Gamification in Service Management Guide7 Steps to Success


Communication, engagement and educationGamification programs frequently meet with resistance because people don’t understand them – so it’s vital to be clear on what gamification is, how it works, and the benefits, before you launch any technology. Understand your audience. Generation Y and Millennials are familiar with the concepts and language of gamification, but Baby Boomers and Generation X are usually less familiar and more prone to skepticism. If you can join the dots between business problems, game mechanics and user rewards, people will understand the broader purpose and, crucially, what’s in it for them.

Start with the business objectivesOne of the most frequently used definitions of gamification is “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in nongame contexts to engage users in solving problems”. Solving problems is the key phrase here. A gamification program has to begin with a clear purpose. Start with the problems and look at how gamification can help solve them. Be as specific as possible - this will help you to map problems to the behaviors you need to encourage. For example, if the service desk is suffering an excessive number of SLA breaches, creating incentives for closing incidents within the SLA period will create more of a sense of urgency. It’s better to reward good performance than punish poor performance. Whichever challenges you are facing, it’s important to start small. Attempting a complex gamification program before users and administrators are ready means it’s likely to collapse under its own weight.

Identify target behaviorsBefore you even think about gamification technology you need to understand what good performance looks like; what behaviors combine to get the results you need. Generally, in the context of the service desk and IT operations these behaviors fall into two buckets: process adherence and activity performance. To get quality output from people you need them to follow a quality process. You also need them to execute process steps quickly and efficiently. A systematic examination of underperforming processes will throw light onto where behaviors need to be improved.

Incentivize behaviorsHaving identified your desired behaviors it’s time to map those behaviors to specific game mechanics in a tailored game model that articulates what users will do, why, and how they will be rewarded. This is what you are going to implement. There is no off-the-shelf game model, as the challenges of each organization are unique, so building a game model that will work for your organization is a vital part of the process.

Deploy technologyNow (and only now) are you ready to look at gamification tools. Having defined a game model - including desired behaviors and the mechanics which will drive those behaviors - you will be in a good position to evaluate tools against these requirements. Gamification is absolutely core to the user experience, so game mechanics will only work for IT operations if the gamification engine is a native part of your ITSM solution. Integrating third party gamification engines into complex ITSM solutions introduces unnecessary implementation, integration, maintenance and usability headaches.

Drive adoptionGamification is a useful tool for driving the adoption of change - whether that is technology change, or cultural change (both are founded on behavioral change). The number one factor for adoption is education: do users understand what it’s for and how it works? Most digital natives (Generation Y and Millennials) are familiar with game mechanics, but older demographics will need training. Understanding your user audience is the key to designing an effective training and adoption program. The system itself should be intuitive and frictionless; not adding overheads on top of the work that people are already doing. Gamification is inherently social and open – people have visibility of each other’s activity – so the early adopters will help to show everybody else the way.

Measure and iterateMeasuring gamification means measuring three things: engagement levels, activity and results. By measuring engagement you can pin-point who is or isn’t involved – and devise strategies for extending engagement into those groups. By monitoring activity you can drive continual improvement in the way you manage your gamification program (which challenges are people picking up and which are being “left on the shelf”?). Measuring KPIs against activity helps you to link your gamification program to business performance, proving the case for continued investment in gamification.



The Foundations of Gamification

The Impact of Gamification