About the Author

Melanie Karunaratne | Senior Product Marketing Manager

5 Things You’re Doing Wrong With ITSM

GettyImages-612003140As we talk to IT service management teams looking for new ITSM tools to solve problems on the service desk and beyond, quite often the issues they face are deeper rooted than an outdated, too complex or badly implemented ITSM tool. Below are some of the top problems we often encounter.

1. Ignoring the service needs of your users

A lack of awareness of the service needs of your users means service expectations will not be met and there is a risk of users looking elsewhere for solutions than in your service catalog.

This poses a significant risk to the business as organizations become exposed to potential security breaches, data loss, and noncompliance of software licensing policy as well as creating issues of scalability and supportability for you.

2. Providing poor user experiences

Poor end user experiences lead to dis-satisfied users resulting in lower adoption rates. If you are attempting to implement self-service or a multi-channel communications strategy for your end users, that is solely focused on the benefit to your ITSM team, without creating experiences that match those end-users encounter outside of the work environment, don’t be surprised if these initiatives suffer from lack of adoption.

3. Failing to embrace process automation

If you aren’t automating at least your most basic ITSM processes and workflows you are missing more than one trick. Without automation, as a process progresses and hand-offs take place tasks are more susceptible to human error as well as operating at sub-optimal efficiency and speed.

4. Communicating the wrong metrics

ITSM operational metrics focus on the performance of the ITSM team and tools, e.g., first contact resolution or number of service requests logged in a given day. They are great for describing the current and past operational environment, but don’t show the value or impact your team has on the business.

These traditional operational based metrics are not the figures that business leaders understand or use to make strategic decisions that ultimately affect your budget and resources.

5. Lack of agility to support business change

Keeping the lights on is no longer enough. The mind-set of merely supporting and maintaining email systems and the like rather than that of the innovator who enables business strategy, adapts to changes and opportunities as they arise for the business to gain leadership, market share, and operate in a competitive environment is detrimental to the health of the ITSM team. Failure to adopt an agile operating approach removes your seat at the management table and risks the team becoming irrelevant.

If you recognize any of these problems above, congratulations, you have taken the first step on your path to improvement.

If you recognize any of these problems above, congratulations! You have taken the first step on your path to improvement. Read our “5 Ways to Modernize ITSM” eBook.

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Modernizing ITSM through Automation: A Three Step Plan (Part 3)

Modernizing your ITSM through automation

We have reach the final post in this series about IT Service Management (ITSM) automation. In the first post, we identified the need to re-evaluate processes. In the second, we discussed initial steps that you could take to achieve quick wins. Onto the third step.

Advanced Maturity Steps for Enterprise Value

As you and your team master the basics of automation within your own environment, you can now start to search for further opportunities to improve and extend automation. Those of you at the more advanced stages of your ITSM journey may now have your own immediate environment operating effectively and are working beyond the service desk across the IT organization or even across the enterprise. For those ready to participate in more advanced steps, you can accelerate productivity by harnessing process automation across ITSM operations and wider enterprise systems.

Asset Visibility

Taking the example described in Step 2 of the Adobe Acrobat request from an end user via self service. Connected to request management is the management of assets used to fulfill requests. The discovery, import, reconciliation, and synchronization of your asset data from asset management databases into your ITSM environment will benefit from an automation layer. Your ITSM Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is dependent on the accuracy of the shared data imported from other systems. Integration and automation of the workflows that bring that data in will offer a more efficient and accurate picture of your assets and services. Once that data is available, it enables visibility over the assets that make up your business services, such as license usage or the cost of licenses, for a faster response to requests, incidents, changes, or other processes that affect business productivity.

Request Fulfilment

At this stage of maturity, you could consider adding additional steps to automate beyond request workflow routing, approvals, and communication stages, through to the fulfilment stages. You can instigating closed-loop automation across IT service management through client or unified endpoint management systems capable of deploying software; creating a zero-touch fulfilment system for certain requests gives time back to your team as well as providing your end users with a modernized ITSM app store style experience.

Event Management

Imagine the creation of an efficient self-healing environment whereby you can automatically turn data into actions that positively impact your operations. By using event management—the  capturing of alerts from any source like IT monitoring tools integrated with service management systems—you  can now handle the detection, routing, recording, escalation, communication and potentially apply fixes to issues within your IT environment. Use automatic self-healing loops before the business is even aware. By doing this, you minimize the reactive fire-fighting position that your team finds themselves in when business users report issues.

Automate Lines of Business

Once you have reviewed carefully your internal IT processes, consider looking beyond traditional processes. Why not deliver a similar benefit for other service management teams such as human resources? For example, automating the HR on-boarding process ensures that when a new employee reports for duty, he or she won’t be kept waiting for their equipment, email box setup or other tasks that would hinder productivity and impinge motivation. For HR, it avoids time wasted following up on requests and emails. You and the ITSM team provide business value across other departments that enables them to be more effective.

Automating processes within IT service management enables you to attain a higher level of consistency, execution and improved end-user experiences. The review you conduct prior to automation ensures that, in the future, your processes meet the needs of your users, are easy to maintain, and are scalable. Then, as you start your journey taking a phased approach, you ensure your IT administrators and service management teams retain control over IT maintenance and operational process flows while working more smoothly. Teams begin to benefit from faster resolution and lower problem frequency while bottlenecks, duplication of work, poor links, and interaction experiences between departments become a thing of the past. By freeing up time, you can support new business initiatives and still offer the experiences your end users demand.

In these three blogs, I’ve provided just a few practical examples, based on what our own customers are doing today and the benefits they receive; but there are many others, for example Princeton Healthcare automates routing for auditing purposes:

“Using Service Desk,” said Ed Henry, director of technology at Princeton HealthCare Systems, “we created routing rules which allow us to show auditors line by line why a security or change request was necessary, who approved it, and the exact date and time it happened. Before, when we were doing audits manually, it wasn’t uncommon to have a number of findings against us, but now we pass audits with flying colors.”

And at SQL, they are gaining new information about spending

“Previously, if an employee wanted a new laptop, or even a desk fan, there used to be a lengthy paper trail that was internally mailed or scanned and emailed to managers for approval. Now, we have a fully automated workflow in place, with pre-approvals for selected individuals, saving time and offering us new insight into spending,” said Debi Brockett, Head of Service – IT Operations, Scottish Qualifications Authority.

You can read more about these two customers and others on our website.

But I’m sure you have many more examples in your own environments that you can think of. If there are specific processes that you’d like help automating, why not get in touch or leave a comment.

Modernizing ITSM through Automation: A Three Step Plan (Part 2)

ITSM Automation

In the first part of this three-part series we reviewed the reasons for automating processes, whether they are ITIL based, business based or general IT tasks and discussed the first step necessary for automation – re-evaluation. In this blog, we’ll talk about the next step in this three-part plan

Initial Maturity Steps for Immediate Value

I called this next step ‘initial maturity for immediate value’ because this level of automation is suitable for those that are in the earlier stages of the ITSM journey who could benefit from quick wins. For those in the later stages, this is still the first step, after which you may wish to progress to step three.

You may remember in the first blog in this series we talked about automating the common or mundane tasks as your start point. Any request that is repetitive in nature offers opportunities for automation. Using automation to reduce call volume to your team will deliver immediate value for the operation and the user experience. Start by reviewing any routine, low-complexity, resource-intensive tasks, e.g., password resets.

Forrester conducted a survey and in their subsequent report they recounted that

“Respondents reported that the average cost of resolving a password issue was $31 and that approximately 20% of all help desk calls were password-related.”

(Merritt Maxim and Jennie Duong, “Benchmark Your Employee Password Policies and Practices,” Forrester Research, September 9, 2015, Updated September 14 2015.)

Imagine gaining back 20% of your teams’ time! Enabling business users to access self-service and automatically reset passwords will reduce direct contact with your team, offer an enhanced experience and save administrative costs. In addition, business users that are locked out of systems are unproductive.

Automating other components of your self-service function will help you manage a larger volume of requests more efficiently while decreasing the time it takes for a business user to receive the new services they need to be productive.

Let’s look at an automated software request: an end user wants Adobe Acrobat® and initiates a request in self-service. The submitted request triggers the start of a workflow. The request is logged automatically in your IT service desk system without the need for an analyst to re-enter the information. Each software request follows its own automated process path. Some may not require licenses and approvals but can be deployed immediately. Others, such as this request, require approval from the requester’s manager to use or purchase a license. An approval-request email and self-service notification is sent automatically to the manager of the end user who can hit approve and let the process automatically continue on its journey (If he forgets to approve then an escalation path automatically ensues). No one needs to look up who these requests are routed to—the workflow goes from step to step without any need for intervention. The process is handled, recorded, and captured or escalated according to service levels automatically.

We should not forget the end user who requested the service. Nothing will frustrate a user more than the need to constantly ask for information updates. Automation enables you to publish status updates to the individual user (and even their manager) within self service or send email communications to users as part of the automated process – one less task for your analyst team to perform or remember. Anything that delivers communication updates will improve the end-user experience and the perception of the team in the eyes of your users.

And what about the internal service desk operation itself? These automated communications and updates should also help you and your team work more efficiently – automatically log requests or incidents from self service, automatically update tickets with communications from a Skype chat or the addition of a note by your end user, automatically send out a satisfaction survey at the end of specific contacts or automatically close tickets when an end user acknowledges the resolution. All of these things will improve the working lives of your IT team and enable them to focus on other work whether reducing priority one queues, creating new knowledge articles or meeting with the business to scope new services.

In the next blog we’ll look at Step 3 of this automation plan with some more practical examples.

 

Modernizing ITSM through Automation: A Three Step Plan (Part 1)

Modernizing ITSM through automation

In a report published by the analyst organization Forrester Research on ITSM, research showed that

“57% of service desks struggle with increased ticket volumes, but only 31% are expanding headcount.”

(Elinor Klavens and Eveline Oehrlich, “Five Key Initiatives to Wow Your Workforce with Service Desk,” Forrester Research, September 18, 2015)

Increased ticket volume is not a new challenge but, if you add to this the possibility that when someone leaves the team they may not be replaced as headcount shrinks or remains the same, then the only thing you can do is think creatively – automation offers the potential to assist with your challenge as you modernize your ITSM operations.

According to recent research by Gartner, the top three reasons cited for driving organizations to automate are:

  1. Efficiency (78%)
  2. Cost reduction (58%)
  3. Risk mitigation (40%)

Robert Naegle and Ronni J. Colville, “Survey Analysis: The Realities, Opportunities and Challenges of I&O Automation,” Gartner, May 27, 2015.

A Motivation Booster

Before there is an outcry about replacement of ITSM jobs though automation as the means of cost reduction, think again. A survey of IT pros, reported in Baseline magazine, revealed that only 7% felt that automated IT tools put their jobs at risk.

Automating key IT processes drive efficiencies, eliminating time spent on the manually intensive, mundane or commons tasks. I can guarantee your IT analyst staff did not put any of those tasks on their wish list when joining the team. So now you can use those man-hours to better meet the needs of business users and, at the same time, provide a motivation boost through job enrichment for your staff.

A Quality Enhancer

It’s often assumed that automation means delivering more of the same; but effective automation also provides opportunities for maturing, as well as unifying, separate workflows. Automation provides the opportunity to offer a better quality of support and user satisfaction through faster response times and improved quality and range of services delivered.

An Ambiguity Terminator

Automation offers a predictable and repeatable sequence of steps from start to finish and takes the same route each time. In doing so, it eliminates ambiguity by following a tested, consistent path. As a workflow, or a process like a change, passes from one person to the next, it hits different stages of progress. It’s at these handoff points that tasks can fall through the cracks or workflow is interrupted, resulting in an SLA breach. Automation will lessen the risks of human error. What once took weeks can be accomplished in hours or minutes, without cutting corners that injects risk.

A Strategic Enabler

Whether you’re aiming to work faster, maintain consistency, or reduce costs, automation can assist you operationally. And from a long-term perspective, at a time when service management teams are required to cope with increased and new demands like digital transformation projects on limited headcount, you can refocus time and resources to support business initiatives and goals so that automation becomes a strategic enabler.

There will be many areas of your environment that are ripe for automation, and like any part of your service management operation, the use of a maturity path approach will assist you on your automation journey. Each journey needs a road map, but where you start is equally important.

Step 1 – Re-evaluate Your Processes

Gartner recommends IT organizations focus on moving redundant and repetitive tasks into automation processes. But before you start, understand that automated processes are only as effective as the planning that goes into their development. Einstein is widely attributed with saying that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Whether he said it or not doesn’t matter, but it’s worth bearing in mind when starting down the process automation path.

Before automating processes, re-evaluate each process. Too often we consider the elements in closest proximity to our own environment and do not incorporate considerations that have an effect on the business at large. Automation requires user-centric planning. One thing you must do, and keep doing, is engage with your end users directly or through business productivity teams to map out the current workflow, ensuring they are optimized and makes sense for any users it touches. Only once these processes have been re-evaluated at every step and re-communicated to your teams and users, should you review which optimized processes to automate.

In the next blog, we’ll review Step 2: Initial Maturity Steps for Immediate Value

Reporting and Analytics: A Sad Story of Cold Pizza

It’s 3.30 p.m., you’re sat in a meeting with your management peers and your CIO. You’ve been asked to pull together an IT Ops report for Service Desk trends in the past 12 months for an 8 a.m. meeting tomorrow morning.

4.00 p.m., back at your desk, you ask your reporting specialists for help but they’re on a deadline themselves so the best they can do is a data dump.

4.30 p.m., you receive a spreadsheet with multiple tabs for multiple data sources. You roll up your sleeves, this could take a while.

Modern ITSM Offers Exceptional User Experiences: Service Desk 2016

ServiceDesk2016-blogWhile walking past my local hairdressers this weekend, I remembered that I needed to change my next appointment having booked it at a time that I was USA-bound. But seeing the queue at reception, I didn’t go in to change my appointment. Why? Because I knew that I’d have to wait and then provide lots of information to the new member of staff about the services I usually book, what products I can use and what I’m allergic to and so on. And, I also knew that I could get straight through to  their user-friendly online self service, enter my name to bring up all my details, update my allergy notes and quickly rebook the services I needed, all while keeping an eye on special offers and services they recommended that month. All in all, a much faster, user-friendly experience than waiting in a queue to speak to someone who didn’t know my personal details. And that’s the key take away for ITSM organizations – faster, user-friendly experiences is the new expectation of consumers.

The Rules Have Changed

What do school uniforms and ITSM tools have in common?

Uniform(own)Fall / Autumn, whatever you like to call it, is upon us. Leaves are turning burnt orange and ochre, the night time darkness is arriving earlier and earlier and there is a morning mist in the air as kids go back to school for the start of the new school year. Ahh yes, those ritual back to school activities; the excitement of seeing friends they’ve missed over summer and buying new pencil cases or lunchboxes plastered with their favourite characters, well that’s how kids see it. For parents, back to school means another nightmare scramble to buy school uniforms and gym kit because little David, Karen or “Apple” has outgrown their uniform, moved schools or spent the last year skidding across floors and put a hole in the knees of every pair of school trousers. That’s one fabric performance test manufacturers don’t do! Now whether you are a parent or not, we all know how expensive school uniforms can be over a long period because they just don’t last.

Are You Still Using Windows XP?

WindowsXP(own)

It’s been over a year since Microsoft announced the end of life of Windows XP. Some of my colleagues’ previously blogged about the reasons you should consider migrating from XP. They talked about the security risks of running an out-of-date OS, which can impact enterprise productivity. According to a study by the Ponemon Research Institute, the average time to contain a cyberattack is 31 days.

10 Ways to Improve Your First-Contact Resolution

He's here to help!First-contact resolutions provide a quicker return to productivity for end-user customers and so, unsurprisingly, it is one of the biggest drivers of customer satisfaction on the service desk. It is also key to providing the right customer experience. For the service desk, the faster a call is resolved the lower the costs, so it’s important get this right. However, focusing efforts on just closing a call quickly will drive the wrong behaviour. Interaction needs to provide resolution in order to prevent repeat calls from your end users. Here are ten step you can take to increase your first-contact resolutions.

The One Service Management Team Productivity Hack You Need To Know

PeterDrukerQuote-Productivity_smlTake a look at the photos of physical workspaces at the LANDESK office.

  1. The first is a base-level configuration that all staff in any department start with; desk, chair etc.
  2. The next is one of our customer support managers; notice he needs two screens to monitor to his teams activity and another for other work.
  3. The third is the workspace of one of the problem managers, who has three screens to show information from their testing environments, which are elevated to the position that gives her the best working experience.
  4. The final is an analyst that, among other vital pieces of equipment, requires a headset to take calls easily.