When making plans to improve IT service management (ITSM), most IT leaders adopt one of two approaches. They either improve what they have by integrating with other IT systems, or they adopt forward-looking projects that leverage IT trends and advancements such as cloud, mobility, social media and IoT to help drive efficiencies and plan for the future.
According to a March 2015 report, “The Future of ITSM,” the top three strategic priorities for most ITSM teams include:
- Improved experience for end users
- Improved operations-to-ITSM integration for incident and problem management
- Improved operations-to-ITSM integration for configuration and change management
However, these improvement plans should not exclude projects that address IT trends, as Gartner’s “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends” report reinforces:
“IT leaders must understand and prepare for the impacts these disruptive trends will have on people, their businesses and IT departments, and then determine how they can provide competitive advantage.”
With both incremental and future needs in mind, here are three projects to consider for your five-year ITSM plan:
Project 1: Add IT Asset Management
Without ITAM integration, technicians must rely on verbal discovery, a process that can waste valuable time. By mapping IT assets to the person using the asset, support can quickly determine which devices and software the employee is using, including hardware, OS and application versions, recent updates and warranty expirations. Having easy access to these details aids in decision-making and rapid problem resolution. It also allows analysts to more easily determine if certain devices or configurations are the source of recurring or major incidents.
Furthermore, many IT organisations now automate repetitive tasks and processes, including ordering and assigning IT assets. For example, if someone needs specific software for her job, an automated request and software delivery process can eliminate the need for an analyst to get involved. Automations may also result in an improved user experience. However, software asset management is required as part of the process, in order to track software entitlement and protect the organisation from allocating more licenses than it owns.
Despite the obvious benefits, many organisations have failed to properly define and fund asset management projects in the past. With the rapid rise of IoT devices on the network, however, that may no longer be an option.
Gartner estimates that by 2020, a typical family home could have more than 500 smart devices – a significant increase from the approximately ten we see today. Imagine, then, what that means for average-sized organisations; especially when you consider connected devices are expected to explode from 4.9 billion in 2015 to 25 billion in just five years.
This aspect of an ITAM-to-ITSM project has forward-looking considerations. For many organisations, there isn’t an immediate need to integrate IoT into their ITSM solution. However, as the influx of IoT assets continue, it’s hard to imagine controlling hardware inventory, licenses and security without a proper IT asset management system in place.
Any time IT has to investigate issues on the network, there are costs associated. The longer it takes to find the issue, the more it costs. With potentially millions of IoT devices in a large environment, just determining where those assets are located could quickly overwhelm IT resources. Additionally, connected devices could pose a security risk unless properly managed.
Organisations can prepare for the oncoming IoT surge by taking on the right projects now, and integrating IT asset management into an existing ITSM implementation is a good place to start.
Project 2: Automate Processes and Integrate Tools Wherever Possible
In many institutions, automating processes like inventory discovery or software updates serve as go-to tactics for reducing IT cost. Eliminating the need for support to make a single trip to an employee’s desk to troubleshoot or apply updates often justifies the cost of such tools. With such a rapid ROI, many IT leaders have implemented client and mobile device management. However, only a fraction of these groups have taken the next step and integrated their systems management solutions with their ITSM environment.
If you are operating with reduced budgets, one of the best ways to improve service offerings and prepare for emerging trends is to integrate those tools with the ITSM environment. In doing so, you’re making their capabilities more easily accessible to both service analysts and end users.
As you evaluate how to make this project a reality, look for opportunities to automate wherever possible – inside and outside of your ITSM solution – and then integrate the processes.
For example, HR has procedures for new hires that require employees to complete tax and insurance information. Rather than keep information siloed, why not connect these processes to your ITSM solution to coordinate related IT onboarding requests such as hardware procurement or automatically provisioning the system with the software and network access required for the job?
Once this architecture is in place, your ITSM environment will be better prepared to handle evolving technology trends and the increased workloads expected as IT support is required to extend to non-traditional devices.
Project 3: Improve Self-Service
Many organisations provide basic self-service portals to allow employees to request corporate software. As millennials and other tech savvy employees enter the workforce, it makes sense to empower them to handle common IT requests on their own. Done correctly, self-service projects also improve service desk response times and end user satisfaction.
A recent global study shows that more than 81 percent of end users try to solve their own IT problems before asking for help. With that in mind, it’s beneficial to help them be as successful in their attempts as possible. However, that same research also indicates that less than 18 percent of those users leverage their organisation’s service portal, turning to Google or co-workers for help before calling IT directly. Clearly, there is room for improvement.
For instance, when a user has a problem, a good self-service portal should provide access to a knowledge base of common issues and frequently asked questions. Recent knowledge management innovations simplify the process even further. Now, a user can take a picture of an error on the screen and the system will automatically search for an answer. If additional help is needed, the user can open a support request from the page, using a simple form designed to route the incident to the appropriate group.
The automation example above can also extend to self-service. For example, while many organizations provide automated password resets for customer-facing websites, they haven’t made the same capability available to employees. When a user forgets his/her password, a support person with the appropriate rights has to unlock the account using network tools. An automated process would instead allow the analyst to trigger the reset by simply pressing a button on the incident page. Ultimately, the best way to handle this scenario is with a self-service process that eliminates the need for an analyst to be involved at all.
Whether your self-service portal needs an update, or you need to build one from scratch, this project can leverage your asset management and automation efforts. The good news is, like automation, self-service projects can significantly reduce IT support costs – freeing up the resources necessary for other initiatives that enable your organisation to adapt to future technology demands.
IT leaders are constantly looking for ways to improve IT service management, but no matter how they aim to tackle it, keeping the end user experience and operations-to-ITSM integrations in mind is key. When putting together a five-year ITSM plan, leaders should be cognizant of both the immediate needs of the organisation and what’s to come in the future. Taking steps to prepare for the IoT surge and accompanying IT asset management demands, growing need for automated processes and integrated tools and self-service portals will not only assist IT teams now, but for years to come.
This article was contributed by Marcel Shaw, ITSM and ITAM specialist at LANDESK.