Wednesday, September 09, 2015

How IT Service Management Is Like Dry Cleaning

Going to the dry cleaners is a bit like having the laundry elves visit your house. You drop off a white shirt with a coffee stain on the left side and when you come back the next day it looks brand new. And for the customer, that's all that matters. In between when you dropped off your shirt and when you picked it back up, however, those little elves were very busy getting you the results you wanted.

None of that really matters to you, though. You don't want to hear about how they had to sort the laundry, treat the stains, bag the garments or iron and starch the final product. All that matters to you is that your shirt is now clean.

When you're seeking a position as an IT professional, dry cleaning is surprisingly applicable. Just like the dry cleaning customer doesn't care how their shirt gets cleaned, businesses don't care how their computers and software are running. For them, IT service has two settings: meeting the expectations and not meeting the expectations. If it's not meeting the expectations, they want you to come solve it for them.

It's easy to become frustrated as an IT professional. Between the business users who really have skipped even the most basic troubleshooting of their own and the ones who think you should fix everything immediately, there's every reason for you to shut yourself in your office and bang your head off your desk for a few hours. But it's your job to fix their problem, not turn them into IT professionals themselves.

IT services covers a very broad range of actions. As an IT professional you probably have to keep up with patch management, vulnerability management, maintenance contracts, quality assurance and control, project management, development... the list goes on and on. But businesses don't hire IT professionals to explain everything, just like you don't want your dry cleaner to give you a lecture on stain removers every time you stop in. They just want you to get things up and running.

Businesses also tend to only concern themselves with the output of your service. A dry cleaner has to do regular maintenance on their equipment, buy cleaning supplies, pay their bills, and manage their water waste - none of which directly concerns you and your stained shirt. You don't care about any of that, you just want your shirt to be white again.

Similarly, an IT professional needs to be proactive to keep up with things that haven't yet caused obvious problems. A business might not notice you've upgraded their system, applied a new patch, closed a new security vulnerability, and renewed the maintenance contract. It's up to you as the IT professional to stay on top of those upgrade needs and explain how they're helping avoid major issues.

Dry cleaning and IT Services might not seem to have much in common, but you'll learn a lot if you approach your IT services position the same way you'd approach going to the dry cleaners. The business is only interested in the results, it's up to you to make sure the busy little elves get everything done.

By Taimour Al Neimat

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