Shared service management is a very important and especially attention-grabbing subject currently. Many organizations around the world are coming into contact with the issue and actually coming to terms with it. This is why service management is gaining popularity. There is a great deal happening in this arena and the subject of shared service management capabilities is emerging. A lot of organizations are starting to do something with it, and their growth can really depend on where they start and land; but there is still a long way to go.
There has been a great deal of growth where organizations go through different steps, ranging from cycles where they can share nothing internally (or externally, for that matter, but that’s a subject for later) to organizations that understand the importance of sharing, beginning with and ranging from sharing one tool or portion of their knowledge base all the way to sharing everything.
Then there’s the tale of how organizations interact with their data, how they share it, make it available through a knowledge base or not and shift that information left to their final user bases, their ultimate customers.
Of course, not every organization is defined by service management, its service management solution or even its lack of a service management strategy. Service management is very much an organizational decision, usually defined by departmental and organizational leadership, and is usually a process-driven effort that determines how things are shared or not. One of the most common questions in a service management environment is how to establish a shared service desk and shared service processes.
People working in IT are starting to see that shared service management makes sense since it can empower people and a business. End users experience a sense of joy if they can ask their questions to one point of contact – a portal or a person, however, their organization’s system is organized – so they don’t have to think about getting their problems solved. This means they can simply focus on their day-to-day jobs and spend time doing what they do best. That’s one obvious advantage of service desk technology.
Getting rid of organization IT silos: SIAM
In addition to service management technology, service integration and management (SIAM) strategies can be brought in to link to the shared service manager, which focuses processes so that they work together internally and helps to rid the organization of communication silos. Now we’re also starting to see much more outsourcing, especially with the rise in SaaS solutions and other outsourcing activities. Right now, silos are more internal than those that might be found from partners, vendors or suppliers.
Service management approach: process or technology?
Depending on the type of organization, there are a variety of approaches to service management. Some organizations start by sharing a tool then aligning the processes and later changing organizationally to a specific service desk. Sometimes organizations move to service management by placing people together, and they work to share a service and organizational tool.
One of the most important aspects when going through any kind of shared service is alignment; it’s important to keep in mind that one does not exist without the other. This means you can’t just focus on the tool or just focus on the process or on the organization. Even if you just start by sharing a tool, you always have to keep in mind the processes and the organizational impact as well. This is where some implementations face challenges because they focus on only one of these three pillars. In fact, each of these three pillars is equally important to the process.
Benefits of shared service management
According to a recent Forrester Research report, which revealed findings after interviewing existing information technology service management (ITSM) users with multiple years of experience using service management solutions that show positive results after implementing shared service management solutions, benefits included:
- Improved service desk process efficiencies between 25 – 35 percent. Service management enabled service desk analysts to implement ITIL practices, reducing duplicative efforts, creating a single point of contact and equipping analysts with more information and visibility across all tickets.
- Reduced call volume by 30 – 50 percent through better self-service and automation. Each organization is now empowered to search and identify solutions to their issues through a self-service desk solution. Forrester estimated that users are now able to find solutions to their incidents on average 30 percent faster.
- Improvement in service desk management efficiencies. Service management gives organizational managers great visibility into all the open tickets and issues that were previously going on in the organization. By equipping managers with this information, they can make more effective prioritization decisions and manage problems much more efficiently.
According to those interviewed, prior to their use of shared service management technology, they weren’t able to track calls or emails, tickets were often closed and reopened, processes were inefficient, reporting was lacking and managers were not able to prioritize effectively. With the shared service management solution, resolution times also decreased by 50 percent.
But those are not the only improvements noted; others include:
- Process improvements and streamlined workflows improved service quality and speed. Forrester notes that the most significant benefits experienced by each of the organizations were in improving service management processes. Organizations had been hindered by their technology in building out ITIL practices. But with shared service management, they were able to create a single point of contact where tickets could be managed effectively and questions would be routed to the knowledge experts.
- Proper metrics and reporting improved prioritization and time to resolution. Visibility, measurements and reporting were basic requirements not being satisfied with the composite organization’s prior solution. Service management helped to equip organizational managers with performance measures and reporting that allowed them to address issues or concerns before they became a problem. Additional reporting helped management prioritize incidents and allowed them to ensure the level of service requirements was being met while reducing the number of escalating incidents.
- Self-service helped alleviate the workload on the service desk while improving the quality of service. The organizations interviewed described their service management solutions as an important component of their customer experience strategy, which improved customer satisfaction scores. One service manager said, “Customer satisfaction for incidents is still improving, but has grown to around 90 percent with more trust in IT compared to last year.” One of the main drivers for this improvement was the implementation of a self-service portal. With a self-service portal, users are empowered to find and identify solutions to their issues before contacting the service desk. This not only speeds up the process for users to find answers to their problems but also reduces the workload on service desk analysts, allowing them to focus on more pressing matters while reducing call volumes by 40 – 50 percent.
Prior to investing in service management, user satisfaction was very low for each organization’s service desk. Issues with duplicate tickets, closed tickets being reopened, slow time to resolution and lack of prioritization and information all contributed to the poor customer experience. The organizations said that a key benefit from service management was improved practices around incident management and problem management.
Cloud-based service management
Cloud-based service management software provides a “toolbox” for users to build their own self-service portal, enabling publication of forms, services, knowledge items and more. Drag-and-drop functionality even helps users determine the order of their workflow. News items appear directly on the main page of the user portal to keep them up to date on new product developments. Search functionality means users can find all relevant information required of their task, reducing the arduous browsing process found with less-intuitive solutions.
In closing, service management solutions and processes are on the rise. They define efficiency in many cases, and they are evolving into the cloud and through other strategies. Most organizations recognize the importance of service management in sharing information with users and the creation of a knowledge base. Because of this, organizations can interact with their data, share it, and shift that information left to their final user bases.
Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord is president of TOPdesk US, part of the global supplier of service management software solutions.