IT advantages: The well-structured helpdesk

It may be hard to believe, but at the core of every IT department there should be one solid foundation: the need to serve the business. Whether you have a small business or office with 5-10 people or 40,000 people to support, IT cannot exist without end-user satisfaction. In order to create a positive experience, we need to establish a method for ordinary users to communicate their potential problems with users who are capable of solving their problems. For this purpose, strong IT departments use a well-developed help desk or service desk.

Don’t get me wrong, a service desk and a help desk are not exactly interchangeable. A help desk may consist of technicians and gurus to solve hardware problems and some software problems, but a service desk can take this to a higher level by defining how services are handled within the organization and hopefully introducing a tiered approach to their handling.

So what is the best solution?

  • In my opinion, you must first define the required services that you want to support. As with any project, the requirement level allows you to make sound decisions as you progress and gives your support desk the opportunity to address needs.
  • Processes and procedures need to be developed to support not only existing services but also new services as they are identified. A clean set of processes, procedures, and policies lays the groundwork needed for the support desk to proceed.
  • Service levels must be defined so that you can define the resources required to run your service desk
  • Metrics of success for each service need to be defined to ensure you know the required goals
  • Systems supporting your service desk need to be defined based on the requirements defined in your processes and service levels. This ensures that you can generate reports on metrics and people in your service desk
  • Training requirements and supporting documents are required for each level to ensure you always deliver your services beyond your defined metrics. These are based on your services, tiers, metrics and systems
  • A vision for all to follow will be a wrapper that will advance your service desk.
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This is not an all-inclusive list. There are other elements that are required to qualify people. However, the vision should ensure that the people your help desk serves understand that they are the important part of the bigger picture and are just as important to the service desk’s success as the people who work at the service desk. In my view, each person should be considered not only for their technical skills but also for their social skills. As your help desk matures, you may gather information about the people you serve so you can better serve them. Don’t miss an opportunity to turn this into solution-focused information that can reduce your service desk costs.

There are always people you want to avoid. A few suggestions would be:

  • Anyone who thinks they are above the end user. That doesn’t mean smarter, but above. People who start a helpdesk call with “What have you broken now” should be avoided.
  • Anyone who believes in quick fixes. The solution is the problem is solved. Anyone who says “reboot and it will fix it” should be avoided, as rebooting doesn’t fix a problem, it just hides it for a while.
  • Anyone who can’t explain what they’re doing in layman’s terms. People should be taught to speak on the lowest common denominator. That “thingamajig” breaks, and in the end it’s okay if an end user doesn’t know the difference between a CPU and a GPU as long as they know their system brain has been fixed.
  • Anyone who doesn’t have the temper for the job. Yes IT folks, it’s a new world, one where you can’t sit in an ivory tower and be a god without being nice.
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Again, this isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it will get you thinking ahead.