Service Desk Structure

Service Desk Structure
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There are many ways of structuring service desks and locating them – and the correct solution will vary for different organizations. The primary options are detailed below, but in reality an organization may need to implement a structure that combines a number of these options in order to fully meet the organization’s needs.

A local service desk

This is where a service desk is co-located within or physically close to the user community it serves. This often aids communication and gives a clearly visible presence, which some users like, but can often be inefficient and expensive to resource, as staff are tied up waiting to deal with incidents when the volume and arrival rate of calls may not justify this.

There may, however, be some valid reasons for maintaining a local service desk, even where call volumes alone do not justify this.

Reasons might include:

  • Language and cultural or political differences
  • Different time zones
  • Specialized groups of users
  • The existence of customized or specialized services that require specialist knowledge
  • VIP/criticality status of users

Centralized Service desk

It is possible to reduce the number of service desks by merging them into a single location (or into a smaller number of locations) by drawing the staff into one or more centralized service desk structures. This can be more efficient and cost effective, allowing fewer overall staff to deal with a higher volume of calls, and can also lead to higher skill levels through greater familiarization. It might still be necessary to maintain some form of local presence to handle physical support requirements, but such staff can be controlled and deployed from the central service desk.


Virtual Service Desk

Through the use of technology, particularly the internet, and the use of corporate support tools, it is possible to give the impression of a single, centralized service desk, when in fact the personnel may be spread or located in any number or type of geographical or structural locations. This brings in the option of home working, secondary support groups, offshoring or outsourcing – or any combination necessary to meet user demand. It is important to note, however, that safeguards are needed in all of these circumstances to ensure consistency and uniformity in service quality.

Follow the Sun

Some global or international organizations may wish to combine two or more of their geographically dispersed service desks to provide a 24 hour follow the sun service.

This can give 24 hour coverage at relatively low cost, as no desk has to work more than a single shift. However, the same safeguards of common processes, tools, shared database of information and culture must be addressed for this approach to proceed and well controlled escalation and handover processes are needed.

Specialized Service Desk Groups

For some organizations it might be beneficial to create specialist groups within the overall service desk structure, so that incidents relating to a particular IT service can be routed directly (normally via telephony selection or a web based interface) to the specialist group. This can allow faster resolution of these incidents, through greater familiarity and specialist training.


The selection would be made using a script along the lines of “If your call is about the X Service, please press 1 now, otherwise please hold for a Service Desk Analyst”. Care is needed not to over complicate the selection, so specialist groups should only be considered for a very small number of key services.

Building a Single Point Service Desk

Regardless of the combination of options chosen to fulfill an organization’s overall service desk structure, individual users should be in no doubt about whom to contact if they need assistance. A single telephone number (or a single number for each group if separate desks are chosen) should be provided and well publicized – as well as a single email address and a single web service desk contact page.


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