5 tips for integrating self-service and collaboration into your shift-left strategy

As my final contribution to this series about the whys and hows of a shift-left strategy, I’d like to offer some tips on getting the most from self-service and collaboration in this context. These are based on our own experience and that of our customers.

Think carefully about what to include

Before implementing a self-service facility, decide which services to include in the portal. Prime candidates are routine contacts (such as logging of requests and checks on their status) that have little value for either the customer or the business.

Win reluctant users over to self-service

People may be unsure about moving away from familiar options such as phone calls and email, which the IT support desk has probably been promoting up until now. Communicate the benefits they can obtain by using self-service, and make sure that they are actually realized from day one. For example, make sure your self-service facilities are intuitive to use and that the knowledge base is up to date.

Remember, what will motivate users depends on how technology-savvy they are, so it pays to cater for varying needs. Also, phasing in self-service gradually is likely to result in higher user satisfaction, and better all-round results, than suddenly turning off other support channels.

Motivate people to choose your collaboration space over others

People will naturally gravitate towards your virtual collaboration space if it’s the best place to get access to previous discussions and accumulated knowledge. The space should be split into topics, so that people can quickly find discussions and experts relevant to their issue.
You can also make it clear that users are free to discuss their personal devices and apps and get help from other users. Consider recognizing valuable contributions with “top 10” league tables and similar.

Convince users that this is their opportunity to shape IT services

Promote the collaborative space to users as a place to talk about what they want from IT. Your IT staff should be involved in these discussions primarily to listen rather than to talk.
Once users know they have a say in proposing and planning services, they will be less likely to go off and find their own shadow IT solutions to business problems, and more likely to engage with, and use, what you provide.
This way, IT really will come to be seen as a facilitator of business needs, rather than a barrier to meeting them. That’s something that many of us have been talking about for ages, but that few organizations have managed to achieve so far.

Measure your results

Find the right metrics to measure self-service performance, in order to understand how (and how often) self-service and collaboration facilities are being used, how they are helping to reduce service desk costs, and what impact they are having on customer satisfaction.
This will help you to improve the facilities and promote them in the right way. You can also gather information to highlight incident trends and identify training opportunities.

That concludes our series on shift-left strategy and the part that self-service and collaboration should play in it.

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