There’s a lot of talk about agile in the industry. But does agile service management work? Or is the word ‘agile’ simply meant to make service management sound cooler? Opinions are divided, but there is definitely a fair few benefits to working agile, even for Service Desks.

Why agile service management specifically? Here are the two biggest reasons:

1. Respond more quickly to your customer’s needs with Agile service management

Earlier in my career, I was team leader at a service desk for a while. I experienced first-hand how hard it can be to respond quickly to a customer’s question. Here’s an example of what may happen:

Sales wants to purchase tablets and consults the service desk for advice on what would be a good fit for them. The service desk starts to do some research to find the best tablets that would work well with the ERP and CRM systems that are already in place. But Sales feels this research phase takes too much time. The department decides to use their own budget to buy 20 tablets. But as it turned out, the service desk had already crossed the tablet Sales picked from their list because it wasn’t compatible with the existing systems.

As you can imagine, neither department was happy with the result. With an agile mindset at the service desk, it’s easier to prevent situations where you don’t get the right results out of a request.

2. Take your Services to the next level

Applying agile is not the same as being agile. It’s a different mindset. I come across many organizations that are applying agile. Organizations apply some elements of Kanban, scrum and stand-ups, but applying these methods isn’t enough. Teams need to change their mindset and behavior as well: you have to get to an agile mindset. The change can take your services to the next level. And the agile methods I mentioned can be a tool to achieve that.

The Agile mindset

There are many different ways to apply agile elements in our work. But at the core, it’s about adopting the philosophy. The philosophy is best described by the Agile Manifesto. It’s aimed primarily at the world of software development, but with only a few adjustments it’s very relevant to service management as well:

  • Interactions and individuals are more important than Processes and tools
  • Working software is more important than Extensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration is more important than Contracts set in stone
  • Responding to change is more important than Sticking to the plan

However, the table above doesn’t mean there’s no value in the things in the third column. You can actually gain a lot from good processes, tools, documentation, contracts and plans. But you have to use them to provide better services to your customers.

So, what should we change about our mindset and behavior? We need to focus more on the things mentioned in the first column: Interactions, collaboration between individuals, services that work, working together with the customer and responding to changes.

If you want to start with Agile, there are a few statements to consider. If any of these are true for you, you have a lot to gain from going agile:

  • According to customer reports we’re doing well on all of our KPIs, but our customers aren’t very satisfied at all.
  • We know exactly what our customers expects from us, we don’t need to ask them.
  • Before we start a new project, we take a few months to determine exactly what the result should be.
  • Departments regularly use their own budget to purchase IT tools or software.
  • When we supply a new phone, we provide a manual so customers can set up their phones themselves.

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