Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
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“I didn’t know you could do that” – Is ‘Outside IT’ a Challenge or Opportunity?

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blog-outside-itFor many IT teams, the stereotype they have to deal with is the image that they only say “no” to requests. This myth is embedded in popular culture, from Roy and Moss of The IT Crowd through to Little Britain and “Computer says no.” However, service desks have a very different approach in real life, one that is much more focused on what can be achieved, rather than what can’t.

At the heart of this is the service catalogue – the list of assets, tools and technologies, as well as how they are used, that the service desk team is able to support. However, this catalogue can also be used to demonstrate where the service team can expand its approach to other business departments.

This use of IT service management tools for managing processes of all kinds is commonly termed “outside IT”. It involves taking the tool beyond IT; using the knowledge gained from the daily operation of the help desk tool to build processes for other business units. The aim is to help line of business units see where required processes can be automated, tracked, managed and reported on more efficiently.

For the ITSM team, outside IT offers the opportunity to help the company work more efficiently and save money by not having to procure a new tool. By using their expertise to deliver a new and better way of working, the help desk team will gain recognition outside of IT and will start to become viewed as a value provider and business enabler.

For companies looking at their current service desk platform and wondering how to make use of it in this way, there are several things to think about:

  1. Are you set up to easily and efficiently work with other departments to create new processes?
  2. Do the line of business teams know you can offer a better way to manage processes? This ability to speak to the business units about their requirements can be a challenge to overcome, as many managers will automatically think to look outside the business for help. They may not realise that there is a pool of internal resource and expertise that they can tap.
  3. Will offering new services to other business units impact your current metrics? If and when you successfully create line of business processes, it’s important to understand how this might affect the reporting of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). For example, if you start to receive more calls around line of business processes, are these reported as part of the base call volume levels or are they measured separately?
  4. Does your current service management tool provide the ability to add processes and functionality easily, or do you have to call in consultants to help? It’s great to think about adding business value by re-using or tweaking existing assets, but the result has to be worth the effort. For example, if it requires £25,000 of consulting to add a process that only delivers £15,000 of savings back to the business, then the result is not worth the investment. Most help desk tools are customisable, but it’s your job to determine the level of customisation required and if you can handle this yourself in-house.

At a time when IT is becoming a key differentiator between businesses and when the delivery and support of IT is paramount, the appeal of outside IT is growing. However, what’s key is that your service desk tool can support this approach and that your team has the potential to meet the opportunity. Your team also needs the will to take this approach.