In ITIL v3 there are now 4 functions Service desk, Technical management, Application management and IT operations management. The Service Desk, nevertheless cannot be understated how critical it is to the success of any IT organization. Ever-increasing Customer demands and the globalization of companies, requires the delivery of a world-class service. The service in turn provides major competitive advantage and is becoming the difference between success and failure. Efficient high quality support of the computing infrastructure and its Customers is critical to the achievement of corporate business goals.
To achieve their IT service support and associated business objectives many organisations have adopted the Service Desk approach. This provides a central point of contact for handling customer and user issues along with others related to IT service provision.
Customers and users call the Service Desk when an Incident occurs or when they have a query or issue. The Service Desk provides a single contact point for Customers and Users and is there to log, track and manage any issues that are brought to its attention. It will normally use software or Service Management Tools to support its activities, as a paper-based approach is usually impractical in all but the smallest of organisations. It will typically provide first level IT service support and accurate management reports on various aspects of IT service provision (including Incident and Problem Management statistics).
The Service Desk will provide immediate feedback for severe and business critical Incidents, or daily, weekly monthly feedback as required. The Incident, Problem and ITIL Change Management lifecycles can also be co-ordinated or driven through the front line of the Service Desk.
Anyone in the organisation should be able to log an Incident at any time. The first impressions of Customers, Users and management of the service provided by the Service Desk could include:
- Clearly improves the quality of the IT service provision
- Effective in resolving queries, Incidents and Problems
- A point of human contact that is seen as knowledgeable and capable
- Provides timely responses to queries, Incidents and Problems as defined in SLAs
- Provides reliable information that improves staff confidence and reduces conflicts
- Gives the impression that the business is making the best use of its IT Services
It is essential to have the ability to log the Incidents in a central database or integrated Service Management Tool as this reduces duplication of effort and provides the ability to easily track and update events. This provides an audit trail speeds resolution and updates to Customers and Users. Management Information and reporting are also critical outputs from the tool. This enables factual based decisions to be made by Senior Management regarding the improvement of Service provision.
Some of the key objectives for a successful Service Desk are:
- Service is focused on customers and users
- Information is held centrally
- Information is used for auditing and reporting
- Generating statistics to assist reporting and planning
- Reducing the number of calls through analysis and training
- Service seen as being cost-effective
- Faster incident resolution
- Improved skill levels supporting IT services
- Improved IT services and better resilience
- Information available to allow preventive measures to be developed
The main responsibilities of the Service Desk are:
- Management and ownership of incidents throughout their lifecycle
- Providing a professional interface between customers/users and the IT Service Provider
- Providing first level IT Service support
- Providing management information on IT service provision and producing associated reports
Benefits of the ITIL Service Desk
The main benefits of the Service Desk are:
- High visibility and easy access
- Consistent and structure approach to ITIL Incident Management
- Reduced number of Incidents
- Better management of Incidents
- Ownership of incident throughout their lifecycles leads to higher customer confidence in the service
- Improved staff utilisation and higher commitment to quality
- Customers able to monitor status of incidents easily
- Accurate management information on quality of service provision
- Elimination of 'lost' and incorrectly managed incidents
- Incident escalations are managed in a structured manner agreed and understood by all the relevant parties
The main costs of implementing a ITIL Service Desk are:
- Initial Service Desk and Incident Management implementation
- Service Desk staff
- Staff training (IT, Customer and user)
- Support tools and associated hardware for example an integrated Service Management Tool
- Service development and business growth
WITHOUT a Service Desk
- Users may be uncertain whom to contact and may go direct to someone they know
- No one to manage and escalate Incidents so that the impact of these can become even more severe
- Approach to Incident resolution dependent on who is contacted
- Specialist support personnel become the subject of interruption by users seeking resolutions and status information
- Lack of consistent and reliable information about Incidents and Problems
- Customers and users become disenchanted with IT service provision and may seek alternatives
- Potentially more expensive than with a Service Desk as service quality suffers and impacts on business user productivity severely
WITH a Service Desk
- Service Desk becomes a bottleneck when there are high numbers of Incidents being reported. This can be avoided by ensuring sufficient staff and equipment and by having local customer representatives. As service quality improves so does the pressure and staff can be redeployed elsewhere By-passing the Service Desk and reporting an Incident to support staff directly. If contacted in this manner IT staff should refer all customer/user calls back to the Service Desk to ensure effective incident management.
- Resentment may be created in Operating and Specialist Support groups if a Service Desk is created. This will increase when the Service Desk exercises its right to escalate events or inform management. Great care needs to be exercised to ensure Service Desk staff and management are sensitive to this and work hard to avoid such difficulties.
Finally the successful implementation and ongoing support of the Service Desk process will return major business benefits including cost reductions, Customer satisfaction, staff commitment and increased professionalism.