Like it or not, everyone has an opinion on how the IT service desk is run.
Managing a service desk can be thankless. You have to give end users responsive service, but you also always have to be aware of operational efficiency and constraints on budgets. It sometimes feels as if the goals of the service desk are mutually exclusive. How do you provide good human interaction while keeping costs under control and maintaining efficiency? Here are some tips taken from service desk management professionals that can help your service desk produce internal and external performance gains.
Encourage a Climate of Open Communication
Not all ideas are equally good, and not all the things you try will succeed. However, if your service desk culture encourages the assignment of blame or otherwise penalizes (subtly or overtly) for open thinking and communication, your team members will soon conclude that it’s not worthwhile to introduce ideas. John Sundberg, President of Kinetic Data, says that free flowing communication among service desk employees is essential. “The improvement process should emphasize the importance of sharing information, allowing sufficient time for communicating throughout the entire process about the impact of the improvement, and the status of the project.”
Don’t Hog the Credit
When your service desk team (or one particular person) demonstrates a stellar performance with a project or solves a problem with alacrity and skill, give them the chance to shine. When your boss compliments you on a job well done, be sure to speak up. Saying, “Jones and Rodriguez tackled that install, and they were really the ones that got you guys up and running,” reflects well on your leadership and lets anyone within earshot know you value your team. Veteran service desk manager Will Brown says, “Your analysts should be the stars of the show. Your job is just to make sure that they get recognized.”
Survey End Users
It’s only natural that you might be reluctant to survey end users on what they think of the service desk, but until you know what your team is doing right and where there’s room for improvement, you won’t know what changes to make. Make it clear to your team that you’re all in it together, and that the end-user survey is not a referendum on who’s doing a great job and who isn’t. Naturally, you want to share in the credit for what your team does well, but as a manager, you have to be willing to share the blame for the things that could be better. When your team knows you aren’t just assigning blame from on high, they’ll be more amenable to change. And if you’ve encouraged open communication, they may come up with some great ideas on how to do it.
Deal With Problems When They’re Small
We’ve all heard the dictum, “Pick your battles,” and there’s wisdom in that. You certainly don’t want to micromanage your team to the point of inactivity. At the same time, don’t use the “Pick your battles” excuse to justify letting small problems go — particularly interpersonal problems between team members. Sometimes minor issues take on overinflated importance when they’re not handled early. Always be aware of the morale of your team. Sure, you can dismiss the occasional day that’s horrible for no apparent reason. But minor interpersonal spats are best dealt with when they’re still minor.
You Don’t Have to Do It All at Once
Alastair Trower, Product Marketing Manager for FrontRange Solutions, has some sage advice for service desk teams undergoing change, and that is that scrapping everything and starting over is often counterproductive: “There is an underlying theme here, however, which might best be summed up as ‘don’t bite off more than you can chew.’ The key to success is to make small changes along the road to service improvement, rather than starting again from scratch and making huge investments in a ‘big bang’ approach.” Sometimes baby steps are the way to go, even if the ultimate goal is completely revamped IT service.
Use Great Tools
Is your team still using outdated software and inefficient processes? There’s really no excuse, with the great, affordable options available to your IT service desk today. Why should your team manually log calls on paper when software can automate logging and provide a range of ways for end users to get the service they need? Samanage is a leading provider of IT service management software, with powerful, forward-looking features like mobile apps, remote desktop control, self-service portal, knowledge base construction, and IT asset management tools that will revolutionize how you keep up with hardware and software. Putting great tools in the hands of your service desk team is the basis for running a service desk that both service desk professionals and end users can be happy with.