In 2016, Bob Gardner took over as the manager of PMO and IT at the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC).
One of his first challenges was to get a handle on their ticketing system, and he didn’t love what he saw.
“Users would go to Formstack,” Gardner says. “They’d fill out their information and their issue. We had an API over to Google Sheets, and then two staff members would export to an Excel spreadsheet, where they’d work it and assign tasks out of there.”
That’s an awful lot of work just to begin working a ticket, and anyone who has worked at an IT help desk knows that service delivery expectations are high.
“It’s similar to having kids,” Gardner jokes. “They’ll come to you at any hour, and their need is always the most important.”
He knew he needed to revamp the process. Ironically enough, he discovered his solution when he requested new business cards from the ACHC marketing department.
“Marketing was already using Samanage, and that was one of the service catalog items they built out. The process was really quick and easy,” said Gardner. “I went to marketing and said ‘tell me more about Samanage.’”
Gardner knew that IT could set up similar processes through Samanage, and to his credit, he also recognized that the entire organization could run services through one familiar platform for employees. He describes a five-step process to roll out a complete service platform throughout the organization:
1) Develop Stakeholders
“Get a business representation from every area of the organization.”
In order to bring organized workflows and efficient service processes to the entire organization, those workflows need owners. In addition, the people who own different areas of service delivery need to understand how a particular service provider works, and the potential impact of manipulating workflows on a particular department.
All of this to say, an IT guy can’t build a service catalog that includes tasks and approvals from HR, accounting, and facilities because an IT guy doesn’t necessarily realize the way those departments work and the impact of changes. It needs to be a group effort with representation from every stakeholder.
ACHC brought all of these stakeholders together to map out a plan to make a single service platform work for everyone’s needs.
2) Requirement Definitions
“Other business leaders wanted to see something very different than I did when it came to metrics, tasks, and privacy, so you need to lay that out.”
What does each service provider need to see? Are there particular dashboard views or incident filters that certain providers will find helpful?
This is a good time for each stakeholder to define the things that will help them improve service delivery. Maybe they want the ability to make private comments, or “notes to self” without access to the requester. Maybe they want to discuss goals for SLAs. Sometimes they want to block access to private information for other service providers.
Each stakeholder should outline the backend experience that they’d like to provide for the folks that will work tickets and deliver requests, and express any desired features or restrictions when it comes to the employee experience.
3) Configuration and Implementation
Test every type of service. Gardner said they targeted go-live for this interdepartmental service platform 90 days out, and they took that 90 days to train employees and service providers, redesign the portal, and build/test workflows to ensure they would release a clean, user-friendly, functional service platform.
Gardner says he went through those workflows step-by-step in testing.
“Some of these tasks went to facilities, HR, quality, and accounting,” he recalls. “We want to know if you’re getting the task when you’re supposed to, and what happens when something is either approved or denied. We tried it with thirty-something tasks on a single service catalog item.”
4) Go Live
Of course, the launch of a new service management strategy is a crucial stage. Gardner says it’s important to return to those stakeholders, and make sure they’ll be champions of your strategy in their departments.
“We’ll create visibility, track those requests, and audit your delivery so you can improve, but it doesn’t work unless you encourage your employees to use the system,” he says, describing the conversations with stakeholders at launch.
ACHC rolled out a service catalog and unified employee portal across seven different departments at go live. Because of all that buy-in, they immediately saw 50% of tickets come through the portal. That means they immediately cut down time wasted with walk up requests and support line requests.
“People didn’t need to follow up,” he says. “If it was critical, they could see we identified it as critical, and they just let us do our jobs.”
Gardner added that ACHC could now be proactive, posting announcements or communications when identical tickets starting coming in or if they anticipated some kind of outage.
5) Continuously Improve
“Employee onboarding has gone from four weeks to ten days.”
Measure the success of every service the organization offers. As Gardner says, ‘the happy employee’ should always be the focus.
“If they’re submitting something, and they don’t have any visibility, and we don’t have any audit behind it, how do we know if they’re getting a positive experience?”
Now that users are submitting tickets through the portal, through email, or a variety of other methods, make sure those processes aren’t breaking down. Use reporting tools. Use CSAT surveys. It’s out of the controlled testing environment, and you might find things you overlooked.
Gardner cautions against knee-jerk sweeping changes.
“Small tweaks are okay, but don’t make sweeping changes right away. You might impact other departments if you make drastic changes, so give it a little while and use a process to make any significant changes.”
Today, ACHC continues to add to its service catalog, including detailed request forms for meeting rooms and conference rooms. They collect every piece of information, from the necessary equipment, to the invitations to send, to every aspect of catering they can think of.
By involving multiple stakeholders in appropriate requests, they’ve drastically cut down delivery times. Employee onboarding has gone from four weeks to ten days.
To read more about how ACHC connected its organization, read the ACHC case study. Better yet, watch this webinar on-demand, where Gardner outlines the process through which they built a service platform on Samanage.
About Chris McManus
Chris McManus is a Marketing Manager with a variety of media and creative content experience. He works with SolarWinds Service Desk customers on case studies, webinars, and spotlight videos.
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