Can Higher Ed Institutions Benefit from Enterprise Service Management?

Stephen Mann

 Group of students working in computer lab.jpeg

Most IT departments, whether they’re in the private or public sector, are looking to reduce what it costs to deliver and support IT; while, at the same time, improving the quality of service and overall customer experience. But IT departments are not alone in this two-pronged pursuit, with other lines of business – corporate service providers such as human resources (HR), legal, and facilities – also focused on similar objectives.

Why? Firstly, because there always seems to be a need to cut operational costs (and there has been for nigh on a decade, no matter your sector) and, secondly, because employees now have higher expectations of corporate service providers thanks to their better personal-life, consumer-world, service and support experiences.

However, this challenge doesn’t only affect commercial organizations, with higher education institutions not immune. And, interestingly, the solution – enterprise service management – is even more applicable to higher ed institutions that it is their commercial peers.

Sharing Solutions to This Service Delivery and Support Challenge

The IT department, if proficient in IT service management (ITSM), can help these other lines of business because of the organization-wide similarities in delivering employee services and support. For instance, in terms of the latter, these other lines of business all have similar operational and service management requirements to IT, in that they all deal with requests for help, information, services, and change to services (as well as delivering service to employees).

And, as such, these other lines of business can all benefit from proven service management thinking, best practices, and enabling technology. It’s the tailoring of ITSM capabilities to non-IT needs, with the aim of increasing efficiency, reducing manual effort, speeding up resolutions, and improving the customer experience – i.e. cutting costs while better meeting employee expectations.

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Service Management in IT and Other Lines of Business

ITSM best practices has been available to IT departments for close to 30 years, and the same is true of the technology that supports it. Both have evolved over the last three decades, with capabilities such as ticketing, workflow automation, knowledge management, and self-service now almost taken for granted as ways of improving efficiency and delivering a better customer experience.

However, other lines of business, such as HR, are often not so fortunate. Because, while they have technology (managed data repositories) such as HR systems to house important data about their customers – employees – they’re still using personal productivity technologies (such as email and spreadsheets), post-it notes, and their personal organizational skills to manage employee engagements. Something that’s manually intensive, prone to errors and delays, and lacking the ability to offer service levels and management insight into performance.

So why aren’t other lines of business following IT’s lead?

Enterprise Service Management Explained

Well, in some organizations they already are. With the Service Desk Institute (SDI) estimating that circa 85% of organizations in the UK already employing some form of enterprise service management, that’s:

“The use of ITSM principles and capabilities in other business areas to improve performance and service.

Although it’s appreciated that this could range from having an organization-wide enterprise service management strategy to just (tactically) using ITSM tools for another purpose outside of IT, e.g. complaints management.

The enterprise service management benefits are there to be had though – and, in many ways, they are very similar to the benefits of ITSM (as you might expect):

  1. Better service and customer experience
  2. Improved efficiency and reduced operational costs, including self-service efficiencies and workload reductions
  3. Improved effectiveness
  4. Improved visibility into operations and performance
  5. Standardization
  6. Increased control and governance, and improved accountability
  7. The opportunity for improvement
  8. Improved access and communication channels, plus more effective communication
  9. Better understanding of what services are needed and provided

With two very important additions to the ITSM benefits:

  1. A better return on investment (ROI) on the organization’s ITSM tool
  2. The elevation of the IT department from its current “custodian of the IT infrastructure” role back to the business innovator role it held in the 1980s and 90s.

There’s Even More Opportunity for Higher Ed Institutions

The lines of business that can benefit from enterprise service management include HR, facilities, finance, legal, security, sales, marketing, engineering, and even external customer support – because each of these functions need to ensure that both their services and operations are optimally managed.

And they can employ ITSM capabilities such as:

  • Incident management
  • Service request fulfilment
  • Change management
  • Problem management
  • Self-service
  • Knowledge management
  • Service catalog management
  • Service level management
  • Asset management
  • Chat

However, higher ed institutions have an enterprise service management opportunity beyond these lines of business. Because, in addition to the usual business-support services, there are other areas in which to adopt the ITSM thinking, best practices, and technology. For instance:

  • The admissions office
  • The alumni office
  • Faculty services
  • Libraries
  • Medical centers
  • Research departments

Thus, enterprise service management is a great opportunity for higher ed institutions to improve the way in which they deliver services and support, across every part of campus operations. Applying a consistent, optimized and technology-enabled, way of engaging with students and staff, plus a level of quality and customer experience that they have come to expect.

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