Enterprise service management’s role in employee experience

May 26 · 10 min read

Three of the hottest trends in IT service management (ITSM) right now are connected–digital transformation, enterprise service management (ESM), and employee experience. However, the connection between the first two might be more obvious than the connection between the latter two. This is in part due to much having been written about the link between digital transformation and ESM in terms of back-office digital transformation.

This article instead focuses on how ESM will help improve employee experience within your organization.

Thinking about the opportunity for ESM in your organization

ESM can be thought of in terms of a series of spectrums. First there’s a spectrum of how it can be adopted–starting with simply the tactical use of the corporate ITSM tool in another department such as human resources (HR), through to the strategic extension of ESM across the organization.

Second, there’s the spectrum of capabilities that are shared. For example, one organization might only share incident management capabilities, while another might look to apply as many ITSM best practices and the associated tool capabilities (for instance, problem management, service catalog management and self-service, or service design principle) to each business function involved.

Third, there’s the relative maturity of the organization’s ITSM capabilities. Here, organizations need to be careful that they’re not attempting to share what will be suboptimal or even flawed service management capabilities.

Finally, organizations will be at different stages with their ESM adoption. From only recently understanding its potential (and not having commenced any change), through taking their first tentative steps (perhaps sharing a single capability across business functions), to having invested in an “ESM tool” that’s helping to reap the benefits of shared service management capabilities.

For any organization looking at starting, or continuing, their ESM journey, it’s important that they understand both where they currently are and where they want to be. Maturity levels, in terms of both ITSM and ESM, play a big part in the ability to improve the delivered employee experience across the organization. Importantly, there’s also a need to involve key stakeholders from across the organization from the scoping, through planning, to execution.

ESM and employee experience both require a new mindset

ESM can be used to better support employees in doing what they need to do. This includes the service and support staff that work in IT, HR, facilities, legal, finance, and procurement, plus those of other less obvious business functions such as customer service/support, sales, marketing, security, supply chain management, governance, and business operations. Importantly, the positive effect of ESM is two-fold—with employee experience improved for both the service provider and the service receiver. So, for example, for the IT service desk, this is the service desk analysts and end users, respectively.

However, to fully achieve the benefits of ESM—including a superior employee experience—your organization will need to appreciate that ESM success is not merely the result of sharing of ITSM practices and enabling technology. Instead, it requires a change in mindset that first understands the concepts of service management and the importance of targeting outcomes over outputs (including the outcomes associated with a better employee experience).

Second, any organization seeking employee experience improvements will struggle to succeed without the right thinking, senior backing, strategy changes, and funded initiatives needed to deliver them.

Third, individual business functions need to appreciate that their status quo is one of siloed thinking and behavior—with the need to deliver consistent service and support, including for business needs that span multiple teams, such as employee onboarding.

Examples of how ESM improves the employee experience

The execution of an ESM strategy will improve employee experience in many ways and via a number of factors. For example, starting with the adoption of ESM thinking. With the activities that many business functions undertake now viewed as being between a service provider and a service receiver, and the fact that there’s an associated service experience. Suddenly business function operations are elevated from what’s done to what’s achieved through what’s done, which provides an initial platform for the superior employee experience to be built upon.

Then there are the many ITSM best practices, and the associated technological enablement, that can be shared across multiple business functions. For example:

  • Issue (incident) handling and request fulfillment: Dealing with employee issues correctly and as quickly as possible. For example, when applied to HR inquiries and case management, having the formalized incident management and service request management best practice and technology helps HR service and support staff quickly address employee needs. This is key to improving employee productivity and thus the employee experience.
  • Effective knowledge sharing: First, to enable business function staff, such as the legal department, in better serving other employees. Second, to facilitate those employees in quickly getting the required information or solution via self-help. Both use cases help to drive up the employee experience for service requesters and the legal department’s service providers, who now have fewer incoming requests to handle.
  • Self-service and self-help: Providing employees with access to self-help capabilities (including ticket status checking) and online issue logging. In a facilities use case scenario, this will provide employees with quick access to information and help with their facilities-related issues and requests. Such employee-empowering capabilities are more in line with their expectations of modern service providers.
  • Repeat issue (problem) minimization: Preventing repeat issues, and the associated impact, from occurring. For example, in the employee onboarding process that spans multiple business functions—from HR to security. Here the root causes of persistent delays can be identified and eradicated such that new employees are able to work as soon as possible. Importantly, increasing employee productivity through issue prevention rather than “cure application.”

All of the above ITSM capabilities and others can be applied, through ESM adoption, to other business functions to improve efficiency and effectiveness plus the employee experience. Importantly, as already mentioned, they positively affect the employee experience for both the service provider and the service receiver.

Using data to improve both ESM and employee experience

The use of fit-for-purpose service management technology, with workflow-enabling capabilities, across the organization not only improves operations and outcomes, but it also provides a platform for improvement. This is due to the greater insight, available through service management solutions, into performance versus what might have previously been ad hoc processes conducted (and managed) within emails, spreadsheets, and post-it notes.

This includes the ability to look across business function data sets, establishing employee and complex-process perspectives, to really understand the state of employee experience within your organization and the associated improvement opportunities. For example, that recruiting managers are wasting time and effort contacting multiple business function service desks regarding onboarding issues rather than dealing directly with HR. Especially because HR will have oversight of the entire employee onboarding process and progression thanks to enterprise service management tooling.

The continued evolution of ESM and employee experience

While there’s already much that ESM can do to improve the employee experience offered by an organization’s many business functions, there are other ways in which it will be improved further over the next few years.

One way is the consolidation of internal service and support providers into “shared services” or “global business services” organizations. Ideally with the service and support capabilities designed around the employee, not the various internal service providers as it often is now. You know the drill—an employee has an issue; they then need to work out who to present it to. Perhaps being ping-ponged between various business functions until they find the correct service provider. Likely having to traverse various contact channels and repeat themselves along the way.

However, business functions don’t need to be combined in such a manner for employees to still benefit. Instead, the separate business functions can simply be cognizant of the need to design and deliver consistent services to employees. Ideally built around employees’ needs. Such that, from the employee perspective, there’s still a consistent way to access service and support capabilities—with requests for help, information, service, and change—across the enterprise.

Another way is the adoption of new technologies that enable service providers to be all three of “better, faster, and cheaper.” Such that they not only provide speedier resolutions at a lower cost, but the quality of service is also better—including the employee experience. Artificial intelligence (AI), in particular, has much to offer corporate service providers, either directly or via the execution of ESM strategies. For example, machine learning can help with many facets of IT service delivery and support operations. From discovery and monitoring, through service delivery and issue remediation, to operational optimization. Plus, the provision of employee-friendly, omnichannel engagement capabilities.

Examples of such AI-enabled capabilities include the use of chatbots for employee self-service. Virtual agents to augment IT staff capabilities. Intelligent ticket processing to categorize, prioritize, assign, and act on incidents and requests. And AI-assisted trend analysis and decision support—where the technology can handle larger data sets, see more complex trends, and make more informed decisions.

10 recommendations and summary

There are many recommendation-like points made throughout this article, although not always explicitly. Here are 10 of the key recommendations:

  • Understand both where your organization currently is and where it wants (or needs) to be in terms of ESM and employee experience.
  • Agree on the scope of planned changes and improvements with all involved parties.
  • Appreciate that maturity levels, in terms of both ITSM and ESM, will play a big part in your organization’s ability to improve the delivered employee experience across the organization.
  • Don’t try to share suboptimal or even flawed service management capabilities; assess and improve them first.
  • Recognize that ESM adoption and employee experience improvement both require a change in mindset, starting with a service mentality.
  • Appreciate how individual ITSM, and thus ESM, capabilities will help individual business functions and the organization as a whole.
  • Design your solutions such that ESM will support operations and employee experience across multiple teams and functional boundaries, not just within individual business functions.
  • Proactively use data to improve both ESM operations and outcomes plus the associated employee experience.
  • Consider organizational changes to further improve the employee experience. As a minimum, seek to design consistent service and support capabilities around employees’ wants, needs, and expectations.
  • Leverage automation and AI to improve your organization’s ESM capabilities and the associated employee experience even further

Through the adoption of ESM, each of your organization’s business functions can become a better version of itself across all three of “better, faster, cheaper.” It’s a great platform for business-wide improvement, and any optimized capability created for one business function can be shared across many others. This not only saves effort and costs but also delivers a better employee experience. And, looking forward, the adoption of AI-based capabilities in particular will see the benefits of ESM and the delivered employee experience both improve.

About the author

Stephen Mann, Principal Analyst and Content Director, ITSM.tools

Sign up for our newsletter to get more quality content

Get fresh content in your inbox

By clicking 'keep me in the loop', you agree to processing of personal data according to the Privacy Policy.