IT self-service continues to be an in-vogue capability for overstretched IT support organizations and a key IT service management (ITSM) area of interest. But how much difference will the introduction of self-service make to your organization? The answer is: “It depends.”
IT self-service “does exactly what it says on the tin” and it should mirror the consumer-world capabilities already available to people in order to support or “serve” themselves. Although, it’s worth thinking of self-service as a spectrum of capabilities, not just access to a service catalog and the ability to log issues online. For instance, self-help or even self-care in the form of knowledge bases, application/software downloads, or asset auditing (where end users can agree or disagree with a list of the IT or business assets assigned to them), say.
However, the growing consumer-world adoption and exploitation of self-service is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes end users/customers more amenable to using self-service – because they already use it. But, on the other, it creates a high benchmark for corporate self-service capabilities to live up to. And, unfortunately, it has commonly been too high a benchmark for many corporate IT organizations – with service desk institute (SDI) survey data showing that only 17% of companies have realized the promised return on investment from their self-service initiatives, in the main due to low adoption levels.
Thankfully though, things are looking up for IT self-service due to:
Both contributing to a rise in self-service success on the back of new ITSM-tool implementation projects.
Please read on to understand the benefits of, challenges related to, and tips for succeeding with, self-service. But first, let’s look at the state of the self-service nation.
Self-service should be a key part of the IT support ecosystem – helping end users/customers and IT staff alike. But the IT industry as a whole needs to get better at getting it right.
Industry research by both HDI and SDI repeatedly shows that IT organizations continue to struggle with self-service. For instance, the 2017 SDI report “A View from the Frontline,” had two questions that highlighted the need to do better:
Sadly, corporate IT self-service initiatives have unfortunately suffered from a number of misplaced assumptions, including that:
All of which are unfortunate impediments to an organization achieving self-service success – and there’s more barriers to self-service success detailed below.
There is good news though – the benefits that can be reaped from self-service (when you get it right) – and these I’m going to share first.
Self-service offers IT organizations a wealth of benefits – at a time when they really need them – including:
There’s an important “but” here. These benefits are available if, and only if, employee self-service usage is high enough to make a tangible difference to the status quo. It’s why I like to repeatedly use the phrase: “getting self-service right.”
The biggest barrier to, and mistake with, self-service success is probably viewing self-service as only a technology, rather than a people, project. While the technology plays an important role in delivering self-service capabilities, the implementation of self-service capabilities and the encouragement of their use instead requires an investment in organizational change management (OCM).
Then there’s the quality and suitability of the delivered self-service solution (if the IT organization has done enough to encourage employees to at least try the new capability). Consider, for example, these scenarios:
Thus, the IT self-service capability needs to be as good as, if not superior to, existing service desk access and communication channels; plus, consumer-world self-service equivalents.
There are many elements that make for a successful IT self-service capability, including the avoidance of the common self-service barriers and pitfalls – so start by making self-service about people change and using newer technology that matches consumer-world self-service capabilities. Then:
So that’s my whistle-stop tour of many of the key things you need to know about IT self-service. If your organization has succeeded with self-service, what advice would you share? Please let me know in the comments!