Is there a universal tool for the service desk?

If I got a penny for each time some clever sales man or tech rep told me their turnkey solution will solve all the requirements for a Service Desk (SD), well, than I could blog a lot more, since I would not have to work. There is a huge amount of different tools out there, most of them indeed good solutions but they all have one thing in common. They need to be adapted to your reality.

There is no such thing as a turnkey-solution, or ITIL certified megablaster system that will solve all your problems at once. There is a work effort involved in getting the right toolset for your situation.

Let us do a little in-post poll. Does your organization have a SD? Are your organization global, thus having several time zones? Is your organization medium-sized? Do your organization have a service catalogue including all services available? Do you call, text or e-mail your SD when you are in a pickle? Are you located in the same physical location as your SD? Did you people outsource your SD? Well, ok, enough. My point being, there are 687967589 different aspects of being an IS/IT service provider and the SD, being at the very core, the heart, of this operation, is included in most of these aspects. Because of this, I am telling you, you really need to make an effort when equipping your SD with tools. Remember what I told you earlier about the fool-aspects of tools (A fool with a tool is still a fool? | @valorizeit, Sep 17), this certainly applies to the SD as well.

Selecting the wrong tools for the Service Desk will have negative consequences for your service levels, work force performance, customer satisfaction and the overall SD work climate.

I would like to point out the most important aspects to consider when tooling your SD:

1. Sharing information: If you have large- or medium sized organization you will probably have a number of SD agents in different locations, maybe even time zones and perhaps both internally and externally. You need to make sure that all these people can share all information. Both the SD tickets but also FAQs, known errors, workarounds, knowledge articles, service request models and everything that greatly enhances the SD agent capability and thus also will increase your 1st level resolution rate, reduce resolution times and in general helping you not only to reach SLA goals but also evolve. Sure, there are aspects of CIA (confidentiality, Integrity and Availability) to manage to include external parties but I can promise you that it is all worth it. This is of course true for all SD shapes and sizes.

Blaming your external partner or seeing your perfectly working Service Desk fail because of lacking integration with external parties is not clever at all.

2. Work force automation: If you have a mature SD you should consider process flow support, automated assign/ticket transport and all these cool features. If not, do not even go close, you will spend your time chasing lost tickets, reminding people to attend tickets they did not even know about and solve problems instead of running your SD. The automation is really clever but requires mature SD operations, be true to yourself and always have your unique set of preconditions in mind. Also, if not right now, maybe later, make sure your tool has this feature to be activated when yuo are ready for it.

3. Process integration: your tool should support your processes, it is not the way around people! Also, if you have a working problem management process in place (read the great post from Ryan Ogilvie, http://bit.ly/1JQ0n3e), make sure your SD can access workarounds, known errors and other key info from that process. In addition, you absolutely need a request fulfilment process. Manage your requests (orders) in the same manner as your incidents, but keep them clearly separated. Also, keep a good library of request models, with approval included, to keep the process fast and predictable. In later stages of your maturity you also need to include a simple and fast access to the CMDB and other processes.

The Service Desk, being the heart of the IT Service Provider, need to be kept informed about everything that is happening.

4. Keeping the SD in the loop: In general, the SD, being the user hub, needs to be aware of what is happening. This for example includes easy access to change-, and release planning, outages and other key information. Please make sure that this is not including the SD manager in your CC in all e-mails, this is “taking information hostages” and not the way to go. Keep in mind that we are talking about empowering the very people that makes the big difference whether or not the business will like us!

5. Creating and developing our knowledge base: All the support cases, the tickets, represents part of the corporate wisdom. In general, people make a certain mistake once, and then we learn and normally never makes the same mistake again. This also goes for the SD. Create a clever way to tag your tickets for the “ticket after-life”, thus making them visible/searchable after being solved. This is what really will empower your SD, as always knowledge is power.

Of course, there are a lot more to it than this but hopefully you got something to consider that will help your organization improve the SD. Please let me know if you want to know more! Also, keep your eyes open for the SD process post I will publish later this week!

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