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What is the job of the Service Desk Manager?

If you think about jobs in IT, many of you would think about technical, routine tasks and spending time in front of various terminals. Well, for many of the jobs – this interpretation could be right. But, there is one job that I would take out from the bunch of “typical” IT jobs – the job of a Service Desk Manager.

ITIL, contrary to ISO 20000, puts significant importance on the Service Desk, and its efficiency and competence. Namely, the Service Desk is on the “frontline” towards users. That means that users don’t see your perfect developer or best-in-class admin or some other expert. What they see is your Service Desk. That visibility puts significance on the Service Desk’s efficiency and, therefore, its management. The Service Desk Manager is “the role.” Let’s see what the job of that person entails.

Working environment

To understand the Service Desk Manager’s job responsibilities, let’s first examine his workplace.  As I already mentioned, the Service Desk is a user’s first line of support. That’s the place that they will call, or write to, when they are having difficulties with the services they are entitled to (faultlessly) use. That puts high emphasis and high visibility on the Service Desk.

Since the Service Desk deal with incidents, it’s part of the Incident Management process and a trigger for some other processes like Problem Management or Change Management. Further on, the Service Level Manager will spend a lot of time taking care that Service Level Agreement (SLA) requirements are met, fulfilling Service Requests, etc. So, pretty multidisciplinary isn’t it? So must be the Service Desk’s manager.

Service Desk Manager – What does he do?

OK, let’s be straight from the beginning – the Service Desk Manager’s job is not technical. That’s my first advice. I have faced some companies with technical guys leading the Service Desk – don’t do that. The Service Desk Manager’s job is different. Here are the main activity areas of the Service Desk Manager, which can give you an idea of what kind of person could be the Service Desk Manager:

Communication – it goes in several directions: inside his own team, towards other groups/functions inside the IT Service Management (ITSM) team, towards Service Level Management (could also include Business Relationship Management), users or customers, and the IT Service Manager. Communication tools, communication skills and “sense for people” are what a Service Desk Manager uses on a daily basis.

Managerial skills – read any of the management books and you’ll find many details on what the Service Desk Manager needs. His job will include managing people and tasks, and taking care about timing of incident resolution as well as Service Desk employees’ working hours, etc. There are a lot of opportunities to excel in management and organization.

Time effectiveness – having an efficient Service Desk means fighting with time. Of course, here I’m referring to incident resolution time. Most of the time incident resolution time is defined in the SLA. The SLA means a contractual obligation with negative consequences if requirements are not fulfilled. So, the Service Desk Manager has pressure to keep SLA requirements.

Customer orientation – this is maybe one of the hardest requirements for the Service Desk role. As always in business, here it is also valid that “the customer is king.” Maybe they (customers) are not right or require something that they are not entitled to. But, remember, all (from all IT) they see is the Service Desk, and it is according to them that they will judge your organization. So, sometimes the Service Desk needs to go “along the line” just to make the customer happy. Sticking strictly to the written word (in the SLA), sometimes is counterproductive.

Service Desk Manager – Your “Mr. Everything”

As you can see, most of the Service Desk Manager’s characteristics, i.e., competences are not technical or service related. Yes, the Service Desk Manager has to know the services that the Service Desk is supporting, but that knowledge doesn’t need to go into detail. When I say he has no technical competences, that does not mean he has no knowledge about technology at all. It simply means that it’s more important is to be a good manager, quick in thinking (and bringing decisions) and agile.

Being efficient in supporting live services, communicating (nicely and efficiently) with customers and other IT teams in order to provide best-in-class services means that the Service Desk Manager can highly influence customers’ satisfaction. And that’s not unimportant. Happy customer will pay their bills. OK, maybe unhappy customers will pay their bills too, but certainly not for long. And, who wants that?

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Advisera Branimir Valentic
Branimir Valentic
Branimir is an expert in IT service management (consultancy, training and tools), IT governance (training and consulting), project management and consultancy in IT and telecommunication. He holds the following certificates: ITIL Expert, ISO 20000, ISMS Lead Auditor and PRINCE2.