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Friday, March 16, 2012

More on The Service Desk

In the previous chapter, we learnt what “The Service Desk” is. In this chapter, we are going to learn some of the basic concepts about the same.

Methods of contacting the Service Desk

Traditionally, most IT users have contacted their Service Desk via telephone. However, there are various methods of making contact with a Service Desk:
• Telephone
• Web interface
• Automated alert
• Email
• Pager
• Personal contact.

Single point of contact

It is very important that the Service Desk is the single point of contact for IT users within an organisation. Without a single point of contact, there is no control and ownership throughout the management of Incidents, Service Requests and queries.
It is the Service Desk which owns Incidents throughout their lifecycle. It does not matter who is working on the Incident, the ownership remains with the Service Desk. The Service Desk will receive and log Incidents or Service Request details. They will undertake first-line investigation and diagnosis with escalation if Incidents or Service Requests are not resolved.
The existence of the single point of contact can be reinforced by advertising the sole Service Desk number or email address as widely as possible.

Service Desk structures

The Service Desk can be structured in a number of ways. The structure should be driven by the nature of the business supported. Factors such as user skill profile and geographical location of users will influence the structure.

Service Desk structures can be:
1. Local
2. Centralized
3. Virtual
4. Follow The Sun &
5. Specialized

Let us now take a detailed look at each of them.

Local Service Desk:

Local Service Desks are situated adjacent to the users that they support. Usually in the same city or state and in the same Time-Zone.

The advantages of such a structure are visibility of the Service Desk function and easy communication links. However, there are disadvantages such as the risk of Incidents not being prioritised in line with business impact because users are able to physically appear at the Service Desk and request/demand action. Another potential disadvantage is that Service Desk staff are not used as efficiently as they would be under other Service Desk structures because they are ‘fixed’ in one place supporting local users.

Centralized Service Desk:

Typically, organizations have moved away from Local Service Desks to adopting a centralised Service Desk. Efficiency and cost-effectiveness are the reasons for this. Economies of scale can be exploited by having all of the organisation’s Service Desk staff in one physical location. By adopting a single telephone number, calls from anywhere in the organisation will be directed to the centralized Service Desk. It should not matter to the user where their call is dealt with their only interest ought to be the way in which the call is handled.

Virtual Service Desk:

From the user’s point of view, the response they receive from a virtual Service Desk will be the same as the one they receive from a centralised Service Desk. However, the persons who operate a virtual Service Desk can be in a number of different locations. By utilising a single universal tool, users are able to obtain a service which is the same regardless of their location or the location of the responding Service Desk staff.

One advantage of such a structure is that it allows far greater staff flexibility. Staff may be able to work from home or organisations may be able to be more efficient by using offshore working by some or all of the Service Desk staff. There is, however, a risk that service quality lacks consistency and this is something that needs to be managed via metrics designed to measure the quality of service from the various locations.

Follow the Sun:

Organizations with sites & staff around the world may find it more efficient to switch between two or three Service Desks during a 24-hour period. For example, the Service Desk based in Singapore would take all the incoming calls for eight hours prior to switching to the London Service Desk. London would be the Service Desk through normal European working hours before switching to New York. After another eight hours, New York would switch back to Singapore and so on.
The advantage of this approach is that it makes it possible for Service Desk staff to work a normal shift without the need for overtime and additional payments.

A ‘Follow the Sun’ approach relies on good handovers between the sites. Language can be an issue and it is crucial that information from users is recorded in a central tool in such a way that it is understood wherever it is picked up.

Specialized Service Desk Groups:

Within Service Desks it is possible to put together specialist groups who perhaps look after one particular high profile or complex service. Where this happens, calls can be routed to the specialist group via the telephony with an option being given to the caller to divert to the group.

Prev: Introduction to Service Desk

Next: Key Activities in Service Desk

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