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In the wake of COVID-19, I&O managers are looking for ways to streamline support and reduce costs. At the same time, employees may need more IT support due to the boom in telework. The solution? To shift left and go lean.
Shift-left refers to the practice of shifting Level 1 tickets to Level 0, or self-service, which frees up agents to take on higher-level issues. For example, when users can reset their own passwords without having to call the service desk, agents are freed up to take care of incidents that may require remote access or more lengthy solutions.
Shift-left can also be supportive of the lean method or strategy. Lean means that the service desk is managed so that individual workflows are optimized for efficiency. Additionally, a lean strategy leaves less space for things to go wrong.
Although it sounds like these initiatives are built on the idea of running a tight ship with a skeleton crew, there are several benefits and the best way to get started is to eliminate repetitive requests.
There are numerous benefits for a shift-left, lean approach. When each service agent is completing more important tasks, there is a greater return on investment. In fact, the average cost-per-ticket for support teams ranges from $2.93 to $49.69, with the average ticket costing around $15.56 and the average cost per minute for handling a ticket at $1.60, according to HDI. However, when the average ticket is created for higher-level issues, that average cost of $15.56 is better spent.
Furthermore, service agents report a better sense of accomplishment or ownership of their work when tasked with resolving more complex issues. Overall morale improves, when aided by the use of a chatbot, for example, which ultimate leads to higher rates of employee retention.
How do you start to implement this strategy? By eliminating these seven repetitive IT service desk requests and embracing automation.
Password resets can account for up to 50% of all calls to the service desk, and passwords remain one of the main security threats to any organization.
Eliminating password resets can support the shift-left approach but does not mean the elimination of passwords altogether. The solution lies in reviewing the password aging procedures and policies to ensure that they are in line with the actual risk and adjusting them. For example, if you require password updates every 30 days, employees may forget their new password therefore increasing the number of calls to the service desk. A solution might be to lengthen the amount of time between required password changes.
Another solution lies in the single sign-on approach. This ensures that each user has as few passwords as possible to remember and can grant access more easily to new users without requiring a call to the service desk. Implementation of single sign-on can also be fairly simple and can minimize the overall security risk of a typical password sign-on.
Many times, the service desk may know about an error but due to time constraints, may only provide quick patches or updates for each user. These repeated incidents with known errors can eat away at your service desk’s time and resources.
Instead, implement reactive problem management to fix common failures in infrastructure and software. If the same problem has cropped up several times, spend time to resolve the known errors or create a self-service portal to deliver the work-around.
To reduce the number of requests for issues with existing equipment or services – such as outdated desktop computers which have been marked for retirement – it is important to remove the equipment or services from the user-visible service catalog. You can also restrict the equipment or software availability to only the business units who need them for the time being until a suitable replacement is procured.
Replace and complete the retirement of these outdated services or devices rather than continually updating them. This frees up time to handle software and devices which will work properly going forward.
Training new employees on important IT processes, like contacting the service desk for help and how to use hardware and software properly, is important. Repeated calls to the service desk for common questions can consume agents’ time and are an indicator of necessary additional training.
To remedy this, include and update IT training for new hires and include the training as part of onboarding. Additionally, enable users to cross-train new hires. You can also utilize automation, such as chatbots, to encourage training and access to knowledge. Further, holding periodic training courses and the provision of tutorials to refresh employees on training for recurring questions can eliminate these calls altogether.
Sometimes, procedures are in place for good reason. Others, they may be in place because they are part of an outdated, red-tape laden, wasteful process. When this is the case, it is important to work with the process owners both inside of the IT team and throughout the business to apply lean practices across the board. Encourage each teams in the organization to take steps to reduce wasteful activities that may require users to seek unnecessary support.
An example of this would be filling out extensive reports which nobody reads, only to have to upload the report to a portal (which may require support from the service desk) in order to get a small task or idea approved. Streamlining processes and procedures will benefit all teams and will support the lean approach.
Especially in a remote work environment, collaborative tools are key. These tools might be Microsoft based, like Office or Teams, Google based, like Google Docs or Hangouts, or stand-alone, like Zoom, Skype, or Asana.
No matter what type of program your team uses to collaborate, chances are high that employees will need help with set-up and use. Rather than continually answering the same questions, a self-service portal with access to a knowledge management database can walk the user through set-up and functionality on their own.
When rolling out new technologies it is vital to provide proper training. Following the training, information on how to use all new technologies should be easily available for all users. This might come in the form of a Wiki, self-service portal, or another knowledge management database.
Major updates to existing technologies should also garner the same level of training so that issues surrounding the update or replacement of technologies can be eliminated with proper communication.
Ultimately, the goal is to eliminate, automate, and simplify. Once you have eliminated these repetitive actions from the IT service desk, managers can focus on implementing a comprehensive, omnichannel solution to streamline the service desk. Items that cannot be eliminated can be automated before ultimately requiring the assistance of a live agent.
An ITSM platform can help with the shift-left, specifically when paired with a self-help knowledge management database. Employees will also be able to eliminate issues with peer support and chatbots, which can be used as an extension of the platform.
With the push for a better return on investment in a post-COVID landscape, IT teams will likely be stretched thin and the lean approach will be necessary. Rather than fearing the change, embrace it and you can radically improve your team’s efficiency.
Learn more and understand the three simple ways to handle incidents and requests by downloading this recent Gartner report!
Bob Rizzo is the Product Marketing Director at EasyVista. An accomplished sales and marketing professional focused on helping customers, he serves as the product evangelist, both internally and externally, for the Easy Vista Self Help product. Rizzo has vast experience working with customers and partners in the IT service management software industry and understanding the challenges they face. Outside of work, he is an avid sports fan and enjoys playing golf, billiards and soccer.
November 17, 2020