As part of the Continual Service Improvement component of ITIL, you should be reviewing your service-level agreements (SLA) often. At the service desk, good IT help desk software offers comprehensive reporting of SLA-related metrics. Monitoring, however, isn’t enough; you need to make changes that can improve your metrics. Automation, by saving time and streamlining workflows, can help you improve SLA creation and compliance.
Let’s take a look at one real-world way to improve service with automation: the onboarding and separation of employees. This example shows the benefits of automation and how it can lead to better SLA creation and compliance.
Automated Onboarding and Separation
Onboarding a new employee, from the service desk perspective, involves processes like issuing a security badge, assigning devices, creating accounts and passwords, telephony and more. You also serve internal customers in HR who want services like benefits signup, tax form completion and designating emergency contacts.
A company called thoughtbot makes onboarding easier through automation. Employees receive an emailed packet of forms, which they can complete and sign using an e-signature application before their first day of work. New thoughtbot hires also complete a form the moment they sign their offer letter in which they’re asked, among other things, to create an email address. Once created, a Rails application called Onboard then automatically uses the email address entered to create employee accounts in multiple business applications.
One of the biggest security risks in any organization is the failure to deactivate a separate employee’s authentication credentials. If the employee leaves under unhappy circumstances, especially if the employee has access to sensitive information, the employee presents a security risk. If employee credentials are deactivated in Active Directory the moment an employee’s status is changed to “separated,” you eliminate that risk. It also becomes one less thing the service desk has to follow up on after an employee leaves.
Putting It Together
The Service Design component of ITIL gives you the discipline to think through how every aspect of a service will work. You’re not only designing the service itself but also the process by which you’ll support the service. You’re also determining metrics, like availability, measurable by your IT help desk software, that can measure how well you’re delivering these services.
Since you’re thinking through each step of your services, processes that are easy to automate become clear. Emailing forms for e-signature to a new hire is a useful service for your catalog. You can detail the offering in your SLA, and there’s no need to perform the task manually. Automation can be something as simple as automatically changing a ticket to “in progress” when a technician opens it. It can be something more complex, like creating an automated IVR queue that prioritizes incoming calls.
By breaking down processes for and understanding their components, you understand exactly what you can offer your customers, how you will deliver services (including automated ones) and how to create and meet detailed, realistic SLAs.
There are many ways you can create better SLAs and better SLA compliance through automation. Download our white paper: 101+ Ways to Automate Your Workplace for some ideas on how to get started.
About Nathan Riley
Nathan Riley is a Sales Director, ITSM at SolarWinds. He has nine years experience in the industry, and has had a front row seat for the evolution of service management as a platform for the entire organization. He helps organizations ranging from SMB to Fortune 500 bring customized service to employees. Nathan proudly served the United States Armed Forces in the United States Marine Corps.
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