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As an IT executive, you’re likely familiar with ITIL methodology, and you probably know ITIL practices are designed to align IT services with business needs. But do you know how ITIL governs Managed Service Provider (MSP) operations? If you’re contemplating an MSP partnership, it’s helpful to understand ITIL in the context of MSP functions and the related service metrics.

Why ITIL Is a Popular Choice

First, a refresher on ITIL, which stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library: ITIL is a set of globally acknowledged best practices that govern a wide variety of IT services, including managed services delivered by MSPs. While there are other standards, ITIL has been deployed effectively all over the world and has a strong track record of continuously improving the core methodology.

Another reason ITIL is a popular framework is that it was built from the ground up to integrate with IT workflows, which makes it relatively simple to deploy. For these reasons, top global IT MSPs use the ITIL standard, focusing specifically on the framework’s Service Operations volume and the Problem Management and Incident Management best practices it contains.

How ITIL Problem Management and Incident Management Drive Service Desk Operations

The ITIL Problem Management and Incident Management modules define specific protocols for resolving issues received by a service desk. Issues that a service desk is tasked with resolving are treated as an “incident” initially, and service desk professionals gather contact and location information, identify affected IT assets, and categorize the incident in terms of impact and urgency to set a resolution timeframe. Then service desk personnel analyze and resolve the issue.

The Problem Management module comes into play if the incident affects multiple users or indicates a larger issue that could have downstream effects, such as a malfunctioning server that is used by many employees and business units. In that case, it’s classified as a “problem.” Using Problem Management protocols, service desk professionals conduct a root cause analysis to define systemic issues, and the team collaborates to address the problem and restore service for everyone affected.

Outsourcing Service Desk Operations

With operational trends like digital transformation sweeping organizations across all industry types, IT leaders are busy trying to support multiple initiatives. For that reason, many have outsourced service desk operations or are strongly considering it, so they can focus more closely on strategic tasks. This is in keeping with another trend: companies outsourcing functions that fall outside their core competencies.

Companies that do outsource service desk operations enjoy many advantages, but only if they partner with the right MSP. If you’re considering an MSP partnership, it’s a good idea to ask whether the MSP adheres to ITIL standards. MSPs that do use the ITIL framework will have performance metrics for four standards: speed-of-answer, first contact resolution, abandon rate and customer satisfaction. When IT leaders find an MSP they can trust, they can redirect resources to support core business goals.

Finding the Right MSP Partner

If you’re in the market for MSP outsourcing, the first thing you should evaluate is the prospective partner’s results on the ITIL performance metrics listed above, paying particular attention to first contact resolution. A good first contact resolution number indicates the MSP is efficient in solving problems and doesn’t waste time and resources on needless escalations.

Your company may have requirements around service hours and other factors that go into the outsourcing partner decision. But keep in mind that an MSP that quickly resolves service issues will deliver value. If you’d like more information on ITIL or additional details about how ITIL and MSP operations intersect, click here.

By Chris Hoover, Managing Partner, Innovative Technology Solutions


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