Setting Up an IT Service Desk Part 1 – Defining Purpose and Objectives

IT Service Desk Purpose

Let’s talk about IT service desk purpose. This article is the first in a series that looks at the key elements of setting up an IT service desk. More will follow over the next few months. In many ways, it sets the scene for creating the IT support capabilities that most IT service desks need. Starting with some IT service desk-related explanations and insight into IT service desk purpose.

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IT service desk definition

A service desk is a centralized point of contact in an organization that supports and assists employees or customers with their IT-related issues, requests, and inquiries. It’s the primary interface between the employees or customers and the IT department or IT service provider.

But this isn’t really the IT service desk purpose – there’s more on this later.

The difference between an IT service desk and an IT help desk

An IT help desk is a subset of an IT service desk that focuses on facilitating quick-fix solutions. It’s often viewed as a “break/fix” solution provider focused on getting the employee or customer up and running as quickly as possible. On the other hand, an IT service desk is an evolution of the IT help desk, based on the concept of “managing IT as a service.” So, while an IT help desk provides help, an IT service desk provides service – not only meeting break-fix needs but also handling service requests and requests for information.

IT service desk purpose and benefits

The primary purpose of an IT service desk is to ensure IT services are delivered effectively and efficiently to meet the needs of employees/customers and the organization as a whole. Employees or customers can report incidents, request services, seek guidance, or seek assistance with IT-related issues.

Ultimately, the IT service desk purpose is to provide:

  • An efficient way to track, escalate, and resolve incidents and service requests
  • A methodical way to monitor and analyze trends in reported issues
  • A standardized and effective way to manage changes
  • An effective way to store, search for, and apply tested solutions to issues
  • A proactive way to handle issues.

A well-functioning IT service desk contributes to a more productive and reliable IT environment, positively impacting the overall business operations and the technology-related experiences of employees and customers.

Defining your service offerings and scope of support

Beyond agreeing on the IT service desk purpose, defining the scope of support involves listing the IT services you intend to provide via your IT service desk. The IT service list will become your service catalog, including service names, descriptions, purposes, and value propositions. Each service entry should be clear and easily understandable by employees or customers and your IT service desk team.

The scope of support limits the IT services your IT service desk can and cannot provide to your clients. Without the scope setting, achieving any service level agreement (SLA) target would be impossible because clients could literally request any service from the IT service desk regardless of capacity and capability.

Some organizations define the scope of support as the areas their IT support team will cover, including hardware support, network support, application support, etc. It’s advantageous to define both scopes to have more clarity on the mandate of your IT service desk, and an easy way to do this is to present your scope in a hierarchical structure like the one shown below.

I’m still just getting started with how to set up an IT service desk; please look out for the next article in this series, which covers the IT service desk’s structure.

Please comment below if you would add to or change any of this IT service desk purpose guidance.

Eusoph Simba

Eusoph Simba is a dedicated and accomplished ITSM manager, currently employed at a prominent cloud computing company in South Africa. With a rich background in information technology and management, Eusoph has established himself as a strategic and versatile professional in the field of ITSM. He has a BBA in computer and management information systems, a Post Graduate Diploma in knowledge and information systems, and over 10 IT-related trade certifications, including PMI-ACP, SDI, and ITIL. Eusoph can be reached at [email protected]. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.

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