A journey of a thousand miles….

A journey of a thousand miles….

I am delighted to now be entering what I’m calling my ‘SDI summer tour’, and over the past month or so have embarked upon a number of four-day Service Desk Certification audits, revisiting service desks that undertook assessments back in Autumn/Winter last year.

Much of the joy of my role comes from uncovering and being able to highlight specific strengths and talents. Whilst no two service desks are ever the same, it has to be said that pretty much every service desk I have had the pleasure of visiting does indeed shine, in its own unique way. And this is down to the people.

During one such return visit recently, the most glorious Scottish sunshine wasn’t quite enough to surpass the surprise of the EU Referendum results, as I spent time auditing the service desk within the Information Services department at the University of Edinburgh.

For those of you who are not quite sure whether certification is right for you, here’s a small flavour of the audit experience, courtesy of staff at the University of Edinburgh.

Organisations embark upon Service Desk Certification for a variety of reasons. Lisa MacDonald, User Support Manager at the University has this to say about what brought them to the programme:

“We’ve been gradually improving our processes and service delivery over the last few years but felt we needed some structure and focus to our improvements.”

The SDC programme is complementary to other IT best practice frameworks and standards – and shares much in common with other certification types. However with SDC, the focus is very firmly on the people, processes and technology that make up service desks themselves:

“Our Library Helpdesk had achieved Customer Service Excellence and we considered this but felt SDC better suited our service. We were also interested to benchmark our service against similar organisations and to gain formal recognition for service excellence if we could.”

We are delighted to see so many different sectors and types of organisation engage with SDC. At present the SDI is working with a number of Higher Education institutions –  and word is clearly spreading:

“We were keen to look at the SDC programme as we’d heard a lot about the benefits of certification from other HE colleagues and the certification programme seemed to focus on the areas we knew we wanted to improve.”

One element that stood out for me during this particular certification audit was the commitment of the whole team to getting the most out of the SDC programme. Individual members of the team had taken ownership of different elements, and everyone wanted to share the part they had played in the improvement journey with me, the auditor:

“I think we as managers were really pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of the team in making the certification programme a success. We set up a small project team to handle the administrative side of the certification programme and evidence gathering, but found that all of the team were keen to contribute, to help collate evidence and to suggest service improvement ideas. We made sure we involved all of the team in exercises such as the creation of our vision and mission statement, with the result that everyone takes pride in the service we’ve developed.”

It was very clear to me that the team had embraced the recommendations from their assessment audit, collectively worked hard to implement improvements  and importantly, enjoyed the process!

As Lisa herself notes:

“We were always a fairly harmonious team but everyone has really come together and we have a strong sense of identity as a team now.”

Achieving Service Desk Certification is by no means an easy task, and organisations face many challenges along the way. One early challenge may be in ensuring a collective understanding of the whole SDC standard:

“There was a small learning curve for some of the team in learning the terminology of some aspects of the certification programme but this was quickly overcome.”

Another common challenge comes alongside asking service desk managers to adopt what may be a more strategic approach:

“Creating our own strategy was a challenge as we had always been embedded in the overall Information Services plans rather than a Service Desk specific plan.”

Whilst service desks operate under the banner of an overarching IT strategy, in line with our other best-practice standards, SDC at the higher maturity levels does challenge service desk managers to focus on how the service desk can directly support the strategic goals of the organisation.

However, as Lisa reflects, the rewards with respect to alignment of services with the Standard are tangible.

“It’s also been great to see the way that other parts of Information Services have engaged with us and have acknowledged what we do and the excellent way we do it.”

And as a final point, it is certainly worth nothing that certification planning will not conflict with BAU activity all service desks are continually engaged in:

“We were also surprised by the volume of evidence and process documents we already had. The certification programme was a great chance to consolidate some of our key processes into one easy to find location.

The service desk team! University of Edinburgh


This has, I hope, given you some small insight into how it feels to embark upon Service Desk Certification.  If you do have questions or need any further information about SDC, do please get in touch with the office. As the year progresses, I’m certainly looking forward to uncovering more service desk exemplars with successes to share!

But first, let me offer congratulations to the University of Edinburgh who may now proudly proclaim to officially be an SDI Certified, customer led, 3-Star Service Desk!

Also many thanks to Lisa MacDonald, User Support Manager for allowing us to share her thoughts about SDC.

I do hope that the whole team are celebrating, still!


Want to know more about Service Desk Certification?

Find out how Service Desk Certification can benefit you and your business here or watch our super-short explainer video below.

Then contact our friendly team on 01689 889100 to talk to us about starting your own service improvement journey.

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