The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have died. Whole countries were locked down. Millions lost their jobs. And now, as businesses try to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, many will need to make significant cost savings across all elements of business operations, including the IT service desk. To help your organization to deal with this need, this blog looks at how best to provide the necessary IT support for the new normal in the face of business-wide cost-saving initiatives and budget cuts.
1. Understand what you’re working with
Know what is being cut. Is it software expenditure? Is it infrastructure hardware? Is it people? If you have the choice about where to make cuts, then always go for reducing technology costs over people. Think about it, do you really need all those Microsoft Project licenses? Does the default company mobile have to be the latest and greatest model or would a slightly older version work? Does the default policy even need to be that everyone gets a corporate mobile phone? Your IT support people are your IT service desk’s everything. You can have the best processes and infrastructure in the world but if you don’t have the right people, then life will likely be so much harder.
2. Highlight your IT service desk’s “ROI”
Be vocal about the service and value your IT support team delivers. Shout about it if you have to (maybe not literally but you get the point). The IT organization is there to support the rest of the business but it’s easy to take it for granted and forget about all the hard work that goes on in the background, especially in dealing with IT issues. So, make your achievements front and center.
Another way to look at this is by highlighting the impact of cost cuts on service level targets. Say you have an availability target of 95% that you have previously met consistently. Can you continue to maintain this with reduced resources? Taking it one step further, could you estimate the financial impact – at a business level – of not being able to meet that target? There’s likely an opportunity cost of IT service desk cost-cutting where the size of the business impact potentially dwarfs that of the IT saving.
3. Align your priorities with the business
Ensure your service level agreements (SLAs), operational level agreements (OLAs), and contracts are updated to reflect “the new normal” and that the target timeframes are realistic and agreed with on both sides. If the cost cuts are significant, this could impact things such as response time, availability, and recovery targets. You can’t expect your people to give the same level of service with fewer resources, so make sure that you can agree exactly what is and isn’t covered with the rest of the business so you can move forward in a manner that reflects their priorities.
4. Make your ITSM tool do some of the heavy lifting
By automating routine causes of service desk contacts – such as email-related queries, password resets, and lost phone chargers – you can reduce the workload on your IT service desk so that the cost of IT support is lowered. Plus, they also have the time to focus on more complicated issues.
Things to look at include:
- Leveraging self-service and self-help – where users can log, update, and check on their incidents and service requests.
- Automating the support pathway based on the service or configuration item (CI) selected – so that the ticket gets automatically routed to the correct resolution team.
- Using a matrix to automatically calculate priority – based on impact and urgency.
- Using templates and models – so that you can pre populate the details for the most commonly occurring contacts to make it quicker and easier to log a ticket.
5. Consider demand-driven knowledge capture
In an ideal world, all IT support staff would have comprehensive training and development plans. But when costs are being cut these are usually the first things to go. The alternative? A knowledge base that’s a living, breathing entity that can support both IT technicians and business users.
Use the demand management principle in the Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) approach to help ensure that you have relevant and accurate content. So, what are your technical teams requesting training on? What “How do I?” type questions do your end users ask the most? Use the most frequently occurring issues to drive the content to add to your knowledge base (and, if you get stuck, add content about email and connecting to the Wi-Fi because, trust us, if it’s not passwords it’s nearly always going to be email or connectivity related).
6. Fix your problems
Some people think that when money is tight, problem management is more of a nice to have than an essential capability. But here’s the thing, it only takes one problem to result in tens or hundreds of tickets to the IT service desk. That single problem could be causing significant disruption and costs due to the sheer volume of tickets, duplication, and rework as well as the time it takes to apply the same workaround over and over again. So, work with your problem management team to identify any trends that are causing incidents and collaborate on finding permanent resolutions.
7. Keep it simple
One of our favorite ITIL 4 Guiding Principles is “keep it simple and practical.” All too often in IT, we design overly complicated systems because we think we know better than our customers. We worry about being compliant and meeting our regulatory requirements, so we make our processes rigid and inflexible.
When running an IT service desk during tough financial times it’s important to look at where the value lies. We need to shift the mindset from “we need to do it as cheaply as possible” to the DevOps mantra of “better, faster, cheaper” and we do that by focusing on the customer and outcomes as well as costs. This often means that we need to make things simpler and easier to use, removing both complexity and costs.
How do you think your IT service desk will manage in the face of short-term budget cuts? Do you have any tips for others? If so, please let us know in the comments.