It’s Time to Shift Your Service Desk to the Left

Posted on Tuesday 25 February 2020.

By Stuart Perkins, a GBS Service Management Architect at Smith and Nephew

At this year’s annual SDI conference – SDI20 – I’ll be presenting on Smith and Nephew’s Global Business Services function, focusing on our “Shift-Left” strategy.

Executed well, Shift-Left has steered us towards the “promised land” – maximising customer satisfaction levels while reducing support cost. It’s a simple concept – taking what Tier 3 teams do and passing them to Tier 2, Tier 2 teams to Tier 1 (the service desk), and moving the most basic contact types to self-service using knowledge-centred support (KCS) best practices. The contacts that you do take should be resolved at as low a tier as possible and work should be broken down into bite-sized chunks.

ITIL has been around for so long now, that it is easy to take your IT Service Management (ITSM) practices for granted.  The concept of proactive problem management is unknown elsewhere in the business by name, but if resources are available then the first place any organisation should look for space to improve is in their own data.

Whilst the concept of Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is nothing new, I used to expect the idea of a business services organisation to be met with a few blank looks – but after attending a few SDI events, I’ve concluded that Smith and Nephew’s GBS organisation is in no way unique! There is no reason why ITIL practices that IT take for granted cannot be applied to any support organisation – although a service management tool will help and a data set will give you a big headstart.


Getting Started with Shift Left

 I’m not going to cover the content of my session in detail but if you’re not lucky enough to be attending SDI20, then here’s a few pointers to get you started:


Help customers help themselves

The cheapest contact is one that’s avoided. The GBS Portal, where our colleagues go for help and support, is central to Smith and Nephew’s service management strategy. This is your opportunity to clearly define services, set expectations on delivery and deliver self-service knowledge – but you need to clearly understand the journey of your customer if you hope to influence their destination.


Knowledge is power

Key to the Shift-Left strategy is a healthy bank of knowledge – not just self-service, but knowledge – to be followed by your service desk and support staff. This ensures that you’re able to deal with contacts and requests efficiently. Statistics show that the adoption of the KCS framework show 50% improved time to resolution and 30% increase in First Contact Resolution (


Empower your staff

Shift-Left can be a troubling prospect to a team that don’t understand the strategy’s goals and only see their work being eroded. This fear is unfounded – the concept means that repetitive tasks are replaced with more complex issues from the higher-level teams, which is much more fun to get their teeth into! In turn, overworked support teams have more time to spend on projects and service enhancements and start seeing the service desk as a help.


Pick the right partners

So, you’ve catalogued and documented that knowledge but no-one is using it? The comprehensively detailed knowledge document that your application support team created looks great – but then you know what DHCP stands for. Your sales managers might not play to your strengths and get help from vendors that can help with your content creation and ensure that colleagues can find it.


At SDI20

At the SDI20 conference, I’ll be looking at the GBS Shift-Left strategy in a little more detail and touching upon why this is so important for Smith and Nephew, before taking you through a guided tour of the key component of our service delivery tactics – the GBS Portal. I’ll chat about creating a service catalogue, service versus functional thinking and why populating your service catalogue with individual items is key to efficient service. I’ll be emphasising why knowledge-management is (in my mind) the key part of the ITIL framework when trying to shift-left – and sharing the difficulties we had in establishing a knowledge management database. We’ll go through collecting feedback and other influences in our service design.

I’ve found that attending SDI networking events has been key to finding fresh ideas for our company. I won’t tell you what you should be doing – just what we’ve done. I’ll readily admit that some of this is just common sense! I expect you’ll find similarities in the challenges we face and hope that you take some new ideas away that you can try out for yourself.

Hope to see you there?



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