Self-service portals for the IT department are nothing new. But that begs the question, “Why are they not more successful?” There are a variety of reasons, but ultimately, I believe it comes down to this: most portals have been designed by IT with IT in mind. ITSM software vendors have often exacerbated the issue by also designing self-service portals for IT with IT in mind.You know your employees better than I do, but I would wager that many of your employees see contacting the IT department as an interruption to their already crazy day. They would rather not call the IT department for every issue. They don’t mind using the portal, but they rarely use it because it’s way too confusing to use, and it doesn’t have what they want half of the time. The answer?
Your portal has to be compelling enough to make employees want to use it. I believe there are three things that make your portal more compelling:
1. IT Transparency
As a society in general, we are becoming less and less patient. With the instant availability of just about everything, we want it, and we want it now. If you don’t believe me, go look at the microwave in your break room. Are there five or ten seconds left? We cannot even wait a couple of seconds because, “Surely it has to be done by now!”
The instant access to data is adding another layer of work for IT. Departments and individuals alike contact the Service Desk asking for reports and information, wanting to know how many request their department logged, and expecting IT to go round up that information.
What if, instead, dashboards and key metrics that departments and individuals needed were readily accessible in the self-service portal? This would allow them to retrieve the information that they needed when they needed it, without taking IT away from their primary roles/responsibilities. How much more of a compelling reason would this provide for your employees to engage the self-service portal?
2. Multiple Sites
Take a look at your average employees’ tool bar or favorites bar in their browser. What do you see? Often, you will see shortcuts to all their “favorite” websites. Usually, those favorites are different departments within the organization. There’s one that takes them to HR, one that takes them to a site to fill out an expense report, and another that takes them to facilities so they can fill out a work order request.
What if instead, the IT department could link all those sites in one place—IT’s self-service portal? Now, your employees have only one site they need to navigate to because they know they can navigate to any other department site from that one location. How much more of a compelling reason would this provide for your employees to engage the self-service portal?
3. Ease of Use
The self-service portal has to be very easy for your employees to use, or they simply will not use it. Making your portal compelling is about making employees believe they will get faster service than sitting on the phone waiting for the next available rep. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
Is your organization allowing BYOD? What impact is that having on your Service Desk? A lot of organizations I talk to are allowing BYOD with the provision that the individual registers his or her device with IT. Suddenly, IT technicians are being reduced to data entry clerks instead of their designated roles/responsibilities.
Take a look at your Incident or Service Request form. Is it asking your employees to classify the Incident? Be honest, do your employees know how to classify? Do they even care how to classify an Incident? Does your form ask your employees to give a priority? Here’s another moment of truth. When was the last time your employees said, “Pick me last, give me a low priority”? No! It’s always critical isn’t it?
Does your Service Catalog automatically build the services from your Service Portfolio? If you make changes, add a new service, or sunset an old service, do you have to redo the website? Are employees seeing services they are not even entitled to?
What if your employees could register their own mobile device online with no IT help? What if the form was simple and only asked relevant information of the employee, making it faster and easier for them to log their issues? What it the Service Catalog was up-to-date and only showed the services the employee was entitled to when he or she logged in. How much more of a compelling reason would this provide for your employees to engage the self-service portal?
I mentioned at the beginning that vendors have exacerbated the situation by not designing a portal to help IT. As vendors, our software should enable IT to continuously improve the quality of their IT department, show value to the business, and ultimately, provide great employee satisfaction. At Cherwell Software, we’re trying to do just that. Check out this case study from University of Colorado Colorado Springs who cut service requests by 50 percent within the first week of self-service implementation. You can also download this infographic to learn more about the designing your own Self-service Portal.
What do you think? How well does your portal serve your employees and your IT department? What else would you add to my list?