Marketing teams have the 4 Ps (product, price, place, and promotion). Sales teams have ABC (Always Be Closing). As far as frameworks go, there are a lot of great examples out there for how we can effectively do our jobs, create processes, and make decisions.
But what about IT teams looking to optimize their services? Do any frameworks exist? One does, it’s called the triple-A framework—and it’s got nothing to do with batteries.
In a free one-hour webinar, Auvik’s Chief Product Officer Alex Hoff, Warranty Master’s CEO Dan Wensley, and Liongard’s CEO Joe Alapat explained how operationally mature IT teams use the three As—assess, adapt, and automate—to focus their efforts and deliver.
Here’s how you can follow in their footsteps.
1. Assess your current state and identify what needs to change
Before you begin trying to optimize your services, it’s important to assess the current state of your team or business and identify what exactly needs to change.
- Take quantitative and qualitative snapshots. This is all about metrics. Which metrics are you tracking? How are you tracking those metrics? What metrics do you want to work on? How do you interpret the data? How do you measure success? These questions will help you identify areas to improve and help you track improvements over time.
- Set an objective. Once you’ve selected a metric you’d like to improve, it’s time to set an objective on how you’d like to improve that metric. There’s no room for ambiguity in your objective, because it makes it difficult to measure and achieve success. A good framework to follow when creating an objective is the SMART method—make your objective specific, measurable, assignable, relevant or realistic, and time-based. Instead of “I want to improve technician efficiency,” a SMART objective would be “I want to cut ticket resolution times in half by the end of the quarter.”
- Review all angles. A SWOT analysis helps you assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—all of which can help or hinder your ability to achieve your objective. Using our service desk example, a strength is having competent and capable technicians, a weakness might be your existing ticket to staff ratio, an opportunity is to integrate your network management software with your ticketing system, and a threat is staff turnover.
- Gain full visibility to baseline to assess thoroughly. To measure success (and failure!), you also need to establish a baseline for whichever metrics you’re tracking. A baseline will help you when it’s time to make recommendations and will help you determine whether you’re making any progress. For example, if it currently takes about three hours on average to close a ticket, this is your baseline for measuring improvement.
2. Adapt internal processes to make efficient use of resources
To achieve your objective, you need to be willing to make changes—both big and small—to your internal processes and your resources.
- Fully understand your change requirements from all angles. Ask yourself what your desired end state looks like in six months, 12 months, or even 18 months, and what are the biggest bang-for-your-buck changes that will help you get there. Is it buying a new tool? Is it leveraging resources you already have in a new way? Is it revamping your normal process? Question all of your assumptions about the way things have always been done or need to be done, and think of ways you might improve them.
- Seek to iterate in faster cycles to showcase visible progress. When you do implement changes, start small and move quickly. If you think something might further your success, try it out. If it doesn’t work, you’ll know because you established the baseline and are tracking progress, and if it does, you’ll be happy you did it. On the flip side, if something isn’t working, don’t hold off on making changes in case it might work eventually—the faster you find and implement effective solutions, the more visible progress you’ll make.
- Continuously monitor for changes to adapt and respond. This step is all about understanding that the triple-A framework isn’t a step-by-step checklist where, once you’re done with one A, you move on to the next and never think about it again. There’s a lot of back and forth—you assess and pull together your metrics and your baseline, and you adapt to improve your metrics. Then, you have to go back to your metrics and determine how it changed based on your action. Then, you adapt again. It’s a continuous cycle.
3. Automate whatever you can to save time and lower service costs
And finally, to free up time to assess, adapt, and further your visible progress, you need to automate tedious, time-consuming tasks.
- Focus your humans on the highest value tasks that involve critical thinking. While creating Visio diagrams, backing up configurations, and maintaining network inventory are all important tasks, they’re better left to computers. That way, you can focus on strategic initiatives, problem solving, and critical thinking that can move your team or your business forward.
- Do the back-of-the-envelope math to see if repeatable tasks are worth automating. When thinking about automating highly manual tasks, ask yourself if it’s something you do every day, once a month, or once a year. At first, focus on automating the most common, repetitive tasks to free up the most time and drive the highest value.
- And remember, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. In order to push your team or your business forward, you need to be able to measure progress and performance—re-examine the way you’ve always done things, run experiments to figure out new processes, and trust what your data says.
Want to hear how our panelists successfully applied the triple-A framework at Auvik, Warranty Master, and Liongard? Watch the full webinar on demand.