The global pandemic has spurred profound changes across the world, many that will endure long after coronavirus fears subside. The corporate IT service desk has had to alter the way it works, as well as the service and support capabilities it employs, to better enable employees and business operations. Today, we are also witnessing an amplified version of what was taking root pre-pandemic when the “doing more with less” mantra was replaced with “better, faster, cheaper”.
Other factors are also dictating ITSM tool reassessment. For example, the need to digitally transform. According to the Dell Digital Transformation Index, 80% of organizations report some form of digital transformation acceleration due to the pandemic. This acceleration was largely in response to social distancing/remote working, and expectations of maintaining productivity.
All of this, and more, needs to be born in mind when considering the many issues of running multiple service desk tools. These issues extend further than the technologies employed – but it’s a good place to start when evaluating how the multiple-tool situation might be harming your organization.
Technology-related issues of running multiple service desk tools
This is in no way a complete list, but please consider your organization’s use of multiple service desk tools in terms of:
- Licensing implications – including that volume discounts are foregone.
- The different tools having different capability sets – not only meaning different ways of working, but also limitations as to what can and cannot be done if the various service desks need to keep some semblance of consistency.
- The extra costs and complexity of integrations with other tools and other service desks, with the increased possibility of data conflicts too.
- The costs and effort required for upgrades and to bring in new features – where the gap might widen as the different tools advance at different rates (e.g. with intelligent automation using machine learning being added in some, but not all employed solutions).
- Multiple supplier relationships to manage and different help mechanisms to use when assistance is needed.
- The need to employ third-party tools when consistency is required, perhaps to deliver a single self-service experience – meaning even more complexity and cost.
Process- and people-related issues of running multiple service desk tools
The technology perspective is only one set of factors to consider. There are also many adverse people and process implications too:
- A higher total cost of ownership (TCO) that isn’t only technology-related because it’s likely that operations aren’t optimized across all teams.
- There are different skill sets needed to both use and manage the different tools.
- Ways of working will differ – perhaps where the tool has dictated the processes, or even created different IT support policies.
- “Tribalism” might exist, with an “us and them” mentality based on the inter-team differences.
- The available access and communication channels might differ, and, as such, the associated service or employee experience will too.
- Knowledge exploitation is more difficult, with it likely siloed at best – impacting both operational performance and service experiences
- A single set of service level agreement (SLA) targets might have been agreed upon and “forced” onto the different teams. These targets may be easier to achieve for those with the best-fitting technology capabilities.
- Working across teams is more difficult than it needs to be – whether the handover of issues or the ability to move both work and personnel around to better meet demand peaks.
The performance-related issues of running multiple service desk tools
While we commonly talk about people, processes, and technology, I thought it wise to make “performance” a separate area to consider in the context of the issues that arise from running multiple service desks:
- There are likely siloed insights into end users and problems – with data consolidation costly and prone to duplication and inaccuracies.
- It’s difficult to benchmark performance across teams when they use different tools and have different ways of working.
- Improvements across teams are likely to be difficult – leading to improvements within individual teams, increasing the disparity in respective capabilities.
Plus, in the words of an infomercial – “there’s more.” Many of these differences are a barrier to enterprise-wide service management and/or digital transformation.
Consolidation beyond IT
Enterprise service management, which can be roughly defined as follows - The use of IT service management principles and capabilities in other business areas to improve their operational performance, services, experiences, and outcomes” – is predominantly service-desk-focused. The top five shared capabilities are:
- Incident management
- Service request management
- Asset management
- Continual improvement
- Knowledge management.
Over two-thirds of organizations now have an enterprise service management – or service management – strategy in-flight. Based on research, the key aims of such strategies are:
- Process standardization and optimization
- Digital transformation enablement
- Employee productivity improvement.
But what if you have multiple service desk tools and practices? Which ones are you going to share with the rest of the organization (for enterprise service management or digital transformation)? And, if you do share one single set of capabilities outside of IT, why on earth are these not being shared within IT?
Does your organization have multiple service desks in operation? For a more thorough exploration on the case for tool consolidation and how you might achieve it, check out my on-demand webinar: It’s Time to Consolidate Your Multiple Service Desk Tools.
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.