How to Conduct a Killer Service Desk Kickoff Meeting

People sitting in conference room

Before the ink is dried on a service desk outsourcing agreement, the selected vendor must manage the implementation process to ensure the solution is delivered on time. It all starts with the kickoff meeting to put that best foot forward. This meeting is the first official opportunity to define the service in greater depth, set expectations, and transition from the hypothetical to the tangible by delving into the minutiae that goes beyond the scope of services. While the proposal defines what services will be provided and when, the initial gathering is often the first time vendor and client management teams discuss how it will be coordinated to get people, process, and technology working harmoniously. The kickoff meeting fosters collaborative Q & A, alleviates concerns, and helps address specific objectives including who exactly will be responsible for each task as part of the greater project plan.

Introductions

Getting key personnel involved on the ground floor is essential to building the relationship and developing an overall familiarity with the client’s technical requirements, processes, and business goals. So defining the roles of the service delivery team is always the ideal place to start.

The Account Manager serves as the client liaison and advocate and works closely with ABS management to exchange information and to communicate client perceptions, requests for process changes, concerns, etc. The Account Manager is responsible for developing and maintaining a strong relationship with ABS clients at all levels: executives, managers, etc.; understanding the client’s business goals; reviewing contracts, service level agreements, and scope of services; determining the best strategy to meet client objectives; addressing and documenting all issues and resolutions immediately.

The Director of Operations will be responsible for overseeing the entire help desk team for the client. This includes management of team leads and help desk agents, compiling and analyzing metrics for monthly reviews, and conducting monthly client reviews.

The assigned Team Lead assumes responsibility for the overall performance of their team and serves as a coach/mentor to its members as well as an ambassador and point of contact for the client. The Team Lead informs their management of critical issues regarding personnel, performance, client perception, and work closely with co-workers to ensure consistent, high quality, customer service experience for the client’s end users.

Define the Service

The team of IT support professionals handles contacts for the client’s end users via various forms of media such as voice calls, emails, chat sessions, and web submissions. Service desk agents create and triage new incidents in the selected ITSM platform which is either provided by the service desk vendor or leverages the client’s current system. Agents troubleshoot, resolve, or escalate support issues either to a higher skill set or to the client’s IT department should it require an onsite presence, unique expertise, or secure access. The service desk provides on-demand reports and measurable service desk metrics from the ACD system and, depending on the ITSM capabilities, relevant, documented incident and service request data.

Documentation, Training, Deliverables, and Account Management

Other primary components of a killer kickoff meeting include discussion of the following:

  1. Document business workflow requirements

Define client specific procedures & policies

Supported systems, software, and platforms

Escalation, routing, and contact information

Custom reporting requirements

Review existing and develop new documentation

  1. Service Desk Team Training

Understanding the client’s business

Train the trainer and create Subject Matter Experts in the client’s technical environment

Knowledge transfer with service desk agents

Capture WebEx sessions

  1. Reporting, SLAs, and Ongoing Service Review

Delivery of ITIL services

Incident logging, classification, and prioritization

Troubleshooting, diagnosis, and resolution

Incident tracking and communication

Analyzing root causes

Service level monitoring and management

Constant communication and feedback

Continuous quality assurance

  1. Monthly operational reviews

Review SLA status

Discuss key metrics and reports

Analyze data and trends

Plan for upcoming projects

Discuss training opportunities

Discuss Implementation Methodology – ITSM Platform

Many questions hinge on the selected technology. Since there is a significant amount of customization and client branding with the solution such as a dedicated toll-free number with custom Interactive Voice Response (IVR) greetings, telephony set up processes are reviewed. Also, agents typically identify themselves as members of the client’s organization, so specific scripts are developed from greeting through resolution.

If the client is using its own ITSM platform, the number of service desk agents assigned to the account and accessing it is a logical discussion point regarding the client’s licensing costs. If licenses are concurrent versus named, the number of dedicated agents per shift becomes a very valid question. On the other hand, if the client elects the vendor’s cloud-based ITSM platform, additional development is often required for client administrative and end-user portal customization. For example, the development team will need to set up web forms for service requests, design complex routing flow, add support groups, and configure engineers within those groups. If the client opts for change management, service desk developers set up a Change Advisory Board, established members, and emergency approval processes. If using problem management, developers likewise configure the support group for assignment and management of problems. The implementation team establishes which end users are supported, develops CTIs and notifications. They can also set up SLA reporting, create rules that track client-side SLAs such as time to engage and resolve incidents, and configure their SLA reporting dashboard. Developers construct LDAP sync capabilities with the client’s Active Directory so end-user lists are automatically updated for support authentication. The implementation team builds and refines knowledgebase articles and integrates them with the partitioned ITSM platform in a searchable format. In short, depending on the service options and ITIL applications desired, the implementation project plan can easily expand to include more tasks.

A large part of the initial implementation planning revolves are connectivity to the client’s systems which, depending on data security and ease of transition, a site to site VPN or RD Web Access are options that must be explored further.

ABS’s Director of Operations, Hector Gonzalez, is no stranger to the kickoff meeting and implementation process, having personally conducted dozens per year and all within the scheduled “go live” date. “I compile a final project plan, send it to the client’s management team, and once they send it back blessed with the time frames and defined tasks, I can distribute templates and documentation that must be completed in order to initiate ACD and telephony services,” says Gonzalez. “From there we train on the client’s proprietary applications, how their environment works, what the escalations are, and how our teams merge to form One IT for their end users.”