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7 Experts on What Shift Left Means for IT Departments

Posted by on August 18, 2017

Editor’s note: Catch up on all the posts in our series on the "how" and the "why" of shifting left for ITSM.

 

In our recent blog series, we’ve explored the concept of shift left as it relates to service management. Moving problem resolution and other activities as close as possible to the end user gives IT service management (ITSM) the ability to save costs and is a good example of service management shifting left.

Because the shift left concept can be used to describe different activities in a variety of settings, we asked IT experts to share their thoughts about what it means to shift left and if it brings value to organizations. Here's what seven technology experts had to say on the topic:

Ollie O'Donoghue, Senior Research Analyst at HfS Research

As a former service desk professional, to me shift left means breaking down silos across IT to ensure the service desk has the resources, access, and tools it needs to handle as many of a customer's issues at the point of contact as possible. And, where possible, extending these resources out to customers to provide them with opportunities to self-help and self-serve.

The end goal, of course, is to boost customer experience and build more collaborative relationships across IT and the business.

For me, the commodity that’s most in demand in the ITSM value chain is knowledge. Customers come to the service desk because they need help fixing something that requires valuable IT knowledge. And it’s this demand that stretches across the IT support structure as greater experience and skill is required to solve IT challenges. So it’s here that I’ve seen the most gains achieved.

John Custy, ITSM Educator and Consultant

Shift left means moving the person, process, or technology closer to the customer, resulting in a faster and more efficient and effective resolution.

Shift left should mean more than just self-service or web submission (automation). Shift left is about better service and achieving better business results.

Shift lift isn’t just about lowering IT costs (in actuality, it often transfers costs to the customer), but a conscious, concerted effort to understand what work is appropriate to shift left to another area (people or technology). Often, shift left results in more automation where the value of people doing the work is low. Shift left is also about ensuring the correct channels for communication are used.

Steve Buchanan, Regional Solutions Director at Concurrency and Tech Blogger

Shift left is all about empowering the customer.

True self-service helps the customer get what they need when they need it without delay or an impact an organization’s bottom line.

The biggest gains achieved in ITSM through shifting left are in the service catalog and automation. Figure out what IT services can and should be in a self-service portal and automate as much as you can of the services offered in the service catalog. The results are happier end users and more time for IT to focus on even more strategic projects for the business.

Doug Tedder, Principal Consultant, Tedder Consulting      

Far too many organizations use Change Management procedures that are needlessly over-engineered and highly bureaucratic. For these organizations, shifting left with Change Management represents a radical departure from the centralized “command and control” practices currently in place. While it may ultimately result in reduced support costs, “reduced costs” cannot be the primary driver for a shift left initiative.

Rather, shift left must be about objectives like better customer experience, improved responsiveness to business needs, or end-user empowerment.

But to achieve these benefits requires an up-front investment in cultural change, Knowledge Management, and process design as well as requiring ongoing maintenance and continual improvement to maintain and enhance the newly implemented capabilities.

Troy DuMoulin, VP of Research & Development, Pink Elephant

Fundamentally, shift left is about developing a culture of ownership and accountability for results — not just personal tasks or activities. Otherwise, each individual will operate under the principle: My task is done and the end result is someone else’s problem.

Using the adage “You bake it, you own it,” I believe the most important place to focus shift left principles is in the development/build activities of both software and infrastructure groups.

Today, we measure our staff on individual tasks related to their specific job or function. Taking a page out of Lean and Agile measurements we need to switch our focus to measures that focus on customer value realization in relationship to quality, time and cost. Measures such as Lead Time, Cycle Time, and percent of Escaped defects are much more meaningful and lift our perspective from the individual or departmental tasks to the end-to-end customer experience.

Claire Agutter, Director, Scopism

For me, shift left is part of the ongoing transformation in IT service management thinking.

Shift left reduces wait time and waste, so it’s very lean. It makes things happen more quickly, so it can improve employee experience and consumer experience. It draws on analysis and observation of our environment to deliver ongoing improvements.

I have seen the greatest gains in the area of IT support. Today’s consumers want the ability to seek help through new channels, for example via social media, or doing their own research online. Companies that make information available via these channels reduce the need for calls to the helpdesk. This gives the consumer a better experience, and also frees up IT staff time to allow them to concentrate on other activities that can add more value.

Jonah Kowall, VP Market Development and Insights, AppDynamics

I actually don't care much for this term as it applies to software testing, which doesn't equate to what we see in today's far-reaching shifts. I see less of a shift, and more new projects being driven by new methodologies and technologies.

The most important trend for IT is being agile and forming multidisciplinary product engineering teams.

Both of these trends produce software faster, improve incrementally, and empower team members to make decisions and take risks. All of these are enablers of better business outcomes, aligning IT and the business more effectively.

 

As these IT experts highlight, reduced costs are just one of many benefits of a shift left initiative. From empowering customers to encouraging accountability to improving the user and IT staff shift experience, shift left presents a huge opportunity for IT departments.

Next: Read our ebook, How to "Shift Left" with IT Service Management, for strategic insight and practical tips.

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