Service Desk Tiering Model Improves Self-Support Success
|Self-support tools are changing the problem
resolution paradigm for IT service desks. To deliver self-support,
organizational tiering models must be reconsidered to ensure improved levels
of service and decreased costs.
What are the most critical management practices and processes for creating
and maintaining a consolidated service desk organization?
What sourcing strategies will allow enterprises to achieve maximum
efficiency in handling support demand?
|A major challenge for IS organizations continues to be creating a
support structure that channels problems and service requests to the best
resource, while maintaining effective management and customer satisfaction.
New to the equation of support, the Level 0 function is a pure and simple
end-user or customer "help myself" form of support. This addition enables
the IS organization to generate trouble tickets, capture end-user
procedures, pinpoint training opportunity and leverage knowledge content
management via scripting. With the Level 0 function, end users can solve
their own IT problems or service requests. The IS organization can create a
total support staff tier model (see Figure 1) by analyzing the activity of
its end-user base and effectively translating usage types (see Note 1) into
the requirements for various tiers of support. Via this modeling effort,
usage types can be correlated into core processes required to support
problems, changes and assets that can be better analyzed and subsequently
better designed. This outcome should deliver a consolidation and
collaboration across the tiering boundaries with a focus on the class of
call types that lend themselves best to automation at the self-support
Service Desk Call and Incident Categories
Service Request: A service request call or an e-mail regarding a
range of support-specific service offerings.
Change: An end-user-placed call or an e-mail resulting in changes to
the IT infrastructure that are not a result of an IT infrastructure failure.
Move: A subset of a change request, a move is an end-user request
regarding the physical or virtual movement of IT resources or physical
Add: A subset of a change request, an add is a specific end-user
request for guidance on how to install or upgrade end-user IT resources.
How to: An end-user request regarding how to accomplish tasks with,
access or operate IT resources.
Break/Fix: An end-user request placed as a result of a problem
accomplishing tasks with, accessing or operating IT resources.
Password Reset: A specialized end-user request regarding establishing
or regaining access privileges to IT resources.
Outage: A specialized case of an end-user break/fix call affecting a
substantial group of end users ("flood calls"); calls are placed to the
service desk to inform, inquire or complain about accomplishing tasks with,
accessing or operating IT resources.
CSD: IT Support Tiering Model
|Source: Gartner Research
Gartner recommends that IT service desk staff
members build a chart similar to the one in Figure 1 and follow the steps to
rationalize their own environment. The example below represents a baseline
version of a tool to be used in project data gathering. IS organizations can
easily apply their own criteria and structure predicated to their unique
Level 0 Self-Help (Intranet/Internet Strategy): Level 0 is an
intranet or Internet self-support function. Empowering end users to solve
problems can be facilitated via universal access to knowledge. Self-help,
self-diagnosis or self-healing tools (see Research Note
enable users to capture problem resolution knowledge and apply it toward
consistent call types (see Note 2). By 2002, enterprises that move to an
intranet support culture will channel 15 percent to 40 percent of their call
volume by establishing a self-support option, lowering cost of ownership by
5 percent to 20 percent (0.7 probability) to 2002. Initial tool
implementations will be tactical as solutions are in an immature and
Definition of Call and Incident Types
Consistent: An issue is consistent if a well-defined and known
procedure resolves the issue and the procedure is readily accessible by
those assigned ownership to resolve it.
Inconsistent: An issue is inconsistent if a defined procedure
resolves it, but the enterprise has no documented or readily available
access to it.
Transient: An issue is transient if the issue is not understood,
recognized or identified and there is no defined procedure to resolve the
|Level 1 Service Desk (Business Focus): The Level 1 service desk
is the support hot line. It acts as the human single point of contact for
all technology-related problems (mainframes to PCs; internal applications to
shrink-wrapped software; telecommunications and LANs; hardware break/fix and
more) and service requests. The Level 1 service desk should be able to
resolve approximately 65 percent to 80 percent of all incoming support calls
and e-mail-submitted problems. Remaining calls are passed to Level 2 and
Level 3 support personnel. Level 1 service has access to a common data
repository. This level of support emphasizes a closer relationship with the
users and has a business focus to help customers leverage technology to
solve business problems. Level 1 is involved mostly in user management, such
as password/access security, data management, workflow management, problem
resolution, end-user training, service-level monitoring, application
support, and moves, adds and changes.
Level 2 Service Desk (Technical
Focus): The Level 2 service desk provides support services beyond the
Level 1 service desk's mission or capabilities. Level 2 resolves 15 percent
to 25 percent of the total call volume of problems. For example, Level 2
handles problems requiring greater depth of knowledge, more-technical issues
or longer time on the phone. Level 2 is most often a centralized resource.
It can reside inside or outside of the IS organization, or it can be
outsourced. Level 2 is involved in end-user training, systems and
operations, desktop support, project services, knowledge management,
application support software distribution, change management, documentation
management, portfolio/asset tracking, workgroup computing and directory
Level 3 Service Desk (Strategic Focus): The Level 3 support team
resolves the final 5 percent to 10 percent of support calls and must work
with hardware and software vendors to resolve issues. These people are the
resident "gurus" and often own the IS organization's compatibility testing
lab. Level 3 staff members handle a wide variety of issues concerning all
aspects of the desktop and the network. They are focused more on strategic
planning and IS infrastructure. This group is involved in leading IS staff
members in problem avoidance, relationship management, output management, IS
training, disaster recovery planning, application recovery, archive
strategies, capacity management and competency centers.
The key determinant for a successful support structure is a
well-thought-out strategy, which ensures that a support site will be an
asset, not a liability. Tier structure and problem type analysis are the
most critical components of a best-in-class IT service support strategy.
Using a tier modeling framework will help to ensure success in developing an
intranet strategy for the IS organization and self-help services. IS support
organizations must understand their incident/call category mix, apply the
appropriate organizational structure against the planned call mix, target
specific call resolution goals against each tier, and ensure that
communications and feedback between the tiers are maintained. This should be
done before any technology purchases are considered. Enterprises must
be extremely cognizant of the changes in organizational structure that will
be required for successful self-support tool implementations.