When we think about increased IT support efficiency, we might think of faster and/or cheaper IT service desk operations. But now, post-pandemic, or what is being called “the new normal”, there’s a hunger for “better, faster, and cheaper” IT support. This recognizes key modern business priorities, such as:
- Emphasis on outcomes and value creation
- Need for agility
- New ways of working linked to digital transformation
- Maximization of employee productivity
- Rising employee expectations
- The commercial impact of the pandemic and its effect on budgets
And all of the above pressures are occurring against a backdrop of more demand for IT’s services. Ultimately, something has got to give in terms of how we offer IT support to meet the growing demand and expectations--in whatever the “new normal” ultimately becomes.
How Technology Helps with IT Support Efficiency
While this blog is about improving IT support efficiency, your organization likely needs more from IT as per the introduction. Hence, when thinking about the opportunities to improve efficiency, we need to be cognizant that simply cutting costs or speeding up processes is likely going to be suboptimal if it adversely affects employee productivity and business outcomes. So, while technology is key to driving efficiency, this only happens if its delivery is done right – with much of what’s needed for success outlined in the ten tips for improving IT support efficiency that follow. Importantly, these tips are more about how IT service desks can move from the traditional mandate of simply being more efficient by “doing more with less” to be all three of “better, faster, and cheaper.”
10 Tips for Improving IT Support Efficiency
- Prioritize “better” and “faster,” and “cheaper” will follow. The introduction of new technology where the primary motion is to save money will probably not deliver the desired return on investment (ROI). IT self-service capabilities are a great example of this mistake.
- Make business-level, not IT-level, decisions related to IT efficiency improvements. Quite simply, for IT service desks, saving IT-related costs while losing (business) employee productivity is likely to cause more harm than good at a business-level.
- Match employees’ consumer-world-driven expectations. We all expect so much more from service and support providers based on the exemplar organizations we deal with in our personal lives. These expectations apply to the workplace too, so your IT service desk needs to keep up. For example, consumer-world technologies increasingly bring capabilities and information to you rather than you needing to “travel” to access them – with efficiency savings for all when done right.
- Optimize people use, not just technology use. While the opportunity of artificial intelligence (AI) might get organizations to focus on its use, once we have technology parity across organizations the focus will then revert to people, and how they’re employed, as a differentiator. So, rather than asking “What can we use AI for?”, ask “What are we best using our people for?” and then bring in the technology to help.
- Don’t tackle your efficiency-related improvement opportunities in isolation. After all, the use of increased automation affects traditional metric targets, and potentially, the metrics themselves. Plus, more importantly, your organization will expect IT support improvements across a number of areas rather than patiently waiting for them to be delivered in a serial manner.
- Learn from the mistakes of self-service. The IT service management (ITSM) industry learned so much from the many failures to reap the full benefits of IT self-service. For example, one learning is that the change needs to be viewed as more than a technology implementation – it’s a people-change initiative. To work effectively, there needs to be sufficient, high-quality knowledge articles for self-help and to fuel machine learning. Likewise, there needs to be sufficient automation to realize the needed speed and experience improvements, plus of course the expected cost-savings. These learnings apply to both omnichannel and smart automation efficiency-based changes, in particular, because these both involve employee expectations and people-related change.
- Ensure access to support is easy and on employees’ terms. If it’s not, employees will continue to do what they’ve always done. Hence, if it’s easier to telephone the IT service desk than to use self-help, then that’s what people will do. Otherwise, the benefits are frittered away in terms of both cost and ticket volume.
- AI adoption is inevitable, so deal with the key barriers early. Manage stakeholder expectations effectively, ensure data and knowledge adequacy, and deal with the people aspects – from the fear of change, in employment terms, to skilling up.
- Invest in organizational change management tools and techniques. This, in many ways, follows tips #6 and #8. What’s done to improve IT support efficiency will likely change the traditional ways of working. This, in turn, necessitates the effective management of change resistance, at a minimum.
- Remember that the service management industry is evolving. Service management is ultimately about improving, it’s a journey. So, ensure that your changes and vision are open to the future twists and turns that likely lie ahead for service management and IT support.
For a deeper dive on improving IT support efficiency, check out my on-demand webinar here.
Stephen Mann, IT Service Management Expert and Principal Analyst and Content Director at ITSM.tools
Principal and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm ITSM.tools. Also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals.
Previously held positions in IT research and analysis (at IT industry analyst firms Ovum and Forrester and the UK Post Office), IT service management consultancy, enterprise IT service desk and IT service management, IT asset management, innovation and creativity facilitation, project management, finance consultancy, internal audit, and product marketing for a SaaS IT service management technology vendor.