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September 23, 2010

34% of users feel let down by IT when it comes to software

Some low-hanging fruit that could be a simple way to save money and improve sentiment?

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Know how much provisioning your end users with software apps actually costs? Some good CIOs will be able to answer to the pound, a lot would struggle. New research commissioned by energy management software player 1E gives some interesting clues as to how much does get spent this way – and how much different approaches could get back.

The basic idea is self-service – getting users to provide themselves with their own software apps, and 1E used the research to quite legitimately push the latest (release v3.2) of its ‘Shopping’ portal, used by a variety of organisations as we will see in a minute. But the research first.

The study into IT help desk efficiency was carried out last month and encompassed 1,000 US and UK based professionals from medium to large organisations (defined as 500-3,000 employees) from a broad range of departments, including senior and middle management, sales, marketing and operations. Users, in other words.

And it seems that help desks – and thus IT as a whole – aren’t doing a very good job at helping them. The majority – 52% – say they may have to wait up to a week or more for the apps they need. Almost as many, 51%, say they always have to chase their request and 4% reportedly never get the software they’ve requested.

Plus, almost three quarters (73%) have to either phone (37%) or email (36%) their internal IT/helpdesk in order to get the apps they need (and we have to do more of that in the UK – 79%, versus the US’ 67%).

A fraction, only 7%, say they are currently able to get the software they need in under an hour, one in ten have no idea of any process they may need to follow to request new software in their own organisation (8% UK, 9% US). Perhaps no wonder that 34% told the researchers they feel that they get little or no value from the money the IT department spends on them.

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And frankly – the money matters. "Gartner says it can cost an average of $50 per call to a help desk," the firm’s product manager Richard Cudd told CBR. "There’s a disconnect here between what the business feels it is paying for and what it’s getting."

1E obviously feels self-service is the answer; it points to case studies of its portal, such as agricultural technology firm Syngenta which said each request for software was costing between $30 and $50; a switch to making the users do it cut that by an average of $40 – a saving of $1.8m a year.

An internal enterprise apps store like Shopping works by setting up a structure that enables users to search for and download the packages they need. This approach can even save time and money by allowing temps to ‘rent’ stuff for a very short time; when that need ends there is an internal licence adjustment so that the right number of things are being paid for.

But the obvious problem is clear – control. What’s to stop the user either going mad here or maybe worse, never using the systems the CIO wants them to? Players like 1E (and Microsoft, which is looking at something similar) say that if the thing is set up so that there is an element of permission – people in certain job roles only see the right apps, you can only use stuff that is part of your proper workflow, managers always sign-off on what is used – this problem goes away, at least on paper.

Self-service software purchasing is the other side of SaaS – it’s the delivery model that should be in your company inside the firewall. It could be a way of saving you a lot of time. If you’re still not convinced, then consider that in this poll 69% of UK users are not aware of the cost of software when they request it.

Yes – ouch. That could be a lot of waste in a time when no-one wants to be seen not being top of easy wins when it comes to budget control, surely?


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