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CritSit in IT Service Desk

CritSits stands for critical situations that require immediate attention to prevent serious consequences. In this article, we will explain what the term ‘CritSit’ means in terms of IT service desk, and then we’ll look into why a team gets into CritSit mode, what measures we can take to avoid it, and I’ll also share my experiences when I was brought into a team in a firefighting mode to navigate it out of a crisis.
Mukesh Sharma

17. 11. 2023

What does CritSit mean in terms of IT Service Desk?

CritSit occurs when a team consistently fails to deliver the expected level of service over a period of time.

 Examples may include:

A thorough assessment of the situation highlighted the following issues:

  • Inability to meet contractual SLA targets over several months
  • High frequency of priority 1 tickets
  • Recurring incidents related to data privacy
  • A downward trend in customer satisfaction
  • Increased costs
  • A rise in the number of reopened cases
  • Many other factors dependent on the business and its criticality

This means that CritSit is not due to a one-time issue. Rather, it refers to a situation where recurring issues directly or indirectly impact business productivity, and costs, or pose a threat to brand value.

Let’s take a moment to understand why and when teams find themselves in such situations. While Root Cause Analysis (RCA) can provide detailed insights, if I were to practically assess the top reasons, they often point toward weak foundations in the fundamentals of operating a service desk. I previously outlined the 5 key pillars for team success – people, processes, practices, performance management, and tools.

Hands-on Experience with CritSit in the Service Desk Team

I recall the time when I was brought in to manage a CritSit on a service desk team. This team had failed to meet contractual SLAs for the last 6 months. Customer satisfaction showed a downward trend for 8 consecutive months. The team had a high backlog of tickets, with an average speed to answer of 5 minutes, while the contractual SLA was at 2 minutes. Hold times went through the roof. Calling it a ‘mess’ would be an understatement.

A thorough assessment of the situation highlighted the following issues:

  1. The desk was short-staffed and faced high attrition issues.
  2. Due to high attrition, the desk had a high number of new employees who lacked sufficient knowledge and experience.
  3. Hold times were high as analysts had to place calls on hold to find solutions, which meant the knowledge base was not updated or was ineffective.
  4. Low customer satisfaction was primarily due to low first-time fixes, long hold times, extended wait times, and delays in resolution.
  5. The high ticket backlog was a result of both a lack of automation and an inefficient ITSM tool.

A Long Way to Fix

 I first focused on ensuring that the service desk team was adequately staffed to handle the incoming volume. Then, the most crucial step was bridging the knowledge gap and getting new staff up to speed on current processes. A specialized knowledge management team was established to review existing knowledge base articles, update new articles, create process workflows, etc. This is where the ITSM tool plays a crucial role. We realized that the existing ITSM tool was not capable of supporting this vision, so we had to create a robust knowledge base and self-help section. Handling time on calls can be reduced with an analytics-driven ITSM tool that not only fetches related knowledge articles but also provides insights on repeat issues, previous issues for the same customer, known issues within the problem category, etc. All of these factors play a crucial role in initial diagnosis, ultimately improving overall resolution time.

How ALVAO Helped Us Get Out of CritSit

ALVAO came through as a blessing in disguise, as we were able to customize the tool to suit all our needs. The knowledge base was updated with a ‘keyword’ search feature, which fetched any article based on keywords. The ticket templates were also able to reference the knowledge article to ensure the analyst followed the right steps to quickly resolve issues. The self-service portal helped reduce calls at the desk, as users were able to view ticket updates and raise tickets via the service catalog, which were then auto-routed for approvals.



The next step was to improve customer satisfaction scores. ALVAO played a crucial role here. We were able to customize fields on ticket forms to capture all necessary information, simplifying the data analysis process. The built-in dashboard and reporting templates allowed us to slice and dice data to quickly arrive at meaningful analysis. ALVAO also played a key role in ticket management, as we were able to implement LIFO/FIFO and other ticket management standard practices, ensuring the backlog was reduced over time.



With ALVAO's REST API, we were able to set up automation and integration with Azure platforms and apps such as Zabbix, Exchange, Power BI, InTune, etc. This way, we had all the data we needed in one place.

Conclusion

While staff/people play a key role in managing the volume of work and helping to prevent CritSit, the processes and tools the team utilizes also play an important role. An inefficient and ineffective ITSM tool/practice can also lead your team to a CritSit.


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