Building and Supporting a Global Service Desk

Originally published on IT Pro Portal, 6th November 2016. 

In an increasingly international and ‘always on’ world, employees and customers are finding themselves no longer just working the traditional 9am-5pm working day. In fact, with the continued rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, the ability to access anything, anywhere and on any device, people are working longer hours and are expected to be always available. Yet with this development in the change of the working culture, comes with it the expectation that if they come across a problem then they can get it remediated immediately. This pressure then falls onto the service desk. This results in organisations needing to find a way to effectively build and support a global IT Service Desk that serves the needs of the business.

But how can IT Service Managers consolidate all the information and processes held within the organisation so that they have enhanced visibility of the business operations, whilst regaining control of the service desks and increasing collaboration between the teams?


Eliminating confusion

Developing a service desk that operates efficiently across multiple geographies and time zones is no easy feat. From the outset, organisations need to have in place the right people and processes so that they are responsive and managing the workload appropriately, depending on the type of query so that the tickets are allocated to the right Subject Matter Expert (SME) or local office.

For those organisations that have grown through acquisition or organic growth, the move to a global service desk poses many more questions. The biggest challenge is having IT Service and Customer Support teams across the globe working in siloes, perhaps with completely different IT Service Management Systems (ITSM), providing they have one at all, and not being able to have one consolidated view of the service desk activity.

Not only does this result in a confused approach to service management, but it can lead to employees and customers complaining about the way their queries are being managed by different people, in different ways, all of which appear to be entirely un-coordinated. That is, of course, providing the query hasn’t accidentally fallen through the gaps between the different teams, all of whom thought that someone else was dealing with it. The result is no-one actions it and there is a very disgruntled customer.


Up in the clouds

Instead of everyone having their own systems and way of doing things, which makes it incredibly difficult to collaborate and means the organisation is effectively blind to what is happening, organisations need to adopt a global service desk solution that brings together the teams and aligns with core business objectives.

For some, this may mean transitioning from the on-premise solutions that have been the mainstay of organisations for several years and moving to a hosted, cloud based solution. Research has shown the SaaS based ITSM market is expected to grow to $8.78 billion by 2021. Unsurprisingly this is largely due to the many benefits that proponents of the cloud offering have been evangelising in recent years including; scalability, flexibility, less capital expenditure (CAPEX) investment, ease of deployment and, with the world creating more data than ever before, the rise of big data and technologies that are effectively able to manage this influx of unstructured data.

For the service desk themselves, the cloud offering versus the traditional on-premise proposition enables them to have a solution that can be deployed to any location across the globe and has the scalability to seamlessly and quickly add or remove locations as the business grows.

When selecting a new ITSM solution, it is typical for the Service Desk manager to want a full portfolio of modules that can be used within the business. Ranging from the standard Incident and problem management, through to change management, third parties, SLAs, Asset management and a self-service portal. However, in the initial deployment it is not always feasible, or required, to get all modules live from day one. Or perhaps the module needs customisation so that it fits the business’ specific requirements. By selecting a flexible solution, organisations can tailor the solution and modules so that it delivers what they are looking for and add modules to ‘go live’ as and when makes the most sense for the business.

Selecting the right ITSM solution isn’t just about the technology though, the supplier needs to be a good fit with your business.  Organisations should be looking to work with a specialist service management solution provider that understands the challenges the service desk is facing on a day-to-day basis, has its own service desk and can respond to enquiries and deliver a high level of customer service to the organisation.


Global vs Local

Once a solution has been selected, it can be deployed globally and eliminates the confusion surrounding multiple ITSM solutions in various locations. With just one system in use, it enables the IT Service Manager to now look at how they can consolidate all the information, knowledge articles, assets etc that they hold within the previously disparate systems. This can be done by importing them into the solution and establishing processes and workflows to be implemented in all locations, for all teams. This not only enforces a consistency across the business in the way information is displayed, stored and collated moving forwards but means that the IT Service Manager now has full visibility across the service desk both at a global and local level.

Whilst everyone working from the same platform has many benefits, many may not be ready to have a wholly centralised IT model where tickets and support calls are all routed to one inbox. In fact, this could easily become a management headache and could lead to a ticket being incorrectly allocated or missed, and the potential for SLA’s to be missed as the team is swamped with queries.

This is where organisations should set up the system so that each team, perhaps divided by geographical regions, has their own area to work within, with the tickets raised automatically routed to the right team based on employees’ location and email address. This would not only improve team efficiency, because they can focus on the queries designated to them, but also ensures a faster time to resolution on the request.

Within each of these ‘areas’, it should be possible for the organisation to ensure that the user interface and the documentation included within it, is all in local language. In some cases, there may be documentation that is only relevant to one location, perhaps it is guidance on a country specific regulatory requirement or, in the case of HR queries, safety and travel advice. In these cases, it is possible to ensure that the information is only accessible to those within the region to which it relates to. This level of customisation demonstrates to the service desk staff, employees and customers that they have been considered and that the portals have been developed to service their needs.


Demonstrating business benefits

The ability to demonstrate the benefits of any new deployment is paramount to service managers, particularly as they are not always the most favourably viewed department within the business.  A global, cloud-based solution can provide organisations with unparalleled visibility, which can shape how the teams work and leads to better business decisions being made as they are based on fact and not suspicions.

For example, it not only provides a global overview of how the service desk is performing, but also breaks it down into specific teams or regions. With the ability to drill down into this level of granularity, organisations can gain visibility into regions that may be struggling with workload and then address why that may be the case and allocate more resources so that the problem can be rectified.

It also becomes possible to hold people account to the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that are in place. If a self-service portal is enabled, by allowing employees to login and check on the status of their incident, the latest updates and when it could breach the SLA, it means that the employee knows when they should expect a response at the latest. This can help manage expectations and reduces the number of follow-up calls and duplicate emails going to the service team.


Delivering results as a global service desk team

Working in different areas of the world does not mean that an organisation’s service desk should be working alone, in their own separate siloes. If a service desk is to be successful and seen as adding value to the wider business, it needs to work as a unit and enable them to be more transparent within the organisation as to the workload that is facing the team. With the continued rise of cloud services, and the requirement to do more with less capital expenditure, it is easy to see why many global organisations are turning to SaaS solutions for their ITSM requirements. By enhancing collaboration between teams, sharing knowledge, and knowing that somewhere in the world, should an emergency arise, there is a service desk operative available to assist, this model looks set to become the status quo as it has the scalability and flexibility to support today’s ‘always on’ employees and businesses.