Using ITSM Tools to Improve Effectiveness of a Service-oriented Service Desk

By Scott Ruehle
10:50 AM

This is part two in a two-part series. In part 1 I focused on what behavioral qualities or aspects of attitude and mannerisms would help a service-oriented culture succeed. I was then, and will continue to do so in this article, focus on where I know my experiences have been – IT in a Healthcare organization.

In order for a service-oriented approach to succeed at becoming part of the department or organizational culture, there will have to be an eventual recognition by management, if not leaders, of what services you provide. Most will struggle with this (and possibly never truly identify them) without some form of outside assistance. In today’s ITSM world, the prevailing resource for this assistance is ITIL.

The short version of what ITIL is can be described as the Continuous Service Improvement lifecycle, encompassing recommended best practices for all the IT-related disciplines (Incident Management, Change Management, Problem Management, etc.) that make up a large part of day-to-day life in IT. At the core of these best practices for providing Services or a service-oriented culture lies the Service Desk.
No matter your organization’s level of maturity in having your services defined and/or applied, the Service Desk becomes an integral part of how effective (or not) IT builds a service oriented culture. How, you might ask?

In order to provide effective services through a service-oriented culture, some form of standard approaches or processes need to be developed. Irrespective of where support or services need to be applied, the quality in how to initiate, track, manage, and resolve them remains. The following is a real-world example.

As already noted, I work in the healthcare industry. In our world, regulatory demands from meaningful use are dramatically changing how physicians have to manage their work flow, down to the detailed level of actually (often for the first time) entering patient data into what is commonly known as the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). These demands have forced us to reconsider how we will provide both break-fix and training support for a target audience on a scale that was never part of our existing support mandate. Having a common entry point (Single Point of Contact in ITIL speak) in the form of a Service Desk at least ensures we are getting calls routed and managed in a standardized process.

Just receiving the call is half the battle though. Managing those calls effectively and efficiently creates another set of challenges, at the core of which the use of a robust and standardized tool becomes paramount. In other words, every Service Desk needs a Service Desk tool. The arguments for effectively managing incidents and requests (often where organizations start out in ITSM and the core focuses of a Service Desk) are well established and valid; however, one could argue that a tool will not resolve the culture or management issues surrounding building a service-oriented culture and that Incident, Request and Change Management can be done without a standard tool. But how effective, efficient and to what degree of quality can you truly manage these disciplines if there is no standard or common interface to assist in this? 


Scott Ruehle is an IT Process Manager for a healthcare IT organization. This post appeared at The SunView Software Blog.