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ITIL at the Service Desk

Trends such as mobile computing, consumerization (also known as bring your own device (BYOD), and cloud computing are having a dramatic impact on the service desk. These trends are prompting many organizations to evaluate and improve their existing service management processes, or implement new processes where needed, and to rethink the role the service desk plays in implementing, executing and improving these processes.

It would be easy to look at these trends and think of them only as the deployment of new technologies but there are bigger considerations at stake. What services are these technologies enabling? What business processes do these services underpin? How is the business impacted when these services are interrupted?

An important key performance indicator (KPI) for service catalog management is whether the service desk has the information that it needs about those services and their associated interfaces and dependencies. This is because the service desk plays an important role in informing customers about the service catalog and how it can be used to request services. The service desk plays an important role in maintaining the configuration management system (CMS) that underpins the service catalog as well, by reporting inaccuracies and by relating incidents, problems and requests to services. The service desk also actively uses the service catalog to more efficiently and effectively diagnose incidents and problems and assess the impact of changes.

The service desk must put in place procedures for handling incidents, problems and requests for these services and in many cases must set new policies that spell out the types and levels of support customers are provided. In the case of practices such as mobile computing, BYOD and cloud computing, these policies must consider the risks and liabilities to the business and must also spell out when and how the service desk will escalate issues to external service providers.

These practices often represent significant culture change for an organization and the service desk acts as an important contact point for customers’ suggestions, complaints and compliments. The service desk works closely with the business relationship management and service level management processes to ensure that services are being delivered according to the agreed upon service level agreements (SLAs) and that customers are satisfied with those services. If service desk staff are not fully aware of the services, how they benefit the business, and the SLAs in place, customers can quickly lose faith not only in the service desk but in the entire IT organization.

An effective technique in the face of these trends is to evaluate all aspects of the service desk (people, processes, technology, and information), benchmark them against best practices and identify improvement opportunities. You can then put in place a roadmap for making the needed improvements. As these trends tend to bring about significant culture change, building an organization change management program into your roadmap addresses the preparation, communication, motivation, education, and training activities needed to ensure success.

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