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ITIL Tattle

ITIL Tattle

Blog posts on ITIL and ITSM news and best practice from the ISG ITIL Team

Here it comes again – shifting left to quality service

Over the last  few weeks the ITIL Team have been talking a lot more about Second Line Support, we’ve been blogging about it, talking about it and James has even created a video about the advantages of being a Second Line team.

Our catalyst for all this second line chat has been the creation of our new EdHelp Service. EdHelp is a First Line service desk so you’re probably wondering why it has led us to talk so much about Second Line. There’s a two word answer to that – Shift Left!


Oh no, not Shift Left again!

I hear you cry – but Shift Left is one of the most important strategies in Service Management and right now it’s our best hope of continuing to deliver quality services as we move towards more austere times.

Any first line service is only as good as the information, permissions and solutions they have to help the user. And if you’ve got your service management model right a lot of the information, solutions and permissions will have been “Shifted Left” from the Second Line teams.

Arrow sequence

James has spoken previously about Shift Left in his blog and while the concept is fairly well understood by many support staff, there can sometimes be a reluctance to shift work left on to the Service Desk.

Often this is down to a lack of understanding of the benefits of shifting left, but sometimes it can be a simple lack of trust in the Service Desk’s ability to do your calls, service and users justice.

I know in my previous role as Helpline Manager that I had many conversations with Second Line teams about shifting work left to Helpline. Often the teams being encouraged to Shift Left would feel they were losing control of their service and that there would be a drop in quality. After all- second line staff are professionals, who spend many years honing their skills and developing their knowledge of their services.

But it’s important to remember that First Line staff are also skilled professionals who often spend many years honing their skills and developing their professional knowledge of many services.

First Line services are designed to deal with the straightforward transactional service requests and to resolve incidents that may occur frequently.

In James’ video he speaks more about the differences between First and Second Line including highlighting the most important aspect of shifting left – value.

We’re in challenging times as a University and it’s vital that we ensure we are as efficient as possible in the delivery of our services, not only from a budgetary perspective, but from time spent to resolve. If a Second Line hasn’t shifted left and given the Service Desk permissions and knowledge to resolve the routine enquiries, there will be an unnecessary delay in calls passing through to second line for a fix.

A Second Line staff member dealing with First Line activity is not effectively using their own time. Generally Second Line staff will be expert in a particular service, technology or area of support. They are not generalists, nor should they need to be if the First Line do their job right.

This doesn’t mean Second Line can’t speak to their users either – often a call will be most efficiently resolved by a First Line person speaking to the caller to gather information and the Second Line person speaking to the caller to deliver the solution based on that information gathered at First Line – it’s a team effort and the most effective support organisations work together in this way to deliver quality service.

Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success – Henry Ford

Working together can also bring other benefits. It’s sometimes hard for the Second Line to know what people want from their services, but working with the First Line allows the use of standard service management tools such as customer satisfaction reports and the broader horizon view that a large service desk like IS Helpline can see.

On an average day IS Helpline will deal with calls for almost 50 different second line teams, this gives them an unprecedented view of current issues across the whole university. Imagine the power that could bring to your second line service development strategy if you were able to tap in to the broader picture of services across the university – it can lead to revolutionary developments like our EASE reset tool, or our eduroam configuration tool. These were tools developed by Second Line teams using statistics and data from First Line calls, but, these tools were only able to be developed because the Second Line teams had space, having shifted routine resets and network configuration permissions to the First Line.

There’s a reason that Co-Creation of value is such a big part of ITIL4 – because it works! Two heads are better than one and two teams using their own strengths to collaborate on service delivery is truly the ethos of this ITIL4 Guiding Principle.

And what do you do once you’ve shifted left? Like in the picture above you go back and start again – continually improving your services co creating value by Shifting Left.

I’ve probably repeated a lot of James’ words in my post today, but we really are excited about the possibilities of using Shift Left and ensuring we encourage as many First and Second line teams to work in a mode that makes the most of their skills, knowledge and time. We all want to deliver quality service and Shift Left is our biggest opportunity to do that to a higher quality than ever before.




1 reply to “Here it comes again – shifting left to quality service”

  1. Graham says:

    Shift left is a perennial initiative to improve efficiency and reduce TCO of IT services and its intent is admiral. I also think that it must be good for a first line desk analyst if it means more training and uplift of skills but at the same time I worry that we continue to put more pressure on the people that we probably remunerate the least . In my short blog post The Shift-Left Approach to Service Desk Automation I am interested in what we can shift left through automation RPA. Most modern ITSM tools used by the desk support self-service and a degree of automation to deploy standard fix scripts or interacts with AD or other components for common problems. In a future post it will be interesting to explore where chatbots an the virtual assistant sits in the shift-left patadigm.

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