Infographic: Anatomy of the Service Desk in 2016

By Ollie O’Donoghue from Service Desk Institute

service desk

For a few months now, I’ve been talking about the evolution of service desk staffing models. I’ve become more convinced of this change as we publish more and more SDI research. I have the privileged position of being able to look at all SDI research as a whole, which means that while reports will have a particular focus, I can marry the findings up with other research to draw broader conclusions.

I have been able to do this with the recently published Anatomy of a Service Desk report, kindly sponsored by LANDESK. The report focuses on how service desk professionals spend their time, the strains and pressures of day-to-day service desk activity and the perception they have of their colleagues and access to resources. All said, the report is refreshingly positive; professionals felt less pressured and stressed than ever before, and there is an increasing focus on proactivity and strategy over the reactive firefighting that has dominated the landscape for many years.

It’s the latter point that interests me the most. Although not a remarkably significant increase – the average service desk now spends 38% of its time on strategic projects, an increase of 5% since 2012 – it’s possible to draw some insight when matching the increase with other trends in the industry.

Specifically, the increased utilization of technologies to ‘sponge up’ some reactive support is a trend I’ve been wittering on about for a while. My argument for the inevitable rise of technology is based on several themes – customer and staff expectations, the increased prevalence and cost-effectiveness of the technologies themselves, and the drive to provide more value with less resource to name a few.

What interests me is whether the positive results we’ve seen in the Anatomy of the Service Desk research and the increased adoption of technologies noted in other reports are linked. Are professionals less pressured and stressed because self-help and self-service are absorbing some of the reactive support burdens? Are service desks now better able to focus on strategic projects because automation has reduced time-consuming manual tasks?

At the moment, the correlation could just be a coincidence. However, it’s food for thought until the next piece of SDI research is published looking to link all the trends together.

I will be talking about these trends at LANDESK Connect 16 this year; I hope to see you all there and look forward to joining you all in debating what these trends mean for us and our industry.

Click below to download the FREE report!

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The A-Z of the Service Desk and IT Support Show

We are slap bang in the middle of the ITSM Expo and Conference season. With less than a week away from the Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS) in London Tuesday 29th April and Wednesday 30th April. Here is my A to Z of what to watch out for and cross off your list:

A – Top visitor tip to help you plan your visit, download the SITS App 

B – I’m looking forward to a presentation from Barclay Rae @barclayrae on Wednesday at 10:00 am entitled Respect the Service Desk explaining how to rethink the role of the Service Desk

What would you call this caption?

What would you call this caption?

C – Come up with a witty Caption to go with the image on the left and tweet it back to us @LANDESK for your chance to win a KINDLE Fire HD at #SITS14

D – For your chance to win either Dre Powerbeat headphones, a Pebblewatch or a Nike+Fuel band attend seminar on the LANDESK stand 400

E –  The Education Programme at SITS takes the form of Keynotes, seminars and roundtables.

Don’t focus on the hype of Shadow IT, focus on the user and ROI

Shadow IT ROIWith the current trend of the industry,  IT professionals have the opportunity to impact businesses more than can be imaged. As we have seen from the Target security breach, a failure in IT can cost millions but the more typical issue is that a failure in IT just impedes the business. Shadow IT is the current buzz word for departments creating their own IT solutions. In one of my past lives, I was part of a shadow IT project. We determined that for our department to be successful, it was imperative that we proceed with a project before our turn in the backlog. IT was willing to support the project and wanted to see us be successful. They just didn’t have time or resources to support the project. This project occurred years ago, long before shadow IT was a trend and point of discussion.

Help I’ve Forgotten My Password…again!

Reset my password!

I’m writing this blog while waiting for a response from whom I shall refer to as “Your Company IT Failed Me” to my email – “Help I’ve Forgotten My Password”. Yes, once again I’ve forgotten my password and “Your Company IT Failed Me” doesn’t have any way of recovering or resetting passwords, so I’m twiddling my thumbs waiting for someone to email me and get me back into the system.

Woolley Headed End Users

Meanwhile it got me thinking. How many times has that email or phone call hit that company’s call queue in the last month and how much time have they wasted responding in person? For many of you in service desk land I guess it’s a pretty typical daily occurrence that takes up valuable time of analysts. Analysts, who at the same time are getting frustrated and annoyed with woolley headed end users like myself, because we are stopping them from doing real IT work.

The IT Superhero – A recap of Pink 2014

As the sun sets at the end of another Pink Elephant ITSM conference & exhibition, I’ll take a few minutes to describe events and the conference from my perspective.

Firstly, I think we can say that the team at Pink once again did an amazing job overall. The conference has a gentle start with early training and exam sessions, but then kicks off properly on the Monday morning with the big keynotes. The theme was Superheroes – reflecting that the superheroes in IT have tough jobs in tough times, but do amazing things. Lots of lycra and leaping around, but a firm message: IT People are Business People. The IT Superhero is not a Cowboy. The IT Superhero follows process and does the job properly. Total support from me on those points.

The guest keynote speakers on the first day were both totally outstanding. Commander Chris Hadfield was – as you would expect from a super-famous guitar playing astronaut – most impressive. The phrase “awesome” is tossed around like cheap confetti these days, but this is a man who has had extraordinary experiences and has performed a job that is worth of considerable awe.  Reassuring also to hear that if the (Windows) computers in the Soyuz rocket had any problems they would turn the whole rocket off and then turn it on again. Something we all know about in IT!

The second keynote – Caroline Casey – was also awesome, but for totally different reasons. To see her stand on stage, laughing and at times crying, and tell her incredible story of discovering and overcoming a tough handicap was an amazing experience, which led to a huge sobbing standing ovation. ITSM people clearly are very much in touch with their emotional side. Not a dry eye in the house.

As usual, the show floor buzzed quietly, less of a rushing torrent of people, more gentle detailed and considered conversations and practitioners exploring the various vendor offerings. Interesting to see no one clear direction across all vendors, but LANDESKs user oriented IT vision seems to be drawing great interest  – more of that below.

IT-GuyNow, at Pink it’s really all about the sessions. It’s a huge agenda and there’s way too much going on to be able to see everything. In fact, one criticism I have is that each 45-minute time slice has just too many choices running at the same time. I had to make hard choices and not attend sessions that I really wanted to see, and then find that some sessions are running with a relatively small number of attendees in the room.

It was most interesting to see industry leadership initiatives evolving. A few years ago back2itsm was very present, this year the lead was taken by the Pink Think Tank, a panel of very great minds quite correctly reflecting the broad concern that IT is becoming bypassed as the business looks too seek IT solutions elsewhere. Often referred to as Shadow IT, this concern basically boils down to risk of irrelevance and risk to business safety.  This concern came up time and time again. Pink Think Tank tackled this with group focus on one specific area. Not ‘boiling the ocean’ but finding the recommended point to press hard to address the situation. And that point – driving business value by IT growing into more of a broker for multi-channel service suppliers. The principle being that by IT becoming a preferred go-to point for liaising with these external services, it becomes easier and safer to go to IT than to do it yourself. I’m fairly on board with this, although I have some concern that we’re fixing the situation by focusing too much on back-end IT activities and less on the end-user experience. More on that below. I guess that will come as the Think Tank progress, but I do wish them well.

Talking of community, SMCongress was a much discussed topic. I still have nothing to say on that one, I mostly stepped back from the conversations about that ‘change the world’ initiative that, well, hasn’t changed the world. Call me a cynic, that’s ok.

Obvious high points over the week included Alexos announcements around ITIL. I won’t go through all of them but the headlines for me are the appointment of the very brilliant Kaimar Karu as Head of ITIL (cool title eh?) and the start of a new cyber security best practice portfolio. That is very sharp of Axelos, it makes them very relevant indeed. Since LANDESK is an experienced vendor in ITSM and security solutions, I find this most exciting. Good to see Axelos living up to expectations so far.

I wanted to call out David Cannon’s session on the coming ‘business apocalypse’. Again pretty much the same subject around Shadow IT, but his summary of the situation was stark. Basically if you don’t change IT you can expect to be working in a basement or a cloud data center, His approach – in line with Pink Think tank but stretching further – focuses on the importance of the Service Portfolio, on Business Relationship Management, Demand Management and other associated activities. There’s way more to it than that of course. Anyway, I loved his approach, though I’ve got concerns. Looking at many organisations today that don’t have enough staff to manage Incident Problem and Change well enough to keep the fires down.

Even more so than in previous years the social community atmosphere was outstanding. The volume and range of tweets being produced during the conference was quite extraordinary with contributions from people with different backgrounds and experiences and opinions, both present at the event and of course remote from the Conference. Well done Pink for streaming the keynotes live so everyone could contribute. If you’ve not looked already, just pop into Twitter and search for the hashtag #Pink14. It’s all there.

Related to that it was interesting to see Tuesday’s keynote from Joshua Klein being a little less successful. A case of ‘know your audience’ I think. His presentation of visionary imminent future technology examples was good but didn’t totally amaze the audience – we’re mostly was well aware of them (credit @ServiceSphere2010/11/12), and the unfortunate use of stereotype imagery of women in IT caused a genuine and completely valid twitter storm of horror. Let’s not forget ITSM is the industry with a very high proportion

Checking out the Google Glass

Checking out the Google Glass

of amazing successful women in all roles. Mind you – Josh Klein got it right for me on a few points, particularly the move to mobile and wearables and context.  IT becoming more sensors and servos, less code and computers. Talking of wearables, LANDESK was giving away a Pebble Steel watch on our stand, and –yay – I also finally got to try Google Glass. My view? Amazing, I want them.

Of course it’s not all virtual community. Networking and meeting old and new friends and colleagues is a crucial important part of the event. Pink facilitate this very well with the social networking events on the show floor, which inevitably lead to great group meetings over beer and peanuts going late into the evening. Wonderful to meet so many experts, opinion leaders, customers and online community members in real life.

Now, to return to the earlier point, it does feel that IT is aware of and grasping the Shadow IT challenge. I’m concerned that it is only using traditional ITSM approaches and procedures to address those challenges. Kind of what we’ve done before, but more. That’s okay, but the piece that was missing for me was a front-end result of this activity – the new user experience. Okay, so we apply multi-channel supplier brokerage, and we enhance our service portfolio, but how would that actually transform the end user experience as a customer of IT? Describe the end result.

At LANDESK we talk a lot about user oriented IT, a technical and philosophical approach that complements best practice frameworks and traditional processes, but also introduces a mindset of concentrating on the user and the user experience as the most important piece. We put the end user at the center of everything IT does. Not the end. But that is a bigger topic and I’ve written too many words already. You’ll find more on that throughout the LANDESK blog site.

In summary, I think these events are always a very individual, personal experience. My experience was that this was not only the best Pink conference yet, but also the single best global ITSM I have ever attended. It’s becoming a cliche to say ‘its all about the people’ but my impression once again is that our industry has the brightest greatest potential – IT people that both see long vision, think and know about the business, and know how to action to get there. Exciting times.

The Productive Power of Communication

Regular readers may know I tend to have a fairly eventful and at times rather entertaining business-travel experiences.  I’m not sure what I’ve done to offend the Travel-Gods, – perhaps I’m somewhat behind in my sacrificial offerings – but generally when I travel if things can go wrong, for me they frequently do.

To be fair, it’s never my fault. I’m always on time, always leave plenty of time. Never forget my passport or laptop (although there was once an unfortunate forgotten-underwear incident, although that’s a story for another time). However, I do seem to get more than my fair share of travel changes, holdups and unexpected reschedules. I’m also intimately familiar with the maintainenance routines, de-icing and now also electrical fuse-boxes on airplanes.

I’ve learnt a thing or two about being at the customer-end of a service interruption, and it has got me thinking about how in the world of IT Service Management, communicating the right information makes a huge impact on the productivity of the enduser/customer.

Let me illustrate with a real example. A week or two back I found myself at London Waterloo train station about 10 p.m. ready to jump on the train to take me back home. When I arrived at the station to get my return train it quickly became apparent that all was not well. The departure boards – and there are many at Waterloo – were all flashing DELAYED. Crowds of people were standing in front of the display boards, staring up at the boards. Of course I joined them and quickly spotted the train I had hoped to be catching listed up there – alongside the words DELAYED.  Now, each train did have a departure time listed – but it quickly became apparent as time passed that this was theTrain Timetable original listed time and that soon passed into history and irrelevance.

Two hours passed. No trains arrived or left.

What did I do?  I did the same as everyone else. I stood gazing slack-jawed up the announcement boards, looking at the word DELAYED flash next to the train that I was waiting for.

The problem was that although I had STATUS information, I had nothing else. STATUS alone doesn’t let you decide the right course of action.

Occaisonally there was an announcement over the tannoy, and a largely distorted alien voice mumbled something with the word ‘…power failure… all trains temporarily halted… as soon as we know… apologise…’

So I knew INFORMATION on the fault – not that I cared greatly – and I knew the status. But I didn’t know any TIMESCALE or ALTERNATIVE, and that was why I had no choice but to stand there getting cold along with everyone else. In the absence of ‘how long’ I couldn’t risk going elsewhere in case my train suddenly arrived. In the absence of an alternative travel option I could only wait until I knew when my train would be ready.

The point I’m making here is one of communication and the effect of good and bad communication on the customer.

Let’s look at it from an IT perspective. If corporate IT is to be User Oriented, we must not only provide the right services, but also the right information to encourage choice and productivity. Even in a situation where a service is impacted or unavailable, the way we communicate can still enable choice and productivity.

So what do you communicate? When your IT services are offline do you proudly communicate through self service and email and other routes? Do you communicate STATUS? Most self service sites show service status don’t they? But thats half the picture. If you miss other vital pieces of communication then you can actually cause the enduser to freeze, just as all the passengers had no choice but to stare at the departure boards for 2-hours. You put the enduser in a bad position where they are hindered even more by our communication than by the service being unavailable.

It’s a little bit like the last blog I wrote where I talked about the concept of always identifying a next-action date. There are a few value items of communication that let you understand and decide and act. In this case these items are :-

STATUS: what is impacted

INFORMATION: what is understood about the impact, including scope and scale.

TIMELINE: how long it will be impacted

OPTIONS (alternatives, workarounds)

Imagine, if the train departure boards had said ‘Ian’s train home: DELAYED. Cause: Power Failure. Timescale: Until at least one hour from now. Options: No alternative routes exist.’ then I’d have been able to go into a coffeeshop or bar, have a warming drink and perhaps work on a document or send some emails. I’d have been productive. Instead I was unproductive and I got very cold toes. (Mind you, I did get this blog out of the experience so perhaps it’s not all bad).

If you are in IT, when you communicate to the business, remember what you communicate should encourage choice and productivity. Just another example of User Oriented IT.

LANDESK Customers Win Gold

Service Desk Mobile Self Service _myrequest_statusHere at LANDESK, we are very proud of the achievements of our Service Desk customers so it’s always great when they also get industry recognition. Last year our customers worldwide included those that won ITSFM project of the year and SDI awards amongst others.

Quite fittingly with the imminent start of the Winter Olympics in Russia, we kick off this year with customer awards in Russia and CIS countries. – Last month two LANDESK Service Desk customers won Project of the Year 2013 held by Global CIO in Russia. Using LANDESK Service Desk these two customers were judged to have achieved significant results in a short time and with limited resources.

Engage IT – Introducing Service Desk 7.7

Announced to the market January 21, 2013 LANDESK Service Desk 7.7 is the latest release from LANDESK, strengthening our portfolio of User-Oriented IT solutions.

So what’s this new release all about? Well, Service Desk 7.7 is the Engage IT release, which enables end-user customers to engage once again with IT in ways they want to—visually appealing, location-aware, picture driven support, and more. From the service desk standpoint, version 7.7 boosts the service desk’s ability to engage with its end users, other IT teams, and the business through greater service visualization, best practise reporting, project portfolio driving IT Service management improvement and customer satisfaction.

Why is engagement so important? Well in case you missed it, the world has changed. It’s no longer enough for IT to focus on the traditional cost cutting objectives that were once the pervasive mindset. In the age of IT and Service consumerization it’s too easy for end-user customers to find their own IT solutions elsewhere. Whether you call it the Engage IT Service Desk 7.7consumerization of IT, the consumerization of services or just BYOD it’s evident that if you don’t provide the services or IT tools that customers want they will go elsewhere.

Understanding your customers and how they want to work and making sure the service desk operates wherever customers choose to work is all important. Plus building better business relationships means that you will be able to be more aware, respond faster and better to change.

Charles Darwin put it really well. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin

User Oriented IT from LANDESK

Service Desk 7.7

  • Superior Mobility Solutions
  • Unique Picture Driven support
  • Best Practice, Certified Reports
  • Improved Language Support
  • Beyond Core IT Processes and Best Practice

Want to find out more about 7.7, watch the video

Sometimes It’s The Little Things You Do That Make a BIG Difference

LittleThingsToday’s blog article is a little different. We often talk about big themes and about how technology can improve our lives and the productivity of the employee, about the value of improving IT maturity and expanding best practice processes. However, sometimes big improvements can feel like too big of a step right now. Words like ‘phases’ and ‘culture’ and ‘people’ and ‘project’ and ‘rollback’ start to be bounced around.

I do understand that it can be intimidating when faced with a big IT change. So I thought I’d lighten the Blog content a bit by taking time to share a few of the little Service Desk operational hints and tips I’ve received from our customers  that show how a delicate touch or subtle change can still make a big difference. They are all incident-related, and require very small pieces of design in your Service Desk tool. You may be doing these already – if so, yay! – well done you. If not, take them as some small shiny gifts. Maybe they could work for you?

Let’s look at four little tweaks

1.     Next Action

Now we all know ‘Status’ on an incident can tell – duh – what the status of the incident is. Is it closed? Open? Waiting for feedback from the end-user? With a third party? Trouble is that status doesn’t tell you WHY it is in that status. It doesn’t tell you WHAT needs to be done. Yes, you will have its of notes and emails attached, but you need to know at a glance, (without going into the detail and reading lots of updates). So, add a new field to your incident. I call it ‘Next Action’. Update that field every time you take any action on an incident. Now, you can see at a glance not only that an incident is waiting on the end-user, but what exactly you are waiting for.

2.     Due Date

These two go together like bacon and eggs. If you are happy that you can record briefly what you are waiting to have happen next on an incident, then add the second half; when is that action due to be completed? Add a date field. Add it to your Incident and put it on the window next to your ‘Next Action’ field.

Let’s look at the difference. Here’s a list of incidents.

ID User Title Status
1234 BobSmith Error Message Open
1235 SueJones Can’t Print WithUser
12347 ChrisHarris Burning Smell WithUser

Now, let’s add those two fields and see the difference:

ID User Title Status Next Action Due Date
1234 BobSmith Error Message Open Send KB Article 12/12/13
1235 SueJones Can’t Print WithUser Confirming Prints OK Now 10/01/12
12347 ChrisHarris Burning Smell WithUser Drying Water off Laptop 15/10/12

See, how just from looking at that list I can tell what’s going on? The first Incident is waiting for IT to send the answer, the second looks like we fixed it, but months ago so we can expect that we’re all good there, and the third seems to be more of a personnel/HR safety issue.

3.     Assignment Gates

Have you ever had problems with assignments bouncing back and forth as firstling hand work on to other teams? Only to have them bounce them back as lacking the basic diagnostic steps they require done? It causes frustration for everyone, makes firstling feel like they are being patronized, makes other groups feel like they are being imposed upon, and slows down support dramatically. No problem – put it in a ‘gateway’. A nifty little piece of process design can present the assigner with a window asking for the basic requirements that are needed to be answered before the assignee group can accept the incident.

For example, if I wanted to assign to DESKTOP SUPPORT, with an assignment gateway, when I select that assignment I get asked to complete a simple form:

DESKTOP OS?

DESKTOP BUILD?

CONFIRMED patches all up to date?

NOT RESOLVED BY DEFAULT REBUILD?

MACHINE-SPECIFIC or REPLICATED?

SEARCHED KB for the ERROR CODE?

REMOTE CONTROLLED?

So I know I have to complete those fields before I can assign to that team. Great, I know what I have to do to move it on. More often than not that will fix it and there is no way it’ll then bounce back to me. The best bit? Get the assignee recipient team to define their gateway criteria to accept new work. They then ‘own’ the information they require to do their job more effectively and never bounce. Everyone wins.

4.     Finally, a bit of subtle Gamification

Do you have group-queues where new work sits waiting for members of a team to pick the work up and assign it to themselves? If you do, and you have more than one person in a group, then you’ll probably find some people grab the easy quick incidents, whereas others spend time working through the tougher harder issues. End of the day, who has resolved more? Yes, the quick-grabber of the easy work has a higher number resolved, yet they are not necessarily the ‘best’ or most valuable contributor. Those tough incidents are – if anything – more important, yet the praise goes to the quick-grabber.

So here’s one fun way to fix it. Put a field containing a Value representing the difficulty on each category definition. Simple categories are, say one point, and hard investigative ones are ten points. Ten easy incidents are worth the same as one real toughie. Now you can go into much more detail, but the idea remains the same. Set everyone a goal of number of POINTS (not number of incidents) they need to resolve. Sit back and watch as people chose work based on how much they have done and how much time they have left. Expect to see a great improvement in morale and efficiency. You can take that idea further once it’s been in process but it’s your first step into influencing behaviour by ‘gaming’ support.

There you have it. Four suggestions that are not a huge effort, are not intimidating, yet make a big difference to the support experience for both IT staff and their customers.

Would these tips work for you? What similar quick yet powerful wins have you seen make a difference? Let me know in the comments.

Benchmarking the Service Desk

Most people, regardless of their job role or the industry they work in, are interested in what their peers do, so they can compare and benchmark themselves. In fact, I love networking events for that very reason, and use them as a way to learn about better ways of doing things by picking the brains of my fellow networkers!

The LANDesk customers I speak to, feel the same. There is not always time to get out of the office and network, or read lengthy best practice whitepapers. So, for some years now, I have been working with the Service Desk Institute (SDI) in the UK to run a bi-annual survey so that we can benchmark various aspects of the service desk environment and create an easy to read report.

We ask lots of different questions from service desk salaries (let’s be honest…we all want to know what our peers earn) through to more details on adoption of service desk processes such as SLAs and of course, the all-important reporting and analytics.

It is always interesting to read through the results and look at how things are evolving in the fast paced environment of a service desk. I think one of the most interesting statistics is that 96% of service desks will use self-service to combat smaller team sizes. It is interesting that the report highlights that staff numbers have been shrinking since 2007 and seemingly, the adoption of service desk technologies is being used as a way to ensure that the end-user still receives a high level of customer service.

It is also really heartening to see that the main indicator of success for service desks is customer satisfaction and the SDI tell me that they see an increase in the demand for analysts who have fantastic customer service skills. There is a perception that technical skills can be learnt but customer service is more to do with personality and attitude… maybe a bit controversial but, in my humble opinion, very true.

I’d probably say that there will be no major, fall off your chair with shock, surprises in this report for you hard-working, well informed Service Desk professionals out there BUT I think it is well worth a read, it is definitely food for thought, and who knows, you might pick up a tip or two!