What is a Service Desk?

June 9th, 2012 | Posted by admin in White Papers - (Comments Off on What is a Service Desk?)
ITIL Process Dependencies

What is an ITIL Service Desk

An ITIL Service Desk uses a standard set of best practices for lowering costs and improving the quality of IT service delivery. The aim of a Service Desk is to act as the operational interface between the IT organization and its customers, for achieving an organization’s goals.

Whereas a Help Desk consists of a single, or very few processes with no underpinning CMDB or Asset Management facilities, an ITIL Service Desk usually involves a number of processes that are highly integrated and work together seamlessly. This includes service request, incident, problem, change, release, deployment, knowledge and service level management processes. A Help Desk provides simple ticketing at the low end, through complete incident management at the high end, such as LiveTime Help Desk. This provides essential front line features for managing customer issues and providing communication and status updates. Many also provide limited workflows and basic service level agreements.

ITIL Process Dependencies

A Service Desk is End to End

In contrast, an ITIL Service Desk is concerned not only with taking and responding to calls, but managing the entire lifecycle of the request as it evolves through other relevant processes. For instance, a call may originate as a simple incident which may then evolve into a problem which is also related to several other incidents.

This problem may subsequently require a physical change in the environment to resolve, at which point it will trigger a change request and perhaps management approval against a specific workflow. This change request will then need to be assessed and actioned and eventually get rolled into a release which requires testing and deployment.

A Service Desk provides Visibility

At each stage of its evolution any Team member has complete process visibility whereby they can see the underlying request hierarchy. Throughout the entire process information with the knowledge base is scanned, together with the properties and attributes of the Configuration Item (CI). This simple example demonstrates how different business units or groups can be involved in the process and how they can work together very easily, ultimately improving the efficiency of the entire process, rather than using a single isolated Incident Management process.

In addition, a service desk, or service management product will control each process within a service level agreement, which may also include Operation Level Agreements (OLA’s) and/or Underpinning Contracts (UPC’s). A Help Desk will normally provide simple timers and often call these service agreements.

An ITIL Service Desk is for the Business

So while the Help Desk provides basic features to assist an organization in providing customer service and support, the ITIL Service Desk tightly integrates many other processes such as incident, problem, change and release management (in addition to other core processes such as knowledge management) within the workflow. Together, these processes, when married to service contracts and knowledge management ensure customer requests are managed through the entire lifecycle within the business.

A Service Desk is NOT Ticketing

There are many ways of managing tickets, ranging from excel spreadsheets or shared email accounts, through to simplified web consoles. They rarely provide more than a technique for collecting information in an organized manner.

A good Help Desk solution will allow an organization to perform these functions but also provide an evolutionary pathway to best practice service management.

Implementing ITIL Service Management with LiveTime

June 8th, 2012 | Posted by admin in White Papers - (Comments Off on Implementing ITIL Service Management with LiveTime)
fluid livetime icon

Design

Adopting ITIL to design an organization’s support infrastructure is a critical undertaking. It should be managed as a formal business project with clear ownership, defined business goals, responsibilities, deliverables and management commitment.

Before designing the new Service Desk, all existing service workflows should be assessed and potential for improvement identified. It is an opportunity for business analysts to rethink and redesign existing processes and activities, in order to increase productivity, add value, and reduce costs. As the shop front for organizations, the service desk is an opportunity to enhance the customer’s perception of the organization.

Implementing

LiveTime Service Manager is a comprehensive ITIL Service support solution that incorporates 11 ITIL v3 processes, the core of which are Incident, Configuration, Problem and Change management.

LiveTime’s recommended two-stage approach includes:

  • Phase I: Implement Configuration, Service Level and Incident Management
  • Phase II: Progress to Problem and Change Management.

Following is a summary of the steps that organizations are guided through when implementing LiveTime Service Manager as either a phased or all-in-one installation.

People

Adopting ITIL best practices will require a culture change for the organization, in addition to the changes to the service desk process itself. This will require:

  • Educating staff about the benefits of ITIL, and winning champions to the cause
  • Train service desk staff about working with the relevant process
  • Maintain & support process improvements by completing self-audits.

Technology

Setup & Install

  • Hardware, O/S, RDBMS, Application Server, Web Server, LiveTime Service Manager application

Migration of Service Desk data (Optional)

  • Perform data mapping between existing & new system
  • Perform data migration
  • Validate migration

Integration

  • Asset Discovery
  • Authentication (ADS/LDAP/SSO)
  • Mail
  • Web Services

Process: Phase I

[colored_box variation=”blue” title=”Incident Management”]
Incident Management can be fully configured and automated to reflect the preferred workflow of your organization.

  • Review current process
  • Define objectives
  • Create Incident Management workflow
  • Create incident support teams and assign members to relevant escalation layer
  • Plan review of process using employee feedback and relevant reporting metrics.

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[colored_box variation=”green” title=”Service Level Management”]
Service Level Management in LiveTime improves internal and external communication for Service Desk users and assists in the timely management of the support requests. Service Level Agreements (SLA) within LiveTime Service Manager can be underpinned by Operational Level Agreements (OLA) to guarantee the internal capacity meets customer service expectations.

  • Review IT services offered to the organization
  • Establish teams for areas of specialty with relevant escalation layers
  • Create a list of services offered by each team and associate with the service catalog
  • Establish SLAs relative to the business unit requirements and support by appropriate OLAs
  • Define metrics for measuring efficiency and effectiveness of process
  • Implement a review/audit program to ensure service levels meet the organizational needs.

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[colored_box variation=”slategrey” title=”Configuration Management”]
Configuration Management is only effective if the data associated with the core IT operational processes is stored and managed appropriately. To guarantee the validity and accuracy of the CMDB:

  • Assign owner(s) to the Configuration Management process
  • Assign accountability for operational repository – setup, ongoing maintenance and support of the CMDB
  • Synchronize with 3rd party asset management and discovery tools (optional)
  • Create baselines for CIs
  • Plan audit and validation of CMDB data.

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Process: Phase II

After the initial phase has settled, the following processes are rolled out:

[colored_box variation=”red” title=”Problem Management”]
Problem Management is tightly integrated with Incident and Change Management in LiveTime Service Manager. This allows problems and changes to be manually created from incidents. Further, parameters can be customized in the application to allow for automatic detection and escalation of incidents to problem management.

  • Review current process and set objectives
  • Define workflow
  • Define team and assign staff to relevant escalation layers
  • Define parameters that are to be included in LiveTime, which will allow for auto-detection of problems
  • Define metrics for measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the process
  • Plan review and audit of process.

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[colored_box variation=”orange” title=”Change Management”]
Change Management typically includes defining multiple workflows relevant to the types of changes that are handled by the service desk. To implement Change Management using LiveTime Service Manager, an audit of the current processes needs to be completed so all change workflows can be defined within the application.

  • Define Change Management workflows – identify the types of changes to be handled and how priority is assigned to the change request
  • Allocate the roles and responsibilities of the IT support staff within the workflows
  • Define measurements that will be used to track the efficiency of change implementation
  • Monitor/review process by evaluating and reporting on implemented changes.

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Thinking Service Not Servers

June 8th, 2012 | Posted by admin in White Papers - (Comments Off on Thinking Service Not Servers)
ITILv3 implementation

Summary

Organizations today rely heavily on IT to deliver corporate objectives and strategic goals, while maintaining day-to-day operations. This dependency demands that IT service and support departments reduce costs, manage risks and improve technological and employee efficiency.

The tight integration of people, process and technology is a business strategy being adopted to align organizational objectives with IT service delivery. This integration means that IT departments no longer think in terms of servers, but of services provided to the organization and its customers. This change of focus results in a high quality service that is accountable, transparent and predictable.

To achieve business-orientated service management, IT service organizations are modeling service capabilities around ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) best practice guidelines.

What is ITIL?

ITIL is a flexible framework designed to guide service organizations with the integration of people, process and technology to develop and deliver a quality IT service.

ITIL does not dictate business processes but provides a comprehensive, consistent and coherent set of best practices for IT Service Management. ITIL promotes a quality approach to achieving business effectiveness and efficiency, using information systems.
ITILv3 implementation
More formally, ITIL is a series of books that outline a comprehensive set of best practices for IT Service Management. The OGC (Office of Government Commerce) in the UK developed ITIL in the mid 1980’s.

At the end of October in 2007, ITIL version 3 was released and the understanding of IT service management best practices was transformed to encompass a lifecycle approach to service. Processes are grouped into different segments based on their lifecycle. Many of these overlap into many segements of the framework as illustrated below.

Service Process Lifecycle

Customer Service Desk Objectives

High customer expectations and the distributed nature of companies mean the delivery of a first-class service is fast becoming a differentiating factor and, without doubt, a major competitive advantage for many organizations.

The Service Desk acts as the central point of contact between customers and IT Service Management. All incidents, and other forms of service requests are handled via the Service Desk. It is also an interface for other activities such as Change, Problem, Configuration, Release, Service Level and IT Service Continuity management.

As the operational interface between business and IT, the Service Desk must align technology with the service objectives of the organization. This ensures IT service management is a strategic business asset.

Implementing a Service Desk Infrastructure

Adopting ITIL to design an organization’s support infrastructure is a critical undertaking. It should be managed as a formal business project with clear ownership, defined business goals, responsibilities, deliverables and management commitment.

Before designing the new Service Desk, all existing service workflows should be assessed and potential for improvement identified. It is an opportunity for business analysts to rethink and redesign existing processes and activities, in order to increase productivity, add value, and reduce costs. As the shop front for organizations, the service desk is an opportunity to enhance the customer’s perception of the organization.

Internal Change Management: balancing strategy and tactics

The implementation of IT service improvements must balance strategic and practical requirements to avoid any undue staff tension. Strategic thinkers such as the Chief Information Officer or the Financial Controller focus on service catalogs and costs. Tactical roles such as Service Desk Supervisor and technicians are concerned with incident resolution and meeting service level requirements.

The following table outlines the service desk implementation process, balanced between strategic and tactical objectives:

Steps to a Successful ITIL Implementation

[fancy_table2]

Where are you now? Define a Baseline. Where do you want to be? Define your Target. How to move towards Target. Execute your plan. The Target. Your Ideal Situation.
Assess existing service desk maturity relative to ITIL. Refer to Maturity Model below. Identify gaps between existing processes and ITIL Align People, Process and Technology. Demonstrable process improvement in line with strategic goals.
Tactical
Understand the following:

  • What are your business drivers?
  • Who are your IT stakeholders, what are their needs, and are their needs presently being met?
  • What will be the impact to IT organization and business if you do not change?
  • What skill sets are currently in place?
Develop internal change management strategy:

  • Assess the organizational impact of combining the proposed people, process and technology changes
  • Obtain the necessary buy- in from key stakeholders
Introduce ITIL to Management.

Procure ITIL compliant Service Desk System.

Train all staff to utilize new procedures.

Quantitative management feedback in the form of detailed metrics and reporting.

Business processes understood and controlled.

Strategic
Understand the following:

  • What are your technology drivers?
  • Who are your IT stakeholders, what are their needs, and are their needs presently being met?
  • What processes are currently in place?
  • What technology do you have in place?
Design new service desk workflows:

  • Obtain the necessary buy-in from key stakeholders
  • Obtain the necessary sign-off on new workflows
Introduce ITIL to Operational staff.

Develop techniques and procedures.

Document system requirements.

Research tools.

Train service desk staff to manage new workflows.

Continuous and repeat improvement.

Quantitative feedback.

Pilot programs and new technology introduced with little interruption.

ITSM Processes understood and controlled.

[/fancy_table2]

To avoid conflict and frustration, time needs to be taken to build and translate the organizational objectives into process and technology initiatives to balance both perspectives. Joint planning between strategic and operational teams will ensure there is project support across all levels of the organization.

ITIL Service Capability Maturity Model

  1. Initial

    Support process is characterized as ad hoc, chaotic, and heroic. Few processes are defined or followed, and success depends on individual effort. There is no formal management control over support processes.

  2. Repeatable

    This level provides an introduction to the formal, documented process. Basic management processes are established to control cost, scheduling and functionality. The necessary process discipline is in place to represent successes on projects with similar applications. Elevation from Level 1 to Level 2 means the organization has established service desk management control, established service desk process group (SDPG), and formally introduced ITIL processes.

  3. Defined

    This level provides a foundation for continuous process improvement by establishing the necessary process management functions to control process parameters. The ITIL process for both managers and process workers is documented, standardized and integrated into a standard ITIL process for the organization. The organization uses this process to manage all IT service requests.

  4. Managed

    Detailed measures of the process and service quality are collected. Both the ITIL processes and quality of service delivered are understood and controlled.

  5. Optimized

    Continuous process improvement is enabled by quantitative feedback from the process and from piloting innovative ideas and technology.

Technology

As the service processes are assessed in line with the business objectives and realigned with ITIL guidelines, the technology used to automate and manage these processes also needs to align with IT service delivery requirements. This guarantees that the service solution selected capitalizes on existing infrastructure and evolves well into the future.

Features to consider when selecting a service desk tool include the central administration offered by fully web-based products. These solutions include a browser-based GUI with no installations or plug-ins required on the client-side. This saves time and money during the implementation process and when changes or upgrades are required. Also, being fully accessible via any web-browser allows users to choose their work environment, be that in the office, out on the road or at home, as their user role privileges are not restricted by the place of access.

The ability to integrate with existing infrastructure such as Active Directory or LDAP authentication servers should also be considered. Also, in order to capitalize on the implementation of a Configuration Management Database (CMDB), tight integration with an asset management tool is required. This ensures data stored in the CMDB is always relevant, and provides support technicians with a full picture when responding to customer issues.

On the server side, a multi-tiered design approach allows the support solution to achieve maximum performance and scalability. Advanced applications, such as LiveTime, run on any standard J2EE or J2SE server and support multiple instances, load balancing and clustering. This model allows the support solution to operate at over five times the speed of competing applications. Additional speed gains are achieved through the use of intelligent caching and database fetching, which ensures users have real time access to all information relevant to issues logged with the system.

Web Services and IT Service Management

June 8th, 2012 | Posted by admin in White Papers - (Comments Off on Web Services and IT Service Management)
Web Services Definitions

Summary

Enterprises currently faced with the challenge of integrating and extending their investments in sophisticated business applications such as ERP, CRM and Service Desk, are increasingly turning to Web services. As a result, many businesses looking to better leverage their IT assets and provide their organizations with the agility needed to stay competitive in today’s economy are now Web service enabling their IT infrastructure. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to increase enterprise efficiency, improve customer satisfaction and increase profitability.

This paper provides an overview of Web services technology and its ability to fulfill enterprise-wide Service Desk integration requirements.

The Case for Web services architectures

Web Services offer an approach to software design where applications are assembled from reusable business components, called services. A service is a software building block that performs a distinct business function – such as creating an incident in a service desk application – through a well-defined interface.
Web Services Definitions
These modular components, or services, are organized in a loosely coupled manner, allowing them to be linked together easily and quickly as business requirements demand. This is in contrast to many tightly coupled architectures that are less flexible and require recompilation when components are modified. An important consequence of loose coupling is that services can run anywhere on the network and are not restricted to specific hardware/operating system platforms.

Web services exist as two distinct elements – a well-defined service interface and the service implementation. The service interface describes how to call the service and is described using XML. The service implementation is the actual code that fulfills the business functionality of the service.

The assembly of Web services into higher value added composite services is typically performed by developers using dedicated tools. The resultant composite services are then published and made available to users via a standard URL link which can be rendered using any Web browser.

Delivering Real Business Benefits

Organizations looking to bring structure to their increasingly chaotic IT environment and better equip themselves for change are increasingly turning towards Web services. This is especially true for organizations using the Internet for B2B and B2C e-commerce.

A Web service enabled infrastructure provides the basis for this infrastructure. It allows organizations to be more agile and to achieve more with less.

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) Powered by Web services

A service-oriented architecture is essentially a collection of services architected in such a way that facilitates for their linking. These services communicate with each other. The communication can involve either simple data passing or it could involve two or more services coordinating some activity. The architecture provides support for connecting services to each other.
Although SOA does not require Web services, in practice, Web Services provide the standards upon which today’s SOAs are being built. Key Web services standards include:

  • SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) – deals with how an application calls a Web service to perform an operation and return an answer
  • WSDL (Web services Description Language) – the XML-based format used to define the interface to a Web Service
  • UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery & Integration), – directory of Web services that lets applications find out what services are available to them

Web services as a solution to Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)

Most organizations have complex IT environments consisting of disparate legacy systems, applications, processes, and data sources, which typically interact by a maze of interconnections that are poorly documented and expensive to maintain. These include applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), and portals.
EAI Integration
The need for IT systems to communicate within an organization led to the evolution of enterprise application integration (EAI). EAI is the process of creating an integrated infrastructure for linking disparate systems, applications, and data sources across the corporate enterprise.

While companies have been using EAI solutions with great success independently of Web services and SOA, these solutions take on a much more significant and valuable role when they are plugged into a Web services infrastructure. With the right EAI solution, organizations are able to extend their “legacy” systems (any system that does not support Web services natively) into the new millennium.

LiveTime Service Desk Integration using Web services

LiveTime Software has Web service enabled its Service Management suite to allow organizations to integrate and extend their existing business systems with their IT service desk operations. With LiveTime, service desk organizations are able to get more value out of their existing resources, and capitalize on their Web services infrastructure more quickly than service desk products without this capability.

The type of functionality currently exposed by LiveTime can be found in our extensive reference to all our API calls.

Service Desk Success: An opportunity for differentiation

June 8th, 2012 | Posted by admin in White Papers - (Comments Off on Service Desk Success: An opportunity for differentiation)
Service profit chain model

Summary

In a world of multi-media and globalization, it is a constant struggle for organizations to standout in a saturated marketplace. Be the business financial, educational, private, health or not-for-profit, the need to positively differentiate from competitors is the only way to gain an edge over the ever-present competition.

Promoting a culture of service management, both internally and externally, is the key to being more relevant to customers within any market vertical. This allows an organization to shape its products and service based on the specific requirements of its customers and encourages business confidence by providing more reliable service and support.

Internally, IT service management encourages a clear understanding of actual IT capabilities, and promotes IT service continuity. In most cases, the largest percentage of the IT spend is on the day-to-day support costs and this can be reduced by an effective service management process.

Service management ensures IT resources are aligned with business requirements, and allows the IT department to appropriately identify points of flexibility and adaptability within the services they provide. This ensures service issues and change requirements are handled efficiently and effectively, to keep organizations running at an optimum level.

The Service Desk

fluid livetime iconThe point in service management where people, process and technology blend to deliver a business service is at the Service Desk. The Service Desk provides the essential daily contact between customers, users, IT service and any relevant third-party support organization. The main objective of the service desk is to drive and improve service support to, and on behalf of an organization.

This customer-facing support service is a single point of contact that provides advice, guidance and rapid restoration of normal services to its customers and users. It handles Incidents, Problems and Change requests. More than this, it also manages maintenance contracts, software licenses, and provides Service Level Management, Configuration Management.

The successful implementation of a service desk results in a professional service that builds business confidence and provides greater customer satisfaction. This is a result of the professional service that is positioned to provide a consolidated and fiscally positive business activity that impacts all aspects of service beyond the IT department. The key to service desk success is the employment of professional people, well-defined and repeatable processes and good tools, which in turn makes the product or service being supported, to some degree, immaterial.

Adopting a service management approach results in benefits across all level of any business:

  • Customers – obtain a sustainable, reliable, secure, quality service
  • Line Management – achieve greater control over the change management process
  • Senior Management – can monitor performance and adjust resources appropriately
  • Boards – gain confidence from the adoption of best practices service, which in turn mitigates personal risk
  • Business Partners – provides greater control over inter-business risks.

Customer Loyalty

To differentiate from the competition and make a business more critical to its customers, an organization can use customer feedback accessed through service and support, to shape the company and product/service direction. By responding consistently and appropriately to customer requests, a loyal customer base is established. This enables the business to succeed through the sale of related products and service to existing customers.

New business can also be won through the ongoing referrals from satisfied customers, and the research and development process for new products and services can be enhanced by a greater understanding of the customer base needs and wants.

To be successful at this endeavor, organizations can use technology to enhance the business process, by harnessing IT to deliver improved customer satisfaction. Businesses can employ service management best practices and measure its service results, in an effort to promote an environment of continual improvement, in order to build trust and maintain customer loyalty.

Employee Satisfaction

A service management culture also motivates staff and engenders job satisfaction through a better understanding of capability and improved management of expectations.

An investment in IT service management illustrates that organizations value their people more than just tangible assets, as it uses technology to support, not just monitor employee performance. It allows staff to be hired and trained relative to their capabilities, which is relevant across all areas of an organization, and allows employee rewards to be linked to performance.

Employee satisfaction is also linked to customer satisfaction, which in turn fosters loyalty, profitability and accelerates business growth.

Service profit chain model

ITIL and Service Management

Service management is a generic concept and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) provides guidelines for organizations to readily improve their IT operations and business processes. Although it makes no sense on its own, ITIL helps businesses to focus on the things that matter, by aligning IT infrastructure with business services.

ITIL guidelines are scaleable, therefore relevant to any sized organization and can be applied to distributed or centralized systems, be they supplied in-house or outsourced. The standards based approach, allows enterprise-specific controls to be developed and implemented, in an effort to promote a culture of continuous improvement. This approach saves money when IT service management is central to an organization but is not the organization’s core business.

In 2007, ITIL v3 was released with the refined objective of the ITIL Service Management practice framework to provide services to business customers that are fit for purpose, stable and that are so reliable, the business views them as a trusted utility. This lifecycle approach to service management covers:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement.

The following information deals specifically with Service Operation.

Improved service

At the point organizations are judged based on the quality of their service operations, businesses need to assess how their IT services meet the customer and business requirements. Where a support service already exists, an organization needs to ask the following questions:

  • Does our support team log and understand the technical nature of customer difficulty at first point of contact?
  • Do they respond relevant to the degree of urgency stipulated by the customer?
  • Does the support team communicate with the customer regarding the follow-up activity? Do they meet the expectations outlined to the customer?
  • Do they complete work with the minimum disruption to the customer, and in a positive and professional manner?
  • Is customer follow-up action taken? For example, ensure the issue is resolved and the customer is happy.

Organizations need to know that all requests are handled in a consistent manner and with good communication as business confidence is gained when customers know that a service operation is managed in this way. Confidence is lost when requests appear to go into a “black hole”. That is, a customer request is dealt with using an unpredictable and inconsistent process.

The inconsistency may be due to the support team having no formal processes or standardized procedures. This means the staff cannot rely on their colleagues for assistance, as no-one really knows what is expected of them. In this situation, the service staff have no real idea how their role affects the organization as a whole.

To successfully differentiate an organization within any market, high quality and predictable IT service is required to drive increased business and revenue. However, this requires the IT Service Operations process to move from an ad-hoc, chaotic process to an ideal of value-add service.

Achieving service quality

To build a highly focused service culture that underpins the success of an organization, strong leadership and vision is required. To develop a business based on service, an organization must:

  1. Understand its current position. Is the service offering: Chaotic? Reactive? Proactive? Service? Or Value?
  2. Set the goal, regarding the level of service management needed to best support the business.
  3. Set the right personal performance metrics and rewards that will encourage staff beyond fire-fighting and reactive support mode
  4. Dedicate time and training to document repeatable processes and become proficient at their execution
  5. Continually review the service, to ensure an active predictable service quality is maintained.

The implementation of formalized processes provides cost-effective and consistent IT services, which allow organizations to handle requests and change in an efficient way with minimal disruption to customers. Such improvements to the quality of service and support, allows IT service to become a true business asset.

For organizations to successfully capitalize on the potential of IT services they must:

  • Develop a culture of IT operations excellence
  • Create well-defined, repeatable processes that undergo continual refinement
  • Build an organizational structure that underpins the processes
  • Measure and report on the success and weaknesses of the processes.

Selecting a Service Desk application

Many service desk tools are available to capture and manage the service support processes for Configuration, Incident, Problem, Change and Service Level Management. With such variety, thought must be given to what works best for the business. The following questions can be asked regarding possible tools of choice. Which tool:

  • offers the degree of control required for your business, so that adjustments can be made easily when maintaining an environment of continual improvement?
  • ensures that the organization can implement best practices when it comes to the service support processes?
  • allows the organization to easily map the desired workflow/s for each of the processes and adjust as required?
  • allows the service manager to effectively monitor the service desk performance against service agreements?
  • integrates tightly between the change management process and configuration management – to the extent that data can be drawn from an asset management discovery tool, and automatically create a change request before being entered into the CMDB?
  • is so easy to use, it requires minimal training to use for customers and users alike?
  • does not require a full time administrator?
  • capitalizes on the organization’s current infrastructure?
  • includes reporting capabilities to monitor performance against service agreements?

Other questions to be considered include:

  • How is the tool configured, through the user interface or the back-end?
  • Is the application fully accessible from anywhere?
  • Can the application’s functionality be extended using other programs or web-services?

Conclusion

The implementation of service support standards provides organizations with the opportunity to differentiate their business and service offerings from their competitors. To be successful, an organization must make an honest assessment of its current position and use this as the basis for planning its future achievements.

To successfully provide predictable, high quality service, businesses must develop formalized processes that are constantly monitored and reviewed. In order to achieve this, the service desk application adopted by the organization must tightly integrate Incident, Problem and Change Management with an easy-to-use workflow engine and the Service Level Management process. To ensure the cost-effectiveness of IT infrastructure, an embedded CMDB must be easily accessible to the change management team.

To guarantee the service desk is running at an optimum level and meeting its service targets, reports should be easy to generate and readily distributed to the relevant parties. And as customer communication is paramount for maintaining satisfaction, this should be provided through multiple channels, including email and a customer portal. A central port of knowledge should also be readily accessible to re-cycle useful information and solutions, but also empower customers to provide their own fixes.

The change process required to implement a culture of service and support, requires support across the organization as a whole. A standards-based approach such as ITIL provides the guidelines for making the change, which result in the alignment of business objectives and customer needs with IT infrastructure that provides benefits across all facets of the organization and ultimately to the bottom-line.