Upgrading to the Right Service Desk Software

With the adoption of ITIL soaring into high gear, the evolution of the service desk technologies to support the services delivery is a critical step. Vendors are racing to develop service desk technology that align with ITIL processes in order to provide additional value and enable organizations to transform their IT departments into service organizations. Service desks are no longer confined to basements or considered an afterthought. They are an integral part of organizations’ successful delivery of business services, providing maximum value.

As the maturity of ITIL processes in the business increases, so does the focus on service desk functions and requirements for integration, advanced workflows, metrics and reporting for service level agreements. As the volume of incidents, problems and changes with interdependencies also increases, service desk manufacturers have begun to re-prioritize and align their service desk products to ITIL and IT service management (ITSM), allowing IT to function as a service provider and to provide value and profit to the organization.

For most organizations, the primary focuses are incident, problem, change, configuration and service level management. In evaluating various service desk tools and vendors, it is important to consider your organization’s current state of maturity with regard to ITIL and ITSM, both from a process standpoint and with regard to what tools have already been implemented.

Most commonly, the following areas are what should be addressed:

Service Desk Structure – Large, internationally disbursed organizations with tens of thousands of employees have a far greater demand on a service desk management solution than small to medium sized organizations. Your structure will depend on whether you will provide a local, centralized, virtual or follow-the-sun solution, as well as the environment where the service desk will reside.

As organizations grow, the increasing number of users and assets continue to expand the service management system’s volumes and databases. Capacity management can be projected directly based on the annual increase in the number of employees.

ITIL Aligned – Focus should be on the integration of the ITIL processes such as Incident, Problem, Change, Configuration and Service Level Management. Tools should be strategically selected based on their ability to enable ITIL processes and IT service management within your organization. The common goal is to become more efficient and effective.

Important selection criteria include correlation between incidents, problems and changes, configuration, and service level management. The ability to directly relate cause to effect greatly enhances resolution processes by clarifying what is affected and determining the urgency required to maintain service level agreements.

Workflow and Process Automation – Managing change is challenging for an organization. Infrastructure and regulatory requirements can also be extremely time consuming and costly. Does the service management system have robust change models and automated processes and workflows in place to assist in repeatable processes? Does it have defined workflow for repetition in change and other process workflows? These will allow efficient and effective use of time and personnel and reduce risk with a secure and auditable trail.

Integration with Current Systems and Infrastructure Tools – It is extremely difficult to manage complex environments with just one system. As you evaluate the service management system, determine if it is capable of integrating with your current infrastructure management systems.

Self Service and Live e-Support – (Interaction via voice, email, instant messaging) – Does the product offer various methods for user self service? For example, is there a secure online web portal for users to review the status of an incident and or service request? Can the service management system automatically log incidents or service requests via voicemail, or email? Can your service desk and or IT personnel provide live e-support? Can you communicate via instant messaging?

All of these methods allow the end user more control over getting their needs met. This removes excess burden and calls to the service desk as well as increases the customer satisfaction level across the organization.

Supporting Services Provided to the Business – Can the service management product provide a service portfolio and catalog? This is the central source of all service information and is utilized to build your service level management program, which includes your service level agreements (SLA).

The catalog lists the services provided to the customer, how they are delivered, how they are used and for what purpose, as well as the quality level the customer should expect. The catalog is normally built as part of the configuration management system (CMS) by defining each service as a configuration item (CI). The catalog will provide information in building your organizations business impact analysis (BIA) as well as being a part of your IT service continuity management (ITSCM) plan.