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ITIL :: View topic - Start Service Level Management at the Service Desk
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Start Service Level Management at the Service Desk

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 10:13 pm    Post subject: Start Service Level Management at the Service Desk Reply with quote

At, I write about IT Service Management and I try to provide practical advice on how to adopt and adapt ITIL.

Start Service Level Management at the Service Desk
Written by Fabien Papleux
Saturday, 24 February 2007

During an itSMF Local Interest Group meeting I recently attended, Phyllis Drucker, of Consolidated Services for AutoNation, was describing her experience of an ITSM implementation based on ITIL® during which she suggested a practice which, at first, sounded odd to me. She said they started their implementation with the Service Desk and tasked the Service Desk Manager to start introducing Service Level Management.

I will spare you the details of the presentation. Phyllis will no doubt have other occasions to run it and it is her material after all.

I just love those kind of intriguing topics. I like those because they hold little truths. For instance, it would come to mind that the Service Desk and Service Level Management are the only two ITIL® discplines in normal and regular contacts with the customer. You could also argue that the Service Desk, with Incident Management, cannot function in an ITIL way without Service Level Management because there needs to be a definition of the requirements that the Service Desk needs to deliver.

I had a sense there was something very interesting about this topic and so I went hunting. I opened my Service Support book and I scanned the Service Desk section to find information about this and try to understand how this could work. I was quite happy to find multiple mentions of a clear link between the two discplines.

Points of synergy

Service Support point 4.1.5: Service Desk states that a Service Desk, as opposed to a Help Desk, allows business processes to be integrated into the Service Management infrastructure. The discussion about business processes is one between the customer and the IT organization, and that is a relationship normally maintained by Service Level Management.

In point 4.1.6: How can a Service Desk help my organization, it says that for many [customers], the Service Desk is their only window on the level of service […] It further suggests that the Service Desk as a function needs to represent the interests of the customer to the service team, very much like a Service Level Manager will draw OLA’s to support the needs of the customer.

The objective of the Service Desk itself, as layed out in point 4.1.9, is to drive and improve service to and on behalf of the business, again insisting on this connection with the management of levels of service.

Sound Management Approach

It would be careless to simply advocate this practice without carefully evaluating the particular situation though. In some cases, it may be risky, it may not apply or it may simply be not appropriate. It may just be that the person is not adequately prepared.

Because the Service Desk’s scope is frequently limited to managing Support activities, for instance, it may very well render this idea impractical.

Limited in time

I am not suggesting that the Service Desk Manager should lead the Service Level Management team once it comes into operations. There is a point during the implementation when the two roles need to split in order to establish a better balance of control.

Limited in scope

There is also no good reason for the Service Desk Manager to deal with the more complex activities of Service Level Management, such as controlling or even negotiating underpinning contracts with providers of services unrelated to the scope of authority of the Service Desk.

What are the activities he would be better suited for?

However, if you consider the introduction of Service Level Management a 2-step process, you can assign step-1 to the Service Desk Manager provided he is the right man for the job.

In this scenario, you would probably be implementing Service Desk and Incident Management in the first phase of the project. You could add Service Level Management Step-1 to the plan, with the objective of establishing a strong front-end to your IT Service Management framework.

The Service Desk Manager would be tasked with a number of activities, among which:

  • Establish a Service Catalog for the services produced by the Service Desk. The process should be closely monitored by the ITSM Program’s leadership to keep the business focus at the heart of the catalog. This will help the Service Desk establish the scope of their capabilities and create a basis for entering into discussions with customers.
  • Meet customers and discuss their requirements. Draft spec sheets that will be used internally to IT to formalise Operating Level Agreements (OLAs) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
  • Bring the requirements to the IT organization, match requirements with current delivery levels, establish OLA’s and review Underpinning Contracts.
  • Agree on specific targets for the Service Desk with the Business.
  • Draft the first Service Level Agreements in agreement with the Business, the IT leadership and the ITSM Program leadership.
  • Deliver, monitor, control and review the performance of the Service Desk based on the agreed targets.
  • Meet with the Customer on a regular basis to review the reports, listen to the Business and discuss improvements.

Support and Delivery

It is not always easy to successfully mix support and delivery. It requires the right people. Make sure to not put a techie in charge of Service Level Management.
Fabien Papleux

Technology Consulting | Service Excellence
Red Badge Certified

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well we're currently in the process of introducing Service Desk & Incident Management so this is an interesting topic to me.
As Service Desk Manager (and Incident Manager almost by default) the lack of any SLM was a real show stopper when setting out escalation procedures and response/resolution targets. It follows that getting any meaningful reports on Service Desk & Incident Management performance is almost impossible.
I was up to my neck in it running the desk as well as running several related projects - new helpdesk software, asset management, ITIL awareness etc - so we had to assign Service Level Management to another (more senior) manager. I laid out a basic Service Catalogue though, as a starting point.
Each organisation will vary but in our case it simply wasn't viable to combine the roles. Some kind of SLM, no matter how basic, is however almost a prerequisite of Incident & Service Desk Management .
The Service Catalogue is the keystone in my opinion, and the best place to start.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mummymonkey, it sounds like you're doing now what we are planning to do in the near future -- even down to the related projects! I think I'll probably be in your shoes and Service Desk and Incident Manager, too. I've been vaguely unsettled at the notion of creating escalation rules and response/resolution targets for our new help desk system when we're starting from scratch with really no idea what the customers even want or expect. I guess I was thinking along the same lines as you, but your experience really cements that SLM needs to happen before our Service Desk can be successful. Thanks for your insight!
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