Top 5 Unwelcome Consequences of a Rushed Service Desk Implementation

A blank screen shows on a desktop computer in the middle of a busy office

Even if your current help desk is underperforming or there is no solution in place, the old adage of haste makes waste still applies to a new solution that is poorly realized. While any service desk or help desk outsourcing organization would love to onboard new clients simply publishing an 800 number and staffing live bodies to take calls the next day, they know that service quality and operational coherence will be less than stellar. The fact remains that no matter what the level of urgency maybe, more attention to detail in the transition to a new service desk is a good idea. Considering that the best laid of implementation plans can often go awry, neglecting to address all of those crucial tasks, to begin with, might be the difference between a successful service desk and an answering service. Below are the very direct consequences of selling the implementation process short:

Minimal Agent Training

Having never missed a “go live” date, ABS Director of Operations Hector Gonzalez can summarize the consequences of a rushed implementation process in two words. “Poor service,” he says. “If our agents aren’t trained then we’re wasting those inbound contacts because we can’t help them and end up forwarding them to the on-site staff who can.” Consequently, such post service launch hiccups lead to a bad first impression. And once the end user population determines that the new service desk stinks, it will be underutilized and requests for support will be initiated directly with the client’s internal IT groups. Furthermore, expecting agents to learn how to tackle new problems as they arise increases average handle time, speed to resolution, and end-user downtime as a result. Certainly, there is an element of the unanticipated call type inherent in any service desk solution especially considering new technology is constantly being introduced to any supported client’s IT environment. So unique troubleshooting steps that address compatibility issues, for example, just as frequently need to be developed; however, onboarding a new client with absolutely no training and documentation of supported systems and proprietary applications is an ill-advised and less than proactive implementation strategy.

Truncated End User Training

In addition to agent training on a new client environment, tools and processes, service desk vendors offering an ITSM platform need to set aside training time for both the IT or administrative users and end users accessing the system. Most end-user portals include self-service options such as FAQs, Knowledge Articles, and web submits for internal service requests (new device, new application, new hire setup, etc.). End users who are not aware of how to perform basic self-help functions or are not encouraged to adopt them tend to contact the service desk more often than necessary, in effect increasing those IT costs. Perhaps more important than technical training is educating the employees on the new service launch as a whole and setting expectations as to what contact types are resolvable via a remote Level 1 solution. Failure to define and promote the service desk in advance of launch and educate the end users about all of its available resources will discourage utilization of the service.

Insufficient Documentation

Implementation best practices typically include a thorough on-site discovery process to promote collaborative knowledge share between the client and the implementation team SME so they can capture and document all processes and troubleshooting procedures. Leaving processes, scripts, and knowledge articles undefined and undocumented means agents can only support standard systems and applications in the standard way so long as unique troubleshooting procedures are omitted from the knowledgebase.    Part of the documentation process should also include an exportable list of end users being supported. What are the different client IT groups are various incidents escalated that are not resolvable at Level 1?  What is the organizational structure including VIPs and is there any prioritization established for those individuals?  Basically, how the service desk interacts with client end users and resolves incidents within an established workflow will determine how smoothly IT operations are executed on an ongoing basis. Not having the proper documentation in place and accessible by the service desk agents is the troubleshooting equivalent of trying to navigate without a map.

Poor Integration

In order to ensure a smooth transition to a service desk outsourcing model, infrastructure, ACD/telephony, and a variety of other account setup and connectivity tasks need to be established. First off, how will the client and service desk connect networks? Typically, the service desk only requires access to one or more hosts on the client network to deliver the support services. As a result, it is important to ensure the VPN encryption domain is as specific as possible including the host level if appropriate. What naming conventions are used for accounts, printers, servers, etc.? This helps the service desk personnel familiarize themselves with the client’s environment and assist in remote connectivity troubleshooting issues. Other intricate infrastructure related details such as network configuration, drive mappings, domains, IP addresses, security and authentication processes should be addressed during implementation or integration with the client’s network suffers.

Limited ITSM Platform Capabilities

Whether leveraging a client’s ticketing system or electing a service desk vendor-hosted solution, ample time should be set aside for additional reporting and development required to integrate incident management processes and documentation with the service desk.  Especially for more complex ticketing systems that have countless customizable features the development team will need to enable Service Request Management, Problem Management, Change Management, Configuration Management (CMDB), and fully flesh out the Service Catalog and customer satisfaction tracking system. While many organizations have already invested heavily in a robust ticketing system before selecting a service desk vendor, capabilities often remain as they were out of the box. As a result, potential features such as workflow automation, end-user portal and web form customization, and advanced reporting remain indefinitely standardized unless time is set aside for additional development by the service desk. Any functionality limitations within the ticketing system inhibit the speed to resolution just as reporting limitations inhibit root cause analysis and potential service improvements.

Organizations that don’t follow a detailed project plan for service desk implementation and go live the fast and dirty way frequently spend months recovering from the dysfunctional consequences. On the other hand, those that pay credence to the service desk vendor’s expertise and collaborate on getting the people, processes, and technology established beforehand, have a much more positive experience.