Basefarm consistently strives to be a partner to their clients. The philosophy is to be proactive and work in close cooperation with the customers.
“We want to be involved when they plan for the future to offer our help in the best possible way. When we know their plans we can make suggestions on how to build their environments, or suggest what equipment to buy. We can also aid them in their architectural designs, for example if they want to go from physical to virtual servers, or if they want to scale up or scale down to suit their future needs,” says Hanna Björklund, Service Manager at Basefarm.
Hanna Björklund is one of fifteen service managers at Basefarm. Each service manager is in charge of a team of technicians, usually comprised of between two to six technicians, depending on the size and number of customers handled by the specific team.
“As a service manager I oversee everything related to the customers IT environment that we manage. Some customers want us to be further involved and want us to manage the operations on application level, which means the assignments can be quite diverse,” says Hanna Björklund.
Basefarm’s operation center is in business for handling incidents and service requests 24/7. Customers can call for all types of service requests and incidents, so called tickets, directly to the operations center. In addition, the customer portal is a self-service tool for the customers and they can use their customer login to report tickets, monitor ticket status and follow the progress in real-time as well as see graphs and SLA’s on their services that are managed by Basefarm.
“We also have regular meetings with the customers, usually once every month to keep them updated. But of course, some customers want to meet more frequently; others only want to meet once every six months. We tune in to the customer to hear what they need, and then we adapt,” Björklund explains.
A major factor of Hanna's job is keeping the balance in the team.
“I have to make sure the team is proactive. I encourage proactivity in my group, and make sure everybody spends time being both proactive and reactive.”
Hanna explains that proactivity could be anything from listening to the customer and trying to come up with improved ways of working with them, or going through the environment to find ways to optimize and/or improve performance and suggest this to the customer. Proactivity is also about keeping track of statistics and alerting the client if the number of visitors grows.
“One example is that we might suggest adding memory and disc space to match their needs or add cashing functionality. We need to be on top of things and inform the client along the way,” Björklund says.
Communication is a vital part of Basefarm's philosophy, both externally and internally.
Hanna explains that in her team they use Kanban as a method for organizing and structuring their days. Every morning the team gathers to get an overview of the work and prioritize.
“That way everyone in the team is updated on each other’s work. You can receive advice from your colleagues, and that creates synergy. It was a bit difficult when we first started, but once you get the routine, it makes everything so much simpler and easier to review.
Communication is extra vital whenever an incident occurs, such as for example when a website get functional errors or starts responding slowly.”
“Of course we want to avoid incidents that cause disturbance, but if there is an incident we do everything we can to get the customer's services back running optimal again as soon as possible.”
Hanna means that no company can avoid incidents completely, and that you just have to accept the fact that they happen. The most important thing is that you keep the lines of communication with the customer open and that you're honest about what's happened.
“I call the client as soon as something happens, and then give them continuous updates every 15 minutes even when there isn't any progress to report, just to keep them informed. A constant flow of information to the customer is much appreciated and must be prioritized until the problem is solved,” Björklund explains.
Basefarm uses ITIL – a practical framework for identifying, planning, delivering and supporting IT services to businesses. Most of Basefarm's processes are based on ITIL, including ticket handling.
Basefarm is always open to good ideas and isn't afraid to try new things. As mentioned previously we have started implementing kanban, a method developed by Toyota, which involves visualizing work in progress by putting up post-it notes on office walls. It helps the team prioritize the work and also provides a good complement to the computerized system.
The biggest challenge posed by her job has to do with resource management.
“Effective division of resources is challenging but not impossible. We have a lot of resources, but we also have to make sure they are addressed to where they are really needed and where they can be most effective. Every client shall have the same amount of attention,” Björklund claims.
“It is fun to work with brands that you often use yourself. For example, we have Viasat as a customer. It was fascinating to see how much work the whole team put into it during the Olympics. Our technicians here has been preparing for months to handle the expected load in close team-work with the customer, scaling the environment, and testing every aspect. And everything worked out perfectly in the end,” Björklund says.
Hanna studied system science in Gothenburg and has taken on a variety of different positions since then, such as developer, third line support personnel and product specialist. She has worked in IT support since 2003 and at Basefarm for over a year.
What do you like the most about your job at Basefarm?
"Basefarm is a fun and challenging place to work at. I felt the atmosphere already during my first visit to the Basefarm office. We keep a high pace here, there is always something new happening. When you have ideas and thoughts, management is always willing to listen. They welcome your ideas, I like that a lot," Björklund concludes.
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