Motivation and evolution of Service-Desk agents (Part 3)

By Laurent Duenas, February 4th 2014 


Previously it has been discussed reasons why Service-Desk agents has poor consideration for their own position and job. This article explores what could be done to tackle this issue by improving the vision of their role and their responsibilities.


Actions to be conducted (suite)


Re- think Service-Desk contribution into the IT delivery chain

As previously mentioned, without re-designing Service Management processes, it is harder to make the right place the Service-Desk should have. IT organization must start re-engineering all its processes, in support services, in release new functionalities, in order to make each contact with end-user an opportunity to provide value. Hence, end-users will fill “bathed” into a business-enabler environment facilitating the achievement of their own objectives. 


Main process concerned by this questioning:


►   Incident Management,

►   Request Fulfillment

►   Access management / fulfillment

►   Problem Management (as a contributor)

►   Change Management (mostly as a contributor)

►   Release and Deployment Management (mostly as a contributor)

►   Security Management

►   Event Management

►   Service Asset and Configuration Management (mostly as a contributor)


In a less indirect way

►   Financial Management,

►   Availability Management (contribution to some operational activities)

►   Capacity Management (contribution to some operational activities)

►   Supplier Management 


Empower and give responsibilities to Service-Desk.

To counterbalance the inferiority feeling (as previously described), power can be given to Service-Desk agents, which cannot be questioned or altered by any other actor within the support organization. It is necessary to give it for specific predilection domains which they have all latitude to use and impose to others. Of course, talking about power also means to use it with consciousness and relevancy.


Determining priorities

Many times, level 2 and 3 actors, backed by their competences, reckon having the right to decide how a ticket should be handled and to modify its priority*. It is imperative to stop this habit of arbitrary requalification. As it is no more admitted that a ticket is refused by Level 2 or 3 support and send back to Service-Desk because qualification information misses or any other reason (except situation where nothing else can be done). Only the Service-Desk agents have the right and legitimacy to determine and then modify an end-user’s incident or request priority. They are the only one as closed to the end-user to be able to understand importance of a request or the impact of an incident on end-user’s business. This is where Service-Desk legitimacy comes. No one else can impose other priorities. Service-Desk agent should have all authority to align all Support groups activities on priority they define based on end-user and IT Service criticality. No right is given to anyone in the IT organization to risk aggravating end-user damage because he/she estimates that information is not completed enough and Service-Desk agent should have not passed the ticket to him/her. Internal misunderstanding must be kept within IT organization without impact on resolution time.


* Excepting cases whose technical investigation demonstrate a lower impact on IT Service availability and usage than determined by Service-Desk. Whatever, the new prioritization must be shared with all stakeholders (including of course Service-Desk representing end-user’s voice).


Communication to end-users

The power to inform end-users or their representatives (as it is often the case in large organizations) must be centralized in one unique point. - as it is for inbound call through the SPOC concept.  This activity does not belong to anyone else. Service-Desk (or the entity in charge of end-user communication*) should be responsible and accountable of the communication to end-users in order to keep consistency and continuity in this information. Information to end-users - frequency and clarity - are a great part of customer’s satisfaction. This is where Service-Desk provides added-value - among other responsibilities. 


* In large organization subcontracting the call management to a specialized supplier, end-user information responsibility can be separated from inbound calls handling. And even in this case, this way-of-doing is questionable.


That does not mean that all conversations with end-users must get through Service-Desk agents. Level 2, for instance, can need to talk with end-users but for specific tasks. When it is required to deepen the investigation with the end-user’s experience of an incident, or when tests can only be made with him/her, of course Level 2 hang on his/her telephone and call the end-user independently from Service-desk agents. It is recommended to avoid any bottleneck within the resolution process imposing going through Service-Desk when no value exists. But these cases are restricted to the Level 2’s investigation role and no responsibility of end-user information is drawn back from Service-Desk.


The power of "chasing-up"

Service-Desk agents have all legitimacy to make all support group members respect service level agreements till the impact of an incident or a request on end-user activity is over. This power is important because it obliges support group actors and their managers involved to inform Service-Desk about where incident and request achievements are, and to mobilize them according to the business criticality.


►   “Chase-up” notion corresponds to the action of a Service-Desk agent to call again the Level2 or 3 support asking for updated achievement information


►   Escalation notion implies a superior technical level involvement when required. In practice, it often describes the process of involvement of the hierarchical management when resolution times are not respecting the Operational Level Agreements (OLAs). Their involvement should accelerate resolution where mobilization is not reactive enough 


Management has also a great role to play. It must accept ‘chase-up” and “escalation” rules. These could interfere with its own power for decision. Indeed, cases often happen where an incident priority disturbs project priority previously determined by the manager of a technical group. The best recognition of Service desk power and its legitimacy would be the plain respect of escalation rules by all level of management. No doubt, this would be perceived as a strong signal of support towards Service-Desk teams. 


Continual improvement

In this field, without being responsible for the whole continual improvement process, Service-Desk is a significant contributor. Whether it is to search knowledge base improvement, or process itself improvement, Service-Desk agents can intervene in all meeting instances (such as quality review meeting) and/or within the activities of specific processes (such as quality management, knowledge management, problem management) to initiate Service improvement plans. Service-Desk has the responsibility to demand Level 2 and 3 groups, all improvements in applications experiencing large numbers of incidents or new procedures to feed the knowledge base, in order to extent its scope of intervention.


This will result in increasing the resolution scome of Service-Desk or at least to keep it at tis expected level*.


* By the time, fixing progressively disappear due to cause eradication or automation of repetitive fixing. This reduces the scope of work of the Level 1 actors. If no transfer of controlled procedures from Level 2 (and might be sometimes from level 3) is done, 1st level scope will get poorer and will be shortly limited to qualification and “serving-hatch” role. 



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