Combating Resource Drain with a Shift-Left Strategy for IT Service Management

You have probably heard these stats quoted a million times – the cost of a service desk interaction is $22 per ticket resolution versus $2 for self-service and $0 for incident prevention or self-remediation. Let’s take the example of a password reset. Not only does this cost money for the IT service desk to resolve, but the technician is also bored and engaged in mindless, manual toil work. This contributes to attrition at the service desk, higher end-user wait times and costs that can be prevented.

The most obvious of the shift-left strategy is to move to self-service. This of course works well if you have a stellar self-service portal and a very well-vetted knowledge base (KB). Your end-users can easily remedy many issues. However, for something like a password reset or the request to add someone to a user group in the Active Directory – these are not things that can be done in a self-service portal.

So, Then What? Automate IT!

Many tasks like password resets, user name changes, permission changes and even larger workflows like the request to onboard a new employee – can be automated by using an integration and automation layer to connect the IT service management platform with enterprise systems. Imagine if an end-user went to the self-service portal and entered a request to add Jim Smith to the Sales Group in the Active Directory. Old school would be that a technician picks this up, manually gains approvals then manually adds the user. If you are able to automate IT instead, you can then have the ticket automatically route to the right person (departmental head) to approve the request, and then once the request is approved, the platform itself can add the person to this specific group. You do not need a technician to manually go through the steps, you can create a flow using a visual flow builder to do this.

No-Code is Changing the World

No-code platforms are changing the reality of automation and self-remediation. Going back as few as five years, you would probably not find a way to quickly automate something like user group permissions or name changes. But now these automations can be easily built and without the use of a developer. Being able to quickly build out integrations and automations is not only changing how IT works but it’s also impacting areas outside of ITSM such as HR, finance, marketing, sales, and other areas. Most organizations have between 100-300 enterprise applications and most of these are not talking but they can be – and you can do this without having sys admin knowledge of each application.  Instead, you can hook them all up to an iPaaS platform and then build out your workflows using a visual drag and drop interface. By leveraging this layer with IT service management, we are seeing the shift-left strategy go far beyond self-service and get into self-remediation which is the ultimate cost saver and a huge driver in end-user satisfaction. This is giving technicians an opportunity to take on more strategic work which is driving improved tech strategy and better staff morale. 

Pima County Supercharging ITSM with Automation

With more than 1 million residents living in Pima County, top-notch service delivery is essential for the Pima County government, and that means investing in the right tools and retaining employees as the county moves through its digital transformation.

For Mark Hayes, information technology leader at Pima County, much of the digital transformation work starts in IT, “TeamDynamix is a place where we are really trying to kickstart and accelerate the ideology that automation with the right tools can bring value not just to IT, but to other departments within our organization. We’re starting in IT, so that they can see the possibilities as we move forward with our digital transformation and expand outside of IT.”

Pima County made the switch to TeamDynamix for IT service management (ITSM) after using a different system for the last 10 years. Traditionally, the county has taken in tickets through email, phone and a service catalog with base-level triage, but with TeamDynamix in place, they will be able to leverage self-service and automation to better serve its citizens and reduce the drain on employees and resources.

Automating ITSM to Reduce Mundane Manual Tasks

Aside from performance issues with their old ITSM platform, Hayes said the county is looking at ways to combat both resource drain and employee burnout with their new ITSM in place.

“Prior to TeamDynamix, we didn’t have the ability to automate things and build workflows to do things that eliminate toil and redundancy for our employees,” Hayes said.

And with many organizations struggling to maintain or hire new talent, especially in IT, this was critical for the county, “People feel so much more empowered and have so much more worth when they are doing things that are intellectually rigorous and challenging versus when they are just repeating the same mechanical actions over and over and over with very little thought,” Haye said.

“Our ITSM is our entry point to our entire IT organization, and we want our employees to graduate out of this area into other roles within our organization – network technicians, client services, desktop technicians, developers and project managers,” he continued. “If all they’re doing is handling tickets and doing the same mundane, manual tasks over and over that’s not particularly great training. So investing in tools that allow our employees to engage in meaningful work is something that’s important to us as an overall IT organization.”

With TeamDynamix now in place, Pima County is looking to automate and integrate as much of the manual ITSM processes into workflows as they can.

“That’s something the organization is really just starting to comprehend as a vision that we want to get to overall,” Hayes said referring to automation. “My goal and hope is to make sure people understand the possibilities of workflow beyond just getting approvals routed because that’s all that we really do today.”

Enterprise-Wide Integration and Automation with iPaaS

Beyond automating ITSM tasks and processes, Pima County is also investing in TeamDynamix iPaaS – integration platform as a service. With iPaaS, the county is looking to integrate systems beyond just IT to automate processes like onboarding and offboarding employees.

“We are starting small, hoping to use automation to take tickets and automatically deploy software to endpoints, to onboard and offboard users with Active Directory and distribution groups,” Hayes said.

Automating the Onboarding/Offboarding Process

When it comes to onboarding new hires, the county’s goal is to have new employees arrive on day one with everything they need to get to work, “You don’t need to waste so much time when it comes to onboarding,” Hayes said. “It really is such a sour experience for a new hire to come in, in this day and age, and sit around for three days waiting on their computer to show up. We need to get out of that mode and iPaaS is going to help us do that.”

In addition, using iPaaS to automate offboarding will save countless hours for a process that is normally very manual and heavily audited as Pima County is a government entity.

“As a government organization we get audited by the state every year and they want to know what these stale accounts are doing sitting here,” Hayes said. “Offboarding is currently a very manual process – having to review the list from HR of people who are no longer employed with us and manually revoking their privileges from all the different systems and software and disabling their accounts. There’s absolutely no reason for that to not be automated. iPaaS is going to help us a lot with this and save us time.”

Making Self-Service a Reality at Oklahoma City

Before TeamDynamix, Oklahoma City was using a ticketing application that gave employees very limited visibility into the status of their service requests. Employees had to be connected to the city network to create and update service tickets, which was inconvenient for IT technicians working remotely. In addition, services that required the completion of routine tasks by multiple groups within IT had to be manually routed by employees.  Using TeamDynamix has brought more efficiency to IT service for city employees. With help from the new ITSM platform, Oklahoma City has built a self-service portal to meet employees’ IT needs more effectively.

Now, city employees can initiate a service request from wherever they are using their phone or any other internet-connected device. Employees have more visibility into the status of their requests, and IT managers have comprehensive insight into how their department is doing. Borchardt and his team are continuing to expand the use of TeamDynamix and look forward to improved project management tools and more effective allocation of IT resources once PPM is fully implemented.

Expediting Response Time with Self-Service Portals

“Our goal is that use of the self-service portal will continue to grow, reducing our call volume and emails to the IT service desk,” Borchardt says.  Automated workflows also ensure that important tasks aren’t overlooked when IT staff are busy. For instance, when new city employees are hired, there are many steps in the onboarding process. With TeamDynamix, the entire workflow can be initiated with a single service request that is routed to the various departments automatically. The same is true for requesting purchases and managing IT contracts.

“Before TeamDynamix, we had employees emailing requests directly to our administrative group within IT, and that was causing some issues,” Borchardt says. “Sometimes requests would fall through the cracks, and months would go by without anyone noticing.”

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