It’s safe to say that many of us will be glad to see the back of 2020, with 2021 hopefully bringing with it a return to normality (or as close as we’re able to get to it). This applies to both our social and work worlds, but in terms of the latter, things are likely to have changed forever. Especially in terms of IT service delivery and support. Where it leaves most IT departments with the need to change, and ideally to optimize, their IT service desk capabilities for both new ways of working and the differing expectations of the employees being served. So what do you need to do? And where should you start?
To help, this blog offers up answers to some of the key questions related to getting started with optimizing your IT service desk for 2021 and beyond.
1) How has IT support changed for the better during 2020?
In many ways, the pain of 2020’s global pandemic has caused IT service desks to re-evaluate how they support the employees they serve. For example, we think that IT support has become more human in response to the crisis, with a greater focus on the people that use the technology (being supported). And, at least in the short term, IT support is/has been perceived as more valuable to the organization, thanks to the mountains that were moved in setting up so many employees as homeworkers.
But now, as we move through 2021, it's important to maintain both of these changes/gains such that IT service desks can become even better aligned with both business and employee wants and needs. With this helped by measuring IT success closer to where IT services are being consumed rather than created (which leads us nicely into question #2).
2) Is there a need to change mindsets around what IT support is and isn't?
Definitely, in our opinion. For example, we need to think about the business impact of the issues we handle on the IT service desk. Perhaps even thinking of these issues as business issues rather than IT issues. After all, if a technology-related issue only affects IT, then should that technology be there in the first place (other than when supporting the business use of other technology, e.g. IT management tools)?
So, start by ensuring that IT support success is measured in terms of what’s achieved not in terms of how quickly something is done. In many ways, this relates to the mindset that IT service desks don't offer IT support, they offer people support. This means that – as alluded to in question #1 – IT support success needs to be measured closer to the point of value creation, rather than in the operation of IT support processes.
Here, the use of experience-based metrics helps – with employee happiness (with IT support) and the levels of lost productivity now becoming the flag bearers for employee experience improvement as organizations increasingly focus on this as a mechanism for better technology enablement of the business and its employees.
3) If an IT department only does one thing to improve in the first quarter of 2021 what should this be?
Of course, the answer to this question has to be “it depends.” Because the answer for one organization isn't necessarily going to be the right answer for another organization. But some things will likely be relevant to most organizations, albeit only if they’re in line with any given organization's improvement wants and needs (in terms of business strategies and objectives).
If only one improvement is possible in Q1 2021, then we’d advocate that viewing the world of IT support in terms of value and not just costs is a priority. This then opens a number of other areas that could be the most important improvement opportunities for your organization and its IT support capabilities. From being focused on outcomes rather than operations (and outputs) to understanding the importance of employee experience, and the need to reduce the levels of employee lost productivity and business disruption caused by technology-related issues and any delays in their resolution.
There are, of course, many other factors to consider in optimizing your IT service desk capabilities for 2021 and beyond but hopefully the above has you thinking about what needs to change in your organization. If you have any points to add or queries, then please use the comments section below.