Enterprise Service Management Meets Remote Work

17 June 2020

By Lewis


Life has changed dramatically in the past few months; 2020 will undoubtedly be a year of challenges and change. From a workplace perspective, one of the most notable shifts was the rapid rise of remote work in response to safer-at-home measures. IT service management teams, in particular, have a lot on their plate.

First, as entire businesses migrate to new work-from-home environments, ITSM teams play a critical role to keep services running and to support a newly remote workforce. However, let’s not forget that the ITSM team itself is likely also working from home. The move to remote working places a heavy burden on technology platforms which, in turn, increases pressure on ITSM teams. And this introduces entirely new challenges, both internal and external; for example, a rise in incidents related to increased web traffic that may impact customer experience.

Case in point: a recent report shows that “highly stressed” verticals face up to 11 times the number of reported incidents. These verticals range from online learning to health and fitness to food delivery. Even those industries under relatively less stress report experiencing twice the number of incidents amidst the last few weeks of shelter-in-place restrictions.

Amidst this dramatic change and future workplace uncertainty is one clear message: the need for smart and effective IT service management. Automated ITSM platforms have enabled the organisations that have them to thrive under the stress of the pandemic, while also revealing key lessons for the future of service management, more broadly.

Here, we present four fundamental ITSM lessons for your technology team to consider, including employee experience, automation, process improvement and anticipation of future interruptions.

Prioritise the Employee Experience

In today’s WFH world, remote workers are more reliant on service management platforms than ever before. Even if it was frowned upon by your technology team, the ability for staff to “pop in” to your workspace with questions is no longer a reality. Organisations with no ITSM process have likely seen a deluge of emails, calls and IMs with needs, and every employee, understandably, considers their request an urgent priority.

Now is the time to invest not just in an ITSM solution, but one that delivers a user-friendly experience to eliminate frustration and ensure satisfaction among your employees. After all, as with customers, a great employee experience will help ensure adoption and usage, which can also go a long way to help keep your operations and data safe. The right ITSM solution can also lead to greater efficiencies, lower costs and improved service levels, internally and externally.

Even pre-COVID-19, employees expected personalised, on-demand service experiences on par with commerce experiences. It’s crucial to enable remote access to service management platforms, whatever they may be, across the multiple devices (like mobiles and tablets) that people may be working on at home.

One employee-first solution is to explore enterprise service management (ESM), in which you extend the traditional confinements of service management from the technology team to other departments and teams. For example, ServiceNow, a key ITSM vendor, shares a case study about Qlik®, a leader in the data analytics market. Qlik’s technology operations team was struggling to keep up with demand from incoming requests, and needed a more sophisticated approach to serve its internal customers (Qlik’s staff). The company selected an ITSM solution from ServiceNow, which has dramatically streamlined operations by enabling employees to better interact with the technology team, but also to access knowledge documents to find quick fixes on their own.

Automate Workflows to Drive Efficiency

Another lesson for the future of service management is all about automation. While automated workflows should be a baseline requirement of any ITSM platform, enterprise service teams should also consider how they can tap into more powerful platform capabilities to eliminate IT information silos.

The ability to integrate and automate service management and asset management is especially key to support remote workforces right now, as service teams race to scale up quickly, maintain business continuity and enable remote teams to work productively.

Chances are, the service requests you currently receive are wide-ranging amidst the new WFH workplace; automated solutions will help your technology staff better sort and triage requests, even in this high-pressure environment. Often, with automation and robust information sharing, many requests may resolve themselves before they even reach your team.

To begin, you can automate some of the more frequent and straightforward requests you receive, such as password resets – first offer people a series of automated instructions to follow to resolve the issue on their own. With your own ITSM solution, strive to bring resolutions closer to the end-users with self-service and automated technology. ServiceNow, for example, offers a workflow solution to alleviate a key bottleneck in business: waiting on decisions, actions and responses. It replaces slow-moving interactions involving forms and approvals with an automated, drag and drop interface to visualise sequences of activities ranging from generating reports, notifying users of approvals and running tasks.

Identify Ways to Improve Processes

While the post-COVID-19 workplace future is unknown, the fundamentals that underpin ITSM will not change. However, the concept of “how” ITSM works will undoubtedly evolve as a result. Ask: How will I effectively manage and deliver services, remotely? With any new solution implementation, look for ways to adapt your ITSM practices to best support a workforce that works remotely, asynchronously and collaboratively.

For example, in-office interactions are now being replaced with remote conversations and leaner ITSM processes that support a diversified workforce. How can you adopt agile practices into your ITSM processes?

Earlier, we mentioned just a few of the benefits of enterprise ITSM, including employee experience, greater efficiency, cost reductions and improved service levels. As you upgrade your overall ITSM processes, you may witness other unexpected benefits, such as a reduction in IT waste. An effective enterprise ITSM approach can minimise waste in the asset lifecycle, by reducing your overall risk, keeping hardware costs in check and optimising your licenses for software.

Which brings up ITIL, a framework for delivering IT services to help manage risk and strengthen relationships while enabling growth, scale and change. While it dates back to the 1980’s, the latest version was just released in 2019, which may have been a bit prescient – it focuses on company culture and integrating IT into the entire organisation. One post suggests that the framework could assist businesses with the quick and effective digital transformation required in fast-changing environments as the result of the pandemic or other future political, economic or social disruptions.

Prepare for the New Normal

Many organisations found that their ITSM platforms were indeed ready for the world’s greatest work-from-home experiment. Yet for others, the experiment uncovered just how ill-prepared teams were for the rapid transition to remote work. While we may be headed back to the office in the near future, businesses must make sure their ITSM platforms are prepared for the possibility of remote work becoming commonplace. Disasters by their nature are unpredictable – another pandemic, natural disaster, or fire, for example – and others, like cyberattacks, are becoming more sophisticated and frequent.

There’s also likely to be a category of businesses which make a strategic decision to continue all or some of the recent WFH transformation even after it is safe to return to the office. Plan now for the future of further remote work, whether it’s sudden and reactive or a thoughtful, planned process. Businesses that invest in digital technologies, changing business models and ESM now will reap the benefits in the future, no matter what the new normal is.

A proactive, thoughtful and forward-looking approach to ITSM has never been more important for your business than this moment. Those that prioritise the employee experience, automate workflows, improve processes and plan for the “new normal” will be in a stronger position as we return to normalcy and prepare for future disruptions and changes.

At KA2, we can help you undertake these significant technology changes, identify an ESM strategy and implement it in a secure and scalable way to transform the way you work. To find out more about how service management platforms can help streamline and simplify daily work operations, please get in touch with us today.