ITECH7400 IT Service Management and Professional Culture - Content Analysis Assignment, Federation University, Australia
Learning Outcomes -
- Describe contemporary approaches to dealing with the social impact of technology in a changing IT service environment.
- Appraise IT service management practices and how they assist organisations.
- Debate the need for organisational change, the key influence of human behaviour and its impact on IT organisational culture in a service driven environment.
- Investigate skills frameworks and develop an awareness of industry certifications relevant to IT professionals.
- Apply the IT service lifecycle, processes and functions in an organisational setting.
- Demonstrate and coordinate best practice IT service management in an organisational setting.
- Utilise professional presentation and communication approaches in a range of IT workplace and service settings.
- Implement and use service management processes and practices in a business organisational context.
- Appreciate the global nature of the IT industry.
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This assignment has three major aims:
• To help students gain good understanding of all ITECH7400 material.
• To encourage students to use content analysis summaries to prepare for tests, examinations and to help their understanding of concepts.
• To encourage students to conduct independent investigation into related topics from books, the Internet, and through practical investigation.
Answer - Content analysis
IT service management is getting popular and more organizations are seeking support of technical experts to accomplish their goals. In the 6 weeks, we have learnt adequately about the IT service management and professional culture that can influence the outcomes and productivity levels. As the subject began with the basics of IT services and standards to be adhered by an organization, it has expanded to chapters on different sections under IT that should be understood by the service provider. For instance, finance, operations, information security, risk, demand and capacity managers are all closely related. A drop in the quality of performance by one of the managers can impact the outcomes on the whole. This paper summarizes the learnings in each week and ends with the importance of professionalism in this field.
Introduction to IT service management
Organizations in the recent times request IT support from technical experts for a specific period or forever. IT service management (ITSM) is the concept applied here and the service provider that offers this support adheres to the industrial standards and ensures that the organization meets the desired performance. In this scenario, there is a broad difference between the types of practices applied. If the service provider chooses one technology over the other and the technology meets the specifications and doubles the performance, then this is called the best practice.
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On the other hand, the course material details the good practice as public standards. During this process, the organization builds its infrastructure library by connecting the competent resources and adhering to the regulations. While IT infrastructure library (ITIL) is considered as the potential resource of infrastructure required for the organization to meet its needs, there are other frameworks and standards like ISO/IEC 20000 framework and COBIT. The only point to be taken into consideration is that only one of these standards/frameworks should be implemented as it can be chaotic otherwise.
Once the library is created, the service begins with planning, executing and proceeds to controlling phases. The entire service lifecycle is perhaps continuous and is based on the strategy developed by the organization. The IT service provider coordinates and links the strategy to this segment. The given course material gives the list of phases involved in this service lifecycle as strategy, design, transition, operation and continual improvement of the service. The continuous improvement once again refers to the industry standards.
Let's assume that the organization has a change in its specifications and requests the support from service provider. At this stage, the ITIL service management model comes into picture. As rightly stated in the slides, this model provides a lot of values. Perhaps, the goal of the service provider is to maximize the value creation process through two components - warranty and utility. It is important for the organization to see the utility associated with the given solution. Once the service model is created by presenting a workflow diagram or process map, the ambiguity is eliminated and the process gets structured.
The given material gives a step by step procedure on what happens as soon as a service provider associates with an organization to provide a service in the field of IT. The service provider can assume any kind of ITIL roles like service/process owner, process manager and practitioner.
The service life cycle
In the next course material on service lifecycle, it is clear that ITIL framework enables IT governance. For a project to be successful, IT governance is closely related to the risk. This needs an efficient team either internally or externally or available on a shared basis. Proper governance implies negligible or no likelihood of risk. The first step of this lifecycle is service strategy and this demands the organization to manage finances and build portfolio so as to establish wider relationships with the stakeholders. This strategy has to have a plan, position the brand and make the perspective clear with its pattern.
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Once the service provider is identified and engaged in a project, the strategic development process should draft the mission, deliverables, specification, business case and design the processes. The service provider is then expected to present a package of services that will be offered. As already stated, IT field is competitive and value creation is the only way to stay unique in the market. When the service lifecycle moves to the subsequent phases, customer perception has to be defined and clear. This course material makes it clear that value has to be delivered through suitable service management processes.
Slides on automating the processes throw light on effective and efficient delivery of services. When a product or a service is provided to the end user, there are many things to take into consideration - reliability, availability and accessibility. With proper configuration of service assets, the customers will have to gain the experience and return back for better experiences. An efficient service design has the potential to govern the processes, ensure consistency, reduce overheads and enable continuous improvements.
One of the major yet underestimated phases of service lifecycle is service transition. For example, the user orders a product and the service here is offered through the interface. The service has to transition to the invoice page and also intimate the team behind the scenes. This transition has to be smooth and also meet expectations with clear delivery of business objectives. To make this happen, every IT team should include a service transition manager who can plan, align, coordinate, implement and control the results.
In the process of delivering value to the customers, there is a lifecycle at the other side that is less known to the stakeholders but extremely important for the businesses.
Financial and demand management processes
Having discussed about the transition and design involved at the background to ease the performance and deliver the needs of customers, there are also 2 more key processes involved - the finance department performs a study on the needs and create budgets and the strategic department takes care of demand analysis and customizes the IT processes accordingly.
Looking at the responsibility of finance department, there are 3 processes taken care of - budgeting, accounting and charging. Further, this department is also responsible to achieve corporate governance from the financial perspective and eliminate the probability of financial risk. There is a need for transparency between the stakeholders in the accounts and charges need to be transparent to the customers too. The performance of financial department of an organization influences other processes too. For instance, the financial values determine the service assets, utilization of available demand and develop portfolios to project the potential nature of organization.
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On the other hand, the strategic department drafts equilibrium between demand and capacity available. It is important to have an efficient strategic advisor to eliminate fluctuations in the future and achieve optimal use of resources. Let us take the role played by strategic department of McDonalds in launching a new service. Seeing the WiFi feature availability in all its outlets, the strategic department also makes sure that the budgets are not crossed. Though the demand can fluctuate among the customers, IT spend should be planned effectively. On a daily, weekly and monthly basis, the demand graph has to be drawn. This graph will indicate the peak time of the firm when the IT spend has to be higher and the time of the month/day when the progress is too slow.
The demand graph establishes patterns of purchase and profiles of users that influence the demand - supply equilibrium. These patterns of business activity (PBA) are detailed in the presentation with suitable examples. An important process to be followed in PBA is mapping.
Suppose there are less than 10 customers at a specific period in a day, ask these questions:
- What kind of users are visiting during that period?
- Who services customers at that time?
- What are the flaws informed by the customers?
User profiles will now be mapped with the functions of the business. Once this mapping is ready, strategic team assigns roles and develops metrics to maximize the performance at that time and compare results.
It is interesting to note how there are several processes that influence the service delivery of IT department in an organization.
Capacity and IT service continuity management processes
This section is a continuation of the previous topic on demand management. Right from choosing the IT service to offer to providing the service, capacity management plays a key role. Capacity and performance are interrelated and we can apply it to a real life scenario. For instance, sites like Alibaba encourage users to place order and checkout by making payment through one of the payment modes available. Response time, throughput, inventory, payment gateway, information security and staff available to process the orders are all important to enable a successful service delivery.
The problem with most of the online businesses is the inability to meet desired service levels due to inadequate capacity. The best way to eliminate this problem is to establish a capacity plan that can diagnose the existing infrastructure and propose proactive improvements in the operations. This capacity plan also directs the IT team of a firm to examine the usage and demand pattern of the customers. In one of the slides in this topic, the sub processes are rightly mentioned as business, service and component capacities that need to be evaluated to organize services efficiently.
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While service capacity is closely related to service usage and business activity, business capacity forecasts the demand and establishes the list of business activities to be carried out. This subject on capacity management is related to service level, problem management, financial and service asset management. In the previous chapter, the importance of ITIL was explained. Now, there is one more concept connected to ITIL which is called the IT service continuity management (ITSCM). This deals with risk management and empowers business continuity.
During the service lifecycle, service design is one of the phases and this need to include a risk identification matrix along with recovery processes for each of the risks so that the organization has sufficient facilities to avoid the incident. The lifecycle given in this chapter for ITSCM is certainly useful and presents the need of the organization in a nutshell. Having noted that each process mentioned above has different metrics, ITSCM has technical metrics as given below.
- Total number of errors
- Number of services yet to be addressed
- Lack of availability of recovery plan for a given issue/service
All these are untouched by organizations but they play key roles in increasing the success of the project. It is interesting to note the responsibilities of the continuity manager of IT department to keep the business up and running without errors.
Information security and problem management
We have discussed adequately about the role played by IT department in an organization. As businesses go online, every organization has to take the responsibility to draft the roles to discharge the operations in such a way that the customers are satisfied. This is closely related to demand and capacity management and the financial backup available. On the other hand, risks are wide. Whenever an organization makes use of a technology to implement certain features, security becomes a question. This announces the need for information security department. The department will have to analyse the existing business case and services offered on 4 aspects namely, availability, integrity, authenticity and confidentiality.
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As soon as the aspects are studied, information security policy has to be drafted and shared with the stakeholders. This policy should also include the list of facilities available or installed by the firm to maximize the security and usability of the system. This gives the courage and trust for the user to access the system. There are also other responsibilities of this department mentioned in this chapter such as:
- Auditing risks
- Change tracking
- Security patches
Based on the risks encountered, new roles need to be developed. These roles will forecast the problems in advance and draft a policy statement to address the same. When addressing a policy, there are 2 types of responses given by the organization - proactive and reactive. For instance, when there was a security breach faced by a store like Amazon, they informed customers on efforts that will be taken to avoid such incidents in the future and this was a proactive approach. Subsequently, it also encouraged the human resources to identify the root cause behind the problem and then apply the change to achieve better outcomes and this was the reactive approach.
In general, there is a process flow to spot problems and mitigate the impacts. The systematic approach of dealing with problems guarantees a control in the overall number of such incidents in the future. The chapter throws light on commonly used problem solving techniques like brainstorming, chronological analysis, Pareto analysis, pain value analysis and Kepner and Tregoe approach. While the notion is the same for all of these techniques, the methodology is different.
One more example to understand this better is to know the clear difference between problem and incident managers. Problem manager is responsible to get the system back to running condition and needs an outage. This is meant to remove the root cause. On the other hand, incident manager restores service in the lowest turnaround time and this role needs expertise and efficiency. Sometimes, both the managers can be the same resource in an organization.
Having discussed about operations, finance, risks and responsibilities of individuals in the IT department, the last part of this week 6 chapter highlights the seven step improvement process that maximizes the productivity. Let's analyse the seven steps with an example of web design and development for a retail store.
- Metrics for measurement - availability, accessibility, satisfaction levels of the customers, number of visitors per day, complaints received
- Variables that can be measured - It is possible to measure the number of visitors at a given time and the type of products that is of interest to the visitors
- Gather data - it is a good idea to implement a data mining algorithm in place to collect data.
- Process data - Data processing can happen either in the form of charts or descriptions. In this case, we would need graphs to predict the performance and draft the areas for improvement.
- Analyze data - Making use of analytics will help us to analyse the available data.
- Present data and usage - Further usage of the services is entirely based on the available data and the strategies developed by the IT department to mitigate the risks.
- Corrective action - for instances like system crash or feature unavailability, we need to have a backup and stay connected with the users.
Business analyst takes the responsibility to analyse the available data and develop service improvement plans for implementation. The entire process is data driven and affects the performance.
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Professionalism in IT industry
Now that the organization is all set to begin with its IT department, what is even important is professionalism. For a stakeholder to benefit from the operations and for customers to trust the services provided, it is essential for the organization to display commitment and utmost level of professionalism. There are certain tenets for professionalism - organizational skills, competence, written correspondence, reliability, appearance, ethics and phone etiquette. When an organization misses any of these, it loses its reputation and value in the market. The recent evolution of IT firms in the world is because of the challenges encountered by most of them that result in rapid failures. Some of the commonly faced failures include:
- Lack of values
- Poor understanding or application of data science and analytics
- Continuous changes in the trend
The best way is to get the brand certified by professional bodies like IEEE. This can be a costly affair but is still worth to gain an authoritative position in the industry. However, if you are looking out to take up an IT role as your profession, it is important to verify your competencies with the support standards, education standards and code of conduct as established by these bodies. Every role has a related professional body. Here is the list:
Quality assurance engineer
IEEE is considered to be the largest professional association in the world. There are different membership categories and it holds conferences, seminars and has a digital library that fosters innovation and development. British computer society is identified as the only chartered professional institution available for the information systems professionals.
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Australian Computer Society is yet another professional society available for IT professionals located in Australia. The features and benefits are nearly similar. International institute of business analysis offers certifications and includes local chapters of professionals around the world. The rest of the professional bodies work similar and aim to maximize the skill sets of every IT professional. However, there are certain setbacks in becoming a member in one of these bodies - high annual fee, long duration to secure a certification, differences in values and strict criteria for eligibility.
With the technologies advancing around the world, continuing professional development is the key to enhance skills and sustain in the market. This can benefit in terms of compensation and recognition by professional bodies and IT firms around the world.
While adhering to standards and frameworks are essential, competencies of resources are equally important to achieve the desired objectives. Being a rewarding industry, every IT professional will have to focus on continuous development on individual and organizational levels. This can enable the professional to know more about root cause for problems and existing performance and work with other departments for better service quality and service satisfaction displayed by the customers. At the end, it is also possible to build a collaborative culture with strong service framework and an efficient lifecycle that keeps the projects sustainable even after their completions.
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