You’re Still Using Email to Manage IT Support? Why?

Is your company still using email, or a home-grown help desk solution, to manage IT support issues?

There’s no doubt that using email for support works, but is it suboptimal? Why walk when you can “use the car” – with the car the equivalent of a fit-for-purpose IT service desk or IT service management (ITSM) tool?

And before you shout “Walking is good for you, and the environment!” at your screen, what I’mmetaphorically talking about here is the IT-support equivalent of walking all day, every day. And I’m sure that most of us would love to spend less time “walking”; with the time saved spent on moreproductive professional and personal activities, including morefamily time and sleeping.

 

If you are still using email for IT support…

…Then you are not alone.

HDI – aprofessional association for the technical support industry – reports that a good proportion of their members, from companies of all sizes, are still not using a fit-for-purpose service desk or ITSM tool:

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Source: HDI “Service Management: Not Just for IT Anymore”

Note – HDI takes the view that end users, or employees, are customers of IT support and thus this diagram uses the term “customers” to denote “those supported”.

 

So what does this diagram tell us?

In some ways the stats are to be expected – particularly that the red bars, i.e. the companies that are using an ITSM solution such as ServiceNow, increase from small to large companies. The larger the organisation, the greater the need for standardized processes, workflow and automation, and economies of scale. Plus, they probably have deeper pocket in terms of IT support budgets and a higher level of IT management and ITSM maturity.

However, what’s less expected is the percentage of companies that have no plans to invest in a service desk or ITSM tool – for instance, that 1 in 20 large organisations don’t have such a tool. Then there’s the size of the blue bars – with 16-30% of companies, across the company-size spectrum, currently implementing, or planning to implement, an ITSM solution.

 

So how are the companies in the grey and blue segments doing IT support?

It’s definitely a mixed bag – ranging from post-it notes, spreadsheets, Lotus Notes databases, through to home-grown help desk solutions that might use all manner of different technologies. However, a common element of all these methods, and a method in its own right, is email – thateither personal email accounts, or one or more communal email accounts, are used to collect IT issues and requests from customers or end users.

As stated at the start of this blog, it works; but how well does it really work?

  • Is there duplication of effort as information is copied into other applications such as Excel to provide management information?
  • How are telephone calls captured? Are they put straight into Excel, or similar, or written on a post-it note? Or maybe not documented at all?
  • Do end user issues and requests get lost – either in the inbox or during transfer between technologies?
  • How quickly are issues and requests dealt with? Is there prioritisation based on business importance and are solutions being delivered in a timely manner?

 

Ultimately, what’s the business impact of all this (and other issues with using email) and do you know how well your IT support is faring?

 

For me, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using personal productivity technology for group-based, and often business-critical, activities. Plus, there has been no mention of knowledge management, self-service, and other time-saving and service-improving capabilities now used for both internal and external IT support. So is email still a good way to manage IT support?

The Cloud Can Deliver Superior Service Management

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It seems like it was only yesterday when cloud computing  was the hot new buzzword in the IT industry. Today, it is a well-known phenomenon that most organizations are taking advantage of in one way or another. It represents the new age of computing where all tasks are based in the virtual world of the internet. The Cloud, as it is commonly known, is being used to run applications for both individuals and businesses. In this article we explore the evolution of the cloud and its role in transforming Service Management.

Cloud Computing

The concept of cloud computing is based on being able to share network resources just as we can get electricity from a network grid as we require it. It allows companies to change the scale of their computer based services according to the demand. Organizations can then decrease their costs by only paying for the resources that they are actually using in real time.

There are many successful companies such as Facebook, Uber and Salesforce who are employing cloud computing to provide services to their customers while having effective control over the service parameters. These services usually employ cloud servers which host all the information of the company. A user can then plug into this cloud to download the required information to a particular device.

Cloud computing has a potential for improving many applications. Service management is among the concepts that are being positively influenced by the presence of this fairly new technology. But before we answer how, let us first understand service management.

 

Service Management

Service management refers to managing the requests of delivering intangible components that are required in any business. This means that they cover the delivery and control of services which are simply tasks that are required during different stages in a business organization.

Good service management is all about reducing the time between the asking of the service to its delivery. It is a process that can truly improve After being streamlined and cloud computing is playing a major role in service management in this regard.

 

Digital Service Management

Like most management techniques and processes, service management has also gone digital. Most organizations now use software systems to divide the tasks among different members of their team and keep track of the progress on them. The software systems being used for digital service management also provide accurate estimates of work targets and improve the chances of successfully delivering high levels of performance.

 

Cloud Computing in Service Management

Cloud computing provides the complete package for service management in any organization. It can automate the processes that are involved during a typical service requirement. A well programmed cloud program can identify a request and send it to the relevant department within the organization. The employee can then work on this task immediately and deliver the required service with the fastest response time.

Cloud computing services therefore, speed up service management processes. They eliminate the need of using external communication tools such as emails and text messages and provide a platform where all services can be digitally accepted and delivered in a spontaneous manner. ServiceNow (link to servicenow.com), the leader in the Service Management space for example runs its ITSM, ITOM and Business management platform all on the same, always available cloud, elevating service management to a whole new level.

Another important aspect of cloud computing is that it brings in a “pay-per-need” approach to the service management industry where management costs can in fact, be lowered by fully automating service management activities in a company.