by Doug Tedder
Date Published May 1, 2019 - Last Updated December 17, 2019

Recently, there has been a lot of energy, discussion, and movement regarding extending the IT service desk into the enterprise.  and for good reason. When you think about the functionality and results an effective IT service desk provides for the organization it serves, it’s not too much of a leap to imagine how that service desk would work with other parts of the organization outside of IT.

For example, a customer service department and an IT service desk both deal with interactions with people who use or consume products and services. In both cases, the customer service department or the IT service desk will try to resolve an issue if possible; and if unable to do so, escalate the issue to others within the organization.

Like the IT service desk, an organization’s facilities department deals with work requests or issues. Similarly, a human resources department initiates workflows that are associated with a hiring, termination, or job change, all of which require that the appropriate information is accurately collected and properly acted upon.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of extending the IT service desk into the enterprise is that the entire enterprise would have a single point of contact for any associate to interact with any other part of the enterprise. Just like an associate contacting an IT service desk, it wouldn’t be necessary to know “who” to call regarding an issue or question. That associate could simply contact the enterprise service desk.

There are many reasons for extending the IT service desk into the enterprise. But “just because you can” is not one of those reasons.

There are many reasons for extending the IT service desk into the enterprise. But “just because you can” is not one of them.
Tweet: There are many reasons for extending the IT service desk into the enterprise. But “just because you can” is not one of them. @dougtedder @ThinkHDI #ITSM #ESM #ServiceDesk

Successfully extending an IT service desk into the enterprise is not just setting up a few user IDs within your current ITSM tool and turning your colleagues loose. It’s not just adding a few items into a self-help portal and wishing your colleagues well. How should you begin extending the IT service desk into the enterprise?

  • Build the business case. For many of the reasons listed above, extending the IT service desk into the enterprise just makes sense.  But does it make business sense? That’s where building the business case can help you make an objective decision. A well-thought business case should answer questions regarding the financial, organizational, and (yes) cultural impacts of extending the service desk. It should list the benefits and risks of extending the service desk. And it should enable senior leaders to either endorse and get behind the initiative or to share areas of concern.
  • Understand the business. IT’s view of the business is often formed from the business’ use of technology and services provided by IT. If IT is to be successful in extending the service desk into the enterprise, IT must understand how the business functions, the language of the business, and how the other areas of the business contribute to achieving organizational mission, vision, and goals. IT must understand the challenges, constraints, and performance expectations of the other areas of the business.
  • Become an internal consultant. Process design, procedure development, and workflow design are likely not areas of strength for other parts of the organization. IT must be ready to be an internal consultant for the other areas of the business and help with these crucial constructs.
  • Leverage IT processes, when it makes sense. While there is no need to “re-invent the wheel” when it comes to processes, also recognize that the rest of the organization doesn’t speak “geek.”. The other parts of the organization likely do not think and talk in terms of incidents, service requests, knowledge articles, and so on. By understanding the business, you’ll be prepared to adapt existing processes where you can or design new processes when necessary.

Here are my seven tips for successfully extending your service desk into the enterprise.

  1. Be inclusive. Just because IT thinks it is a good idea doesn't make it a good idea for those outside of IT. Engage and enlist HR, facilities, customer service, and the other areas of the enterprise, and make them part of developing the solution. Inclusion helps drive adoption.
  2. Listen. Ask questions. Listen some more. Then act. Accounting has been around for 3000 years. People have been hired and terminated since the first person collected a paycheck from another person. While properly applied technology can enhance workflow and performance, there are just some fundamental things that “just work” and have worked for years. So, just like organizations outside of IT may not have an appreciation for all of the detailed aspects of IT, neither should IT expect that it knows every detail or aspect of the operations of other parts of the organization. When approaching organizations outside of IT first listen…ask questions…listen more…then act. When you listen first, colleagues will feel valued and respected, and this will help drive adoption.
  3. Think “big picture.” Each department will have their own processes and procedures for managing their work. Be cognizant that your organization is an ecosystem—all parts depend upon/provide outputs/outcomes to all other parts. No part of the organization stands on its own. Think about the organization holistically. What is best not only for a specific department but also for the company overall?
  4. Keep it simple. The easier it is, the more likely colleagues will adopt and embrace an enterprise service desk.
  5. Iterate. Extending the service desk into the enterprise will go much better if you approach doing so in smaller, manageable chunks. This approach also facilitates continual learning and continual improvement.
  6. Put process before tool. This is likely the most significant challenge for many IT organizations extending their service desk to other parts of the company. IT has already recognized and realized the benefits of the ITSM tool, but the rest of the organization has only experienced the tool as consumers of IT services. It’s tempting to view enterprise challenges in terms of the functionality of the tool. But thinking in terms of the tool is a trap. The first words that come out of your mouth CANNOT BE "the tool does it this way.". The fact is that a good ITSM tool can and will do what you need to do how you need to do it.
  7. Share what you know and do. In most cases, organizations outside of IT have never had a “service desk” sitting between other business associates and their particular department. Perhaps the only way that they’ve experienced a service desk is as a consumer of IT services. Share your experiences on how to make the best use of having a service desk. Let associates know what works, what doesn’t work, and why.

Extending the IT service desk to the enterprise can provide big returns and benefits to an organization—but only if it is approached properly. My seven tips for extending the service desk will help you toward achieving success.

Doug Tedder is a strategic, innovative, and solutions-driven IT service management professional with more than 20 years of progressive experience across a variety of industries. He’s a resourceful and hands-on leader with track record of success implementing ITSM and IT governance processes. Doug is a certified ITIL Expert and ISO/IEC 20000 Consultant Manager and holds many other industry certifications. In addition, Doug is an accredited ITIL Foundation trainer and HDI Support Center Analyst and Support Center Manager instructor. Follow Doug on Twitter @dougtedderand connect with him on LinkedIn.

Tag(s): supportworld, support center, service desk, service management, ITSM


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