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Introducing ITIL®: The Service Desk (Part II)

In the previous article in this series, we discussed setting up the Service Desk as a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for IT as a logical starting point for ITIL implementation.  Now, we will take a closer look at the Service Desk responsibilities and relevant ITIL® processes.


Service Desk Activities and Processes

The Service Desk is responsible for receiving and recording all requests from users. When possible, the Service Desk staff should deal directly with simple questions or complaints. All other calls are handled according to the Incident Management process, the goal of which is to restore normal service as quickly as possible. The Service Desk will provide an initial assessment of the priority and urgency of the call, attempt to resolve it, and escalate as necessary to 2nd-line support according to Service Level Agreements. The Service Desk will also own and monitor the Incident and keep users informed of progress and resolution.

Calls to the Service Desk should be recorded in a Service Management tool. As ITIL implementation proceeds, records and data regarding Incidents, Problems, Changes and Configuration Items should also be captured in this tool. When this data is given structure and context, it becomes usable information. For example, Incident Records can be analyzed to find out which applications account for the most Incidents or which departments report the most Incidents. This information then becomes knowledge when insight and experience are applied.  This analysis can help with determining priorities for continuous improvement.  It also provides the basis for establishing a Knowledge Base that the Service Desk staff can consult in order to handle calls more efficiently and to improve first-time resolution rate. Additionally, it can be used for providing management reports, another Service Desk responsibility.

Interfaces to Other ITIL Processes

The Service Desk also plays a key role in other Service Operations processes. Problem Management is closely related and complementary to Incident Management; the two processes should be implemented at the same time. The goal of Problem Management is to identify, resolve and prevent the root causes of Incidents.

Resolution of Incidents and Problems will usually require one or more Changes to be implemented. The Change Management process calls for a standard method for implementing Changes with the goal of minimizing the impact of any Incidents that may be caused. Those Changes will be applied to one or more Configuration Items (CIs). CIs are IT assets and their relationships, which are stored in a separate Configuration Management Database (CMBD).

Because the Service Desk is both the SPOC and has a central role in the Incident Management process, as well as key relationships to other Service Operations processes, successful implementation is critical to the overall success of ITIL implementation.

Benefits, Considerations, and Measuring Performance

A well-implemented Service Desk should lead to improved service to users through faster and more accurate responses, better control and management of the IT infrastructure, and better information for decision-making. The Service Desk can drive and benefit directly from continuous improvement.  It is important, however, to have commitment from management and to promote the Service Desk to users who may resist changes to their way of working.

An important component of both continuous improvement and management reporting is the measurement of Service Desk workload, efficiency, and accuracy.  Some metrics to consider for the Service Desk:

•        Percentage of calls resolved first-time

•        Number of calls exceeding Service Level Agreement (SLA)

•        Number of calls escalated to 2nd- / 3rd-level support

•        Percentage of calls with correct first-time assignment

•        Customer Satisfaction (survey per closed call)

In the next articles in this series, we will take a closer look at implementing the Incident Management and Problem Management processes.

About this author:

Angel Prusinowski

Angel is a leading ITIL® instructor at Ashford Global IT.

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