Kevin Miller ensures service at Pomeroy IT Solutions Featured

8:00pm EDT March 26, 2009

In light of these troubled economic

times, every company is looking at ways

to slash budgets and cut costs. Often, a

company will look at its service desk and

say: “The service desk isn’t a profit center.

It’s needed, but we don’t need to nurture

and grow it. It’ll be fine as is.”

This type of thinking will cost you, not

save you, money in the long run. If you cut

corners and chip away at your service desk

budget, eventually you won’t have the bandwidth and capacity to run your business.

“Remember that a large majority of companies’ IT budgets are wrapped around

keeping systems running and ensuring that

the people who use the systems remain

productive,” says Kevin Miller, a director of

service desk architecture at Pomeroy IT

Solutions. “Today’s service desks are the

epicenter of the business incident and

request fulfillment management.”

Smart Business spoke to Miller about

service desks, why they’re so important and

how you can ensure yours is all it can be.

Why is the service desk so important in

today’s business world?

IT departments are faced with daily challenges in the management and support of

numerous and constantly changing end-user requirements, including desktops, lap-tops and handhelds. When one of the systems malfunctions or an end-user has an

issue, you need a solution as quickly as possible. Businesses rely on the service desk to

be the single point of contact for any issue

that their end-users need assistance with. A

capable service desk can even assist in driving out costs from on-site visits from technicians if properly executed.

Some service desks have implemented

technologies to assist their overall environments, which addresses specific infrastructure incidents. Reducing call duration is

one of the benefits of implanting these

tools. Some of the other benefits are

reduced training costs, improved first call

resolution, streamlined processes and better incident tracking (most of the automated tools have built-in components that create incidents for reporting and trending

analysis). Typically, incidents are sent to

the on-site technical teams for resolution.

By implementing service desk tools, you

are able to drive out an additional 15 to 20

percent of the dispatched incidents. Most

importantly, giving the service desk the

ability to resolve more issues as the single

point of contact will increase your end-user client satisfaction.

What tools are popular in service desks right

now? What benefits do they offer?

Password reset tools have the capability

to remove up to 25 percent of the existing

calls to the service desk, while automating

functionality. Companies benefit from a

rapid ROI and increased end-user satisfaction after adoption of this tool.

Knowledge based tools have the capability to reduce up to 5 percent of the potential calls received by the service desk by

giving the end-user the first attempt at

resolving the issue. As today’s environments change and we are seeing a different

skill set of end-users entering the work

force, we are seeing a higher request for

end-user interfaces that give them the ability to resolve the issue before contacting

the service desk.

Software deployment tools allow the

service desk to push updates and new software to the end-user without any other

department’s involvement. Once the security rights are granted and all process and procedures for deployments are

being followed, the tools allow the service desk to be the single point of contact

for more and more incidents.

There’s also the trend to move monitoring services to the desk where you

have less expensive staff than in the

NOC or server administrator and today’s

tools make it easier to move those monitoring and management processes to

the service desk.

Finally, user-provisioning tools allow

the automation of end-user creation,

modification and deletion, which allows

for almost immediate updating of the

user’s account, once the appropriate

approvals are obtained through the

workflow process.

What problems or issues can arise from

these tools and/or service desks in general?

Training is the biggest issue in deploying service desk tools. A service desk

needs to realize that a different level of

technical talent is needed to assure that

the tools are utilized correctly and efficiently. If you turn some of these tools

over to inexperienced users, they can

cause more damage to the environment

than their potential worth. You do not

want rogue agents to be able to modify

the diagnostic tools that can compromise the data. One of the major issues of

implementing tools is assuring that the

tool has the appropriate security controls in place and that certain functionalities are secured.

What are the consequences a company faces

if it doesn’t monitor and/or contain its service

desks?

Monitoring the efficiency of the service

desk is key — it allows the management

staff to make any adjustments in their

support model. Monitoring tracks many

efficiencies such as average speed to

answer, average call duration, first-call

resolutions, call abandon rates and others. The key to a successful service desk

is end-user satisfaction.

KEVIN MILLER is director of service desk architecture at Pomeroy IT Solutions. Reach him at (949) 929-6767 or kmille7@pomeroy.com.