Data Center Management Systems
Most organizations understand that in today's environment Customer Service is the make or
break factor for most companies. The best corporations are not only
committed to providing the best customer service to their external customers, but
also have adopted the same philosophy for their internal customers as
well. Total commitment to customer service excellence has a positive impact
that ripples through an entire organization and can influence how managers,
departments, work groups, and individuals view their peers, and directly affects how
they work together.
Customer Service depends on people, organization and infrastructure,
availability of information on products, vendors, maintenance suppliers and customers,
and readily available appropriate solutions for customer problems, questions and requests.
Another key component of Customer Service is measurement. Measurement for
comparing the actual quality and quantity of the work provided, for evaluating
the success of the service, and to highlight areas of success to allow
effective adjustments and changes to procedures and the infrastructure.
IT Customer Service has more opportunities to have a positive impact on more internal and external customers, than perhaps any other organization within the
Customer Service satisfaction is about people. It is critical to help your
customer service staff be successful by supplying effective training, providing
truly effective problem management tools, and then measuring and rewarding
A truly effective system for managing Customer Service will: Minimize
effort; Manage customer callback times; Escalate problems when they
need attention; Automatically log problems whenever
possible; Automatically assign problems;
Provide the ability to measure the quality and quantity of the
service; Allow your people to quickly discover and respond to trends and to
focus on areas having increased problems; Provide quick access to the
information that will allow the customer service people to quickly resolve the
problem or route it to the appropriate technician; Manage and track all
steps of a problem's life cycle; Allow all support people and
technicians to have access to the Problem Management System whether they're
on-site, at a remote site, or at home.
Customers are seldom very forgiving when evaluating customer service.
Reliability and availability of the service are key requirements.
One or two bad experiences will effect the way a customer views the service for a long
time. Forget to call a customer back a few times, lose track of one of their
problems or have them get frequent busy signals when they attempt to use the
service and they will quickly lose confidence in the service. Problems
like these tend to feed on each other. For example, occasionally
forget to call customers back with a resolution or lose one of their problems
and they will tie up your phones and people by frequently checking on their
Meeting Customer expectations and maximizing customer satisfaction isn't
necessarily difficult. Here are some things that make a
- Always call your customers back when you agreed you would.
- Never lose or forget about a customer's problem.
- Insure that all problems are logged. Encourage customers
to always call and log the incident when they are experiencing a problem.
It's difficult or impossible to improve quality and satisfaction without
measurement and accountability.
- Wherever possible capture problems automatically, and work
to resolve all problems even if the customer fails to call. All
errors need to be accounted for and corrected. Your problem management
system ideally should automatically create incident records for errors like
CICS transaction failures, Program failures, JCL failures, failures on
remote servers or processors and any permanent network failures.
Problems tend to cause other problems, for example, CICS transaction failures
often impact CICS response time for all users within the same CICS region.
- After a problem has been resolved, have someone randomly
call customers to see how satisfied they were with the service you
provided. Then do something with the information.
- Monitor the type and number of problems your customers,
locations, systems, etc. are having and look for trends and hot spots. Your
problem management system should allow you to pinpoint the cause. Use the
information to highlight those areas where changes need to occur.
Get those problem areas fixed and then communicate the results to your
- Validate the quality of the problem solutions. A
solution quality review procedure needs to be part of the problem management
process. Problems reoccur when temporary solutions or patches are applied.
Insist on permanent fixes wherever possible.
- Measure and reward success. Example: Reward teams and
departments that have the lowest problem to associated change ratio over an
established length of time.
Providing superior customer service requires that many issues be understood and
addressed. If your company is experiencing problems in one or
more of the following areas, it may be time to consider enhancing your current Customer Service
- If your current system permits you to enter problems, but the people
assigned to them occasionally forget about existing problems or forget to check
for new problems or to update the resolution information.
- If your current system is not available to every person who
is expected to resolve a problem.
- If your current system is so difficult to use, new employees
must attend lengthy training classes before they can use it.
- If your systems features and functions are awkward, not self
documenting, or require that hidden commands be memorized. Employees frequently
forget how to use portions of the system and stop using portions or all of the
system out of frustration.
- If searching for problems is difficult. Sometimes it
requires entering long and cryptic commands, yielding unpredictable
results. Often only a very few fields can be searched.
- If your current system does not supply enough room to enter
all problem information.
- If using a word as a search criteria often requires having
to perform multiple searches, varying the spelling of the word to account
for all variations.
- If your current system does not meet all your problem
reporting needs and the vendor has not been responsive to requests for changes.
- If you need a COBOL, Rexx, or Clist programmer to generate
- If your current system does nothing to insure that problems
are resolved on a timely basis.
- If performing a search when there are thousands of problems
can take several minutes and is therefore rarely done.
- If your computer operators are responsible for logging
production batch abends but, many production problems are not logged because:
- Operators are sometimes reluctant to document their own
- Operators can seldom afford the time it takes to properly
log a problem. It can be very difficult to keep production on
schedule when a problem occurs, particularly if more than one problem occurs at
the same time.
- There is seldom a lot of time available to collect detailed
information on a failure.
- If your production CICS transaction failures are seldom
logged or, if they are, the information supplied by the customer is sketchy
and hard to associate with the CICS transaction dump or other information
recorded by CICS.
- If the audit trail in the problem data base is poor or
missing, so it is difficult to determine who has updated a problem or when this
- If your Help Desk software takes months to install and
customize before it can be used.
To address these issues you must be willing to commit to a comprehensive
software implementation process, which could best be addressed by an automated software
solution. There are two basic approaches to solving production turnover
problems: The first is to develop a software solution in-house. The second
is to purchase a vendor supplied software solution.
A company certainly can take on developing or enhancing existing in house
software to more effectively address some of the issues outlined above.
Given the importance of the customer service function a strong case can be
made for investing in the sophistication, reliability, immediate
availability and upward compatibility of a vendor supplied solution specifically
designed to manage this process.
In looking at vendor supplied software solutions for problem management there are
several factors to consider:
- Ease of Installation - Is anything more than basic system programmer skills required to install the product? How long does installation take?
- Ease of Implementation - What is involved in
customizing the system? How long does implementation take? How much of the
system is pre-customized? How flexible is the system? How much
training is required for users of the system?
- Ease of Use - Is use of the system intuitive
and easy. Does the system require that users remember special
commands. Will those casual users of the system be able to use the system
- Vendors commitment to Quality - Does
the vendor have a proven track record for providing quality, innovative
software and responsive service and support? Is the vendor dedicated to
the ongoing enhancement of the product, so that it will continue to serve
your needs in the future?
- Support - How is support handled? What hours is it available?
- Cost - What is the purchase price? What
will yearly maintenance cost? What is the cost of staff time for
installation, customization, maintenance and user training? Will additional
hardware or software be required to fully implement the product? Will
there be future additional charges for processor upgrades or an increase in
the number of users?
- Maximum number of users - Will the entire IT
department be able to have access to the system. Will the system perform
adequately with a large number of users concurrently logged on.
- Performance - Will the platform provide enough
capacity to support a varying number of concurrent users now and in the future?
- Reliability - Will the system be running on
your most reliable platform?
- Accessibility - Do the support people and
technicians have access to the Problem Management System whether they are on-site,
at a remote site, or at home?
- Security - Does the Security Administrator have
easy access to global security parameters?
- Serviceability - Do the software technicians
have easy access to the software when applying maintenance or making and
testing system changes?
- Recoverability - Does the environment support
easy database recovery following system software or hardware failures?
- Automation - Does the software provide for the
automatic creation of problem tickets for errors like CICS transaction failures,
JCL failures, failures on remote servers or processors and any permanent
- Platform - Does the platform the software will
run on provide access to the resources that allow the software to
automatically capture, record and track failures?
- Staff Requirements - What skill
level is necessary for customization, ongoing maintenance and
modifications? Is system administration straight forward and easily accomplished by
- Migration of the Existing Problem Management Data Base - Does the vendor provide utilities to facilitate migrating your
existing problem data base?
The in-house approach will cost the salary of a experienced Programmer/Analyst
devoted to this project for perhaps one man-year (or more!). Your
problems (and the costs associated with them) will not be addressed until the
project is completed. The developer, assuming continues to be employed by
your company, would also be required to provide ongoing support and
enhancements for the in-house system for an indefinite period of time.
The second alternate is to purchase existing software. Since there
are several such products on the market, your personnel would be required to
evaluate and select the one which most meets your needs. The purchase of
the software could cost between $10,000 and $200,000. Most software
vendors also require a yearly maintenance charge of between 15 and 22 percent
of the cost of the product. With either approach, your personnel
would need to be trained on how to use the system. One day of training
is usually sufficient.
The developer of an in-house system would require strong technical programming skills
and an in-depth knowledge of current problem management process models and
their limitations. Experience in working with automated problem
management systems is highly desirable. In purchasing a software package,
you will need someone on your staff to act as administrator. This
person will be responsible for product installation/implementation, user
training and ongoing support. This person should have a working knowledge
of JCL and utilities, and a thorough understanding of your problem
development of a problem management system will most likely prove to be
too time-consuming and expensive to be a practical solution. In
addition, it causes you to rely too heavily on the developer for ongoing
support. Unless this person can be dedicated indefinitely to the system, it is
unlikely to be enhanced as your requirements evolve. Should the developer
leave the company, you are faced with the temporary loss of support while a
replacement is hired and trained. The better solution is to acquire an
existing software package which can meet your problem management needs.
The package can be installed immediately and can be ready to use in 1 to 3
weeks, depending on your specific requirements and implementation
schedule. The software vendor is then responsible for maintenance, support and
enhancements. You should seek out a vendor with a proven track record of providing
quality, innovative software and responsive support services. It is
crucial that the vendor is dedicated to ongoing enhancements to the product, so
that it will continue serve your needs in the future as the Information
Technology world changes.
PM/RS was designed and developed by the DCMS development staff with the help of
several corporations interested in addressing their real problem management
problems. Since its original inception in 1983, PM/RS has been continually
enhanced to support an ever expanding variety of environments and user
requirements. The focus in recent years has been to increase automation and
easy-of-use for both the typical user and the PM/RS Administrator.
PM/RS is a TSO/ISPF-based system designed to manage any number of problems,
requests and questions for medium to large-scale Data Processing
installations. The PM/RS programs are written in COBOL and
Assembler and use a VSAM data base. All phases of the problem
management process, from automatic problem
information capture and recording, customer incident call recording
thru automated assignment, resolution and problem close, can be managed by
PM/RS. Problem are typically grouped and tracked by severity and impact.
Tracking and escalation detected timer expirations (such as a customer callback
time approaching) is communicated to the owner of the problem and the help
PM/RS provides a very comprehensive solution to problem management.
PM/RS's design enables you to easily manage your entire corporations
help desk environment. It can easily be used to capture and manage problems that occur on
other platforms, such as VSE and Client Server environments. PM/RS is
not labor intensive to manage. Once PM/RS has been configured to your
environment, only changes to your requirements would re-envolve the system
When DCMS Change Control System (CCS) is also installed, batch and on-line last
change information is obtained real-time from CCS. For the affected
problem job and/or program, PM/RS shows the person who made the last change,
the change's date, time and the change request identifier. With the
use of a single PF key, the referenced CCS request can be displayed in its
entirety. The CCS-PM/RS combination also provides a management report which
displays the success rates of those making production changes.
- PM/RS automatically records all pertinent information for
production batch abends, JCL errors, CICS transaction abends, permanent
network failures, and failures on distributed processors. It is
common for these types of problems to account of 60-80% of your total
- PM/RS automatically assigns problems to the appropriate
individual or group based on user customized rules.
- Each PM/RS problem entry supports up to 400 lines of
description text and an additional 400 lines of resolution text.
- Searching for previously recorded problems is fast and very
- PM/RS permits you to search through hundreds of thousands of
problems in just seconds.
- PM/RS's Problem Data Base can be quickly searched using any
combination of up to 60 problem fields. PM/RS also supports exceptionally
fast text searches for words or combinations of words located within the
problem title, problem description text, or problem resolution text.
- PM/RS insures the consistent spelling of all searchable
fields by verifying the values against on-line maintained tables.
- Search fields can be joined using and/or logic
connectors for complex data base searches.
- Most search fields accept wild card characters to permit
- PM/RS is easy to learn and very easy to use. Users
quickly become self taught through the use of the on-line tutorials.
- PM/RS provides extensive reporting capabilities with a large
number of predefined reports provided by DCMS.
- PM/RS's powerful Report Writer Facility permits any user to
quickly design and generate custom reports.
- PM/RS provides an audit trail within the problem
display. You can easily determine exactly when and by whom a given problem has
- PM/RS is very easy to install and can be operational in a
- PM/RS's Automatic Escalation Facility informs appropriate
personnel when problems are not resolved within the appropriate time, based on
problem type, severity, impact and elapsed time.
- A search of even an extremely large data base is very fast
due to PM/RS's unique database indexing structure.
- Entries for many problem fields are validated against
corresponding system tables to ensure consistent spelling and to provide more
accurate data base searches.
- Entry Counts by Problem Type - (15 month comparison)
- Entry Counts by User Group - (15 months)
- Entry Counts with Impact Level 1 - (15 months)
- Entry Counts with Impact Level 2 - (15 months)
- Entry Counts with Impact Level 3 - (15 months)
- Entry Counts with Impact Level 4 - (15 months)
- IPL Counts by IPL System/Type - (15 months)
- Entries Recorded per Hour - Monday-Friday - (15 months)
- Entries Recorded per Hour - Saturday - (15 months)
- Entries Recorded per Hour - Sunday - (15 months)
- Average Resolution Hours for Impact 1 Severity 1 entries - (15 months)
- Average Resolution Hours for Impact 2 Severity 1 entries - (15 months)
- Ten Most Frequent Problem Reporters - (4 month comparison)
- Ten Most Frequent Non-Problem Reporters - (4 months)
- Ten Most Frequent Problem Reporting Locations - (4 months)
- Ten Most Frequent Non-Problem Reporting Locations - (4 months)
- Ten Most Frequent Hardware Network ID's - (4 months)
- Ten Most Frequent Software ID's - (4 months)
- Ten Most Frequent On-line Transaction ID's (4 months)
- Ten Most Frequent Problem Symptoms (4 months)
- Ten Most Frequent Problem Causes (4 months)
- Ten Most Frequent Problem Programs (4 months)
- Ten Most Frequent Problem Jobnames (4 months)
- Problem Status Summary by Type
- Problem Status Summary by Group
- PM/RS's interactive Report Writer Facility permits any user
design and produce reports from the PM/RS data base. Each is
to individual needs. Once defined, the report can be generated
viewed on-line or from a scheduled production job. The Report
can also be used to extract problem data for further processing using
- PM/RS's security facilities permit control of who may add,
view, delete and/or reassign problems.
- PM/RS supports an unlimited number of concurrent
Any number of users can update unique problems on the data
- An unlimited number of problems may reside on the problem
- A batch utility maintains a historical tape or disk archive
by migrating old problems from the data base to the archive.
retention is controlled by problem type and problem close date.
may be easily retrieved from the archive.
- PM/RS provides several features to prevent recorded problems
- Callback notification - We recommend
the following process for the initial handling of customer
problems. When a problem is recorded by the Customer Service
Center, the "Callback Due Date/Time" is negotiated with the
customer. As the assignee views the problem he is notified as to
when the customer is expecting a callback. The PM/RS system then periodically checks
to verify that the customer has been called back. If the initial
customer callback has not occurred within 10 minutes prior to the time
negotiated with the customer, alert messages are sent to the assignee. If
the initial callback has still not occurred within 3 minutes of the
Callback Due Date/Time expiring, appropriate messages are routed to the Customer
Service Center. The Customer Service Center may then call the assignee,
notify a manager or reassign the problem and call the customer to notify them
of the delay.
- Logon notification - As you LOGON to TSO, the first
ISPF screen displayed presents a count of the number of open problems to
which you and your work group are currently assigned.
- Automatic Escalation - If a problem is not resolved within
the time limits established by problem type, severity and impact, the
problem escalates to the next level. Four escalation levels are provided,
each describing the actions to be taken by the Customer Service Center to
expedite the problem's resolution.
- When the DCMS Change Control System (CCS) is installed,
PM/RS automatically displays last change information for programs and jobs
for batch, on-line and distribution problems. The user can, with a
single keystroke, quickly access and view the change detail information for a
referenced change request.
- When DCMS Change Control System (CCS) is also installed, the
Problem/Change Analysis report can be created which shows the success rate for each
person making production changes through CCS. Persons having the highest
success rate are listed at the top of the report.
- When the DCMS Hardware/Software Inventory System (H/SIS) is
installed, PM/RS displays detailed information on the location, person to contact,
phone number, vendor, attached to device, version, release, FMIDs,
maintenance coverage, etc. for failing hardware or software components. The
detailed information for the associated hardware or software component can
be quickly viewed by pressing a single PF key.
- PM/RS is fully documented with over 250 on-line tutorial
screens. When an entry error occurs while adding a problem, pressing PF1
displays the tutorial screen which describes the field in question. By
pressing PF1 when no error condition exists, the tutorials present more
general information about the current screen and function. Placing the cursor on a
field and pressing PF1 causes information specific to that field to be
- The PM/RS package includes a batch utility which reorganizes
and automatically tunes the system's VSAM data base files. Its use
optimizes system performance by automatically reducing file fragmentation, Index
levels and capacity concerns.
- PM/RS is distributed with a sample data base. During a
demo/trial you are able to search and display real problems recorded at another
- PM/RS's 'fast entry' modeling facility permits you to easily
record and save the repetitive information for the most common problems as
'models'. When adding a problem, you can quickly access one of
the saved models. This facility permits the Customer Service
Center to greatly reduce the number of keystrokes required to add commonly occurring problems.
- PM/RS is provided with the ability to use up to 39 parallel
data bases. Depending on the needs of your corporation, problems could
be maintained in separate databases divided by company, division or group.
- While adding many types of problems, the data base is
automatically searched for the entered key fields to locate other reported problems
with the same characteristics. The on-line screen presents the total
number of problems found with the identifying problem number and open date for
each of the 4 most recent entries. Only a single PF keystroke is
required to access any one of the 4 most recent problem entries.
- PM/RS allows an unlimited number of users to concurrently
share a common database.
- A variety of predefined reports are available to provide trend
analysis and system status information.
DCMS provides a 60 day free trial, so you are able to easily see how PM/RS can
perform and meet your needs. A sample data base is included on the
distribution tape. Immediately after installing the demo/trial system, you can
use the on-line functions of PM/RS to see sample historical data, issue
queries, create reports, print predefined reports, etc. Our customization manual
will step you thru the procedures required to define your companies
infrastructure to PM/RS. You will learn first-hand how easy it is to setup and
After unloading the PM/RS software and demo/trial data base from the distribution tape,
you are guided thru an on-line system generation dialog. The entire
process can be accomplished in a half an hour, after which you are ready to
begin your evaluation.
The product installation and system generation requires someone with some technical
skills. Typically this activity is performed by a Systems Programmer or an
Operations Analyst. The evaluator should have an understanding of the
problem management issues and requirements.
distributed with pre-loaded tables typically only requiring slight
modification. DCMS also supplies utilities to quickly load tables
that cannot be pre-loaded. If your site's requirements are
typical, implementation can be as simple as
updating a few tables and turning the system on.
of time required to implement PM/RS can vary, depending on your site's
unique configuration requirements, the relative skills of those working on the
project and the amount of time they can dedicate to the effort. PM/RS
typically can been fully implemented in as little as one week.
has been implemented PM/RS administration duties are minimal.
However, to provide adequate coverage during sick days, vacations and should a
trained Administrator leaves the company DCMS recommends that two individuals
from your company be trained as PM/RS Administrators.
DCMS is now offering onsite turnkey implementation services. PM/RS
typically takes us one week to implement. Implementation includes planning, installation,
customization and training.
PM/RS includes the following manuals.
Administrator Guide - Topics include functional overview, installation, customization, security and table requirements.
Training Guide - A presentation of the on-line tutorial screens and sample screens from the on-line functions.
User Guide - A presentation of the on-line tutorial screens and sample screens from the on-line functions.
The following training classes are available:
PM/RS User Training - A 4 hour class in which the PM/RS features, operating environment and on-line functions are explained.
PM/RS Administrator Training - 8 hours of instruction covering PM/RS internals, tables, security and utilities.
The DCMS support line is available 7 days/week, 24 hours/day.
software libraries: 25 cylinders DASD for VSAM data base: OS/390 or
Products are licensed (Perpetual and Renewable) on a per processor basis.
Multiple processor and DCMS product discounts are available. Pricing is
tiered based on Processor Software Group. Annual maintenance for
perpetual licenses (after the first year) is calculated at a rate of 15% of the
current license fee.
Q: Does PM/RS automatically log batch and on-line failures?
A: Yes. PM/RS can automatically log Batch, JCL, CICS, Network, Remote Server,
Etc. failures by detecting messages for these events and communicating
relevant information to the PM/RS monitor (a started task), which in turn
records the problem. You can also communicate with the PM/RS
monitor directly from a batch or on-line program to report any unusual or
Q: Can anyone add a new problem?
A: PM/RS can be setup so that anyone can add or only select individuals can add
problems. This is true for the other protected functions as well: deleting,
closing, updating and viewing.
Q: Do all the tables have to be completed before a problem can be
while adding a problem, you can enter a question mark (?) in most
required fields to list the acceptable entries already defined in the
corresponding table. If you don't see the one you need, you can
issue the command to add it, select it from the list and continue with
the rest of the problem.
Q: Can we archive problems that have reached a certain age to keep our disk
a utility can be scheduled to run that will periodically move problems
tape cased on problem type and date. A PM/RS utility allows
problems to be quickly retrieved from the archive should they be needed.
Some of our potential PM/RS users are not always logged on to TSO.
Can PM/RS notify these users of their problems through our E-MAIL
if your E-MAIL system permits the entry of messages through a batch
PM/RS can be configured to execute a JOB each time a problem is added
updated. The JOB (an ISPF skeleton library member) can be setup
use the utility to add an E-MAIL message directed to the problem
Can the PM/RS screens be customized?
As an example, if you would prefer that 'Reporter Location' should be called
'Reporter Building', you need only change the corresponding ISPF panels.
ISPF panels are PDS members which are almost screen image, so the change