Last month, Atlassian attended SITS 2018, The Service Desk and IT Show. We staffed a busy booth, demoing our software and learning about challenges facing the support managers, analysts, IT directors, and CTOs in attendance. Our own Principal Solutions Engineer, Paul Buffington, also spoke to an overflowing crowd about best practices for incident management. We sat down with Paul to get his thoughts on some of the most noteworthy ITSM trends. 

At SITS you presented “Five best practices to improve your incident management.”  What parts of that presentation do you think really hit home with the audience? 

I opened my talk by sharing the different ways Atlassian helps teams unleash their potential. Multiple elements influence team success – technology, process, and people all play important roles. Here at Atlassian, we’re looking at all of them. We provide technology with Jira Service DeskConfluence, Stride, and other products. We promote lean and agile processes, so teams can quickly respond to change and deliver value to customers faster.  And, we help people to transform the way they work and rise to their potential with various guides in The Atlassian Team Playbook.

Illustration of people, technology, and process contributing to team success

What are the key things you recommend teams do to improve their incident management abilities?

The bulk of my presentation covered the practices I’ve seen help IT teams transform the way they work. In short, they are:

  • Focus on your people and your team – Learn from the diverse perspectives of teammates, cultivate collaboration and innovation, and build empathy across teams. The Atlassian Team Playbook is a good resource for getting better at these things.
  • Establish a major incident response game plan – Clearly define a major incident, establish workflows, dedicate the right teams to addressing the incident, have a comms plan, document processes, run simulation drills, conduct PIRs.
  • Develop good incident communications – Tools and technology are great sources of collaboration, but a team’s real predictor of success is how effectively they communicate.
  • Build incident response capability around best practices that fit teams – Open work style, improved collaboration, ChatOps, and automation can all improve your team’s ability to respond to an incident.
  • Invest in Post Incident Reviews (PIR) for continual service improvement – Focus on understanding root causes rather than assigning blame with a repeatable PIR process. Link related items to the original incident, develop knowledge base documents for future reference, and create preventative actions to reduce the likelihood of incident recurrence. 

Check out the full presentation below.

Shifting topic a bit here, beyond incident and change management processes, how are organizations applying ITSM?

The IT organization is in the driver’s seat for helping teams outside of IT apply ITSM principles like self-service to all business teams. The top priority for IT teams is improving end-user support and scaling service management across the organization, which is known as enterprise service management (ESM). IT organizations rely on ITSM tools to manage infrastructure changes and respond to outages. Still, the greatest value those tools provide to the business is delivering good support experiences to employees.

Some legacy ITSM tools make it difficult to deploy valuable self-service.  And, since the service catalog onboarding process is long and complex, organizations sometimes abandon the goal of helping teams outside of IT deploy service management. More agile ITSM service desk tools that offer consumer-friendly portals, integrated knowledge, adaptable workflows and the ability to quickly deploy new request offerings to the service catalog are the better choice. These tools enable IT organizations to quickly scale service management across multiple service teams, delivering greater ROI to the business.

Especially when considering bringing these tools to teams outside of IT, there’s still a perception that IT systems are complicated. How are vendors addressing that concern? 

As customer experience becomes more and more important to IT departments, the lines between internal and external support are blurring. This is making disruption inevitable. Service desks must deliver a quality customer experience that meets the needs of customers and the business.

One of the ITSM trends we’ve seen is a growing appetite for service desk tools that can be easily adapted. Customers are abandoning ITSM tools that are bloated with unused features and require a large team to maintain. They’re turning to ITSM tools that offer core ITIL support, are easy to customize, empower smaller teams, and offer a rich app ecosystem for their integration needs.

What new ITSM trends and technologies are surfacing?  

The ability to ‘shift-left’ and deliver quality self-service is a top priority for many IT organizations today. Self-service helps keep IT support costs down and the appetite for knowledge-centric support continues to grow as IT teams look for ways to break down silos and make it easy to share information. We see many IT organizations aggregating knowledge in a single repository. Modern ITSM tools make it easy for support teams to identify when knowledge is needed and enable them to quickly publish a knowledge base to deflect new requests. Heavy and burdensome review processes are being replaced by peer-reviews.

We’ve seen a growing interest from IT organizations in adopting lean and agile ways of working. This often begins with the IT Ops teams that support software releases. Then, it expands to change management and even level 1 support teams that want to use Kanban boards to better manage the flow of requests. There is a more compelling need to strengthen the way that IT and development teams work together.

Automation also serves as a key for improving data sharing between IT and development teams. It plays an ever-increasing role in streamlining IT support, from the basics of routing tickets to the right team or pre-approving standard changes, to the complexity of connecting external systems via web-hooks to fulfill a request process. We are also seeing a shift toward managing infrastructure changes as code. IT teams are embracing automation to streamline these types of changes.  Some are even moving this type of planned activity into the realm of software development so they can better coordinate their software releases with planned changes to the infrastructure.

For more on the shifting ITSM mindset, check out Paul Buffington’s recent whitepaper,  Tips to make a lean, mean ITSM machine. 

Download the whitepaper

5 questions on the latest ITSM trends