This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Simplicity is the Key / Trends: Performance Management / Department in the Spotlight: Development / Automatically up-to-date
Want to comment? Go to www.topdeskmagazine.com
After a busy end-of-year period, during which reports flew out of the printer at a rate of knots, and companies and departments were faced with mapping performances, a new year has begun. Managers are currently formulating guidelines and fine-tuning processes in a bid to improve on last year’s performance. Reports feature throughout this first edition of the TOPdesk Magazine for 2010. Read on to find out all about what you should pay attention to when creating reports, how to ensure that you obtain reliable results and how you can use the report wizard to your advantage. We also report on the latest developments in the area of performance management. All this emphasis on reports and initiatives for improvement might mean that you overlook mentioning the things that have gone well during the past year. It seems that rewards are becoming increasingly difficult to come by nowadays and a pat on the back every now and then would do wonders. Enjoy reading!
The TOPdesk Magazine covers subjects that are topical in the world of professional service desks in IT, facilities and other service providing organizations. The TOPdesk Magazine is intended for managers, service desk employees, facilities organizations and electronic city councils anyone who is involved with supporting clients on a daily basis. This concerns both the processes and the technology behind these services.
TOPdesk Magazine is a TOPdesk publication tel: +31 15 270 09 00 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Chief Editor Niek Steenhuis Editors Clare Donald, Claudia Funk, Henrieke Korten, Joop Bindels, Nicola van de Velde & Nienke Deuss Contributors Jeroen Silvius, Jolanda Simonis, Kirsten Crown, Patrick Mackaaij, Robert van der Gulik & Roelof Davids Lay-out Dutch Designers Collective, Cathy van den Berg & Louise van der Laak Photography Ted Erkkila, NKI-AVL, ROC Zadkine & Priva BV. Website David Blom, Erik Pols &Ted Erkkila
Content January ’10
4 News 6 11 12 18 22 25 28 The Art of Reporting Reliable Reports using Quick Incidents Client in Focus: ROC Zadkine Department in the Spotlight: Development Automatically up-to-date Feature: Reporting with TOPdesk Tips + Tricks 10 Column: Simplicity is the Key
14 Trends: Performance Management
TOPdesk making the rounds in Germany
Representatives of TOPdesk Germany recently attended two important shows on the service management calendar. Not to be missed was the Discuss & Discover event from 20 to 22 October in Munich. It covered all the latest trends and developments in the IT sector. The annual IT & Business show, which took place from 26 to 28 October in Stuttgart, offered many opportunities for experts in the industry to discuss software, infrastructure and IT services. The TOPdesk stand welcomed many IT managers and directors from SME companies from the Baden-Württemberg area. Given the many visitors who showed great interest in the range of TOPdesk products and services, we can declare the shows a great success!
Follow @TOPdesk_UK on Twitter
As of December 2009, TOPdesk UK’s Twitter account will be up and running and TOPdesk employees, clients and potential clients alike will be able to tweet to their heart’s content. TOPdesk Netherlands has had a Twitter account for some time now (@TOPdesk), and with nearly 100 followers, it has become an important means of publication. With the launch of Twitter @TOPdesk_UK, we hope to extend our follower base to reach TOPdesk’s international community. The idea behind Twitter @TOPdesk_UK is to reach as many people as we can. We will aim to keep potential clients, existing clients and employees of TOPdesk up to date on the latest news, shows and developments such as the release of new versions. Twitter will also give users the opportunity to exchange comments and tips in the use of TOPdesk.
Already a follower? Do you already Tweet? Follow us at http://twitter.com/ TOPdesk_UK/. No doubt you will encounter other followers of Twitter at TOPdesk.
TOPdesk at the Bett Show
From 13-16 January 2010, TOPdesk will once again be exhibiting at the Bett Show at Olympia, London. At BETT, the world’s largest educational technology event, you will discover the latest ways to use technology for teaching and learning, and much more. Why not drop by the TOPdesk stand SW16? For more information on the show, please visit www.bettshow.com.
Exhibitions & Shows
13 - 15 Vakbeurs Facilitair Brabanthallen, Den Bosch, the Netherlands 13 - 16 Bett Show IT in Education Olympia, London
TOPdesk to attend Facilities Show
On 13, 14 and 15 January 2010, TOPdesk will be attending the 12th edition of the Vakbeurs Facilitair – the annual Facilities show held in the Brabanthallen in Den Bosch, the Netherlands. A large variety of products and services will be presented in the area of facilities management and TOPdesk will be giving a presentation on each day of the show. What is more, the show is free-of-charge. Come and visit TOPdesk at stand 1087.
30 March - 1 April Zorg & ICT Jaarbeurs, Utrecht, the Netherlands
27 - 28 Service Desk & IT Support Show Earls Court, London
The Art of Reporting
The end of the year is approaching, which, for many organizations, means that it is time to balance the books. At this time of year, managers find themselves contemplating how their organization has performed. Have the desired targets been reached? To what extent do the procedures for next year need to be fine-tuned? One way to find answers to these questions is to run reports. TOPdesk Consultant, Jolanda Simonis, discusses several things you should keep in mind when creating reports.
TEXT: JOLANDA SIMONIS
Reporting - about what?
Reports come in all shapes and sizes. For IT or Facilities support departments, a report might comprise a list of unresolved incidents to be discussed during a progress meeting, an overview of computers that have been written off for the configuration management database or a report that provides insight into the workload of the service desk. There are more than enough possibilities, and a decent tool makes running reports a very straightforward process. It is making specific reports that many companies find
difficult and, for many, reports often end up disappearing into a random folder soon after they have been generated. Generating reports and then not taking the time to do anything with them is simply a waste of time. Reporting does not have to be an objective in itself; in fact, reports are intended to support the objectives. It is thus vital to determine first what you wish to achieve with the report, and on which data you want to report. Once you have determined the aim – assigning incidents
more effectively or reducing the workload, for example – you can check whether you are on the right track by examining the outcomes. When determining the aim, you need to pay attention to a number of different aspects. The term SMART is often used for this. An aim should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound. By considering these aspects, you will avoid aspiring towards a vague or unachievable target. Endeavouring to reduce the number of incidents that are logged over the telephone is, for
instance, still rather abstract. You could make this more tangible by aiming to reduce the number of incidents that arrive by telephone by ten percent simply through promotion of the Self Service Desk.
REPORTS COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES
Tactical versus operational reports
Reports can be useful for organizations on both a tactical and an operational level. On a tactical level, reports support the management’s responsibilities. Clients often approach me wanting to find out whether they can formulate a report that provides insight into the workload of the operators. The management can then use the results of this report to make decisions and direct the department where necessary. Operational reports, on the other hand, concern those reports that have more day-to-day applications, such as incident reports on which the division of tasks is based. This might also include status reports to investigate how many incidents have the status ‘waiting for caller’ or ‘client contact required’. The operator can then contact these clients using this information. It is important to bear in mind that the intention of reporting is not to monitor the operators’ activities and tasks; on the contrary, reports are used to support these. The decisions that ensue from this are made to improve the way the department functions. A report on the department’s workload, for instance, might lead to the management’s decision to employ new staff.
The challenge of reporting
Once you have defined a clear objective for the report, you will need to examine which information you require. You will also need to check whether this information is already registered or whether the procedures for the operators need to be adjusted. To help you envisage the things you need to consider when formulating a report, I will give you an example. In theory, creating a report on the workload of the operators appears relatively straightforward. Logic tells you that you would need to look at the number of incidents
that have been closed. However, when I examine a report like this in more detail with the client, we always encounter a number of problems. The service desk processes the straightforward incidents, while the back office deals with the more complex ones. Incidents of a more complex nature take more time to resolve; thus, the back office ends up completing fewer incidents than the service desk. But does this also mean that the service desk has a heavier workload? You could then choose to include not only the number of closed incidents in the report, but also the duration of incidents. However, this is not ideal, because although the duration indicates how long the incident has been open for, it does not show how long an operator has actually been working on it. To resolve this problem, you could choose to register the time taken. You can then see how long the
Get more out of your reports with a course in reporting. You will learn how to work with report wizards, selection systems and the numerous other options that TOPdesk offers in the area of reporting. Consequently, you will be in a better position to interpret information, steer your processes and plan for the future. You will also learn to make trend analyses and generate cost overviews. For more information on courses in reporting, email email@example.com or call +44 (0) 207 8034210.
operator has spent working on each call and then combine this information with the number of closed incidents, giving you a more accurate picture of the workload. However, you also need to take a critical approach when examingin this information, because each operator enters the time he or she has spent working on an incident differently. Some are very meticulous when entering the time they have taken to work on an incident, while others round it up or down. Inevitably, this affects the accuracy of the report, which is important to keep in the back of your mind when making conclusions about the results.
THE INTENTION OF REPORTING IS NOT TO MONITOR THE OPERATORS’ ACTIVITIES AND TASKS
report. With the objective of the report in mind, you can examine the results. You could use a report of open incidents (an operational level report) to divide incidents among employees; however, interpreting reports on a tactical level is often a little more complex. If fewer incidents were closed this month than in the previous one, for example, does this mean that employees have not been working as hard? Perhaps fewer operators were working at the service desk during this time or they have spent more time on each individual incident. Perhaps fewer incidents altogether were logged this month.
Gathering and interpreting information
Once you have an idea of the data that you want to see in your report, it is time to generate it. To ensure that this information is as clear as possible, you are advised not to include too many fields at the same time. The more data a report contains, the more difficult it is to compare with other reports. You can find out more about building reports in TOPdesk in the article ‘The Magic of Reporting with TOPdesk’. Once you have generated your report, you still need to take one important step – interpreting the
not rigid enough, for example, then you will need to fine-tune them. Perhaps you will need to adjust the process itself. If, for example, you conclude that not enough people use the Self Service Desk, then you could consider additional ways or campaigns to attain this goal. You might also decide that you need to register more or different types of data in the future in order to run the desired reports; but do ensure that this does not lead to an increase in the workload. Registering more data, more often can be beneficial; however, when doing so, you should have a clear aim in mind, such as being prepared to divide the workload. The end does not always justify the means and one of the biggest traps you can fall into is to report about reporting. Once you have interpreted the report and taken the necessary steps based on the outcomes, run a second one at a later stage to check whether the decisions you made have had the desired effects. The entire process of reporting will then start anew. Finally, use reports to monitor and steer your processes on a regular basis – reporting should remain an ongoing process. Jolanda Simonis is a consultant at TOPdesk
The final step
You have interpreted your report – use this information to steer the company processes and procedures. If it emerges that the targets were
Simplicity is the Key
TEXT: WOLTER SMIT
The desire to generate useful reports is one of the most important reasons to purchase a facilities or IT service management solution. It is also a logical one. Good reports provide quantitative insight into what is going on, which is useful when declaring accountability to management at higher levels. Fortunately, TOPdesk shines with advanced reporting options, which provide numerous options. Firstly, reports are simple to create and save in TOPdesk and, secondly, you can easily make them available for managers or other concerned parties, if desired. The most important and unique advantage of reports in TOPdesk, however, is that you can jump directly from a quantitative report to the qualitative data. In other words, you can go straight from a summary of incident totals to the underlying incidents in order to analyze or process them further. In practice, we often see fervent reporting desires quickly fade away after an implementation – even though these desires had a big influence on the configuration of the application. For example, some organizations enter so many categorizations that their operators no longer know how best to classify incidents. This leads to reports that are lacking in clarity, which in turn, diminishes the desire to have good reports. It can complicate things a lot more than is necessary. Ideally, the implementation should be as straightforward and intuitive as possible, so that operators can begin handling incidents as soon as possible. From experience, we have seen that a simple configuration can indeed produce insightful reports. If, in time, it becomes apparent that certain perspectives are lacking, it is relatively easy to add them at a later stage. Luckily, TOPdesk is not so rigid that you cannot improve upon decisions made in the past. I wish you much reporting pleasure… Wolter Smit is one of two Managing Directors at TOPdesk
Reliable Reports using Quick Incidents
Quickly resetting passwords or answering user questions – it’s these kinds of simple tasks that take up much of a service desk employee’s time. And because it usually takes more time to log these incidents than it does to complete them, such tasks are often not even registered. As understandable as this may be, valuable information is often lost as a result.
TEXT: JEROEN SILVIUS
Gaining insight into the nature and recurrence of these types of short interruptions is valuable for creating reports. For example, you might want to see which employees need further training or perhaps you want to gain a clear picture of the service desk’s workload – an abundance of small incidents takes up more time than you think! That is why many service desk employees want to register incidents even faster. TOPdesk version 4.2 enables you to reduce your registration time by using the comprehensive possibilities of standard solutions. With this version you can now directly create an incident from a standard solution. This allows you to further specify the call – you can even create incidents that have already been closed, simply by entering the name of the caller.
> Click on ‘that…’ and select ‘Status’ under Planning > Select the status with which the calls are closed (‘Resolved’) > Click on ‘Apply’ and save the selection as ‘Quick incidents’. 3. Add the selection to the Navigator: Go to the TOPdesk Navigator, click on the ‘Set up TOPdesk navigator’ icon and add the selection to the navigator. When logging an incident: 1. Use the ‘Quick Incidents’ selection. 2. Open the relevant standard solution, ‘Resetting a password’, for example. 3. Create a new incident from the standard solution using the icon at the top of the card. 4. Fill in the caller’s name. 5. Save the incident.
How does it work?
A one-off preparation: 1. Create a new standard solution (for example: ‘Resetting a password’). Fill in all the desired fields; in the ‘Status’ field, select the value with which incidents can be closed (for example, ‘Registered’). 2. Create a new selection for standard solutions with the status, as above. Then: > Go to the ‘Selections’ block on the Incident Management process page, and click on ‘More…’ > Click on the ‘Standard solution’ icon on the right-hand side of the screen
Saving time with Standard Solutions
Client in Focus: ROC Zadkine
The Rotterdam-based learning institute, Zadkine, offers a range of vocational training, including IT courses to train students to become application developers, IT managers and online investigators. The institute offers these courses through the School of Excellence, which is intended for students who want to further their education or who choose for a career in the business world.
TEXT: JOOP BINDELS
Zadkine has been using TOPdesk for educational purposes for a number of years now. More recently, the organization has been using the application for external purposes in collaboration with HumanIC, a Rotterdam-based foundation, which devotes itself to supporting and training tenants’ leagues, residents’ associations and small and medium-sized companies in the area of IT. The aim of their collaboration is to use their knowledge and skills to encourage smaller organizations and companies in the less fortunate areas of Rotterdam to start using IT, as Chris van Rooij from HumanIC explains. “With HumanIC’s help, Zadkine intends to set up a shared service centre for companies and
organizations that cannot afford to finance their own IT support.” TOPdesk turned out to be the ideal means. “I kept coming across it at shows and it seems that even some of the interns were using TOPdesk to familiarize themselves with the service management sector. We didn’t choose TOPdesk for this reason alone, but also because it guarantees quality at a reasonable price – it’s exactly what we were looking for.”
TOPDESK HAS BEEN RENAMEND ‘QUICKDESK’ TO SUIT THE OCCASION
well as small and medium-sized companies. At a later stage, the IT students will also look after the support. Zadkine is already using the software to manage various classrooms and support the digital
The project is currently in the implementation phase. As part of their graduation project, several IT students have set up TOPdesk to support local organizations as
12 CLIENT IN FOCUS
learning environment, which has been renamed ‘Quickdesk’ to suit the occasion. In the meantime, Zadkine and HumanIC have been looking for clients that do not yet use IT facilities and that Quickdesk could help support in the future. A number of non-commercial organizations have already shown interest, including schools, residents’ associations, cultural organizations and senior citizens’ associations. From time to time, the students also drop by the various senior citizens centres, as part of the so-called ‘Gold for old’ project, to demonstrate the possibilities of IT and help them become ‘digitally wiser’ as Peter Criellaard, from Zadkine explains. “By offering
IT support to people in these neighbourhoods, we’re essentially helping them out of isolation; at the same time, we’re offering students an authentic environment in which to learn.” When we go live with Quickdesk, we expect to have around 20 premium clients. This will mark the completion of the implementation and the students themselves will begin offering support to the various organizations and companies. By doing this in the SaaS environment at Zadkine, they will not be dependent on one classroom in particular. Clients will also be able to use the Self Service Desk to log their problems and requests themselves.
Zadkine’s emphasis on the practical side of learning certainly hasn’t done any harm, as Peter explains. “Learning institutes need to stimulate personal development. Giving students the room to experiment will teach them the reality of the shop floor a lot better and the learning environment will become a lot richer as a result. We are also seeing that all of the students involved are becoming very enthusiastic, arousing the curiosity of their fellow students and other teachers.”
Students at ROC Zadkine learning to work with TOPdesk
Responding quickly crucial in the economic crisis
A global study has revealed that interest in systematic Performance Management for all company processes has recently undergone explosive growth. Still, the effect of this depends considerably on a shared vision for business and IT.
TEXT: CLAUDIA FUNK
Every company has noticed the effects of the recession – it’s inescapable. Nevertheless, gaining insight into internal and external developments and signs at an early stage can make all the difference during times like these. Organizations that continue to perform well are better prepared, and thus better able to adjust, than their competitors. Therefore, an important part of management is systematic Performance Management (PM); this is what often makes all the difference. An increasing number of organizations are discovering the benefits of PM. This process concerns the systematic measuring, operating and monitoring of various performance dimensions within an organization. The aim of PM is to acquire an accurate representation of current performances, based on detailed
information about internal company processes and external factors. Organizations can then use this knowledge to make better-informed decisions. But how can PM be applied in practice? And how exactly do companies use it? What kinds of challenges does it involve? And which benefits can be reaped? At the beginning of this year, researchers at the Business Application Research Center (BARC) in Germany posed exactly these questions to IT employees and managers across a range of sectors in 27 countries worldwide. Their research revealed that detailed information is in great demand. Managers are demanding more reports and indicators in order to reveal developments. Leo Kerklaan, Dutch management consultant and developer of the ‘Organization cockpit’ concept,
explains that it is crucial that companies are quick and flexible to adjust to developments in the market. “You used to develop a management plan that would last for three years; nowadays, you sometimes need to think up a new strategy every six months and implement it within a year.” When considering the PM concept, it is important to understand that not only financial criteria need to be taken into account, as Prof. Andrea Schenker-Wicki, Chair of Performance Management and Director of the Executive MBA Program at the Institute for Strategy and Business Economics in Zurich explains. “A holistic approach is needed. Financial indicators are simply not enough – we can’t measure everything in money. It is also important to consider data concerning clients, client satisfaction and information
WE CAN’T MEASURE EVERYTHING IN MONEY
Professor Andrea SchenkerWicki
about the markets and their development. In particular you need to consider the supplier data for import countries and information on their business processes. All kinds of things enter into this for a good strategic tool. Collecting all the necessary information can be both tricky and demanding at times. Ninety-three percent of respondents indicated that the complexity of the tasks they
perform has risen, while, in the past three years, the number of employees that are involved with PM in order to reduce the workload in any one company has increased by 30 percent. The researchers predict the even stronger growth of these processes and with it, the number of people involved. Leo affirms the results of the research, also in the Netherlands. “The results are certainly recognizable for the Dutch business world”.
On the same page
More and more companies are making the decision to introduce PM. Nonetheless, when making the switch it is vital to look out for a number of factors to ensure that the set-up is as efficient as possible. In the first place, the extent to which a systematic PM system is effective depends on how the management and the IT
department regard it. The research shows that the risk that these two parties fail to understand each other is great. Given that, nowadays, virtually all business processes in a well-functioning IT department are dependent on one another, as Leo explains. “IT within a company becomes a really large player. At a certain point in time, the IT department will make certain suggestions, in the same way a consultant would. Yet the question is then whether this is also good strategically. The management should still make this decision, even if IT is going to be playing a more active role in the business processes. Still, it remains indisputable: the cooperation between IT and Business is becoming more intensive and integrated”. The finer points of PM strategies and their implementation need
Main drivers of current challenges
Economic turmoil / the financial crisis Competition Globalization Access to financial resources (credit etc.) New compliance demands Other 4.6 % 13.2 % 11.6 % 11.1 % 242 % 35.4 %
Source: BARC: “Performance Management – Current Challenges and Future Directions.”
to be discussed in detail and carried out in accordance with everyone involved. “The technical questions on the use of the PM system are often what prove to be an obstacle”, comments Andrea. “The management doesn’t give all that much consideration to the technical aspects, so the IT department has the impression that they don’t actually know what they want. However, these things all need to be mapped out and decisions need to be made before action is taken; otherwise, you’ve implemented a costly system that doesn’t deliver the information that you consider important.” The size of an organization plays an important role in the systematic set-up of PM processes. “Small employers know their customers and therefore conduct PM intuitively. And that doesn’t have to be bad”, claims Andrea.
COOPERATION BETWEEN IT AND BUSINESS IS BECOMING MORE INTENSIVE
“However, if your company has reached a certain size, then it needs to become more systematic. The crisis has helped many managers to understand that – they don’t have much other choice. The use of PM is increasing dramatically, because every company wants to avoid bankruptcy”. Leo observes that it doesn’t only concern a technical aspect of these processes, it also involves an
important cultural aspect. “In a culture where everything revolves around performance, organizations create a shared vision through delegation and participation in order to reach the set target. This means that, in response to the results, you have to be able to motivate people in the organization to take action and to respond to new developments. This is more effective in some organizations than others, and the commitment of the people in the organization is extremely important for the whole performance”, explains Leo.
IT support of PM processes
It is not only important that the organization itself is dedicated, but a reliable PM system is also vital. An impressive 80 percent of respondents acknowledge that the processes surrounding PM need to be improved. The consequence of
Top 5 goals of improvement initiatives
Improve data quality Assist the CEO in implementing the corporate strategy Reduce the complexity of the process Standardize methodologies and/or processes 12.2 % Standardize tools or introduce new software 11.9 %
Source: BARC: “Performance Management – Current Challenges and Future Directions.”
18.5 % 15.3 % 13.3 %
the increasing complexity and the interest for PM is that standard table calculation programs, such as Excel, in many cases no longer satisfy the requirements of the information in demand. According to the research, specialized software will increasingly replace Excel. In many companies, a number of programs already exist to map the performance of various business processes. More than half the respondents claim to use one to three programs; however, nearly one third use up to six different applications. The responses reveal that the possibility of confusion grows dramatically as the number of tools used for PM increases.
20-100 tools 3% 10-15 tools 8% 7-9 tools 4% 0 tools 1%
4-6 tools 32%
1-3 tools 51%
How many different tools are used to handle performance management tasks?
Source: BARC: “Performance Management – Current Challenges and Future Directions.”
A RELIABLE PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IS VITAL
lot of work and money”, explains Leo. “But an increasing number of organizations are sacrificing that for ‘one version of the truth’”. Andrea argues in favour of restraint. “The more you know the better. However, you don’t always have to opt for an integrated solution, just so long as the programs you use are attuned to one another. The interface must be compatible; otherwise, it will go wrong. You really can’t invest enough time in looking for the right program and investigating whether it meets your requirements. If that is not entirely the case, then it’s better to stay away from it. If it simply doesn’t fit, then you’re better off with an Excel sheet.”
Whichever IT support system you end up deciding upon, you need to consider carefully how you set up the processes and what you do with the information. Nearly every department in large organizations works with PM, including HR, Marketing and Facilities. “PM is an interdisciplinary field that can be implemented anywhere. It’s important, however, to not only monitor quantitative but also qualitative aspects, because figures can’t say everything. But Performance Management will make its way in the long-run; I’m convinced of that” concludes Andrea.
One possible solution is integrated software for the entire company. The implementation then needs to be well prepared, because replacing all existing information systems within one organization is a drastic operation. “It costs a
Department in Focus: Development
Two million lines of code, eight teams working across three different countries, which, together, comprise one deparment. The development department is the beating heart of TOPdesk.
TEXT: CLAUDIA FUNK
“A lot has changed over the past 15 years”, claims Bart Buil, Head of TOPdesk’s Development department. “We used to be able to respond to certain client requests within a week. That was when the software was technically less complex and we had fewer customers to deal with. Due to this, the developers were more flexible in their responses and would even send clients an improved version of TOPdesk on a floppy disk if considered necessary.”
after these changes. It is our responsibility to ensure that a new functionality is indeed a valuable addition to the software. Creating a product that is easy to use has always been our mission. For this reason, we first develop functionalities which make TOPdesk more user-friendly and are useful from a technical point of view. Prioritizing is of key importance here, and we cannot decide immediately what to do with every idea. We live in a dynamic world in which the wishes and priorities of our clients and the market change rapidly. In order to respond to these ever-changing wishes and demands, our schedule is never set in stone, which is why we can’t always promise to include every requested functionality; but
we do spend a lot of time thinking it through.” The developers and the support department work closely together and consultants who visit clients every day know exactly which issues are pressing. The main ideas for the development of TOPdesk are discussed during change meetings, which not only developers and the general management attend, but also representatives from other departments. In a recent meeting, the decision was made to prioritize reviewing the Change Management module in version 4.3 of TOPdesk and to update the graphic display of Configuration Management.
Inspired by clients
Nowadays, the development team has a greater responsibilty and has to meet higher requirements. As it stands, the team collects and prioritizes input from colleagues and clients. Marianne van der Meulen, product manager at TOPdesk, describes her tasks as follows. “We receive approximately 2000 feature requests and ideas from clients annually. For every one of these requests, we examine the underlying problems that users want us to resolve with a new functionality. Accordingly, we need to know to what extent our clients expect TOPdesk to improve
Growth as a valuable challenge
As TOPdesk began gaining popularity among clients and grew as an organization, it soon became necessary to look for new developers. It turned out that finding suitable candidates in the Netherlands was more challenging than anticipated. According to Bart, “Most of the computer science students in the Netherlands seem to find
WE’RE ONE BIG TEAM, ONLY WE SIT AT DIFFERENT LOCATIONS
Sara Ponga, Development Team Leader, Kaiserslautern
18 DEPARTMENT IN FOCUS
L-R: Niels Kuiper, Arvind Ganga and Mark van Meurs from the Dutch Development team
jobs as consultancy or technical consultants, while in Germany they end up working as programmers – they’re more technical there”. Our TOPdesk branch in Kaiserslautern received many applications from IT specialists, which is why a new development team was set up there in 2007. “To ensure that we will be able to find suitable candidates for our development department in the future, we even added a development team in Budapest this year”, Bart explains.
discuss matters face to face, but our use of various communication devices has enabled our continuous communication.” Senior developer Roel Spilker adds, “International presentations are given on a regular basis. Using a conference call, we can all watch the same presentation at the same time from three different branches.” “Upholding good communication between the various teams is one of the key challenges,” says Benno Richters, who was one of the first TOPdesk developers in 1997. He joined forces to set up the development team for the German branch; he is now doing the same for Budapest. “We work intensively with one another, which means that the performance of one team directly influences that of the other. That is why it is crucial to formulate substantial plans and clear agreements. Besides TOPdesk, we also use a wiki, which is very
useful for documentation. And we are still looking for an online discussion tool that will make it easier to exchange ideas with one another. Furthermore, an exchange between developers from the different branches occurs on a regular basis. During their training period in Delft, new employees really get to know their colleagues and the company.”
Continuously reviewing the development process
With 74 employees, making it the second largest department at TOPdesk, the Development team has not only expanded geographically, but has also begun specializing internally. “We have appointed a specialist for each TOPdesk module. Each specialist is responsible for building up a lot of knowledge about the module and is the contact person for consultants and support
COLLABORATION WITH OTHER DEPARTMENTS IS VITAL FROM THE START
Marianne van der Meulen, Product manager
Sara Ponga, who has been heading the development team in Germany for the past 1.5 years, describes the collaboration with the main office in Delft as follows. “We work as one large team and do exactly the same job as they do in Delft – we just work from a different location. We even use the same schedule, because the product is still seen as a whole. Everyone is responsible for a specific part of TOPdesk and, in the case of larger projects, teams from all the branches can work together. Of course it’s more efficient to
L-R: Sara Ponga, Kalin Rashev and Jessica Pfeifer from the German Development team
20 DEPARTMENT IN FOCUS
employees”, explains Bart. “To ensure that every developer has the same vision of the product, collaboration with other departments is vital from the start.” Benno Richters describes how the different teams have recently started working with so-called tracer bullets. “It means that during our regular meetings, we set a certain short-term goal that must be reached within a couple of weeks. During the following meeting, we discuss the ‘homework’ with representatives of the consultancy and sales departments and we consider the next steps. The advantage of this is that you can steer the right course whilst in the middle of the development process. This saves time while still valuing personal initiative. “You can really express your opinion at TOPdesk about how things should work and be implemented”, explains Sara. “The development process upholds quite
a strict structure which goes for everyone, but you are still flexible to work within those boundaries.” “It is expected that every employee shows initiative, thinks critically and thus helps to create the best possible product”, adds Marianne van der Meulen. We don’t work with programmers, but with developers who work proactively.” Once every two months, a test version is released internally so they can check the stability of TOPdesk. “During the entire development process, the test team is crucial in maintaining the quality of the product,” says Bart. “This team tests the software with as many variables as possible to ensure a stable and problemfree new version.” Stabilizing the TOPdesk software is the next step after the functional deadline has passed. According to Bart, “We cannot predict every possible scenario internally at TOPdesk,
WE DON’T WORK WITH PROGRAMMERS, BUT WITH PROACTIVE DEVELOPERS
Bart Buil, Department Head
which is why it is important to us to test how the new version responds to various combinations of settings and databases.” In the future, all TOPdesk components will be transferred to the new style of software for which we use Mango as a framework. Mango is a technology which enables a clear structure of the software code and can thus be easily maintained. The introduction of this new technology also serves another purpose: to enhance the user-friendliness of TOPdesk even further. “The interface is becoming more advanced, the interaction between TOPdesk and the user is being improved and functions are being added,” explains Bart. Improving the usability of the software is an important factor. User-friendliness is not only of importance for the development department, but every department of the company takes it into account. These departments may work from different locations, but the product remains a whole.
L-R: Lóránt Pintér, Lajos Uti, Krisztian Horvath, András Gábor Serény and Benno Richters from the Hungarian Development team
DEPARTMENT IN FOCUS 21
Your organization is in a constant state of flux - PCs are replaced and software is installed on a daily basis. Keeping this information up-to-date in your CMDB can be a quite a daunting task. Representatives from two organizations that use TOPdesk explain how they use the System Management link to automate one part of this process.
TEXT: ROELOF DAVIDS
An up-to-date Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is a valuable asset; it can help you answer questions on the value of your server park or which hardware items cause the most errors. However, as Fenneke Gonggrijp discussed in the March edition of the TOPdesk magazine, maintaining the CMDB can be very timeconsuming. Although updating the CMDB will partially remain a manual task, there are ways to automate part of the process.
concerning objects. Furthermore, many packages can monitor the workload and the current memory or free disk space of the servers, and also create an incident in TOPdesk automatically when critical values are exceeded. Two TOPdesk clients share how they have put the System Management link into practice.
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital in Amsterdam. What convinced them to implement the link? “The help desk wanted an overview of which hardware was involved in which incidents; not only to resolve the incident, but also to set up an audit trail for malfunctions,” Richard explains. “Altiris had already made an inventory of our hardware, but there wasn’t a link with incidents in TOPdesk. Instead, we noted the object’s general details in the request field, and then checked the corresponding hardware into Altiris and updated this information in the incident. The link allows us to centralize everything in TOPdesk and we are able to keep track of the objects’ history, which wasn’t possible before.” “The link between TOPdesk and Altiris ensures that the hardware that we place in the network is automatically added to TOPdesk”, adds Evert-Jan. “This provides us with insight into details such as the serial number, brand, memory capacity, IP address and various
System Management link
Many TOPdesk clients use a System Management link, which is a connection between TOPdesk and a System Management system. This application displays current data about the network hardware (see the box on the following page). When creating a link between this application and Configuration Management in TOPdesk, you can import these current hardware data automatically into TOPdesk. This enables you to easily keep your CMDB up-to-date and create reliable reports on incidents
THE SYSTEM MANAGEMENT LINK ALLOWS US TO CENTRALIZE EVERYTHING IN TOPDESK
Evert-Jan de Kruif, Application Manager NKI-AVL
Link between hardware and incidents
Richard van Schie and Evert-Jan de Kruif are system and application managers, respectively, at the Netherlands Cancer Institute/
other network data. Modified objects are automatically kept up-to-date in TOPdesk, and if we discontinue the production of hardware, it is also removed from the network. TOPdesk archives any objects that haven’t been signalled by Altiris for over three months; these are then reactivated as soon as they are returned.” “When a person link is added to new hardware, the help desk is entered by default. Data which Altiris can’t read out, such as the purchase date and price, is filled in on the Object cards. When users log in to a new computer, Altiris keeps track of which user is most frequently logged into a certain system and adjusts the person link in TOPdesk accordingly. In this way, we are always aware of who to contact when a particular computer is broken.” “When we enter an object in an incident, the caller is entered directly, based on the object,” explains Richard. “We
can also navigate from the Incident card to the HP warranty page of the corresponding PC to check whether it still falls under warranty (see the box for more information). Furthermore, we are able to take over the computer with just one push of a button.
Common System Management tools: Altiris Empirum LANDesk Nagios ZENworks
Ready for the future
TOPdesk also visited Priva B.V, which is market leader in high-tech climate control for greenhouse farming and office buildings. We talked to IT Support Coordinator, Paul Ossewold and Infrastructure & Support Manager, Fred Boekestijn. “Up until two years ago, we only used a straightforward tool for Incident management,” Paul explains. “Once a year, we made an inventory of the hardware, for which we used an Excel sheet. However, our department was ready to take the next step as we realized that we should be handling Incident and Configuration
A link between a system management tool and the TOPdesk Configuration Management module is mainly realized by making the data from the system management tool available in a view. This is a table in (preferably) a third database, in which the system management tool copies the data desired in TOPdesk after which TOPdesk imports the data from the view. Many system management tools are capable of sending emails or HTTP requests when overwriting critical values. Both methods can be used to create incidents in TOPdesk.
Richard van Schie and Evert-Jan de Kruif
management more professionally. This was when we started looking for a way to tackle these processes and, simultaneously, search for a system management tool. One of our requirements was the possibility to link these packages.”
THE COMBINATION OF TOPDESK AND LANDESK MET OUR NEEDS
Paul Ossewold, IT Support Coordinator at Priva B.V.
adds Fred. “In the future, we want to expand and support multiple processes with one tool. The combination of TOPdesk and LANdesk also met our needs – both packages are modularly structured and have good linking options. Prior to purchasing the package, however, it was important that we knew who was responsible for the link between LANdesk and TOPdesk. So we made some clear agreements: TOPdesk creates the link and is our first line of contact concerning the link between the packages.” “LANdesk provides us with realtime data about our network hardware,” explains Paul. “These data are imported into TOPdesk on a daily basis, which enables us to register calls about equipment. Working this way also allows us to
create reports and selections of our hardware. For example, we save the first date on which LANdesk detects a computer in TOPdesk, so we’re always up-to-date on when a machine is written-off and should be replaced. This date is also very useful for our financial department – both packages are thus not only important for the IT department, but for the entire company. We also keep track of changes in hardware and infrastructure in TOPdesk, which allows us to check in the incident whether a machine has recently been modified. Another great option is being able to take over a machine directly from an incident.” Roelof Davids is a consultant at TOPdesk
“We weren’t actually looking for a tool, but rather for a platform”,
Featuring Module Uitgelicht Reports
TOPdesk 4: Reporting with TOPdesk
You use TOPdesk to improve the service your organization provides. TOPdesk’s Report Wizard – a standard feature in every TOPdesk Enterprise – plays a vital part in this process. In this article, you will learn how you to create reports in a few simple steps as well as how to communicate this information effectively to the rest of your organization.
TEXT: ROBERT VAN DER GULIK
The Report Wizard is an excellent tool to help you create monthly reports in preparation for a team meeting, for instance. A discussion of current data might even motivate your employees to work towards improving their results prior to the following team meeting. Reports are also the ideal way to show other departments the type of work that has been done for them. These reports will give your colleagues more insight into your department’s activities, and thus develop more understanding for the duration of certain calls (incidents).
recommended to include the archive. Your report will then take into account all the data in the TOPdesk database. Once you have designed the report to your wishes, and you have mastered the way to acquire all the information you need, you can experiment further. At a later stage, you will be able to build more specific reports using the date filter and selections, if desired. In this first screen, select ‘All incidents’.
Case: Investigation into the duration of calls
Prior to making agreements about duration times with an internal or external client, it is vital that you are also aware of how the service organization is actually performing. By examining the duration of calls, you will find out how much time your colleagues spend dealing with the bulk of calls. You can then use these data to draw up agreements on realistic duration times. Using the Report Wizard for Incidents in TOPdesk, you can build reports like these in four easy steps: Step 1: If you are building this report for the first time, you are advised not to use the date filter, but you are
Step 1 of 4 of the Report Wizard
Including the archive in step 1 of the Report Wizard
FEATURING REPORTS 25
Step 2: Under the heading ‘Duration’, you will find the various fields that you can include in the investigation. For this first report on durations, it is advisable to select only the ‘Total’ for the field ‘Maximum actual duration’. Choosing the total maximum realized duration, instead of distinguishing between first and second line calls, will give you the best insight into durations. After all, the aim of this report is find out the maximum amount of time required to resolve the majority of all your calls.
Step 3 of 4 of the Report Wizard
Step 4: You can choose from a number of options in which to export your report. We recommend choosing a line graph (the bottommost option) because line graphs present the information very clearly, making the report easy to interpret.
Step 2 of 4 of the Report Wizard
Step 3: In this step, you indicate how you would like to group the report. When conducting an investigation into the duration of calls, it is best to group on percentile in order to make the result visible in percentages. You can then indicate that it concerns the field ‘Maximum actual duration’ and card type ‘Total’. Ensure that you keep to the default order when sorting.
Creating a graph using the Report Wizard TOPdesk 4.2
If everything has gone to plan, the report will show a figure similar to the one above. The line remains very close to the X-axis and shows a very strong rise at a certain point (the transition point). In the graph above, this point is at around 85 percent. When applied in
26 FEATURING REPORTS
practice, this means that 85 percent of incidents are resolved relatively quickly and that a considerably smaller share (15 percent) remains unresolved for a longer period. These calls often require thorough investigation or have little priority; hence, the strong rise in the graph. You can now use the information in the report to create agreements on durations. For example, the line graph above reveals that approximately 80 percent of calls are resolved within 40 hours. Therefore, based on an 8-hour working day, 80 percent of calls are resolved within 5 working days. Using these data, you can make agreements with your clients on the durations of incidents. If you wish to make agreements that are more specific, you will need to run various different reports.
The Report wizard offers a diverse range of options. You can use the results of the duration investigation, for instance, to make a range of agreements for each type of call (for example malfunctions, requests and queries), as well as for each priority or categorization. You can indicate this in step 3 by grouping on fields. You can also vary the way you present the information in the report. You could choose to present the values, for example, in a table or pie chart. If you would like to find out more about the possibilities that the Report wizard has to offer, you are more than welcome to contact TOPdesk’s Support department or schedule a day of consultancy with your TOPdesk consultant.
Want to encourage the use of your Self Service Desk?
Design team, DDC, specializes in design and communication. Whichever message you wish to convey, we will help you find the perfect solution. Schedule an appointment with one of our experts today. Call +31 (0) 15 270 0960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dutch Designers Collective
Part of the TOPdesk group of companies
FEATURING REPORTS 27
tips + tricks
Easily create recurring reports
When creating reports, you often need to access data from a certain period. You would usually use an absolute period to do this; for example, ‘All calls prior to December 2009’. If you wish to run this report each month instead, you would need to adjust the month each time. You can make this procedure a lot more straightforward, simply by using a ‘relative period’. If you wish to create a report at the beginning of January 2010 of the month prior to that (December 2009), you can do so in one go. In step one of the Report wizard (Reports > Report Wizard > …), under ‘Filters’, select a relative period – in this case enter ‘Month: 1 month ago’. Save and run this report and it will open the report of the past month. When you open this same report the following month, the data will refresh automatically and you will see the report of the past calendar month directly. Using selections, you can apply this same technique to an advanced search. Each time you use the selection, it will adjust to the current date automatically.
Open TOPdesk cards directly in FireFox
If you use FireFox’s web browser, then it is possible to open a TOPdesk Incident or Activity card, simply by entering the card number. You can use the same functionality as you would to make a bookmark of a keyword. For Incident cards in TOPdesk, you can use: http://<servernaam>/tas/secure/index.jsp?jspurl=/tas/ secure/incident&action=lookup&lookup=naam&lookup Value=09%20%s (If your incident number begins with a letter such as ‘I’, you can leave out the ‘09%20’). For Activity cards in TOPdesk you can use: http://<servernaam>/tas/secure/index.jsp?jspurl=/tas/ secure/project&action=lookup&lookup=nummer&looku pValue=A%20%s If you would like more information on ways to construct similar URLs, then please refer to TOPdesk’s URLs manual, which you will find on the TOPdesk Extranet.
TOPdesk UK limited t +44 (0)20 7803 4200 e email@example.com w www.topdesk.co.uk TOPdesk Netherlands t +31 (0)15 270 09 00 e firstname.lastname@example.org w www.topdesk.nl TOPdesk Germany GmbH t +49 (0)631 624 00 0 e email@example.com w www.topdesk.de
TOPdesk Belgium t +32 (0)3 292 32 90 e firstname.lastname@example.org w www.topdesk.be TOPdesk Canada Corporation t +1 416 800 2118 e email@example.com w www.topdesk.ca
TOPdesk France t +33 1 4222 2314 e info.topdesk.fr w www.topdesk.fr TOPdesk Hungary t +36 1 301 0190 e firstname.lastname@example.org w www.topdesk.hu
Copyright © 2009 TOPdesk UK Limited. Although this magazine has been produced with the utmost care and attention, the writers cannot be held responsible in any way for any damages that may occur due to errors and / or deficiencies in this publication.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.