How to reduce the number of incidents caused by user training

By ITIL® from Experience©

In some organizations the Service Desk answers a lot of calls caused by a lack of user education or user error. While the majority of these calls are easy to answer, the full potential of the Service Desk specialists and their technical skills are not being used. They also tax their patience to the point where some call centers develop a culture whereby users are referred as: ID-10T1 , that the problem is between the chair and the keyboard2 , the problem is sitting 12 inches from the monitor, etc. Sometimes one "regular" user stands out and is ridiculed behind the scene:

  • Guess who just called?
  • Oh you got Mr. X again. What did he do this time?
  • Well he……
  • Yup, he gets the “Turkey award”

In some organizations, new users are shown by a peer in a one-on-one knowledge transfer session. Other organizations favor help on as-needed-basis. While these methods may foster good rapport between employees, they are usually not very effective training in how to properly use a system. Most of the time bad habits are passed down from one user to the next resulting in improper system use that violate policies, process and business rules. It also leads to interruptions and loss of productivity by both the user and the helper.

To reduce incidents caused by the lack of user education, implement a policy whereby users are only given access after they have received training. The following needs to be addressed to implement this policy:

  1. Who will prepare the training material or at least the agenda/teaching points that needs to be covered?
  2. How long must the training be to cover the material/agenda
  3. Are resources available to deliver the training given everything else that needs to be done?
  4. Who has the necessary adult education skills to deliver training and the business knowledge to address process and business related questions?

In addition managers will be reluctant to have an employee wait to be trained to have access to the system claiming loss of productivity. Hence, senior management support is a critical success factor for this initiative. To reduce resistance, try not to pre-schedule training sessions. Instead deliver sessions on demand to avoid having new users wait a long time to have access.

To be successful, start with one system. A system you own and administer, like the ITSM tool. Since you are the business owner you have the authority to enforce the policy whereby: “No account is given until the user received an orientation provided by the Service Desk or the team responsible to administer the tool.” Incorporate the training to the account creation process3 or the employee on-boarding process. The first task is to create the account in a training environment/database. The next task is to schedule training with the user. Once the training is complete the production/live environment account is activated and the service request is completed. Once implemented, prepare reports showing the success of this approach and to measure the improvement.

Next, engage another system owner that would be receptive to such a policy and approach. Make sure to have a couple of systems covered by this policy before tackling the system causing the most incidents since an underlying design issue may be uncovered which may stall the implementation of the policy.

Sometimes a system is easy to use and doesn’t require training. Don't fall to the temptation of making an exception to the policy. For simple systems replacing the training by sending a User Guide, an FAQ or Quick Reference Card and follow up two days later by a phone call to ask the user if they have questions and to offer a one-on-one coaching session could be considered.

Problem Management proactively prevents incidents from happening and minimizes the impact of incidents that cannot be prevented.”4 This approach is an effective problem management method to reduce incidents caused by a lack of user education.


More on Incident Management

ITIL Process > Incident Management
ITIL Process > Service Desk

3 An account creation process is a good candidate to be automated by the ITSM tool since granting access is usually straightforward and in some cases the account can be created with the use of scripts launched from the tool’s workflow.


Copyright 2012, 2013 - ITIL® from Experience - D.Matte