Automation is not new to anyone. It is the foundation for any enterprise digitization. However, companies fail to establish a clear strategy for automation. They cannot define areas of automation and set priorities. They end up with islands of automation, automation using home-grown scripts or various automation point solutions taking are of respective automation tasks. The automation knowledge is with chosen few SME’s and the dependency on them increases due to their subject matter expertise. Service desks struggle to cope with day-to-day administrative tasks and have not a clear idea of where to start automating these day-to-day tasks.
Typically, password resets and account unlock requests comprise 30-40% of service desk tickets and are good candidates to start with. Moreover, laws and regulations such as PCI DSS, Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA have reviewed password requirements and now encourage or demand greater complexity such as multi-factor authentication. Resetting passwords manually wastes an enormous amount of time and money resulting in end-user frustration, customer dissatisfaction and compliance vulnerabilities.
With wrong guessing of passwords, the user account gets locked which further adds to the ticket volume. Therefore, password resets and account unlocks become the top priority candidates for automation.
Employee On-boarding and Off-Boarding
Series of tasks need to be carried out when an employee is on-boarded. These tasks could be creating several accounts such as AD, Unix, Databases, Applications. The notice needs to be sent to the HR orientation team as well as the admin team for assigning a new desk. The IT department needs to get informed for assigning a laptop and IP address if needed. These tasks could be time-consuming and if not done in proper time, the new employee or contractor simply has to wait which results in unproductive and waste of resources and money.
Ideally, many companies have a policy of “Zero-day start” which means all formalities has to be done on the first day or before to make the employee productive to start with. In such a case, on-boarding turns out to be a good candidate for automation.
Just as the process of on-boarding, there are certain steps that must take place whenever someone leaves a company or transitions to another position within. By integrating automation with the identity management system, the appropriate role/access changes or terminations can be handled from one central location. Employee off-boarding becomes equally important especially for security and compliance perspective. Not turning off/deleting accounts of resigned employees poses a security threat. Companies where there is a lot of turn-over of temporary workers, the task of off-boarding becomes over-whelming for the IT department and therefore, becomes a good candidate for automation.
Ad-hoc queries and Knowledge Management
A typical service desk supporting over 1000+ users handle over 1500 tickets a month. Many of these tickets are simple queries such as my printer is not working or what is my leave balance. With the new advent of technologies such chatbots, these queries could be handled by bots by integrating with back-end knowledge management systems, effectively relieving service desk team to focus on more value added tasks.
With AI and machine learning, context based knowledge article searches become a powerful tool for introducing this self-service.
Common event handling
Service desk needs to handle a lot of common complaints such as my web-server is not working or my disk is full. The L1 support agents have to analyse and forward these queries to L2 engineers who further trouble-shoot by starting the web-service on the required machine. A typical ticket wait time for such requests is about 4-6 hours which frustrates end-users. Proper automation could reduce this turn-around-time to less than a minute and save the time of end-users as well as service desk technicians.
In case of “disk-full”, the problem is a bit tricky as there are several alternatives to handle such a situation such as: deleting temporary files, moving older files (not used in last few months) to other locations or backing up or simply allocating more disk space. Automation in this case becomes important mainly for two reasons: One is obviously saving time of service desk agents to forward the call and L2 engineers to resolve. But more importantly, if it is done properly with right privileges embedded in automation workflows, even L1 engineers who do not have privileges are able to handle such requests. More with advanced automation, complete orchestration workflows could be developed using SOP’s. Even machine learning could be used to generate steps involved based on past event handling and these options could be given to L1 agents to execute.
The routing of a problem ticket to the proper support team is a very critical step in any service desk system environment. Especially when the ticket volume is high, the manual method of analysing tickets, classifying to proper support buckets and forwarding them to appropriate teams become a very time-consuming exercise. Incorrect routing of tickets results in the reassignment of tickets, unnecessary resource utilization, user satisfaction deterioration and have adverse financial implications for both customers and the service provider.
The tickets could be auto-routed to appropriate support teams using machine learning technology. By mining historical ticket descriptions and label, an ML model could be built to classify new tickets. Moreover, the priority of the ticket could also be assigned by the past historical data. A benefit of building such an automated service desk system includes improved productivity, end-user experience and reduced resolution time.
Besides these top candidates for service desk automation, many other system administration tasks could be automated such as: virtual machine management, distribution list management, producing health-check reports, office-365 management, providing VPN and wifi access etc. End-to-end automation is possible starting with handling requests, queries or events to auto-fulfilment of these service desk tickets.
Our ServiceRize (www.servicerize.com) service is based on AI-driven automation platformhaving ITPA (IT process automation) as well as RPA (Robotic Process Automation) capabilities. Moreover, the platform comes bundled with over 300+ ready automation adapters which make it easier to start the service immediately. We have our own AI-based methodology to identify candidates for automation from the ticket data.
We will be more than happy to assist you in your service desk automation journey. Please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
About the Author
Prashant heads global delivery of Vyom Labs consisting of various practice units such as BMC and ServiceRize. Prashant has illustrious career over thirty years in information technology and has served at senior executive levels with global companies such as: IBM, BMC, Veritas and Citibank. Prashant has built, scaled and managed various IT, professional services & product development/support organizations. His technical expertise is in IT infrastructure management, automation and managed services. He is passionate about business transformation using cognitive technologies such as AI and machine learning.