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.