Peer-to-peer support: the impact on the ITSM function

As I’ve argued in this blog series, peer-to-peer support is potentially an extremely valuable aspect of today’s ITSM.

In particular it’s a useful adjunct to self-service, which becomes far more powerful if end-users are empowered to work together to solve problems and generate reusable information, rather than simply consuming information provided by the service desk team.

The organization should provide and promote collaborative spaces for joint problem-solving. If the community can’t solve an issue, it can simply be brought to the service desk using established processes. And as progress is made, updates can be shared to enable users to appreciate the benefits of collaboration.

To conclude this series, I would like now to look briefly at the impact of peer-to-peer support on the ITSM function.

First of all, IT people can and should participate actively in the collaborative conversation, along with users. The ITSM team should not just monitor discussions in the collaborative space, but also actively participate – for example to identify common issues, endorse proposed solutions, and move useful content to knowledge repositories so that it is available to others.

While joining in with the conversation, the team should take the opportunity to identify and make the most of peer champions – outstanding contributors to the community. In addition, the ITSM team should look out for signs of actual or emerging shadow IT and take appropriate action – whether that action is to suggest an ‘official’ alternative or to ensure that the shadow solution is appropriately managed.

So shift-left generally, and peer-to-peer support in particular, definitely alters the role of the IT Service Desk, but it’s important to understand that it doesn’t make it any less important – quite the opposite, in fact. Because staff are freed from the more mundane aspects of their roles, they are able to focus on projects that add value for the business. And that can only be good news for the future of IT and ITSM.

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