I’ve recently been involved in many projects that share some common characteristics. This is where they’re not technology projects – instead, they’re driven by the demands of real end-users, not by IT or business leadership, typically as part of a digital transformation agenda. The projects are aimed at making IT services more accessible to an organization’s employees and involve optimizing the service request management processes – which enables end users to engage with IT more effectively.
This article encapsulates much of what I’ve seen, plus offers up seven tips for optimizing your service request management capabilities as part of your organization’s digital transformation activities.
Meeting Rising End-User Demands
In my experience, end users generally feel that it’s difficult to get IT to deliver anything to them. IT are great when there’s something to fix, or if there’s a major incident to recover from, but they’re poor at some of the basics such as provisioning a new user account, delivering hardware, or giving someone access to a new piece of software.
While this might be poor in itself, this discontent is set against the backdrop of rising employee expectations of service and support – with employees bringing their often-superior personal life experiences and expectations into the workplace.
Then There’s the Digital Transformation Agenda
I’m always surprised to hear that these basic IT service management (ITSM) principles still haven’t been addressed by the plethora of best practices and tools at the disposal of today’s IT leaders. And if we can’t do these “basics” well, then how will we cope with the accelerated delivery cycles promised by agile development and the rapid deployment of services available with cloud?
Importantly, how can we possibly expect to achieve our digital transformation agenda without these basic service request management building blocks in place?
The Basic Principles for Service Request Processes
With service request management, there are some basic principles that we need to ensure we’re doing well, in order to support the delivery of more complex and time-critical services in the future.
How does your IT department shape up against the following seven service request management maturity indicators?
- There’s a SINGLE self-service portal where all end users can go to interact with IT, to report an issue, check knowledge articles, and to initiate service requests. Users seek simplicity, they want to engage with a simple portal through which they can quickly and easily engage with IT services.
- End users are engaged with the service request process, they understand where they need to go, and they understand that circumventing the process is not in their interests. This point attempts to address the risk of untraceable, poorly structured communication, such as verbal or email requests, coming in to IT and simply not being logged. This type of inbound work is impossible to track, trace, and measure.
- There’s a clear delineation of what constitutes an incident, versus a service request, versus a system enhancement and an IT project. I often envisage a good in-bound filtering process in the same way as an airport baggage handling system. It shares a lot of common characteristics, because each “bag” will have a destination, a unique reference, some form of lifecycle tracking, and an established path for reaching its destination. Our end user portals and systems should follow this route-based approach, routing incidents to resolver teams, requests to approval and fulfilment workflows, etc. Each incident and request should follow an established workflow. If these are understood and mapped, it’s easier to introduce efficient ways of recording, assigning, tracing, and fulfilling them.
- There’s an established workflow for common service request types, which describes the approval processes, fulfilment tasks, who does what and eliminates the need for manual intervention. These workflows can be codified within the ITSM toolset, allowing a degree of automation to the allocation of work.
- Sometimes, approvals are sought where there is no justification for an approval to be required. Where possible, seeking approval should be an automated workflow task. Ask yourself whether the approval steps required for your various request types are really required, and if they are, whether they could be automated.
- Are you exploiting workflow automation to the extent that approval and fulfilment tasks are sequenced automatically by the ITSM tool? There should also be a degree of logic built in to determine the path that requests will follow where exceptions occur, such as conditional approvals or rejection.
- The end-user receives updates on their request at key points during the process. They’re so used to an Amazon or Dominoes-like order experience, they just won’t settle for anything less!
These seven maturity indicator bullets can also be viewed as seven requirements, or tips, for optimizing your service request capabilities.
So, How Did You Do with Your Service Request Processes?
How many of the maturity indicators described above are incorporated into your service request processes, or within your improvement roadmap? Without these basic service request management principles in place, you’ll struggle to achieve your organization’s digital transformation objectives. Are you ready to act to address these service request deficiencies?
If you need any help, feel free to contact us to discuss your specific challenges. We’d be delighted to help get you on track.
Steve is the Director of Syniad IT, an independent IT consulting organisation, specializing in the design, build, implementation and optimisation of service integration and management (SIAM), IT service management (ITSM), and IT transformational change programmes.