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The Service Desk and BRM

This week has seen some fantastic conferences taking place around the world, including the Service Desk Institute, the Helpdesk Institute and itSMF Norway.

I’d like to thank the Service Desk Institute for inviting me to facilitate an interactive session on how the Service Desk and business relationship management fit together.  Working with a group of about 70 people, we looked at the value of the Service Desk and how BRM can contribute.

In this blog, you’ll find a summary of the input from the room.  Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed.

Claire Agutter

How mature is your service desk?

We looked at a 5 step maturity model based on material from the BRM Institute.  Delegates were asked to rate their current Service Desk provision from 1 (order taker) through to 5 (strategic partner).

  • 1 person was at level 1
  • 2 people were at level 5
  • The rest of the room were very evenly split across levels 2, 3 & 4


What are the business benefits of a mature Service Desk capability?

I asked the group to consider the business benefits of being more mature and acting as a business partner.  Some of the suggestions were:

  • “Understand the customer, so that we can sell more to them/encourage them to use our services”
  • “Influence strategic planning by building trust”
  • “Work out what customers actually want, so that efficiency is increased. If we know what customers want, we’re not spending time and money second guessing them”

Having a better Service Desk capability delivers huge benefits, and it can also make the Service Desk a much nicer place to work.

What sort of complaints do Service Desks receive?

Next, we looked at some common complaints that Service Desks receive.  The group were asked to focus on complaints, not the actual incidents that the Service Desk handles.   The feedback from the room was:

  • “Responsiveness/time to answer too slow”
  • “Customers feel ignored”
  • “Poor out of hours support”
  • “Tickets bounced around departments and staff, tickets get lost”

Many of these suggest a gap between the level of service that the Service Desk can provide, and what their customer wants.  Understanding customer requirements helps the Service Desk to build the business case for resources to meet them.

Mind the gap

Next, we looked at why there is a gap between IT and the business.  Some of the feedback included:

  • “IT doesn’t provide profit, just value – it’s seen as a cost centre”
  • “IT is not seen as equal”
  • “The business has a choice- whereas IT doesn’t. IT can be outsourced.”
  • “IT is seen as a utility”
  • “They think that we speak a different language – they think that if they talk to us, they’re not going to understand us anyway”
  • “We’re in a completely different building; we’re isolated from the company”

I also suggested that there might be some cultural issues at play.  Does IT value its customers?  Do we respect their opinion?


Know your customer

Finally, we looked at some practical ways to get to know your customer.  The group contributed suggestions including:

  • “We need to know WHO they are before we can get to know them”
  • “Visit them”
  • “Survey them”

I also suggested rotation days, better information sharing and knowledge bars – even if these are part time.

We closed the session with some suggestions on getting started, including analysing your existing relationships and working out where you need to be.  More information on BRM can be found in the ITIL Service Strategy course and the BRM Professional course.

Claire and Kirsty at the SDI Conference

Claire and Kirsty at the SDI Conference

Of the organisations attending, many were doing BRM but not in a formal way or not across the whole organisation.  Here at ITSM Zone, we’re seeing interest in BRM grow significantly in 2016, so perhaps I will see a different picture at SDI next year and find more organisations have formal BRM roles, processes and capabilities.


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