The ability of users to service themselves is a rapidly growing extension to the discipline of IT Service Management (ITSM). This can come in several different forms, but in our brief discussion here, we will focus on Self Service as it’s a necessary element of every IT organization. 

Self Service enhances Incident Management and provides a user the ability to open, track, and close an incident—all without speaking directly with the Service Desk. This is increasingly accepted, but just a few years ago, expectations were very different. 

Today that is changing along with the rapidly growing use of mobile devices as a valid business platform, a distributed organization that is less likely to spend the average day in a traditional office, and the flexibility and convenience expected and demanded by a changing workforce.

Self Service is very much a transformative thread of ITSM and a model that has far reaching influences across the IT organization.

Self Service is unique in its ability to create a highly favorable user experience while at the same time saving time and money. Few other elements of IT have this ability to impact the business.

Here we will look at three key considerations for Self Service that, when done correctly, will create an irresistible force to grow the adoption of Self Service in your organization.

1. Make it Easy

The Self Service experience should begin with a user presentation that is, above all, simple and easy. 

More Self Service implementations have likely failed due to a complicated user experience than any other single factor. Ideally, the user is authenticated quickly and then answers just a few simple questions and the actions can quickly begin in order to resolve the current issue. 

Care should be taken to design an experience that is intuitive and natural for the targeted user groups These groups can include employees of the business and in some cases a specific customer group. Every user segment should have a tailored and optimized user experience that provides the ability to complete a typical session in just a few minutes—and in some cases, a matter of seconds. This easy experience creates a high level of user satisfaction, which in turn unlocks the many benefits of great Self Service. There is far more to easy that one might think. Easy is naturally agile. Easy naturally scales, and this is just the beginning.

A Self Service experience that is easy for the user is very likely to be one that is successful and delivers real benefits to both IT and the business. Everybody loves easy.

2. Make it Fast

Part of the strong appeal of Self Service is the ability to complete our work more quickly, to increase our productivity, and to gain minutes back in our day. A top priority of Self Service must be that it saves us time—including the total time required to resolve the incident. Note there is a natural synergy between easy and fast. It helps to put a stopwatch to the process of Self Service and to measure precisely how long it takes a user to log the average issue.

Remember, every second counts. Because the role of Self Service is to enable employees, and in some cases customers, to log an issue/incident independently, we can see Self Service as an increasingly attractive option to the traditional model of calling the Service Desk.

A fast Self Service experience unlocks precious minutes and hours for employees all across the business. People naturally love speed because completing our work more quickly creates opportunity. Where there is speed, there is likely to be a dynamic organization.

3. Make it Consistent

As appealing as Self Service is due to its natural advantages, it is only viable if the process works every time. Self Service should utilize the standard Incident Management workflow to ensure the management and the fulfillment of the incident is consistent, optimized, and meets all the broader IT requirements including SOX, Governance, and ITIL where applicable.

Self Service should not be made available until these business process and communication processes have been clearly defined and the ITSM organization is confident in their ability to support the Self Service channel. When this is possible, the combination of easy, fast, and consistent is a very powerful model.

Note that Service Catalog is a natural complement to Self Service with Self Service focused on Incidents and Service Catalog focused on Service Requests. These two channels are a powerful combination for the IT organization, and in the near future, both channels will leverage automation and AI extensively.

The consistent execution of resolving Self Service incidents is a valuable extension of the service desk or ITSM for IT and a model that can scale effectively.

Self Service as a Bridge to the Future of IT

In many respects, the key attributes of Self Service are very much a micro-model for the future of IT. Self Service is a natural for mobile devices, supports a mobile workforce, enables agility, drives 24x7 operations, and enables users to work independently and conveniently. 

But it gets even better. Self Service also offloads the service desk by reducing the number of incoming calls to analysts because growing numbers of employees and customers are leveraging the Self Service channel to log issues, check on the status of these issues, and to close issues when they have been resolved. Whether it is the immediate benefit of reducing call volume to the Service Desk, providing more convenience and flexibility to users for the logging of incidents, or the cost savings that likely follow, Self Service just makes a lot of sense. 

As with many improvements in the models of IT that we are enjoying today as we transform this organization, don’t underestimate the many other business and cultural benefits of Self Service. If you have Self Service today, there might be opportunities to improve the current model, and every incremental improvement does make a difference. And if you don’t have Self Service in place today, now is a great time to get started and these key points can provide a map for where to begin.

Keep the faith my friends.

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