PUTTING YOUR USERS IN CHARGE COULD SAVE YOU MILLIONS HOW USER SELF SERVICE CAN HELP YOU DRAMATICALLY REDUCE HELP DESK COSTS WHILE ADDING VALUE
RICHARD CUDD MARTIN ANDERSON 1E
ABSTRACT: This whitepaper sets out the 1E view of how organizations could dramatically reduce help desk costs and increase the value that the IT help desk delivers to the business by empowering end users to search for, find and download the applications they need, when they need them
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Contents Efficiency, effectiveness and value for money………………………………………………………………………………………………..3 Cost versus value………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..……….…4 Reduced costs AND added value…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….5 You could start saving money next week..…….………………………………………………………………………………………….…….7 References………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………8
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Efficiency, effectiveness and value for money The cost of delivering IT service and support to end users continues to be play a significant role in the overall IT budget of most organizations - according to Gartner's recent IT Key Metrics: IT Spending and Staffing Report 2010, IT organizations spent 7% of their operating budgets on IT service desks in 20091 . In most cases, improved applications, more reliable hardware and more flexible working practices, contrary to many expectations, have actually resulted in an increase, not a decrease, in user demands for contact with your help desk team in the form of calls, e-mails, IMs and service requests. This is especially true as the consumerization of IT takes hold in many organizations, and as the number of devices and applications that your end users need to utilize, the locations from which they need to work, and the sheer complexity of doing business all increase at a steady pace. Additionally, a large part of the value that any IT team brings to the organization is based on the interaction of that IT help desk team with end users. So even though hardware and software reliability has increased, users have become more tech savvy and IT has become much better at preventing issues from occurring in the first place, your end users still make about the same number of requests of your help desk as they did last year, the year before and the year before that. The perceived ‘value’ of the help desk or of IT in general is as a business enabler – helping the user base to get on with its job with the minimum of disruption. These factors, when combined, create an ever increasing demand for IT management to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the IT help desk, in order to improve the value it delivers to the business, while maintaining a state of almost constant cost reduction. Rather than simply cut heads (and therefore reduce that perceived value to the business by making themselves even harder to reach and interact with) many organizations are looking to reduce the number of calls taken by their help desk each month by embarking upon improved end-user training schemes, hardware and software updates, and enhanced problem, change and release processes. All those things help, but any expectation of cost reduction must always be tempered by the rate of technology change and usage within their organization and by the realization that users will continue to make calls, and continue to make requests, unless you find them a better, faster and ultimately easier way to fulfill their needs.
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Cost versus value? “An IT organization that takes 30,000 contacts per year and can drive a 20% of issues to self-service can save between $300,000 and $450,000 annually.” Driving the Adoption of IT Self-Service, Gartner, February 4 2010 So how much does a call to your help desk actually cost? 2
According to Gartner, end users contacts with the IT service desk cost the IT organization, on average, $20.01 . But contacts handled by experienced staff, for example for business application installs and hardware upgrades, can cost as much as much as $503 each, based on 1E’s own customer data. Given these figures and Gartner benchmarking analytics that show that the average number of contacts handled per IT service desk analyst per month is 471 (within a range of between 306 and 6524) for an average organization with 1,000 employees, supporting end users in this way can get expensive. 2
If an average of 25% of calls are for low-level requests (costing $20 ), 25% are for application upgrades and installs 3 (costing $50 ), and the remaining 50% are for hardware faults or other miscellaneous issues (say costing a middleground figure of $35 per call), we can see that even in a 1000-employee business, help desk support could be costing significantly more than some organizations realize. With the IT department, and the IT service desk in particular, under constant pressure to reduce costs, savings of as much as $186,5005 per year achieved by handling all these requests via self-service would be a welcome boon to that 1000-employee business. And even if only 40% of these calls can be self-served, that company could still save nearly 6 $80,000 every year. But direct cost comparisons are not the only measurements that need to be taken into consideration. We also need to consider that notion of business value, and how improved interaction between the IT help desk team and the end user can also lead to real business benefits. For example, if the business views the IT help desk simply as a cost center, it will only want to drive cost reductions which usual mean headcount reductions. But, if it views IT service and support as a business enabler, then performance metrics will focus on time-to-fix values as well as cost reduction. Questions around how quickly user requests are serviced or how much down time users experience (and the business costs associated with that downtime) waiting for new software to be installed will also need to be addressed. In the end, operational metrics (like cost reduction) must be wrapped up with business metrics (like the time taken to service a user request) to closely align the IT help desk to business requirements. The value the help desk brings will be measured by cost and by these new, more-business-oriented metrics, creating service-level goals that demonstrate true business value and meet the expectation of the business users. For example, imagine a world where you could cut help desk costs AND improve levels of service and support to users. Imagine a world where help desk costs drop significantly, saving you perhaps several hundred thousand dollars (or several millions of dollars depending on the size of your operation) every year, while the business value IT delivers also increases, because user requests are handled faster and IT service and support is seen as being more responsive and more in tune with business needs. Costs fall, but user productivity increases. IT service and support is a business enabler, not just a cost center.
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Reduced costs AND added value? But can you really do both? Can you cut costs AND improve the value that the IT service and support operation brings to the business? Here at 1E, we believe you can. Gartner research suggests that the average end user will contact the IT service desk to report an issue or place a service request on average between 1.1 and 1.6 times per month4. As we have seen, during the last decade, IT service desks across the world have been unable to significantly reduce this figure. So if that figure is unlikely to fall, how do we cut costs and improve value? Well consider how those requests are handled. If a user needs access to a new desktop application for example, they will call the help desk or lodge a ‘ticket’ online. That request will be managed by an administrator, who may need to request sign off from the user’s line manager (especially when there is a license cost involved) before he or she can then either remotely or directly (by visiting the user’s desk) install the requested application. And that assumes the user is office based, and in the same location as the IT administrator. They may need to support a mobile user, who is sitting in a coffee shop or a hotel room half way around the world, or they may need to send a request to a local administrator to install the software in a remote regional office. So, with all those factors in mind, how much did that process actually cost and how long did it take? Taking an average of $50 cost per call or request, by the time we also factor in sign-off processes, involvement by other administrators, user downtime and lost productivity, that request might actually have cost the business double or even triple the ‘real’ cost to the help desk. And we also have to take into consideration the loss in perceived value, as the user waits for IT team to install the new application. What about this ‘cost’? Is IT seen as a business enabler or a business preventer? If the IT service and support experience is burdensome from an end user perspective, then it tends to dissuade use and reduces the value of IT support. IT self-service solutions like Shopping™ empower both desk-based and mobile workers to download applications ondemand from an online enterprise software store that is more akin to Amazon than it is to a corporate intranet, but crucially without any help desk involvement. Shopping delivers rapid and significant cost reductions, but, critically, also improvements in the perceived value of the IT help desk, by empowering your users to search for, find, request and download applications on-demand. By supporting your users to get the applications they need, when they need them, Shopping maximizes productivity while removing help desk involvement, driving up efficiency and value, while also driving down costs. So let’s consider our example above and our user request for a new software application. This time, the user logs onto our enterprise software store. They find, perhaps using a search function or by going to specific area within the site, the application they need, clicking on it and ordering it, as if ordering on eBay. When that request is made, checks are made dynamically to ensure sufficient licenses exist for the software and then any approval requests required are automatically sent to relevant managers via email. Once requests are approved, the application is then delivered to the user, again without help desk intervention, installing ‘silently’ in the background. If no approvals are needed, for example if the application has been written internally, or is considered freeware, the download can begin almost immediately. The user can, literally, receive their software in a matter of minutes, rather than waiting hours or even days.
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And Shopping can also be extended to handle requests for other resources just as easily as software, for example to allow users to request desk top power policies, new hardware or even replacement printer cartridges. IT self-service solutions like Shopping do not reduce the number of requests that end user make, but they do push those requests away from IT help desk staff, greatly reducing the number of calls and requests that the team deals with, dramatically cutting costs while also ensuring they add real value to the organization. And rather than just taking our word for it, consider the very real case of Syngenta, a 25,000 user business with operations around the world, who first deployed Shopping five years ago. With each support call costing between $30 and $50, Syngenta needed to make real cost savings but without compromising on the quality of help desk support. Shopping now handles around 3,700 user requests per month and has cut help desk support costs by 3 $148,000 a month ($1.7m a year), saving over 50,000 hours of help desk support time .
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You could start saving money next week In many cases of course, the downside of IT self-service platforms is the length of time, and indeed the costs, involvement in actually deploying them. In some instances, it may take a year or more to roll-out these solutions out across a large multi-national business; so many organizations find themselves in the position of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and many months on installing a platform before they see any kind of return on investment. The beauty of a product like Shopping is that you wonâ€™t wait months or years for it to be installed. Out-of-the-box pre-integration with SCCM means that Shopping can be deployed across even the largest organizations in days, cutting costs and driving up business value almost from day one. And it even integrates with existing tools like BMC Remedy or HP Service Manager if you already have them deployed. The dramatic financial benefits of deploying this type of solution - imagine reducing your help desk costs by $148,000 a month like Syngenta did3 - when considered in conjunction with the increase in business value and productivity that comes from giving users the flexibility to get what they need when they need it without help desk involvement, are reason enough to consider an IT self-service solution. But when those very real benefits are coupled with rapid time to deployment, meaning that savings can be achieved in weeks, not years, then the questions becomes not whether organizations should deploy, but rather when.
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References 1 IT Metrics: IT Spending and Staffing Report, 2010, 22 January 2010 | Gartner ID Number: G00173877 2 Driving the Adoption of IT Self-Service, 4 February 2010 | Gartner ID: G00173790 3 “Shopping from 1E helps Syngenta save over $4.4m by implementing on-demand user self-service” 1E Case Study, July 2010 4 “Do You Have the Right IT Service Desk Staffing Ratio?”, August 2009 | Gartner ID Number: G00170174 5 (471 x 25% x $20) + ( 471 x 25% x $50) + (471 x 50% x $35) = $15,543 per month 6 (117.75 x40% x $20) + (117.75 x 40% x $50) + (235 x 40% x $35) = $6,594 per month
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Automated self service can help you dramatically reduce help desk costs while adding value.