The home user too often has the obligation of doing their own tech support, having to fiddle with the cables and drivers to keep their computer or printer working, when it goes on the fritz. While this is annoying to be disrupted to many folks at home, in the enterprise setting, this downtime directly impacts the bottom line. After all, no company wants their office worker spending the day getting their desktop working, when they should be getting their actual work done.
Therefore, a mature organization will have a dedicated folks to fix, as well as maintain the equipment for the workers for the rest of the organization. Some groups choose to handle this in-house, via a dedicated IT Department. However, this can have its own pitfalls, and increasingly there is a larger variety of technology to support, from desktop computers, to mobile platforms including smartphones, and not to mention the perennial printer jams. Therefore, enter ITSM, which stands for Information Technology Service Management, and can handle the challenge of supporting today’s enterprise technology.
Advantages of ITSM
ITSM goes beyond what a handful of IT workers can typically do at an organization. By outsourcing the tech support there are significant advantages, including:
- Efficiency - As ITSM does the support day in and out, they can have a higher level of expertise in the frequently encountered issues of enterprise IT. Therefore, fixes are faster, downtime is minimized, and overall they are more efficient at it.
- Transparency - With ITSM able to provide clear reports on their usage, and costs more regular and contained, it is simpler to be able to track and see the return on investment (ROI).
- Improved insight - Service requests are better tracked through a central database via ITSM, rather than individual emails and phone calls to the IT Dept. These can be more easily tracked, and aggregated to better understand the ongoing needs of the organization.
- Self-service options - With a robust ITSM interface, options for self-service exist. These include directions on demand for common tasks such as replacing a printer cartridge specific to the model in use at the organization, or integrated chatbots.
- Predictable costs - Rather than supporting an IT dept, with the cycle of hires and fires, with salaries and benefits, this can be replaced with a far more predictable ITSM service contract, and more budget friendly regular costs.
Disadvantages of ITSM
On the downside, ITSM is not for every organization as there are some drawbacks. Before plunging full ahead, include these issues in the calculus:
- Loss of control - Rather than having full control of the IT department within the organization, they are now outsourced.
- Institution specific - While an ITSM will come up with best practices, and apply them, there can be less common, or even rare situations where certain devices or OS’ will continue to need support, way past an ITSM will be interested in doing so. For example, the McLaren supercar needs a two decade old laptop (opens in new tab), the Compaq 5280 LTE, in order to service the automobile, and nobody is going to be able to support hardware than old.
- Data control - There are times when total control over the data and activities of the employees will be critical, that it will be less preferable to outsource the IT, and keep it in-house.
Hybrid approach to ITSM
Given the pluses, and minuses of ITSM, some organizations adopt a hybrid approach, with some day to day activities given to ITSM, such as Windows updates, while retaining more mission critical work by the in-house IT Department. This gets referred to as ‘Bimodal IT (opens in new tab),’ with the goal of offloading the routine IT activities to the ITSM, which frees up the IT Department to take on new projects, to be able to solve larger problems, rather than use more expensive, in-house expertise to deal with the mundane. The overall goal is to increase efficiency, and better deploying the resources.
A closely allied, and integrated aspect of ITSM is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). This gets published as a set of five core volumes, which are not specific to any individual industry, but rather have the goal of well done ITSM. ITIL details best practices and procedures, throughout the ITSM lifecycle stages which include:
- Service strategy
- Service design
- Service transition
- Service operation
- Continual service improvement
Choosing an ITSM vendor
There are plenty of options out there for an ITSM vendor, and be sure to do your research, comparing options, costs, and the tiers of plans to find the best solution for your business. By way of example of an ITSM, we look at SysAid (opens in new tab), that integrates all the essential tools into one product, including ITSM, Help Desk (opens in new tab), Service Desk, and IT Asset Management. They count as their customers such organizations that are household names such as Coca-Cola, Bacardi, Johns Hopkins University and Fuji Xerox, so clearly they are doing something right.
SysAid is an ITSM solution, that also claims to be ITIL aligned. The features are designed to streamline processes such as being able to log incidents, and track them through to resolution. There is also a self-service portal that allows end users to enter support requests, have access to chat, have access to knowledge articles to resolve the incident on their own, and be able to track incidents directly for resolution. There is also remote control capability allowing service desk agents from a remote location to securely access the end user’s computer to resolve the incident.
Furthermore, there's configuration management database (CMDB) software that can track the organization’s IT components, and their relationships between users and devices, and then be able to predict the impact of a change of a component, rather than having a downtime disaster; the asset data does not even need to be manually entered, and can come via network discovery software.
SysAid can also assist with the more mundane, but quite common issue of a password reset for a lost password. In one analysis (opens in new tab) at a university, a simple password reset required Help Desk assistance 25% of the time, despite the ability of alternative methods. SysAid offers their Self-Service Password Reset (opens in new tab) (SSPR), which has the potential to reduce the calls to the help desk, while reducing downtime for end-users. It also reinforces best practices in terms of password complexity and length, as well as maintaining security as temporary passwords can be sent to a secondary email account, or via SMS.
Be sure to check out our Best ITSM Tools of 2018 for some great choices for your organization.