Employee Experience Dynamic Duo: ITSM and IT Operations
Technology’s prevalence and our dependence on said technology in the workplace is only growing. It should come as no surprise then that in a recent survey of SolarWinds global customers, more than half* said that organizational leadership views IT as “very important” when it comes to leading digital transformation. According to the same survey, another one-third said IT is at least “somewhat important” in leading this endeavor.
But, with all of this technology spread across the organization, how can IT get a better grasp on how to manage the tools and systems that employees rely on daily to do their jobs?
Those in IT have been saying it for years—there must be closer alignment between IT and the business. This is especially true in large organizations where spending in IT can be difficult to justify or prove a return on.
A solid first step toward achieving this unified approach to managing technology and delivering services to the organization is to break down the traditional silos within and around the IT department. Better alignment as a department helps lead to better alignment with the business and ultimately a better employee experience.
Removing Silos Within IT
As IT continues to position itself as a leader of digital transformation, it should operate as a cohesive, well-oiled machine. IT operations management (ITOM) and ITSM represent an ideal opportunity for creating this unity within the IT department.
Each area is essential to the organization and to the employees who rely on the technologies they manage, but in unique ways. Chances are, the typical employee outside of IT probably has little to no insight into the intricate networks and systems that IT operations is responsible for keeping up and running. But if they ever have an issue with said networks and systems, they are most likely familiar with the IT service desk.
Imagine if alerts from IT’s monitoring system could immediately reach a broader group, pushing the alerts directly from the monitoring system to the service management system. This type of automated integration can empower IT teams to react to and resolve issues more quickly.
For example, when a monitoring alert is generated, it could automatically create an incident in the service desk. The service desk would have the ability to track these alerts as incidents and decide whether or not they need to be put into the problem management process. It would also provide visibility into what configuration items within the configuration management database (CMDB) are affected. This data is essential to IT teams when considering making changes to infrastructure and how to ensure employees experience minimal disruption and maximum benefit.
The goal should be to add the element of service management as another proactive measure. Restore services as quickly as possible, prevent future issues from occurring, and work through the problem management process as efficiently as possible.
IT teams can evolve from the typical reactive mindset to a proactive mindset, creating better alignment between the business and IT. In turn, if IT is able to proactively address and prevent disruptions, employees are able to maintain productivity. When employees are fully supported through the technology they rely on, whether directly or indirectly, to do their jobs, that generates positive impact on employees, customers, and the business.
Creating Better Alignment Between IT and the Business
Let’s face it. The old adage of “do more with less” applies to IT just as much as, if not more than, the rest of the business. That means our proactive utopia of IT operations and ITSM operating in unison is still out of grasp for many organizations.
So, how can IT teams work toward achieving this ideal? Those of us in IT have been saying it for years—there needs to be closer alignment between IT and the broader business. This is especially true in large organizations where ROI isn’t always easy to quantify. It’s important that IT gain control of spending, identify ways to better enable the business and the employees within that business, and become a partner to the business.
Managing costs, head counts, business objectives around service delivery, and planning for a proactive approach are critical to increasing the maturity of the IT organization. A fundamental example of how to improve the proactive nature of IT operations is to identify opportunities to automate, whether it be alerts or tasks.
The good news is that the role of IT is continuing to evolve. In fact, more than 9 out of 10* IT pros feel that IT is either “somewhat aligned” or “fully aligned” with the company’s long-term goals.
Another 44% of IT pros, according to the same survey, feel that IT is playing a bigger role in the overall success of the business. As IT teams continue to strive toward increased integration, better proactivity, and higher efficiency, the impact to the business and the bottom line can only improve.
Connecting IT to Employees Through Improved Communication
What’s the effect outside of IT of all this alignment within IT and between IT and the business?
If a network or application goes down, this means employees aren’t able to do their jobs while a fix is in the works. Fortunately, if ITOM and ITSM are fully integrated, IT can more quickly identify the devices and employees that are impacted. Beyond that, with the service desk directly interfacing with employees, IT can then readily communicate the issue as well as how and when the issue is expected to be resolved. Employees are no longer left in the dark about what’s happening or when they can expect to get back up and running.
Say, for example, an employee is in a conference room connected to the nearby wifi access point during a meeting. If that employee loses connection to that access point, they’re unable to continue with their work. What the employee needs in that moment is for someone to tell them what is wrong and when it’s going to get fixed. The notion of restoring service is the job of IT, and a service desk with a service mentality is the gold standard IT should work toward in terms of employee experience.
Even more ideally, as IT systems and processes continue to mature and common or recurring issues are prevented from happening in the first place, employees would no longer experience a disruption at all. Out of sight, out of mind.
*ITSM Survey on THWACK.com of global SolarWinds customer base in September 2019; 215 total responses.