IT Help Desk: What is a Help Desk?


An IT Help Desk Agent helping a customer

IT Help Desk Agent

What is a Help Desk? Wise Geek states “A help desk is a resource designed to provide end users with information and assistance regarding problems with computers and related devices or software.”

What is a Help Desk? Webopedia states “A department within a company that responds to user’s technical questions.”

Companies and their employees need a reliable group to obtain IT help from. An IT Help Desk is not just having an knowledgeable person available but creating the processes and deploying the tools needed so the end user experience meets expectations by an IT Help Desk Agent with customer services skills. The people, process and technology needs of building your IT Help Desk fall into many specific categories. We have identified many of the IT Help Desk specific categories with detailed ITIL based information about them in separate posts.

 Major specific categories of an ITIL Help Desk;

  • IT Help Desk Mission and Vision statements
  • IT Help Desk structure
  • ITIL Incident Management
  • ITIL Problem Management
  • Product, Services and Support offered Continue reading
Sep 02

Incident Management Communication Plan – Do you have one?

A proactive Help Desk team will have Incident Management Communication Plan in place to follow when an outage to a service occurs. In advance of an outage, it is important to develop a well thought-out Incident Management Communication Plan detailing how people will be initially notified, what information they need, when status updates will be communicated, and what resolution steps occur when a service has been restored. Answer the following questions about the state of your Incident Management Communication Plan.

  • Do you have a defined Incident Management Communication Plan to follow when there is an outage to a major service? Have people been trained and know how to access the plan?
  • Are your customers and supported business groups proactively informed of when a service is down or do they generate a large volume of calls to the Help Desk?
  • Are your Help Desk staff members immediately informed about the outage and provided support information such as available workarounds and an estimated time for recovery?
  • Are members of the technology leadership department immediately aware of service outages or are they the “last to know”?

Continue reading

Aug 19

The 4 groups important for a Help Desk Manager

Help Desk Manager careers are built on a foundation of communications and strong relationships. It is important to quickly build relationships and collaborate with key stakeholders of your support department to be successful. A new Help Desk Manager needs to have clear lines of communication with at least 4 key stakeholder groups their new department interacts with. These 4 key stakeholder groups for a Help Desk Manager are your boss, the customers you support, the staff that report to you, and vendors you have contracts with. Understanding the stakeholder group’s perspective of the support your department provides is very important. This perspective will tell you what is working and what is not. A stakeholder may raise an issue of something not working correctly, however they most likely will not know the root cause of issues they raise. All items raised should be logged, researched, and if applicable have a solution implemented. This will help you uncover real or perceived issues. Timely feedback on the status of this investigation is critical. For vendors it is important to be very familiar with the contract, contracted services and ensure you have processes in place to measure their performance. Continue reading

Jul 27

8 steps to mature a knowledge management system

When a customer contacts your Help Desk with a service question or issue, you expect your Help Desk Agents to provide consistent, repeatable, and accurate solutions. If the needed service support information is scattered throughout your company, how can you expect your Help Desk Agents provide timely support? The 8 steps to mature a knowledge management system is the process of identifying, collecting, formatting, training, and using service support knowledge to resolve a customer’s service question or issue. Knowledge Management systems make service support information immediately available to your agents to answer the customer’s question or resolve their service issue on first contact. A robust and mature Knowledge Management System enables the Help Desk to deliver greater business value with more efficiency. We have outlined a process of starting or maturing a knowledge management system.

The knowledge management improvement process

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Jul 10

The History of the Help Desk

Over the decades and through the history of the Help Desk, we have seen remarkable changes. In the early Help Desk days, Corporate Information Technology systems started with mainframes and user terminals. Applications were centrally managed and used collectively.  Mainframes had centralized computer operators that would maintain the mainframe and programmers that would submit program updates. Since the programs were centralized on the mainframe, if one user had an issue with an application, everyone that used it had an issue. Users would report the issue to their manager. Managers would report application issue either by speaking directly to mainframe managers or by filling out a paper report form. The state of the Help Desk in this environment was similar to present day project management meetings.

Continue reading

Jul 07

Help Desk audit program for ticket and call quality assurance

How do you really know your Help Desk agents are providing high quality customer service? As a good Help Desk Manager you have established customer contact handling procedures, regularly measure customer satisfaction, and have trained your staff on providing great customer service. Proactive Help Desk performance management is more than documenting procedures, measuring KPI metrics, and training staff. To truly find out how well your customer are being handled, Help Desk management team must audit the calls and tickets on a regular schedule. That is where a Help Desk audit program can help you out.

Benefits of implementing a Help Desk audit program

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Jun 23

How to create an incident management procedure

While each company’s incident management procedure are similar, there are unique factors to be considered to understand how to create an incident management procedure. We have created this incident management procedure best practices step by step guide to help you build a procedure that works for your team and company. We look forward to your comments and questions.

Incident Management Title and Change History

The incident management procedure title page is pretty straight forward. Include your company name, title of the document, who prepared it, and an original draft date. Your incident management procedure should include a change history section. As you update the incident management procedure, the change history should capture the version number, change author, description of the change, and the date of the change. Continue reading

Feb 21

ITIL Change Management and the Help Desk

It is important as a Help Desk Manager or Agent to understand what Change Management is and how it is related to the Help Desk. In this posting we discuss what is Change Management and some of the important aspects of Change Management and the Help Desk. We then discuss what is a Request For Change, the responsibilities of a Change Manager and the Change Advisory Board, and what is a Forward Schedule of Changes. Let’s get started and discuss Change Management and the Help Desk..

What is Change Management?

Change Management is the process to submit, review, schedule, document, and if needed back out changes that may affect your Information Technology environment. The Change Management process works hand in hand with all of your other IT Service Management processes. If you are able to run your Change Management activities within your ticketing software application, you will have great visibility and coordination. A recent post by Cisco confirms that Change Management is important since 80% of all outages are related to changes. Managing changes to your environment is crucial to keep your technology systems and users up and running. It is critical that Change Management and the Help Desk are in sync with each other. Continue reading

Jul 30

Help Desk Escalation Support Group

You have trained your Help Desks Agents with support skills, your knowledge base is full of solutions, and you First Contact Resolution percentage is seventy percent or better. This still means that thirty percent of all Help Desk contacts (phone, email, and other means) are escalated to another group. What is a Help Desk escalation support group and how does that work?

How does a Help Desk Escalation Support Group work?

If the Help Desk Agent is unable to solve a ticket, the ticket must be able to quickly and easily be passed on to an advanced support group called an escalation support group. An escalation support group is the second level and above support groups that handle more complex issues originating from the Help Desk. These groups include the system administrators, engineers, and developers responsible for the maintaining service. Continue reading

Jul 25

Building a Help Desk from scratch

Building a Help Desk from scratch or redesigning an existing Help Desk requires thoughtful planning and efficient execution. There are many core and secondary components that make up an award winning Help Desk that at times it will seem like you are juggling tasks. However each of the components we will be discussing will have inter-dependencies with other components and will have to be considered when building a Help Desk from scratch.

Help Desk structure

Determine your Help Desk structure and where it will be located when you are building a Help Desk from scratch. It can be centralized in one office, decentralized into multiple offices with all Help Desk Agents logging into one call system, or it can follow the sun with offices around the world directing the calls to the office under daytime hours.

Help Desk contact channels Continue reading

Nov 29

What is ITIL? IT Service Management Support for Business Value

What is ITIL?

In the 1980’s, Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 1 was developed by the UK Government for better IT Service Management, control and performance. What is ITIL? ITIL v1 was IT process focused. In the year 2000, ITIL v2 was introduce to a growing base of users. ITIL v2 was a consolidated focus of ITIL v1. The main books were the Service Support and Service Design books. In 2005, ITIL v3 was introduced. ITIL v3 focused on the Service Lifecycle and business focused results. In 2011 ITIL was refreshed with an ITIL 2011 version. The ITIL 2011 version identified a fully process model for all of the processes and is comprised of five books called Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service.

So what is ITIL? Continue reading