Do not Forgo, Go for it

20 Nov

Last week, I got 7 calls in a span of 5 minutes asking me to call back immediately as there was a Severity 1 issue raised by one of our customer’s end customer. I was in a middle of another important meeting and couldn’t respond. After my meeting, I called up to inquire what the issue was and I was asked to consider it as the highest priority and help get it resolved. Since I was not able to access my emails, I called up one of my colleagues requesting her to look into the issue and resolve accordingly. The issue had been raised for about 3 hours and nobody had bothered to even read the end customer’s mail to check what the issue was. The favorite corporate attitude ‘pass the buck’ was very evident. Since we have partnered with our customer to serve some of their end customers, they thought it is easier to put it on us and let the end customer know that experts are working on it.

Our L2 colleague hardly took less than 15 mins to identify that it was not even an issue, let alone it was raised as Severity 1 issue! The end customer had seen a screen, assumed certain things and without even getting clarified, had raised a Severity 1 issue.

I’ve seen this growing trend amongst few to run away from the issues even before trying to understand them. Most of them seem to have a feeling that they would be considered below par if the issue does not get resolved by them. I think that since such people keep running away from every such situation, they do not learn and tend to remain below par. They find it more lucrative to identify someone who can take responsibility to resolve the issue. Guess what? That lot of ‘someone who takes the responsibility’ keeps learning and growing and the cycle continues. Here are few tips that I can share based on my experience –

  • Acknowledge that there has been an issue and that if someone has reached out to you, that means they have some hope and entrusted you to at least look into the issue.
  • Many times, the issue is usually blown up (like the above incident that I explained). Do not tend to take a stance or assume that you may not be able to resolve it even before looking into the issue.
  • Most of the times, the issue would’ve already been resolved by someone, somewhere in the world. You may have to find out those steps/solutions in case if your skills are limited.
  • There is usually a tendency to start getting into a blame game and assume that you’ve been framed, or the issue has been assigned to you intentionally. Such things seldom help to learn or resolve the issues. Get over such negative thoughts and focus on understanding the issue and identifying the solution/cause. Discuss it with your team members and I’ll not be surprised that you get the solution, almost every time.

I can summarize the above tips into one – Do not forgo, go for it.

Advertisements

All that glitters is gold :-)

4 Oct

In today’s world, it is not just about what glitters, it is rather what one can make truly glitter. Many of the startups seem to innovate and creativity seems to have flourished all over the world. Newbies seem to have charged up to do something different (definition of “different/disruptive” also seems to have changed though) while investors prefer to keep their bags ready to pour into such startups.

We have been, and continue to focus on ITSM and BSM consulting. While we align our activities as per the vision set, we also keep on looking out enriching our roadmap. While our consulting helps to reduce costs, enhance productivity, improve performance (lately, we have also developed mechanisms to measure NPV and ROI) in IT operations, it also comprises of significant development and integration activities. Besides, we also have been helping our customers in certain levels of automation – which led us to consider partner with someone who we can mutually benefit from. And that’s what we did last month, we partnered with Clarive. Their product offers Application Lifecycle Management, Release/ Deploy Automation and Change/Configuration Management features.

In past, we had to let go few opportunities on release/application lifecycle management requests from our customers. We then realized that it not only helps our customers, it also helps us in versioning management, maintaining code quality and phased deployments.

We will now start offering consulting in DevOps and providing services in that area while we continue our focused approach on ITSM and BSM. We certainly believe that this will help us complement our services and help us improve market reach. We believe that we will make this combined set of services glitter. Have you figured out what glitters for you/your business/your career yet?

Honey, I shrunk the costs !

31 Aug

Since ever we have started ITSM consulting, we must’ve shared umpteen times how important, useful and process oriented all its modules are; with our customers. Since we implement it day in and day out, we leverage the best practices and try to identify the customer trends on tool usage.

At a high level, an ITSM tool captures the issues within an organization in a more formal and methodical way, helps to track and implement change requests, consider RCA (Root Cause Analysis), provides a measurement of SLAs (Service Level Agreements), helps create and maintain knowledge base etc. The data generated using this tool can be used to understand the health of the organization in terms of productivity since one can know the issues resolved in time or if SLAs were violated. The breakup of such vital statistics can be made available department-wise, site-wise, priority-wise, status-wise etc. Our team has been helping our customers to get this value-added insight post implementations.

All these parameters, although provide good insights and statistics, they may not provide direct correlation with the cost, which usually is of utmost importance to the higher leadership. The upper management or board will be more interested in – measurement of topline/bottom-line, lead time reduction or productivity improvement parameters with the help of this tool.

We embarked on this journey few months ago; however, we were wondering on how do we do value addition to this aspect. As usual, hitting libraries has its other benefits apart from finding treasure of knowledge shared by best people in the world. Eliyahu Goldratt has come to rescue once again. We have been able to apply his principles to this tool to take it to the next level. The module that we have developed will provide help to save the cost that your organization pays while providing service/support. One of the ways to increase profits is to reduce the cost. I am sure, the upper management, by using this module, would proudly be able to announce to investors/stakeholders -“Honey, I shrunk the cost” 🙂

How have you defined your SYSTEM?

17 Jul

I believe that an organization is defined by characteristics that it has developed, or on which it is based on. Every good organization has its own set of characteristics in place.

I came across a nice article by Devdutt Pattanaik in ET that provided a good insight on detailing how ancient organizations had defined Mantra, Tantra and Yantra.

Mantra works on mana or mind.

Tantra works on tana on body.

Yantra is technology or instrument.

As always, I explored to relate to characteristics we have developed or are applicable to eStomi and have tried to elaborate it in this blog. I am glad that I can simply summarize these 3 essential characteristics as SYSTEM. Yes, Strong Yantra, Skilled Tantra, Effective Mantra.

Let me start with Mantra as making up your mind is the first step to set up a goal/objective. We have clearly defined the goal for eStomi and are absolutely focused on it. This helps us to 1. Ensure that we don’t get distracted and 2. Draw attention as a single point of focus for all our prospects/customers towards Service Management consulting. I am glad that all our team members are attuned to it and are indeed getting exceptional exposure towards trends of service management.

By working on body (in this case, our personalities), we have fine-tuned ourselves as Service Management consultants. The journey is towards becoming respected world class consultants (Tantra) by working efficiently on Mantra. We clearly identify ourselves as consultants, which means, we do not just focus on programming but pay attention towards all other aspects like domain, value addition, design/architecture and roadmap/long term needs of the customer. Every team member is a walking forum (thanks to Santosh, my colleague who suggested this phrase in one of our weekly meetings). We help our customers on implementing best practices and hand hold them to use the solutions more effectively, instead of simply walking out after deploying the tool.

Well, it is absolutely necessary that you keep sharpening your Mantra (mind/goals) and Tantra (skills) on Yantra (technology). We have expanded the horizon from 2 to 7 key ITSM tools. Few are in pipeline and indeed the learnings in this journey will be inputted to derive the world class solution. I will let the curtains rise when the time is appropriate 🙂

As you can see it, we have defined characteristics of our organization and we call it as SYSTEM. Have you defined SYSTEM for your team/organization? What do you call it?

Celebrating 5 years of Vitamin e(Stomi)

2 Jul

June 9 was the day when we decided to lead a healthier life, lead a focused organization catering to ITSM needs and contributing to the customers. That was the day when eStomi was officially incorporated. This was the day when we vowed to be the most trusted and reliable ITSM/BSM partner and we made that as our vision.

The ride so far has been great although we had bumpy moments at times. Yet, it has helped us learn lot of things, realize mistakes and take timely necessary actions.

It reminds me of golden words someone said on patience – “When I’m requested to speak to youngsters I like talking about this phase of my life and liken it to fascinating plant: The Chinese Bamboo. You can take a Chinese bamboo seed and plant it in the ground, water and nurture the seed for an entire year & not even see a single sprout. Infact, you’ll not see a sprout for 5 years. But suddenly, a tiny shoot will spring from the ground. And over the next 6 weeks, the plant can grow as tall as 90 feet. It can grow as fast as 39 inches every 24 hours. You can literally watch the plant grow.

What was the plant doing during these 5 years, seemingly dormant period, it was growing its roots. For 5 full years it was preparing itself for rapid, full growth. Without this root structure, the plant simply couldn’t support itself for its future growth. Some would say the plant grew 90 feet in 6 weeks, I would say it grew 90 feet in 5 years & 6 weeks.”

So keep watering and nurturing yourself. One day you will sprout and may be grow as fast as a Chinese Bamboo tree. No one gets mid night success, there are years of labor and pain behind that.

“God’s delays are not God’s denials.”

We have exercised healthier relationship within teams; there is hardly any time to waste on things that we don’t enjoy. We have developed healthier reservoirs to enhance our knowledge. We have effective discussions to sharpen our skills. We have a unique way of accepting complex challenges and to deliver them in a quick turnaround time while we enjoy the learning process. The attitude of our team members has been attuned to explore different and most optimal solutions to solve customer issues or complete end to end implementations.

Today, we are proud the way it has shaped and has remained a pure play ITSM consulting organization with every team member living, breathing, walking and talking Service Management language. Yes, we have a high reserves of vitamin “e(Stomi)” within us. That doesn’t mean we just work, we also have fun at work and know the limits. There is an eagerness, excitement and passion when we travel to work every day. There is a sense of belonging to the organization.

Indeed, the credit goes to people who are and were part of where eStomi is today.

All in all, I would like to take a moment to appreciate and thank all those who have contributed towards eStomi in one or the other way – right from Procurement team/SVP of our first customer to a few who helped us to get empaneled to new prospects/customers to the ones who partnered with us to deliver complex projects to the ones who allowed us to partner with them enabling us to do better to few tough customers who pushed us to improve our learning curve and serve better to the ones who trusted our capabilities and let us drive the projects successfully and finally to all our team members (past and current) who relentlessly contributed to the organization. I thank all the team members who were part of eStomi and who helped shape the organization. I, now, thank in advance to the existing and future team members of eStomi who will help and contribute to build the next level of world class organization :-). I totally believe in growing together, the existing team members who have relentlessly and passionately contributed without letting eStomi or me down, would indeed get rewarded at appropriate time. There is enough storage of vitamin “e”. We have come a long way and there is a long way to continue as well. A very Hearty Congratulations once again to eStomi team for being part of this journey. On this occasion, I welcome the other worthy ones to join us to lead a healthier and career fulfilling life experience !

Before wrapping up on this blog, I would like to share few lines (slightly amended though) about which has been making rounds in WhatsApp these days –

The …e… life !!!!!

In this world of e-mails, e-ticket, e-paper, e-recharge, e-transfer and the latest e-Governance…

  • “e” is the most eminent letter of the English alphabet.
  • Men or Women don’t exist without “e”.
  • House or Home can’t be made without “e”.
  • Bread or Butter can’t be found without “e”.
  • “e” is the beginning of “existence” and the end of “trouble”.
  • It’s not at all in ‘war’ but twice in ‘peace’.
  • It’s once in ‘hell’ but twice in ‘heaven’.
  • “e” is represented in ’emotions.
  • Hence,  all emotional relations like Father, Mother, Brother, Sister,wife & friends have ‘e’ in them.
  • “e” also represents ‘effort’ & ‘energy.
  • Hence to be ‘Better’ from good both “e”s are added.
  • Without “e”, we would have no love, life, wife, friends or hope
  • & ‘see’, ‘hear’, ‘smell’, or ‘taste’ as ‘eye’ ‘ear’, ‘nose’ & ‘tongue’ are incomplete without “e”.

and finally,

  • The team isn’t complete if it is not part of “e”Stomi 🙂

Thappad se dar lagta hai sahab!

12 Jun

Since past few months, we have been working with one of the top 5 organizations in the world to deliver couple of projects. It has been a different experience since we are heavily relying on their internal coordination which has been impacting delivery. Obviously, as is the usual thinking process that when you outsource the project, you expect the vendor to deliver it completely.

We have been in such scenarios earlier; however, the scope has had been defined towards consulting and implementation very clearly and our role started only post defining. In this case, our customer has had bagged larger orders from their end customers promising to deliver items without clearly defining the scope. Net result? We are ending up getting scope creeps whenever demos are being done!

We have been repeatedly requesting our customer to sync up with end customer to get the scope clarified so that the solution can be designed and the development can get started. Their end customer is also obviously expecting our customer to deliver it by taking ownership as the project has been outsourced. Since our customer has several teams to complete different activities, they end up wasting time in either follow-ups, pointing fingers to each other, taking own sweet time to complete activities and expect us to complete the job in less time.

We have figured out an approach to keep tracker and maintain effective communication to avoid delays, heartburns, ego issues etc. We have started to maintain a tracker of issues raised, resolved and closed apart from ensuring to accommodating changes and locking on the scope. However, this is clearly not a movie scene where the hero is trying to woo or impress his heroine and she can comment that she is not afraid to get slapped but of falling in love. This is a critical situation where, forget even about the idea of falling in love, we are hoping not to get slapped in the face due to issues created that are beyond our control! We have been able to win the confidence of end customer by demonstrating our capabilities. Since we have taken up this project, there is no going back. We need to certainly deliver it without compromising on quality and yet meeting customer expectations knowing that it is a difficult task to do.

We have certainly worked hard to safeguard our reputation of being the best. We would prefer to deliver the project and possibly exceeding the customer (and their end customer’s) expectations. Thappad se definitely dar lagta hai sahab 🙂

Outsourcing v/s Partnering

3 May

Until few months ago, I had not envisioned that we may outsource or partner with other organizations to deliver projects. Let me admit that my thought process or presumptions were not all right up until we got to experience it. I intend to share our experience in this blog.

We have been outright rejecting any projects that were not related with ITSM or BSM. However, we also realized that we were losing opportunities to tap ITSM/BSM potential because of it. The first time we had an opportunity to execute RIM (Remote Infrastructure Management) assignment, we wondered if we should take it up. We then decided to outsource it to the experts only because we had initiated ITSM discussion with the customer earlier and we didn’t want to lose that track. In this case, we interviewed several external organizations to ensure that quality would not be compromised as we front-ended the projects. We finalized with an organization and decided to have couple of our resources work on it to ensure that we lead the project.

We also managed to bag a different large project from another customer wherein we had to take a call either to outsource or manage it internally. We decided to outsource with similar organization to deliver the project as our other internal team members were already engaged with existing customers. This experience, though, was different one.

In both the above cases, the objective was the same – to deliver the project without compromising on quality. However, in first case, we got to outsource successfully while in the latter case, we had to partner and work hand in hand as we realized that we couldn’t rely comfortably for them to deliver it without our help.

I can jot a few tips based on our learnings –

  • Ensure that the organization to which you would be outsourcing takes complete responsibility of delivering the project.
  • Define penalty based on defects beyond certain numbers and if the duration gets extended beyond agreed timelines. Avoid outsourcing fixed time projects as much as possible.
  • The outsourced organization becomes your face to the customer; hence, it becomes very critical that they understand communication mechanism clearly.
  • At times, the outsourced organization tries to cut corners by reducing the resources or aligning junior resources to the project, especially, if it is being executed in Time and Material mode. Ensure that you have senior and experienced resources front-ending with customer.
  • Insist that the outsourced organization have one SPOC (single point of contact) to drive the project rather than you getting dragged for every meeting. We had to learn it hard way when we were dragged for several hours daily into meetings.

Am sure that all above pointers seem very straightforward; however, we tend to miss out such things, especially, when the customer expects a quick turnaround. Between, we have been outsourced many projects and we have ensured to represent our customers to their end customers and have taken complete responsibility in delivering quality projects. We expect the same from our partners. Do you?