What Is an IT Self-Service Portal? +Benefits, Challenges

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In the rapidly-evolving digital landscape, the role of IT in organizations is pivotal and has become more strategic and complex. CIOs and IT teams, the key drivers of this digital shift, constantly seek innovative solutions to improve productivity, operational efficiency, and overall user experience. IT self-service is a digital enablement game-changer among these new, emerging solutions.

But why do organizations need an IT self-service portal? And how can it be optimized for maximum efficiency and user satisfaction? 

This article provides CIOs and IT teams with a comprehensive overview of IT self-service, shedding light on its importance, the functionalities of an IT self-service portal, and the strategies to develop and optimize it. It will serve as a guide, detailing the transformational impact of IT self-service portals on organizational efficiency and employee productivity.

What Is IT Self-Service?

IT self-service is an enterprise service management (ESM) approach that empowers employees to perform routine IT tasks and find answers to their technology support issues independently, reducing their dependency on IT support staff. This paradigm shift comes into play through the use of IT self-service portals.

What’s an IT Self-Service Portal?

IT self-service portals are user-friendly platforms that facilitate and manage a library of technology-related process documentation and tasks such as password resets, software installations, access requests, and more. These portals also house resources like FAQs, internal knowledge bases, and how-to guides, providing a one-stop-shop for employees to resolve their IT issues efficiently, at the moment of need.

An IT self-service portal is made of the follow components

  • Knowledge base includes a comprehensive library of knowledge base articles and how-to documentation.
  • IT service catalog includes a menu of services that an organization’s IT department provides to its employees. It’s a structured, organized directory that details all of the available IT services, including their specifics such as what the service is, how it’s performed, who can request it, how long it will take, and any associated costs. The service catalog may include providing a new laptop to an employee, setting up a server, granting access to a software application, or resetting a password.
  • Search bar functionality that enables employee end-users to search for their contextual IT support issues in a natural, organic manner.
  • Ticket status allows employees visibility into all IT closed and open tickets, their status, all conversation history, versioning, and details.

Why Your Organization Needs an IT Self-Service Portal

People prefer self-service over traditional support channels. While there is less data on employee self-service, data shows that 67% of customers prefer customer self-service over speaking to a customer support agent and another 40% of people who have contacted a customer service center have already searched for the answer to their question via self-search channels.

Outside of clear preferences for self-service solutions, here are six reasons your organization must invest in an IT self-service portal for your employees’ technology and digital support.

1. Enables employees with 24/7 self-service

In the age of digital transformation where operations run round-the-clock, accessing IT support anytime, anywhere, is crucial. An IT self-service portal provides this convenience by offering a 24/7 service platform that doesn’t require a human IT agent to always be available. 

This allows employees to initiate service requests, reset their passwords, locate how-to help documentation, find contextual support, or troubleshoot standard software or digital process issues whenever they need, even outside of regular working hours. 

Furthermore, with remote work increasingly prevalent, the ability to resolve IT issues irrespective of location dramatically enhances operational efficiency.

2. Faster resolution times

With an IT self-service portal, employees can resolve many technology-related issues without needing to wait for a response from an IT agent, which can often take time due to high demand. Providing a repository of how-to guides, knowledge bases, FAQs, and troubleshooting resources, an IT self-service portal empowers employees to solve problems independently, leading to faster time-to-resolution times. 

Additionally, automation features within the support portal can instantly fulfill service requests, such as software installations, share access rights, or identify the contextual process documentation for a specific issue, further reducing the waiting period.

3. Reduces IT cost

By offloading routine, simple tasks to the employees themselves, an IT self-service portal significantly reduces the workload of your IT department, resulting in lower operational costs. Each ticket handled by an IT support staff comes with a cost – from the time taken to address the issue to the administrative efforts in managing the ticketing process.

Automating these tasks through a self-service portal reduces the volume of tickets raised, saving substantial resources which can be directed toward more complex, high-value tasks.

4. More productive IT team and individual agents

Freeing up your IT team from the burden of handling repetitive and simple IT support tasks allows them to focus on more strategic, high-impact projects. Instead of spending time on tasks like password resets or granting access rights, your IT professionals can concentrate on initiatives like system upgrades, security improvements, or digital transformation efforts.

This leads to an overall improvement in your IT team’s productivity and job satisfaction, ultimately contributing to your organization’s digital strategy goals.

5. Better employee experience that enables more productive team members

According to The Digital Group, employee IT self-service improves productivity by 44%, yet only 50% of enterprises have implemented an IT self-service portal for their workplace.

A user-friendly IT self-service portal can significantly enhance the overall digital employee experience. It empowers them by providing the tools and resources to solve their problems, reducing frustration and downtime associated with waiting for IT assistance. This, in turn, leads to more productive team members who can quickly get back to their core tasks instead of being hampered by IT issues. Furthermore, empowerment and autonomy provided by self-serviceability drive employee engagement and morale.

6. Improved adoption of correct processes and workflows

Often, technology has many flows and paths to achieve an outcome or complete a task. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the correct workflow.

IT self-service portals enable employees with contextual help to walk end-users through the correct, most efficient processes and workflows for any task or support issue. This ensures that the most effective approach is adopted, driving productivity and ensuring compliance. It also accelerates IT strategies, leading to faster ROI of new digital transformation projects and technology implementations.

7. Reduces human errors

Automation is a feature of IT self-service portals that helps organizations reduce the chances of human error. When routine tasks are automated, it eliminates the risk of mistakes that can occur when tasks are manually performed by busy IT staff. Whether provisioning software, granting access rights, or configuring systems, automation ensures these tasks are carried out consistently and accurately every time. This improves the quality of IT services and enhances security by preventing errors that could lead to vulnerabilities.

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Above: Enable your employees with contextual user support and accelerate IT adoption with Whatfix's digital adoption platform.

The Whatfix Digital Adoption Platform empowers IT teams to create in-app guidance and self-service user support on all internal desktop, web, and mobile applications. Enable employees with Self Help, which overlays onto your CRM, HCM, ERP, CPQ, and other digital workplace applications. Self Help connects to your process and IT documentation, LMS, video tutorials, onboarding documents, and other IT support-related content to provide employees self-help, at the moment of need. Create additional in-app guidance and pop-ups to contextually guide users through applications and alert them to process changes.

Challenges of Implementing an IT Self-Service Portal

IT self-service portals and strategies require organizations to overcome several IT challenges, including:

  • Organization and Structure: Creating and launching an IT self-service portal requires skills that often live outside of IT teams and more closely resemble UX or content management skillsets. You’ll need to understand what questions to include in your self-service portal, how to tag and categorize your IT support content, and how you’ll display this to end-user employees.
  • Adoption and Engagement: It’s one thing to purchase and implement a self-service IT portal, and it’s a completely different challenge to drive employee adoption of it. You’ll need to evangelize the new implementation to your employees with proper communication, input, and support on properly and efficiently using it.
  • Maintenance: Your IT processes will change over time. That might mean a new digital process due to a change in regulations or IT governance, the need to add new fields to a workflow because of a new product line, or your organization migrating to a new CRM or HCM. Dedicated IT resources to managing and maintaining your IT self-service help center will allow your organization to grow alongside it, not outgrow it.

6 Tips to Develop & Optimize Your IT Self-Service Portal

Your organization will need more than a software implementation plan to drive results from your IT self-service investment. Here are six best practices and tips for launching a new IT self-service portal that enables your employees with contextual user self-support.

1. Curate and organize your IT help and performance support content

Your IT team must first locate, curate, and organize your internal IT support content, how-to guides, video tutorials, and any other type of employee documentation or resource. Depending on your company’s current knowledge management, this may mean exporting Google Docs from your Drive or SharePoint, or copying over IT and performance support content from your internal wiki

When adding IT support content to your self-service portal, you’ll also want to add proper categorization and tagging that will scale as your organization grows, and that will enable employees to navigate through your IT self-service portal and location any help documentation.

2. Identify common tier-0 and tier-1 support issues that lack documentation

Next, identify all common IT support questions and reasons behind support tickets. You can start to deflect support tickets by creating IT support articles on these common issues that will enable employees to resolve their issues independently.

Examples may include:

  • How do I change my email password?
  • How do I insert an email signature?
  • How do I update my personal information in our HCM?
  • What holidays do US employees receive time off for?
  • How do I submit an IT support ticket?
  • How do I complete my performance review?
  • How do I access shared accounts?
  • How do I submit an expense?
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3. Build IT support workflow automations

All your IT support questions won’t be deflected by your self-service portal. There will always exist unique, complex employee IT issues that are contextual or one-offs. When employees submit IT support requests, you must set up workflow automations and rules. Audit your current processes and map out how different IT requests will be routed, who will be responsible for certain tickets, and more.

4. Embed your IT self-service center into your digital applications with a digital adoption platform

An adoption challenge of implementing IT self-service portals is driving awareness of the new investment, as well as getting employees engaged inside the platform. To overcome this, invest in a digital adoption platform (DAP).

A DAP like Whatfix overlays onto your digital applications, providing real-time support for the digital workplace, no matter where your employees are.

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Do your AEs have questions on sales processes? With a DAP like Whatfix, you can embed your IT self-service portal directly into your CRM.

Are people managers struggling with their performance reviews? You can embed your IT help portal directly into your HCM to provide moment-of-need support.

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A DAP integrates with all your IT support documentation, from your self-service portal, SharePoint, process documentation, Google Drive and Docs, internal wiki, and more – providing contextual support, at the moment of need, where employees need it. Employees are shown contextual IT documentation and performance support related to where they are in an application and their role. It also provides a search bar to find answers to any questions they may have.

Explore DAP employee use cases from real Whatfix customers.

We explore 25+ DAP uses cases that enable and support employees on their CRM, ERP, HCM, and more.

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5. Use various content types in your IT support portal

VARK styles of learning state that different types of people retain information better in certain formats. Some people prefer text-based documentation, others video, and others in-person coaching.

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Create a variety of IT self-help content formats to enable any type of learning style your individual employees may have. Use long-form how-to articles, embed videos, provide links to download or export documentation, and use screenshots and screen recordings.

6. Continuously monitor your IT self-service center to identify new help topics

Your IT team will need to continuously manage and maintain your IT self-service center as you implement new technologies, track the adoption of new processes, change workflows, add new employees, etc.

With advanced IT self-service portals, like Whatfix, IT teams are empowered with search history analytics, data, and IT metrics to uncover insights into what are the most searched IT questions, what the rate of self-help success is, spot emerging widespread IT support issues that need documentation, and identify gaps in your IT self-service documentation that your team should create new IT performance support content on.

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Enable your employees with self-help IT support at the moment of need with Whatfix’s digital adoption platform

Whatfix enables employees to use software and technology to their full potential, accelerating digital transformation and change adoption, driving employee productivity, reducing support costs, and enabling organizations to drive ROI from its digital strategy and investments.

With Whatfix, IT teams can create in-app guidance such as product tours, interactive process walkthroughs, smart tips, pop-ups, task lists, field validations, and more – all overlaying on to your desktop, web, and mobile applications.

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Whatfix Self Help provides organizations with an IT self-service portal solution that embeds on any application across your entire digital workplace – from your email, CRM, HCM, ERP, website, and more – enabling real-time contextual support at the moment of need.

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Whatfix also tracks user behavioral data and product usage analytics to provide insights into how technology and digital processes are being used and adopted, to identify friction points, extract trends among different user groups, analyze user flows and journeys, and more.

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What Is Whatfix?
Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that provides organizations with a no-code editor to create in-app guidance on any application that looks 100% native. With Whatfix, create interactive walkthroughs, product tours, task lists, smart tips, field validation, self-help wikis, hotspots, and more. Understand how users are engaging with your applications with advanced product analytics.
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Software Clicks With Whatfix
Whatfix's digital adoption platform empowers your employees, customers, and end-users with in-app guidance, reinforcement learning, and contextual self-help support to find maximum value from software.

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