Agricultural Financial Services Corporation
Onboarding an ITSM solution for a governmental organization in the middle of a pandemic
Have you ever heard of an IT service desk that took away their phone number? Let alone in a global pandemic? Agricultural Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) did just that. Laurie Morrow, Supervisor for Digital Services, Foundations & Operations, shares her experience implementing TOPdesk during COVID, and how she and her team helped transform their organization’s culture from being IT-dependent to excelling at self-service practices.
By bringing in TOPdesk, it was our goal to become a self-service organization.
What are some challenges AFSC faced with the previous way of working in the IT department?
“Our previous tool was mainly used for tracking,” says Laurie Morrow, Supervisor for Digital Services, Foundations & Operations. “It was not used to its full capabilities to serve clients.”
Before implementing TOPdesk, AFSC was wasting a lot of time logging incidents at the service desk. Employees were either calling or emailing their problems, and operators were responsible for tracking them.
“The operators were having to log the calls themselves, and the solution was used for tracking only – no processes were well-documented or followed. This obviously ends in a lot of overhead.”
With no processes in place, AFSC was making more work for themselves. They knew they needed a change, but to do so, the whole organization needed to be on board and ready to adapt to not only the new software, but to a different culture as a whole.
“We were really thrilled to see TOPdesk come in, and we decided to get on board as an organization, because we needed to be more efficient – we needed to be better,” explains Morrow. “By bringing in TOPdesk, it was our goal to become a self-service organization.”
June is the busiest time of year in the agriculture industry. AFSC went live with TOPdesk during this time, making it difficult to train the staff and encourage them to partake – let alone the operators. But the team made it work by having a plan and strong leadership presence.
True change means changing the culture
“What I believe we’re most proud of, is the fact we got the organization to self-serve,” says Morrow. “We helped change the culture.”
It was no easy feat. A lot of time and effort was invested to ensure implementation was a success. The most important initiative? A plan.
“We had to embrace and organize change management. We had to have a plan in place prior to launching TOPdesk. We hosted ‘lunch-and-learns’, town halls, recorded sessions, and we launched a collaboration tool with Microsoft Teams.”
But AFSC had to ensure this continued, and that the organization was invested in the software. They needed to help their colleagues truly believe in why TOPdesk would benefit them.
“We had continual improvement, where we looked at our processes, threw out what wasn’t working and brought in some quick wins, and certainly some more long-term ones, which we’re still working on today. Enterprise-wide, we needed everyone to work on this,” explains Morrow. “Bringing in a new tool, you need the whole organization behind you.”
Fit the software to your needs to gain buy-in
“Internally, TOPdesk was renamed to ‘SPOT’ which stands for Service, People, Office, Technology. At the ‘Weekly Roundup’, we took the opportunity to add SPOT tips and tricks into articles. This really helped with the awareness and uptake.”
ASFC made TOPdesk their own. By renaming and marketing the software, gaining buy-in from the organization was a smoother transition. To help expedite the process, AFSC enforced some immediate changes which directly impacted callers’ behaviours.
“We took away the phone number! They couldn’t call to reach us directly. We previously had an email address they could reach out to. We stopped the e-mail function too. If they used it, they got an email warning saying it wasn’t available and to log a SPOT ticket,” says Morrow. “It all came down to embracing the culture, changing behaviours, and encouraging callers to log a SPOT ticket, all on their own.”
AFSC has shown one of the most successful self-service transitions from a cultural perspective. As a typical standard for TOPdesk, there is a customer uptake benchmark of about 50% for the self-service portal. AFSC managed to get their uptake to above 80%.
Helping the organization become self-sufficient came with its challenges. Warning emails didn’t make the implementation team that popular. But the team pushed through.
“Of course, there was resistance,” says Morrow. “We launched this in one of the busiest times of the year, when the client is the priority. I have to say, you couldn’t do this without an executive leadership behind it.”
Strong leadership was an important factor not only within the IT department, but also across the whole organization.
“Every department needed a leadership team to enforce the change as well,” explains Morrow. “You have to be the change that you want to see.”
Typically, anything you put in, you’re looking at about an 80/20 success rate. The 20% is where we break down, and we needed TOPdesk to capture that.
Long-term benefits for everyone? Spend more time and effort at the start
“We had multiple initiatives going on. TOPdesk was key in being able to support all these initiatives,” says Morrow. “Typically, anything you put in, you’re looking at about an 80/20 success rate. The 20% is where we break down, and we needed TOPdesk to capture that. This way, we could continue to get our warranties out of our other initiatives, keep the flow moving and our services alive.”
Knowing TOPdesk could help the efficiency of AFSC’s service operations, this was only part of the puzzle. For the software to take full effect, it was important for the organization to learn how to use it.
“Training-wise, we had two different audiences”, says Morrow. “We had the user audience and the operator audience. In retrospect, the latter, more process-side audience, was not focused on as much. It should have been. That’s where we got clumsy. We went through the processes, threw away what wasn’t working and brought in things that were working and enforced them.”
The team quickly realized the time invested would ensure a successful implementation and a long-term payoff for the organization. Learning the tool and changing the culture would help AFSC reach their service goals.
“We dedicated a full-time role to this project. When you purchase any software, you get out of it what you invest in it. We had to invest time and resources.”
Do you have advice on how can you improve service delivery overall?
1: “Stop what’s taking up your resource time! You must stop things, and you must start things. We have a culture in which we have to change the behaviours.
2: Embrace the cloud! It has given us more freedom, especially in a time when people are working from home.
3: Best practices: train staff and hold them accountable.
4: Make sure you have reporting, because then you have tangible metrics that matter.”
Where do you see the future of the service management industry transitioning?
“For us it’s new, but service delivery is more off-site now; it’s not so much brick and mortar. Modernization of technology – we’re probably going to see desk phones move away, move more into telephoney.”
Since you’re a Crown Corporation with federal/provincial mandates, what are some of the priorities AFSC has, or the challenges it faces?
“Priority–wise, what more can we get out of TOPdesk? We are moving to the cloud rapidly. We need to be able to integrate, keep up, and expand value out of the tool itself. We want to embrace it.”