Focus on Problem Management; not fire-fighting

         Technology isn’t perfect, and the things people try to do with technology aren’t perfect either.  When the interface between users and IT Services breaks down (and it will happen), the IT Service Desk is the place they turn to for help.  Most IT service desks believe that “providing help” is their reason for existing. While there is nothing wrong with that perspective, a better way of thinking about the role of the service desk is “to make IT services better so users don’t need to ask for help”.  Unfortunately, most service desks are focused on performing incident and request management (providing help) which rarely leads to the services themselves getting better.

         Some of the key metrics of incident and request management are time to resolve, cost per ticket and first call resolution.  While it is important to get the users’ issues resolved quickly so they can get back to work, focusing on incident and request management promotes a behavior within your IT service desk to apply “band-aid” fixes to address the immediate problem and emphasizing quantity over quality of support. Instead, the IT Service desk should be organized as a listening and data-collection function of problem management as its core function with incident and request management simply a means of engagement.  

        If the goal of IT Service Management is to give clients and users the best IT Services to meet their needs, perhaps the incidents, questions, and requests that generate service desk tickets shouldn’t be looked at as something to be avoided but rather as important data points to be collected.  Each ticket represents a situation where the IT service has not fully met the user’s needs. Instead of just applying a workaround, answering a question from a script or fulfilling a routine request, the Service Desk should be focused on identifying areas where the IT services can be improved.  This is problem management.

Automation in a problem-centric service desk

       When most people think about automation within the IT Service desk they think about tasks like troubleshooting tools or self-service capabilities for things like password resets. Perhaps that makes sense if the purpose of the service desk is simply “providing help”. In a problem-management focused service desk, automation capabilities assist in processes like capturing diagnostic and environmental data and routing this information effectively to the teams/individuals who can use it to make informed service improvement decisions.

        How service desk automation capabilities are implemented will play a big role in communicating to agents what management views as important.  If the system focuses on getting to “an answer” as quickly as possible, that’s what agents will do. If the system is centered around collecting a long list of data from every user about every request, that’s what the agents will do.  But if the IT Service Desk system is focused on capturing the user’s environment and needs without a bunch of unnecessary overhead, the agents will see their role as “solving problems” and not just processing tickets.

        At Freshservice, we believe that the Service Desk is at the heart of your company’s ITSM function and is the best place for you to show care and empathy for your users.  Our IT Service Desk platform is designed to provide your agents with the capabilities that they need without all the overhead processes and complexity that gets in the way of what is important – engaging with users and helping them get the IT services they need.

It’s a fresh approach to ITSM.