ITSM & HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN
Human-centered design is an approach to problem-solving that involves the human perspective in all steps of the process. It focuses on users’ needs and requirements by researching and observing how stakeholders use certain services and how their experience can be improved.
In human-centered design, it’s important to drop any preconceived notions you might have about users and their needs, Webber says. Instead, you learn about users’ needs and challenges by observing and talking with them. Rather than having a specific outcome in mind, the human-centered design calls for keeping your mind open to a variety of possible solutions.
When Webber learned about human-centered design in a professional development seminar, she immediately saw its potential for improving IT service management, and how users interact with the college’s service portal in particular.
Establishing an IT service portal was supposed to make life easier for tech support staff because they wouldn’t have to spend as much time on the phone trying to understand the nature of users’ issues. However, Webber and her team found that fewer than 5 percent of support tickets were being initiated through the service portal, while 60 percent still originated through phone calls. They set out to redesign the service portal and service catalog to make it more user-centric so that more stakeholders would engage with it.
To do this, they shook up the format of the focus groups. “We had users sit down at a computer, and we watched them interact with our IT service catalog to see their reactions,” Webber says. “We realized many users didn’t understand the verbiage or icons we were using.”
For instance, the service portal had a category for “Telephony Services,” but most students didn’t understand this term. “They thought it was a made-up word,” Webber says. The newly redesigned portal will use the service catalog category “Campus Phones and Conferencing Services” instead.
What’s more, end-users didn’t know they should choose the service category “Software Requests” if they had a problem with their mobile campus app, because they didn’t realize apps and software were the same thing. “We had an old-school mentality that it was all just software,” Webber says. The redesigned portal will change the name of this service category to “Apps and Software” to make this clearer to users.
But the biggest lesson to come out of the focus groups was a reminder of why it’s important not to make assumptions. Webber and her team thought that simply redesigning the service portal would lead to greater use — yet they learned many students weren’t aware of its existence. “We never stopped to think whether students even knew how to get to it,” she acknowledges.
PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE
Using what they learned by observing and talking with users, Webber and her staff worked with the college’s web development team to create a prototype for a new IT service portal that is much more user-friendly. In addition, they are collaborating with the college’s communications department to develop strategies for raising awareness of the portal among students, faculty, and staff.
Webber hopes these efforts will increase the use of the service portal by at least 5 percentage points within the first 12 months — and she hopes to have as many as 20 percent of service tickets originate through the portal within two to three years.
Encouraging stakeholders to use the service portal “will allow us to have more tickets routed correctly from the get-go, so we can devote more time to technical training and focus on becoming more proactive instead of reactive in our IT support.”