What not-for-profits can learn from IT Service Management – The help desk


By Claire Brereton

Every organisation needs IT Service Management. IT Service Management is the part of IT which delivers the IT services, and its ‘front door’ is a help desk or service desk.

Service Management is there to run and support the services required by organisations of all types and sizes. These can be services such as support for enterprise systems, technology setup for new employees or running the email and calendars.

IT Service Management these days is either performed within a company – think ‘the IT Crowd’, outsourced, or run as a blend of both arrangements.

IT Service Management is not just about technology. A large organisation will have thousands of IT contacts handled every week by its help desk and this can’t be done without robust PROCESSES and skilled PEOPLE.

The disciplines and processes which are used in a help desk can be applied to pretty much any service. Not for Profits in particular suffer from the problem of too much workload and too few skilled and trained people. Whilst I am not suggesting that service management is a ‘magic wand’ which will solve all resourcing problems, it can certainly help to ensure that resources are used effectively.

A key process for IT help desks is ‘Incident Management’. Every call / email / Facebook post which is received is recorded, categorised and prioritised. If it can be dealt with there and then, it is resolved on the spot. If it needs to be handed off to someone else, it is placed in a specialist’s work queue. The incident is only closed when the customer (not the IT specialist) confirms that all is well. There is a clear communications process and regular call backs to keep the customer in the loop.

The best practice associated with IT Service Management is so well established that there are recognised frameworks, education, qualifications and even a global standard.

Some lessons that many Not for Profits could benefit from:

1)     Log all contacts with your organisation in one place. Record follow up actions and check to make sure that items are closed off.

2)     Educate your people (and all new hires/volunteers) on the importance of sticking to a common process.

3)     Organise your resources so that your most skilled people are not tied up with repetitive tasks.

If you have found this useful, then I hope that Part 2 – REDUCTION of workload will be helpful.

About the Author – Claire Brereton FACS GAICD is a Cause and Effective Associate. Claire is the Principal of Brereton Consulting and advises both cause-based and for profit organisations on IT Strategy, Governance, Service Management and Planning.

About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

Thats our take on things. Over to you, please add to the discussion.

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