It’s easy to bash the IT department; to deride it as the land of no and slow, a roadblock rather than a resource, a group it’s easier to work around than to work with when addressing urgent and rapidly changing business needs.
But given the current and on-the-horizon risks of digital disruption of business models (example: one-hour photo shops were a rapidly growing business in 1988, but their numbers have plunged from more than 3,000 shops across the U.S. in 1998 to less than 200 today) from developments like 3D printing, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT), technology is playing a bigger role than ever in businesses of all kinds.
That makes IT’s role more vital than ever. Practices, processes, and in some cases even attitudes need to change, to be sure, but now is the time to engage IT, not hate it. Forward-thinking companies like Nordstrom and Starbucks—while not “technology companies”—are embracing IT internally and externally to improve both operational efficiency and the user experience for customers and employees alike.
It’s hardly news to point out that service desk improvements provide numerous benefits to an enterprise: happier employees, reduced downtime, more time for IT staff to focus on strategic priorities.
And it’s intuitively logical that improving support processes saves money. What may be surprising, however, is the level of cost savings that can be achieved across a large organization through even small improvements in support practices.
According to research from MetricNet, reported in the white paper The Economic Impact of Support, the average cost of an IT support ticket starts at about $22 for Level 1 (service desk) support and rises dramatically as issues are escalated, reaching $196 per ticket for field support and a whopping $471 for vendor support.
Of course, some issues need to be escalated. But the white paper focused on the cost of escalating tickets that could have and should have been solved through first-level support. Such issues exist in every large organization. The good news is that, because of the steep cost rise as tickets are escalated, improving service desk practices to resolve more Level 1 issues at the service desk can yield enormous returns.
As the white paper notes, “The difference between the top- and bottom-quartile performers is a staggering thirty hours per employee per year! Put another way, support organizations in the top quartile are able to return nearly four extra days of productivity annually for every knowledge worker in the enterprise. When multiplied by thousands or even tens of thousands of employees in a company, the productivity gains and ROI delivered by a top-performing support organization can be tremendous!” In the case of the insurance company profiled in the report, the cost difference of being a top-quartile performer vs. a bottom-quartile company amounted to more than $6 million annually.
So how can an organization improve help desk processes to achieve that kind of cost reduction? One key strategy is to address gaps in service delivery processes incrementally. By making a series of small changes, rather than attempting a single “big bang” overhaul of IT support, staff remain motivated by achieving and celebrating a succession of small victories.