ITSM Tool Woes: 5 Tips to Overcome Service Desk Frustrations

A recent Service Desk Institute (SDI) survey asked members two questions about their IT service management (ITSM) or service desk tools. The first of these questions related to their top five frustrations with their ITSM tool. The second asked for the three key innovations or improvements that they would like to see in their tool in the next 12 months. Both questions required freeform rather than stock answer responses.

When viewed together, the SDI member responses to these questions make one wonder how many service desks are struggling with outdated, or even the wrong, service desk or ITSM tool. Please read on to form your own opinion. More detail can be found in the SDI “Life on the Service Desk in 2016” report, or you could watch an on-demand webinar that provides helpful advice while taking you through the survey results.

Question: What are your top 5 frustrations with your current ITSM tool?

The responses were grouped into eleven different categories – features, reporting, usability, etc. (as per the chart below).

SDI-Freshservice Life on the Service Desk

For example, the reported frustrations with features include:

  • Lacking automation in core processes
  • Lack of mobile interface
  • Limited browser support
  • Limited self-service functions
  • No integrated CMDB
  • No separation between incident and service request

Sadly, to me, this chart looks to be the “same old, same old” – where little has changed between 2012 and 2015. Especially when you consider the above feature-based frustrations.

Reporting is still a big issue. Although it’s nice to see that usability and customisation, while still frustrations, are marginally better relative to 2012. However, the jump in reliability frustration looks ominous, as do the frustrations with speed and process – are these perhaps the signs of ageing ITSM tools? I’ll come back to this.

Question: List 3 key innovations/improvements that you would like to see in your ITSM tool in the next 12 months?

The SDI member responses were placed into nine categories to allow comparison with the 2012 research:

SDI-Freshservice Life on the Service Desk

You can see that there’s a relatively big jump in feature requirements between 2012 and 2015, with these including:

  • Predictive knowledge management
  • The ability to run problem analysis within the tool
  • Improved chat capability
  • Translations made easy
  • Request fulfilment tracking module
  • Better workflow functionality
  • Better search functionality
  • Release management interface

However, while all these are relevant, I would argue that they aren’t really ITSM tool innovations – just improvements on existing tool capabilities.

There are also adverse increases in:

  • Reporting
  • Usability
  • Process integration

While some areas did fare better:

  • Mobile offering
  • Configurability
  • Social media

Comparing required innovations/improvements with the top frustrations

These two charts appear to tell a similar story, with features, reporting, and usability the top three categories in both.

However, when you dig into the detail, i.e. the responses collated into the high-level categories, you can see that they aren’t telling the same story at all. Especially with the “features” detail.

SDI-Freshservice Life on the Service Desk

It’s in no way scientific, but I look at these two different lists and think that the frustrations are caused by SDI members having invested in the wrong tool. While the requirement for new innovations and improvements is the result of using an old tool (whether newly purchased or already having been used in anger for a number of years).

Take a moment. Look to the list on the left, the required innovations or improvements – surely these things are to be expected in a modern ITSM tool? Then look to the list on the right, the frustrations – why weren’t these things requested when selecting the ITSM tool? They seem pretty core to me.

So, while on the face of it the two questions, and the associated SDI member responses, show similar issues – or symptoms – they are in fact probably the result of two different root causes – using an old tool or using the wrong tool. With some overlap, in that an old tool can also be the wrong tool and vice versa.

5 things a service desk frustrated by their ITSM tool should do

A future blog will report how 50% of SDI members feel that their service desk, or ITSM, tool causes them pain (it’s the number two cause of service desk pain after reporting), so ITSM technology didn’t fare too well in the SDI survey and report. So, if you are struggling with your current ITSM tool, what should you do?

  • Admit that things aren’t right with your tool, unless of course, they are. It’s the first step to recovery. I’m not talking about a knee-jerk rip-and-replace of technology here, just the initiation of conversations about how the tool is impeding operations and service quality.
  • Don’t sink with a “capsizing” service desk or ITSM tool. It’s easy to blame a tool for poor operational performance and other negative factors of service desk life. But on the other hand you and your customers deserve better than a tool stuck in 2006 (if this is the case).
  • Recognize that sticking with the “cheap” option might be costing you more than it saves. Consider value over cost, or how far from optimal your IT operations are. Your current tool might not be as cheap as you think when you factor in the operational inefficiencies that are probably the root cause of your service desk frustrations.
  • Recognize the importance of getting your business requirements right. And, if appropriate, the required thoroughness of the tool selection process. Even if you aren’t planning on changing tools it’s worth trying to get a better understanding of what’s needed before assessing how well these needs are currently being met. Ultimately, a new ITSM tool should be treated like any other business investment.
  • Consider some of the freely available tool selection best practice tips, such as… those listed in the next blog.

Hopefully you found these survey results and tips helpful. If you did, look out for another four blogs based on the “Life on the Service Desk in 2016” report. If you can’t wait for the blogs, then please:

  • Watch an on-demand webinar taking you through the survey results