Let’s talk about tips for IT self-service success. Providing employees with self-service access to IT services is commonly seen as a key initiative for overstretched IT service desks – with the aim of reducing costs, speeding up resolutions and provisioning, and delivering a better employee experience. With both North American (HDI) and UK (SDI) IT self-service adoption data pointing to circa 80% of IT support organizations having already invested in some form of IT self-service capability.
So far, so good – the IT service management (ITSM) and IT support industry is backing self-service as a way to be “better, faster, cheaper.” However – and it’s the “big but” with IT self-service – 2017 SDI research also shows that only 12% of organizations had realized the anticipated return on investment (ROI) on their investments in self-service for IT.
Much has been learned though from the many mistakes made with the introduction of self-service technology, with this represented in the tips for IT self-service success below.
Ten tips for IT self-service success
- Focus of what’s needed for employee adoption from the outset. Because employees won’t automatically use the new self-service capabilities just because they do so in their personal lives. There are a number of things to get right here. Firstly, corporate self-service capabilities need to be as good as their consumer-world counterparts. Secondly, as in tip #3 below, there’s people change – not just technology change – to be managed here. It’s key among the tips for IT self-service success.
- Make self-service about a better employee experience not cost savings. When a new solution is introduced to save money, it’s likely not something that employees will flock to use – there’s no personal motivation and possibly an inferior user experience. And limited use means limited or no ROI. However, when a self-service capability is created based on employee expectations, the higher usage volumes will allow the anticipated benefits to be achieved.
- Recognize that this is a people change initiative. The introduction of self-service isn’t just the implementation of new technology – it’s a change to the way of working. It needs organizational change management tools and techniques to help employees buy into, and to flow with, the change.
- Treat self-help as an important part of self-service. The real benefits of self-service for both IT, employees, and the organization’s bottom line come from employees quickly helping themselves, i.e. from self-help. This is critical for adoption levels and one of the key tips for IT self-service success.
- Supercharge your knowledge management. Following on from tip #3, the successful capture and reuse of knowledge requires cultural change. It needs to be embedded in both operational processes and employee recognition and reward frameworks. Importantly, there needs to be a sufficient level of available knowledge for the self-help elements of your new self-service capabilities to work.
- Ensure that your chosen self-service technology has a track record of customer success. While most knowledge management capabilities look good on paper, there’s a need to see that they have been successful for others. For example, with knowledge access, it needs to be easy to use – otherwise, employees will simply continue to call the service desk.
- Leverage existing corporate automation capabilities. Successful self-service capabilities have both a great front end and a great back end – where automation is leveraged to deliver better, faster, and cheaper service and support. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel here. Instead, use existing corporate automation capabilities to automate both resolutions and provisioning whenever possible. It’s one of the tips for IT self-service success that’s easily overlooked.
- Offer a choice of access and communication channel to match employee expectations. Realize that self-service isn’t always going to be the right solution for employees all of the time. Thus, there’s still a need to provide a range of channels. Ideally, make self-service the best channel (in the eyes of employees) such that it’s likely chosen (and can realize the anticipated ROI). Ultimately, if people are forced to use self-service and it’s not fit for purpose, some employees will either seek help elsewhere or simply “carry on regardless.”
- Look wider than the IT use cases as early as possible. Your investment in IT self-service can also help other corporate service providers such as HR, facilities, and legal. This might be as part of an enterprise service management initiative or a different improvement project. It’s one of the tips for IT self-service success that’s overlooked at the design and delivery stage.
- Realize that you’ll never finish getting self-service right. Employee expectations will change over time. So will the consumer-world services that influence them. Hence, continue to question and assess the suitability of your self-service capabilities over time and grasp the opportunities to improve them further.
So that’s my ten tips for IT self-service success. What would you add? Please let me know in the comments.
This 2019 article was updated in 2023
Pablo has been working for several years on the different phases of technology-related projects. Programming, devising new features, planning sprints and roadmaps, making product presentations to customers around the world, and pushing different teams to achieve common goals, driving everyone to be their best version.
He considers himself a technology enthusiast and a problem solver by nature, due to his initiative to improve what he thinks is wrong. He loves challenges and enjoys the pride of having accomplished goals. He also enjoys writing, reading, public speaking, and running.