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Shift-left to achieve more with less

First introduced a few years ago, the shift-left service concept is about “moving issue resolution to the lowest cost level in the service and support organization, with a focus on resolution at the front line or at the closest point to the customer”, in the words of service guru Pete McGarahan. It almost goes without saying that the reason for doing this is as a response to business pressures.

The initial focus of shift-left was to increase the first contact/first level resolution percentage, so as to lower the cost per resolution. A lot of organizations we know have taken steps to provide service desk staff with the skills and tools to resolve as many customer issues as possible themselves, reducing the need to refer issues to second-level support analysts.

Extending the concept to include self-service and collaboration
The cost pressures have kept mounting up, and so the service community has had to find more ways to pursue shift-left. Self-service was an obvious next step, as McGarahan and others saw early on. Encouraging customers to help themselves via a portal means that issues often get resolved before they even reach first-level support staff. The customers can often solve them themselves by referencing knowledge bases and similar information sources.

However, at Hornbill we believe that self-service is not enough to take shift-left to its logical conclusion. It’s now time for organizations to take advantage of today’s consumer preferences by promoting collaboration and self-help to complement self-service.

10 trillion ants can’t be wrong
Doing this allows us to make the most of our “swarm intelligence”. When ants – simple organisms individually – work together, a higher level of intelligence emerges, allowing them to solve some problems that defeat humans. In the same way, a community of users working together can achieve surprising results, even if they don’t have any special technical expertise. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.

In my next few blog posts I’ll discuss the use of both self-service and collaboration as elements of shift-left, and provide some tips for integrating them into your strategy.


Gerry Sweeney

Written by Gerry Sweeney

Our CEO, Gerry Sweeney, founded Hornbill in 1995 and launched our very first product Supportworks, a Helpdesk tool used by IT teams. Gerry is an industry beacon for innovation, ensuring the Hornbill platform has the fastest release cycles to deliver the market with the latest in workflow automation, service management and collaboration.