Not All Metrics are Actionable • Management monitoring of streams of data with no context • Data ≠ Information (even with ITIL® KPIs) DAILY INCOMING VOLUME All Customer Interactions AVERAGE HANDLE TIME (Incidents and Service Requests) HOURLY UTILIZATION HOURLY ABANDONMENT RATES© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 12. Lingering Dissatisfaction with Escalation Exceptions are easily overlooked by Service Desk until crises erupt because daily metrics look good© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 13. ITIL® Guidance?• Escalate from Tier 2 to Tier 3 when “the incident will need deeper technical knowledge or the second-level group has not been able to resolve the incident within agreed target times…”• “Hierarchic escalation is also used … so that senior managers are aware and can be prepared and take any necessary action”© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 14. Asking and Answering the Right Questions • If we are doing ITIL®, does that mean we are doing well? • When should OLAs and SLAs be revisited? • How does this performance really compare with the past? • When is executive intervention needed? • How can we get the tough Tier 3 escalations to be quickly resolved (competing priorities)?© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 15. TIP: Start with Tie-In to Balanced Scorecard (BSC) Financial Customer Business Workforce process Financial Metrics MEET FINANCIAL AND GROWTH TARGETS Current Financial YTD Measures Description How Measured Baseline Targets Nov Dec YTD Period Goals Analysis Analysis Increase Cost per Total monthly cost divided by <$3.50 Customer Cost Contact, Fees charged per contact $5.98 /contact $4.61 $4.90 $5.35 total number of contacts handled /contact Efficiencies normalized Increase Total monthly cost billed (total Cost per User, $0.40/user $0.30/user/mo Customer Cost Fees charged per user labor plus direct fees) divided $0.37 $0.36 $0.39 normalized /month nth Efficiencies by Average number of Users© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 16. CASE STUDY: Define Phase Problem/Goal Statement Business ImpactProblem: Customers are Statement experiencing delays in the resolution of their issues that can sometimes exceed 180 days from The project will improve the capability to date of receipt manage all tickets escalated from Tier IScope: This project will address tasks to Tier III and back to the user through within the Service Desk Ticket final resolution by reducing the ticket process processing times by 95% for allGoal: The goal of the project is to escalated tickets. achieve a 90% reduction in the number of improperly escalated It will also streamline the ticket Service Desk incidents. An escalation process by ensuring all additional goal is to ensure that affected parties can properly use the the users are kept informed of ticketing system in order to expedite their incident’s resolution progress incident review and resolution. at least every 7 days, and that escalated tickets are resolved within 30 days. © Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved 16
  • 17. LSS Rule: Listen to Stakeholders VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER VOICE OF THE BUSINESS KIRK’s RULE of THUMB: If you never or rarely have formally asked customers their satisfaction, you are doing poorly in the eyes of the customer© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 18. Case Study Process Workshop Process Step: (Tier 2) Check for existing • Map the Flow of Process Steps Unknown Errors and Problems • Map the Flow of Information Trigger: Assigned Ticket • Add Data Boxes and Starbursts Done: Record Saved • Identify Value Added (VA) vs. Non Value Added (NVA) steps TCT (Total Cycle Time): 5 Min People: 1 Changeover Time: N/A % First Time Yield: Top Issues Engage the Team 1. Insufficient incident data - Record not complete© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 19. Measure Phase – Measure the Right Thing Value Stream Map Baseline Data Collected Do it like a Ritz Carlton CEO© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved 19
  • 20. Analyze Phase – Using All the Big Brains CVA/NVA/NVA-R Analysis Critical X/Root Cause Analysis Critical X/Root Causes Analysis Prioritized Root Causes / Effects Pareto Chart© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved 20
  • 21. Improve Phase – Making it Happen Key Improvements “To-Be” Process Map • Accelerated Sr. Management review of potentially overdue tickets (Hierarchical) Reengineering after • Accelerated Tier 2 Review of unedited Tier 3 tickets (Functional) doing Deep Dive into • Modification of ticketing system Escalation steps and handoffs queues to prevent stagnation • Streamlined escalation and de- escalation (reduced waste of NVA hierarchical steps) • Dedicated Tier 2 ticket processing roles • Re-Training for Tier 1,2,3 personnel • Operational Level Agreements between Tiers • New reporting using Control Charts • Sampling of escalations used to track proper/improper handling % • New KPIs focusing on escalation© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved 21
  • 22. Control Phase – Consolidating the Victory • Transition to process owner • SOPs • Training • Replication Step Action/Task Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed 1 Nov 6 Full SOP update of new process flow Bob John Craig Alex New report format – weekly, Craig, 2 Nov 12 monthly Fred John Sandy Mike© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 23. TIP: Learn Control Charts Time to Resolve (TTR) for all escalated tickets (sorted by time-date stamp) • Mean value (shown as X) – drive down towards 0 • Upper Control Limit (UCL) – drive down towards goal of 7 days • Exceptional variations (the red dots that fall outside the control range) • General trends in the variation, e.g., if everything starts creeping up© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved 23
  • 24. Results: Control Charts PROVE Less Fire Fighting BEFORE AFTER Mean Time to Resolve Variability Extreme violations© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved 24
  • 25. Results: Proven Impacts on the Business 5 Year Monthly Measure BEFORE AFTER Projected Mean Time To 15.1 days 4.6 days Cost Resolution for Avoidance ̴ escalated tickets * $1 Million % escalated tickets 48% 72% closed in less than 7 days % of tickets properly 54% 75% escalated * Used 2-t Significance Test to prove statistical significance of case study improvements© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved 25
  • 26. Tip: Use Tool+Methodology A fool with a tool and a methodology is less likely still a fool I Chart of 2009-09-04 Weekly TTR _(Days) 50 1 40 1 1 1 1 Individual Value 30 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 20 11 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 UCL=12.03 10 _ X=5.31 0 LCL=-1.41 1 61 121 181 241 301 361 421 481 541 601 Observation© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 27. Key Concepts • ITIL® alone is not sufficient • Data vs. information • Voice of Customer & Voice of Business • Alignment and harmony To Do List:  Stop • Cross-functional teams are critical blaming • Tools can help if used correctly  Start • Remember Hawthorne analyzing • Methodology helps  Control the things within • Fact-Based decision-making (see Baldrige) your control • Feel the Data© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  • 28. Thank you Contact details: Kirk Holmes http://www.holmesinc.net kirk@holmesinc.net (301) 998-6108© Holmes and Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved