SMB’s are struggling with the application of standards within IT. Still considered a black art by business executives, IT Standards are often touted, seldom adhered too, and never perfect. Let’s work through ITIL® to establish the optimum / minimum required for any SMB IT Service Desk.
ITIL®, ITSM, COBIT, ISO20000, ISO27001, TOGAF, USMBOK… there are many “IT standards”. Since all IT frameworks are essentially trying to help you achieve the same outcome – excellent, predictable, minimum levels of service to your customers – we’ll focus on ITIL® and establish what’s important.
To achieve an optimum/minimum for your help desk the following services should be considered:
- Service Strategy work through ITIL® to establish the optimum / minimum required for any SMB IT Service Desk.
- Incident management
- Problem management
- Change Management
At the center of your service is your strategy. The service strategy provides guidance to customers and staff.
Optimum: Your service strategy should address service strategy objectives, financial management, service portfolio and demand management strategies. This strategy can be shared throughout your team and organization and used by your IT team to teach customers, make good decisions and provide excellent service.
Minimum: a one-page service expectation that can be announced and achieved, a method of costing and financial recognition, a transparent method of managing your service portfolio and an introduction of your resources and their finite capabilities to the customer. Again, your team and your customers need to have some basic information so they can be part of the solution process and make good decisions.
ITIL® talks about incident management as the real-world of IT – where the fires are put out. Here’s where the strategies are used by the IT team to address day-to-day service requests.
Optimum: To do a really good job with your service strategy you’ll need to automate key functions of your helpdesk. A solution will include basics like service requests (tickets) where you can record, classify, support, prioritize, investigate, resolve, close, audit, and report. For examples of automated service request systems see TeamHeadquarters in action.
Minimum: A procedures based manual system will also provide the structure to deliver an effective service strategy. The manual system will require additional manpower for the accumulation of data into meaningful reports. The biggest challenge with manual systems is the lack of visibility so; if you are going manual then you’ll need to have an auditable procedure that promotes visibility.
Problem management is the practice of resolving the root causes of incidents and relating mutiple incidents to the detected problem. These can be understood through an examination of incidents, feedback from customers and change requests.
Optimum: You will have a dedicated problem manager who will analyze service request trends, change requests, known errors, fixes, and classifications and who will look for root causes and develop actions to minimize impacts. This does not need to be a full time job but requires a responsible resource within the help desk operators in most cases.
Minimum: Schedule monthly round table discussions with your team to review statistics, discuss trends, change requests, known errors, fixes, and classifications. Make everyone a problem manager, assign them problems, let them find root causes and develop the actions that will minimize impacts.
Optimum: upon closure of a service request the customer is asked for their feedback. This information is collected and correlated against teams, members, classifications, priorities, and problems. Trends are found and improvements are made.
Minimum: Send an email to the customer when the ticket is closed and ask them for their feedback. Escalate unhappy customers and address effectively. Capture information manually and use this information to identify trends, individuals and problems.
Optimum / Minimum: All incidents, problems, and feedback systems are required to provide insight into the potential changes for your IT Management System. Many incidents, a few problems, a modicum of feedback, when reduced should provide some obvious opportunities for change.
Roll out changes to the overall helpdesk in small 15 day chunks using the Agile method for project management If ITIL® is your game then you’re going to love our IT Managers Guidebook to ITIL® for SMB’s. Read and enjoy!
TeamHeadquarters and Entry Software deliver all the tools required to successfully implement a helpdesk for your IT Team with the additional benefit of providing a fully integrated Project Management System. A leader in bringing these two practices together since 1998, Entry Software has helped thousands of users achieve better customer service and project management.