Service Desk Software and Flexibility
The necessity for the malleability of a business’s Information Technology, and in particular their service desk solution, is a broad and increasingly core issue within modern working environments. What can immediately spring to mind is the need for adaptable IT in terms of Disaster Recovery: the creation of contingency routines that enable operations to continue despite floods, power cuts or other emergency situations that render normal working conditions un-tenable. Likewise, flexibility coupled with IT is the staple of Bring Your Own Device: enabling staff to carry out their work using the machine of their choice from locations other than the office. Both of these familiar aspects of any IT Manager’s workload have at their core the concept of maintaining up-time and a consistent level of service via the malleability of IT in regards to location, equipment, and working environment, with the ultimate goal being to quell any loss to the business whilst simultaneously continuing to add value.
And it is the well-acquainted need for increased value which is at the root of a business’s IT, and indeed at the root of malleable IT, with the desire for heightened flexibility throwing up a new set of avenues (and of course challenges) to consider in terms of injecting value into the business. So, what needs to be considered in terms of malleability when initially introducing new software tools to a business?
Plan for change
Implemented and utilised on a daily basis to enable employees do their jobs efficiently, it is true that an organisation’s software needs to be robust, fast, user-friendly, but is a software tool’s malleability near the top of the checklist, or even on the checklist, during the initial selection process?
One major challenge that confronts IT Managers is the need to plan for change. There is no such thing as standing still within the modern business world, as to ‘stand still’ is to fall behind, and ITIL’s Continual Service Improvement model underpins the pressure experienced within dynamic business environments to consistently improve performance whilst managing demand from various angles.
Software therefore needs to progress and change with the needs of a business, so spending time and resources, not to mention budget, on implementing a system that performs exactly how you need it to with all of the functionality required at one time is of course crucial, but, how valuable is this tool if it is ultimately rigid in terms of what it can do in the long-run?
In addition to service strategy and design, the CSI Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model needs to be taken into account right from the start of the lifecycle, when first introducing a software tool. Consider: will the tool support current business processes, but also provide a platform from which to enhance the quality and scope of services offered to customers?
Does it bend?
Of course, the very name ‘software’ denotes something pliable, customisable, malleable, and when considering a software tool, the question needs to be asked, just how pliable is it? How simple and cost-effective will it be to ‘scale-up’ the product, to make alterations, or even to scale down if there is unused functionality? Can the tool evolve with the ever-changing needs of the organisation? Can we bend and shape the tool to look and behave exactly how we want, whenever we want, in order to squeeze as much value from it as possible?
These are challenging considerations for any organisation, and a crystal ball would be useful to see exactly how the business will evolve and what different requirements there will be further down the line. So, to initially introduce a software tool that has the scope to be altered without excessive hidden cost or difficulty is therefore reassuring: it allows you to plan for change, whether this change is expected or unexpected.
Choosing a path
Creating business models around the limitations of a software tool is, of course, completely the wrong way around: the tool needs to have the flexibility to be moulded around business structures. From this, there are different paths to take with regard to Continual Service Improvement. Two ends of the spectrum are thus: starting big and (if necessary) scaling down, or, picking components of a tool which support current business needs, then scaling up in the future if required. There are pros and cons to each scenario, and budget, time, staff, resources, all play a large role in choosing which road to take.
Another aspect to consider is deployment method. Does the tool offer the choice of implementing it on-site or on-demand? And, if there was the need to migrate the system into the Cloud at a later date due to changing business needs, would this be an option? Or, vice versa, would your SaaS supplier proffer the ability to move your software tool from the Cloud to an On-Site system if changing business infrastructures demanded?
Check for success
So, once the tool is chosen, checking performance in both the test and live environments must be on-going processes. Running performance checks, listening to feedback of customers, staff, vendors, 3rd party suppliers, are all essential aspects of discovering how software is performing and how it has been received. Crucially too, if the software provides a portal between customer and business, such as the IT / Customer Support Service Desk, it is imperative that the system is performing exactly as it needs to be in order to provide end-users with the best service possible.
So, it is when inevitable changing business requirements arise that a software tool’s malleability truly comes into play, and an ITIL Change Management model facilitates the comprehensive logging and progression of any Requests for Change. Too often do businesses presume that any changes to their software tools will be too big an expense or too time and resource consuming, so end up settling with a system that once did what they wanted it to do, but cannot evolve to support fresh needs. This however, should not be the case, and adopting an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” attitude could mean that crucial opportunities for significantly increasing value are missed.
Self-made configuration changes to software tools should be an option via user-friendly administration or configuration management systems, with plans for alterations drawn up in detail in response to logged RFC’s, customer feedback and KPI statistics. Software tools should also offer cost-effective maintenance contracts propounding straight-forward and concise support, giving the opportunity for configuration guidance and help when businesses look into cultivating systems.
Getting the most out of every aspect of a business’s software is essential, and extending a tool which staff and customers are familiar with into additional business areas is an increasingly popular practice. To cover further business areas with a flexible software tool that is already operational within the business means that little training will be required, and that you are using a supplier you can trust.
Indeed, the ultimate message of ITIL is to implement the best practice workflows and service delivery models, but to continually review and evolve these to match the changing working environment. Therefore, true value is to be gained from software that grows with the business and is malleable enough to perform exactly how you need it to, now and in the future.
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