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The tyranny of the service desk

2018-11-01 12:24:11 +0000

“Have you raised a ticket for that?”

Work is invisible. It flows, like water, to fill the capacity you have to process it, and it’s hard to measure directly.

When you have lots of teams that interact with one another, your lines of communication get clogged. If every person in a 600 person organisation wants to speak to everyone else, then you have billions upon billions of potential communication pathways.

“I sent an email to Andy, and he said that Beatrice would do it. The next day it wasn’t done so I phoned Charlie and they talked me through doing it”

People just want to get the job done, and our natural instinct is to be helpful. But we don’t remember to document, to share knowledge with our team members, especially if it was a 2 minute task done while on the phone.

Agile says “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” but it also says “That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Agile doesn’t mean no process, it doesn’t mean throwing the process out of the window, it just means that we don’t want the process to hinder the individuals from interacting.

Service desks are a great way to surface all the requests that come into your team, to prioritise them, to get visibility on why certain actions weren’t done, and to understand the “flow” of your team and its dependents.

But a service desk quickly can become a crutch, in which someone having a bad day can refuse to do work because “You haven’t raised a ticket”. Where tickets can be raised “in the wrong queue”, or “only by an authorised member of staff, no contractors”.

Is your service desk tooling there to help individuals to interact, or is it there to restrict those interactions?

Don’t let the service desk rule over your teams, ensure that it’s a useful, usable and convenient tool for tracking you work, conversations and so on. Let your staff who respond to calls raise tickets really easily, so they can track when they’ve done work via other mechanisms

[This blogpost is part of an attempt to blog once a day for the entirety of November (#NaBloPoMo), inspired by Terence Eden. This series of blogposts are therefore unedited and written on the day. Errors and Omissions Excepted]