Aug 19, 2021

How Service Desks Can Improve Employee Experience With Clicks, Not Code

With more employees working remotely, companies need to make sure they can still support employees and meet their IT needs quickly and efficiently, anywhere, anytime.

By Brandon Wolfe, Product Manager, ITSC, Tanium

With more employees working remotely, companies need to make sure they can still support employees and meet their IT needs quickly and efficiently, anywhere, anytime.

Many legacy IT Service Management (ITSM) platforms were built for an IT world that is no longer the norm. In that older world, nearly all employees worked in the office. They used endpoints that had been provisioned by the IT department and connected to applications and databases running in internal data centers.

Today, many employees work remotely and access company data on their home networks without corporate firewall protection. They increasingly access applications running in the cloud. And when a problem occurs, they can’t just walk down the hall to the IT department. They might be several cities or even states away from the company help desk itself-

To better meet the needs of these distributed workers, many companies have recently upgraded their ITSM platforms to more modern, cloud-based platforms, such as Salesforce IT Service Center (ITSC). Cloud platforms are built to be accessible from anywhere. Their security and access models don’t depend on employees working only on internal networks. In addition, these platforms promise to bring cloud scale and efficiency to the work of the help desk and other aspects of ITSM.

To realize the full benefits of these platforms, it makes sense to ask what the organization really needs from its help desk, and how an ITSM platform can be used to best serve today’s highly distributed, comparatively autonomous workforce.

Here are some suggestions for making the most of a modern ITSM platform like Salesforce ITSC.

Start with a center of excellence

One of the best things a service desk team can do when migrating to a new ITSM platform is create a center of excellence. A center of excellence is a team of IT and business unit professionals interested in the company’s practices in a particular domain of IT — in this case, the company’s practices related to ITSM.

Ideally, the team should include people from a variety of roles and departments. The center of excellence should include the decision-makers who will select the new ITSM platform. It should also include at least one executive who can authorize work contributing to the center of excellence. And, critically, it should also include help desk personnel and other people who interact with an ITSM platform daily.

The center of excellence should play a role in developing and documenting best practices, evaluating IT purchases, and ensuring the service desk meets the needs of other teams and business units in the organization.

One of the best things a center of excellence can do before adopting a new ITSM platform is document the way that the current ITSM platform is used. Ask:

  • What features and workflows are in place now?
  • How well does the platform meet employees’ needs? Can employees submit requests easily? Can they take care of their requests through self-service portals?
  • How well does it meet service desk agents’ needs? Is the platform easy to use? Can agents easily look up answers to common questions?
  • Which features and processes does the team want to keep?
  • Which features or processes should be changed once a new platform is in place?

It’s a good idea to document the answers to these questions before migrating to a new platform. That way, the company will have an agreed-upon reference for what works and doesn’t work with current help desk practices.

Do more by building less

The ITSM platforms from a decade or two ago were limited in their functionality. As a result, many companies developed a lot of custom code to extend the functionality of their ITSM platforms, tailoring its interfaces and processes to their particular needs.

If the help desk team is used to those customizations, it might be tempting to set about developing them again on the new platform once that platform is live. But we would recommend that you wait and really get to know the new platform first. There are several reasons for this.

First, you might find that the new platform already includes the functionality you need; after all, ITSM products have changed a lot over the years. Your new platform might automatically include functionality that would have been a special add-on five or ten years ago.

Second, if the new platform is a modern cloud platform like Salesforce IT Service Center with a low-code development environment, you might find that you can recreate the features you’re looking for with minimal coding. Salesforce has a philosophy of “clicks, not code.” This means that you should be able to build the features you want by making choices in their user interface rather than by writing, testing, and deploying custom code.

Third, even if you can’t find the functionality you’re looking for within the interface, with the right platform, they’ll provide OOTB integrations. For example, the Salesforce AppExchange, Salesforce’s app store, provides thousands of options with trusted, third-party products and partners. There’s no point in building a new feature from scratch if a Salesforce-compatible product is available with documentation and support services in the Salesforce community.

Only if these three options have failed should you have to consider writing custom code at all.

The benefits of “clicks, not code” for employees

It’s worth calling attention to the benefits of the “clicks, not code” approach. Being able to quickly configure the features you need offers these advantages:

Faster time-to-value

Because you’re simply configuring a proven platform, you spared the trouble of designing, coding, testing, and deploying new software. In just hours or even minutes, you have the functionality you want without engaging in days or weeks of development.

Simplified maintenance

Because features are simply configurations of the platform, you don’t have to worry about the risk of developers leaving the company and taking their understanding of the features with them. To modify features, you can simply use the platform, rather than digging through documentation from years past and trying to figure out how a feature was designed. If you find you need to modify a feature or interface, you can do that, too, using clicks rather than launching a new software development effort.

Reduced complexity for employees

Because it’s easy to build features and automate processes, the service desk team can automate more of its work. For example, one company I worked with had a complex monthly audit process involving about 50 steps and multiple stakeholders. Completing the process usually took several days, but the process could stretch over a week if an email or step was missed. With a modern, “clicks, not code” approach, the service desk team was able to streamline the process, eliminating steps and simplifying work for all the stakeholders. Completion time shrank from many days to just a few hours, and a full audit trail was generated automatically and sent to management. This kind of automation can dramatically improve employees’ experience. If the help desk decides to build more self-service processes for employees, they can do so easily without involving costly or prolonged development projects.

Continuous improvement

Because user interfaces, features, and processes can be modified quickly, it’s easy for the service desk to continuously improve its software and workflows. Service desk teams can take suggestions and implement them without having to wait for annual or biannual update cycles.

Striving for excellence in employee experience

I began this post by suggesting that companies set up a center of excellence for their ITSM Platforms. Even after your company has migrated to a new ITSM Platform, the work of the center of excellence isn’t done. The center of excellence team should update its descriptions of standards and processes to account for the features and workflows built into the new platform. And it should continue assessing requests from employees, new requirements based on company direction and industry trends, and new requirements as a result of security policies or increased regulations.

With a powerful ITSM platform and a center of excellence meeting regularly to plan and implement continuous improvements, a company can make a big difference in the daily experience of employees. It can meet employee IT needs quickly and efficiently and improve agility and productivity for the company overall.


Learn more about how the Tanium platform provides critical endpoint management features for Salesforce IT Service Center (ITSC).