Are we having fun yet? 2021 was fraught with challenges due to COVID-19 and various degrees of restrictions nationwide. While some states embraced the return to the office, others remained cautious and kept as many employees working remotely as possible. In this post, we’ll look at some of the obstacles from 2021 as it pertained to Service Management and then take a look at what lies ahead in 2022.
Many companies dealt with a widely distributed workforce. Forward-thinking companies that invested in cloud-based software platforms felt less of an impact than those with more traditional, on-premises solutions.
As employees worked from home, greater demand for access to company systems from outside the corporate firewall grew. Service technicians that typically worked side by side with their peers to support these end-users, now found themselves more isolated as they worked out of their homes.
Many service management systems are designed to provide technicians access to historical and relevant information that helps them solve customer problems. Enhanced search features, recommendation engines, and customer self-service chatbots all contribute to faster time to resolution for technicians.
However, while these technological advances have assisted technicians, it has come at a price. Those who were accustomed to “office life” have been isolated from their peers. This article from Forbes magazine highlights some interesting points on the effects of remote work on those who weren’t used to it. The article cites loneliness and burnout as the leading outcomes for remote tech workers.
The takeaway is that while the commute is definitely shorter, the work remains there, often in greater volume because even more remote co-workers need IT’s help.
2022…What’s in store for Service Management?
An interesting read from CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook 2022 can be found here.
One of their predictions related to the supply chain impact on chip supply rings true. Many service management systems provide databases for managing existing inventory (computers, monitors, storage, etc.) and some are evolving clever predictive modeling to help IT plan ahead for growth.
However, if new machines can’t be ordered and delivered for new hires, what is the impact? New employees may be forced to use older, recycled equipment at the start of their career journey with the company. Most techies expect a shiny new computer/laptop, dual monitor setups, etc. when they join a new company. With the chip crisis, what’s their first impression of your department/company when they’re told that they’ll have to make do with older or incomplete system configurations? Yes, the supply chain issues are a factor, but in hindsight, perhaps failure to plan for growth accordingly was one too.
The Impact of Employee Turnover
The one trend we didn’t see mentioned in the article is related to employment opportunities. Highly trained IT technicians are in very high demand. If they feel undervalued by their current company, it is only natural for them to look elsewhere. What types of impact on your department does losing one of your best techs have?
- Longer time to resolution for complex issues
- Impact to existing project timelines due to loss of stakeholders
- Morale impact from losing subject matter experts that junior technicians look to for guidance
- Losing other staff due to that person’s departure
- Loss in departmental trust
Some companies are combating this churn by providing monetary compensation to retain key people in their departments. Given the soaring increases in cost of living and inflation, it’s a start. Providing better benefits to employees has always been a key driver for retention and recruitment.
Others are outsourcing IT functions. This is a slippery slope that may be a band-aid for the short term, but in our opinion, isn’t a long-term service management solution.
The areas where outsourcing is beneficial is usually on a smaller scale where a) the desired expertise can’t be found in house or b) the projects are shorter term and a full-time employee isn’t required.
What are some of the key trends that you think will impact service management in 2022?
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