There’s no question that Agile is one of the hottest IT concepts of the decade. While the notion of Agile generally applies to software development, it can also be viewed more generally as a highly-collaborative, rapid-delivery project management methodology, in which solutions are designed by cross-functional, self-organized teams and are released in a dynamic and continuous fashion.
Unfortunately, the entire Agile approach often runs counter to service desk principles, which are rooted in more rigid ITIL processes — often to its own detriment and that of the business users it’s intended to serve. In fact, while the purpose of the desk is to create efficiency in delivering IT support and services, these days it is often known for doing just the opposite.
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The root of this problem is that the service desk has long perpetuated the myth that it controls the IT environment from end to end. The reality is, it doesn’t. Sure, people working the service desk triage and troubleshoot issues, but they need to work with the wider IT organization to resolve those issues and fulfill service requests.
In today’s IT environment, with the multitude of devices available, greater technical know-how among users, and expectations for instant problem resolution, many service desks have developed a reputation for being unhelpful and slow. In essence, not worthy of the business’s trust.
The question is, how does your IT service desk build trust between your IT organization and the business? In Agile terms, it can — and must — do so by continuously demonstrating and delivering business-defined value. While the answer seems simple, getting IT to work across silos and behind the curtain to prove its value can be extremely difficult.
There is a way, though, to improve the situation by embracing certain aspects of the Agile approach. In particular, there is one principle from the Agile manifesto that, if applied skillfully, can help you rebuild and maintain trust in your IT team. If you feel like you have more forms fields to fill out per request than you have products delivered on time, I suggest considering the following idea: Individuals and interactions take precedence over processes and tools.
Tweet this: A people-first approach with your service desk will help you stay true to the #Agile Manifesto
This concept holds the keys to promoting trust between IT and the business, and the following are three specific areas of improvement you should focus on:
1. Focus on People Relationship Management
A primary challenge for the service desk is the “you guys slow me down” reputation. Users know that when they contact IT, they’ll need to wait to open a ticket, will be asked to reboot and perform other steps that don’t feel like their problem is being solved, or that their role within the business is understood.
Before you think that they’re too demanding and write them off, ask yourself, “How well does your service desk know these people? At what point are they treated like a person, and not an open ticket?” Focusing on them, their work and how to empower them can transform your service desk’s reputation and ability to serve your internal customers.
Agile teaches us that people are more important than processes or technology. If your most important job is helping people solve problems, they need to feel that you’re on their side.
For example, let’s say you get a request from a sales guy named Paul. Paul is attached to an open ticket number. That’s true. But, Paul also has a story you can learn. He is a road warrior. He is not very tech savvy. He often has issues with the CRM system, particularly with reporting and getting out the data he needs. He has a dog named Ruby and he is a die-hard Steelers fan.
What if your team kept track of these personal facts about Paul and could access them when Paul calls into the service desk for help? What if there were scripts to follow to aid Paul with his CRM reporting challenges? What if you knew the Steelers lost a close game on Monday night, and knew to steer clear of football talk this interaction?
Chances are that the service call with Paul would go much better, Paul would feel a sense of rapport with you, and he’d trust that IT is on his side. Putting people before processes means having your team take the time to get to know what’s important to those who call in as much as possible.
2. Show Business-Centric Metrics on Your Performance Dashboards
IT service desk metrics and dashboards should report facts that are important to the people it serves. Often times, IT reports on metrics that are important only to IT, like how many tickets were closed, the first call resolution rate and the abandon rate. That information only helps IT to manage the service desk, not help users understand IT’s impact on the business.
Let’s go back to Paul. When he calls you at 9 o’clock at night with an urgent issue and you fix it, he thinks you’re a rock star. But what if you don’t fix it? Would it help to remind him you usually resolve issues at the first contact 65% of the time? Should he call you back another day? Should he just be happy that you picked up the phone?
The Agile focus on people over processes suggests you look at end results for the business and offer metrics related to those impacts instead.
For example, how did you improve performance in various departments? Responsiveness to sales people in the field would be a great achievement to promote. If a salesperson calls while traveling and can’t access a critical file before a meeting, resolving the problem would be a contribution worth sharing — especially if that deal eventually closed.
Highlight your successes that build trust.
3. Improve Your Efficiency
There are so many ways that an IT service desk can improve its efficiency and respond more quickly to others’ needs. One of the main ways is to automate repetitive tasks.
For example, if a service desk person has 18 required fields to complete with each new open ticket, ask yourself how you could save time there. A great way would be to leverage automation that pulls data from other systems and provides the data instantly. You’d save service desk time and, ideally, have the most accurate and up-to-date information available.
Plus, you’re not just benefiting the people IT serves; you’re empowering your team to spend more time showcasing their technical know-how and enjoying the problem-solving aspects of their jobs. Filling out 18 fields every time you pick up the phone is boring. But, helping a busy account manager get an important file to a prospective customer on time and being part of the “team” that helped close the deal is satisfying. And, it creates more trust in your department.
Earn Trust with Greater Agility
You know better than anyone else how your IT service desk is performing. Do you have a good sense of how trusted you are? As you dig into these questions, consider what a “people before processes” approach could do for your team’s reputation within the business.
For further reading, check out our eBook, Take Your IT Service Desk to a New Level in 30 Days.