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ITIL Service Desk Responsibilities

Posted by on November 16, 2018

ITIL Service Desk

For IT organizations of all sizes, the service desk represents one of the most important core activities, requiring management on a daily basis. If you're just establishing your IT department and looking to implement a service desk for the first time, the process can seem intimidating, especially if your goal is to follow the best practice recommendations from ITIL® right from the beginning.

Service desks play a key role in ensuring the availability of all services that the IT organization delivers and supports. While a well-implemented service desk can drive efficiency throughout your organization, a poorly executed one can really weigh down your business. Organizations striving toward improving and maturing service management often begin by establishing a service desk that adopts ITIL standards.

Not only does ITIL offer best practices for incident management and request fulfillment—two of the core functions of the service desk—it also describes how organizations should assign and share the responsibilities of operating the service desk to ensure optimal efficiency, accountability, and exceptional service standards.

Let's take a further look at the roles and responsibilities associated with managing and operating an IT service desk within your organization.

Service Desk in the ITIL Framework

New initiates in the world of IT often ask about the differences between ITIL vs service desk, but did you know that the service desk is actually a part of ITIL 2011 and will likely remain integral to ITIL in the v4 release scheduled for 2019? The ITIL framework offers IT organizations a complete pathway to implementing a service desk and implementing and enforcing ITIL service desk responsibilities within the organization.

ITIL 2011 identifies 26 processes and four functions that fit into the five stages of the service lifecycle: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service Improvement.

The service desk function is described as part of the Service Operation book of ITIL. The goal of ITIL Service Operation is to ensure that IT services are delivered effectively and efficiently. There are five processes covered in the ITIL Service Operation manual:

  1. Event Management
  2. Incident Management
  3. Problem Management
  4. Request Fulfillment
  5. Access Management

While Event Management, Problem Management, and Access Management are separate processes that may be handled by separate teams, the service desk staff will have complete ownership over the processes of Incident Management and request fulfillment. These two processes are the core drivers of every responsibility of the service desk staff, and the majority of action taken by the service desk each day will be to satisfy the requirements of either the Incident Management or request fulfillment process. In the next section, we review the three core functions of the ITIL service desk and the associated responsibilities.

RELATED: Why Service Desk Consolidation Is the New Imperative for IT Leaders 

3 Core Functions of the ITIL Service Desk

The service desk acts as a single point of contact between the IT organization and the business for all incident reports, service requests, change notifications, and any other necessary communications. ITIL Service Desk Responsibilities revolve around the role of the service desk in Incident Management and Request Fulfillment along with communications. Let's take a deeper look at each process and the responsibilities of the service desk.

Service Desk Owns the Incident Management Process

In ITIL 2011, the service desk owns the Incident Management process and is responsible for resolving incidents according to service level agreements with the goal of restoring services as quickly as possible and getting the customer back to work. ITIL service desk responsibilities that are associated with Incident Management include:

IT organizations that want to efficiently comply with these processes and the additional requirements of ITIL typically implement a service desk software like Cherwell® Service Management. Our ITSM tool suite is compliant out-of-the-box with 11 ITIL processes, including Incident Management and Request Fulfillment. It also helps automate some of the more tedious tasks associated with ITIL compliance, like automatically generating incident and request logs.

IT Service Requests Are Handled Through the Service Desk

Although the service desk handles both Incident Management and Request Fulfillment, it would be a mistake to think that these main IT service desk responsibilities weigh equally on the minds of service desk analysts. In most cases, service requests are relatively minor and don't reflect a high-priority issue. Users may call and request to have their password reset, or for a piece of software to be installed on their machine, or they may simply be requesting information ("How do I access my pay stubs for this year on our employee intranet?").

Still, the service desk ensures that employees have somewhere to go for the most basic IT service issues that they can't resolve on their own. The ITIL service desk responsibilities for request fulfillment include:

Request fulfillment and Incident Management can be equally important processes within the IT organization. When customers can't access their machine because they forget their password, it's important that a member of the service desk staff is available to offer a quick password reset that can get them back online quickly. At the same time, this is exactly the type of service that can be automated through a service catalog that offers self-service. Service desk staff should continuously develop a knowledge base and self-service portal that empowers customers to handle IT issues on their own when it is convenient and reduces the burden on the service desk.

RELATED: A CIO's Guide to Rethinking IT Service Management 

The Service Desk Acts as a Single Point of Communication (SPOC)

The third major role of the service desk is as a single point of contact between the business and the IT organization for all communications related to IT. In view of what we've already discussed, you might think that the majority of these communications are related to either Incident Management tickets or service requests, and for the most part, you'd be right. Still, there's one other type of communication that forms a major part of the responsibilities for the service desk.

The ITIL service desk manager is responsible for ensuring that users are proactively notified of existing or imminent service outages that could threaten their productivity or lead to excessive call volume. If a number of customers are experiencing an error, there should be a proactive effort to disseminate the solution or workaround throughout the company rather than having every single employee calling into IT throughout the day for the resolution.

In addition, there are times when IT will implement changes that affect the availability of services, or that will result in a reboot of systems that affects access to particular services for a short time. In these cases, ITIL service desk managers should ensure that users are given advance notice and can prepare for the period of service unavailability.

Putting It All Together...

The ITIL Service Desk is one of the four core functions of ITIL and houses two of the most rudimentary processes of ITIL: Incident Management and Request Fulfillment. Many organizations choose to bootstrap their IT compliance by implementing an ITIL-compliant service desk and working towards effective Incident Management and Request Fulfillment processes before developing their capabilities to execute other ITIL processes. Developing an understanding of IT service desk responsibilities and expanding Service Desk capabilities is an excellent way to jump-start your organization's compliance with ITIL.

For organizations seeking to implement Service Management software to support an ITIL-compliant service desk—you don't have to go it alone! Cherwell offers a robust video learning library, training packages for new customers, and in-person training that can turn your new Service Desk Analyst hires into Service Management superstars.

What's the next step once you've established an ITIL-compliant service desk? If your organization maintains records of personal data for your clients of subscribers, you may want to establish an Information Security Management System (ISMS) in compliance with ITIL's Information Security Management process as your next step. The Cherwell ISMS enables you to implement and manage your security-related policies, helping beef up your security against cyber-criminals and avoid a time-consuming, costly and embarrassing data breach.

Interested in a powerful, flexible ITSM solution? Schedule a demo of Cherwell Service Management.

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