Re-Framing the Service Desk

Posted on Friday 10 August 2018.

by Rob Beswick, Head of Membership, SDI


This blog is probably not aimed at you, and when I say you, I mean a service desk professional who is possibly a member of SDI.  This blog is aimed at a specific few in other areas of the business; they may not usually venture here, but if you feel there are points that could be useful for them to see you can share with them! SDI’s industry research ‘Analyst 2.0’ has shown that many service desk professionals feel there is a disconnect between the business and the service desk.  Also, when talking to service desk professionals, I have personally found it to be one of their biggest challenges when providing support.


As an Institute our primary focus is to give advice, guidance and training to the service desk industry, mentoring and networking to help support professionals in providing excellent services.  But ensuring excellent service is not just your department’s responsibility; the rest of the business should be involved in supporting this effort too.


To this end, the business needs to stop treating the service desk as if it’s a separate entity – it shouldn’t be IT or the service desk delivering a service to users, but the business.  It feels like some organisations try to keep IT service desks at arm’s length, using them as a scapegoat when things go wrong, but ignoring the fact that the leadership of an organisation is a contributing factor to a service failing to meet expectations through lack of investment or strategic focus for the service desk. Organisations need to view the service desk differently and maybe look at changing the language around internal service delivery.  At the end of the day, it’s the business that supports its staff. If an organisation changes its mindset, it may help those external to the service desk take more responsibility and understand the impact budgets and business decisions have on how it supports its staff.


At SDI we frequently talk about the service desk going out into the business to understand how it works, but you rarely hear the reverse; other area of the business coming to the service desk. They seem reluctant to engage with the face of IT, apart from when things go wrong or when something is needed.  Businesses, and the people within them, forget that things don’t just happen and that collaboration is a two way street.  It’s not just about improving transparency – seeing colleagues from other areas of the business showing an interest and reaching out to them can have a positive impact on the morale of a service desk team.


The rest of the business needs to actively engage with the service desk and notify the service desk of changes other teams are making, or growth which is happening, and potential IT issues that may arise in the future.  This will not only mean IT is better prepared for change, they will also feel like an integral part of the company, rather than the archetypal tech team hidden away in the deepest darkest depths of the building.


And remember, when the business does speak to you, make sure you engage them in a way that makes them comfortable; avoid using IT acronyms and don’t overwhelm them in levels of detail they are not looking for. They just need to know how you make it easier for them to do their job, for the business to meet it targets or how IT can facilitate faster, smarter working.  


Finally, maybe it’s time to change what we call the service desk? Would something like business systems or business support be more appropriate for the future?  With a new brand or name it may change the perception of IT service as a satellite department or cost centre and help it to be seen as a vital component to business success.


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