One thing that strikes a chord with many of my clients is a simple concept that I’ve used for some time, although only recently defined more explicitly. This centres around the role of the Service Desk Manager (SDM), which for me is still the pivotal role in ITSM. I act as a mentor for this role with some clients and help them to put theory into practice for success in the job.
The idea is around the communications and stakeholder ‘juggling act’ that the SDM has to carry out daily – I call this the Service Desk Triangle. This refers to the 3-way pull on the SDM that can potentially result in them disappearing without a trace – i.e. like into the ‘Bermuda triangle’…
Basically there are 3 very distinct stakeholder groups that they have to manage and keep happy and on-side, namely:
1 The Service Desk team – who need specific management and TLC, as they operate in a front-line service role with specific time demands and a daily dose of negative interactions. These people need a mixture of clear and structured management with supportive staff coaching and support, to keep motivated and maintain quality.
2 Customers – who obviously have a different set of expectations and requirements which need to be met and managed professionally and effectively, as the service desk is the ‘shop front’ for the whole of the IT organisation.
3 The rest of the IT organisation – i.e. part of the service desk’s team, but often its biggest problem area. Successful and integrated service delivery requires seamless teamwork across IT teams in support of the service desk and its customers, but this doesn’t always happen…!
The SDM needs to build effective relationships and get agreement from their colleagues across IT to make service an effective ‘supply chain’. So they have to be parent, coach, service provider, diplomat and negotiator, to name but a few roles, as well as of course marketer, salesperson, tough manager, mentor, analyst and master of ceremonies…!
I know from experience how tough it is when all three of these areas are out of sync and bearing down on the beleaguered SDM. On the other hand it’s very rewarding when the juggling is working and all three stakeholder groups are content.
It is a good practical approach if the SDM does some analysis and ‘stakeholder mapping’ to keep tabs on what each area’s requirements, issues, preferences and idiosyncrasies are – this can help by providing an ongoing pain and/or satisfaction barometer for the SDM to monitor and act on accordingly. The SDM also needs to have a deep portfolio of communications and influencing skills to be able to understand and satisfy each different agenda.
So, if you are engaged in some way with the Service Desk from the outside, it does no harm to consider the SDM’s daily challenge, keeping disparate sets of people and teams happy simultaneously – give it some thought, put yourself in their shoes for a while and ‘see it from their angle’…
Maybe also if you do this you could see and act on ways to make the triangle a bit less of a challenge for the SDM? What do you think?