How Can Service Desk Managers Advance Their Careers?

Posted on Friday 13 March 2020.

If you’re a service desk manager looking for your next career move, which of your current skills and capabilities will be of most use?

Many IT service desk managers have worked their way up through the service desk ranks thanks to their hard work and a combination of technical knowledge, interpersonal skills, and then management capabilities. It makes them well-rounded individuals, with a wide spectrum of knowledge, skills, and expertise – and not only in terms of technology and IT support but also in terms of business operations.

However, if you currently manage an IT service desk, it can be difficult to know where to invest your time and opportunities for training. To start, there’s not a clearly mapped out career path as there is from service desk analyst to supervisor or team leader to manager. Help is at hand though in SDI’s Service Desk Benchmarking Reports which offer some helpful development-related statistics.

The 2017 Benchmarking report surveyed service desk managers to understand where they’re focusing their development efforts.

Leadership and communication are both seen as vital for career progression.

Leadership remains the most important skill for service desk managers to progress, identified by 76% of respondents. It is followed closely by communication which actually doubled between the 2011 to 2017 surveys. But what else will help you to progress?

What skills or aptitudes do service desk managers require to help make the next progression in your career?

Source: SDI, Service Desk Benchmarking Report 2017

Taking your next step after service desk management – the “important” qualifications

We could debate the relative importance of qualifications versus having the right knowledge, skills, and experience. But most people would agree that qualifications do make a difference to a recruiting manager who “doesn’t know you from Adam.”

SDI’s Service Desk Manager course provides complete service desk management tool kit covering strategy, leadership, employee development, relationship building, service improvement, ITSM processes, performance measurement, finance and tools and technologies, as well as a a globally recognised qualification.

The 2019 Benchmarking report asked about the qualifications recently undertaken by service desk managers and their teams. The results offer up four interesting observations:

  • Interest in ITIL is slightly up when ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 figures are combined (although this is below the 77% level of 2015)
  • Investment in technical qualifications is significantly down
  • SDI qualifications continue to retain their popularity
  • 12% of teams had no investment in qualifications in the last year.

In summary, technical qualifications are still much lower than in 2017. ITIL qualifications drop too, SDI qualifications hold fast, and 1 in 7 service desk managers state that they and their team will receive no training in the next 12 months.

What qualification have you or any of your staff achieved over the past year?

Source: SDI, Service Desk Benchmarking Report 2019

What qualifications are you, or your staff, due to take over the next 12 months?

The big drop in technical training qualifications is interesting and perhaps marks a continued “change of tide” in IT service desk staffing strategies. With script-based and knowledge management approaches increasing, alongside ‘people-people’ being preferred for IT service and support roles, over those with high levels of technical acumen.

Finally, the high level of organisations that aren’t going to be supporting their people – at all – in the pursuit of workplace-related qualifications is worrying. On the one hand, it’s probably a sign of the times, with training usually one of the first things cut in times of financial austerity. On the other though, it might not actually save as much as organisations think – with the negative impact of not investing in people potentially including:

  • Increased operational costs – as people do what they’ve been told (to do) rather than what’s optimal, i.e. they work in an “uneducated” way
  • Employees are “lost” – either in terms of day-to-day motivation (due to the lack of recognition and career support) or by finding alternative roles elsewhere.


Taking your next step after service desk management – preparing for the future of ITSM

Your next role might not be in ITSM but if it is, then are the above-mentioned skills and qualifications enough?

We don’t know what the future will hold for ITSM professionals so the required skills, capabilities, and experience will depend on how ITSM as a profession changes in the next five years and beyond. Which in turn will depend on the changing business and IT landscapes. And let’s not forget that different IT service desk managers will have different ambitions, and capabilities, relative to the route they wish their career to take (including the focus of the roles they take up).

Take a look at the views of 20 ITSM-industry influencers related to the “Skills and Capabilities Required of a 2020 ITSM Professional” report by Sysaid for some insight into the skills and capabilities that will most likely be of value to IT service desk managers looking to move into a new role and to continue their career progression. These include:

  • An understanding of AI and Analytics and associated personal capabilities
  • Knowledge Management capabilities
  • Business Relationship Management (BRM) capabilities
  • An understanding of what Business Value is and how to create it
  • Customer engagement skills
  • Communication and collaboration skills
  • Problem-solving skills and capabilities
  • A focus on Innovation for better business outcomes
  • A desire for continual learning
  • Personal Flexibility and Agility, with the ability to deal with complexity
Hopefully, this blog has offered up a point or two that will help you to take your next career step.
Excerpts are taken from a recent JoeTheITGuy blog.




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