Make your core voters happy first!
You know you have a problem when you have a department called Solutions to help your employees with IT issues but your Service Desk solution is so bad that nobody wants to tell you their problems in the first place! Most companies have a Service Desk – the place where you go to order a new laptop for new starters; to moan about the speed of Wi-Fi connections; or to mention that you still can’t work out how to use the video conferencing tool and could do with some help.
Top Tip for every organisation - If your service desk solution doesn’t work well or is unpopular sort it out as a priority – it affects your users’ perception of all IT services in your company as it is the first place most users go for IT help.
What we had was clunky, treated User Experience as an afterthought and didn’t meet the needs of everyone in the business. Today we expect even the most mundane of operational software to easily integrate with the rich ecosystem of SaaS software out in the market – our existing solution didn’t do that. To add insult to injury the supplier was about to increase its cost and didn’t really seem interested in addressing our issues. Finally – the solution had originally been rolled out without a huge amount of consultation with end-users.
Third Bridge is a “cloud first” company – we decided a while ago that we wanted to reduce the admin overhead of operational IT systems by asking somebody else to do it!. A cloud-based system was simple to administrate and fast to implement, but we needed to decide whether we worked with our existing provider to resolve the issues, or found someone new. After that we forgot about Technology for a while – the mistake that so many make in choosing business systems is an obsession with choosing the best technology without thinking about the users and what their expectations are first.
This is where the Third Bridge Technology teams always start – the stakeholder and their objectives, not the Technology. First we ran a series of workshops with various business users to be sure we had a deep understanding of issues, expected levels of service and had uncovered unmet needs.
Then we configured a weighted score card so we could objectively judge the existing provider as well as having a way to create a fair comparison with others. We’ve included it as a file you could download – feel free to use it for your own product comparison exercises.
Quite a bit of research later, we were demoing and trialling a range of products using the score card to focus on critical areas and features, from portal flexibility to user experience of submitting tickets as well as integration and API driven customisation capabilities.
Final Product Selection:
The main criteria we used in our selection were: -
- Fully customisable end user portal
- Flexible configuration and a rich API so we can link to other systems
- Mobile app – both end users and for agents meaning we can take care of tickets while in meetings, from our homes or journeys
- Full ITIL based solution
- Can support multiple ways to enter a ticket onto the system including emails
- Great support from the technical team behind the solution. They spent a lot of time working with us so that we can get it configured just how we need it to be
- Good value for money
- A User Experience that appealed to a mobile-centric user group whose average age is around 27 and who are used to well-designed responsive web centric software.
- Rich, flexible, reporting interface.
- Met EU and US Data Protection requirements regarding hosting, and also worked in mainland China with no issues (the latter is an important criterion when looking at any SaaS software if you operate in mainland China).
- Given that Third Bridge is now a Small / Medium sized Enterprise (SME), is the supplier going to be around at least as long as we are, and are they going to be as responsive to our needs as those of a larger customer?
Top Tip in Product Selection – Too many products in this category fail in the User Experience category because for whatever reason a contemporary responsive User Experience is not seen as an “Enterprise” feature, whereas a plethora of complex options is. Don’t fall for this salesperson driven chicanery and instead insist on ease of use as an essential feature – your users will thank you for it.
Just to make it tricky:
We could not run the existing system and the new one in parallel. Plus, the price increase on the old system effectively gave us a 4-week deadline to implement the entire new system. We had a load of information in the tickets that we wanted to keep / migrate – and there was no obvious way to import it, so we really appreciated the help that our chosen provider, FreshService, gave us in importing the XML data that was exported from our old system.
Top Tip for Data Migration – If you are migrating systems and it is important that you retain your old data in your new service desk, find out from both your existing provider and all potential new providers what facility and support you will get in exporting from the old system and importing into the new one. This can be a significant chunk of time and resource even if both systems support the same format for data import / export as the mapping of fields from one system to another can be complex.
We were also streamlining the support processes behind the service desk, meaning we needed to ensure the business units understood any changes and were comfortable with them (or we could adapt to their preferences).
Top Tip for Global Organisations – Ensure that SaaS based software meets the technical and legal requirements for operating in your jurisdiction. As a company that has operations in the UK, the European Union, North America and mainland China – we had to check both for all of the providers in all jurisdictions. China in particular, has both technical and legal restrictions for SaaS software – especially if it has touch points with Google’s infrastructure. Do your homework before you sign on the dotted line!
93% of our customers rating our new Service Desk as “Awesome” in the first month of operation was phenomenal given the scale of the migration project! More critically it has transformed the view of all of Technology within the organisation. The Service Desk is the first touch point with Technology for almost all of our company, and that first touch point is now almost always a very positive one.
Critical to our choice of any new Business Systems software are open API’s and integration capabilities. We used the SaaS API Integration service Zapier to allow us to automatically create a new service request in our FreshService service desk when a new employee is created in our PeopleHR HR system. The API and integration hooks available in both PeopleHR and FreshService, enable integrations like this to be set up without armies of consultants or even custom development work. The workflow capabilities in FreshService then allow us to inform the five different departments involved in a new starter’s set up at Third Bridge about the things they need to do to enable people to start work on day one with no hiccups.
The APIs also allow our development team to plan integration into our own workflow software which will help us put in ticket handling features into our professional services features without having to code it all ourselves.
Top tip for Zapier Users – If your product is supported by Zapier but it does not have a Zap directly related to the function you need then try hooking into your product’s API directly using WebHooks and API calls and effectively creating your own Zaps.
Third Bridge realised through this exercise that Service Desks should not be treated as an afterthought. Our top tips are
- Don’t treat the service desk as an afterthought – it’s the first place people will interact with Technology in your organisation
- User experience is absolutely critical – don’t accept a bad UX from so called “Enterprise” software
- If you are migrating from an existing package take into account data migration as you select a new service. It is not straight forward – look to your new provider for assistance as part of your deal negotiation.
- If you operate globally, take into account global data protection regulations and technology rules around cloud service usage. Your service desk will often contain some of your most confidential information. China is a particularly tricky region in this regard.