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Why every process flow-chart should have a swim-lane for the Service Desk

By ITIL from Experience ©

When designing a process flowchart, always add a swim lane1 for the service desk, even if it appears that they are not involved in the process. Although ITIL® does not provide guidance in this regard, the service desk should be part of every process and service design to avoid operational problems.

This is especially important if the process is being designed by a back-office team. Many times we have seen the design team present or train a new process to the service desk only to be sent back to the drawing board because a key element was not considered. Often this happens when a service desk staff asks: “So who logs the ticket?” or “How does a user requests this?”.

Forgetting the service desk can cause implementation and operational problems and unnecessary escalations2. For example:

  1. The process takes for granted that a ticket has been logged in the ITSM Tool.
  2. The process does not identify a point of contact for users. This also applies when the process is internal to I.T. as staff may contact the service desk for guidance on how to use the tool (see How to get people to log tickets).
  3. The service desk does not have the information to provide a status of the request or supplier delays causing unnecessary chase ups3.
  4. The service desk is not unaware of their new responsibilities and may not be able to perform their duties as expected given a lack of awareness, resources or training (see When is a good time to create a RACI Matrix for it to be most useful).


This can result in: confusion of the service desk Agent, loss effort to track the information and a poor perception by users that “IT is not aware of what IT does!” In a worst-case scenario, as we have seen before, users informs the Service desk that I.T. has released a new product (see What is another term for User).
For these reasons, always include the Service desk in your process flow-charts to avoid problems and increase your chances a success.


Last updated on: 2018-12-09
Published on: 2012-06-07

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"The more complex your service offering the more streamlined your Point(s)-of-Contact(s) should be."

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Implementation > Process
ITIL Process > Service Desk

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