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Role of the Service Desk Within the ITIL® Service Lifecycle

ITIL® is a best practice approach that aids organizations in the adoption of change and growth throughout their business. These best practices are broken down into the five phases of the Service Lifecycle: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service Improvement.

The focus of this article is on the Service Operation phase and how the Service Desk facilitates the Incident Management, Problem Management, and Request Fulfillment processes.

Service Operation is where the actual value of a service is seen by the user. Within this phase, the Service Desk acts as a single point of contact for all users. They handle all incoming calls and escalate only when all known solutions for an Incident fail. The calls resolved by the Service Desk are logged as first call resolutions (FCR). The best practice FCR rate of 65% to 70% is maintained in part through the use of a knowledge base, which stores historical data used for future support.

A critical process in the Service Operation phase is Incident Management. This is the process that resolves Incidents by restoring services and reducing any impact as quickly as possible. An Incident is an unplanned interruption to or a reduction in quality of an IT service. Most often, Incidents are reported by users; however, they can also come from system alerts. The Service Desk plays a role in every activity in the Lifecycle for all Incidents. They log every Incident and Service Request as well as categorize and prioritize them. The Service Desk also provides the initial investigation and diagnosis of an Incident, escalating to the appropriate second-level support team when necessary. Service Desk support doesn’t end here. Responsibilities continue through the duration of the Incident by keeping the user informed of the status. Closure of the ticket doesn’t happen until the user is satisfied that their service has been restored to normal service levels.

Incident Management works in partnership with Problem Management. Incident Management resolves an Incident as it occurs; Problem Management prevents Incidents from recurring and minimizes the impact if the Incident can’t be prevented. If the Service Desk resolves an Incident but suspects it will recur, or if a Problem is identified right away, a Problem Record is created for further investigation. Through the use of root cause analysis and Change Management, resolutions for those Problems are properly implemented. Information is recorded about each resolution in the knowledge base. As the knowledge builds, resolution time is reduced, which results in less downtime and disruption to critical business systems.

Request Fulfillment manages Service Requests using a process similar to Incident Management. The Service Desk is responsible for fulfilling Standard Requests. Requests requiring expertise are escalated to second-level support staff. It is the Service Desk’s responsibility to determine whether the user’s need is a Request or an Incident. A Request is a standard, low-risk procedure whereas an Incident is a disruption to a service or a reduction in the quality of the service.  Requests can become Incidents when Request Fulfillment fails. An example would be a Request for a new computer that, once delivered, doesn’t have software for a user to perform their job. The Request is not closed until the user confirms it is fulfilled to their satisfaction.

The role of the Service Desk is very important throughout the Service Operation phase of the Service Lifecycle. They are the first point of contact for the user when reporting an Incident. They are the watchdogs that follow the status of the Incident, keeping the user informed with any updates. The Service Desk is the driver that ensures forward progress is made until a satisfactory resolution is reached and operations have returned to normal levels.


About this author:

Angel Prusinowski

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

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