Organisations of all sizes are completely reliant on their IT infrastructure, so their IT management and support team must be qualified, efficient and cost effective. Similarly, IT support strategy must be a serious undertaking, balancing business needs with the efficiency of today’s support model and assessing its suitability going forwards.

The Three Tier System

Many organisations are using a three-tier system model for their IT infrastructure. This arrangement was introduced many years ago and works by structuring processing into three distinct tiers: presentation tier, application tier and data tier.

These are implemented as three physical or virtual tiers, each of which runs as a dedicated process on its own server. The three-tier system has traditionally been seen as a logical approach, as it keeps the code segregated and run-time issues can be diagnosed by examining the individual tiers.

For example, the presentation tier deals with the user interface and communication layer of the software, where the main task involves displaying or collecting information from the person using the software application. The application tier is concerned with processing this information, while the data tier is dedicated to storing and managing this information.

The three tiers of the software application are usually developed and maintained by different teams and can be updated independently of one another in order to minimise disruption.

Three Tier Support Model

Following the traditional service support model, when an end user has a problem with the software application, they communicate with first line IT support via just one channel, regardless of the nature of their issue. The issue is assessed by first line support and handed off to the most appropriate team.

For example, presentation and application issues may be handled by two in-house teams, while data tier issues can be screened before being passed on to the relevant specialists outside the organisation.

Today many organisations want to move on from this approach and are looking for a more effective method which avoids the risk of poorly handled or bounced problems. They are finding that when a problem is addressed by separate teams, it can take much longer to resolve, which affects costs, end-user satisfaction and business productivity.

The issue may be initially handed off to, say, the presentation tier team, however after further diagnosis it may need to be escalated to the processing tier team. Subsequent investigation can result in a high bounce rate as the new team needs more information to resolve the issue, or the problem has been wrongly diagnosed. It can even result in a blame game where each team believes the issue is outside their tier.

How Swarming Can Provide A Solution

The swarming model of IT service management sees all the support staff working as members of a single team, removing the need to escalate issues and thus preventing bouncing. Support staff instead work collaboratively to resolve issues, drawing on the different skills and experience held by individuals within the team. When an issue is logged, it is allocated to the person best equipped to resolve it, with colleagues “swarming” to their assistance if necessary.

In contrast to the expense of separate support teams, choosing a swarming approach means that the organisation need only pay once to resolve the issue, rather than seeing charges mount as it is escalated through different teams. This makes it a far more economical model and makes for happier, more engaged support staff, who can actively develop their skills through the diversity of tasks.

End users will also benefit, as the swarming method promotes transparency and provides reassurance that a problem will be seen through to its successful resolution. Swarming also allows for clearer feedback of issues to the developers, improving the application in the longer term. All in all, it’s an effective IT management model for customer satisfaction and improving efficiencies in workloads and costs.