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Build a Service Support Strategy

Get service support and the business on the same page.

  • Service desks are evolving to reflect social and technological changes. As organizations become more complex, their service desks are turning into highly skilled business technology service hubs.
  • Increasingly, service desks are measuring the performance of technology services and acting as the dashboard for assessing the success of service operations.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • There is a growing demand for service desks to demonstrate business value. Service desks that cannot deliver and communicate their contribution to the organization are closing or being outsourced.

Impact and Result

  • Articulating a clear service support strategy that aligns with business objectives is the most important activity an infrastructure leader can do for the IT department and the organization.
  • The key is to identify the business capabilities required to execute the corporate strategy. Supporting these business capabilities will drive the service support strategy and focus the service desk’s efforts on achieving the strategic goals of the organization.
  • Ultimately, the success of your service support function will hinge on whether you know your business goals and challenges, connect them to meaningful initiatives, and identify service support process owners accountable for specific roles and responsibilities.

Build a Service Support Strategy Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to find out why you should build a service support strategy, review Info-Tech’s methodology, and understand the four ways we can support you in completing this project.

1. Design target state

Analyze emerging service support trends to understand shifts in the industry and document the IT strategy to define the target state for service support.

2. Assess current state

Identify critical success factors and key performance indicators for service support and review process strengths and challenges.

3. Develop recommendations

Identify target service support initiatives and plan implementation.


Build a Service Support Strategy

Get service support and the business on the same page.

ANALYST PERSPECTIVE

"The so-called demise of IT has caused much hand-wringing lately. Cloud, BYOD, consumerization: all trends point to a shift in the traditional role of internal IT departments. Many are becoming hybrids, focused as much on vendor management as on traditional service provision. Where does that leave service support? As long as technology continues to develop, there will be a need for people to sort out complex, time-consuming issues. These are not necessarily limited to recovering from incidents when things go wrong; they also include getting to the incidents’ root causes, fulfilling requests, and rolling out changes and releases. The strategic direction of your service desk will depend in part on the complexity of your organization, and the convenience and quality of the service it provides."

Michel Hebert, PhD

Director, Infrastructure Operations Practice

Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Situation

  • Service desks are evolving to reflect social and organizational changes. As organizations become ever more technologically complex, service desks have become highly skilled business technology service hubs.
  • Increasingly, service desks are measuring the performance of technology services and acting as the dashboard for assessing the success of service operations.

Complication

  • There is a growing demand for service desks to demonstrate greater business value. Services desks that cannot deliver and communicate their contribution to the organization are closing or being outsourced.

Resolution

  • Articulating a clear service support strategy that aligns with business objectives is the most important activity an infrastructure leader can do for the IT department and the organization.
  • The key is to identify the business capabilities required to execute the corporate strategy. Supporting these business capabilities will drive the service support strategy and focus the service desk’s efforts on achieving the strategic goals of the organization.
  • Ultimately, the success of your service support strategy will hinge on whether you know your business goals and challenges, connect them to meaningful initiatives, and identify service support process owners accountable for specific roles and responsibilities.

Use this research to formalize your service support strategy

Intended Audience

  • IT departments who are ready to move out of firefighting mode and plan a strategic direction for service support.
  • IT leaders who need a strategic plan to implement a new service desk or improve an existing one.
  • IT departments who need an efficient way to analyze different options, including changes to structures, processes, or outsourcing relationships.
  • Mature IT departments looking to adapt service support to new environments.

This Research Includes

  • Service desk maturity assessment
  • SWOT analysis
  • Goals cascade
  • Implementation and accountability roadmap

Expected Benefits

  • Long-term funding for multiyear initiatives
  • Greater alignment between IT, the service support function, and the business

WALK AWAY FROM THIS BLUEPRINT WITH:

  1. The critical steps and key players in the service support strategic planning process.
  2. A clear understanding of the business expectations for service support.
  3. Effective short-term and long-term service support strategies.

Is this research right for you?

Research Navigation

A service support strategy will ensure the service support function creates value for the business. Use these questions to find the Info-Tech resources that best align with the outcomes you want to achieve.

Do you need to If you answered yes We also recommend

Build a strategy to meet service support requirements

Follow the guidance in this blueprint.

Consider launching Info-Tech's CIO Business Vision diagnostic.

Improve basic service desk processes?

Review Info-Tech’s blueprint Standardize the Service Desk and Build a Continual Improvement Plan for the Service Desk.

Consider launching Info-Tech’s End User Satisfaction Program.

Map requirements and design an RFP to outsource the service desk?

Review Outsource the Service Desk.

Map the dependencies between service management processes to plan an implementation?

Review Create a Service Management Roadmap

Consider launching Info-Tech’s IT Management & Governance Diagnostic.

Define the internal and external factors affecting the business to formalize your IT strategy?

Review Build an IT Strategy for the Small Enterprise or Rapidly Develop a Visual IT Strategy.

Consider launching Info-Tech’s CIO Business Vision diagnostic.

Use the project tools and templates to build key deliverables and accelerate your project

  • Service Desk Maturity Assessment
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Service Support Strategy Worksheet
  • Service Support Strategy Examples
  • IT Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles, and Implications
  • Executive Presentation

The project’s key deliverable is a service support strategy

Info-Tech’s Service Support Strategy Worksheet can be customized to reflect your processes and organization and will help you:

  • Document your organization’s support requirements.
  • Outline existing service support structure, process, and performance.
  • Define strategic goals and objectives.
  • Identify the nature, type, and size of the target service desk.
  • Identify implementation items, risks, dependencies, and accountabilities.

The project blueprint includes four sample service support strategies based on past engagements. Use them to inspire your own work.

Project Map

Phase 1: Design Target State Phase 2: Assess Current State Phase 3: Develop Recommendations

1.1 Review strategy trends

2.1 Identify CSFs and KPIs

3.1 Identify target initiatives

1.2 Document the IT strategy

2.2 Identify strengths and challenges

3.2 Plan implementation

  • Service Support Goals
  • IT Strategy Review
  • Strategy Trends
  • Governance Metrics
  • Service Desk Maturity Assessment
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Action Plan
  • Target Initiatives
Three circles are displayed. The first circle is labeled: Design Target State. The first circle has an arrow pointing to the second circle. The second circle is labeled: Assess Current State. The second circle has an arrow pointing to the third circle. The third circle is labeled: Develop Recommendations.

What is a service support strategy?

A service support strategy defines a clear path for creating a service support organization with the skills and capabilities the business needs to produce growth, flexibility, and innovation.

A service support strategy will:

  • Organize IT's financial, technical, and human resources around generating business value through service support
  • Provide risk management oversight of service support activities.
  • Identify improvement dependencies.
  • Prioritize service support initiatives.
  • Ensure initiatives help achieve the strategic goals of the organization and yield value over time.
  • Drive lower costs, increased output, and competitive advantage through the alignment of IT activities with drivers of business success.

There’s more than one way to build a business strategy

Consultants, practitioners, and scholars each have different ideas about what strategy is really about based on their emphasis, focus, and scope.

A Venn diagram of three circles is displayed. The first circle is labeled: Customer Driven. The second circle is labeled: Market Driven. The third circle is labeled: Internally Driven. Beside the Venn diagram is a list of seven different ideas about what strategy is really about based on emphasis, focus, and scope of consultants, practitioners, and scholars. The first idea in the list is labeled: Competitive advantage. The second idea in the list is labeled: Process versus content. The third idea in the list is labeled: The 3 Cs approach. The fourth idea in the list is labeled: External versus internal. The fifth idea in the list is labeled: Economic versus organizational. The sixth idea in the list is labeled: Strategic leadership. The seventh idea in the list is labeled: Prescriptive versus descriptive.

This project uses a capabilities approach to service support strategy

An effective service support strategy should be grounded in the organization’s mission, vision, and goals. However, these are too broad to convert into an exhaustive list of projects.

Instead of looking at business goals, narrow your focus to the capability level.

Capabilities are more specific and provide a better foundation from which to derive service support projects. Capabilities are the basic building blocks or “doings” that enable the success of service support and the business. Think of them as organization-level skills embedded in people, processes, and technologies. They represent an organization’s ability to create value.

A diagram of four circles is displayed. The first circle is labeled: Mission. An arrow below the first circle points to the second circle. The second circle is labeled: Vision. An arrow to the right of the second circle points to the third circle. The third circle is labeled: Goals. An arrow above the third circle points to the fourth circle. The fourth circle is labeled: Capabilities.

For better planning outcomes, establish your target state before you identify current capabilities

Base your key initiatives on the strategic requirements of your organization.

  1. Define Your Future State Review your infrastructure roadmap, upcoming initiatives, and business strategy. How will planned initiatives change the way you provide service support? Identify service support risks to execute successfully on the identified initiatives.
  2. Identify Gap in Capabilities Have a close look at your current state. What capabilities do you need to develop or improve? Capabilities should support the delivery of projects and initiatives, enable new or changing operating processes, and mitigate service support risks in your organization.
  3. Define Key Initiatives Take action to address service support gaps, mitigate risks, and deliver projects. Decide whether to build or buy needed capabilities. Identify whether to train, hire, contract, or outsource each capability.

A service support strategy can help you deliver IT innovations that provide a competitive edge

We asked organizations how satisfied they were that IT brought innovative technology to the business to improve its competitive advantage.

53% of end users surveyed were either neutral or dissatisfied with the innovation leadership that IT provided.

A pie graph with three unequal sections is displayed. The pie graph represents how satisfied organizations were that IT brought innovative technology to the business to improve its competitive advantage. The light blue section is labeled: Satisfied. The light blue section is forty-seven percent of the graph. The dark blue section is labeled: Dissatisfied. The dark blue section is thirty-seven percent of the graph. The green section is labeled: Neutral. The green section is sixteen percent of the graph.
“Satisfied” end users gave an average score of 8-10. “Dissatisfied" end users gave an average score of 1-6.
Source: Info-Tech Research Group, 2018. (N=18,900+ respondents from 90 organizations)

A service support strategy can also help you align technology initiatives with your digital strategy

In 2018, Deloitte surveyed 1,437 CIOs and CXOs from 71 countries and 23 industries. Only 10% of CIOs represented vanguard organizations – organizations that had a digital strategy and in which IT is perceived as a market leader.

A diagram of Deloitte's 2018 survey on CIOs is displayed. There are two text boxes above two triangles. The first text box above the first triangle reads: What is the business perception of your IT function's understanding of, readiness for, and responsiveness to digital and emerging tech? The triangle below the first text box is divided into two sections: a dark blue section and a light blue section. The dark blue section reads: Eighty-seven percent perceived IT as fast follower, laggard, or delinquent. The light blue section reads: Thirteen percent perceived IT as market leader. The second text box above the second triangle reads: Does your organization have a clear digital vision and strategy? The triangle below the second text box is divided into two sections: a dark blue section and a light blue section. The dark blue section reads: Forty-two percent said organization has limited or no digital strategy. The light blue section reads: Fifty-eight percent said enterprise or business area digital strategy exists. There is a small green triangle that overlaps the first and second triangles. The green triangle reads: 9.7 percent are Digital Vanguards

An effective service support strategy will improve service desk performance

Embrace Standardization

  • Without standardized processes, organizations become a mass of confusion, redundancies, and cost overruns.
  • Standardized processes are scalable and prevent wasted energy on reinventing solutions to recurring issues.

Increase business satisfaction

  • Improve confidence that the service desk can meet service levels.
  • Create a single point of contact for incidents and requests, and escalate quickly.

Reduce recurring issues

  • Create tickets for every task and categorize them accurately.
  • Generate reliable data to support root-cause analysis.

Increase efficiency and lower operating costs

  • Empower end users and technicians with a targeted knowledgebase (KB).
  • Cross-train to improve service consistency.

Enhance demand planning

  • Analyze trends to forecast and meet shifting business requirements.

End users who are satisfied with the service desk are more likely to be satisfied with all other IT services

On average:

  • End users who were satisfied with service desk effectiveness rated all other IT processes 52% higher than dissatisfied end users did.
  • End users who were satisfied with service desk timeliness rated all other IT processes 41% higher than dissatisfied end users did.

A bar graph of the average satisfaction with IT services is displayed. The y-axis is labeled: Average Satisfaction With IT Services. The y-axis ranges from one to ten. There are two categories on the x-axis. The first category is labeled: Service Desk Effectiveness. The second category is labeled: Service Desk Timeliness. There are two bars of data under each category. One of the bars of data under each category is blue and is labeled: Dissatisfied End Users. The other bar of data under each category is green and is labeled: Satisfied End Users. Under the first category, the data of the blue bar is five and four tenths, and the data of the green bar is eight and two tenths. There is a fifty-two percent increase from the blue bar to the green bar. Under the second category, the data of the blue bar is five and eight tenths, and the data of the green bar is eight and two tenths. There is a forty-one percent increase from the blue bar to the green bar.

“Satisfied” organizations had average scores greater than or equal to eight. “Dissatisfied" organizations had average scores less than six.
Source: Info-Tech Research Group, 2018. (N=18,900+ respondents from 90 organizations)

Project insight map

Only fools rush in. Ensure explicit implementation questions are at the end of the list.

It’s tempting to start with questions about ITIL or the “next-generation” service desk. But these commit you to pursuing frameworks or technologies before you even define challenges. The right question to ask first is “how do we solve the organization’s service support problems, quickly and permanently?”

Phase 1: Analyze service support trends to understand potential shifts in the landscape. They may be beyond the strategy’s scope, but you should have a sense of how they might impact service support.

Phase 2: Don’t rush into an evaluation of technology or the feasibility of a specific option. Start with the overarching business objectives and work your way down.

Phase 3: The best strategies identify opportunities and risks early in the process. Engage stakeholders in a recommendation discussion to improve your strategic peripheral vision and increase buy-in.

Build a Service Support Strategy – project overview

1. Design Target State 2. Assess Current State 3. Develop Recommendations
Best-Practice Toolkit

1.1 Review strategy trends

1.2 Document the IT strategy

2.1 Identify CSFs and KPIs

2.2 Identify strengths and challenges

3.1 Identify target initiatives

3.2 Plan implementation

Guided Implementations

Review service support trends.

Document IT strategy; determine goals and capabilities.

Identify CSFs and KPIs.

Perform maturity assessments, identify challenges, and assess existing capabilities.

Perform a gap analysis, identify key initiatives, and map them to capabilities.

Develop key initiatives.

Onsite Workshop

Module 1:

Design Target State

Module 2:

Assess Current State

Module 3:

Develop Recommendations

Phase 1 Outcome:

  • Strategy trends
  • IT strategy review
  • Service support goals and capabilities

Phase 2 Outcome:

  • Maturity assessment
  • SWOT analysis
  • Governance metrics

Phase 3 Outcome:

  • Target initiatives
  • Action plan

For additional support, have our analysts work with you as part of an Info-Tech onsite workshop

Contact your account representative or email Workshops@InfoTech.com for more information.

Phases: Conduct Discovery and Follow-Up Design Target State Assess Current State Develop Key Initiatives Build Roadmap
Duration*

1 day offsite

1 day onsite

1 day onsite

1 day onsite

1 day onsite

Activities
  • Interview management team
  • Identify service desk challenges
  • Conduct CIO Business Vision Survey/End-User Satisfaction Survey
  • Review service support trends
  • Document IT vision, mission, and principles
  • Define scope
  • Determine goals and capabilities
  • Identify CSFs and KPIs
  • Perform maturity assessment
  • Review diagnostics
  • Identify challenges
  • Perform SWOT
  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Document in-flight initiatives and current capabilities
  • Perform a gap analysis
  • Identify key initiatives and tie them to capabilities and goals
  • Create profiles for each initiative
  • Use a prioritization matrix to sequence initiatives
  • Create a Lean Canvas to communicate strategy
Outputs
  • Stakeholder feedback
  • Strategic priorities
  • Review service support trends
  • Documented high-level IT strategy
  • CSFs and KPIs
  • Current service support strengths and challenges
  • In-flight initiatives
  • Key areas for improvement
  • Target service support initiatives
  • Implementation plan
  • High-level project communication plan
Deliverables
  • Executive presentation
  • Service desk strategy

Info-Tech’s approach aligns service support strategy to business goals

Our services include DIY toolkits, Guided Implementations, diagnostic surveys, onsite workshops, and management consulting.

Info-Tech's Mission

Help IT leaders and their teams:

  • Improve core processes and functions
  • Implement critical technology projects

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst

Get the help you need in this 3-phase advisory process. You'll receive 6 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation 1: Design target state
  • Call 1: Review service support trends.
  • Call 2: Document IT strategy; determine goals and capabilities.

Guided Implementation 2: Assess current state
  • Call 1: Identify CSFs and KPIs.
  • Call 2: Perform maturity assessments, identify challenges, and assess existing capabilities.

Guided Implementation 3: Develop recommendations
  • Call 1: Perform a gap analysis, identify key initiatives, and map them to capabilities.
  • Call 2: Develop key initiatives.

Author

Michel Hebert

Contributors

  • Suneet Arora, Director, Service Delivery, Colliers International
  • Ron Hunt, Senior Director, IT Client Services, Universal Music Group
  • Karim Bechane, Director, IT Client Services, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Madonna Arntz, Armstrong World Industries, Manager, IT Service Experience
  • 16 anonymous industry contributors
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