The agile approach is everywhere. Born in the software development world, agility means adaptive planning, ongoing development and continuous improvement. Rapid and flexible response to change is critical. It is not surprising that the best practices of agile software development penetrated into other areas, and IT service management (ITSM) is no exception.
The Service Desk Can Be Agile
Unless you’ve been away from ITSM for the last 10 years, you know that an agile IT service desk is flexible, automates processes for quicker incident resolution and emphasizes collaboration between technicians and interactions with users.
But how do you adopt these seemingly tough principles to make your IT service desk truly agile? We’ve put together five simple ways to help you assess your IT service desk and move toward agility.
Keep Interactions in Real Time
IT service desks are constantly nestled in webs of interactions between technicians and users. It’s easy for technicians to get lost in endless emails and delay resolution. To avoid chaos and ensure timely ticket resolution, interactions should stay in real time and communication should be as proactive as possible.
Let’s say the sales department of a company uses a sales application. But the application crashes, and the department’s users are unable to connect to it. So, they raise a ticket, and the IT admin immediately checks the server and realizes it’s down. They then check the code management database (CMDB0, which indicates that the application is also used by the finance department. Before attempting to resolve the incident, the IT admin should send a notification to the sales and finance departments to inform the users of both departments that the application is down and that the IT team is working on resolving the issue. That way, they can prevent duplicate tickets and focus on fixing the issue.
Eliminate Productivity Leaks
Most IT service desks are built on ITIL processes, which means that they are already efficient. But to become agile, you have to track IT service desk performance with key performance indicators (KPIs) such as lost business hours, SLA compliance and cost per ticket—all of which monitor both cost and productivity. While KPIs help you measure productivity leaks, reports help you identify their root cause. For example, your service desk KPIs indicate that there have been a lot of SLA violations. A quick look at your reports shows that a lot of time is spent gathering information rather than on finding solutions. By creating a template for common incidents or service requests, all the information you need is gathered in one place, making it easier for technicians to quickly resolve issues and meet service level agreements (SLAs). Similarly, you can reduce the time spent on routine tasks, such as assigning tickets and tasks to technicians, sending notifications to users and more, by automating these processes.
Encourage Collaboration Among Stakeholders
Every IT service desk has stakeholders across various disciplines and geographies. And IT service desks are often rated on how seamless the flow of information is between stakeholders. Therefore, it’s important to have a service desk that provides visibility and encourages collaboration. Let’s say that a company is running its financial application on a legacy server. To cope with increasing transactions, IT proposes a server upgrade. Since this application impacts everyone in the organization, any disruption in service will impact the business significantly. So, IT should keep all business groups and admins in the loop, ask them for recommendations on scheduling the change, ensure backout plans and inform users about the change schedule and expected downtime. An IT service desk application that provides room for this collaboration ensures a smooth upgrade with minimal interruptions.
Establish Self-Organizing Teams
An IT service desk is incomplete without its team. And since IT is essentially the command center of a company, it’s imperative to establish a self-organizing IT team. This starts with looking at the current team’s structure and creating workflows around it. In most IT service desks, the technicians are grouped based on their skill sets and level of expertise. So, you can easily assign a technician (or group) to a workflow that requires a certain type or level of skill. You can also auto-assign tickets to technicians or groups, assign a change manager to coordinate with different teams, automate escalation rules for complex issues, configure a backup technician when a one is not available and more.
Learn Through Iterative Increments
IT service desks are expected to meet the changing demands of their organizations. This means that they have to make a number of small changes over a period of time. In agile terms, this is called iterative increments. Let’s take, for example, a growing organization that has several employees joining every week. A typical employee onboarding and provisioning process requires the IT team to coordinate with different teams including HR, maintenance and administration. This can take up to 10 hours for each new employee. But, you can simplify this process by dividing the request into smaller tasks and assigning the tasks to corresponding departments. You can also automate this whole process, significantly reducing the time it takes to onboard a new employee.
Just follow these simple steps and you will be on your way to creating an agile IT service desk that delivers quicker resolutions, increases user satisfaction and evolves with rapidly changing technologies.
About the Author / Aparna TA
Aparna TA is a product analyst at ManageEngine, the real-time IT management company and division of Zoho Corp., and works in the ITSM products division for the flagship product ServiceDesk Plus. She keeps an eye on various IT practices and studies their impact on IT service management. In her free time she likes to relax on a couch and read the latest crime novels. Connect with her on LinkedIn and ManageEngine on Twitter.