As most IT service desks help to bring some employees back into the office and facilitate continued working at home for others, there’s a need to take stock of the IT services and IT support practices to meet employee needs – wherever they might be working – in the “new normal.” Importantly, this review of the status quo versus what’s now needed needs to encompass not only the practices used to deliver and support IT services, plus the services themselves, it also needs to include the level of IT service desk staffing and the required skills. Put simply, there’s a need to apply workforce planning methods to your IT support capability in addition to addressing changes to processes, technologies, and service levels and priorities.
Recognizing the need for workforce planning
Now, more than ever, we need to plan and organize our IT service desk people. So much has changed in the last six months that we simply can’t assume that what once worked well is still fit for purpose.
To restore the balance, there’s a need to employ workforce planning – ideally as a continual process, not a one-time fix – to align the needs and priorities of the organization with those of its workforce. This will help to ensure that the business can meet its legislative, regulatory, service, and production requirements and organizational objectives.
What to consider
The key things to consider here include:
- Planning for the future. OK, so we don’t know what the future will look like yet. While we might talk about the “new normal,” it’s something that will continue to evolve around us rather than being a new destination that we’ve already arrived at. So, it’s likely too difficult to have a perfect long-term strategy but at least have a plan for the next six months. Ask and answer questions such as: What services and outcomes are essential for your business to deliver? Do you have contingency planning in place for a potential second wave of the crisis? Then work with your business stakeholders to prioritize the necessary work and allocate staff accordingly (which might include the need to bring in more personnel as part of creating an action plan).
- Analyzing your current workforce profile. Ask and answer questions such as: Did your service desk have enough people to cope during the crisis? Are they still struggling with the increase in workloads now and is there now a huge backlog? It’s also necessary to look at this from a skill and knowledge perspective, not just the number of “bums in seats.”
- Creating an action plan. It’s not rocket science; the next step is to work out how you’re going to fix any gaps in the previous two steps. Are extra people needed? Can you allocate more budget for an increased workforce? Can you automate routine tasks like account lockouts or password resets to reduce the need for increased labor spend?
- Implementing your action plan. This last step is all about making things happen. You’ll likely need to get approval for your budget uplift which we appreciate will be difficult – if not impossible – in the short term. Beyond filling the new positions, marketing any new positions internally and externally, don’t forget to build continual improvement into your action plan too. This will help to make life easier and better for both your IT staff and the people they serve.
- Monitoring, evaluating, and revising your plan. Don’t make this a one-time exercise. Instead, keep looking for ways to make your IT support practices and employees more agile so that you can continue to flex to business needs over time.
So, that’s a quick overview of how workforce planning will help your IT service desk to better meet the needs of your organization and its employees. Have you done something similar? If so, what did you achieve? Please let us know in the comments.