Introduction and the Google trap
IT self-service seems simple enough – instead of employing service desk personnel, you have the users sort things out for themselves. They just have to fill out some online forms to request computer upgrades, mobile devices, new applications and so forth. The goal of this is to improve turnaround times and save money.
But it isn’t simply a matter of dropping a system in place within the organisation and hoping it works and users know how to use it.
IT self-service is all about the right balance. Organisations are bound to fail if they do not bear that in mind. That’s because IT self-service is rarely able to move beyond the first level of support, and it’s critical that this fact is understood.
“Expectations need to be matched appropriately – meaning that the IT folks operating service desks should not expect too much from their customers,” says Andreas Konig, chief executive officer at TeamViewer. “Whereas would-be tech-savvy end-users, on the other hand, should not be too bold about the issues they are able to engage themselves in.”
Self-service versus Google
One of the biggest pitfalls for IT self-service is the tendency for staff to simply forget about it in favour of hitting Google or asking nearby non-IT colleagues for advice. Research from Gartner entitled ‘The Evolution of the Digital Workplace’ previously found that only 40% of employees seek IT support as a first port of call.
“Many users are simply unaware that they even have a self-service portal, and we find internal provisions are especially bad at spreading awareness among staff,” says Neil Penny, Product Director at Sunrise Software.
IT teams should make a concentrated effort to raise awareness of the self-service option among employees. “Between fighting fires and work on large IT projects, teams rarely feel they have time for this kind of activity, but raising awareness will help them in the long run as a well running self-service system reduces the pressure of requests,” says Penny.
He adds that if the self-service system is consistently failing to provide solutions or to have queries answered in time, the team should look to increase the knowledge available as well as the way that queries are managed and responded to.
“The portal should also be an evolving service – the team should listen to user feedback and plan tactical changes to ensure problems don’t arise in the future.”
Konig says that many users are too intimidated to use the portal because they think they will do serious damage. So instead of using it, they call 911. “In other words, many organisations find that their users do not turn to their IT self-service portal.”
“Users need the right kind of encouragement to engage with IT self-service, which may be achieved by a dedicated marketing campaign. A campaign with the aim of instilling the portal in the mind-set of the user,” he notes. “Additionally, if something goes wrong, it’s often worth checking your portal’s usability from the perspective of a user.”
Best practices and flexible working
Implementation problems and best practices
Konig says the bottom line is that implementation needs to go beyond plain old FAQs. IT self-service has the potential to be a major relief for first level support. “Yet there is no gain without pain.”
As an operator of IT self-service, you will need to be focused on collecting data about your IT self-service’s performance, says Konig, so that you’re able to see the full picture as to how it is being used, and where its strengths and weaknesses are.
Additionally, it is important to safeguard your investment by implementing a toolset that will allow your team to pick up and escalate support cases quickly. This can include ticket systems, incident management solutions, and remote support software.
“Yet – and this cannot be stressed enough – you need to put yourself in the shoes of those who are seeking help,” says Konig.
Another problem for IT self-service is when organisations try to implement it by using different platforms from different vendors. “However great each solution may be, what happens as a result is a lack of integration and synergy between the systems. It becomes more time-consuming and complex to provision, manage and monitor services – thus defeating the purpose of having an IT self-service approach in the first place,” says Mark Furness, CEO and founder of Essensys.
The quality of the user experience is a critical factor in the success of an IT self-service project. The more positive the user experience, the faster the adoption rate.
In the example of an enterprise app store, it must offer users a choice of applications, says Vincent Smyth, senior vice president at Flexera Software.
“You must confirm that any apps available through the store are well-suited with the overall IT and business strategy, and with the IT computing environment. Successful stores offer rapid fulfillment leveraging the software deployment system (i.e. System Center, AirWatch, Casper),” he says.
IT self-service and flexible working
The workforce is increasingly requiring flexible working environments and solutions, andconsumer tech in the workplace is becoming the norm. “Enabling an on-demand, frictionless experience for employees is more than ever becoming a necessity for the IT function,” says Furness.
In the next 12 to 18 months, Furness says that we will see a number of exciting IoT services appearing in the workplace and offering many benefits for all stakeholders, from boosting productivity and staff retention to driving facilities management efficiencies.
“Adding this extra layer of services to the IT workload means that we can expect to see more than ever the rise of a single integrated IT self-service platform orchestrating the complete ecosystem,” says Furness.
Add cloud and BYOD to IoT and flexible working and you can quickly see the need for organisations to have IT self-service implemented as a means to cope with the extra demand placed upon them. To fail to do so will mean that the IT department is pushed to the limit.