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Taking on incident management with best practices service management

(Image credit: Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock)

While getting its groove, IT service management must focus on the customer. Optimal efficiency is driven by a focus on the customer no matter how your organization manages incidents. Even if the work you’re doing is efficient, if you don't put your customer in focus in that process, your department will not work as well as it should. Thinking and focusing on processes to much might lead you to lose sight of providing truly excellent service. 

How is this accomplished? Best practices. Not necessarily the ones you might think when pondering service management. Frameworks like ITIL may not be the best answer to today’s challenges in ITSM. Best practice service management is based on some principles, but services are the starting point. The customer’s needs are first and foremost. 

Use services as your starting point 

Best practice service management is based on the services you offer your customers. Customers don’t care which internal processes are followed, they just want to be served and to have their needs met. The question for IT organization is not how to best implement processes, but which services you need to offer for customers. The problem emerges when you’re not sure what you do and don’t support as an IT organization. For each question or request received the operator has to consider what they should do with this, if they need to help the customer or if this is not something currently offered. 

Are you spending your time and energy handling requests? Does it feel like you’re trying to drink water from a firehose, or, in turn, doing nothing more than using the hose to put out fires? To move away from firefighting to focus on implementing long-term improvements, you may wish to start by standardizing your services to improve the efficiency of your support. 

Limit the number of supporting processes 

Taking your services as your starting point to focus on customers, you likely need to identify what your needs are to support these services. This begins with processes. 

The best way to do this is to reduce your work into as few processes as possible, which brings us back to our thoughts on ITIL. The processes for ITIL can be beneficial for some things, but because there are so many it’s hard to work through them easily. A large number of processes can cause unnecessary barriers and delays while processing calls. This doesn’t help to put the customer first. That’s why in best practice service management you have a limited number of supporting processes. 

There are two primary processes. A process for questions about services you support and a process for questions about services you don’t support. They start and end with the customer’s question, and hopefully, the customer’s satisfaction. Likewise, once you’ve defined the service offered you can begin to makes changes to them.   

Putting it into practice 

Your customer has a request. If this request is about one of your standard services, you simply process it according to current agreements. If the request concerns a service that isn’t available, you can explain to the customer why you can’t (or can’t yet) provide the service and offer a different solution. You may adjust your current services to meet the customers’ need, if necessary. 

You also can improve your services on your own initiative based on frequent disruptions, new technology or changed legislation, for example.  

The following provides some explanation for how to implement best practice service management step by step to help you manage incidents. 

1. The service catalogue 

A service catalogue is the foundation for good service management. How can you improve services if the organization and users are not exactly sure what they are? Many service teams are not clear about the products and services they offer and the lack of clarity makes it difficult to plan, prioritize and budget, and creates confusion for the customer. 

A service catalogue provides insight about the products and services provided. In regard to “services” this means everything a customer needs to accomplish their tasks. This improves your department’s transparency and communication with the customer. 

2. Reactive management 

The next thing required is a process for questions about standard services supported. Reactive management. This provides the best and fastest service to customers with no more agonizing over process choices. Instead of working with complex definitions, “reactive management” processes simply asks what the customer wants. In best practice service management, you appoint one process manager to the role of a customer satisfaction. Every this role is designed to do is aimed at improving customer satisfaction. 

3. Relationship management 

After you’ve defined the services you offer, you’ll soon receive questions about services you don’t support. For this, set up a relationship management process. Relationship management is about discovering how you can best help your customers when they’re asking for a service that’s not in your current offering. Determine what the customer wants and work out the best solution you can offer. You may even receive questions about services you’d like to introduce. 

4. Processing changes 

When the time comes for you to make changes to the service catalogue establish a change process and appoint a change manager.  

5. Maintaining services 

Now it’s time for the proactive part of the program: Maintaining your services and carrying out any needed improvements in the service catalogue. If you don’t think you have the time required to do so because you’re managing the reactive process, be assured that a smoothly running reactive process frees up time to work on improvements and needed maintenance. 

With this overview, you should be better able to manage the tedious task of incident management and setting up best practice service management so that the organization can best take on tickets when they arise. Good luck. 

Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord, President of TOPdesk US (opens in new tab)

Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock

Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord is president of TOPdesk US.