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Service Management – a broader perspective

Disruption due to global pandemics, conflicts and environmental factors such as extreme weather, can affect businesses across the entire spectrum. Whether it is the poor yield of agricultural crops or shortages of high-technology components, the effect is invariably a slowing of the economy. Enterprises struggle to pivot and adjust, or quite simply, fail and cease to operate.

But it isn’t always a picture of doom and gloom. The turbulence of the last three years has been felt and experienced on a vast scale, certainly. But reading between the lines, it is also true that markets have become more competitive, with speed proving, once again, to be of the essence for survival.

High-performing enterprises that have emerged from the pandemic relatively unscathed are able to deliver products and services faster, and manage workflows and resources more efficiently. A recent Forbes article identified one common factor among these companies – the fact that they had invested in their IT tools & processes, revisited their ways of working, and supported their staff as they shifted to remote ways of working both temporarily (for some) and permanently for others. And there’s more still: High-performing enterprises have also been successful in scaling the benefits and best practices of one department to less-technical support functions, such as HR and Marketing, to reap similar benefits.

IT Teams – tools and workflows
We’ll take a look at the broader company-wide changes in just a moment. But let’s start with development teams, who traditionally applied a model of fixed, sequential phases resulting in a single, potentially risky release. These teams were among the first to embrace a new, agile approach, putting value at the center and breaking work into smaller increments and iterations. These are teams that are open to change, accepting frequent cycles of feedback, evolving requirements, and testing. Projects are routinely broken down into smaller pieces, with efficient methods of visualizing progress, status and identifying potential bottlenecks, thanks to tools like Jira Software and its integrated Kanban boards.

IT Teams – knowledge sharing
But planning and getting the work done also depends on managing a team’s awareness and shared knowledge. The ITIL® Foundation specifies this as: “Knowledge management aims to ensure that stakeholders get the right information, in the proper format, at the right level, and at the correct time, according to their access level and other relevant policies.”

Knowledge is one of the IT organisation’s most valuable assets, and open knowledge sharing can help your team stay on the same page, collaborate, and make better, faster decisions. As workplace technology evolves, knowledge now exists in more and more disparate places: across email, tickets, and in the minds of individual team members.

In an Atlassian and Oxelos white paper1, it was noted that “Aggregating your team’s knowledge in a single repository is a great first step, but tooling alone is often not enough. Knowledge is more powerful when sharing is open; when it’s no longer an individual’s knowledge, but the community’s knowledge.”

What can we learn and adopt for the wider benefit of an organization?
Well, quite simply, start with something like a “project poster“, visible and consultable by the entire team. For every major initiative, create a project poster (or an equivalent “device” such as a campaign brief for Marketing teams). It’s an easy way to share your goals and progress with the rest of the team and stakeholders. Essentially this should not be static but rather a living, accessible document that can help you explore your problem, define your scope, and aggregate feedback.

Another tip is to focus on brief articles and answers. Shared documentation does not always imply a shared understanding. The “need for speed” means that long, expansive documents are unlikely to be digested easily by your team. Instead, they can learn and absorb information faster when it is presented in bite-sized, easy-to-understand language, and published in a timely matter.

Foster a culture of knowledge sharing
Even at a local level, it is important to celebrate employee contributions that help make a difference both in terms of quality and quantity (frequency). Your leadership team can go a long way in setting a positive example by regularly contributing information like important organisational updates, for example. But managers can also encourage staff to use the tools and interact with their teams directly. In this respect, the powerful combination of Jira Software and a Confluence knowledge base can be invaluable to your teams’ success.

The service desk concept
A service desk often serves as the “face” of your IT organisation, creating a critical juncture between users and services. In short, it is where users seek help, questions are answered, and expectations are managed (for example, time to resolution of a given problem). But support staff may still struggle with overloaded queues and delays if they operate in tiered support structures and do not apply agile methodologies.

The good news is that non-technical teams, from HR to legal, to facilities and marketing, are also beginning to adopt service management practices. Starting with a service desk, they can adopt IT solutions to manage high volumes of requests and juggle processes that require speed and accuracy.

We have previously explored some of the ways you can better manage the flow of work, by exploring the concept of Value Stream Management (VSM) within your organization. VSM can be applied to your service desk to identify and eliminate bottlenecks. Through the increasing use of automation and self-service (e.g. templates, knowledge sharing, FAQs, downloadable resources and assets etc.) many requests can be resolved by the user themselves and Support agents can focus on higher-value work, requiring their intervention and expertise.

A self-service portal, such as what Jira Service Management offers, enables customers to ask for help and obtain answers quickly. When configured correctly and populated with the right data, JSM is capable of surfacing smart, knowledge-based answers that often result in a successful resolution even before they arrive in the support team’s backlog. For the Support staff themselves, such a platform also allows easy access to the shared knowledge base, helping to shorten the time to fulfilment and improving overall customer experience and satisfaction.

Apply automation where you can
The best-performing teams find new ways to eliminate repetitive, time-consuming tasks through automation, allowing them to move on to more impactful work. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but, in general, involves the setting of rules that can speed up service by sorting email requests (especially when generated through a form with predefined fields), escalating urgent requests, and keeping linked issues updated. Automation can also come in the form of proactively monitoring requests as a means of continual improvement. For example, highlighting common or recurring issues, and mapping these to known solutions.

Earlier we mentioned the inefficiencies of a multi-tiered support model. This is when formal escalation processes are in place that pass complex issues from agent to agent, and result in longer resolution times and customer frustration. A better way is a collaborative approach, putting the customer’s needs at the center. An initial agent may still handle the end-to-end interaction, but uses “virtual chat” to consult a group of experts who can help solve the issue.

The need for a change of perspective
Leaders need to understand that every department in their company is a service provider for a client. The internal client consists of other departments, while external clients are your business customers. This is one clear way to expand the ITSM philosophy to all of the departments in an organization. For instance, your Legal team delivers services to Sales, such as establishing and reviewing contracts. Marketing delivers services to Sales (leads, collateral and campaign planning). In short: “every department is also a service customer.”

Leaders and managers at all levels should ask themselves: “What are the services I am delivering, and who is my customer?”

Or, inversely: “What services do I need and what do I expect from my internal service providers?”

Even on a daily basis, there are plenty of opportunities to think: “How can I apply my own understanding of my expectations, to deliver better services to my clients?”

It’s a change of perspective. And change doesn’t happen overnight, but with the right tools to facilitate the delivery and the tracking of your service quality, Service Level Agreements (SLA) and so on, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a better way of conducting business.

Empower non-IT teams with service management
As more teams adopt service desks for their own needs, the expertise of a valued partner such as Valiantys can advise you on the most suitable options for your organization, and help you get the best out of your solution with hands-on training sessions and support. Scaling services and best practices already in use by your IT Teams to other parts of your business is easier if you create intuitive service desks that non-technical teams can set up and use. In this regard, Valiantys has both the industry experience and the unparalleled Atlassian tools expertise to make it work for you.

 

Contact us today to discuss your next project: www.valiantys.com/contact

 

 

Sources:

  1. The future of ITSM is Agile – A practical guide to ITIL 4 in an age of agile
    (https://www.atlassian.com/whitepapers/itil4)
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