How IT Can Lead the Way in Enterprise Services
The Common Sense of Enterprise Services
Guest Post By Jeff Rumburg, CEO and Angela Irizarry, Vice President and COO of MetricNet
ITIL, and more broadly, IT Service Management, is now a 31-year-old discipline. It was originally established in the UK under the government of Margaret Thatcher in 1985. For those working in IT Service and Support, the implications of this are profound. First, it means that IT support professionals have an enormous body of knowledge to draw upon for industry best practices. Secondly, it almost always means that other corporate services, such as HR, facilities, safety, etc., are far less mature than IT Service and Support. Savvy IT managers recognize this opportunity, and are increasingly taking up the challenge of providing enterprise leadership in corporate services.
As a 27-year veteran of this industry, I am painfully aware that IT Service and Support has long toiled behind the scenes, receiving neither the recognition nor the rewards they deserve. This, however, is about to change. For those in IT who have longed for a higher profile; who have wanted to participate on a bigger stage; who have dreamed of making a more strategic contribution to the enterprise; this is the opportunity you have been waiting for! That opportunity is the Enterprise Service Desk.
Within the last month alone, I have consulted with corporate contact centers that support human resources, collections, customer service, and vendor support. In every case I have been struck by…how primitive they are! This is not meant as an insult. It is simply an empirical observation, and reminds me of the early days of the IT service and support industry. Workforce scheduling, if conducted at all, is a labor intensive process that is done on spreadsheets. Reporting is ad-hoc, and provides no real insight into performance, let alone the actions that might bring about continual service improvement. Process documentation is very limited, at best. And agent morale is generally poor.
Sound familiar? The good news is that you’re not alone. The better news is that there’s likely to be a well-worn path, blazed by corporate IT, that can dramatically improve performance for non-IT services, and enable them to achieve a level of maturity in weeks or months that took IT 31 years of incremental, trial-and-error effort to achieve. Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. And there’s plenty of evidence, and numerous case studies to back this assertion.
SMaaS – Service Management as a Standard
The University of California defines Service Management as ‘a customer-focused approach to delivering information technology’. But why not apply the same customer-focused approach to delivering non-IT services? What if we modified this definition slightly to read ‘A customer-focused approach to delivering all service and support’? When you compare the requirements of service delivery in HR, facilities, logistics, and other non-IT services, they are not much different from service delivery in IT. So why not leverage the hard won experience, knowhow, and expertise of IT in an Enterprise Service Desk to benefit all corporate services…
Figure 1: The Enterprise Service Desk Adopts and Adapts IT Best Practices
HDI and itSMF USA found that expanded capabilities of technology are driving organizations to use ITSM outside of IT, and 87% of those surveyed currently use or plan to use service management solutions. Additionally, a recent study conducted by Vanson Bourne revealed that nearly every CIO surveyed felt that extending the use of ITSM technology to other service delivery points could benefit other departments. But this isn’t just a hypothetical. There are tangible, proven benefits for both IT and non-IT service providers in pursuing an Enterprise Services strategy. Specifically, there are economic benefits, and there are quality of service benefits.
The economic benefits are twofold. First, since IT support is typically much more mature than other corporate support services, non-IT services can benefit from IT’s experience. They can move down the learning curve very quickly by building upon the knowledge and experience of IT, and by leveraging the tools and processes that IT has spent years or even decades developing. This, in turn, saves time and money by allowing non-IT services to bypass the trial-and-error, evolutionary pace of organic maturation.
Secondly, there are scale benefits that result when various service departments are consolidated. This doesn’t mean that all agents handle all call types. Rather, it means that by sharing infrastructure, processes, tools, and know-how, everyone wins because service and support becomes more efficient. This scale effect has been documented in several studies, and at MetricNet we have observed it empirically to be approximately seven percent. What this means is that every doubling of ticket volume yields an approximate 7% reduction in cost per ticket, as illustrated in Figure 2 below.
Figure 2: As Enterprise Contact Volume Increases, Cost Decreases
The other primary benefit of Enterprise Services is the impact it has on quality. Here again, non-IT services can benefit from the hard won experience of IT. Metrics like service levels, handle time, mean time to resolve, and first contact resolution rate are foreign to most non-IT service managers. But with leadership from IT and a basic understanding of KPIs, non-IT services can improve the quality of service delivery, sometimes dramatically, by building upon the proven best practices of IT service and support.
A common, enterprise support model has numerous benefits, including:
1. One-Stop-Shop for All Incidents and Service Requests
2. Shared Infrastructure, Which Reduces Costs
3. Company-Wide Productivity Gains
4. Improved Visibility into Service Performance and Value
5. More Effective Communication and Collaboration Amongst Service Providers
6. Shared Processes, Knowledge Management and Self-Service Portals
7. Cross Training That Improves Workload Management
8. Common Reporting and Performance Diagnostics
The Path Forward
Successful transformations to Enterprise Services follow a fairly typical pattern. It begins with the enterprise gaining organizational consensus on the value of pursuing an enterprise services strategy. Typically, a leader from IT will step up to lead the initiative. This person is often, but not always the CIO. Likewise, a leader from one of the non-IT services such as human resources also steps up and agrees to lead the first wave of enterprise integrations for non IT services. Working collaboratively, the respective leaders from IT and non-IT develop and execute an integration plan. This first integration is critical, because it sets the stage for all subsequent integrations of other non-IT services into the Enterprise Service Desk. The time required for the first integration can range from as few as three months, to as long as a year.
Assuming that the first integration is successful, there will be no shortage of volunteers from other non-IT services who wish to be a part of the next wave of enterprise service integrations. Each successive wave of integrations into the Enterprise Service Desk becomes easier, as lessons from prior integrations are incorporated into the execution plan.
I want to challenge leaders from both IT and non-IT services to give serious thought to the role of enterprise services in your organization. This is the kind of opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. It has the potential to transform the delivery of all services in the enterprise, while saving money and improving the quality of service that your customers receive. Moreover, it can be a game changer for your career. Enterprises worldwide are in desperate need of leadership on this issue. So if you have been looking for that next big career opportunity, it may be right in front of you!