Service Management in This Time of Widescale Remote Work
With the current focus on social distancing and other health precautions, service management leaders are probably already thinking about short-term implications of these rapidly incoming changes. The large-scale increased use of remote work is one implication. This might be a new option or an immediate mandatory requirement for all employees. Regardless, many IT organizations may not be ready.
Here are my top 10 recommendations for service management leaders to help prepare for widescale remote working and keep employees productive during this time. I’ll focus on ITSM first, but also look at scenarios beyond IT where the application of service management approaches and solutions can help.
1. Keep Employees Productive
Plan for all your end-users, employees, and customers working much more from home for a while. Many people will not be working in any form of office environment. For some, that’s easy; for others, it may be the first time they’ve had to do this. Are you prepared to support them, help them stay productive and handle the potential call load? Do you need to change your tools to support more home working? What happens if an employee’s laptop fails and needs replacing? Do you know what applications they need to access? Does everyone have adequate and stable home internet connectivity? Do you have an IT policy and advice document on working from home? The answers to these questions could be the starting point for your plan.
Make it easy for employees to access and use your ITSM self-service interface outside of the workplace as their first line of help. If your self-service portal is not accessible outside your DMZ already, consider making that move fast.
2. Provide IT Services from Home
It’s not just them, it’s you! Your staff may be working partially or fully at home for a while. Can everyone do their job remotely? This is where Cloud-delivered tools are so powerful. Not just in the lack of a local installation footprint but the accessibility through any browser, usually anywhere. If your ITSM tool is on-premises, is it accessible outside the firewall? This is the time to pull a matrix of every role in IT, the tools and data they need to do their job, and the accessibility of those tools from home.
3. Stay Connected
Without the social space of the office environment, it’s easy for individuals to become disconnected and isolated. Meeting tools are your friend here. Ensure every staff manager can confirm all their staff can use meeting tools such as Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Zoom, etc. Then drive regular meetings using these tools. Not once a week, but plan on daily meetings to keep everyone super-connected.
And make using a video camera mandatory. I know, people won’t want to show their bed-hair or the mess in the background. It doesn’t matter. You need to see their faces and they need to see yours. It’s how we stay connected and how we communicate. And that relates to this next recommendation...
4. Continue Leading
Now more than ever, your staff need leaders that lead. Keep regular contact with meetings, individual contact with 1-on-1’s and direct phone calls. Check in with people often. Be flexible, be caring, be supportive, but also be clear. During this current period of disruption, we all need good clear leadership. Got someone on your team with a family member unwell at home? Send a small get well soon gift. Don’t give them a hard time but do keep them focused on work if they are working. And if they are not working, don’t push on them to get back to work. Just be very clear of your expectations and the operating rules.
5. Stay Secure
Be IT-secure in the decisions you make. Don’t put your company at risk by removing VPNs, disabling firewalls, or sharing passwords in the belief it’ll make it easier to work from home. You may have to soften some of the hardest security constraints to allow home working, but you can’t afford to put your employer’s security at risk from attack. Now is a good time to check your endpoint and security management capabilities and practices to protect against potential security holes. Keep a level security head.
IT has wonderful capabilities with Self Service portals to provide a clear communication platform to the business on IT’s readiness, operational state and support services. Use it. Get writing and publishing content to help address questions and uncertainty across the business. Timely FAQs are your friends. Start building or updating now your IT FAQs, knowledge articles, recordings, documents, even internal blog posts. These are important to keep everyone informed and productive.
7. Deliver Support Virtually
This is the time to reduce the floor-walking of support staff around the business. Close that Genius Bar, reduce the options for walk-up face to face support, focus more on remote access. Remote control tools are more essential than ever. Even if you could walk over to help fix something, maybe you shouldn’t go there now. Make sure everyone can easily use remote control tools to still provide needed help.
Do you use Ivanti Voice or other telephony-automation tools? Ensure this is available to all end users anywhere to submit, access and update their tickets over the phone, any time, day or night, even if remote internet connectivity is difficult. Set it up if you can to make it easier for your remote staff to deal with incoming calls without increasing wait times or abandon rates.
Some things are important now, and some things can wait. Review current projects and check if some can be paused to allow your team to focus on the more important ones. That new how-to video and FAQ showing how to work from home could be more urgent now that the planned long-term upgrade of the database platform. But also move quickly if need be. Some long running projects might now need to accelerate. For example, that new self-service content might need to get published sooner, the go live of the new knowledge management workflow might be more important.
9. Be Proactive
Start with all the above points, develop your plan and put them in a document with your proposed steps and priorities. Take it to your management team for approval, then share with your teams. The worst thing you can do now is assume the status quo will work. The better approach is plan, prepare, take action, and make any needed adjustments moving forward. Even if the current situation doesn’t immediately significantly impact your business, you’re doing the right thing in preparing.
10. Help Other Departments
With service management tools very widely used by many other business departments in an enterprise service management model, consider that the leaders in those departments may not yet fully recognize the value of the service management tool they are using. Reach out to them, share your IT plan, then offer to help them with theirs. They offer self-service options, they need to share FAQs and knowledge articles, maybe they could benefit from using service management tools from home too. Leaders in departments beyond IT should take the same approach as you and take advantage of the power of Service Management.
One last point is the current wide-scale ramp-up for remote work is a reminder IT needs to regularly review and update business continuity plans. One update might be to standardize extensive remote work policies and capabilities to better prepare for the next unknown disruptive event.