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13 January '15 | Anil Gandharve

The New Omnichannel Dynamic: Finding Core Principles Across Industries

13 January '15 | Debjyoti Paul

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02 December '14 | Anshuman Singh

Apple Pay – The Best Is Yet To Come

02 December '14 | Indy Sawhney

Digital transformation is a business transformation enabled by technology

01 December '14 | Amit Varma

3 Stages of FATCA Testing and Quality Assurance

06 October '14 | Raman Suprajarama

3 Reasons why Apple Pay could dominate the payments space

18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

Beacon of Hope: Serving Growth and Customer Satisfaction

05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

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17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

04 June '14 | Koushik Ramani

8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

13 January '14 | Ramesh Hosahalli

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03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

First Step of Transformation: Know the Maturity Level You Are At

Posted on: 29 September '09

Technical support is an operationally intensive function and it is easy to get overwhelmed with too many things that need to be addressed urgently. This makes tech support function a fertile ground for breeding crisis situations day in and day out, leading to many ad-hoc decisions. It is not uncommon for a head of tech support function to have the nagging feeling that there should be a better way of doing things, but doesn’t know where to start and how to go about bringing in transformational changes.

The first step to transforming your tech support requires you to understand the logical sequence of maturity levels that a typical technical support organization goes through. Then, you need to contrast your support organization and operations against those levels. This activity is not a simple exercise like answering a set of questions. You need a thoroughly defined model that closely matches your operations and talks about the goals that are relevant for your organization. Now, there are several maturity models available out there. Illustrative examples could be COPC, CMMI-SVC, ITSM/ITIL./CoBIT, and HDI support maturity model.

We at Mindtree found that the areas these models address are either limited to operational efficiencies or the context of the model itself is a specific enterprise. But technical support is an external customer facing activity. Moreover, when you are dealing with a technically complex (eg. enterprise class) product, the model has to go well beyond simple gains through operational efficiency.

Mindtree defines the maturity model for technical support at two levels:

1) Operational maturity model – addresses the product company’s relationship with their end customers

2) Engagement maturity model – addresses the product company’s relationship with a tech support service provider, like Mindtree

For this section of the blog, I will focus on the operational maturity model and come back to the engagement maturity model once we discuss the partner evaluation criteria etc.

Mindtree defined operational maturity model has four stages:

1) Reactive support
2) Organized operations
3) Demand reduction
4) Value added support

This model provides the framework on how a support organization can optimize their operations, improve efficiencies and ultimately become revenue generating strategic component of the overall business.

Here are the characteristics of companies and their processes at each stage:

Reactive Support:

1. Typical startup companies where the number of customers are less
2. Support is delivered as a part-time activity by product developers
3. Ad-hoc and best effort based support with very loosely defined SLAs
4. Mostly in crisis mode with non-repeatable processes

Organized Operations:

1. Streamlined operations with clearly defined SLAs that are in line with customer satisfaction goals
2. Operational metrics are captured and analyzed to identify opportunities for optimization
3. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities with institutionalized processes

Demand Reduction:

1. Achieve reduction in demand for support through effective implementation of knowledge management, data analytics, and proactive processes and improving supportability of the product

Value Added Support:

1. Improve the rate of product consumption through value added support encouraging customers to invest in product upgrades
2. Introduce new revenue generating services such as customer education, remote monitoring/management and professional services

The ideal way to map your organization against this 4 level model is to relate your support objectives and your current state of operations to the maturity model. Many companies start their journey on this path with a lot of enthusiasm. But the initiative often fizzles out with the onslaught of daily escalations and crisis situations.

Have you ever done an exercise of mapping your tech support organization on a standard maturity model and taken steps to move up the value ladder? I am curious to know your experiences, if you have undertaken such an exercise.

In my next blog, I will take you through the second important step of transformation, which is moving up the ladder.

  • Good overview on this critically underlooked topic. I’ve seen an alternative model that defines the following levels:
    1 Break-Fix
    2 Responsive
    3 Proactive
    4 Managed
    5 Utility

    This is biased by a supplier side viewpoint, but I think it has some merit in that we see more graduation in the levels than your model outlines, though arguably these could be retrofit, some to sub-categories.

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