By Mark Flexman, DXC Fruition Practice Lead at DXC Technology
Customers have been spoiled by businesses in recent years, with the rise of Deliveroo, Monzo, and Uber, among many others, completely changing how people access services and purchase goods.
Unfortunately, in our working lives, we don’t necessarily get to access services in the same slick way. Rather than on-demand, automated and easy to access business services, many are faced with having to access the HR, IT, or facilities departments, by email, phone or even in-person. Unfortunately, this wastes a huge amount of time and means there’s a significant disparity between what employees are used to in their personal lives vs. what they can do when in the office.
This leads to many employees asking themselves why the experience of internal services feels so out of date? Internal support generally falls into one of three categories: needing something fixed, needing another kind of help, or wanting something new. Employees are justified in asking why, if they can do this online via self-service at home, why can’t they do the same at work? What staff experience when they are at home ordering from Amazon, paying their mobile bill, or streaming on Netflix, they increasingly expect at work from a more ‘consumerised’ IT environment.
Yet, in far too many businesses coming into work feels like re-entering the information dark ages. Email is still clinging on as the primary tool of communication between internal service providers and customers, followed closely by frustrating and time-consuming telephone support. Not only is this annoying for employees, it is also a drain on productivity. Now, organisations are starting to recognise that the same self-service concepts they use to meet external customers’ demands can be translated into better service delivery internally.
IT departments have led the way in this respect, through automated service management which might provide things like the ability to order a new piece of equipment in a self-service portal, or log a support request and get notifications about its progress. Other departments are now starting to catch up in the automation of internal service provision. Everything from new employees being onboarded with access cards, desks, and parking spaces, to HR managers managing salary deductions or holidays.
Improving services through simplification
Whatever the request, the same principles apply to service provision whether it’s the responsibility of HR, Facilities, or Finance. The issue with email being the go-to tool to manage processes is the resulting lack of structure – requests are decentralised and, from the requesters point of view, they fall into some sort of black hole. There is no common process to evaluate, process, and track demands. As the ‘Uber effect’ takes shape in the corporate workplace, businesses are beginning to adopt established service management principles, moving towards structured workflow approaches which make everybody look at the same data in a very transparent way.
The technology to do this is robust and there are some pioneering organisations who are already reaping the rewards. For example, using online self-service portals staff can find information, log and track requests, order equipment, and receive support across a range of internal functions. Users find they get a better service and internal support staff are freed to focus on other issues. This is what we call a Single System of Record/Truth and, as well as providing far better levels of employee service and satisfaction, offer significant savings of time and costs.
Implementing the future
Of course, it’s one thing talking about how great these services are, but many businesses and departments that do not already use service management internally might think it daunting to put in place these new services. Thankfully, it’s easier than many organisations might think. ‘Time to use’ can be one of the key factors putting businesses off, but service management can be implemented quickly through cloud platforms, and show rapid returns in saved time and money. Of course, once the business has decided it wants to go down the service management route, choosing the right solutions might again appear challenging.
Starting with a blank sheet of paper, many companies might want to go for what they perceive to be ‘best of breed’ such as, for example, the best Gartner Magic Quadrant tool in the targeted area. Others will go through a complex research and analysis process. Others will ask their peers or tap into previous experience to identify the ‘best’ solution. In all these cases, this may lead to the optimal outcome, at least on paper. But it’s also helpful to ask how many of the features will really be used, what is the impact likely to be in terms of implementation.
When going for a new tool or platform, project leads should consider:
• How easy it will be to integrate into the existing IT ecosystem (Master data, User Directory, Single Sign-on, etc.)
• The impact of a new interface, user features, and required behaviours for end-users, back office and IT admin
• Training requirements involved
• Support requirements for the new tool
• That a new tool comes with a new provider and licensing model to manage
• Whether it might impair the IT infrastructure’s scalability.
Integrating with existing solutions
Rather than acquiring a completely new solution, organisations might first check if one that already exists in their IT ecosystem will fit their needs. This can significantly reduces ‘time to use’, as well as costs. Most larger organisations will already have a service management application in place. In many cases this will have been initiated by the IT function; however, there are also plenty of other pioneering applications created, for example, by HR, facilities, or finance, which other functions may be able to use as starting point. Most advanced service management solutions are designed to work across multiple functional areas and, being cloud-based, are easily scaled.
If this is an option, there are plenty of advantages to be had, as the platform is already integrated within the company – meaning behaviours, capacities, and interfaces are known, and the master data exists. There are also likely to be existing relationships with suppliers which will also help decrease the ‘time to use’. Standardisation of solutions within organisations’ infrastructures will offer the opportunity to decrease the complexity of the IT ecosystem, the number of integrations, and the training required for people interacting with the solutions.
For businesses that do decide to enhance their service offerings to employees, there are big gains to be made – saving vast amounts of time as well as improving employee satisfaction. By speeding up internal services, workers can spend more time focussing on their jobs, improving productivity and allowing service delivery teams to focus on doing their jobs, rather than answering the phone or e-mail. Businesses might also find that implementing these new technologies isn’t the complex and daunting task they expect, especially if they are able to use existing systems being used by departments such as IT which can be adapted.