Software has become central to all companies, changing operations across organizations. IT teams sit right at the center of this transformation, dealing with a variety of pressures. Customers demand fast, flawless service, product teams need flexible support as they reduce their time to market, and management expects lower costs.

In response, many IT teams are switching to Agile approaches that value ease of use, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing over complex, inflexible workflows. Still, many IT teams fear that tearing down traditional ITSM processes may introduce unnecessary risk. With the right Agile approach though, teams can balance that risk with greater efficiency, enabling them to drive the business forward.

Here are four tips to build your lean, mean ITSM machine.

1. Increase visibility between dev and ops

When something goes wrong, it’s often best to start by asking “what changed?” — looking for new software releases that may have triggered an incident. Unfortunately, many legacy software systems aren’t equipped for visibility across the DevOps lifecycle.

Make sure you’re using software tools that connect IT and dev teams, so they can collaborate to fix incidents and confidently push changes. Service desk agents should be able to view changes and stay updated on bug-squashing progress. And, developers need the ability to see customers’ problems in real time and create permanent fixes.

2. ‘Shift left’ with self-service

‘Shifting left’ reduces costs by moving resolution closer to the customer. Introducing self-service functionality with a customer-facing portal and knowledge centric service desk is an investment that pays off through lower costs and higher user satisfaction.

According to Forrester Research, manned support can cost up to $12 per contact, while self-service solves problems at 10 cents or less. That’s 120 times more cost-effective. A study by Coleman Parkes for Amdocs showed that 91% of customers say they prefer self-service if it is available and tailored to their needs. Self-service isn’t a new concept. We see it in our everyday lives, from buying airline flights to using an ATM. We expect to be self-sufficient with IT tasks too. A self-service portal is the face of IT to an organization. Through it, customers gain easy access to submit and track requests and are able to keep up with notifications. Making your service desk knowledge-centric further accommodates self-service preferences and reduces your request volume, allowing IT teams to focus on things that really need their attention. If you don’t already have one, aggregate your knowledge into a single system. General questions, FAQs and how-to articles are all great sources of information that can be made available to your customer. For IT teams, providing access to service outage runbooks improves troubleshooting and incident management.

3. Use ChatOps for rapid response

Using modern, integrated communication tools can improve collaboration, reduce disruptive emails and phone calls, and decrease incident-response time. Here’s how IT teams can successfully use ChatOps:

  • Kill the phone bridge and handle incident response with chat tools
  • Create dedicated chat rooms for service beyond your ticketing system
  • Add time-saving bots that handle repeat actions
  • Get your IT and dev teams talking in the same system

4. Adopt a formal Post Incident Review (PIR) process

Some IT teams consider their job complete once normal service is restored and an incident is marked resolved. This is often the fault of legacy ITSM tools. A few fields to capture resolution data won’t carry the learning forward.

Valuable lessons can be found in incidents. We’ve found that highly effective teams implement a formal PIR process. Some of these teams’ best practices include:

  • Establish a culture where the goal isn’t assigning blame, but understanding all contributing causes
  • Create a repeatable PIR process that is simple to follow and encourages collaboration
  • Link all related items created from the PIR to the original incident to improve visibility
  • Develop internal troubleshooting knowledge-base documents for future reference
  • Implement preventative actions that reduce the likelihood of incident recurrence
  • Post and share the PIR results and overall progress via blogs, reporting and dashboards

Following these practices and adopting a lean approach to ITSM offers many benefits — faster support, better team coordination and continuous improvement. Agile IT teams are more adaptable to changing needs and can improvise when faced with obstacles. Rather than just resolving requests and delivering on SLAs, these teams can better adapt to business needs. Consequently, they can streamline their day-to-day work and focus on driving technological improvements across the company, from sales and marketing, to new digital services that ensure customer success.