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3 min read

The Benefits of ITSM Optimization Strategies are moving beyond IT—to Customer Service

By Greg Rich on 3/25/21 3:17 PM

Industries from energy grids to law firms are rapidly waking up to the tangible benefits of amping-up their customer service capabilities—with a focus on evidence-based methodologies. The smartest Industry 4.0 players are realizing that lessons from the IT world provide a ready-made blueprint for Service Optimization.

Leveraging a proven approach to service (ITIL 4)

Over the past three decades, there has been significant work undertaken to systematically identify and analyze best practices for service provision.

Based on the work by the famous efficiency guru W. Edwards Demming, the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) framework was introduced by the UK Government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) nearly 40 years ago— and has been continually revised and updated on an ongoing basis.

This evidence-based evolution has helped develop and refine practices that are relevant and proven effective—not only inside technology environments but well beyond.

In 2019, the latest iteration, ITIL 4, formally and deliberately expanded in focus beyond IT in order to help facilitate the implementation and adoption of agile principles across all types of service organizations—opening up more teams to this fundamental change that enables the kind of value co-creation sought by modern businesses of all description.

Getting started, often begins with a hard look at an organization's progress along the five key elements of Service Optimization. (See figure.)


Service
STRATEGY
Service
Design
Service
Transition
Service
Operation
Continual
Service
Improvement
  • Strategy Management
  • Service Portfolio Management
  • Financial Management
  • Demand & Capacity Management
  • Business Relationship Management
  • Design Coordination
  • Service Catalogue Management
  • Risk Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Capacity Management
  • Availability Management
  • IT Service Continuity
  • IT Security
  • Compliance
  • Architecture Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Change Management and Evaluation
  • Knowledge Management
  • Service Asset and Configuration Management
  • Release and Deployment Management
  • Incident and Request Fulfillment Management
  • Problem Management
  • Technical Management
  • In-Service Review
  • Process Evaluation

 

A faster path to ITIL 4 best practices:  The right Service Management Platform

One of the major challenges that will arise in an ITIL 4 initiative is connecting a large organizations' disparate data systems in order to allow service organizations to provide this new level of transparency and real-time response.

Vivantio addresses this challenge by serving as a unique Unified Service Management Platform that sits atop all of your current systems—integrated with flexible APIs—to quickly and cost-effectively supply the essential connectivity and holistic visibility. This provides service teams with a 360 degree view of all customer interactions from across the business which contains key data points to elevate service and response times.

The good news for any skeptics is that plenty of evidence points to the bottom-line benefits of Service Optimization Solutions. And Vivantio has the track-record and references to substantiate its bold claims for tying-together B2B enterprises for maximum service success.

To learn more or request a live demo, click here.

Topics: Service Management Vivantio Customer Service service optimization Customer Service Management
1 min read

Vivantio Releases New Service Optimization Guide for B2B Enterprises

By Staff Writer on 3/2/21 3:00 AM

New service optimization guide underscores need to meet elevated customer expectations.

Vivantio has launched a new guide, "Leveraging Breakthrough Service to Transform Your B2B Enterprise." The comprehensive guide identifies the distinct benefits of centralizing customer service and offers B2B business owners a detailed process for implementing it at their organization, inclusive of proven strategies for overcoming common challenges. 

"The reality is every business is a 'service business' today and it's time that B2B organizations' strategies reflect that," said chief executive officer Greg Rich. "Even traditional companies in industries like healthcare and energy/utilities are rapidly acknowledging their roles in 'co-creating value' with their customers. Business leaders seeking a competitive advantage will need to align their organizations so that customer service plays a central role in all their business activities. This report details how they can go about it effectively and efficiently."

Businesses in today's remote world need to meet the needs of their customers' elevated expectations. This is especially true for B2B companies that maintain a complex web of interwoven, dynamic and long-term relationships between suppliers, vendors, contractors, internal teams and their customers - and often their customers' customers.

Service optimization is the key to achieving business success for B2B organizations.

For any B2B business, service optimization is the key to achieving business success. Service optimization is the ability to glean coherent insight and achieve the most efficient use of processes and information - across all disciplines and teams - to provide real business efficiency and optimal service delivery. For nearly 20 years, Vivantio has been pioneering service optimization and this comprehensive guide showcases how to apply it to the latest evolution of business service.

To learn more or to download your copy of "Leveraging Breakthrough Service to Transform Your B2B Enterprise," click here.

Topics: Service Management News & Awards Vivantio Customer Service Service Strategy service optimization
3 min read

4 Reasons to Have a Flexible Approach to Service Management

By Staff Writer on 1/28/21 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 for internal and external customers. 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 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, especially considering the recent shift to working remotely. 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 due to the increasing expectations of the customer. The recent release of ITIL 4 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 deliver 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
5 min read

4 Things to Adjust in Your Service Strategy During an Unexpected Crisis

By Staff Writer on 1/6/21 9:00 AM

SHIFTING YOUR SERVICE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

No matter how strong your service strategy is, it was most likely put to the test during 2020 as your service teams were challenged with providing customer support during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Any crisis, including this pandemic, can severely impact businesses and customers alike. Whether you fell into the group who planned ahead or scrambled to develop a contingency plan, it's important to keep in mind that a crisis may pose different challenges every day, so you’ll need to continuously assess and adapt your strategic plan.

Read on to discover the four most important things to assess and adjust in your service management strategy during a crisis. A good place to start is to consider the big picture - ask yourself: How is my service strategy going to be impacted? What components of my strategy must change, and how do I prioritize these changes?

Now, take a step back and review your current strategy before making adjustments. Here are the challenges that may possibly arise, what will be impacted most and what to focus on first.

 

1. REVIEW YOUR CONTRACTS

The most important question to ask when reviewing your service strategy in a crisis is: What’s the contractual impact going to be during (and immediately following) this situation?

As a service provider, your service level agreements (SLAs) to customers, regardless if they are internal or external to your organization, are likely to be impacted. Now is the time to evaluate your most important contracts to ensure you can meet your obligations, and if not, re-prioritize them and address what may need to change and include business stakeholders where necessary. If your service level agreements are internal, then try to determine what the impact might be if there is a fundamental change in the way your entire business operates. With all of your internal staff working remotely, what is the impact on your ability to deliver service within your internal SLA’s?

For example, your service teams may experience an overload of requests from panicked customers that lead to higher volumes of work, which means that your team’s target close time for a particular type of non-urgent request may get lower priority and thus, an uncommon increase in resolution turnaround time.

If this is the case, you’ll need to determine whether you have provisions in place in your contracts for SLA changes. If you do, you may need to implement them for the remainder of the crisis to mitigate disruption to your service as much as possible and reset customer expectations. If you don’t have provisions in place, you’ll need to figure out what SLAs can and can’t change and address how to deal with SLA adjustments as soon as you can.

The key to making any adjustments to your contractual obligations is ensuring you communicate them to the right people, so that they know why and how your business services are changing.

 

2. CONSIDER THE TECHNICAL IMPACT

The next important piece of your service strategy to review is the technical impact a crisis will have on your organization. Is it “business as usual” for you? This is doubtful. Even if your business continues to thrive, how you continue to do so will shift.

Now you’ll need to ask yourself and your department the following: If required, is your staff capable of working remotely, and are your networks ready for a higher volume of remote workers? Do you have collaboration and communication tools in place to support people across the organization effectively, especially if they need to work remotely?

The situation may require the need to acquire, provision and support new hardware and software if your staff needs to work from home. You must also think about whether your company is required to provide better working environments for your staff (not everyone will have access to a comfortable office chair and desk) and if your workers are insured. It’s crucial to consider what parts of the business need altered supplies and processes and what the protocol will be for implementing and monitoring these changes.

Ultimately, the technical impact will result in financial implications. How much will the changes in processes and tools cost your company, and what budget shifts need to be made for those changes to happen? Keep this at the forefront of your strategy as you navigate each day of the crisis.


Are you breaching any contractual obligations like HIPPA by allowing staff to work remotely? Does it introduce data security risks? Are others not in your organization going to overhear/see things they should not? These are all important considerations to keep in mind as you review and implement your service strategy.


 

3. DON'T FORGET THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Because service management is about serving people, you’ll also need to determine what the human impact is going to be, not just for your customers, but also for your employees.

It’s time to take a close look at your service team structure. Is it still applicable if your service teams need to work remotely in case of a building shutdown? There may be essential and non-essential employees within your organization, so some employees may still be required to come into the office. How do you plan to support each group of individuals?

Working remotely can also be isolating, so consider how your organization plans to keep teams in communication with one another (both for business brainstorms and for social interaction) to keep morale high.

Keep in mind that everyone—customers, employees and leadership included—will likely experience some stress and anxiety both at work and personally during the situation. To minimize confusion and fear, be as responsive and upfront as possible in your communications regarding the new status quo. If your employees and customers have clarity into what is occurring and how you as a leader are dealing with it, the less concerned and more cooperative they will be.

 

4. VERIFY THE STATUS OF YOUR VENDORS

Now it’s time to assess your vendors. After all, how they modify their strategies might affect yours. With that in mind, have you assessed how prepared your vendors are for daily shifts in crisis management? If they’re not ready, how does your company need to respond?

First, evaluate your company’s most critical applications that your organization needs in order to stay operational and reach out to those vendors. If your vendors can no longer meet your business needs, consider an alternative vendor that may have solutions geared toward your altered requirements or certain product and supplies in stock that your current vendor doesn’t.

Before choosing this route, inquire how easy it is to switch vendors during and after the crisis to make sure the switch is worth your effort, time and money.

 

CONCLUSION

When it comes to providing service and having service management strategies in place, the primary goal of providing excellent service doesn’t change, even during a crisis. And while having a strategic plan in place is crucial to your department—and your company’s—success, it’s important to be flexible enough to alter your strategic plans to maintain business procedures and prevent widespread concern among your teams and customers should an unexpected situation arise.

In a crisis, you must first take a step back and review your current strategies and focus on the following components:
  • Contractual Obligations
  • Technical Impact
  • Impact on Humans
  • Status of Vendors

By prioritizing these four pieces first, you’ll be as prepared as possible for a crisis and be able to monitor and adjust your company goals and plans accordingly.

Topics: Service Management SLA Blog Service Strategy
3 min read

Ask These Questions to Find IT Vendors with Strong Security Practices

By Staff Writer on 12/22/20 2:58 PM

ENSURE YOUR SERVICE SOFTWARE IS PROTECTED

The recent security compromise of the United States Treasury, Department of Commerce and other government agencies by Russian hackers has prompted major concerns about which IT vendors organizations should rely on.
The root of the hack stems from SolarWinds's Orion IT monitoring platform.

To ensure that your service management software system is protected, here are some questions you should ask to make sure your IT vendor will keep your company and your customer's data safe.

Does the vendor adhere to security best practices?

Are they ISO27001 certified? This is an international standard that provides a management framework for implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS) to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of all corporate data. If the vendor is not ISO27001 certified, can you confirm that their data center partners are?

Do they align their ISMS to good standards and best practices, such as:
  • ISO27001 or other standards based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

  • The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)

  • The Information Assurance for small and medium-sized enterprises (IASME)

  • Or, the UK National Cyber Security Centre's Cyber Essentials Plus or Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM)

Do the vendors follow the security concerns outlined by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Triad of confidentiality, integrity and availability? 
  • Confidentiality: The data needs to be private and remain private. Vendors should ensure only the people who are authorized to view the data have access to it. There are different levels at which this applies. Vendors need to protect their SaaS platform, each of their customer's systems, controls within each customer's system, vendor controls to the SaaS system and the vendors own controls over the information they store to run their business.

  • Integrity: The data itself needs to be consistent, accurate and trustworthy. The data must be trusted and nonrepudiation must exist.

  • Availability: The data must be available. Having data that is secure, yet inaccessible, is useless. Users need to be able to access data when they need it, so vendors need to be sure that they are resilient, they have built in redundancies and can ensure business continuity.

Do the vendors practice what they preach?
  • Do they run their own business on the principles listed above?

  • Do they use the platforms and tools that they expect their customers to rely on to run their business?

CONCLUSION

It's important to find IT service management software vendors who answer the previous questions in the affirmative. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it's the best way to protect against potential harm from a security breach. Vendors need to build up trust with their customers and prevent them from potential reputation damage.

Ultimately, the vendors need to protect customers from any potential vulnerabilities along the IT supply chain that may expose data or other security risks. They must also address legal or regulatory concerns pertaining to their customers such as GDPR, HIPAA, CPRA and other data protection laws. Your IT vendor should be concerned about protecting your data to avoid the costs of dealing with the aftermath of a hack.

Be an informed consumer and do your due diligence while selecting an IT vendor. Ask questions to make sure your organization is protected from potential cybersecurity threats.

Download our whitepaper to learn more about how Vivantio values security and what measures it takes to keep your customer service data protected.

white-paper-vivantio-values-security

 

Topics: Service Desk Software Service Management ITSM Challenges Service Solution Security
7 min read

How to integrate Vivantio with Azure DevOps

By Melissa Faletra on 7/13/20 2:33 PM

Azure DevOps–formerly named Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS)–is a Microsoft product that allows developers to plan work, collaborate on code development and build and deploy applications. If your development teams are using Azure DevOps, integrating it with your service desk software can provide the following benefits:

  • Create bugs directly from Incidents or Tickets
  • Create Product Backlog Items from Service Requests or Change Requests

Vivantio includes an out-of-the-box, two-way integration with Azure DevOps, making it simple to have open communication and visibility between your support and development teams.

Our Azure DevOps integration helps you streamline your processes and keep everyone informed of what is going on, regardless of which tool they work in day-to-day, so there's no need for your developers to log into Vivantio, and no more phone calls to the development team to check on the status of bugs!

This tutorial will show you how to configure the integration and provides an example of creating a Work Item in Azure DevOps directly from Vivantio.

To connect Vivantio to Azure DevOps, you’ll need:

  1. Vivantio ITSM
  2. Admin access to your Vivantio Instance
  3. Credentials to a user account for Vivantio in Azure DevOps

 

CONFIGURATION IN VIVANTIO

Step 1:

Log into Vivantio, open the Admin Area. Navigate to:

Integration & API >> TFS

Fill in your Azure DevOps login credentials:

  • Version: Azure DevOps
  • Organization Name: Enter your organization name. This will be used in your API URL, for example: https://dev.azure.com/OrganizationName/
  • Username: The username for the Vivantio user account in Azure DevOps
  • Password: The Personal Access Token for the Vivantio user account in Azure DevOps. For details on creating a Personal Access Token, see the Microsoft Documentation here.

DevOps CredentialsThe bottom of the screen will update to show a couple of different URLs: the Work Item Alert URL and the Service Hook URL. You will use the Service Hook URL to set up Azure DevOps to send information back into Vivantio.

work item alerts

Step 2:

Select IP Range in the top left corner of the screen and configure the IP Range for Vivantio to accept requests from.

Azure DevOps Credentials

Step 3:

Configure your ticket to Work Item Mapping settings. This allows you to control which types of Vivantio Tickets can be mapped to which types of Azure DevOps Work Items so that the correct type of information can be transferred to the correct type of records. Any number of necessary ticket-to-work item mappings can be configured.

Navigate to the Ticket to Work Item Mapping tab and select Add.

On the Basic Details tab, give the mapping a name and fill in the following information:

  • Project Collection: The Project in Azure DevOps (If you’re using the hosted version of Azure DevOps, there will normally only be one option available here)
  • Project: The Project in Azure DevOps
  • Work Item Type: The Work Item Type in Azure DevOps
  • Ticket Type: The type of ticket within Vivantio that you want to create the Work Item from

basic details tab

Step 4:

Navigate to the Sync Options tab. Here you can configure the settings relating to the sync of data from Vivantio to Azure DevOps. (Note that this option does not force Azure DevOps to update Vivantio–that is configured within Azure DevOps itself). You have the option to fill in the following fields:

  • Link Work Item to Ticket: Checking this box will create a link to the Vivantio ticket from within the Azure DevOps ticket
  • Action Sync: Selecting “All” or “Non Private” will automatically sync all (or only non-private) actions made in Vivantio to the “Discussion” section within the Work Item in Azure DevOps
  • Attachment Sync: Selecting “All” or “Non Private” will automatically sync all (or only non-private) attachments added in the Vivantio ticket to the “Attachments” section within the Work Item in Azure DevOps

sync options

Step 5:

Select the Field Mappings tab and configure any additional field mappings. As standard, Vivantio will populate the Work Item Title and Description. If you want to add additional mappings, e.g., for custom fields, you can do so here. You can also choose to override the default mappings for Title and Description.

In the example below, we chose to map several custom fields from Vivantio to Azure DevOps.

field mappings

After choosing the appropriate options, hit Save, and you’re ready to start creating Azure DevOps Work Items directly from Vivantio.

 

CREATING A NEW WORK ITEM FROM VIVANTIO

When viewing a Ticket in Vivantio, under the Actions menu item, you’ll see the option to “Create New TSF Work Item.”

 

create work item

Selecting Create New TFS Work Item will open a pop-up window where you can select the Work Item Type. Any mappings created for the ticket type, using steps 3 through 5, will appear as options.create work item pop upSelecting OK will cause a TFSForm to appear in the Vivantio Ticket Window and a Work Item to be created in Azure DevOps.

DevOps form in ticket windowThe TFS form provides a direct link to the Work Item in Azure DevOps and provides the technician with the options to unlink the Vivantio ticket from the DevOps Work Item and to send ad-hoc comments and attachments to DevOps, which can be useful if you didn’t choose to automatically sync actions.

Clicking on the link to the Work Item in DevOps, we can see that the Work Item was created and the mapped fields were passed from the Vivantio Ticket to the Work Item.

DevOps ticket example

 

CONFIGURATION IN AZURE DEVOPS

Getting Information Back From Azure DevOps

Configurations can be made in Azure DevOps to automatically send information from DevOps into Vivantio. This is done using the Service Hook that was create in Step 1.

Step 6:

To configure the Service Hook in Azure DevOps, navigate to Service Hooks within Project Settings in Azure DevOps (Microsoft’s documentation on Service Hooks can be found here). On the first page of the Create Service Hook wizard, you’ll choose the Webhooks option and select Next:

new service hooks subscription

On the next page of the wizard, you’ll choose the type of event the Service Hook triggers on. Vivantio currently supports “Work Item Commented On” and “Work Item Updated.” Enter any filters you want for the area or work item type.

new service hooks triggerSelect and configure the action to perform with the service hook. Under URL,” paste your service hook from Step 1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select [Latest]for Resource Version.

service hook subscription actionNow when we comment on Work Items in Azure DevOps...

comment in devops

...the comment is automatically added to the linked Ticket’s history in Vivantio:

comment in vivantio from devopsAdditional configurations can be made in Azure DevOps using Webhooks to automatically update fields in Vivantio based on updates in Azure DevOps.

If you’re using Vivantio and Azure DevOps and you don’t have them integrated yet, give it a try and see how it helps improve communications between your service desk and your development team.

Topics: Service Management Vivantio Customer Center System Integration Methods Types of Service Integrations API Integration Tools
4 min read

Separate Fact from Myth to Master Self Service

By Andrew Stevens on 6/3/20 9:00 AM

THE USE OF SELF SERVICE

Self Service is the most cost effective, efficient way for your end users to get help.

Still, recent data shows that it’s not being used nearly as often as it should be across service teams in nearly all industries.

In a recent post, we uncovered that given recent widespread, drastic changes to the way most organizations work on a day-to-day basis, Self Service use is at an all time low among organizations that count Self Service as a part of their overall strategy. The number of tickets opened via Self Service in Vivantio dropped more than 17% from March to April.

Further analysis from Vivantio’s Product Management team finds that 30% of Vivantio customers forgo the use of Self Service altogether.

And for 50% of Vivantio customers, self service is only a small part of their strategy, with fewer than 1 in 4 tickets being created via self service at those organizations.

self service myths and facts pie chart

Granted, it’s fair to say that self service isn’t the right choice for everyone – no two organizations or service teams are alike, and there are many factors that come into play when deciding not only how much focus you put on Self Service, but whether it should be a part of your strategy at all.

But if you’re part of the 75 percent of customers who aren’t using self service extensively, when was the last time you asked yourself why? To help answer that question, we’re going to look at some facts and myths about self service.

THE FACTS

FACT #1: SELF SERVICE IS MORE COST-EFFECTIVE

We surveyed some of our customers who have a balanced mix of tickets – email, Self Service and “walk ups” – to understand the impact of channel on the cost of resolving a ticket. And as you’d expect, Self Service wins. On average, Self-service tickets are resolved faster and with fewer touches than tickets logged via email.

FACT #2: SELF SERVICE SCALES

The same research showed – unsurprisingly – that the fastest way to get a ticket resolved was a walk-up. If you’re a technician and someone is in your office, on the phone or on Slack asking you questions, then you typically answer that person then and there. That’s how you provide great service, right?

Wrong. What about the five other customers who called, but received your “all staff are busy” message? Maybe one of those was a VIP customer. Maybe their next phone call isn’t to your tech support team, it’s to one of your competitors.

So how do you prioritize a walk-in over your current workload? Should that walk-in have jumped the queue to get your undivided attention? Have they stopped you working on something that’s far more important to the business? Self service is scalable and helps prevent this from happening.

On average, self-service tickets are resolved faster and with fewer touches than tickets logged via email.

FACT #3: SELF SERVICE IS EMPOWERING

We’ve all been there: we’ve run into a problem and we want to fix it. And we want to fix it now. Not when the support desk opens at 9am on Monday, nor when we reach our turn in a seemingly never-ending queue. If you have the resources to fix it yourself, you are going to try to do so. And what’s more is that next time, your first thought isn’t, “I need to call for help,” it will be, “I can probably take care of this myself.”

THE MYTHS

MYTH #1: CUSTOMERS DON’T WANT SELF SERVICE

You might think your customers don’t want Self Service. Maybe you’re right. If you ask your customers if they’d prefer Self Service versus a human on the line, some of them (maybe most of them) will pick a human.

Are you asking the right question, though? What if you ask, “Do you want the same end result, but sooner?” How about asking, “Do you want the issue resolved immediately or tomorrow?”

Of course, there is a time and a place for human contact, but with limited resources, you need to save it for where it counts.

MYTH #2: SELF SERVICE IS IMPERSONAL

OK, so this one is partially true. Bad Self Service is impersonal. Good Self Service isn’t.

Your Self-Service portal is the equivalent to your shop window, and like any shop window, it can put people off or it can welcome–even entice–them in. To entice customers to use Self Service, show them resources that are relevant to them. Give them easy access to their open tickets and service requests. Provide links to articles about the products and services they’ve purchased. Give them news about your business and your people. If you do, they’ll find your Self-Service portal incredibly valuable.

MYTH #3: SELF SERVICE ISN’T WORTH THE EFFORT

We won’t sugar coat it: getting Self Service right isn’t always easy. But if you take the time to do it right, it’ll pay for itself many times over. You don’t need a massive knowledge base, rigorously designed workflows or a huge team to make self service work for you. The only things you need to get started are a commitment to understanding your customers needs, and a desire to improve your service levels.

CONCLUSION

Self Service can be a critical part of your service management strategy, and it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of implementing it. Of course, there are huge benefits to Self Service when it’s done well, and hopefully we’ve given you some insight into those benefits as well as dispelled a couple of common myths. To learn more about the ins and outs of Self Service, check out our self service resource page.

Topics: Service Management Customer Service Customer Self-Service
1 min read

Video: How Self-Service Portals Improve the Customer Service Experience

By Staff Writer on 3/20/20 9:00 AM


 

In this video, we explain how self-service portals play a key role in the customer service experience. They represent a company’s professionalism, brand, and its desire to help customers find answers to their questions, solve their own technical issues or find resources. The Vivantio service management platform enables service teams to build codeless, custom self-service portals tailored to business needs and customers.

You can get the latest insights on the impact self-service is having on service desk professionals and their customers in our exclusive report created in partnership with the Service Desk Institute (SDI).

Download your report here

SDI-SSReport thumbnail@2x

 

Topics: Service Management ITSM Customer Service Customer Self-Service Video
5 min read

Why Operational Level Agreements Matter & How to Use Them in Vivantio

By Andrew Stevens on 2/28/20 9:00 AM

WHAT ARE OPERATIONAL LEVEL AGREEMENTS?

In order to provide excellent customer service, you need to meet your service level agreements (SLAs): the agreements you have with your customers about the level of service you’ll provide. But how do you make sure you’re doing that? And if you’re not doing it, how do you understand why? The first step is making sure you hit your internal goals: your operational level agreements (OLAs).

Whereas SLAs are focused on the customer, OLAs are in place to describe the level of service your internal teams can expect from each other. These might include relationships between your front line service desk and the teams who support them: network support, operations management, application management, desktop engineers, etc..

They can–and should!–be used as a key metric in service management because they allow teams to understand where bottlenecks are, and why they’re not hitting those all-important SLAs. OLAs should also be transparent so that everyone knows what their own targets are, and the impact it has on the rest of the business.

However, sometimes service teams bite off more they can chew when attempting to measure SLAs and ultimately fail to meet them. Instead of setting goals for the sake of having them, start small by clarifying or setting up OLAs within your ITSM software tool. From there, you can begin building out SLAs.

Here’s how you can use task management in Vivantio to ensure your OLAs are being met.

TASK MANAGEMENT IN VIVANTIO

Task management in Vivantio can help companies meet OLAs and, in turn, meet target SLAs. Task management can be enabled in all ticket types in the Vivantio service management platform.

In Vivantio Pro, you can assign tasks to licensed technicians. Vivantio ITSM goes a step further and allows you to assign tasks to both licensed technicians and non-licensed end-users.

With task management enabled, technicians can create tasks for the different work required to complete the ticket. The list of tasks can be viewed easily from the ticket. Tasks have the same core capabilities as tickets, including their own set of configurations (categories, status, etc.) and of course a full history of the work done.

There are three ways that tasks are created in Vivantio: Ad hoc as needed, via trigger rules, and through Vivantio’s workflows. Regardless of the way tasks are created, you can easily view them from the ticket to track progress. Here are examples of creating a task using each way.

AD HOC TASK CREATION

Within Vivantio, users can create ad-hoc tickets as needed in order to request internal or external help to meet an OLA. Perhaps a technician is working on a P4 support request that came in with a corresponding SLA of 16 hours. While working on the request, they discover they’re not trained in a specific area of the required work and will need to ask their colleague for help.

To do this, they can manually assign out an ad-hoc task from within the ticket to their colleague – or if they don’t know who specifically to ask, an assignment group – describing what they need help with.

At this time, four hours have already passed on the SLA and only 12 hours remain. When assigning out the task, the technician gives the task an appropriate OLA to ensure that their colleague knows when they need to have the work completed in order to meet the ticket’s SLA.

Screenshot of ad-hoc tasks outlines

This is a simple way to get started with OLAs. You might wonder why you don’t just re-assign the ticket, but there’s a few advantages in using task management. First up, you get to track each different piece of work separately; one ticket might need work to be completed by four different teams.

Vivantio will let you track the time each team/user owned the ticket, but it’s a lot easier to understand the timeline of a ticket when you’re using task management. Second, and we’ll talk more about the importance of this in a later blog, you improve the customer experience by ensuring the customer has a single named point of contact for their ticket so they don’t end up feeling like the buck is being passed.

Third, you make it very clear to other teams exactly what they do and don’t need to do so there’s no digging through the ticket history to find out their role in resolving this issue.

TASK CREATION VIA TRIGGER RULES

You can automate task creation within Vivantio using trigger rules. For example, when a request is logged reporting that a computer is lost or stolen, there are tasks that always need to be completed by both the IT team and the security team. Due to compliance reasons, it is required that this kind of request needs to be closed out within an eight-hour SLA.

Trigger rules can be created to automatically assign out the required tasks to the IT team and security team any time a lost or stolen computer request is logged. The tasks can have their own associated OLAs so that the teams know how long they have to complete the work in order to meet the request’s SLA.

The below screenshot shows two tasks that were automatically created via trigger rule due to the type of ticket that was logged.

Screenshot of trigger rule tasks outline

Clicking into one of the tasks, we can see the SLA for the task, providing the target time to complete the work by.

Screenshot security task outline

This is a simple way to get your team started using tasks for repetitive work requests. Sometimes though, this isn’t quite enough. You need to ensure tasks are completed in a certain order, or tasks are only worked on after approval has been given. If that’s the case, then you need workflows.

WORKFLOWS

Automated workflows within Vivantio can also help you and your team manage your OLAs. For instance, say a customer of a software company submits a support request, which requires a specific process involving multiple people to complete. The request falls into a P2 priority request with a close SLA of 40 hours on a 9-to-5 working time plan, or five business days from the customer’s view.

Based on the category of the request, four different support teams will need to work on the request in a sequential order. In Vivantio, a specific workflow which automates the assignment of the process tasks is automatically kicked off using Vivantio’s trigger business rules.

Tasks are automatically assigned out to each team when it is their time to complete their portion of the work. In order to meet the SLA agreed upon with the customer, the total time in the SLA is broken down into OLAs, or smaller chunks of time which are allocated to each team.

Screenshot of OLA workflow diagram

There are several tasks that need to be completed by different teams and technicians during the workflow. In order to make sure to meet the target SLA, you can use operational level agreements for each task that is assigned out in the workflow.

This allows each person who is assigned a task to be aware of how much time they have in order to complete the task. The target OLAs for each task are set up to leave time for the transition between tasks and to complete the tasks themselves.

CONCLUSION

If you’re wondering why you aren’t meeting your SLAs, then implementing OLAs is a good first step in understanding why. Whichever approach you use for Task Management in Vivantio, you can use the reporting tools you’re already familiar with to review your performance, understand which teams are creating bottlenecks, and fix the issues at the source.

Topics: Service Management SLA ITSM Customer Center Customer Service Automation IT Service Automation OLA
6 min read

Tips on How to Successfully Implement Your New ITSM Software Solution

By Staff Writer on 2/12/20 9:00 AM

PREPPING FOR IMPLEMENTATION

Investing in ITSM software can be a time-consuming and expensive process, beginning with researching platforms that meet your service team’s criteria through testing various IT software tools.

Once you’ve decided on the best ITSM software solution for your team, you’ll need to prepare for implementation. Based on our customer’s experience at Vivantio, following our recommendations for having a successful implementation has resulted in long-term success with our service desk software and a greater return on their investment. Here’s how to ensure your implementation process is smooth.

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK

From the get-go, you should set expectations and have clear communication with both your service team and the ITSM software vendor, which means you’ll need to front-load the planning phase of your implementation. But, without a robust plan in place and a way to measure success, the transition to your new IT software solution will be rocky. To start, clearly define and document the following:

Abi providing a demonstration of vivantio features

1. Document the current resources you have available – include employees, teams and departments that will use the service management software, and how you will communicate to them throughout implementation.

It’s important to identify your internal implementation team. Make a list of who needs to be involved in the implementation process and how much time you estimate they will need to reserve for the process, start to finish. You can work backward from your key roll-out date and document milestones that need to be reached in order to have a successful implementation.

Vivantio’s implementation manager, Abi Welsh, recommends mapping your plan early on. “Find out what your key dates are with the resources you have. Do you need to replace an existing solution before the contract expires? What departments are involved and who will implementation affect? Think about what functions need to be live to replace the legacy system or current process,” Abi says.

You should also ensure you have a good communications plan that includes all stakeholders: IT technicians, callers, systems administrators, management, etc. Communicating with everyone throughout the process will keep them engaged and help prevent unforeseen issues that may arise.

TIP: Identify which individuals should have a hands-on approach during implementation, then appoint a few super users who can provide support and be champions for change. Also recognize that some employees might need more support, so listen to their needs and engage them early on.

2. Create a step-by-step timeline of what needs to be done by who and when.

Remember that while having an all-encompassing, detailed implementation plan is crucial to success, you don’t have to tackle implementing your service management software all at once. For example, perhaps the incident management process needs to be up and running immediately, the technicians need to be trained and the historic ticket data from the legacy system needs to be migrated in, but you don’t need the self-service portal or reporting functionality until later in the implementation process.

These are the pieces to consider and outline in your roadmap as you prioritize moving parts of your software implementation, suggests Abi. “Different business areas or functionalities may have their own deadlines. Once you have these dates set, you can continue building out the project plan,” she says.

THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS

Now that you’ve laid out your plan, it’s time to begin implementation. Every IT software implementation project has three core phases: the foundation, framework, and custom finishes. Breaking up the process allows others to get a handle on the basics of the software first, then mold it to fit your service team’s specific needs.

Foundation: During the foundation phase, you will begin implementing basic functionalities that replace previous service software and procedures. In this case, you might focus solely on rolling out IT ticketing software first to the service desk before other departments.

Framework: The framework phase typically consists of added functionality and/or new features and processes your company wasn’t using previously but are critical to your improved business processes, such as workflows and automation.

Configuration: Once you have determined the core functionalities of your platform, you can implement your must-haves and tweak customized features specific to your company’s needs. This could consist of setting up specific integrations, or creating ticket categories, custom forms and fields, your asset area or SLAs.

ADJUSTING THE ROADMAP

To stay on track, communicate regularly with your ITSM software vendor and your stakeholders throughout implementation. Continuously review the milestones you’ve outlined in your project plan so you can quickly see if the project is progressing as expected.

You should also be flexible enough to adjust your project roadmap because unforeseen issues—or even great opportunities you hadn’t originally considered—might pop up. If they do, discuss any necessary changes in the project to the relevant people.

KEYS TO SUCCESS BEYOND IMPLEMENTATION

Remember that implementation doesn’t stop once your service management system is up and running. Your ITSM software will need to be configured and will have ongoing troubleshooting, feature revisions, additional training and maintenance. It’s likely your team will require training on these new or improved processes to make your systems and staff more efficient.

Because it takes time to fully train a staff to use new software, you will need to spend time supporting your team post-implementation. Don’t think of this as an expense or waste of time, but rather as an investment in your employees and the organization.

man leaning over his desk writing in a journal next to a laptop

“It’s a good idea to have an enhanced period of support for all users as the new system beds in and to make sure there are clear lines of communication,” Abi says.

As you become familiar with your software, you should begin measuring its effectiveness to ensure you meet your performance goals and desired KPIs. You might also learn about additional features you can add that you didn’t originally plan on using, so keep in touch with your ITSM software provider.

Abi suggests thinking about how you can measure the effectiveness of the solution and how to address issues you encounter. “Schedule a final project review after implementation to think about how to improve future projects. Finally, once you start collecting some data, you should review and update your system reports and dashboards,” she says.

CONCLUSION

Choosing the best ITSM software that meets your key business requirements takes a great deal of time, which is why it’s important to have a smooth implementation process. Remember to follow these recommendations:

  • Make sure you set clear expectations and have clear communication with both your service team and the ITSM software vendor from the start.
  • Develop an implementation plan that includes resources, time allocation and milestones.
  • Break up the process to allow users to get a handle on the basics of the software first, then mold it to fit your service team’s specific needs.
  • Spend time supporting your service teams post-implementation for continued success.

Once your new tech is in place, your data is tracked and positive feedback given, you’ll be glad you invested in a new service management system.

Topics: Service Management ITSM Software Implementation Software Trial ITSM Solution Automation