The Benefits and Potential Pitfalls of IT Self-Service


Organizations are increasing their use of self-service tools to streamline help desk operations. Most IT self-service tools focus on the automation of manual processes related to password resets and other common identity management tasks. Given that approximately 80 percent of all help desk calls are related to password resets, self-service reduces the strain on the help desk and the number of personnel required to provide this kind of support.

According to a new survey of 25,000 service desk professionals by Ivanti and the Service Desk Institute, the adoption of self-service and self-help tools has increased since the study was conducted in 2013. Today, 74 percent of service desk professionals use self-service (a 10 percent increase from 2013), and 58 percent offer their users self-help.

The largest motivation driving the implementation of self-service and self-help is “improving services to the end-user.” Survey respondents cited several benefits of these services, including a “better user experience,” “reduced call volume,” “24×7 support,” and a “better perception of the service desk.”

However, the study found that uptake on the end-user side is slow, with 83 percent of users preferring to call the help desk rather than use self-service, and 88 percent preferring to call the help desk over using self-help. Respondents overwhelmingly claimed this was due to a preference for “the human touch.”

Changing this preference is a challenge. Service desk professionals struggle to build an understanding of the role of self-help and self-service tools. Their efforts are complicated by time pressures and the ingrained perceptions of users. Time is the biggest obstacle to implementing self-service and self-help, and a lack of perceived value among end-users is also a major impediment.

Organizations should consider this research when implementing self-service tools and make sure they are solving the right problems at the right cost. Self-service can reduce the cost of Level 1 support such as password resets, but many issues still require interaction with help desk staff. Putting too much emphasis on self-service tools will limit the return on investment (ROI) of such technology investments and can actually increase costs.

It’s also important to understand the level of investment required. In addition to the tools and services, self-service requires ongoing maintenance of the automated processes and knowledge base in light of changes to the IT environment and feedback from users.

Security concerns are another important part of the equation. Organizations need to ensure that self-service tools don’t compromise security. This might seem obvious when automating existing workflows for processes such as password resets. However, the human beings involved in manual workflows still have the ability to make decisions, and the associated logic might need to be included in the self-service application.

Some additional tips:

  • Think through what could happen if the user owns the process. You might find that certain workflows are inappropriate for self-service.
  • Make sure there are adequate checks and balances around self-service processes. While users might be able to control the operational aspects of identity management, IT needs to maintain appropriate authority over identity data.
  • Implement self-service in a phased transition. The initial rollout might uncover unexpected issues that impact user productivity or the IT environment.


Clango can help you develop a strategic approach to identity management that incorporates self-service tools where appropriate. Contact us to start the conversation! Please send us an email at (

Leave a Comment