Mike Summers, General Manager, Performance Support Solutions, ILX Group plcMany organisations will reduce training budgets and headcount, just as IT Managers are managing the rollout of new technologies and applications planned before the credit crunch. The IT department will also have to support non-IT colleagues whose workloads may have increased dramatically as a result of redundancies elsewhere in the organisation.
To cope with this mix of demands, ILX Group suggests that IT Managers need to do three things:
- Review current costs and activities: IT Managers need to review their current expenditure and identify the fixed and variable costs that can be reduced. Repetitive tasks that can be automated and activities that can be transferred to the end user are prime areas where savings can be made. For example, calls to IT service desks result in two major costs – one, the operational cost of having IT support personnel in place to handle and resolve calls; the second is the drop in productivity of the employee, until their problem is resolved. Therefore, there is a dual imperative to improve the productivity and IT skills of non-IT staff. If technical support are constantly answering the same question or fixing the same simple problem at the desktop, an end user FAQ on the corporate intranet may offer a way of empowering end users while reducing unnecessary activity.
- Improve the productivity of end users: Technology is recognised as a driver of productivity in the workplace, and this will be more important than ever as headcounts are frozen or reduced over the New Year. The pressure will be on IT departments to provide improved levels of support without increasing costs, particularly during implementations of new operating systems and software applications, such as Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.
Enhanced IT training and support can be achieved through the implementation of on-demand self-service applications that provide interactive, context-specific help, enabling end users to troubleshoot their own problems and quickly get back to work. Following the adoption of such an approach, IT service desks will generally receive higher-level queries that suggest end users are progressing to using applications in a more sophisticated way that is more likely to add value for the organisation.
- Use web 2.0 collaboration tools to support your activities: Social media and collaborative tools offer an excellent opportunity to deliver improved knowledge and productivity, both within the IT department and among non-IT personnel. It is increasingly common for applications to be implemented in a quasi-bespoke way, which reduces the usefulness of off-the-shelf training or manuals. Instead, the IT team can use collaborative tools to establish their own portal of information and tips about the organisation’s specific platforms and applications that improves the effectiveness and knowledge base of the team as a whole in a time and cost-effective way.
If the company offers interactive online IT support to end users, they can be allowed to rate particular solutions and add their own comments, pushing the most frequent queries to the top of the list and introducing new hints and tips to help other end users. This makes it quicker and easier for end users to attain the answers to common problems, resolve their issue and get back to work without requiring the assistance of the IT service desk.
Mike Summers, General Manager, Performance Support Solutions at ILX Group plc, comments:
The majority of IT Managers are passionate about technology and want to undertake proactive IT initiatives that help improve the capabilities and efficiency of their organisation. When IT budgets are being cut, IT Managers need to make every pound and every employee count. For example, by providing end users with appropriate support, organisations with 500-desktop users can immediately save 44,100 off their bottom line and up to 88 working days.
Also, by analysing and evaluating the effectiveness of new self-service and collaborative strategies, IT Managers can often point to growth in productivity that underlines the importance of IT to the organisation, and serve to protect IT budgets in a tough business environment.