Many government agency and department customers ask us about how Microsoft manages its internal ICT support and how we use ICT to drive down the cost of doing business.  In this area I think Microsoft has a fair amount to say in terms of experience and lessons learned along the way.  Microsoft's internal IT department shares its experiences via the IT Showcase programme, so it is often possible for us to arrange calls or meetings with the guys here who implemented change within our organisation from both a business and technical perspective.  They have also provided a load of material here on our website.

I wanted to focus in this post on our experiences relating to self-service, as I know a lot of government customers are interested in this and perhaps see the continuing cost of supporting their users in the same way as they have done previously unsustainable in the current economic climate.  Even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes, the population is broadly becoming more tech savvy so it makes sense to build up e-channels for self service rather than focusing on phone for every query and request.

Identity Management

As with many organisations, Microsoft has complicated requirements and workflow around Identity management, particularly around joiner process, leaver process and every other major event in the identity lifecycle in between.  The principle of self-service and automation of provisioning has been key for many years here.  The EasyID self service system based around our MIIS technology has been around a long time and set a bar for future developments.  We also have the Headtrax self-service HR portal, allowing for personal information changes such as job title, home address or telephone number with associated approval workflow and system provisioning.  More recently we migrated to ILM for the backend and IT most recently evolved this still further by added the self service functionality of Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) including the native password reset service.

Support

One area many government agencies are interested in is how to reduce the cost per support transaction and improve satisfaction with their support service.  Self service can help significantly here and our own IT self-help portal site is discussed in detail here: doc and ppt.  This portal includes the ability to find information about available services and how to request them, facilities to check service status and SLAs, ability to search for FAQ how-to and "fix-it-yourself" articles, interfaces to provision software, services, users and groups automatically,  ability to open and check support incidents online and so on.  Increasingly, more and more transactions are pushed to the web avoiding costly telephone interactions for all but the most essential support tasks.  We also encourage self-support and community with forums and DL archives, plus expert-finder enabled search.

Training and Performance

All our staff have a managed training regime (usually a mix of online CBT, remote instruction and face-to-face training).  Each individuals training plan and completion status is recorded and tracked within our RoleGuide intranet site which then gives each employee a constant view of their training plan and how they are tracking against it along with the ability to take those core online courses whenever they have free time.  This is backed up with a scorecard metric and the management commitment to ensure we get as close to 100% training completion as possible.  Likewise, there is a consistent performance management and review approach enabled by IT using Infopath forms and a portal, so that objectives and attainments are captured and evaluated in a systematic and consistent way to support both individual development aligned to organisational objectives.

Self Service and Business Processes

We have an interesting story around the benefits of digitising our business processes which has been written up and played back many times by our financial teams to individual customers but also to a broader audience at TechEd.  This presentation delves into the detail of a few of our internal projects but some headline things include saving of $7.3 million annually in reassigned resources and reduced transaction cost for procurement by creating a purchasing portal and $3.3 million saved annually and 50% of expense-reporting headcount re-allocated by creating an expenses solution.  There are many other interesting and powerful end user solutions that allow our users to interact with ERP and other business systems more effectively and at lower cost than they did previously.

If this is of interest, please have a look at the resources and/or contact your Microsoft representative and we'd be more that happy to connect you with our internal IT group to talk about self service solutions and how we've done it.

Posted by Phil