Gartner Highlights Four Myths Surrounding IT Self-Service

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Of all service desk contact volume, as much as 40 per cent could be solved through IT selfservice, but only 5 per cent of issues actually are solved by IT selfservice, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2015, the majority of IT organisations will have less than 10 per cent of the contact volume managed by IT selfservice.

"IT selfservice is a great concept, enabling and empowering end users to solve their own IT problems, thereby allowing support organisations to gain efficiencies through a reduced incident and request workload, " said David Coyle, research vice president at Gartner. "However, building a bestinclass IT selfservice portal does not guarantee that end users will utilise it."

Following extensive client research, Gartner analysts have identified four common myths that organisations have regarding IT selfservice. Gartner believes that these myths and the associated realities, in combination with low IT service desk maturity, are the factors that prevent IT organisations from successfully delivering IT selfservice.

Myth: IT selfservice reduces costs.
Reality: IT selfservice will reduce Level 1 support.

IT selfservice does have the opportunity to reduce the cost of IT service and support by moving enduser issues to a lower cost level. However, selfservice works well only for specific record types (mainly howto requests, FAQs and password resets), so organisations should understand that implementing selfservice will reduce volume only for those call types. Some issues will still require a call to the IT service desk and/or the assistance of a support technician.

"Organisations that fail to understand the demand mix of service and support will not be able to predict or measure the influence of selfservice," Mr Coyle said. "In addition, IT selfservice requires upfront and ongoing investment in staff resources and tools like knowledge management and password reset. The bottom line is that if the investment in IT selfservice is higher than the return associated with reducing support costs and increasing enduser productivity, then selfservice will actually increase costs."

Myth: IT selfservice is a onetime investment.
Reality: IT selfservice requires constant care and feeding.

IT selfservice is not a "set it and forget it" option, and IT leaders need to constantly understand how IT selfservice is being leveraged, and whether end users are getting value from the offering. End users can be aware of the existence of IT selfservice support and still not understand how it functions, how it can and should be leveraged, or the benefits it can provide. This requires marketing efforts, specifically to users who may not be aware or users who do not find value in the offering or prefer calling the service desk.

Ongoing efforts also include the maintenance of the knowledge base where articles need continuous updating. Articles that do not fix the problem or that are difficult to understand do not lend themselves well to the credibility that IT selfservice portals need to establish. Also, the wider the range of services supported, the more difficult it becomes to keep these knowledge articles up to date.

Myth: End users will flock to selfservice.
Reality: Enduser acceptance varies greatly.

Understanding the adoption of IT selfservice by end users is critical in developing a successful IT selfservice strategy, and most organisations will find that the firstyear adoption rate can be very low. Enduser utilisation is the primary objective, so the time and cost investments that are tied to building a worldclass selfservice portal will not yield favourable returns if end users are not inclined to log their own tickets or attempt to solve their own problems.

Factors that can provide insight into this include an organisation's demographics; groups like engineers or young people may be able and willing to leverage selfservice, but end users who are stuck in their ways or who are not sophisticated computer users may not be as willing.

Myth: IT selfservice is easy to implement.
Reality: The right "companion" tools and processes are prerequisites for a successful implementation.

End users want an IT selfservice portal where knowledge is readily available, where passwords are easy to reset, and that is very intuitive to use. It is not the responsibility of the end user to dig through knowledge if it is not stored correctly, or care about any processes or roadblock issues that prevent the support organisation from keeping the site fresh and up to date.

The two most frequent call types are howto requests (how to access or operate IT resources) and password reset (establishing or regaining the privilege to access IT resources). Because password problems make up 20 per cent to 30 per cent of all IT service desk volume, with most of those issues resolvable by password reset tools, automating this function can save organisations the costs of supporting this type of request.

"The benefits of a welldesigned selfservice portal go well beyond service desk contact reduction. If properly implemented, selfservice can improve customer satisfaction, provide incident trend analysis, identify training opportunities, and consolidate the knowledge that currently exists in silos across the support organisation," Mr Coyle said. "These 'soft' benefits should always be outlined when making a business case for selfservice."

Additional details are available in the Gartner report "Addressing IT Self-Service Myths and Realities for Successful Implementations." The report is available on Gartner's website at
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