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Introducing the HappySignals ITXM™ framework – how to achieve human-centric IT operations, with a better experience as a key outcome.
This overview explains what IT Experience Management (ITXM) is, introduces the HappySignals ITXM Framework™ and its key elements, offers guidance on increasing your organization's experience-management maturity using the ITXM Maturity Model™, and sets expectations on how long the introduction of experience management takes.
This ITXM Framework document is also available as a downloadable PDF, click here.
Experience management is a practice that has been used in external customer support and management – via the concept of customer experience (CX) management – for well over a decade. Whereas in IT operations, IT service management (ITSM) best practices have been employed for process operations and wider management – but this has never focused on the delivered Experience or, more specifically, held Experience as a critical outcome of the employed ITSM processes.
ITXM brings experience management principles into IT operations. This allows IT teams to focus on the outcomes of their work and to provide data-informed insights that fuel the continual improvement of those outcomes – including making end-users happier with IT services and more productive in their daily work.
Importantly, ITXM applies to the whole IT organization, not just the IT service desk and wider ITSM capabilities. The HappySignals ITXM Framework is the best approach to getting the most from end-user experience data captured through the HappySignals ITXM Platform.
The HappySignals ITXM Framework helps organizations of all sizes – whether they're HappySignals customers or not – succeed on their experience management journey.
Providing a proven way to transform your organization's corporate IT capabilities, whether internal or outsourced, from process or technology-centric to human-centric. It allows the providers of IT services to focus on their consumers' experiences and improve on the factors that matter most to end-users.
Using the continuous cycle of the ITXM Framework (as shown in Figure below), end-user experiences are measured and shared with various business stakeholders (including IT) and third parties such as partners, vendors, and shareholders. Issues and opportunities are identified using real-time experience data, highlighting where people are frustrated and losing the most productivity with IT services and support. This approach is in line with the DevOps "second way" of amplifying feedback loops such that "corrections" can be made continuously.
Finally, improvements are made based on business value, such that IT operations and outcomes bring more smiles and less wasted time for both end-users and IT personnel in their daily work. This step aligns with the ITIL 4 Guiding Principle of "focus on value."
Figure 1: The ITXM Framework Continuous Cycle
As improvements are actioned, the measurement continues, and both the absolute state and the achieved progress can now be shared – with your organization continuing around the ITXM Framework™ cycle, tackling more end-user issues and opportunities as the benefits of experience management permeate the organization.
Read on to learn about the four sections of The ITXM Framework.
This step is where organizations or teams start on The ITXM Framework, with measurement delivering a baseline starting point for improvements and providing the data-informed insight needed to drive early positive change. This step aligns with the ITIL 4 Guiding Principle of "start where you are."
For measurement to be successful, the following elements need to be in place:
However, measuring doesn't affect anything in isolation; it just shows end-users' experiences today.
If your organization doesn't measure Experience and start to make improvements, any action you take will always be based on people's gut feelings rather than data.
HappySignals measures end-user experiences across multiple IT areas (as shown in Figure 2 below), with the captured data showing how end-users perceive each of them.
Figure 2: End Users Have Experiences Across Multiple IT Areas
Importantly, it's not about measuring the IT process or the technology involved but understanding how people feel about the tools and services they use and the support they receive daily.
There's also a need to have reliable, repeatable, and consistent surveys for all measured areas. Because if each IT team has its own experience data measurement approach, then you can't compare the impact on productivity and end-user experience holistically. A siloed approach makes it difficult to continue to the next step in the ITXM Framework™ – sharing the captured experience data.
The second step in the ITXM Framework is where organizations often struggle to be transparent in sharing the captured experience data with stakeholders. These stakeholders include everyone in IT, third-party partners, vendors, and the rest of the business.
This step may initially seem daunting, especially because the experience data will likely tell a different story to years of traditional IT performance measurement. However, your organization needs to understand that sharing the data creates trust between the interested parties and a common focus for improving IT to drive better business operations and outcomes. It's very much in line with the ITIL 4 Guiding Principle of "collaborate and promote visibility."
This step applies to both internal and outsourced IT service providers. For example, if your organization is a Managed Service Provider (MSP) and tries to hide how its customers' end-users feel about its services. If this is the case, customers will never fully trust you or be focused on improving what matters most to end-users; potentially making it vulnerable at contract renewal time.
It's also crucial to remember that capturing experience data isn't only about identifying issues; it also highlights what's being done well. Thus, IT organizations can now communicate or share with the rest of the business where the gaps are in employee experience and where people are really happy with their services.
Without experience data, data-informed insights that highlight both the current issues and what matters most to end-users, any improvements will be chosen based on:
Instead, it's essential to recognize the need for experience data and that experience is multi-dimensional. There's a need to be able to drill down into different IT service delivery and support areas. For example, a country manager will likely need to see where their employees are losing productivity, or a service owner might need to see which factors contribute to the performance of their service(s), so they and their team can focus on the right improvement area(s).
Your organization probably already has great tools to run its technology and create the ITSM processes to support its IT operations, but how does it know what the outcomes of these are for end-users, i.e. your company's employees (or employees of customers for MSP organizations)?
Figure 3: People, Process and Technology
Figure 3 above shows three of the traditional dimensions called out by ITIL best practice guidance (along with HR's role) to highlight that IT can easily be overly focused on processes and technology at the expense of end-users and the experiences that influence their productivity.
Figure 4 below shows a different view of this – this starts with human feedback such that IT organizations are no longer misdirected to process or technology issues, and improvements can address what's affecting end-users most.
Figure 4: Why human approach is so important?
As Figure 4 shows, better understanding the real issues your organization's end-users face daily allows IT teams to quickly identify and address the possible process and technology contributing factors. Your IT organization might already know about some of the issues, maybe with a gut feeling, but now the real-time experience data shows what's actually the case.
When experiences are continuously measured, organizations can start to set experience-based targets for:
The latter of these three opportunities is likely to be the most valuable to organizations – with the right experience-based key performance indicators (KPIs) offering the ability to motivate IT staff better and provide a sharper focus on what's most important to IT in meeting business needs.
Importantly, with experience-based performance measures and targets, IT staff can start to see the value of what they do rather than their behavior and actions being guided by traditional IT metrics, which focus on the mechanics of IT operations. It aligns with the ITIL 4 Guiding Principle of "think and work holistically," given that employees can now rise above knowing how fast they did something, and how many times, to understand how they've made a difference to business operations and outcomes. When IT personnel can see how they've helped others in real-time, it's a far more motivating target than anything process-related.
In terms of how improvement initiatives can benefit from experience data, particularly when delivered via an Agile approach, the insights provided allow the involved individuals to better understand how the changes they're making affect business operations and outcomes –positively and negatively. This change elevates the ability to measure success from the traditional parameters of quality, time, and cost to gain insight into the business value of the delivered solution. The insight includes whether the anticipated additional value is being created or if some value is being destroyed, with course correction applied as needed.
For example, if an organization applies the ITIL 4 Guiding Principle of "optimize and automate," experience data will help ensure that any process or technology enhancements are not to the detriment of the end-user Experience and the ability of employees to get their work done.
The experience data also provides critical input into decision-making related to priorities – whether this is rescheduling planned activities and deliverables based on feedback or freezing the execution of a stage until unanticipated issues have been addressed.
As your organization continues around the ITXM Framework cycle, it can better prioritize what matters most and successfully deliver the changes necessary to improve the end-user experience, employee productivity, and business operations and outcomes. But these are not the only improvements –employee motivation and trust are enhanced by sharing and celebrating successes.
Importantly, as your organization progresses around the cycle and the experience-measurement data starts to reflect the improvements made, IT personnel can see their work's increasingly positive impact on their business colleagues, the end-users (or customer employees for MSPs). This quantification of improvements allows the IT team to celebrate their work, feel motivated, and start on the next improvement challenge. As with the personal motivation benefits of real-time experience data, finding meaning in one's work is vital to employee engagement. This change allows IT leaders to further elevate the performance of their teams and individuals.
The communication of successes to business stakeholders is vital, too – with it both increasing the level of trust in IT capabilities and performance and motivating end-users to continue to provide feedback knowing that it will benefit them through improving IT service delivery and support.
It's also essential to understand how your ITXM Framework implementation will vary depending on your organization's starting maturity – from the required timeframe to achieving a human-centric culture for IT.
The quickest way to explain the need to start early is by stating that no magic switch can be flicked to turn your organization into one that benefits from experience management data and the insights it provides.
Instead, ITXM is a journey that takes time, and if your IT organization wants to be human-centric in one to two years, it needs to start its transformation today. While the mechanics of experience measurement can be implemented quickly, changing how people think and work takes longer– it's a cultural change covered in the HappySignals ITXM Maturity Model section.
The required journey affects more than the employed performance measures and, importantly, how the experience management data is used will evolve. For example, the initial use cases will likely align with everyday IT tasks, identifying the most obvious issues and making quick wins based on data-informed improvements. But this can be considered the initial firefighting role of experience management, where the data is leveraged to help fix the most prominent issues and pain points.
Longer-term, not only does experience management become part of the organizational culture (as shown in Figure 5 later), but the approach also becomes more strategic, too – moving from reactive to proactive identification, decision-making, and improvement. This step aligns with the DevOps "third way" of fostering a culture of continual experimentation and learning.
The ITXM Framework is an ideal starting point for introducing experience management. Still, organizations must appreciate that this only makes up the first three steps in the ITXM Maturity Model™ shown in Figure 5 on the right. As with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, each step allows your organization to climb to the one above. So, as in the ITXM Framework™, the sharing of experience data needs to follow its measurement. And the identification and actioning of improvements should follow the sharing of the measured experience data.
The apex of the ITXM Maturity Model™ has already been mentioned as both a key factor in, and a demonstrator of, experience management success. However, the level below it adds to what has been shared above – the introduction of experience level agreements (XLAs). These are a reimagining of traditional IT service level agreements (SLAs) that instead focus on what's most important to the end-user – where experience-level targets are end-user-centric metrics and KPIs that focus on the perceived quality of IT services and support.
Figure 5: ITXM™ Maturity Model
It has already been stated that successful ITXM adoption takes time. We advise customers starting with experience management, that it's best to "go slow to go fast." This "small-steps" approach involves:
A "simple rule of thumb" to help with the organizational plan for rolling out the ITXM Framework and ITXM Maturity Model is to allow three months for the six guidance steps above. The ITIL 4 Guiding Principle of "keep it simple and practical" also applies to this approach.
Take the Free ITXM Foundation Training to get certified in ITXM.