Budgets have been steadily decreasing in IT for years. This has forced a single service desk analyst to complete a level of work that multiple headcount would have been asked to do in the past. What’s more, service desk teams are adapting to working almost exclusively from home and are being asked to support an increasing number of remote workers across their organizations. All of this is supposed to be done with the same old troubleshooting tools and with a lack of access to admin level permissions.
With these factors in mind, it is becoming more important than ever to limit friction between managing incidents and troubleshooting the potential causes of those incidents. Focusing on every performance KPI and squeezing every ounce of productivity out of the service desk is paramount, especially when balancing your shrinking resources with elevated end user expectations. The service desk should be striving to empower first line support staff to be more productive and efficient. One of the best ways to do this is by providing analysts with admin-level troubleshooting tools more closely integrated into where they spend the majority of their day… your ITSM solution.
The Concerns with Admin-Level Tools in the Service Desk
All though most organizations have an ITSM solution and 3rd party administrative troubleshooting tools in place currently, they rarely focus on providing those administrative tools directly to their service desk team. The idea sounds more like a nice-to-have than a must-have for most teams and raises obvious security concerns. These applications often require local installations of clients or consoles. This can make off-network use of some of these tools an issue for remote workers and can create security gaps.
Even if the tools do not require local software, the elephant in the room here is the need for elevated permissions to run within most environments. This creates a nightmare scenario for most System administrators, who prefer to hold the keys to the castle and rightfully so. But the truth is, friction between managing tickets and diagnosing or resolving them can be directly tied to cost savings, time savings and can even improve security auditing.
The Benefits of Admin-Level Tools in the Service Desk
The cons seem daunting, but the benefits can be more than worth the effort. The keys here are qualifying your organization’s willingness to invest in the proper tools to succeed and identifying the organizational priority of realizing the potential benefits. Here is a short list of areas you can focus on to prepare for making this shift and things to consider before asking the business for investment.
1) Invest in Technology Consolidation and Integration
The admin-level tools we have been talking about are all likely available in your environment already. You need a way to consolidate them in a single interface and preferably to integrate them directly into your ITSM UI. There are tools like Cireson’s Remote Support solution on the market to do this seamlessly with some of the industry leading ITSM solutions. I know, you don’t want to buy another tool to solve another problem, but you also don’t want to design, build and maintain another in-house application created solely for this need.
When challenged on this software investment, position it this way: today, a handful of expensive resources can use powerful admin troubleshooting tools. Let’s put more power in the hands of every service desk analyst, going from a small team of effective trouble-shooters to an army, and focus on making the first line of contact with end users more productive. It’s really a small investment to maximize the siloed power held within these admin tools.
2) Decrease Escalations and Increase First Call Resolution
When done properly, providing admin troubleshooting tools to the service desk allows analysts to investigate and resolve incidents more quickly and decreases the need to escalate some common requests. This is the most tangible monetary value that this strategy will yield. Empowering your level 1 and 2 analysts to resolve incidents that would normally require a more senior resource will scale your service desk to handle higher volumes.
It will also allow more expensive resources to focus on higher value projects and will ultimately show positive increases in key KPIs like first call resolution and customer sat scores. Productivity and efficiency across all resources will increase when the correct people are working on the correct tasks and completing these tasks in the correct amount of time. This is the heart of your ROI justification.
3) Provide Secure Access to Administrator Tools
Providing the service desk with access to tools like PowerShell, SCCM and Active Directory come with a price. Too little permissions and they are unable to be as effective, requiring frequent escalation and killing first call resolution. Too much permissions and you could be opening them up to larger vulnerabilities, costing the company money and making the case for prohibiting the service desk from using these tools at all. If you’re going to do this right, you will need to lock-down permissions where possible while monitoring activity when providing more liberal permissions.
Your new consolidation software, referenced earlier, should allow you to more concisely dial-in permissions per user, including entity scoping to limit what data an analyst can see. But your admin systems should still be the definitive layer of role-based security. The combination of these layered access roles can allow you to provide elevated admin rights to service desk analysts by using predefined services accounts to run these tools.
4) Automate Resolution Tracking and Activity Auditing
Once you have properly aligned service account setup with entity and user-based access roles, you will be able to start tracking user activity across all admin tools. This is key for two major reasons. First, you will be creating a per-user time, date and user stamped audit trail. This will empower your admins to give more access while monitoring what is done within their systems. They are also able to identify when and where an action was taken, in the event they are investigating a problem.
Second, if your new consolidation software is capable of ITSM integration, you should also be able to automatically write every troubleshooting action taken back into the incident ticket log. This not only saves time spent resolving an incident ticket, but also benefits other analysts with future similar issues, as the necessary steps for the resolution have already been automatically logged within a previous ticket.
Increasing first call resolution, decreasing escalations, improving KPIs and ultimately saving costs create a solid justification for taking on an approach like this. A multi-layered approach to role-based access and activity auditing not only support the efficiency argument for this investment but can help you get the admins on your side for making this shift.
Remember, you aren’t buying another tool that fixes one problem you’ve just identified. You are investing in the consolidation and integration of admin-level troubleshooting tools that will maximize your service desk bandwidth, decrease escalations and increase first call resolution.
If this is of interest to you, Cireson’s Remote Support solution was designed with all these benefits in mind. It not only integrates with the Cireson Analyst Portal but also various other major leading ITSM solutions. To find out more info or request a live demo please visit us here.