In addition to adopting the appropriate tools and technology to power Managed Services delivery in order to maximize efficiencies and maintain SLAs, the Solution Provider will need to develop effective processes and procedures for operating their service desk.
The goals of a successful Service Desk include providing a single point of contact for end-user issues, facilitating the restoration of normal service operation while minimizing impact to the end-user and delivering services within agreed-upon SLA’s.
Figure 1 – Service Desk Goals
The duties of a successful Service Desk include:
- Receive all incident notifications – this can be through any means – phone, fax or Email
- Record all incidents – this must be accomplished with a robust, searchable incident tracking system
- Classify all incidents – correctly document the nature of the incident, including affected users, systems, hardware and services
- Prioritize all incidents – proper prioritization is essential to effective escalation
- Troubleshoot all incidents – perform established troubleshooting procedures according to manufacturer’s and vendor’s best practices
- Escalate all incidents as necessary – proper escalation insures adherence to established SLAs (this includes escalation to 3rd-party vendors for support)
- Maintain consistent communication with all parties – including end-users, their managers and higher, as well as your own internal Service Desk management hierarchy
- Perform all scheduled activities – moves/adds/changes, maintenance, patch management, documentation and reporting
- Prepare and brief reports to Service Desk management and/or clients on Service Desk performance
In order to maintain a successful Service Desk, internal objectives need to be clear, client requirements and SLAs documented and understood, and training for Service Desk Staff as well as clients needs to be conducted regularly. Service Desk deliverables need to be clearly defined and service levels monitored regularly and modified as needed. Additionally, clearly defined response, resolution and escalation times must be incorporated into an SLA and communicated to Service Desk staff as well as clients.
Figure 2 – Example SLA
It is also important to identify and document Service Desk support tiers. Providing this information to the client assists in managing appropriate expectations with all parties.
Figure 3 – Support Tiers
An effective Service Desk relies on a clearly defined escalation process to insure that all service requests are handled in a consistent, standardized manner by each technician or system engineer.
Figure 4 – Service Request Escalation Procedure
If issue can be resolved in Tier 1:
If issue cannot be resolved in Tier 1:
If issue can be resolved through Tier 2 Support:
If issue cannot be resolved through Tier 2 Support:
If issue can be resolved through Tier 3 Support:
If issue cannot be resolved through Tier 3 Support:
If issue can be resolved through Onsite Support:
If issue cannot be resolved through Onsite Support:
In this section, you will find information to help you understand the general daily operations and workflow experienced while supporting end-user clients in a Managed Service Provider’s business. Whether you are a Solution Provider Owner/Operator, Account Manager or Systems Engineer, you’ll find important information about the Managed Services service delivery process.
In this context, a Managed Services service delivery process is defined as those processes and workflows which are necessary in order to allow the Solution Provider the ability to effectively deliver scheduled and unscheduled services to their clients efficiently, and include:
- Responding to Alert conditions and Service Requests
- Following Best Practices for Problem Management and Resolution
- Delivering services within established SLA’s
The Managed Services service delivery process addresses the following scheduled and unscheduled events:
- Remote support
- Onsite support
Information required by the System Engineer during Managed Services service delivery includes:
- Documentation of end-user environments
- Asset/Inventory information
- Configuration information
- Patch/Service Pack Level information
- Remote access/security information
- Client/User account, contact and service history information
Managed Services Tools employed by the System Engineer during service delivery include:
- A Network Monitoring Solution
- The Service Desk component of a Professional Services Automation (PSA) Solution
- A Remote Access, or Remote Control Tool
The Managed Services service delivery process includes a documented procedure for addressing any and all activity performed by a System Engineer during service delivery, and embodies a workflow which easily directs the System Engineer throughout the service delivery decision process.
The ability for the System Engineer to access information and leverage Managed Services Tools effectively during service delivery is a critical component for maintaining efficiency and adhering to established SLA’s, contributing to the Solution Provider’s profitability and increasing client satisfaction.
Figure 5 – The Role of Information and Managed Services Tools
How does the System Engineer use a Problem Management and Resolution Workflow during service delivery?
In order to efficiently and effectively perform Managed Services service delivery, a consistent Problem Management and Resolution Workflow is required, allowing the Solution Provider the ability to standardize on their tools and technology, process and procedures. By following these standardized workflows, the System Engineer will increase efficiencies, and allow the Solution Provider to scale their services consistently to more clients, improving both client satisfaction and net profits.
In this context, the System Engineer participates in the Solution Provider’s Problem Management and Resolution process as a member of the Service Desk or Network Operations Center (NOC), and can be assigned to the following Tiers for escalation:
- Tier 1
- Tier 2
- Tier 3
These Tiers are utilized in the prioritization and escalation process per the Solution Provider’s Service Desk Escalation Procedure. After an issue is identified and documented in the PSA Solution, non-critical incidents are normally assigned to Tier 1 for a System Engineer to begin problem resolution. Based upon priority, the issue will be escalated up through Tier 2 and Tier 3 support as necessary in order to adhere to the applicable SLA.
The Service Desk’s goals include:
- Providing a single point of contact for end-user issues
- Facilitating the restoration of normal service operation while minimizing impact to the end-user
- Delivering services within agreed-upon SLA’s
The Service Desk’s duties include:
- Receive all incident notifications through the Solution Provider’s preferred means – phone, fax, Email, Service Desk Portal, etc.
- Record all incidents in the Solution Provider’s PSA Solution
- Classify all incidents and correctly document the nature of the incident, including affected users, systems, hardware and services
- Prioritize all incidents for effective escalation
- Troubleshoot all incidents according to best practices
- Escalate all incidents as necessary to maintain established SLA’s
- Maintain consistent communication with all parties including end-users, their managers and higher, as well as Solution Provider’s own internal Management hierarchy
- Perform all scheduled activities such as moves/adds/changes, maintenance, patch management, documentation and reporting
The System Engineer’s daily duties are determined by their Service Manager, whose responsibility includes the management of the Solution Provider’s Monitoring Solution and Service Desk, and the proper prioritization and assignment of all Service Requests to the appropriate Tier. Depending upon the Service Provider’s staffing level and number of clients managed, some staff may be assigned specifically to manage the Monitoring Solution, and fall outside of the Tier structure. The scheduling of all other onsite and remote service work is also the responsibility of the Service Manager, but this and other functions may be performed by a Dispatcher. It is the Service Manager’s ultimate responsibility to make certain the Service Desk is maintaining their SLA’s.
In this context, a System Engineer’s typical day may look like this:
- Log in to Solution Provider’s PSA Solution
- Review all newly-assigned Service Requests to him/her
- Review any Service Requests previously assigned and still open to insure they are not in danger of falling outside of SLA (Service Manager will be alerted to this status automatically by PSA Solution before it occurs)
- Work Service Requests in order of Priority
- Accept Service Request and time stamp
- Review Service Request
- Contact client or end-user as needed to gather any necessary information in order to begin problem resolution
- Consult information documented in PSA Solution as needed in order to perform problem resolution
- Qualify issue to determine if it can be resolved through Tier 1 Support within SLA
- Work issue to successful resolution
- Verify issue to be resolved to end-user’s satisfaction
- Document complete problem resolution details in PSA Solution, mark status Complete and time stamp
- Service Request is held in Completed status for a minimum of 24 hours, after which the end-user is contacted to verify the issue has been resolved to their satisfaction and asked if the Service Request can be closed
- Service Request is closed
- If Service Request cannot be resolved through Tier 1 Support, or is in danger of falling outside of SLA:
- Service Request is escalated to Tier 2 and successive Tiers of Support, or an onsite visit is scheduled as needed, and the problem resolution process continues
It is the System Engineer’s responsibility to perform their own follow-up calls 24 hours after a Service Request has been classified as completed to verify that an end-user’s Service Request was resolved to their satisfaction and their issue can be closed.
The Service Provider has the capability to deliver services from remote locations, at the Service Provider’s NOC or Data Center and at the client’s facilities.
Delivered from any location other than the client’s facilities, remote service delivery may employ an RMM solution, a PSA solution and a remote-control solution.
Figure 6 – Remote Service Delivery
Bench or lab services can be conducted at the Service Provider’s facilities, where the ability to multitask and leverage in-house resources increases efficiencies and time to resolution for hardware/software issues.
Services may also be delivered at the client’s facilities when necessary; however, these services will be more costly to the Service Provider to deliver.