Category: Blog

How important is our history?

How important
is our history?

History:  1) Tale, Story. 2) A branch of knowledge that records and explains past events. 3) An established record.

In IT, we are accountable for our performance. If something goes wrong, we can’t blame our tools, and we can’t blame our resources. You would never blame the shovel for not digging a hole deep enough. It’s not the shovel’s fault. It’s our choice on which shovel we choose to use, how much effort we put into digging the hole—if a shovel is even the right tool? The shovel can’t make these decisions, but we are accountable for the outcome.

So how do we know if we are making the right decisions? Every day we work hard. We focus on what is in front of us. That is why history is so important. If a catastrophe should occur, we need to

a) identify what the outcome of the catastrophe was
b) collect evidence surrounding the catastrophic event
c) research and debate the evidence to realize the cause, and
d) build a plan to assure the catastrophic event does not occur again.

Many of us are accountable only to ourselves for audits, but many are also accountable to governing authorities. You are required to hold history so that evidence can be reviewed and decisions made if something unfortunate occurs.

When we relate this to the performance of our systems and networks, not including our records of traps and syslogs, we are self-governing on these points.

I want all the history!” OK, this might be a bit much.

I don’t think I need more than a day.” OK, this may be too little.

It depends on your application of the tools and the environment you work in. We have to challenge ourselves with a few key questions:

  • Will I be audited? (straight off, this will define a window of time that you need to keep history and at what collection rate)
  • Performance Bottlenecks: How far back would I need to review performance data to understand a trend?
  • Security Compromise: How far back would I need to review logs to understand what led up to a security event?
  • Hardware Failure: If the event is a hardware failure, how far back do you need to review logs to clarify the source of the failure?

As a strategist, I’m often asked if we should toss the history out and start with a new fresh database for the monitoring product or push through and try to retain the history. My answer is always, “If the data is not at risk or abused, keep it.” Here’s the catch though, data is only as good as you are intentional with it. Be intentional with what you bring into your monitoring. These tools should be the heartbeat of your IT organization. They help scale your investments and enable you to drive excellence in your organization to your customers.

If the database is corrupt for whatever reason, archive your database for reference and build anew. Start over. However, take measures to assure integrity to your database and the historicals you are archiving. Your history can represent the difference between stumbling through your day or being intentional and purposeful—hitting all your roadmap goals and achieving and driving excellence.

Let’s go be amazing!  Wisdom + Data + Effort = Excellence!

Jason Henson | Global Director of Technical Solutions

What goes into your scorecard?

What goes into your

What’s in your Scorecard?” Scorecards are a fundamental part of measuring performance and guiding activities and decision-making across an organization to drive business value.

Your scorecard should tell a story and provide a framework for measuring your success.  Before building a scorecard, though, you first need to challenge yourself: what is your definition of success? What requirement is your team responding to? Each company has a Vision Statement for the value they plan to bring to the world. Their contributions make a positive difference and drive success for their customers, stakeholders, and themselves.  A successful business will use metrics to measure the impact of their efforts aligned to the goals for the organization.

Focusing on IT is our responsibility.

We provide a service to our organization and, in the world we live in today, that service impacts directly or indirectly the experience of our customers and stakeholders.

When you look at your goals and measure your team according to your definition of success, what metrics are you looking at? Is it mean time to repair (MTTR) for tickets?  Is it goal completion for your team roadmap? Can you relate your efforts to revenue for the business? At some level, your team does impact revenue.  Work these metrics into a scorecard and then identify how to report on those metrics.

If it’s MTTR, where are you tracking your trouble cases?  Are you relating your uptime versus the cost of downtime?  Do you know the direct or indirect cost to your business for each minute of service downtime for application and network availability?  Can you connect these metrics to customer satisfaction and attrition or employee satisfaction and attrition?

Now that you can see these metrics think about the tools you are using to collect this information. Think about the strategy you use to derive conclusions from the data pulled into your tools?

In the end, you should have a series of metrics that you report on weekly. The trends derived from those metrics should be numbers you can evaluate to ensure your team is organized and continues to deliver measurable value to your organization.

And, as you review these numbers, you and your team should be challenging your activities to ensure you are on track to achieve your goals and deliver on your commitments to the business and your customers.

Jason Henson | Global Director of Technical Solutions

The Jack of All Trades – What is it and do you need one?

The Jack of All Trades
What is it and do you need one?

In the ever-changing landscape that is IT, there is a growing pressure to diversify skills. While organizations and people have varying degrees of success with this, the reason for that pressure is clear: teams need to be able to cover more ground with fewer people. The trouble with this is that diversifying skills necessarily takes away from advancing one’s skills in their chosen (or directed) specialization.

Enter: The Jack of All Trades.

This is the member of the team whose specialty is to not be specialized. They’re the person that has a better-than-even chance of knowing the answer to any and every question you can throw at them, perform every job on the team to an acceptable level in the absence of the primary, speak knowledgeably and eloquently to leadership about the team’s duties, objectives, and challenges, and, most importantly, recognize and acknowledge the limit of their own competence. This is the person that is simultaneously the team’s backup, mentor, and spokesperson.

As the world of IT has evolved into a more dynamic industry, the number of required skills and competencies are growing rapidly and, as a result, driving up the demand for people with these skills. The trouble that organizations are slowly becoming aware of is the Jack of All Trades is more of a personality type than a skillset. Cross-training team members is never a bad thing, but the results are usually not as fruitful as organizations would like because the individuals with the drive and desire to truly handle a bit of everything are usually already doing it all on their own. Basically: Jacks of All Trades are not trained; they’re born.

Any team that has someone that meets this description has undoubtedly felt their impact, but it’s vital that leadership recognizes their importance and invests in their development and retention. Teams that do not have a Jack of All Trades would do well for themselves to find one even if they don’t have a hole to fill in headcount; every member of the team will benefit, as will every customer that the team services. And if leadership is the reason that a team hasn’t been able to search for and hire a person whose role is to not have a specific role, then shame on them; they’re failing their team, their customers, and their organization by depriving them of one of the most valuable assets a team can have.

Phillip Everett | Sales Engineer

IT – What’s your passion? Passion drives us!

IT—what’s your passion?
Passion drives us!

What is your definition of success? Based on your life experiences, you and I likely have different measurements for success. Some people want a big house and a big car. Some people just want to be debt-free and financially independent, able to make decisions without the worry of paying their bills. Some people are motivated by balancing the stress of work and personal life. And others, are working only to finance their next adventure.

To be successful, we must lead at some level, or we likely won’t achieve our goals for success no matter what they may be. Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying, though.  This does not mean that you need to manage the business in order to lead. These are two completely different things. I manage my team, and I’m responsible for their success. But, I expect my team to lead me as well.

When I recruit new members for my team, I select people who align with the core values of our business. They’re expected to own their performance, as well as to work with me to help me organize myself to enable them to achieve their goals.

When we think about leading, we can’t have this conversation without defining what it is to be humble. Being humble is a natural part of leading. They go hand in hand. Many of us grow up thinking that being humble is about how little space we can take up. The problem with that theory is that when we put effort into taking up very little space, things roll over to others that should have remained on our plate. It’s also not about how much space we can take up either, because then we push and squeeze others out that could be valuable contributors.

So, how do we achieve Humble Leadership?
We have to pursue our exact God-given space. What are your talents? Are you self-aware of the value you can bring to the table based on the things you are great at and the things that naturally align with your motivators?

Think back to what inspired you to get into IT in the first place?  Was it the creative medium in code development? Was it the challenge of having something broken and fixing that problem so that you can save somebody’s day? Was it the creative and design part of being an architect that drives you to see something become real from a drawing you created?

Whatever motivated you to get into your career in the first place, there are aspects of those responsibilities that align with the projects you are working on today. How do your contributions align with your humble design? Once you know that, as a leader, are you working with those around you to complete your projects by aligning your gaps with their strengths?  Are you aligning your strengths with their gaps on other projects?

And now that you have recalled what initially motivated you into your IT career and you are reflecting on your strengths, what are your passions? Do you have a testimony for your career? Can you connect your passion in your career with clarity to what motivates you?

When you can do that, you are enabled with a foundation to drive decision-making and assert your goals and measurements to success; from your seat and that of your organization.

Jason Henson | Global Director of Technical Solutions

Taking a wholistic approach to achieving excellence

Taking a wholistic approach to
achieving excellence

I love this topic. It has made its way into my conversations when discussing career development, talent recruiting, interviewing, consulting, organizational design, and strategic tool implementation planning.

Most of the people I have spoken to in years past have a story relating to their motivation for starting a career in IT. It often goes back to their first tech love: a TRS-80, an IBM, or something else that I won’t continue to list for fear of exposing my age.

These formative experiences got us interested in programming or hardware at a very young age. We had the opportunity to play Donkey Kong, Q¬bert, and Frogger. We recognized the difference in the application experience as our hardware technologies gradually opened up, and we could do more with what we had.

Fast forward a few years, and we continued to cultivate this love of technology. We entered college or tech school, and the first thing they told us was to “Pick.” You have choices, but you have to pick a direction. So this starts us on a path of refining what we understand deeply to a level of applying expert experience.

We continue down this path, and our career focuses on specific technologies owned by particular vendors. We try to provide for our families, and our commercial edge in the marketplace comes from operating efficiently and effectively. This combination further drives the decision to understand those specific technologies more deeply.

This is absolutely a necessity. But while your team is diving into these deep levels of understanding—architecting and building solutions for your business—who is stepping back, looking at the landscape, and steering the ship? Typically, Oh Captain My Captain! We need our CTOs and CIOs. We need our Directors and VPs. We need our captains to manage and align our expertise to the overall objectives and vision of the business.

I’m laying this up because here’s the hook, line, and sinker: A very talented part is only valuable if it understands its relationship and performance to the other parts.

When you plan your monitoring and management strategies for your tooling across your IT team, who is applying a deep level of understanding to that exercise? This is the framework and tooling your teams live by. It connects your ITSM tools, to your observability tools, to your automation and management tools—all the things.

I’ll leave you with this—think about what you need to be invested in your talent pool day-to-day. Continuing to drive that deep understanding to a level where you can partner with vendors who carry the torch the remainder of the way is the best opportunity to scale performance and achieve ROI from staffing, excellent support for your customers, and high levels of morale within your team.

Now, if only the vendor appointed to your ITOM strategy could work with your other vendors and inside team members—enter Loop1—give us a call, we’d be happy to discuss this with you.

Jason Henson | Global Director of Technical Solutions

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