Is the concept of the ‘agile service desk’ just hype, or are there tangible benefits to be gained from the agile way of working? Robert van der Gulik of TOPdesk has first-hand experience of what the agile service desk really looks like.

In the context of service desks, what is ‘agile’? In my opinion, there are two areas where agile is especially relevant to service desks:

1. Being agile improves response to customers’ needs
Earlier in my career, I spent a while as a team leader at a service desk. I experienced first-hand how hard it can be to respond quickly to a customer’s question. Here’s an example of what may happen:

Sales wants to purchase tablets and consults the service desk for advice on what would be a good fit for them. The service desk starts to do some research to find the best tablets that would work well with the ERP and CRM systems that are already in place. But Sales feels this research phase takes too much time. The department decides to use their own budget to buy 20 tablets. But as it turned out, the service desk had already crossed this tablet from their list because it wasn’t compatible with the existing systems.

As you can imagine, neither department was happy with the result. With an agile mindset at the service desk, it’s easier to prevent situations where you don’t get the right results out of a request.

2. Being agile can take your services to the next level
Applying agile is not the same as being agile. It’s a different mindset. I’ve come across many organizations that are applying agile. Organisations apply some elements of Kanban, scrum and stand-ups, but applying these methods isn’t enough. Teams need to change their mindset and behaviour as well: you should get to an agile mindset. The change can take your services to the next level.

The agile mindset
There are many ways to apply agile elements in our work. But at the core, it’s about adopting the philosophy. The philosophy is best described by the Agile Manifesto. It’s aimed primarily at the world of software development, but with only a few adjustments it’s very relevant to service management as well:

#1: Interactions and individuals are more important than processes and tools

#2: Working software is more important than extensive documentation

#3: Customer collaboration is more important than contracts set in stone

#4: Responding to change is more important than sticking to the plan

As with any approach, there needs to be a balanced approached. For example, look again at #3. Yes, collaboration is vital. But your organsiations still gains from good processes, tools, documentation, contracts and plans. The key is using these things to provide better services to your customers.

So, how can we change our mindset and behaviour? We need to focus more on the things that I have described as being more important. Therefore, interactions, collaboration between individuals, services that work, working together with the customer and responding to changes should be given priority.

If you want to start with Agile, there are a few statements to consider. If any of these are true for you, you have a lot to gain from going agile:

  • According to customer reports we’re doing well on all our KPIs, but our customers aren’t very satisfied at all.
  • We know exactly what our customers expect from us so we don’t need to ask them.
  • Before we start a new project, we take a few months to determine exactly what the result should be.
  • Departments regularly use their own budget to purchase IT tools or software.
  • When we supply a new phone, we provide a manual so customers can set up their phones themselves.

Want to know more about building an agile service desk? Download this free e-book.

Guest post by:

Robert van der Gulik

Service management consultant, TOPdesk 
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