Work Smarter – Exploit Automation on the IT Service Desk

Written by on March 29, 2018

Most corporate IT service desks are still under pressure to deliver more with less, with the consumer-world-driven expectations of employees only adding to the challenges of modern-day IT support. And, even where IT service management (ITSM) best-practice processes are already employed, there’s still the opportunity to improve IT support by reducing the service desk’s reliance on manual efforts – replacing common, repetitive tasks with automated capabilities. Automated capabilities that deliver solutions more quickly, at a lower cost, and with a better customer experience.

And don’t think that automation is only applicable to the largest of IT departments. It’s also beneficial to smaller IT teams too – especially in making the most of limited people resource.

Achieving the Business – and IT Service Desk – Nirvana of “Faster, Cheaper, Better”

In doing (or delivering) more with less on the IT service desk, there is commonly a tradeoff between: speed, cost, and quality. With organizations needing to “pick any two from three,” because more speed and reduced cost would most likely adversely affect quality. Or because increasing quality would potentially slow things down or increase costs (or maybe even both).

Hopefully you get the drift – in the traditional, labor-intensive world of IT support it’s often impossible to improve across all three of speed, cost, and quality; with one outcome traded for improvements in the other two.

That’s unless automation is employed to augment existing human IT support capabilities.

But Automation is Nothing New

Businesses have been automating manual operations since the 18th Century and the Industrial Revolution – when manufacturing operations transitioned from hand-production methods to the use of machines, i.e. automation. Where automation can be defined as:

“The technology by which a process or procedure is performed without human assistance.” (Source: Wikipedia)

It’s what the corporate IT department has been providing to other lines of business since the dawn of IT. But, as with the story of the Cobbler’s Children, how many IT departments – and their support organizations – have yet to sufficiently invest in the automation of the IT service desk to:

  • Increase the speed of execution?
    With automation replacing manual practices – when appropriate – and the need for people to enact them. Automation ultimately “works” at a far quicker pace than people and provides the ability for 24×7 operations (especially when used in conjunction with IT self-service and self-help capabilities).
  • Reduce operational costs?
    Not only is automation quicker and more “available,” it’s also cheaper relative to the human labor that would otherwise need to be employed. It’s also important to understand that automation doesn’t necessarily mean that existing employees are no longer needed, with the optimal mix of positive IT-support (and business) outcomes and costs coming from the augmentation of people with automation.
  • Improve the end-user experience?
    Whether your IT service/help desk wants to think of “quality” in terms of greater efficiency and effectiveness or the delivery of a better end-user (or customer) experience, the aforementioned benefits (of automation) jointly contribute to delivering better IT support and customer service.

It sounds great, but automation can still offer more to IT support…

Addressing People-Specific Issues

In some ways, the following three benefits are subservient to those already outlined. But they are important enough to warrant explicit mentions:

  1. Reducing human intervention.
    Automation doesn’t always need to replace discrete human activities, it can also be used to bridge between existing automation-based activities. Thus, removing the need for a human sense-check, handover, authorization, or similar for end-to-end automation.
  2. Reducing human errors.
    “To err is human” but human errors, even if viewed as small mistakes, can be expensive in terms of: delays in execution, the financial cost of rework or lost business, quality issues, or the adverse impact to business and brand reputation.
  3. Greater flexibility/adaptability.
    When things need to change, as they usually do, it’s easier to change automation-based activities than the people-based equivalents where the day-to-day practices are engrained and thus difficult to move on from (at least without some slippage back into the old routine).

Want to hear more about automation?

Join Us for an Automation Webinar

Automation Webinar - Stephen Mann

If you wish to hear more about how automation can help your IT service desk, then please attend our webinar titled ‘Work Smarter – Exploit Automation on the IT Service Desk’ to:

  1. Understand the power of automation for the IT service desk – including real-world examples and good practice tips for exploiting automation now.
  2. Hear how the evolution of automation – specifically machine learning and bots – will further extend the benefits of automated “heavy lifting.”
  3. See smart automation in action – especially in how it will improve your service desk and the user experience.

 

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