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Facilities and the Service Desk: There’s a Space for That!

Level 10

IT typically leads the charge on selecting, implementing, and maintaining the organization’s IT Service Management (ITSM) platform of choice. Over time we see ITSM solutions become an integral resource to connect employees and IT.  

Once you’ve completed your initial ITSM implementation and you start the day-to-day grind of administering your ITSM platform – be it answering questions or pulling reports – this is where you can unearth opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration. As traffic increases and you handle a higher volume of tickets, you’ll likely find some inquiries that fall outside IT’s expertise.  

In my previous post for this series, I mentioned we’d explore how other departments within your organization could benefit from using an ITSM platform. As we think about the employee experience and how you can streamline cross-departmental collaboration, let’s dive into how Facilities teams can expand their engagement in the service desk and automate some legacy business processes.  
 
Opening the Door to Facilities 
 
Some of the primary considerations when selecting and implementing a service desk include scalability and configuration. Is your solution of choice capable of adapting to the growing needs of your organization? As the volume of users expands and more teams look to become involved in a single space, can the platform be molded to align with your evolving business needs? Can you adjust your configuration to support both IT and Facilities in a service desk solution?  
 
Once you’ve immersed yourself in the software, you’ll have a better understanding of how it can scale. Reflect on previous or common requests where IT would have benefited from having Facilities integrated into the service desk. Review defined business processes where both IT and Facilities work overlaps, such as setting up a new hire or getting a conference room ready for use. What are some of the one-off requests Facilities may be better suited to address? Rather than communicating requirements outside of the existing ITSM tool, use these opportunities to streamline communication with another department in your service desk environment.     
 
Over time as Facilities is more exposed to the various methods to automate and track requests, the team can understand how their service offerings could best be configured and made accessible to the organization.  
 
From Work Order to Fulfillment  
 
Speaking of configuration, let’s peel back some of the ways Facilities can get started with the service desk. Regardless of IT’s existing service desk footprint, the following questions can help streamline configuration bringing Facilities (among other internal service departments) efficiently into your service desk solution:  
 

  • How are you addressing one-off questions? 
  • How have you templated work orders or forms? 
  • Is there a defined process behind routine requests? 
  • How do you perform triage and assign work? 
  • How do you classify or categorize work, if at all? 
     

Finding the answers to these questions can bring a more holistic understanding of the other needs and initiatives that various departments are responsible for. Making sense of how Facilities categorizes requests can help IT audit and update the service desk’s overarching categories. Perhaps prior to Facilities administering their own inquiries, IT had only established a general “Maintenance” category, whereas Facilities uses a more specific classification structure to help employees better detail their needs, such as lightbulb replacement, preventative maintenance, and others.  
 
Addressing these items can establish routing and automated workflows for Facilities. Pinpointing an individual or group who can tackle a specific type of request (like a technician who specializes in electrical as opposed to plumbing) enables you to better define default routing. Understanding the layers of specialization ensures the appropriate technicians are receiving work requests faster, thus helping to fulfill services and resolve issues reported by employees more efficiently. As you review how information is collected, assessed, assigned, and fulfilled, teams can standardize data intake and implement streamlined processes.         
 
Don’t Take My Word for It 
 
Cross-departmental expansion within an ITSM solution can be seen in various verticals and across organizations of different sizes. While a path to integrating Facilities and IT into a service desk software may look different, many teams have found success in providing one platform for all service-oriented departments and employees.  
 
One school district opted to onboard IT and Facilities from the onset of their implementation. This allowed both departments to have a designated admin who could configure SolarWinds Service Desk in alignment with their unique needs. An added benefit of this approach? Greater initial adoption by their employees by positioning the service desk as the district’s central resource for all IT and Facilities-related requests.  

In a recent SolarWinds TechPod episode, I also spoke with an Operations Program Manager at a school in Atlanta, who has helped nurture and facilitate the partnership between FacilitiesOperations, and IT in her school. While the organization’s ITSM journey began with designing workflows and ticket intake for IT, they garnered interest around how Operations and Facilities could be woven into the same application. Overtime Facilities and Operations have worked to automate work orders, for more seamless data collection and fulfillment, while providing a positive experience for their requesters. Cross-departmental expansion in the service desk was critical to keeping the school’s operations running smoothly during the pandemic and the Operations team has become an instrumental champion spearheading the vision of “one platform for all.” 
 
A non-profit quickly found their Facilities department needed the same level of tracking and visibility into their work orders that IT enjoyed. Facilities also wanted to improve their service levels and response times to foster a positive user experience. Taking a page from IT, they automated their department processes and engrained their operations into the service catalog. With all the success evidenced within IT and Facilities, other internal service providers, like HR and Accounting, have since adopted the same ITSM platform. 
 
By weaving Facilities into the platform and your ITSM strategy, employees grow more familiar and comfortable with where they can find answers or submit requests: elevating the service desk as a trusted and centralized resource for the business. Tune in next time as we explore Human Resources in the service desk. 

About the Author
Liz Beavers, ITIL® 4, is a seasoned IT service management professional who serves as the technical point of contact for SolarWinds Service Desk customers, previously working with marketing and financial technology groups. Her ITSM and ITIL focus supports customers of differing sizes and verticals throughout their implementation, ongoing support, and education once they join as SolarWinds Service Desk partners. She thrives in speaking with prospective and existing customers on how SolarWinds Service Desk can improve their service management strategy, not just within IT but across their organization.