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ITIL :: View topic - How about a company wide Service desk? Not just for IT.
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How about a company wide Service desk? Not just for IT.

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Joined: May 13, 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 6:46 pm    Post subject: How about a company wide Service desk? Not just for IT. Reply with quote

I've just started the Service Desk management in the ITIL foundation course and it got me thinking.

Wonder what the consensus is on having a general service desk rather than an IT specific one. I work in a primarily non-IT company but we provide IT support for various applications and websites to several hundred users.

It's hard to justify investing in an IT-specific service desk as our user base is small, and incident levels relatively low.

However, how about a service desk encompassing IT, our finance department (eg. account enquiries), and our contracts department (eg. contract amendments/enquiries)?

Would ITIL practices be applicable to other kinds of departments do you think?

Note that our organization is small enough not to have multiple levels of support, which means much of the support must go to the people directly responsible for the area (and not simply by first level support staff). However, I'm thinking more about points of contact, procedures and policies for support which an ITIL Service Desk would encompass.

Secondly, wondering if anyone can provide a very brief explanation on exactly how a service desk differs from a traditional help desk. I understand it's purpose is broader but struggle to pinpoint exactly how.
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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK a significant difference I glean from my (in progress) training is that the service is the single point of contact for customers - and single poitn of contact for IT. It's the interface between the two.

My information osmosising continues.
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Joined: Mar 12, 2005
Posts: 255
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no reason that the ITIL principles for running a Service Desk could not be applied to setting up a Service Desk for external customers, or even non-IT services within an organisation.

This is obviouly attractive to companies whose core business is the provision of IT services.

Bear in mind though that the quality of the Service Desk function depends on the end-to-end management of Services, and close integration with the other support and delivery processes.

There is also the issue of ownership - which touches on budgets, reporting, line-management, and lots more.

A multi-function Service Desk would have to be more than a discrete function within the IT organisation. To work it would probably need to be a separate department. A lot of processes, information, contact chanels, resourcing, etc., would need to be carefully partitioned to acheive this.

The down side is that such a department would risk losing control over a great deall of the 'production inputs' of its own outputs. Which is to say 'critical success factors' would be harder to secure.

My gut feeling is that such a strategy could only be achieved through an enterprise wide project under the direct, and very enthusiastic sponsorship of the CEO, and the support and blessing of other C level positions.

One possible alternative strategy would be to concentrate on the usual model of the Service Desk as a function for the IT organisation, and wheen you had its performance up to a high level of maturity - a level which would entail high maturity on all the other processes feeding into it, especially the formal management of a portfolio of services and very strong customer relationship capabilities, you could offer the function to other departments - for internal or external customers as a service in it's own right.

But this would take a lot of work and the time frame is not weeks or months. Remember: Delivery < Expectations = Failure!
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Joined: Feb 28, 2006
Posts: 411
Location: Coventry, England

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

we have exactly what RJP is decribing and he is pretty much on the Money

As a Service Desk for a Service Provider our Desk has to be all things for all men/women. It helps that our MD and Owner (we are a private company) has a very strong bias towards Customer Service. The SD is a separate department run by a highly qualified / certified Manager.

The time frame to get it where it is today is over years, not months and has been very hard work.

The end result is worth the effort.

So give it a go


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Joined: Mar 16, 2006
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Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 1:18 pm    Post subject: Re: How about a company wide Service desk? Not just for IT. Reply with quote

That's a good piece of lateral thinking. Of course ITIL is a process framework and can therefore be applied to non-IT processes.

It makes sense to consider this approach as you are primarily a non-IT company and therefore may get greater leverage out of your general service desk. I've seen this attempted in other organisations. I would suggest you carefully consider the following.

All processes (IT and non-IT) must be end-to-end. If the account enquiry is closed at the desk fine. What about when n-level (n > 1) support is required?

This in turn leads into impacting the processes and work practices of other departments. Make sure they see the benefits but are also up to making the required commitments.

How will you achieve the (joint) funding for the exercise?

Because you will expand ITIL beyond the IT boundary this is an even greater organisational change.

Well worth doing and C-level sponsorship and commitment are essential. When I say commitment I mean much more than "Great idea, let me know when it's finished"
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Joined: Aug 13, 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

it is a great idea... you will face a pretty harsh political battle though. It is very typical to have multiple service desks across IT, and even though they will all complain about their service desks, they will complain that yours (or a combined one) is even worse. One of the best ways around this is to lay out the processes, show that underneath, the intent/functionality is basically the same for each, and that a combined one could in fact improve quality.

ITIL really doesn't account for this. If you find a group that does measure its performance (many do not, so you may need to spend some time looking), make sure to enlist their support. You can use that as leverage for those groups that may be a little difficult... "oh, you think the way your servie desk is set up today is best...what performance measures do you get? Are you performing better than this one?....."

Dan Vogel
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Joined: Aug 11, 2006
Posts: 262
Location: Netherlands

PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about the way your service desk is reached? If by phone, you can try and "fool" your users/customers by using IVR (Interactive Voice Response, menu driven: if you want IT, press 1, if you want finance, press 2 etc.). This way, you already can make people think that you are "one service desk" whilst this might not be the case at all. Giving your customers the feeling that your desk is one, will make actual effort to integrate much easier (in my experience).

Using ITIL for non IT should not be a problem at all, may organisations actually face this issue, especially since a lot of facility stuff is much more IT-related than in the past (coffee/vending machines with autmated paying etc.). Keep in mind that you should make sure, that those people involved in process management need to be given formal responsibilities and empowerement to act over the whole organisation, not just the IT-part.
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