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Share Your Services: Shared service management in practice

Your organisation is probably already aware of shared service management. Perhaps the IT department already uses a solution and your facilities management and HR department are joining; maybe all supporting departments are currently working with separate tools and they want to work together in in the solution.

There are challenges you that you’ll face along the way, though, when entering into a share service environment. The trouble may be in how you deal with them.

Shared service management is extensive collaboration between supporting departments. This gradual process starts with supporting departments that are currently sharing nothing and start working in one tool.

The next step is a shared service desk, and eventually shared processes. A joint collaboration saves money but the customer also experiences higher quality of services. The challenges occur when you decide to work together.

Challenges of the tool

Screen information

With shared service management, you work toward a shared set-up. This makes it easy to share information. However, when you are working you may only want to see your and your department’s calls, not the entire organisation’s calls.

In this case you can use the category filter to filter the drop-down list. Adjust your task board so it only shows your own calls. This way, you can directly view relevant calls while other calls remain visible in the background. When there is a need to screen information from the database, for example with private documents, you can easily do this on the basis of operator or categorisation.

Finding common ground

When you are working toward a shared service management setup, sharing drop-down lists and fields can be challenging. It is important to look for common ground. Work out where the different departments can meet in the middle.

However, stay critical of the setup. If there is no common ground to be found regarding a certain point, such as a call’s duration, use a prefix to indicate what time belongs to which department. This is a temporary solution to bridge the period between the different processes in the shared service management solution. In the end, a complete shared setup is the goal.

Use the same email template

All your customers have the same needs. Whether they are being helped by IT, facilities management or HR, after they have logged a call, they all want to know, “When will my call be solved?”

This is why you should use the same email moments and structure in each department. Use a note or optional field on, for example, an operator group to automatically add department-specific signatures. You can refer to that field in the email, ensuring that the correct signature is displayed.

Challenges of the management

Divide functional and technical management

It is advisable to divide the management of the service desk into functional and technical management. IT is usually in charge of the technical management and deals with updates and backups.

The functional management, which is focused on setting up the service management desk, can be sourced to several departments. You can choose to also assign functional management to the IT department. Another option is to task different departments with management tasks. This is useful if a certain department is the only one to use a module.

A final option is to give the functional management to an independent department, such as information management. Once the service management desk is used in multiple departments it becomes an organisation-wide application. It is then logical that an independent department is responsible for the management.

Appoint key users

Once you have decided who manages what, it is also good to think about how you manage the service desk. It is advisable to appoint key users to help you. These key users know the process, the methods and the solution well and that is why they can easily make the shift from “What is my colleague asking?” to “What can I do with it in the service management desk?”

They function as a vestibule for the application manager, making sure that he does not have to constantly answer practical questions. Plan regular meetings between the key users and the application manager so they can tell each other what issues are important and what changes need to be implemented in the organisation.

Record management and setup choices

Finally, documentation is an important point of interest when it comes to managing the service desk. Record setup choices in an implementation report; this makes it easier to determine the impact when you divert from the setup.

In a management agreement you record who manages what. This does not have to be a long document: it is only to make clear what falls under whose responsibility.

Challenges of a shared service desk

Choose skilled or non-skilled

When taking the first step towards a shared service desk, one of your first questions is: Do we want a skilled or non-skilled service desk?

You probably want your customers to be able to find the service desk and keep returning because of good experiences with the service desk employees. In this case, select a skilled service desk. In practice, this is easier said than done. Service desk employees in many organisations don’t have multidisciplinary knowledge and not much knowledge is shared.

An important first step here is to document knowledge. Formulate issue scripts and standard answers. Don’t forget to create an escalation form in which you describe what should be done with complex or urgent matters.

All departments represented

The ideal situation would be that every department is represented in a shared service desk. This makes sharing knowledge easier. However, if a lot of knowledge is documented and certain services are standardised, it is not necessary to represent every department.

The service desk employees work with recorded knowledge and an escalation plan is at hand should things become complex. You should still plan regular meetings with all departments to keep everyone up-to-date on new developments.

Single point of contact

One single contact point for all your customers can go a long way in your pursuit of higher customer satisfaction. Do you also want to let your back office directly communicate with the caller, for example when there is an additional question or when they want to try a possible solution? Have them communicate from the service desk. This enables you to send a clear signal to your customers: contact the service desk.

Using the self service desk is a good extension of the shared service desk. It is useful to clearly set up the portal. Group different calls with general names, such as “calls,” “requests” and “information and FAQs.” Your customer then does not have to choose between IT, facilities management and HR, but he can choose the category that is applicable.

Working toward shared services

Collaborating on services presents many challenges. Are you planning on working in one tool? Look for common ground. Try to agree, even if you do not yet share the same methods.

Make clear agreements about management: determine who manages what. This provides an overview should any questions arise.

Finally: give the service desk a clear role within the organisation. Make sure that they have enough knowledge to help your customers and to make sure customers keep returning because of good experiences with your service desk employees.

Nancy Van Elsacker is president of TOPdesk USA, a division of the global supplier of service management software and consultancy services.

Nancy Van Elsacker Lousinord
Nancy Van Elsacker Lousinord is president of TOPdesk US, a global supplier of IT service management software. TOPdesk develops, markets, implements and supports standard user-friendly service management software.