IT self-service seems simple enough – instead of employing service desk personnel, you have the users sort things out for themselves. They just have to fill out some online forms to request computer upgrades, mobile devices, new applications and so forth. The goal of this is to improve turnaround times and save money.
But it isn't simply a matter of dropping a system in place within the organisation and hoping it works and users know how to use it.
IT self-service is all about the right balance. Organisations are bound to fail if they do not bear that in mind. That's because IT self-service is rarely able to move beyond the first level of support, and it's critical that this fact is understood.
"Expectations need to be matched appropriately – meaning that the IT folks operating service desks should not expect too much from their customers," says Andreas Konig, chief executive officer at TeamViewer. "Whereas would-be tech-savvy end-users, on the other hand, should not be too bold about the issues they are able to engage themselves in."
Self-service versus Google
One of the biggest pitfalls for IT self-service is the tendency for staff to simply forget about it in favour of hitting Google or asking nearby non-IT colleagues for advice. Research from Gartner entitled 'The Evolution of the Digital Workplace' previously found that only 40% of employees seek IT support as a first port of call.
"Many users are simply unaware that they even have a self-service portal, and we find internal provisions are especially bad at spreading awareness among staff," says Neil Penny, Product Director at Sunrise Software.
IT teams should make a concentrated effort to raise awareness of the self-service option among employees. "Between fighting fires and work on large IT projects, teams rarely feel they have time for this kind of activity, but raising awareness will help them in the long run as a well running self-service system reduces the pressure of requests," says Penny.
He adds that if the self-service system is consistently failing to provide solutions or to have queries answered in time, the team should look to increase the knowledge available as well as the way that queries are managed and responded to.
"The portal should also be an evolving service – the team should listen to user feedback and plan tactical changes to ensure problems don't arise in the future."
Konig says that many users are too intimidated to use the portal because they think they will do serious damage. So instead of using it, they call 911. "In other words, many organisations find that their users do not turn to their IT self-service portal."
"Users need the right kind of encouragement to engage with IT self-service, which may be achieved by a dedicated marketing campaign. A campaign with the aim of instilling the portal in the mind-set of the user," he notes. "Additionally, if something goes wrong, it's often worth checking your portal's usability from the perspective of a user."