Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
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Service Desk Zen and the Art of Paddling a Canoe

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Cherwell Service ManagementRecently, I was in a lunch meeting with Arlen, our CTO, and something he said got me asking myself, “What’s the difference between a course correction and having to plot a new course altogether?” I mean, some of the things I’ve heard called “BI” in the corporate world could have been more appropriately called “B archaeology.” How does any of this business intelligence help me to make the right service management decisions in the real world?

Isn’t the whole point of BI to help your leadership make right-time course corrections? Last quarter might be a bit too late if you’ve already lost that customer’s confidence in your ability to deliver.

Time for the sappy sports analogy. In canoeing, there is this thing called a “J-stroke,” and it is one of the fundamentals of canoeing. It is often referred to as the most “subtle” of canoe strokes; by this it is meant that it does not have to be done with much force. In fact, gentle is better. The key to the J-stroke is in the position of the paddle, the consistent corrections made with each stroke and avoiding the air-J-stroke. That’s the version where you accidentally take your paddle out of the water.

In our meeting, Arlen talked about how Vance (our CEO) has dashboards all over the place. He has his iCherwell app in his pocket, screens in his office, and even screens in the lobby of our second office building so as to not miss anything. We have taken service management processes to the extreme. Rather than the weekly, monthly, quarterly effort of gathering data to report back to Vance, our directors get together with Vance to discuss what’s been on the dashboards, the trends he is seeing, the trends he has been following.

You see, we use Cherwell Service Management for everything: CRM, learning, and quite a few other things, and even though that is not the primary purpose of our software, it does these things well.

You might think of those trends Vance can see on the dashboards as the wind, the currents and waves in the water, and the direction the bow of the boat is facing. Sometimes even the effects of pushing too hard might be the thing that has turned us a little bit off course (Got ITIL?). But our dashboards are a lot like that J-stroke. We can see our direction, and we can feel the current against the paddle. Before things get out of hand, we can make those tiny course corrections that make all the difference to our customers.

That’s the thing that the business of service management has in common with canoeing. It doesn’t take much to push the canoe. It doesn’t take much to turn it. But, once it gets very far off course, it’s probably too late, especially if a storm is coming.

So how’s your “Business Intelligence J-stroke?”

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