Following the “what is”-series regarding different business areas is here an article about what a Service Desk is. The idea of the “what is”-series is to write the articles in a way that people who have never been in contact with the area will understand.
A Service Desk is an IT resource for organizations working with ITSM (IT Service Management) as defined in ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library). The Service Desk is intended to be the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) towards the customers of the IT department, usually the users in the company.
A Service Desk can easily be mistaken for being the same thing as a help desk. However, the difference is quite big when looking deeper on what a Service Desk delivers.
The Service Desk works to support the different ITSM processes used in the company. That is right, Service Desk is not a process itself, it is called a function.
We are not going to discuss what the different processes do but here is an example of a few processes:
* Incident Management
* Problem Management
* Change Management
* Release Management
* Availability Management
* Capacity Management
* Security Management
The idea is for the company to feel that there is one instance to call to get help and propose change requests. All incidents and user queries are owned by the Service Desk and it is up to the Service Desk to make sure the user’s incidents are solved, regardless of if they have sent the request somewhere else or are working on it themselves.
Besides being the single point of contact it is the responsibility of the Service Desk to make sure that services that are provided are working. If an IT service is not working, the Service Desk should try to get it up and running as quickly as possible. It is also for the Service Desk to give system support to the users.
The work in the Service Desk is clearly defined and also has the responsibility of making sure that all incidents and user queries are managed as promised. Promises around the service are defined in an SLA (Service Level Agreement).
To manage all calls everything is stored in some kind of Service Desk Software. The Service Desk Software includes a lot of functionality to help the Service Desk perform its work, such as:
* Web / Email creation and monitoring of requests
* Knowledge base
* Internal chat with storing of conversations as part of the requests
* Interface customization to customize to support the processes and the organization the best
* Automated work flow engine to make as much as possible automated
* Flexible reports as needed to monitor progress of requests
* Dashboard for the personnel to give possibilities to easy know what needs to be done
* Automated monitoring of requests according to what is promised in the SLA
* and much more...
Since the Service Desk is the single point of contact to the users, it is often set that all communication should be going through the Service Desk. This includes questions that need to be asked from any of the service providers to the users. The communication then goes back and forth via the Service Desk.
In theory this is the way it should work, but in practice processes are often set up to make it possible for the person working with the request to communicate with the user, regardless of where in the ITSM organization the person is working.
Implementing a Service Desk and therefore also ITSM in an organization can often be quite hard work and in the beginning a lot of things go wrong. But after some time and adjustments the work will be much more efficient and with higher quality than before.
A lot is thanks to the structured work defined by the processes, but also thanks to the Service Desk Software that is implemented and tuned to fit the organization the best.
It is definitely recommended to start with one or at least just a few of the processes, such as Incident Management, Problem Management and Change Management. One will then be able to extend the ITSM commitment to include one more process at the time.
People working in the Service Desk are able to work in the different processes specified above. This will help in setting up your ITSM organization and to have ITSM work in your favor instead of the other way around.