Service desk Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a great way to systematize working practices and lead to a more consistent experience for agents and end-users. Done well, they can be used to build up a solid knowledge base for your technical teams, which will improve response times, fix rates, and customer satisfaction.
When designing a SOP, the key lies in keeping it simple, clear, and making sure it incorporates everything the user needs to follow it accordingly. And, the smartest way to put it into practice is to build it directly into your service desk solution to ensure availability and better organization.
Here we have put together guidelines to design a successful SOP, including an extra free downloadable template with an example for logging incidents. We will also show you some ideas on how to incorporate this documentation to InvGate Service Desk.
Let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What is SOP for service
- Benefits of a service desk SOP
- Sop formats
- How to design a help desk SOP
- Download the service desk SOP template
- The seven parts of the SOP for service
- How to use the ITSM SOP sample
What is the Standard Operating Procedure for service?
SOPs are detailed, written instructions describing the step-by-step procedures that must be followed for service desk and IT support tasks. They enable you to capture and normalize key tasks within your service desk consistently, so your documentation is easy to interact with and use, and they ensure that your services can be documented and explained well to deliver service effectively, consistently, and safely.
Ideally, SOPs are delivered to agents in the moment, meaning that their ITSM tool and processes are engineered to deliver instructions or reference guidance while they are working.
InvGate Service Desk fulfills this by incorporating features like auto-generated sub-tasks, automated messaging, and knowledge articles that are available directly from the ticket view and provide support to agents through the ticketing process flow.
Nine benefits of having a Service Desk Standard Operating Procedure
Implementing SOPs sets clear guidelines for your team to follow and helps guarantee service quality across your workplace. The main benefits of using SOPs in your service desk include:
- Makes support activities easy to follow.
- Provides content for training new staff.
- Ensures a more consistent experience for end-users.
- Facilitates templates and automation.
- Enables a platform and format for sustainable Knowledge Management practices
- Improves the quality, accuracy, and efficiency of IT support.
- Ensure tasks are carried out per best practices.
- Facilitate continual improvement.
- Provides support for Governance, Risk, and Compliance processes.
Three SOP formats
Every organization is different and each type of process has its own specific requirements. In this sense, the SOP format you choose should be based on the nature of the process, the level of granularity needed, and the target team and colleague.
Something to keep in mind when designing any SOP format is to ensure it is clear, concise, and easy to follow. This will guarantee that it’s efficient and can be used consistently across your service delivery teams.
All this being said, the three most commonly used SOP formats are:
- Flow chart
This table looks at the three types and how to use them effectively:
|Simple||A simple SOP format presents the key steps of a process in a very high-level document.||Best suited for routine, very straightforward procedures with limited variations.||
Document format will include:- Purpose
- Supporting documentation
|Flow chart||A flow chart SOP showcases processes with multiple potential outcomes or decision points. This format visually maps the process, guiding colleagues through each step and its possible results.||Best suited for procedures that rely on workflows so folks can visualize them.||
Document format will include:- A flowchart to represent each stage of the procedure.
- Clear map of the start, end, and decision-making stages.
- Links to supporting documentation if appropriate.
|Hierarchical||A hierarchical SOP is a more detailed document that captures the end-to-end procedure, its support network, and all dependencies.||Best suited for large, complex, or technical SOPs.||
Document format will include:- Overview.
- Table of contents.
- Tasks organized by stages and roles.
- Detailed instructions for the task.
How do you design a help desk SOP?
When designing a help desk SOP, consider the following:Choose the most appropriate format for each one of your processes. You don’t have to start from scratch, you can work with what's currently in place to standardize and improve it.
If your organization has an existing corporate style for documentation, use it for SOPs so your documentation has a consistent look and feel. As you build up your bank of SOPs, stick to it.
When starting the process, ask your service desk and technical teams what areas they are struggling with so you can prioritize your documentation efforts.
Also, when developing your initial design, collect regular feedback from the teams that will be using the documentation. Clarity, speed and ease of use are essential to usability and adoption of these documents.
Once you have designed the SOP, it’s time to store it in your service desk so that users can access and quickly put it into use. InvGate Service Desk incorporates an intuitive Knowledge Management system that allows you to create a knowledge article for each type of content so that it can be quickly copied, pasted and leveraged.
Then, users not only have the option to search for any topic they might be interested in, but the tool will also suggest related articles in real-time as they are working on a particular issue. So, the more clear you have designed your SOP, the better the available information will be, and the whole support process will be more efficient.
Download the service desk SOP template
There are many examples of service desk processes for which you can design SOPs to be followed. It’s always important that you cover each stage of the workflow, and that your company’s specific requirements are considered in the design.
Here we have put together an example SOP for logging incidents that you can download below and adapt to your own work scenario. It contains the following aspects of the process:Logging the incident
Investigation and diagnosis
The seven parts of the service desk SOP
Apart from the list of activities captured by the SOP guidelines, the document must also incorporate the following information:Title page: sets out the SOP and ensures the appropriate identification details are easy to understand.
Document control: a short table that explains the document history and the dates and details of any changes.
Table of contents: lists all the headings in the procedure and will ideally contain hyperlinks to make it easier for readers to navigate the document.
Scope: explains what the SOP will cover and any operating parameters that need to be called out.
Introduction to the service desk: gives the reader a short overview of the service desk, what it looks after, and how to interact with it.
Procedure: the actual content of the SOP.
Further reading: any supporting documentation or linked processes.
How to use the ITSM SOP sample?
The SOP template we provided above can be used by service desk analysts as part of their daily work operations. This might include activities like logging, categorizing, and prioritizing incidents, fulfilling requests or communicating with groups of people.
When using SOPs, bear the following in mind:Create a process as well as guidance for using SOPs and store them in a central location so they are easy to access.
SOPs should be constantly updated and adapted to changing needs and scenarios. Incorporate any new procedures and be prepared to adjust if anything isn’t working appropriately.
Progress iteratively with feedback. Build annual review (at a minimum) and feedback sessions into your review cycle to ensure your SOPs remain fit for purpose and use.
Use InvGate Service Desk’s Knowledge Management tooling to gather ideas and feedback on SOP content - as well as the built in rating system to gauge effectiveness.
SOPs are instructions that describe how to carry out routine tasks. As simple as it seems, they can make a big difference when it comes to service desk performance. They can make processes easy to follow, support a more cohesive user experience, and improve automation and Knowledge Management activities.
By following certain guidelines and sticking to clear and well designed processes, you are ready to get started. And, once you have designed your documentation, all you have to do is build the SOPs into your ITSM tool and processes to make it easy for agents to leverage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are SOPs?
SOPs are instructions that describe how to carry out routine tasks.
What are some examples of standard operating procedures?
In IT, it’s common to have SOPs for activities like:Onboarding
In HR you may find SOPs for:Recruiting
In Facilities, you’ll frequently find procedures for:Preventative maintenance
Security Access Control
There are endless possibilities, so inquire with your teams and reflect on your needs to identify more.
What is an example of a customer service SOP?
An example of a customer service SOP is logging incidents and service requests in a service desk environment to ensure tickets are captured, actioned, and resolved in line with customer requirements.