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Service Management Heroes – Nancy Van Elsacker

Tell us about your background and career– how did you start in service management?  Where are you today?

I started working with TOPdesk in 2007 to set up the Belgian office. This year I moved to the US to set up the US office for TOPdesk. Eight years with TOPdesk has given me a lot of insights in the service management field by working with leaders and organizations such as ITSMF and HDI. I guess because of my HR background, my biggest interests go out to shared service management, which is about bringing service management of different supporting departments together. It is incredible to see how quickly this is evolving.

How do you define service management? Why is it important?

Service management has a lot of very vague definitions whereas it is something we all deal with on a daily basis. I would describe it as the planning, delivering and controlling of all services that people need to do their best work. It is important because if no services are delivered or services are delivered badly, people cannot focus on what they do best and precious time and effort is lost, let alone the employee motivation can even go down because of it.

Where do you see service management in the future? How have you seen it change?

Service management has commoditized a lot in the past few years. You can see this, for instance, in how functionalities in the tools are very much alike nowadays and how everyone is moving toward more standardization and cloud-based solutions.

Service management is moving to a more customer-oriented focus; whereas it used to be a means to improve efficiency and cut costs, now it is more a means to improve employee/customer satisfaction. That is why service management is key in the workforce enablement strategy.

I also see a clear trend toward more collaboration within organizations, leading to shared service management where supporting departments start sharing a tool, processes and even a shared service desk team. On an outward level, chain integration or SIAM (service integration and management) is becoming a big thing as well. As organizations are pushing more work to outsourcing, these suppliers become a strategic partner thus a good insight in what is going on is vital and you need very thorough integrations for that.

What advice would you give anyone who is just starting out in service management?

Keep it simple. And always keep in mind that there are three equal pillars in service management: people, process, tool. Especially for the people aspect, it is important to think big, but start small. When implementing service management, you want to make sure everyone understands what is happening and changing along the way. Make sure when climbing the ladder, nobody falls off and everybody is prepared and ready to climb onto the next step.

Where should an organization start when they implement Service Management?  What are the common challenges?

With implementations it is very important to look for quick wins in the beginning. These are often easy things you can achieve with few effort and it helps you in persuading all people involved of the necessity of the project.

On the other hand, thinking big is important too. But keep the steps small and be flexible enough to adjust your strategy and goals along the way by keeping things practical. I have seen some cases where organizations had spent a lot of money on writing all procedures and work instructions on paper and soon as they started implementing they discovered there were going to have to be a lot of exceptions to those procedures. So the instructions end up on a shelf. If you work out procedures step by step and test them in practice, an implementation has a much higher chance of success.

A lot of common challenges are about communication and knowledge sharing. So starting with incident management helps organizations achieve a lot of quick wins rather easily.

How can the right toolset can help service management be more effective?

A tool helps organizations to give insight in what’s happening and streamline processes around service management. It is important to keep in mind that a tool by itself will not help you be more effective. It is a good balance of people, process and tool that will be necessary. If you have a good tool, but nobody is using it because it is too difficult or nobody knows what to do because the processes and procedures are not clear, if will not help you in any way.

A tool should be very accessible and simple to use.

How does training support a toolset implementation?

Training will help people involved understand what they are supposed to do and how the tool works. A lot of customer requirements for a tool come out of a perspective that the tool has to limit the users in what they can or cannot do according to the processes. In reality that only makes the tool complex and the willingness of people to use it lower. A good training is not about telling people about where to click in the tool, but also about explaining and educating them on the choices that have been made and how processes are defined. If people understand the why of procedures, they are much more likely to follow them. And that way you can also keep the tool a lot more simple.

Nancy Van Elsecker is the President of TOPdesk USA, you can find her on Twitter here.

Nancy Van Elsacker -- TOPdesk

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