A glimpse of a slick, professional team

I consider note taking to be a key behaviour of members of a world class service management desk. Note taking while investigating issues creates an audit trail that easily gives the engineer working on an issue, as well as others in the team, a trace of how something has been investigated. It allows others to be included on the investigation, allowing them to make contributions.

Without the key behaviour of note taking, the service management desk becomes prone to common problems that frustrate stakeholders of less well managed service desks:
  • Lack of visibility of issues raised by end users
  • Engineers progressing issues in isolation and difficulty in tracking the progress they have made on issues
  • Difficulty in different engineers picking up and progressing issues worked on by other engineers
  • Difficulty in work done by an engineer to be peer reviewed and retrospectively reviewed
  • Over-reliance on specific engineers for specific tasks
I am currently building a service desk team, with many members of the team inherited from elsewhere. Getting their adoption of the note taking practise has been slow to happen, but today I've started to see a glimpse of the kind of slick, professional team we are working towards: able to pass issues between engineers easily, with clear visibility to anyone interested of the technical investigation done and confidence in the capability of the team rather than individuals.

Specifically, the glimpse that I "saw" was that
  • Engineer 1 completed some work to build a new server to a very particular specification. He had recorded the details of his investigation on the ticket that was raised, #12. At first glance, the notes on the ticket seem excessive and as though not much thought had gone into them. They usually never are excessive and that there are notes always is the key, not necessarily the quality. The build of the server took almost 3 weeks to complete, between Engineer 1 working on other things.
  • Recently, almost 3 months later, a similar request, #354, came in for machine of the same specification to be built. In the past the engineer picking up the issue would have had to reinvestigate and re-determine how to build such a machine. In fact, the task of building this machine might have fallen to the same engineer who had previously worked on the issue, as that engineer might remember some of the details of what they had done 3 months previously in the previous occurrence.
  • However, because there are sufficient details on #12, a new engineer (Engineer 2) was able to pick up the new ticket, #354, and complete the work for the new server. I'm sure he sought clarification from Engineer 1 on some things, but there is enough in #12 to confidently work on this new similar issue on his own. He was also able to complete the work for ticket #354 quicker than the time taken to complete #12 – days rather than weeks. This is because he did not have to do any rework or reinvestigation done for #12.
  • This alone I thought was a great improvement in working practises…. But it gets better! Engineer 2 was away today and a further request was made on #354 by the user who logged the issue. In the past, this might have had to wait for Engineer 2 to return to work because no one would have been quite sure of what had been done. However, Engineer 2 had also made notes on #354 as he progressed the issue meaning a third engineer, Engineer 3, could respond to this and progress the issue further.
We still have some way to go for stories like this being true of every incident that we deal with. However, I think it is encouraging that we are now starting to the note taking behaviour being adopted and the benefits of this.