Eliminating the Enterprise IT Spaghetti with Shared Service Management

TOPdesk-Nancy-headshotby Nancy Van Elsacker

According to the report by SDI and TOPdesk, 90 percent of organizations have more than one service desk and 55 percent are planning for shared service management. There are a lot of things to consider when moving toward a true shared service management as you do not want to get into the pitfall of creating integration spaghetti. Think big, start small is a good takeaway to consider.

In a perfect world, we instruct end users to reach out to us when they have a problem and want to report an incident about it. The reality is that 62 percent of respondents have 3 percent of misplaced calls and 10 percent even have 12 percent of misplaced calls. Partly this is because of the change in technology. It is because of the “Google effect”: People are used to the fact that they don’t have to remember things because they can just find it online. Next to that, on the operator side it is not always clear who has the ownership of some issues or tasks. For example, contracts for smartphones are usually managed by the facilities department, whereas technical issues with the phone are dealt with by IT.

So how should the end user know this if it is not even always very clear to operators?

Even if we try to take a proactive approach and provide good internal marketing messages to employees to redirect the end user to the correct department for service, they can interpret it differently. In the end, organization’s internal customers just want to have their problem solved and often do not care how it gets done.

All of this is not taking into account the interdependent tasks like the onboarding of new employees or moving work stations. Again, in a perfect world, this is all aligned and goes perfectly but in reality I speak to a lot of organizations where new employees do not have everything on the first day or when moving work stations, IT is ready with the new PCs, monitors and phones, but there are no desks to put them on.

Because of this fact, it becomes pretty clear that moving toward shared service management will improve quality of services for the end users and streamline the processes, especially those shared or interdependent. These are, next to the obvious cost savings, the two most important reasons for organizations to consider shared service management with, respectively, 80 percent and more than 50 percent of respondents selecting that as their reasoning for doing so.

There are multiple stages in shared service management. The report shows that 44 percent of respondents have nothing shared, so that means 56 percent of them are in one or more of the stages: shared tool, shared processes and a shared service desk team.

Talking to leaders at numerous organizations has taught me that there are various ways to deal with those stages of shared service management and that actually these stages should always be at least thought of in the background when working toward one stage. In other words, it is very important to think about the bigger picture and start small and not just dive in when developing a shared service model.

A striking example for me was when an organization I worked with decided to share a portal for users of IT, HR and facilities. On the backend, however, the portal was linked to several service management tools by setting up integrations with all of them. First of all that meant the organization was still dependent on the end user selecting the right option in the portal regarding who to connect with, so this approach did not solve the issue of misplaced calls. So to be able to escalate calls from one tool to another more integrations were set up. Next to that, integrations to software, such as Active Directory (to synchronize the end users and enable single sign-on), had to be set up three times. The same was true for email and other integrations. And it did not stop there as there were integrations from the service management tools to the “specialist tools” of the different departments: payroll software for HR, the building information management system for facilities and the system management software for IT. What an integration spaghetti.

So instead of improving efficiency and saving costs, the counter effect was accomplished.

Digging deeper into this example, the main reasons for sticking to this solution was the fact that the department leaders were convinced that their way of working were so different that they would not be able to work in one tool on the back end.

The report shows that actually is the main obstacle for organizations to move to shared service management. That and politics. Other reasons are cultural differences between departments, and fear of change; all human-related issues.

And the differences are obviously there: In IT the word “incident” is very common, but if you talk about an incident in a facilities context, there is a good chance the building is on fire. So, what about using a shared language, such as “call”?

The organization of my example only looked at a technical solution for shared service management and clearly it did not work for them as they were losing a lot of time maintaining their integration spaghetti. So as with everything, the three pillars of service management are equally important all along the way: people, process and tool. And even when you are only working on one of them, still consider all of them in the bigger picture.

The biggest takeaway from my experience is to always think big, but start small and keep things simple. Don’t overcomplicate things and keep the people involved along the way. Sometimes the most logical and easy thing to do actually is the best solution.

Nancy Van Elsacker is president of TOPdesk.

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