Last week, Forrester’s Service Management and Automation team attended FUSION 13, an annual conference jointly hosted by itSMF USA and HDI, in Nashville, Tennessee. FUSION is a key conference for IT Service Management professionals - for three days ITSM pros are immersed in a content rich environment where they're encouraged to share knowledge and learn from one another, as well as from a plethora of industry experts, practitioners, vendors, and thought leaders alike. It's impossible to leave without having made new friends and new discoveries in the realm of IT Service Management. Approximately 2000 ITSM professionals attended the 2013 conference, with the theme "graduate to better service management."
The buzz of this year's event can be easily put into two terms: revolution and status quo. Yes, you read that correctly. And while these two terms are quite contradictory, when put into context they actually are somewhat related - don't worry, we'll explain. First, the status quo:
At FUSION 13, we presented the results from our third annual ITSM survey Forrester does in conjunction with itSMF USA, and not much changed year-over-year. Aside from a few minor rumblings, ITSM maintained the status quo, and in this case, no news... is news:
It's that time of year again - the US Open is under way in New York City, the end of summer looms, and Forrester Research's third annual joint survey with itSMF-USA to understand the state of ITSM is out in the field and calling for your participation!
Last year, the year-over-year data collected gave us some good and not-so-good news.
Compensation for ITSM professionals overwhelmingly increased.
ITIL's positive influence on the organization was compelling with over 70% of service management professionals agreeing the best practice framework improved productivity, and 65% finding it helps to deliver better service quality.
25% of survey takers did not know whether their incident mean time to resolution (MTTR) had increased, decreased, or remained the same over the past year.
A whopping 31% of them did not know what percentage of incidents were the result of a change to infrastructure, applications, processes or tools!
One of the best TV comedies in the UK over the last couple of years has been The IT Crowd. It is about a fictional IT department and plays to all the possible IT stereotypes. One of my favorite scenes is from the very first episode in which a ‘user’ is left waiting for their call to be answered for an excruciating amount of time and then another ‘IT professional’ is shown speaking to a ‘user’ in complete technology gobbledygook. Yes, this clip is funny but surely these are all extreme cases and only slim comparisons can be made to Enterprise IT today?
I have to be honest here and say that during my time as an enterprise management consultant I saw all that happened on this clip, but surely modern day IT organizations don’t suffer from these problems? Well, maybe not to the same extent but how often have you heard, or even whispered, these famous words when working with the IT service desk or help desk:
A year and a half ago I broke up with Blackberry and started dating iPhone. It was a clean but cruel breakup: AT&T cancelled my T-Mobile contract on my behalf, the equivalent of getting dumped by your girlfriend’s new boyfriend.
This year I’ve been cheating on my laptop with my iPad. But it’s an on-again, off-again relationship. While I tell my iPad it’s the only one, I keep going back to my laptop. When I travel, my iPad is with me meeting clients. Meanwhile my laptop is in the hotel room surfing the online menu for a turkey club.
The iPad beats my laptop on size, weight, connectivity, and battery life. It also improves the human element when I’m having a face-to-face conversation but need to take notes. These are all critically important to me when I'm out of the office visiting clients or at an event.
But my laptop wins when I need to perform other important activities. For example, the larger screen really helps to write and edit research reports (John Rakowski, you’ll have your edits soon!). Or when I need to approve expenses behind the VPN or access files on my hard drive that I haven’t stored in Google Drive (yes, Forrester sanctioned).
Now that I've had a few months of compare both devices, I come back to outcomes . . .
Service support functions have many names. Some of them are called a help desk, and others have moved on to be a service desk. But there is more out there to tackle! Is your service desk ready for a new identity? I am a huge fan of the IT support organization, as they help us when we need them . . . but to call them a help desk or a service desk . . . Really? Think about all the things we want and need them to do for us — I think this important function should get a new name!
Here are some new functional names that we (Forrester) came up with. Please tell us which one you like! Or tell us a name you like! As Victor Hugo said, “The future has many names: For the weak, it means the unattainable. For the fearful, it means the unknown. For the courageous, it means opportunity.” Looking forward to hear from you.
Last week I took part in a podcast focusing on the "Future of the Service Desk." Unsurprisingly, this is a hot topic at Forrester for the I&O role. The standard equation for measuring service desk performance is simply the highest possible quality or customer service over the lowest possible cost. While simple on paper, the challenge to try and achieve this equilibrium is a complex conundrum for many service desk managers.
Developments such as the "consumerization" of IT further compound this issue. Service desk professionals now operate in a business environment in which their end users or customers are "tech savvy." This leads to a potential conflict spark point where IT customers believe that they have more IT know-how than the service desk. In some cases, this could well be true and it would be dangerous to dismiss these customers and their knowledge. So what is the answer? Well, on the podcast I explained that the service desk and IT as a whole has to focus on becoming "customer savvy" to embrace these pressures.
How do you schedule your service desk staff to ensure excellent staffing and achieve service-level targets? Does your service desk solution cover this?
The effective staffing of service desk analysts can be complicated. Leveraging historic volume levels for all of the communication channels is one way to plan ahead. Additionally, having insight into planned projects from other groups — e.g., upgrades of applications or other planned releases — is important as well to plan ahead.
Service desk teams should start automating the workforce management process as much as possible in order to meet the customers’ expectations. Some service desk solutions have the workforce management as part of their functionalities already. If this is a challenge for you today — make sure that you include this key requirement into your functionality assessment list. Use the ITSM Support Tools Product Comparison tool for your assessment.
In the past week I have been briefed by one vendor who has incorporated workforce management into their solution. helpLine 5.1 Workforce Management allows for optimized planning of the service desk team.