Strategic CIO // Team Building & Staffing
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7/16/2014
09:06 AM
Jeff Brandt
Jeff Brandt
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7 Ways To Avoid Self-Service IT Pitfalls

Moving routine work from IT to end users can increase efficiency and save serious money. But too many projects fall flat.

identify the right items that will help users help themselves.

Here are some tips for a successful self-help program:

  • Determine specific knowledge content to be included in the repository, including FAQs, instructions, how-tos, and demonstrations. Look at the top 25 requests usually resolved at Level 1. Service requests requiring completion of online forms are well suited for this repository. Ensure that forms are logically designed, with clear instructions on how they should be completed and submitted.
  • Design instructions and create processes with the end user in mind. Be consistent in the conventions you use to communicate instructions. People will take cues from the use of bold typefaces and italics, for example. Describe issues and write instructions in nontechnical language. Use visual aids such as screenshots.
  • Test, test, and then test again. Ambiguous instructions lead to user frustration. To ensure that instructions for simple tasks such as changing passwords or connecting to a printer are clear, have someone outside IT complete the task by following the instructions exactly. Continually revise instructions based on end-user feedback.
  • Don't launch self-service programs with incomplete information. Rolling out a half-baked system with the intention to complete it over time is a recipe for failure. You get only one chance to make a good first impression.
  • Promote the portal rollout. Just because you build it doesn't mean they'll come. Send out emails, produce videos, put up posters, advertise on social media, and get influencers interested. Use every tool in your communications arsenal to promote the site.
  • Continually encourage use of self-service. Guide people on how they can resolve an issue on their own faster than relying on service desk staff. Train new employees on how to use the self-service site.
  • Establish a formal process for updating and reviewing the knowledge base. Assign a manager or team leader to be responsible for ensuring that instructions, FAQs, and processes remain accurate, especially after system or software upgrades.

The trend toward self-service will only grow. In the HDI survey, in addition to shopping for incident and knowledge management systems, 47% of respondent organizations are looking to add new self-service technologies or update/replace the ones already in place.

If this effort seems like too much to tackle, the technology service providers and consultants you work with may be developing strategies and upgrading offerings aimed at helping IT implement and manage self-service systems to lower support costs and improve user productivity. But no matter what route you take, one thing is for sure: IT teams that approach self-service from the end user perspective have a much greater chance of success.

Here's a step-by-step plan to mesh IT goals with business and customer objectives and, critically, measure your initiatives to ensure that the business is successful. Get the How To Tie Tech Innovation To Business Strategy report today (registration required).

Jeff Brandt is solutions director of technology support services at Randstad Technologies. View Full Bio
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Jeff Jerome
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Jeff Jerome,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 9:40:04 AM
Re: User perspective
Lorna - Great point if you are locked up there is no self help except on antoher device.  A great cloud application which is what I am seeing from most IT based support companies.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/29/2014 | 9:33:26 AM
Re: User perspective
There's also the fact that people in general are more tech savvy now and don't call IT unless the problem is severe -- like being locked out of your system and thus unable to go to a portal anyway. I think the best bet is tiered support via portal, then email, then phone for emergencies.
Jeff Jerome
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Jeff Jerome,
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2014 | 11:28:41 PM
Re: User perspective
Lorna - Your comment  " If I call IT it's because I am at a standstill and unable to get my work done. I'm in no mood to go search through a self-help portal, and if IT asks me to, I'm probably going to react poorly!"  That is a fair statmement non IT employee's need to focus on what they are doing and maintain uptime.  The availabilkty of skill IT support teams is there and easily achievable and a worth while investment.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
7/16/2014 | 1:37:12 PM
Re: User perspective
Password resets. Now that is something that could easily be done in self serve but is a natural Catch 22: If you can't get in to your computer, you can't request a password reset. Now at application level, like a website that needs credentials, they have all automated password resets. But at o/s level, the initial signon, what choice is there but make a call.

Thanks for the great example. Interesting topic.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/16/2014 | 1:26:29 PM
Re: User perspective
As a matter of fact, just yesterday I ran into an issue where a credentials problem locked me out of my PC just as I was looking for the dial-in info for a meeting. Dialed helpdesk and was only 10 minutes late.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
7/16/2014 | 1:20:14 PM
Re: User perspective
What type of event would put you at standstill and unable to work? I know you are speaking hypothetically but in my long experience out here, that event is not going to be something fixed from a tip in self service portal. If you are that down, you aren't getting to any self service portal anyway, unless you have an application problem. And self service won't fix that.

Other than doofy stuff like getting and hooking up a new mouse/keyboard, which you could have Googled anyway, this doesn't sound that useful. Makes me wonder what kind of calls they actually eliminated from Help Desk? Stuff like "Can't get site to work in browser", which self service site tells you to clear Temp Internet files, try Compatibility mode, etc? I guess I could see that, especially in company of 16,000 users.  Be interesting to see if this idea expands to more companies.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/16/2014 | 11:15:22 AM
User perspective
Speaking as an end user, I see both sides here. If I call IT it's because I am at a standstill and unable to get my work done. I'm in no mood to go search through a self-help portal, and if IT asks me to, I'm probably going to react poorly! That said, if I already have experience with the system and it's very well organized, I can see using it for less-urgent matters. However, at the same time, I'd be leery that success of a portal will result in fewer IT people there to help in those emergencies.

And, shouldn't routine items like moves, adds and changes already be automated?
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