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Many factors will influence the way in which a Service Desk function will be physically structured, such as the location, languages and cultures of end users, diversity in services and technology supported and the objectives governing the implementation of the Service Desk such as improved satisfaction or reduced operating costs.

The following are some of the main options chosen when implementing a Service Desk function:

Local Service Desk

A local Service Desk structure is where the Service Desk is co-located within or physically close to the user community it serves. This may aid in communication and give the Service Desk a visible presence which some users may like. It may however be inefficient and expensive to have multiple Service Desks operating.

Benefits of a Local Service Desk structure

Disadvantages of a Local Service Desk structure
* Local and specific user knowledge
* Ability to effectively communicate with multiple languages
* Appropriate cultural knowledge
* Visible (and physical) presence of the Service Desk
* Higher costs for replicated infrastructure and more staff involved
* Less knowledge transfer, each Service Desk may spend time rediscovering knowledge
* Inconsistency in service levels and reporting
* Service Desks may be focused on local issues.

Centralized Service Desk

A centralized structure uses a Service Desk in a single location (or smaller number of locations), although some local presence may remain to handle physical support requirements such as deploying, moving and disposing of user workstations. This could be more efficient, enabling less staff to manage a higher volume of calls, with greater visibility of repeat incidents and requests.

Benefits of a centralized Service Desk structure

Disadvantages of a centralized
Service Desk structure
* Reduced operational costs
* Improved usage of available resources
* Consistency of call handling
* Improved ability for knowledge sharing
* Simplicity for users (call one number) to contact the Service Desk
* Potentially higher costs and challenges in handling 24×7 environment or different time zone
* Lack of local knowledge
* Possible gaps in language and culture
* Higher risk (single point of failure), in case of power loss or other physical threat.

Virtual Service Desk

A Virtual Service Desk, through the use of technology, particularly the Internet and the use of corporate support tools, can give users the impression of a single, centralized Service Desk when in fact the personnel may be spread or located in any number of geographical or structural locations.

Benefits of a virtual Service Desk structure

Disadvantages of a virtual Service Desk structure
* Support for global organizations
* 24×7 support in multiple time zones
* Reduced operational costs
* Improved usage of available resources
* Effective matching of appropriate staff for different types of calls
* Initial cost of implementation, requiring diverse and effective voice technology
* Lack in the consistency of service and reporting
* Less effective for monitoring actions of staff
* Staff may feel disconnected from other Service Desk staff.

Follow the Sun

Some global or international organizations will combine two or more of their geographically dispersed Service Desks to provide 24-hour follow-the-sun service.

Disadvantages of a ‘Follow the Sun’
Service Desk structure
* Support for global organizations
* 24×7 support in multiple time zones
* Improved quality of service
* Improved customer/user satisfaction
* Effective knowledge sharing and high level visibility of distributed infrastructure
* Typically higher operating costs
* Cost of required technology
* Challenges in using single language for multiple regions when recording knowledge, workarounds, Known Errors etc.

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