Optimizing IT service and support in the gaming industry

How’s your internet service been lately?

If you’re like most people, you have a love-hate relationship with your internet service provider. If your internet doesn’t work, you expect a quick, polite, predictable and repeatable experience when you call for support, but you don’t always get it. Sometimes you get an immediate answer, and sometimes it takes days to resolve a seemingly simple issue.

In the same way, the technology users in your gaming business expect consistent, professional support from IT whenever questions or problems arise. Yet, many IT managers are at a loss as to how to optimize the services they provide, and their internal clients put up with the headaches.

That’s where ITIL comes in. ITIL, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a set of best practices for IT service management that focuses on aligning IT services with the strategic needs of the business. It helps the IT manager provide superior services in a standardized, predictable and repeatable way.

At Seven Wonders Learning, we help clients learn the ITIL framework and to train and socialize their technical support staff to implement the ITIL best practices.

Maybe the best way to understand the power of ITIL and Seven Wonders’ training services is to look at how International Game Technology has used both.

Over the years, we have trained about 150 IGT employees in ITIL, including more than half of a 90-person support staff who report to Sean Sauter, director of support services. His group, in turn, has trained others in the best practices most important to IGT, including incident management, problem management, change management and configuration management.

In addition, IGT has taken advantage of our training in project management, team development and leadership. I also provide consulting services in these areas and the evangelization of the ITIL framework, helping IGT staff understand its value and put its ideas into practice.

First developed in the 1980s, ITIL began as a library of publications describing processes, procedures, tasks and checklists to improve IT services and deliver greater business value. This rich guidance has evolved through the years and now underpins ISO/IEC 20000, the International Service Management Standard for IT service management. The guidance contained in ITIL can apply to any size and type of organization, helping to establish a baseline for service delivery from which an organization can plan, implement and measure service improvement and value delivery.

In understanding the role of Seven Wonders at IGT, we must recognize that information technology has grown to crucial importance in most organizations, and provides a significant source of competitive advantage. Since ITIL helps organizations align IT services to the ever-changing needs of the business, it can be extremely helpful for managers to understand and effectively use the ITIL framework.

Project management is a related, high-value discipline that organizations can use to deliver technology projects on time and within budget. At its foundation, project management involves some basic organizational and communications skills, but it’s really just a set of tools that managers can use to deliver significant value to their organizations.

Team dynamics have become crucial to every organization—if only because nearly everyone today works on at least one team. Teams have the power to bring out the best and the worst in people when they’re working together. In our team dynamics courses, participants learn how to better understand themselves and others to understand the barriers that can prevent them from achieving high levels of success.

“Sometimes when you want to make large organizational changes,” says Sauter, “it helps to bring a third party in to shed light on the opportunities available and the path forward. One of the things we struggled with was that we had a lot of bright people, but they lacked perspective. ‘What’s wrong with what we’re doing?’ they asked. It’s not about that. It’s about doing things better and building a culture that believes in continually improving. Seven Wonders helped us to talk about these things in a way our people could understand and accept.”

After three years helping IGT implement ITIL in the United States, we spent most of 2012 helping the company complete a year-long introduction of ITIL practices to the company’s subsidiaries around the world. I attended kick-off weeks in IGT regional offices in Asia, Latin American and Europe, to help Sauter and his team understand their needs, find common ground and talk about how ITIL best practices can help them achieve their goals.

“As in the United States,” Sauter says, “Seven Wonders helped us set a great foundation for ITIL and IT Service Management. As a result, we’ve seen accelerated response and resolution times, and best overall—increased customer satisfaction. I’m very proud of my team and what we’ve been able to accomplish together.”

 

Author: William Cook

William Cook is founder and CEO of Seven Wonders Learning and CIO of JBA Consulting Engineers. He is a certified ITIL expert and Project Management Professional (PMP). Cook is a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award and is a recognized public speaker on IT management issues with both domestic and international engagements. To learn more about ITIL or Seven Wonders Learning, contact Cook at 702-274-7373 or info@SevenWondersLearning.com.   ?