IT Service Management Excellence: Overcoming Resource Constraints for Better End-User Experience

Resource constraints have always topped the list of CIO challenges, and this is not going to change. So what can be done? A never-ending stream of new users, new challenges, high growth, high demand… sound familiar? How can the IT service management (ITSM) team get ahead of the curve? 

Throwing more people at the problem will not help – and it is not going to happen.  While there is no doubt that teams feel understaffed, the answer is to ‘work smarter.’  Smart service management offers a way forward. The first thing we recommend is that you take a step back and really look at the organization as a whole; where are the biggest drains for your team? 

  1. Is your IT service management platform draining your team? 
  2. Do your end-users have what they need to self-service? 
  3. Can your team manage tickets and projects in one place? 

IT Service Management Software Should be Easy to Use, Own and Operate

Many IT service management platforms will drain resources and budgets because they are either incomplete or require deep technical resources to get them to do what you want. This is why organizations are seeking codeless IT service management systems that will allow your team to quickly configure workflow and automation. Over time you can put more and more time back in the day. 

The other key development is that IT service management software can now offer more flexibility in terms of expansion so that Enterprise Service Management becomes a reality. If HR, marketing and facilities teams can get onto the same platform, and administer their area on their own, you can reduce the time that IT spends managing all these disparate systems. 

What this boils down to, is codeless ITSM is a fundamental building block to help teams reduce administrative burden and reduce the number of systems being supported. 

IT Service Management Self-Service Portals Made Easy

Build it and they will come… end-users like self-service if it is easy. This means that your team needs a fast way to spin up knowledge articles, link them to a service catalog and take feedback for ongoing optimization of the articles. If you have a self-service portal that can be easily configured without any programming, you can quickly add services or edit articles. By leveraging Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS), you can also engage in the ongoing optimization of the content. These factors will drive more and more self-service adoption and reduce inbound calls and tickets.

The University of South Dakota (USD) has been implementing KCS best practices within its Information Technology Services (ITS) division. By collecting all information in a single, easily accessible knowledge base, ITS staff says they’ve avoided a lot of repetitive work and improved their problem-solving capabilities. In addition, it’s reduced the amount of time it takes to train new ITS employees and has eased the burden on staff as more and more people use self-service to solve their problems. 

“Early on, we saw an 18-percent reduction in time logged to service tickets,” Paula Cottrell, knowledge manager, said. “What would you do if you had an additional day a week?” 

When USD had to shift to online instruction during the coronavirus pandemic, students and staff had many questions — and they could find answers to most of these at Coyote One Stop – the school’s branded knowledge base, created by leveraging Enterprise Service Management.   

“With COVID, our hits went up tremendously,” Cottrell said. The university’s KCS methodology “allowed us to get new knowledge articles published quickly for people working [and learning] from home.” 

Managing Tickets & Projects Together

Tickets tend to represent transactional work while projects represent multi-step work; which is often collaborative or dependent. Many organizations separate these work types and have an ITSM platform for tickets and then a separate project portfolio management (PPM) system. What happens when you do this is that end-users have to go in and out of multiple platforms – further draining their time. The other bigger issue is that as an IT leader, you cannot properly manage your resources. If you bring it all together in one place, you will be able to engage in resource capacity planning which can help you optimize your use of resources and time. 

At Covenant HealthCare, CIO Frank Fear recognized the value in having a combined ITSM/PPM strategy, “As the CIO, I have IT resources, and I need to assess their capacity,” he said. “I look at what capacity they have to work on projects, to work on change requests, to work on support requests. At the 40,000-foot level, having a comprehensive project management solution that also operates with the service management platform, allows me visibility for insight into those areas, and allows me to plan for project-based work based on the capacity to handle support requests and change requests.”

According to Fear, like many other businesses and organizations Covenant is becoming a digital business that provides healthcare, “Our customers need our support, so the demand is escalating and it’s only going to increase.”

Driving that increase, in part, for Covenant and hospital-based organizations nationwide, is the post-EHR (electronic health record) operation environment, “Just a small number of years ago, a relatively small percentage of patient care organizations in the United States had digital health records, so naturally, the first step was to implement EHRs… We’re now over 90 percent fully electronic in our processes. So now, we need to learn how to work differently, and we need to leverage information technology to help create those process and performance changes,” Fear said.

Because of the move towards a more digital experience, it’s more important than ever for Fear to be able to clearly articulate what his IT organization’s capability is when looking at the needs of the entire organization.

“IT service management and project management must be conceptualized at the highest levels of an organization, and must be governed actively and consciously, in close relation to the organization’s core business objectives and needs,” Fear said. And those needs continue to accelerate dramatically, especially in the wake of the pandemic.

“CIOs and other healthcare IT leaders can no longer rely on anecdotally based, guesstimated evaluations of needs and resources in their organizations,” Fear said. “A more evidence-based, quantifiable and quantifying, set of processes, is needed. An organized, comprehensive, strategic process of service management and project management needs to be delivered in an integrated way, via a flexible, supportive platform.”

Automate IT: Why Integration and Automation Matters for IT Service Management

The benefits of a one-platform solution for ITSM and PPM are enhanced even more when you can include an integration component. By combining iPaaS (integration platform as a service) with ITSM and PPM on a single platform you can automate both complex and simple tasks, as well as connect disparate systems throughout your organization.

Employees no longer need to spend time on the repetitive, mundane tasks they normally have to complete before working on bigger projects – things like system name changes, resetting passwords, or granting certain permissions to software. All of these, and more, can be automated with workflows using iPaaS.

If you chose a codeless platform for this, you get the added benefit of anyone being able to use these tools – not just IT. By allowing lines of business to create their own workflows you can free up your IT resources to work on larger projects and eliminate the logjam when it comes to integrations within your organization.

Here are a few other ways iPaaS can supercharge service delivery and reduce the IT drain on an organization:

  • Facilitate enterprise integration by using a single hub with pre-built connectors to systems that you use every day as well as a connector concierge for the creation of specific connectors. (Imagine being able to automatically change a username, add someone to a distribution group, onboard an employee)
  • Expedite creation of automation and workflows with a visual flow builder (codeless) that is easy to use, own and operate; reduce IT backlog of integration and workflow requests.
  • Optimize resources across IT to allow for improved output and a higher level of service delivery to your internal and external customers by removing redundant data entry and manual processing.
  • Reduce API risk with a single connectivity platform that will offer increased oversight and control

“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,” Mark Hayes, information technology leader at Pima County, said.

“The drudgery of working through mundane, repetitive tasks doesn’t exist just in IT,” Hayes said. “I think the more we can reduce toil within the departments that we support, the more people are going to buy in and understand the value.”

This article was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated with new information.

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