Agile Tech Support for Your Outsourced Service Desk

By: Jacqueline Lee| - Leave a comment

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Service desk technicians are the most prominent customer-facing component of IT. They’re IT’s first responders, service catalog keepers and knowledge management gurus. The help desk is a vital component of IT service management, a process which many organizations manage through the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). The service desk is one of the key IT services within the ITIL framework, and agile tech support evolved from ITIL as a way to increase its customer focus.

ITIL treats IT as a set of services to be delivered and sees end users as customers. This paradigm shift leads also to the re-envisioning of equipment and software as a package of services delivered. These concepts birthed cloud computing. Agile methodology arose because developers still felt an ongoing divide between business customers and IT. If you’re considering outsourcing tech support, you should be familiar with agile, and you should ask potential providers whether they use the methodology. Although it was first conceived as a framework for software development, its main themes are relevant to tech support.

People Before Processes

The top priority of agile, according to the Agile Alliance, is customer satisfaction, and customer satisfaction is about more than delivering a service. It’s about a preference for face-to-face conversations where problem-solving isn’t reserved only for IT but employed as a collaborative process. It’s also about building projects around motivated technicians and trusting them get their jobs done.

Responsiveness to Change

In agile, last-minute change provides an opportunity to gain competitive advantage. A ticket or a project doesn’t stay the course because ITIL Service Design laid it out in a certain way. People pivot when needed and modify their service delivery timelines, even as they work with a bias toward closing the ticket.

Agile development also prioritizes self-organization in both hierarchy and process over centralized control and static structure. Methods and structures adjust based on what’s working and what’s not.

Measuring Success

In agile, success is measured by getting things done. Process-oriented, diagnostic metrics are only useful if they lead to delivering a service or closing a ticket. Some service desk managers see a conflict between ITIL and agile, but the two methodologies can combine conceptually to create a framework unique to their organization. ITIL can provide a larger vision for how IT should function; agile can help service desks execute ITIL on the ground. ITIL frames big-picture commitments, while agile governs the way a technician works a ticket or the way a service is developed.

Questions for Outsourcing Providers

It’s important for your providers to acknowledge that agile can have its drawbacks and to establish a plan to address them. They must prevent processes from becoming so cumbersome that customers are forgotten.

While agile’s focus on immediacy can keep business moving in the short term, it can also create technical overhead. When teams don’t take time to analyze a project, they risk treating the symptoms rather than the root cause of an issue. When that happens, the constant stitching and cobbling together of agile solutions creates problems that slow productivity and worsen customer service. Instead, teams should measure success by analyzing metrics that show how the service delivery contributes to a business achievement.

When talking to an outsourcing provider, businesses should push beyond IT-only metrics to ask how their contributions have boosted client business. Ask them how they’re boosting tech support through automation and whether they’re creating self-service workflows or writing scripts to prioritize system and network alerts. Ask how they provide outstanding self-service while also prioritizing face-to-face customer interaction.

In today’s fast-paced world, agility is critical to business success. Agile tech support improves incident response, cuts downtime and — most importantly — prioritizes good relationships with internal customers.

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About The Author

Jacqueline Lee

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Lee specializes in business and technology writing, drawing on over 10 years of experience in business, management and entrepreneurship. Currently, she blogs for HireVue and IBM, and her work on behalf of client brands has appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. In addition to writing, Jackie works as a social media manager and freelance editor. She's a member of the American Copy Editors Society and is completing a certificate in editing from the Poynter Institute.

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