FAQ: What Are Best Practices for Service Desk Collaboration and Consolidation?

HDI members are a group of community-minded problem solvers. They take their jobs of managing people, process, and technology quite seriously, but they also love to help each other excel in their careers. HDIConnect is a one-stop destination where HDI members gather for peer learning, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. Today, we’re sharing a recent discussion from Connect about service desk collaboration and consolidation.

Q: Has anyone collaborated with another service desk (same company different service desks)? Do you have documentation on things to think about? If so, please pass along. Just looking at some things:

  • One service desk
  • Phoning the desk (currently different service desks and different numbers)
  • Ticket assignments

Sam A.

A: We do something like this with an escalation of our Epic incidents to a second tier. We warm transfer over the customers to their support after doing the initial troubleshooting. We just use a general knowledge article with the phone number and what needs to be documented outside of our normal incident management process.

Our second group we escalate to is a university, and we just send them standard incidents as well as they can send us incidents with an integration of modules between our two instances of ServiceNow. We don’t modify anything with our standard incident management process related to these type of break/fix items.John J.

A: We are just starting a project to combine two legacy service desks into one. Please let me know if you’d like to collaborate.Maria G.

A: I’ve been through consolidation of regional help desks into a national help desk. Fortunately, we were all working out of the same ticketing system. We created regional assignment groups for things that were region specific or needed hands-on touch. We created our own HelpDesk assignment group where the newly combined team worked from and closed tickets in. It seems to me, if different teams have different ticketing systems, the biggest thing would be agreeing on one ticketing system and getting everyone to work out of that.

We settled on a phone number that one region was using that had the last four digits spelling HELP, and we converted that to our primary phone number. Initially, we just redirected all the other regionalized phone numbers to that one number and then we gradually phased out the local/regional numbers and forced everyone to the 800 number.Heather M.

A: We unified four help desks into one. We did not relocate staff and they still sit in MN, WI, FL, and AZeach one of those sites had their own internal staff base. The internal staff that we support can still dial the old phone number(s). We just had Telecom wave their magic wands to get all those calls to go to a central number, and then calls are dished out to agents in all locations. So, we have agents across the country taking calls from customers from all four sites. We also ran into the situation of having multiple ticketing tools between Remedy and HEAT. We eventually moved everyone to Remedy and then to ServiceNow three years ago.

Couple of challenges included training all staff on taking calls from the various sites because each site was also using a different electronic medical record (EMR) along with their own multiple apps. We just now finished a 1.5-year-long implementation of Epic, so we are all now using the same EMR. Another challenge was streamlining our processes across the board. The problem we still run into is that, even though the help desk is unified, some of the other support teams are not, and so they still have different processes for different sites. Because of that, some of our processes still differ based on site.

That’s a pretty broad view of our experience. There are other things that we ran into and learned. Please feel free to reach out to me if you want to discuss.Donald C.

A: Heather, regarding your post that you now have one standard number to reach the service desk, are you using this globally? I am struggling because many countries in APAC, for example, cannot dial toll free without incurring a charge. We are looking into alternative methods to have one centralized phone number.Maria G.

A: Our organization consists of multiple service desks but only because we are global and wanted a “virtual” solution. All desks use the same single ticketing system and one workgroup. As for calls, we offer multiple toll-free numbers to our clients based on their country of origin. The numbers are published on a website in case the client travels to another country and wishes to dial locally for support. All the numbers port over into a single IVR where the calls can be routed if need be.

Hope this helps; happy to discuss further if needed.Xavier I.

A: We are a very de-centralized institution and have multiple help desks on the same campus. I manage one of the smaller help desks at the School of Computer Science. One thing we do is meet regularly to discuss any issues, concerns, and outstanding tickets that may cross the boundaries of each desk. We now all use the same ticketing system, so this makes it easy for us to flag resolved tickets for review. We document in them what could have been done by the other team or even why and who it should have been escalated to. The central help center has also invited us to their regular SOS (Service Ownership Support) meetings they have with all their level 2 and 3 teams. This has led to a lot of collaboration, knowledge share, and team building as we all know each other now and feel comfortable reaching out to other teams across campus.

We also use each other’s help desk areas as a disaster recovery/business continuity site. There have been several times this year where we had to actually implement this due to power outages, construction, and a gas leak.

Hope this helps a little.Thomas W.

A: Our city went from collaborating to consolidating. The city had a service desk serving PD users and another service desk serving everyone else. Earlier this year, we started the process of consolidating and moving to one centralized service desk. Things we considered were:

Support channels. Objective being to operate as a single entity and provide our end users with one set of contact information for the service desk (email, phone, work order system groups)
Training. Needed to make sure all technicians would be able to support all of our end users. Some of our technicians were more familiar with PD applications and some were not and vice versa.
Schedule. Revisit our operating hours to make sure they aligned with all city department needs.
Remote support. It was not an option for PD users, but we knew we would have to implement a solution that would be CJIS compliant to be effective in our new support model.
Access and permissions. Ensure all technicians had access to all applications being supported. PD applications were a bit more stringent than the city applications. Some of our technicians had to go through a more thorough background check.
We started the process back in February of this year, and so far, I would say the transition has been successful.Jennifer B.

A: We have done this in the past, and these are a few things we considered and discussed prior to the change:

KnowledgeDid we have the documentation in our knowledge base needed to allow everyone to be successful
What training would our staff need and establishing a training plan
Teambuilding and culture related events to help the teams transition and build rapport
Identify champions of the change within each team
Fortunately, we were all working out of ServiceNow and leveraged it in the same manner along with our established SLAs being the same.Heather A.

Whether consolidation or collaboration makes sense for your organization is a business decision, so make sure you have the right stakeholders involved. Both can work well if the processes and procedures are well defined and can be executed without undue effort.

Roy Atkinson, Senior Writer/Analyst, HDI

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