Some slides…

I had the pleasure of attending yesterday’s Service Desk and IT Support show (SITS13), talking about the work we’ve been doing to give our users online self-service access to IT and other support services and enabling bring your own device.

It was great to see how many other people are keen to discuss these subjects, and I enjoyed the conversation which followed. I’ll blog some thoughts on that in the next few days, but in the meantime one attendee asked if I’d be posting my slides here which seemed like a really good idea. So without further ado, here they are:

Slide deck

And here’s a version with a few more detailed notes:

Slide deck with notes

Self-service: making it work

I recently had a great conversation with one of our suppliers discussing our work to make self-service a core part of the way we interact with and support our users. Providing online access to the helpdesk is only part of the challenge, and achieving a genuine shift in the way that people access our services needs more than just a website.

While I wouldn’t want to claim that we have all the answers nor that what we’ve done is perfect (it’s not! — yet…), we are really pleased with the progress we have made. And more importantly, it now gives us a foundation which we can use to make a real change in the way that we engage with our users — supporting our work to change the traditional customer | supplier relationship between ‘the business’ and IT to one of partnership, where we are working together effectively to support common goals. (see this previous post for my thoughts on how this can play a key role in making Bring Your Own Device a success)

Since we launched our DIY online helpdesk in the autumn of 2010 we’ve seen a real explosion in uptake. We deliberately started slowly and rolled out in phases over six months. Now, two years after we first launched, over 68% of user requests are submitted online and DIY has become a core tool for the organisation. Because people are used to using it, it’s now a platform we can use as part of driving a real change in the way that users interact with IT and other key services.

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The ICT homepage on DIY

So, what have we done so far to make this happen?

  • we started by focusing on getting the basics right: we prioritised the stability and performance of the platform as we needed our users to trust it before we extended its use. This took a little time, but was essential to make sure we had people’s confidence.
  • we made it a priority: key resources were allocated to the work, and we complemented their effort with real focus across other teams (particularly the helpdesk team) to make sure that work progressed fast, and that we redesigned processes with self-service in mind.
  • we took a bold approach: after the first six months ‘bedding in’ we switched off email as a way for almost all of our c 4000 users to report requests (making exceptions for a very small group of users with very particular needs). This was the big step which moved us from less than 10% of requests being reported online, to over 40% — and we were surprised at how readily people took to the change.
  • we are thinking holistically about the role of self-service in our overall service delivery: we have baked self-service into our business model, and even ‘internally focused’ work such as managing the process of making changes to our systems is being designed with the impact on self-service in mind (e.g. automating the process of providing users with information about planned work etc).
  • a key part of this success has been thinking wider than just IT: DIY is becoming the place to go for online access to internal services, including facilities management and communications support. This has allowed us to adopt a genuinely user focused approach to service delivery and contributed significantly to the number of people who use self-service. It’s also allowing us to join up processes with the user in mind, for example letting managers request building access for new starters at the same time that they request IT access. This needs to be something that we do more and more of…
  • and the most important thing we’ve done is taking an iterative approach: we’ve carefully aligned our work to link in with organisational priorities, and released improvements rapidly over time. This has avoided getting caught in the trap of excessive complexity, which was a real issue for us the first time we tried to deliver self-service four years earlier.

Bring your own helpdesk?

The consumerisation of IT is changing the way we support our users. In the ‘good old days’ IT were the experts. We knew our standard builds and applications inside out, we knew the idiosyncrasies, and we could provide the fixes and work-arounds needed to help our users do their work. (and often we even managed to do that quite well!)

Now that’s all changed.

In just the last month we’ve seen the arrival of new new iPads, smaller iPads, Windows 8, RT, Surface, another slew of Android devices, and it’s probable that within a couple of months BlackBerry 10 will arrive on the scene. After years of working to standardise and simplify the device landscape, consumer power and a technology explosion has given us a more complex scenario than we’ve seen for a generation.

And at the same time IT budgets are still under pressure and the drive to achieve ‘more for less’ has continued unabated.

So what do we do about it?

I think that the answer lies in the same forces that have created this conundrum, and actually has the potential to change the relationship between IT and our users. Along with consumerising IT we also need to consumerise support.

IT service managers have long worried about Knowledge Management, but I was struck by a recent tweet suggesting we should shift our focus to knowledge curation. By sharing the responsibility for identifying useful information, encouraging users to collaborate with each other (and with us), and making this a core part of our service delivery rather than a sideline, we might be able to harness the power of our user communities to meet the challenge of bring your own device. We’ll spend a bit less time writing up knowledge articles and a lot more time encouraging users to share their knowledge and helping other users find the advice they need.

This isn’t new. Most offices have someone who their colleagues turn to for help with IT, the internet has become a fantastic source for practical advice, and Cisco have been using this approach to support their byod programme.

Some steps we’re taking.

We realise that making this shift isn’t going to be a simple exercise. Gartner’s research into the ‘social organisation’ clearly demonstrates that successfully using collaboration for business benefit takes careful management and a focused approach.

Our key steps will be:

building on our existing success with self-service: over 60% of our helpdesk transactions are already online, which gives us a good start as people are used to dealing with IT issues through the web.

making it as easy as possible for users to access our online helpdesk service: providing access from any device, anywhere, any time.

giving more prominence to search of useful information: to encourage self-help, and make sure that knowledge (whether ‘official’ or user generated) is easy to find.

using a ‘gamification’ approach: to give users who contribute their knowledge to help colleagues the maximum sense of reward.

Previous tentative efforts have shown that this isn’t going to be easy, but the challenge of byod makes it essential that we succeed. And the rewards may extend well beyond providing more effective IT support, by helping to build a sense of connectedness and collaboration that could contribute towards more effective working generally.