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December 3, 2020

Taking a People-Centric Approach to Optimizing Your IT Support Capabilities

When you stop to think about how hard your IT service desk personnel are working – especially after what has been a very busy and problematic year, to say the least – you might want to introduce some IT support changes that allow your IT service management (ITSM) processes and enabling technology to take some of the pressure off your overworked people. Done right, this is a win-win – you’ll also get better IT support operations and outcomes as you change to serve and protect your IT support people better.  

You’d not be alone in wanting this – after all, no one wants their people to burn out, struggle with their health and/or productivity, or leave to pursue less stressful career options. Plus, there’s definitely a need to optimize your IT support capabilities to better meet the needs of your business and its employees. 

So, what can you do? To help, this blog offers up answers to two of the most important questions that need to be asked (and answered) before making the changes that will improve the work lives of your IT support personnel. 

1. How do you start to understand the real value of your IT service desk?

Understanding the value of your IT service desk is a tricky one. There’s an obvious starting point though – and that’s understanding that your vast array of “traditional” IT service desk metrics alone is likely unsuitable to demonstrate the real value of your IT service desk. 

They can definitely help you to show how well your IT support operations are performing but, as the measures are very much focused on the “mechanics” of IT support, they aren’t necessarily the best route to understanding and demonstrating the business value of your IT service desk. Especially when your various stakeholders can’t get excited about many of the things that you measure. 

So, with this, we have the first step – the need to talk with various stakeholders about how the IT service desk helps and hinders them, and we start to get closer to the definition of service desk value. Notwithstanding that different types of stakeholder will have different interpretations of value, there’ll likely be some common themes that relate to your organization’s raison d'être. Allowing performance measurement to move closer to the business outcomes that are a better judge of the value of any business capability and not only your IT service desk. 

For example, in an organization that makes “widgets,” the loss of widget production caused by IT issues starts to get under the skin of understanding the value of IT support. Or, similarly, in an organization that sells widgets, the loss of widget sales caused by IT issues starts to get your IT service desk performance closer to the point of value creation. 

Of course, this is just the first step and perhaps you’d like a longer blog on the topic of value demonstration – please let us know in the comments section below. You’ll have likely noticed that we’ve not mentioned IT support personnel yet either. This is the next question. 

 

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2. How are your IT support personnel feeling right now?

Do you know? Do you think you know? Have you assumed that everything is OK? Have you spent the time to better understand how everyone – both individually and collectively – is feeling after what has been a hectic year for IT? 

Although, even before the global pandemic, the state of ITSM practitioner wellbeing wasn’t great, with: 

  • 86% of employees thinking that working in IT is going to get harder in the next three years (at least for some roles).  
  • 71% of employees stated that working in IT has adversely affected their wellbeing to some extent. 21% considerably. 

As to what you and your organization need to do, start by showing that your employees’ wellbeing is important. This can have various strands – from crafting, running, and acting on a focused survey of staff, to bringing wellbeing into regular personnel 1-2-1 conversations (and perhaps starting such 1-2-1s). But recognize that this is only a measurement of where you are now, with a need to have wellbeing policies and processes in place that allow for immediate issues to be tackled and longer-term improvements to be put in place. 

You might be thinking that your organization already “has this down pat.” It might. But it might not. A “wellbeing in IT” survey that was conducted post-crisis found that: 

  • 45% of survey respondents feel that their immediate manager is not suitably skilled to identify and deal with employee wellbeing issues. Another 29% think that they’re only partially skilled. Worryingly, the total – 74% – is three-quarters of line managers. 
  • 24% of survey respondents feel that their employer doesn’t have suitable mechanisms for preventing and helping with employee wellbeing issues. Another 44% think that they need improving. Which, in total, is just over two-thirds of companies with potential “failings.” 

Maybe it’s worth asking your employees how they feel about your organization’s ability to deal with wellbeing-related issues? 

 

Back to the optimization of your IT service desk 

The above is only scratching the surface of where your IT support capabilities are and need to be heading, but hopefully it has you thinking about some of the essential jigsaw pieces that need to be in place before changes are made to your existing processes and technologies. 

We’re reminded of the ITSM quote that’s something like “people and processes will cope without the right technology, but processes and technology will struggle without the right people.” But this isn’t just people with the right skills and experiences, it’s also related to their ability and desire to continue supporting your organization. And importantly, even when the value-based conversations are had, your ability to execute will ultimately come down to the investments you make in ensuring employee wellbeing. 

This short blog is suddenly far longer than intended. Hopefully, it has you thinking though. And please look out for a follow-up blog that looks at how your IT service desk might need to change as we start the march through 2021.

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