In the summer of 2006, DSM introduced ITsat® to measure and improve global user satisfaction with IT. After three years, ITsat is not only ‘the client’s voice’ but also the instrument to link the indoor world of SLAs to the outdoor world. How has DSM benefited from ITsat? What does a business need to do to improve satisfaction? Ruud Neeskens bears the worldwide responsibility for DSM’s Global ICT Services and is closely involved in ITsat.
Should you treat users as clients?
“Yes, as clients must always serve as the benchmark for service companies. You need to know the effects of your actions. There is a strong tendency in IT to look outwards from inwards. Achieving the KPIs does not automatically imply that you are doing your work properly. Who are we doing it for? We need to look more inwards from outwards. Although SLAs remain important, it’s also necessary to manage on output. It’s necessary to give continual consideration to the reasons why satisfaction increases or decreases. Managing this is extremely complex. You really need to know whether there’s a problem before you see it in the management reports. ITsat ensures that you do. Measuring satisfaction, in particular after the moment of truth – such as the implementation of a change – is indicative. It’s a form of early-warning system. Users will want to do their work properly, whilst managers will want their business to go well and, consequently, minimize lost production hours. Users will usually be dissatisfied with an implemented SAP change because something went wrong and the change caused an incident that then impacted the continuity of the operations. This means that user satisfaction surveys are of great importance to the management of service chains: they are not simply a ‘tick in the box’.
How quickly can you see that something is going wrong?
“Very quickly. We saw, for example a sudden decline in satisfaction in Latin America. However, the reports and SLAs still didn’t show anything. Although the KPIs such as average time to answer had been achieved, satisfaction had fallen very sharply. We were able to tell our service provider’s account team that they had a problem at the central service desk in Mexico City before they had discovered it for themselves. A number of key figures had left and the transfer of knowledge had been unsatisfactory. Incidents had not then been resolved in the appropriate manner. As a result, the incident-to-resolution process chain has suffered. It was necessary to call users back because the diagnosis was not correct and too much was going wrong. We saw that immediately in the user-satisfaction reports, which are broken down by region. We often see that ITsat reveals a problem before the SLA reports.”
Why are you so insistent about a high level of user satisfaction?
“It’s Chefsache, responsibility at the top. I can’t give the service desk the overall responsibility for the improvement of the entire service chain. Management bears the overall responsibility for the design and improvement of the service chain, from start to finish together with all internal and external links. Continual efforts need to be made to improve satisfaction. A service organization is never finished with improvements. It’s necessary to be open, as a problem can also have an internal dimension. It’s necessary to repeatedly review how things could be done better at every level, from operational to strategic. ITsat keeps us clean.”
Royal DSM creates innovative Life Sciences and Materials Sciences products and services that contribute to the quality of life. DSM has an annual turnover of €7.7 billion and offers work to some 22,750 employees all over the world. DSM has its head office in the Netherlands and branches in five continents.
What is the value of the measurements to the business?
“Everyone understands a satisfaction measurement. During the past years we have worked hard on the improvement of the overall IT score from a meagre 6 to an 8. We are now on the way to wow level, when both users and managers are proud of their IT organization. You can’t allow your attention to slacken for a second. If we do nothing for a couple of months we will not only be confronted with a lower satisfaction score, but also a drop in confidence. Consequently, annual measurements are not enough. Moreover, measuring with the primary objective of determining the bonus of IT managers serves no purpose. You shouldn’t begin with the remuneration system, but with the definition of performance. That is in part the client’s perception. When you don’t now how you improved from a 6 to a 7 and from a 7 to 8 then you’re sailing with your eyes closed and the achievement of the bonus is nothing more than a lottery.
Do you use ITsat to call your suppliers to account?
“No, that’s too defensive and too simplistic. It’s not a stick, it’s an instrument for improvements. It’s necessary to ensure that suppliers do not enter denial but instead cooperate actively in the improvement of their processes. The user isn’t interested in who supplies the service or solves the problem. We, Corporate IT, are to blame when it goes wrong. That’s even more so with the senior management, who say ‘You arranged the outsourcing, so you manage it’. You must assume the responsibility. The last thing you should do is try and shift the responsibility and claim that it’s the service providers’ job, not yours.”
“You need to make sure that suppliers do not enter denial but instead cooperate actively in the improvement of their processes. The user isn’t interested in who supplies the service or solves the problem.”
Does the business accept the rising figures?
“Yes, but it’s not always easy to acknowledge it. ‘You can only do poorly’, that’s the basic attitude of many in the business. Some business managers have that impression, and then they’re surprised that the IT isn’t actually too bad. There are tens of thousands of transactions between Corporate IT and the business, and then there will always be problems with a couple. When the demand manager is subsequently confronted with the escalation it’s no more than human that he will take it into account when forming his opinion. ‘OK, the users might award you a score of 7, but I have people coming to me who really hate you lot’, that’s sometimes the initial reaction. We need to adopt the right approach to that, but as we can measure user satisfaction we are also in a better position to manage the emotions – and, consequently, the expectations. ITsat enables us to quantify and to demonstrate what we are doing properly and what we are not doing properly.”
About DSM IC
• A staff of more than 500 provide support to 19,000 workplaces
• More than 180 sites in 48 countries, divided into 3 regions
• Many mobile end users
• High level of standardization
• 10,000 SAP users in some 1600 business application
• Services are both outsourced and insourced
How do you position ITsat with all the methods used by IT organisations?
“ITsat is of a completely different order. ISO, ITIL and other methods specify ‘what’ you must organize and, on occasion, also ‘how’. However, this certainly does not guarantee that you client appreciates your service. You could have a perfect process with ISO certification for the production of life jackets filled with concrete, but shipwreck victims are still going to drown. In the first instance, it’s all about the output. You then use this output and measurements of client satisfaction to work on your work processes, your organization and your staff. You can’t insist that your service must be good because you do everything in accordance with a process method or quality framework. They do help, but they’re not enough on their own.”
How do you communicate the results?
“You must broadcast the findings. You mustn’t say ‘See, we’re doing it properly’, you must say ‘We’re making progress’. You need to make improvements slightly faster than your customers expect and, above all, you must be open. IT is traditionally not very strong in communication. We often do not say why something is not feasible or what we are working hard on at present. When clients are dissatisfied about an element of your service it will help a lot when you make sure that they know you’re working on it and you keep them informed about your progress.”
Does a higher level of user satisfaction reduce costs?
“Yes, you need to ask yourself when a user is a satisfied client. Users want to be helped quickly and receive an adequate solution for their problem. Solving things quickly is, obviously, cheaper. Service processes that take too long are also often more expensive due to miscommunication and working at cross purposes. The costs fall when you tackle a point of dissatisfaction by improving your processes. Friction, errors and frustration all result in wasted costs. Suppliers really need to bear this in mind, so that they also appreciate that they can generate revenue by managing on user satisfaction. Service providers benefit from more satisfied users as it yields them income. Service processes include a lot of concealed costs. The best and fastest process with the fewest errors is often also the most economical process.”
What’s the bottom line?
“ITsat has enabled me to reduce my sourcing governance in various locations in my regional organization by no less than 40%. A lot of the work consisted of identifying problems. On occasion, that resembled looking for a needle in a haystack. It often also involved a great deal of work on solutions that weren’t the solution. ITsat enables us to make a quicker and better diagnosis. That in turn avoids a lot of guesswork and discussion. Everyone is at the ready, and instead of pointing at each other we and the service providers go for the solution. The savings are in part achieved by reducing the costs you don’t really want to incur. Avoiding an incident is the most economical approach, as it doesn’t cost anything. Moreover, an incident you solve first time right isn’t going to recur. Our first time right has increased from 70% to more than 95%. As a result, the number of tickets per user per annum has been reduced from 9.6 to 7: equivalent to a total of about 50,000 tickets per annum. Those are great savings, achieved with a smart approach. A higher FTR is reflected in the improved satisfaction scores. ITsat also reduces the overall TCO. Savings of 10% are certainly feasible, but only when you really manage on user satisfaction. That’s not going to increase by itself.”
“ITsat enables us to make a quicker and better diagnosis. That in turn avoids a lot of guesswork and discussion. Everyone is at the ready, and instead of pointing at each other we and the service providers go for the solution.”
Has ITsat had an effect on your third-generation outsourcing?
“Yes, when we succeed in cutting the work for the service desk by half we also pay half. And the reverse is also true. We assume the risks, including the risks associated with changes, migrations and incidents. When our actions result in instability and, as a result, a flood of work for the service desk it’s not possible to insist that you will continue to pay a fixed amount per seat or per user. In some contracts you pay for input, such as per call or per change. The service provider will then have no interest at all in reducing the work. In other contracts a service has a fixed price irrespective of the quantity, such as the price per seat. You will then pay too much or too little. When you pay too much you won’t hear a thing, but they’ll contact you immediately when you pay too little, for example when the number of incidents is much higher than had been assumed in the contract. We now have a model in which we at DSM are responsible for the amount of work that is caused but also receive the savings when we can achieve satisfied clients with less work. ITsat then serves as a catalyst.”
About DSM and ITsat®
DSM uses ITsat in weekly interviews of small numbers of end users via the Internet, who are then requested to give their general opinion of the IT services. A portion of all closed incidents, standard service requests (SSRs) and changes (RFC’s) are also evaluated each week. The communications with end users are in 12 languages. Summary reports generated once a month give an insight into the level of satisfaction and indicate where improvements are desirable. DSM also uses weekly detail reports to approach individual users who are not satisfied with closed tickets.