Service Desk is evolving

Current trend word is DevOps which is mostly used in software development. It emphases the importance of communication between software development and software operations. However, the mentality of DevOps can be used in other parts of IT too. This article describes how to implement DevOps mentality to Service Desk based on Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

Authors: Mira Järvenpää and Marianne Matilainen

What is ITIL?

ITIL is one of the most used frameworks in IT (Mann 2016). ITIL itself is agile, but currently it is usually practiced the way which makes it bureaucratic (Atlassian 2017). That is the reason why ITIL needs other practices, like DevOps, to be successful.

ITIL has five parts: Service strategy, Service design, Service transition, Service operation and Continual service improvement. Each part concentrates on different part of IT and Service operation includes the best practices for Service Desk (SD). According to the ITIL, the purpose of service desk function is to be the first point of contact and the face of IT. The objective is to restore the normal service level as soon as possible and SD’s responsibility is managing the whole lifecycle of incidents and requests including first-line investigation and diagnosis, and escalation if needed. (Järvenpää 2017, 2; ITIL Foundation Handbook 2012, 241-242.)

Every company has different business needs and IT should be aligned with them. First things to consider are:

  • What kind of customers do we have?
  • What do our customers need?
  • What is our goal and purpose?

After the needs are clear, the SD can be organized. There are several ways to organize SD and the basic things to decide are:

  • Is SD outsourced or internal?
  • Is SD local, centralized and/or virtual?
  • Availability of SD
  • Responsibilities of SD (ITIL Foundation Handbook 2012, 242-243.)

Based on availability and responsibilities of SD the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are made. Service level is the lowest acceptable level of service quality and one example of them is displayed in the Table 1 below.

TABLE 1. Service levels in Service Desk (JUHTA 2012. Translated from Finnish by Mira Järvenpää)

Adding more value with DevOps

Currently most companies see SD only as a face of IT with just a little bit information and knowledge. SD is usually the last one to know about the changes and still they need to be the one supporting customers through them. DevOps mentality changes this way of thinking. (Eldar 2016; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

DevOps is a way of thinking and practicing IT. It is mostly used for software development, but the mentality can be implemented to other parts. Dev means all the people who involved in developing the service, product or software and Ops includes all the people involved in delivery, management and support of the service, product or software. There are three principles:

  1. Systems thinking
  2. Amplify feedback loops
  3. Continual experimentation and learning (Eldar 2016; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

DevOps mentality changes the pecking order in IT organization – SD is the first one to know about all the changes. Implementing the three principles in SD is easy. First principle suggests looking at the performance of the entire system instead of just one part at the time. That way the business needs are heard more clearly. SD is in daily contact with the users which makes them the first ones to know what is going on. This means SD agents usually have the best understanding of flow and how to manage it. (Atlassian 2017; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

The second principle, amplify the feedback loop, means getting more accurate and faster feedback. This suits SD perfectly. SD is in constant interaction with the users which means they can collect feedback in all phases. Giving feedback directly to SD is more natural way for many users which makes the feedback more humane, richer and more textured than feedback from surveys. It also provides a way to find out the weak links, for example in escalation process. (Atlassian 2017; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

The third principle is continual experimentation and learning. DevOps mentality embraces taking risks and learning from them. Role of SD is clear and comes back to seeing the issues in the front row. SD has the best understanding how any change is affecting users, what kind of training is needed, and what kind of resources are needed. Including SD in the development process enables the early detection of these issues. (Atlassian 2017; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

FIGURE 1. Flow chart of incident ticket handling in Service Desk (Mira Järvenpää)

The Figure 1 above shows the example of incident ticket handling in Service Desk. It is based on ITIL but includes the direct feedback loop from DevOps. The Figure 2 below shows simplified flow chart of development projects and how to include SD to the process. The main idea is to make sure SD has all the information what they need to solve users’ issues. On the other hand, developers will get accurate and up to date feedback in every step.

FIGURE 2. Flow chart of development projects and role of Service Desk (Mira Järvenpää)

Find what works for you

Both ITIL and DevOps are resources (Rance 2016). They are not meant to follow precisely just for the sake of following. Rance (2016) suggests starting by asking yourself some basic questions, like “how quickly it is possible to test and release software in an emergency” or “how often our changes go wrong”. After you find something to improve, you can see if DevOps mentality can help you with it. There is no use to change everything at the same time. However, including DevOps mentality to SD gives more open communication and that is crucial for successful IT organization.


Atlassian. 2017. How to run IT support the DevOps way. [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

Eldar, R. 2016. DevOps Success via the Service Desk. [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

ITIL Foundation Handbook. 2012. London: The Stationery Office.

Järvenpää, M. 2017. End User Satisfaction in Kemira IT Service Desk: Changes between 2014 and 2017 and improvement ideas. Bachelor’s thesis. Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Technology. Lahti.

Joe the IT Guy. 2017. Where is the IT service desk in a DevOps world? [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

JUHTA – Julkisen hallinnon tietohallinnon neuvottelukunta. 2012. JHS 174 ICT-palvelujen palvelutasoluokitus. [Cited 20 Feb 2018]. Available at:

Mann, S. 2016. ITIL Alternatives: Why is There so Little Uptake of ITSM Indrustry Frameworks? [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

Rance, S. 2016. Please, Don’t Just “Do” DevOps! [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

About the authors

Mira Järvenpää is a final year student in Faculty of Technology and majoring in telecommunications.

Marianne Matilainen is a Senior Lecturer of Networking Technology at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Illustration: Bruce Mars. (CC0)

Published 14.3.2018

Reference to this publication

Järvenpää, M. & Matilainen, M. 2018. Service Desk is evolving. LAMK Pro. [Electronic magazine]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:


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