BLOG State of the Service Desk 7: Automation and Orchestration

Ben O'Loghlin

This blog series explores the topics discussed in's State of the Service Desk report. More details at the bottom of this blog article.

“The boss wants 75% reduction in tickets over the next 24 months

– Executive Director, Financial Services

Automation and orchestration are features of digital transformation, and things are no different for the service desk.

Many contributors reported having automation teams whose job it was to transform workflows across IT in general, and in particular across the service desk.

The function of creating automations and orchestrations competes with the BAU service desk for resources, so there is a trade-off between short-term performance and long-term performance of the service desk.

“Automate or hire. To improve performance, you need to either get more people to answer the phones, or get self-service or automation.”

– Senior Director of IT Operations, Internet

“Automate anything that doesn’t need permissions.”

– Service Desk Manager, Financial Services

“We have to onboard 800 people and offboard 700 per month. ‘Extreme shift left’ is done by automation, so almost the entire onboarding workflow can be done automatically past the initial onboarding request.

– Senior Director of IT Operations, Internet.

Aside from the usual workflow automation, some are also creating tool utilities for Level 1 to do initial investigations and common fixes, so they can either resolve the issue or at least enrich the ticket with preliminary diagnostics to save time for the Level 2/3 resources. This also involves giving Level 1 analysts more training and higher permissions.

“We have had the service delivery team empower Tier 1 with more permissions and automated utilities to resolve things at Tier 1. For example, we found that purchase orders were getting stuck in different states. Currently this takes Tier 2 to resolve, but we want to build utilities for so Tier 1 can get them unstuck.”

– Manager, DevOps and Service Delivery, Hospital & Health Care

Onboarding is a typical workflow that involves orchestration of different systems such as IT, HR, Finance and potentially others.

There is some analysis involved in investigating the distribution of different issues and the cost to resolve them. This work is aimed at identifying issues that are either extremely common, or very time-consuming, or both. These are good candidates for automation.

In terms of designing automations, it was widely reported that the tools for doing this are getting better, but the time-consuming part remains the “pencil and paper” work of sitting down with stakeholders and designing and documenting the process. Once the process is well understood it becomes easier to automate.

The trend towards Enterprise Service Management, as well as the need to integrate data sources for operations management, are leading to increasingly sophisticated orchestrations.

The VMWare integration example mentioned above was designed to enable developers to request VMWare instances from the infrastructure team and automatically orchestrate the provisioning, record-keeping and notification of IP address and credentials.


Some contributors were basically running a standalone service desk, while others had done extensive integrations.

“Our service desk software is integrated with Ultipro, NetSuite, AD, Expensify, Tableau, Teams, VMWare, and currently working on integrating to Slack”

– Senior Director of IT Operations, Internet

Common integrations included asset management (e.g. SCCM), CRM (e.g., and ITOM (various).

Generally speaking, those contributors who had progressed their “shift left” strategy further had a greater need for integrations in order to facilitate automations and orchestrations, which are discussed in the next section.

Next – Part 8: Knowledge Management

In late 2020 conducted 23 research interviews with service desk executives, managers and practitioners, to explore the State of the Service Desk in the post-COVID19 world.The interview results were synthesised into a report that covers the following topics:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. Service Desk Metrics
  4. Increase in Demand
  5. Transformation, Consolidation and Integration
  6. Shift Left
  7. Automation and Orchestration
  8. Knowledge Management
  9. People Management
  10. Support Channels
  11. Data Quality
  12. Tools
  13. Conclusion

This blog series will serialise the topics listed above. The full report is available for download at If you would like to discuss any of these topics please get in touch via the website or book a meeting at

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