Introducing: The CGIAR Service Desk (2)

Note: Part 1 is required reading (please!). Parts 2 and  3 are optional.

The ILRI/ICRAF ICT Shared Service Team

Currently uses separate helpdesk systems for logging and managing information about IT-related

  • Incidents
  • Problems (incidents with a common underlying cause)
  • Inquiries
  • Service requests

Information about these, as well as about solutions, is confined to the campus in which they’re logged, denying ICT staff a global picture of information across the 3 campuses and 54 locations where we provide service to almost 2,000 customers.

In late 2014 a joint decision was made by the ILRI/ICRAF ICT team and the CGIAR OCS Operational Support Unit (OSU) to implement a cloud-hosted IT Service Management solution known as


It is sometimes described as an ERP for IT. Here’s some of

What it will do for ICT staff, and for YOU:

  • Service from anywhere to anywhere: Given an ability to manage information on a global basis; a solution or workaround found in one location will be immediately available everywhere. Regional ICT staff will have exactly the same access to information as colleagues in Addis or Nairobi.
  • Extended support hours: We will be able to take advantage of the presence of staff in other time zones to extend support outside normal working hours in Eastern and Central Africa.
  • Automation and best practices: ServiceNow implements automated processes for service delivery embodied in the IT industry standard known as ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library). Among other things, this includes automatic escalation when issues don’t get resolved within predefined times specified in Service Level Agreements (SLAs). With better information and more automation we will be able to offer a consistent and higher standard of service across locations and organisations.
  • Better information & accountability: ServiceNow will give us better information on almost every aspect of IT service delivery, from automated IT asset information management to performance analytics. We will be able to monitor the performance of individuals, teams, sites, and of ICT as a whole – in many ways – numbers and history of incidents resolved, response times, costs etc. and by category (hardware, software, network…). As result we’ll be able to align our charges and our costs more closely in future and to offer a more granular service catalogue (i.e., menu of services). ICT already operates on the basis of full cost recovery. ServiceNow should enable an unprecedented degree of transparency and accountability – provided ALL staff time and other costs are recorded.
  • Self-service capability: You will have the equivalent of courier package tracking capability for monitoring your incidents and service requests. Later you will have access to an online knowledge base and may find yourself being prompted with the solution to a problem when you log an incident online. Workflow automation supporting service requests will, in time, enable you to made requests from a service catalogue, monitor them, and, where appropriate, have the chargeback handled automatically.


is in progress now and we aim to go live, internally at first (self-service to follow), with the first automated processes in the next few weeks. Others will follow over about the next two years. We are at the beginning of journey of continuous service improvement that will go on indefinitely.

Our implementation has been designed to scale, like OCS, to the whole CGIAR – if other Centres wish to opt-in future. As such, it is a potential platform for delivery of ICT Services more broadly in the CGIAR. It is also, potentially, a platform for automating and managing delivery of services generally, not just IT services.