How to Calculate the ROI of Self-Service Operations

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Dawn van Hoegaerden     February 14, 2018 Self-Service Operations, Featured
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Companies are moving to self-service operations as a way to increase agility by reducing the friction of ticket queues and cross-department dependencies. Actions are moved to be within the reach of those who need them. Calculating the return on investment of self-service operations will always vary from company to company as each business operates in a unique environment.

Generally, self-service operations has proven to be a crucial element in enabling operations teams to lower their support costs while simultaneously increasing their responsiveness and agility.

Self-service operations enables organizations to safely shift operations activities, such as the ability to take action by calling an API or pushing a button, closer to the party in need.

Implementing self-service operations not only clearly benefits operations teams, but also boosts the productivity of the teams they serve or interact with––improving overall business performance.

High-performing companies that are already running this design pattern have shown that the benefits accrued by each constituent group served by the operations team compound over time, strengthening the entire organization.

And while self-service operations ROI will always be organization-specific, here are a few methods that are applicable in most companies.

Based on three key metrics, these methods include measuring the ROI benefits to the teams doing operations work, measuring the ROI benefits to the teams outside operations, and measuring the ROI benefits at the business level:

1. Calculating ROI benefits for teams doing operations support work

The operations team is the first beneficiary of self-service operations, and as such, their ROI benefits can be measured directly. They include:

  • Decrease in incident response time

A self-service operations design pattern, can drastically reduce the time to address incidents (also known as Mean Time to Repair). The operations team has the power to take action and address incidents, or delegate the repair to the appropriate party, reducing the time required to resolve them. In traditional operations patterns, request queues to resolve incidents cause delays and a long response time which is unhealthy to the economics of the business.

  • Decrease in errors and rework

Traditional operations patterns often result in the formation of silo structures, separating Dev and Ops––which means increased errors and the need for rework. Self-service operations enables greater consistency within the operations team and fewer errors/rework.

  • Increase in the total support volume handled

By enabling those closest to the problem to succeed through a self-service operations design pattern, operations teams can handle more than with a traditional operations approach.

  • Decrease wait time for response from escalations

The objective of self-service operations is a pattern which strives to put as much control as possible into the hands of the requesting party. A person or team can therefore take actions when they need to, rather than wait for others to take action for them. This greatly reduces escalation response time. 

  • Increase operations support tasks that other teams can handle

Through self-service operations, more teams outside the operations department can handle operations support tasks because the design pattern enables delegation of many repeatable tasks. The operations team benefits through increased capacity to handle support tasks, and a reduced workload provided by delegation.

2. ROI benefits for teams outside the operations support team

Teams outside the operations support teams also benefit massively from the self-service operations design pattern:

  • Decrease in the number of escalations

The traditional operations approach––where the teams outside the operations support have to wait for the operations support team to take action––can be problematic and frustrating. This approach causes increased interruptions and context switching, which may lead to escalations. However, self-service operations minimizes or totally eliminates these escalations.

  • Decrease in wait time for completion of tasks by operations support teams

Delegating the power to handle tasks directly to teams outside the operations support team reduces wait time by removing the middle man. It empowers other teams to safely take action and complete tasks without operations assistance.

  • Decrease in problems resulting from problematic or incorrect handoffs

Problematic or incorrect handoffs are a major reason for mismatches in operations, as each side of the hand-off may unknowingly be operating in a different arena. Each side may think the other side has the same information, or is using the same process and tools, while that may not be the case. This results in poorly planned work, errors, and plenty of rework. Fortunately, the self-service operations design pattern reduces these issues.

3. ROI benefits at the business level

Measuring the ROI of self-service operations at the business level yields significant results for most companies. Benefits include:

  • Decrease in total operations support costs

Delegating support tasks to teams outside the operations support team, reduces support costs––as there is an increased capacity to handle more tasks without the need to hire additional operations staff. Fewer errors, inconsistencies, interruptions, and even unplanned work also mean lower overall costs for operations support.

  • Decrease in time to market

Self-service operations also ensures a quicker cycle time and less schedule spillage, which guarantees a quick time to market as compared to traditional siloed operations.

What are the costs of delays and queues in operations?

Delays and queues in operations are largely responsible for unnecessary wastes of time and money. For organizations that rely on  request queues to manage work, it’s nearly impossible to keep these queues short according to the queuing theory. This means that the organization will have to bear the attendant negative economic and productivity effects of lengthy queues.

While the waiting, errors, bottlenecks, and even rework associated with request queues can cause operations to be far more expensive than planned or required, it’s the costs associated with delays that can have an adverse effect on a company’s finances.

For every single delay introduced into a company’s operations, there is a subsequent effect of slowing how fast a business can react to the market, as well as how fast the business can deliver to its customers.

Although the individual effect of delay may seem negligible, in a company with a tangled network of request queues, the delays add up quickly.

For a more detailed guide on the holistic view of Operations as a Service, which is the ultimate goal of Self-Service Operations, read through our guide here.

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Dawn van Hoegaerden

Dawn is the Vice President of Marketing at Rundeck, Inc.

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