What is a Service Desk, and why is it important to your business?

This is the second article in the four-part series “What is a Help Desk and why is it relevant to your business.” In this article, I focus on the Service Desk. Topics discussed in the article include:  What is a Service Desk, and why it is relevant to business.  Secondly, the business advantages a well-managed Service Desk has for the organisation will be highlighted. Lastly, the core modules to include in the installation will be listed.

Introduction

The purpose of a Service Desk is to provide a Single Point of Contact between the organisation’s customers, staff and business partners. It is designed to optimise the business services and oversee IT functions.

The four-part series of articles address the following questions:

What is a Service Desk?

Unlike the Help Desk, a Service Desk is a business tool designed for use across the organisation by all business units, and as such is not for the exclusive use of the IT department.  A Service Desk is tasked to do more than ensuring IT services are delivered, it also improves customer satisfaction by enabling the organisation to implement their business plan.

Furthermore, ITILv.3 differentiates between the two solutions. It states that a Service Desk offers a broader range of service capabilities, solves more problems in fewer steps and enables integration of business processes into the service management infrastructure.

Why is a Service Desk relevant to business?

It plays a crucial role assisting organisations to support business users and to ensure that enterprise technology works according to documented processes. The Service Desk, coupled with ITSM solutions are necessary components of doing business today. The value of a Service Desk for the organisation can be demonstrated as follows:

Service Desk

Utilise business metrics

Key performance indicators show how the service desk improves employee efficiency. Data showcasing enhances the speed of incident resolution, and information relating to uptime improvements shows to business that the Service Desk delivers value to the organisation.

In addition to demonstrating Service Desk value, the business intelligence built into the Service Desk application gathers operational data to create consistent value. An example of a Service Desk that contains this functionality is the BMC FootPrints solution.

Many support solutions feature business intelligence tools that have visualisation capabilities, allowing you to identify quickly how well the solution is working and maximising its value.

For additional reading, view the following article

Business Metrics for the Service Desk

Integrate Business Processes

As organisations become dependent on IT tools, employees find themselves needing to collaborate with both IT and technical support teams more often. Integrating Service Desk processes across the organisation lead to a significant efficiency gain within a business and creates a clear return on investment. (ROI)

Emphasize Regulatory Compliance

Business leaders are acutely aware of the reputation-related damage, fines and other problems that come with any form of regulatory breach. Therefore, executives understand the importance of investing the required resources into solutions that will improve the organisation’s regulatory compliance.

Examples of solutions that assist regulatory compliance consist of change management solutions and advanced service desk tools.

For additional reading, view the following articles

How does COBIT support your business.”

What is ITIL? A simple overview.”

Showcase Potential Flexibility

Many business leaders have had experience with Service Desk solutions that lock them into specific operational methodologies or capabilities, leaving the organisation struggling to keep up with changes in their industry. Therefore, t flexibility within a business’ technology suite is now a necessity, and agility is now required for a service desk solution.

Modern IT Service Desk delivers flexibility on a technical and operational level. This results in an environment allowing organisations to be more responsive and able to respond to an extensive range of practical challenges.

The IT service desk market is evolving rapidly, and business leaders that do not keep up with the continual changes are likely to be left behind. Those that do commit the resources into advanced ITSM platforms can set the stage for significant value creation throughout the organisation.

Business advantages of a Service Desk

The Service Desk is broader in focus, more strategic and cross organisational than the traditional IT Help Desk. The primary focus is on the business needs of the organisation rather than purely solving the user’s needs. ITIL 3 defines the Service Desk as “the Single Point of Contact between the Service Provider and the Users.” Typically, it is responsible for the management of Incidents and Service Requests in addition to managing requests from the users. Additionally, the Service Desk often includes an IT Help Desk component and has an overall goal to improve the IT and business processes across the organisation.

Key features found in a Service Desk are:

  • It is the Single Point of contact for all IT applications and business processes
  • Full integration with all Service Management Processes
  • Includes Change and Configuration Management modules
  • Release and Problem Management modules
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a standard feature
  • Self Service Catalogue enabling users to select services from the organisation’s website
  • Configuration Management CMDB
  • Asset discovery and management

In addition to the list of features mentioned above, business often requires the additional capabilities from the Service Desk.

  • The ability to Manage Mobile IT users is seen as a primary consideration when purchasing a service Desk.
  • Providing an intuitive user experience, making it easier for your business users to get service, support and information, irrespective of where they are.
  • Improved decision-making capabilities with actionable intelligence that assists IT to manage the challenges of delivering effective service in complex environments.
  • Provide business and IT with a detailed view of the organisation’s infrastructure and its dependencies and include diagnostic data, performance information and actionable knowledge.

Core modules found in a Service Desk

The IT Infrastructure Library has established a set of best practices and an operational framework to assist organisations in providing efficient and reliable IT service management processes. Key components of an ITIL-based IT Service Desk include:

  1. Incident Management
    Incidents are the issues that business users face daily when applications and services do not work the way they are designed to. Incident resolution often involves resetting a password, finding a workaround for a software problem or adding paper to a printer tray. The ITIL framework is designed to streamline incident management.
  2. Problem Management
    A problem very often starts as an incident and is only re-classified to problem status after the severity of the underlying issue is established. An example of a problem is a server outage that affects the entire organisation.
  3. Change Management
    Change within an IT organisation is not without risk. ITIL is designed to assist business in organising change functions and creating an operational framework to eliminate risk often associated with change, without sacrificing business efficiency.
  4. Ticketing
    The managing incidents, problems and change must be carefully prioritised to ensure that the organisation’s support teams balance urgent requirements with long-term projects. Ticketing within the ITIL framework is designed to organise and prioritise tickets, allowing support teams to focus on completing critical tasks on time.
  5. Service request management
    Not all support tickets are designated as an incident a problem or a change request. ITIL processes have included Service Request management as a way to differentiate support queries allowing the support staff to focus on areas of responsibility and expertise.

Conclusion

A Service Desk is a business tool designed for use across the organisation by all business units, and as such is not for the exclusive use of the IT department.  A Service Desk is tasked to do more than ensuring IT services are delivered, it also improves customer satisfaction by enabling the organisation to implement their business plan. In the next article, I will discuss the critical differences between a Help Desk and a Service Desk.

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