It’s Time for Your IT Service Desk Strategies to Refocus from Cost to Business Value

Has the focus on IT support cost reduction really been the best option for CIOs and their senior management teams? 
By Sami Kallio
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Has the focus on IT support cost reduction really been the best option for CIOs and their senior management teams? 

There has been a long-held view that the IT service desk is a “cost of quality,” i.e. it’s an additional and unnecessary cost that’s caused by a lack of quality in certain parts of the IT value chain. With IT issues – or “incidents” to use ITIL terminology – something that can be managed away by better IT service design, transition, and delivery practices.

This cost-of-quality view has caused many organizations to consistently drive down the cost of their IT service desk and the available budgets. This might have involved fewer, lower-paid staff or it might have involved the outsourcing of the service desk function in pursuit of lower costs (through economies of scale), higher quality (through best practice capabilities), and increased innovation – it’s the common outsourcing promise, or at least the customer expectation of outsourcing.

But Is This Really in the Best Interest of the Business?

Has the focus on IT support cost reduction really been the best option for CIOs and their senior management teams? After all, surely the cost of the lost employee due to longer resolution times, and potentially failed resolutions, far outweighs the cost of handling a ticket?

This blog thus looks at the need to refocus IT service desk strategies from cost to improving the business value of IT support – with this including the ability of all employees to do what they need to do, when they need to do it. With IT support needing to improve the level of employee productivity or – viewed through an IT service desk lens – to reduce the loss of productivity caused by delays and other failures in incident handling.

Why Is the IT-Support Cost-Reduction Focus Consistently Seen as Good?

As to why there has been so much focus on reducing IT support costs, your guess is as good as mine.

There are many possibilities, including that:

  • IT support was a rapidly increasing cost as more and more technology was introduced to business operations
  • The IT service desk is viewed as a negative thing – the aforementioned “cost of quality”
  • Support is still seen as a labor- and thus cost-intensive IT activity
  • The (perceived) quality of the support service is not be seen as commensurate with the cost
  • IT support is bundled in with the “keeping the lights on” costs that most IT organizations have been repeatedly told to minimize in favor of spending more of the annual IT budget on innovation-focused activities.

I’m sure that you can think of others too.

But consider this – if you chop 33% from the cost of handling an incident ticket, you’ll save approximately 5 Euros (according to our research). However, how does this reduction in capabilities impact the business? Your cost-cutting might have cost the business so much more than the 5 Euros that’s just been “saved.” In fact, we know it does!

Sadly, it’s highly-suboptimal thinking and action.

“But What If We Completely Remove the Need for IT Support?”

It seems a sensible argument and ambition, but there are a number of barriers to this.

Firstly, the IT service desk also covers service requests and requests for information-based help (in addition to incidents), so it’s not just a cost of quality. Here you might think “We’ll simply use self-service and self-help for these – which will reduce the handling costs for such service requests.”

But please think again after looking at the following employee experience data – which shows the productivity currently lost by employees using self-service (based on 308k pieces of feedback from the last six months) – it’s currently over 50% higher/longer than with the telephone channel:

the happiness in each channel can be easily addressed when shifting from cost to business value

Source: https://happysignals.com/happiness-score/

Then secondly, not every incident can be blamed on “the technology” – in fact, if you’ve ever worked on an IT service desk, you’ll appreciate that many incidents will have end-user mistakes and/or knowledge gaps as the root cause.

Finally, trying to banish all incidents can be viewed as analogous to managing credit card fraud – where, for financial institutions, the cost of totally removing fraud is more than the cost of accepting a certain level of fraud. And similarly, the cost of totally removing both technology and people-based IT issues is likely to be prohibitive – with reduction more sensible than elimination.

Thus, instead, there’s a need to optimize your IT support in a way that delivers the best outcomes for your organization. And, contrary to the IT industry’s historic focus on costs, this might involve spending more on IT support rather than the decade-old strategy of reducing support costs.

Using Employee Experience to Drive Up Employee Productivity

Most organizations are measuring some form of customer satisfaction (CSAT) or employee satisfaction, or whatever they wish to call the measurement, but we believe that most organizations need greater insight into both the employee experience and the associated level of lost employee productivity to really get the change started. Where, through better understanding and improving the employee experience, our customers are reducing the business impact of incidents and making their people and operations more effective.

There’s a definite need in 2019 for IT organizations, and IT service desks, to move on from “delivering more with less” strategies to invest in strategies that are more aligned with a “better, faster, cheaper” approach. Importantly, approaches that are measured by better business outcomes rather than cost savings.

Leveraging Employee Experience Data to Better Meet Your CIO-Role Priorities

If your 2019 priorities are similar to those of other CIOs, then you’ll likely be focused on some or all of the following:

  • Improving change leadership and management
  • Enabling organization and strategy alignment
  • Increasing customer engagement through improved CX
  • Becoming critical to the enterprise
  • Getting managers onboard with data
  • Increasingly customer focused internally and externally

The full list (at CIO.com) has nine CIO priorities, but for the list above we selected those that are directly linked to measuring employee experience and running your service development, delivery, and support from a business-value perspective.

Creating the Business Case for Employee Experience Management

Our customers have already done this. They looked at the aggregated employee experience data that we’ve collected and published during the last three years before justifying doing the same internally. Recognizing the gulf between what an incident costs to handle and the cost of the lost productivity associated with poor employee experience.

 

cost-per-ticket

Source:https://happysignals.com/employee-driven-way-of-working-in-itsm/

Then, through better understanding the causes of employee unhappiness and the unnecessarily lost productivity, they’re able to improve operations such that happiness increases and the lost productivity drops. With the employees served by the best-run IT support organizations now only losing an hour of productivity versus the average of three hours.

Importantly, this potential two-hour saving far outweighs any additional IT support spend incurred in delivering the better employee experience – it’s the financial backbone of the business case for the refocus on employee experience strategies for your IT service desk.

If you would like to find out more about how employee experience management will deliver both happier end users and better business outcomes for your organization, then please contact our team for a chat. You can book a meeting with us directly using this link.

HAPPY TO MEET YOU!

 

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