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Nate Lipka

Nate Lipka

Nate joined Vivantio in 2014 bringing experience in software marketing management and journalism. He is currently responsible for leading the sales and marketing efforts.

Recent posts by Nate Lipka

Video: Learn How To Create Tickets In Vivantio

By Nate Lipka on 10/18/19 9:00 AM

 

In this video, Patrick, one of our solutions consultants, demonstrates the multiple options for creating a ticket within the Vivantio platform: manually through the Vivantio platform, through email automation, and through a custom self-service portal.

Topics: Service Management Automation Video
4 min read

5 Steps to Advance Your Career in IT Service Management

By Nate Lipka on 10/25/18 9:00 AM

DO YOU NEED SOME ADVICE ON HOW TO ADVANCE YOUR CAREER IN IT SERVICE MANAGEMENT? HERE ARE SOME CONCRETE STEPS TO MOVE FORWARD.

Every great figure in IT service management had to start somewhere. You could be just starting out as a technician or analyst. You could be an IT service manager looking to make the leap to CIO. Regardless of your status, there are key steps that every person takes to successfully advance their IT service career.

It can feel daunting to set a plan around career advancement, especially if you’re inexperienced. But, if you want more control over the direction of your career, you need a plan to do it.

Here are five key actions that will help you organize your IT career growth efforts:

 

1. MAP OUT YOUR CAREER PATH IN IT

IT is a massive industry. There are countless directions you can take. Do you want to be a COO at an enterprise-level MSP? Or would you rather be an IT Director at a SaaS startup? Or maybe just pivot entirely to software development?

Ask yourself these kinds of questions, get to know the different job titles and descriptions available, and create a plan for the direction you want to go. Don’t forget to review that plan after each step forward and adjust if necessary. You should have a living career plan, not a static one.

 

2. LEVEL UP THE NECESSARY TECHNICAL SKILLS AND IT KNOWLEDGE FOR ADVANCEMENT

You probably already know that technical skills and expertise are mandatory for working in IT. In fact, they are a requirement for most entry-level IT jobs. But, having the right technical skills is paramount to moving up. For example, if you want to manage a support team that primarily services AWS servers, you need to demonstrate a strong background in both cloud computing and server maintenance.

After you’ve mapped out your career path, research the necessary technical certifications and skills you need to move forward.

 

3. PROVE YOUR MASTERY OF YOUR ROLE ON THE IT SERVICE TEAM

No matter if you are currently at an entry-level role or a manager-level role, there’s more to IT than just pure technical expertise. In fact, in a recent survey, over half of CIO’s cite communication or problem-solving skills as main drivers to career growth.

Project management, people management, and change management are just a few examples of soft skills that IT professionals should master before moving into an upper-managerial role. There are professional certifications like ITIL and Agile, which can help you move forward.

With these skills in tow, you will better understand how to demonstrate maximum value to your team and prove yourself worthy of moving up.

 

4. TAKE STEPS TO DEVELOP YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

Even if you aren’t currently planning to leave your company, it’s important to stay connected with your IT peers. Having an active professional network gives you a better chance of quickly landing on your feet in the event of a layoff. A recent survey shows that the majority of people find their next job through networking.

Beyond job security, your network can help you achieve other professional goals as well. Your professional network can keep you informed on up-and-coming trends in ITSM. They can help brainstorm possible solutions to business and problems that your IT service team is struggling with.

 

5. CARVE OUT YOUR THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IN A SPECIFIC NICHE

As you are moving forward in your IT career, you will naturally start to gravitate towards an IT niche. It could be email server maintenance. It could be service automation. Whatever your niche is, it’s important to recognize and self-promote your thought leadership in that area. You can do this through a variety of means such as doing public speaking at events or publishing insightful blog articles.

The career benefits from establishing thought leadership are akin to networking. When you are recognized by your IT peers as an expert, people will start to search you out for answers. When the whole industry sees you as an expert, it’s much easier to land on a higher leadership role. You can also have a positive impact on your organization by being a thought leader.

These are only just a few steps you need to take to advance in your career. Make sure you stay informed of the latest trends and push yourself to keep learning through trusted information hubs.

Topics: Service Management ITIL ITSM IT Career Tips
4 min read

4 Types of Integration Methods with Your Service Management Software

By Nate Lipka on 10/11/18 9:00 AM

yOU dON'T uSE JUST ONE TOOL FOR IT SERVICE

Many third-party services and technology can help your team provide IT service. JIRA, Active Directory, and Beyond Trust (formally Bomgar) are a few examples. Using these tools in concert with each other is vital to getting the service data your team needs. So, when considering an ITSM platform, it is critical to understand the availability of integrations.

But what are the differences between the types of integrations out there? Here are the four major types of third-party integration methods available. Let’s also highlight the pros and cons of each for your service team.

 

1. API

Application Programming Interface (API) is the most common tool for connecting different applications. There are many different types of API that are either public, partner, or private. What they all have in common is how they enable interaction between applications. An API uses a common code language to specify functionality and set protocols. This gives your applications the ability to transfer data.

Pros:

  • Highly Flexible: Because the integration uses product code, it is flexible when it comes to specific data. The only limitation is that it is dependent on developer resources.
  • App Changes Aren’t Disruptive: APIs are often limited in scope. So, service providers can offer more functionality without affecting other third-party systems.
  • Widely Available: As stated earlier, API is the most common tool for third-party integration. So, it will be unlikely that you run into a service that won’t offer API integration options.

Cons:

  • Dependent on Vendor: Vendors are responsible for creating APIs. So, you are reliant on the vendor to create APIs for the specific type of information you are trying to pull.
  • Code-Intensive: Because they are code-based, APIs need an understanding of programming languages to install.

 

2. WEBHOOKS

Webhooks or HTTP callbacks are an alternative to APIs. They are quite similar in that they are tools that link to a web application. But, they have two key differences. For webhooks, implementation is often not code-based. They often have modules that are programmable within a web application. Instead of being request-based, webhooks are event-based. They only trigger when specific events occur within a third-party service.

Pros:

  • Real-Time Data: Webhooks don’t use a request-based system. They allow your team to view data on a real-time scale.
  • Supports Automation Efforts: Because data requests are event-based, you don’t have to set up poll timings to your data centre. This can help streamline data flow and automation.

Cons:

  • Limits Data Manipulation: A webhook requires the service to trigger a data transfer based on an update. In contrast to webhooks, APIs can list, create, edit, or delete an item without triggering a transfer.

 

3. ISC

Unlike code-based integrations, an Integration Services Component (ISC) lives on a local server. The ISC creates a bridge with on-premise tools such as directories, asset management tools, and BI tools without the need for file imports.

Pros:

  • (Near) Out-of-the-Box Solution: The ISC immediately offers many data synchronization options you would likely use.
  • Wider Range of Functionality: With an ISC, you can do anything with the data you have access to. Any data that you can access on the backend with your cloud service will be available.

Cons:

  • Knowledge of Database Architecture Necessary: If you are unfamiliar with how your local database is set up, implementing an ISC will be challenging.
  • Requires Access to the Backend of Your Applications: There will be many cases where backend access isn’t there for your team, so you won’t be able to use an ISC in those situations.

 

4. ORCHESTRATION

The most automated integration option is orchestrations. If you are not familiar with orchestrations, they refer to the process of automating multiple systems and services together. Teams will often use software configuration management tools such as PowerShell to build orchestrations. Software configuration management tools offer various methods such as snap-ins or hosting APIs to connect with applications to manage the automation workflow.

Pros:

  • Full Automation: After you build out orchestrations, you can automate across all processes.
  • Manages Multiple Systems: With orchestrations, you can manage the integrations of multiple systems collectively.

Cons:

  • Code-Intensive: You need to have coding skills to manage your software configuration management tool.
  • Labour-Intensive: Because the workflows are quite complex, the setup can be a drawn-out process. Also, any asset or process changes force you to check how it will affect your orchestrations.

Make sure you check what integration options your ITSM provider offers before you commit. You can learn how Vivantio specifically links up with CRM systems, development tools, and other tools in our recent webinar, “Integration using APIs, webhooks and webmethods.”

Topics: Service Integrations System Integration Methods API Integration Tools
3 min read

4 Reasons to Have a Flexible Approach to Service Management

By Nate Lipka on 9/26/18 9:00 AM

IS A ROCK-SOLID SERVICE STRUCTURE REALLY IDEAL FOR YOUR TEAM?

Within the IT industry, everyone looks to get the most out of their service team. They often look to find concrete solutions to their service management problems. “Should I be running under an ITIL framework or an Agile framework?” “How should I structure the roles and responsibilities of my team members?”

As you reach decisions around these issues, you need to remember the answers are not etched in stone. Effective change management gives your team the ability to pivot to better solutions. Staying flexible in your service management structure helps your team adapt.

Here are four reasons why operating with a flexible service management structure can help your IT service team:

 

1. TEAM MEMBERS WILL CHANGE

As you likely experience already, staff turnover is a stark reality of the IT industry. Based on a recent study by LinkedIn, technology has the highest turnover rate of all work sectors. Within technology, the IT & Services industry has the fourth highest turnover rate at 13%.

Yet, it’s not all gloom and doom. If you hire the right people, you will find leaders who stay on your team. These people will take on more responsibility and help you drive efficiency.

Can your service team handle shifts in roles and responsibilities without interruptions? A flexible service management structure enables your team to adapt to any personnel changes. You also need to make sure the system you use to manage service can adjust to these shifts in your team formation.

 

2. COMPANY STRUCTURE WILL CHANGE

No matter how long your company history, your business structure will not stay the same. You might create a new position in IT or add more members to your management team. Changes in organizational structure can have a major effect on your service team.

You need to prepare for how these changes will affect your team’s performance. If you don’t update your service, you put both your team’s and your company’s service effectiveness at risk.

With a flexible service management approach, look to track how service interacts with the larger business. Armed with this information, you can tailor your service to maximize efficiency across all departments. This will help with multi-department operational events such as new employee onboarding. It can also help you identify service gaps in the greater company landscape.

 

3. TECHNOLOGY ALWAYS CHANGES

Your assets are a key part of how you structure your service management. After all, asset management is one of your team’s core functions. But, you can always depend on technology always evolving. Technological innovations not only affect your assets but also your company’s infrastructure.

As technology iterates, your service management strategy needs to account for any asset changes. If you can’t adopt new technology and retire outdated assets, it can lead to serious problems such as critical business data loss.

Flexible service management does not mean your technology change processes should be flexible. But, you need to maintain an iterative process design for services around assets and infrastructure. Utilizing tools that can integrate with new technology will help you to avoid tech debt.

 

4. INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICE ALWAYS CHANGES

The advancement of technology goes hand in hand with the forward progress of the entire IT industry. Best practices are constantly amended and improved. An example would be the growing standard of self-service portals. With ITIL 4 nearing closer to public release, it also marks a trend to expand IT services to include areas such as DevOps.

A flexible service management approach empowers you to measure and adopt new best practices without disrupting your service. For example, do you think your team would improve under Agile practices? Try to map out your service structure under Agile. With this larger picture, you can appraise this approach and make the right decision.

 

5. BE FLEXIBLE

Change can be scary. It is natural to feel apprehensive about making changes to your service. You shouldn’t change for the sake of changing, but you don’t want to maintain an antiquated service system. What you can control is how you assess and adapt to change. A flexible approach to service management allows your team to stay effective in a constantly shifting IT landscape.

Topics: Service Management ITIL ITIL Project Management Service Strategy
2 min read

Why Should You Care About ITSM?

By Nate Lipka on 8/9/18 9:00 AM

IF YOU WORK IN IT, THEN YOUR TEAM SHOULD EMPLOY AN ITSM PROCESS.

ITSM is a key element for the service operations of all kinds of IT teams. ITSM defines how your team designs and executes your service operation. Whether your team works out of a shared mailbox or you operate with hundreds of agents across the globe, the IT department is responsible for establishing policies and events to properly align IT services with the needs of the business.

There are several popular ITSM frameworks that are designed to guide teams to most efficiently deliver their services. For example:

  • COBIT (Control Objectives for Information Technology): focuses on the continuity of delivering IT services throughout the whole enterprise
  • ITIL (IT Information Library): focuses on designing a service portfolio that best utilizes IT resources

While each ITSM framework offers different approaches to designing IT processes, they all address important details for improving the efficiency of both your service desk and the overall business.

 

HOW ITSM IMPROVES THE EFFICIENCY OF YOUR SERVICE DESK

An effective ITSM process will improve your workflows by:

  • eliminating bottlenecks in collaborative work
  • reducing error on standard requests
  • routing incoming tickets based on technician speciality and availability
  • setting prioritization standards based on the highest business impact

Your ITSM can also help you identify common requests through service reports. With this information in hand and running a root-cause analysis, your team will be able to identify and solve the underlying technical problems that are leading to ticket creation. This way you can save time by finding a lasting solution rather than addressing the same issues over and over again, which will free up your agents’ time to address other more pressing issues.

 

HOW ITSM IMPROVES THE EFFICIENCY OF THE OVERALL BUSINESS

ITSM addresses not only the efficiency of your service desk but that of your entire organization. By having the information in place to identify and solve technical problems, IT can help the overall business continue to run smoothly. Also, by analyzing potential risks and understanding demand cadences, teams will be better prepared to handle any major outage.

The most important part of a great ITSM system is being able to get a better understanding of the relationships between services and infrastructure. This will help businesses appropriately budget their IT expenditures. Through detailed reporting, service leaders can deliver relevant information to other parts of the business and built an efficient budget.

 

HOW AN ITSM SOLUTION CAN HELP

ITSM solutions help bridge the gap between your theoretical service plans and the reality of your service operation. By having the right technology in place to help service leaders manage the various aspects of ITSM, the true benefits from an effective ITSM framework can be more fully realized by service teams everywhere.

Topics: Service Management ITIL ITSM Service Strategy
2 min read

IT Service Catalog: The Intersection Between Business & Technical Services

By Nate Lipka on 7/20/18 9:00 AM

DEVELOP A SELF SERVICE SUPPORT PORTAL THAT DISPLAYS ALL BUSINESS-CRITICAL SERVICES.

Regardless if support requests are assigned to IT, finance, legal or HR, employees should be confident the right agent is handling their issue. Since employees do not know the full technical scope of their available services, they need an interface that translates their technical issues into ideas they can appreciate. So, what is the best way to display easy-to-understand business services in a one-stop-shop interface?

 

TWO WORDS: SERVICE CATALOG

The service catalog serves as two facets of a service operation:

  • the operational piece of ITIL’s service portfolio
  • the public-facing interface for employees to request services

A service catalog’s interface is built to educate an end-user on service delivery items such as service description, availability, SLAs and costs. In terms of user experience, a proper service catalog should serve as the singular nexus for all types of service requests available. All expectations should be described before a ticket submission to limit confusion.

The user interface of the service catalog focuses on displaying data related to service delivery, while the internal facing documentation provides context on strategy. Additional details are maintained such as target availability, backup, service owner (funding), service representative (business representative), criticality, OLAs and expiry criteria. This data can be used to assess whether a service should exist on the catalog.

  1. When designing the catalog, the following questions may be considered:
  2. What business need does this service address?
  3. Who will pay for these services?
  4. What are the risks and impact of service outages?
  5. How should we prioritize our work?
  6. Do we have enough resources to meet the incoming demand?

Answering these questions helps determine strategy in managing workflows to fulfill all the available services.

 

BUSINESS OBJECTIVES DRIVES IT SERVICE STRATEGY

Before we can discuss the technical requirements of a service catalog, we must investigate the quality criteria for which items are included in the service catalog. It’s key to take into account overarching business objectives such as revenue generation, customer impact and marketplace visibility that drive business processes.

Business services should be designed to maintain critical processes with special consideration on availability and demand. Internal technical services are designed to address the variety of events and processes required to fullfill each business service. These services may include application services, application data and the technology and infrastructure to host this data.

 

DEFINE KPI AND BUILD IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES

Designing a service catalog to meet the operational requirements of an organization today is only half of the battle. Businesses are dynamic, which requires service teams to constantly benchmark the performance of each service process.

KPIs should be indicated in the Service Design Package—the ITIL-prescribed document defining all aspects of an IT service—to review the continued quality of service. As quality diminishes, the service pipeline may introduce new services or process improvements to help meet your SLAs. Teams should retire CIs when a reduced service quality no longer leads to positive outcomes and document any stakeholders who may have adverse reactions to changes.

As the scope of IT services changes, the service catalog can serve well to mask the complex processes guided by ITIL.

Topics: Service Management ITIL Service Catalog Service Strategy
3 min read

Bridging the Gap Between ITIL and Project Management Best Practices

By Nate Lipka on 7/10/18 9:00 AM

DOES YOUR IT TEAM HAVE THE BEST PROJECT MANAGEMENT STRATEGY?

Forecasts show that cloud-based project management tools are expected to grow around 14% in the next four years, requiring IT software to adapt to new use cases. Organizations with mature ITSM strategies can leverage project management best practices to introduce new services. As teams adapt their service operations to meet increased demands, IT departments are pressured now more than ever to implement changes quickly without posing risks to their service levels.

 

WHAT IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT?

Project management allows teams to build upon ITIL principles by defining several necessary processes when introducing new services. While less defined than incident, problem and change management, project management frameworks (such as PMBOK) can fill in the gaps when implementing new IT services.

When utilizing project management, a project is generally defined as:

a set of planned operations required to fulfil a goal within a defined timeframe

Whether it be to develop software, design new business processes, or update IT infrastructure, project teams typically require individuals across a variety of expertise and geographic locations to come together to scope, plan, implement, monitor and close projects.

 

WHERE ITIL MEETS PROJECT MANAGEMENT

As we narrow our perspective to the ITSM space, we can find definitive connections between ITIL and project management best practices. ITIL actively questions if an IT team is utilizing their resources effectively. Fortunately, ITIL already has defined several key processes required to implement a successful project:

  • Project Initiation: Define key decision-makers, human resources and deliverables, available budget, assessment resources to determine ROI, the risk and mitigation plan and the transitional triggers to move from one stage to another.
  • Project Planning and Coordination: Align the project with an organization’s internal project management guidelines and compliance rules.
  • Project Control: Monitor your total costs and resources such as human efforts and capital expenditures.
  • Project Reporting and Communication: Implement methods to determine IT resource management, business unit demands, and proper scheduling while keeping stakeholders notified of project milestones.

The ITIL guidelines provide a good base when discussing project management best practices by covering areas such as resource management, ROI, communication with stakeholders and identifying transitions.

 

INCORPORATING PROJECT MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES

Project management can build upon ITIL objectives. This can be achieved by identifying the right additional processes to include, such as Project Integration Management, Quality Management, Project Procurement Management, and Stakeholder Management.

In order to understand these processes in context, let’s look at how PMBOK defines them:

  • Project Integration Management builds upon resource management by identifying the processes and activities needed to coordinate project groups.
  • Quality Management emphasizes the need to document quality policies, objectives and responsibilities to ensure that the project satisfies all the requirements for which the project was launched.
  • Project Procurement Management identifies the policies necessary to purchase goods and services to complete the project within the deadline and budget.
  • Stakeholder Management identifies all people within the organization affected by the project.

Project management can improve your ITIL practices if you know where to look. Make sure you’re not missing out on the improved effectiveness your team can achieve with these techniques.

Topics: Service Management ITIL Project Management Best Practices Service Strategy
2 min read

3 Benefits of Managing Your Support Teams on a Multi-Tenant Service Management Platform

By Nate Lipka on 6/19/18 9:00 AM

SERVICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE ISN’T EXCLUSIVELY FOR IT.

With the standardization of many IT processes, there are many services that provide management solutions to match the needs of your IT teams. But there are other teams that provide key business support. What exactly is stopping them from using the same platform to improve their workflows?

There are many practical reasons for separating your support teams and siloing operations. Many options are great at separating data, but fail to address each teams’ specific needs and workflows. IT will naturally resolve requests differently from compliance or HR.

That being said, your support teams don’t have to be siloed. They will benefit from having a centralized area to coordinate, standardize and automate work. Multi-tenant platforms can provide specific benefits to your operations. Let’s look at a few of them.

 

1. CONSOLIDATED SERVICE REPORTING

Most teams run their own reports, but analyzing a single group does not provide full insight into the overall service output. Departments often work independently of each other, which results in non-standard reporting. This places a burden on your executives when trying to make decisions from unrelated data sources. Collaborative work between departments also often goes unreported. Interdepartmental tasks are mostly handled through email with no method to analyze data associated with each action. This prevents analysis of any standard workflows that involve multiple teams.

Multi-tenant platforms simplify reporting standards to better determine team and organization KPIs. CIOs can benefit from having both a high-level view over each department’s performance and the ability to dive deeper into individual metrics.

 

2. IMPROVED SERVICE MAINTENANCE

Integrations commonly play a large part in many effective service management platforms. They are often used to connect disparate systems in order to get deeper analytics and metrics around your service operations. An example would be a development team that uses Jira integrating with their service management tool to determine which changes lead to an influx of service tickets.

When managing multiple systems for various support teams, the effort of upkeep between all these integrations can become expensive and complicated. Multi-tenant solutions eliminate that risk by offering a single avenue with which to link your various assets together.

 

3. MORE COST-SAVINGS

Many service management platforms will charge on a user-by-user basis through licenses. You might think that more users on one system would drive up costs, but, in fact, individual license costs will often decrease. Multi-tenant platforms will often offer more flexible pricing around their licensing models, especially when overall user counts increase. Effectively blending together named and concurrent licenses to fit the needs of your business will also add to your overall cost-savings.

 

CONCLUSION

In closing, multi-tenant solutions have clear advantages over separate platforms by providing enhanced visibility over organizational performance, an ease of maintainability, and a lower operating cost. These platforms provide the building blocks to design a custom solution per team, while hosting all the data in the same area.

Topics: Service Management SITS ESM Multi-Tenancy
3 min read

How Vivantio’s Visual Workflow Tool Automates Service Processes

By Nate Lipka on 5/11/18 9:00 AM

BETTER AUTOMATION TOOLS FOR ALL.

At Vivantio, we constantly interact with teams who have mature service strategies but are searching for better ways to notify stakeholders of their incoming tasks, automate standard processes and define KPIs to adequately benchmark team performance.

To combat common process slowdowns, we have designed the Vivantio visual workflow process tool to streamline tasks and approvals for your standard workflow processes. Let’s discuss how the tool functions and then offer a few examples of applicable processes.

WHAT IS THE VISUAL WORKFLOW TOOL?

Vivantio’s Visual Workflow Tool is a flowchart builder that contains conditional statements to determine the order that tasks are assigned to decision-makers in your workflow process. Your processes can adapt based on previous actions. Therefore, our tool is designed to enforce different workflows depending on task decisions. An example of a conditional workflow includes a product return process that triggers separate tasks depending on the return reason.

Let’s look at how the Visual Workflow Tool address various company operation workflows.

 

EMPLOYEE ONBOARDING WORKFLOW

A disorganized and incomplete employee onboarding workflow can put an organization at risk for non-compliance or improper preparation. As with all workflows, the on-boarding process requires input between different stakeholders, requiring seamless transitions between each workflow stage.

Vivantio’s Visual Workflow Tool ensures that notifications, approvals and forms are displayed at the correct time and filled out by the proper person, so time-consuming processes such as manual emails, phone calls, and document tracking are completely automated.

Conditional task assignment in onboarding workflows may be used to eliminate unnecessary steps if an employee is a re-hire versus a new hire. If the individual is a new hire, the workflow may assign a task to them to fill out an I9 form and HR may initiate a background check based on the information filled out by the new hire. A re-hire instead may bypass this process entirely and automatically assign a task to the hiring manager to send an offer letter and schedule the starting date. Accepting the offer letter may then trigger additional processes such as assigning tasks to IT for hardware and software allocation.

 

CHANGE MANAGEMENT WORKFLOW

A successful change management workflow requires capturing details on the affected systems, measuring the risks involved, and managing approvals throughout the process.

The challenge with managing changes is efficiently planning, testing, implementing and then analyzing your KPIs to determine if the change was successful. These processes must occur without impeding normal business operations, hence the benefit of automatic approvals and conditional triggers. Triggering separate workflow processes depending on whether a change is pre-approved, normal or an emergency can help place focus on changes that have a larger impact on the organization.

Pre-approved processes, such as a planned asset upgrade, may trigger a single change manager approval. This prevents operational slow down with a lengthy review process. Scheduled reporting on KPIs associated with the change can be delivered to the change manager to determine if the change is successful.

 

CAPITAL EXPENDITURE WORKFLOW

Teams with improper evaluation and tracking protocols to process capital expenditure requests are open to budget risks. With Vivantio’s Visual Workflow Tool, you can create appropriate workflows to ensure the correct departments have input on reviewing and processing these requests.

An example process involves an IT employee filling out a form online to request funding for a new help desk solution. An approval notification is then sent to the requester’s manager, which, when approved, sends a secondary approval request to the CFO if the project exceeds a defined price threshold. After the CFO approves the purchase, the project details are delivered to the purchasing department to place an order. The contract may then be managed within your assets database for automated notifications when nearing license renewal.

 

REPORTING WORKFLOW

While streamlining workflows can rapidly improve a team’s output and success, a powerful reporting tool is essential for tracking service trends for continual improvements. Task completion time is tracked in Vivantio, which provides a useful metric in determining your bottlenecks.

Identifying your service pain points is the first stage in reallocating resources for improved service. Large organizations often track important dates within Vivantio, so scheduled reports can be sent to inform managers of start/finish and deliverable dates for changes and projects.

 

CONCLUSION

We hope you found this article useful in getting your workflows off the ground in our Visual Workflow Tool. Vivantio’s in-house implementation and support teams consist of ITIL-trained professionals who both have extensive knowledge with optimizing workflows and using the Vivantio platform to leverage the workflow tool to automate your processes. If you need more personal help with a specific workflow, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

Topics: Service Management Vivantio Customer Center Automation
4 min read

How to Implement a Self-Service Portal for Your Support Team

By Nate Lipka on 5/11/18 9:00 AM

A GREAT SELF-SERVICE PORTAL HELPS BOTH CUSTOMERS AND SERVICE TEAMS ALIKE

Not only does a great self-service portal free up a service team’s time, but users also prefer it. As customers are given the tools to solve their own technical issues, the service team can focus on more strategic work that delivers greater impact to the service desk, such as automating and streamlining workflows.

 

It’s important to remember that the premise behind a self-service portal is that it’s providing a service. The customer still needs to see the value of using a portal, which means that their answers are findable, new information is regularly updated, and service teams assist customers if they cannot solve their problems alone.

Let’s jump in and have a look at the ways you can successfully get self-service up and running for your internal support team.

 

DEFINE WHAT SERVICES ARE APPROPRIATE FOR SELF HELP

Begin by identifying which services take up most of your technician’s time and pinpoint tasks that customers can fulfill on their own.

Through examining your service reporting, you can identify trends in your service data, such as the number of requests associated with a certain issue and sorted that metric by the average time it takes to complete each action. For example, you may discover that your team receives 5 requests a week on “Installing office 365 on my local machine” and determine that it takes 20 minutes on average to close this type of request. Rather than continuing to address the same request one by one, write a comprehensive article on how a customer can do this themselves to save your team 10 days of service work per year.

At first, this may seem like a small change, but think about how much time you are going to save when it comes to other time-consuming tasks such as replacing printer ink or toner cartridges, installing software drivers, or diagnosing the reason a laptop’s internet is down. Not only have you reduced the time it takes your service team to handle simple and repetitive requests, but you have also empowered your customers by teaching them new skills.

Striking a positive experience with your customers, it is not uncommon to find a majority turning to the self-service portal first rather than coming directly to the service team to solve their issues.

 

ENABLE THROUGH EDUCATION

Your self-service portal cannot be a successful support channel if customers do not understand its benefits over sending an email or calling the service desk.

When you implement the self-service portal, take time to utilize its capabilities in order to educate new users and promote self-help. You can do this by:

  • Setting up a comprehensive knowledge base to promote user guides, help videos, and FAQs
  • Creating a service catalog to set expectations on available services
  • Setting up chat channels so customers can have immediate discussions with available technicians regarding their open tickets
  • Alerting users when assets are unavailable, such as when a file service goes down
  • Using conditional fields in your ticket submissions to capture specific information on the request type

After implementing these changes, you will find that the portal becomes the preferred method for customers to submit tickets because it saves them time.

 

USE DATA TO BENCHMARK THE SELF-SERVICE PORTAL

The most successful self-service portals incorporate scheduled reporting to analyze where continual improvements can be made. It is crucial that you use data to benchmark your self-service portal against other support channels.

For instance, how long does it take the technician to solve a request through email versus the portal? The portal provides a dynamic environment to capture specific information based on the issue type, while email only provides a subject and body. A service team technician may require additional information provided by the customer if submitted via email, which lengthens how long a ticket remains open.

As you continue to migrate your service to the self-service portal, compare the completion time, the number of exchanged emails, actions, escalations, and total ticket volume with your other support channels. There can also be other tools to help gauge success such as surveys and article rating systems, depending on what tools you are using to build your self-service portal.

 

CONCLUSION

Armed with a greater understanding of the benefits of the self-service portal, it is easy to see why offering a solution like this for your customers makes sense. Not only do self-service portals provide better customer service, but teams can also do so at reduced time and cost. Setting up a self-service portal conscientiously by properly customizing and implementing all its features can help elevate an organization’s reputation and brand and make their service teams’ lives a whole lot easier.

Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

Topics: Service Management Customer Self-Service Self-Service Self-Service Desk