Implementing a Help Desk improvement project will most likely lead to significant improvement. You will see increases in efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction. This quick start guide will help you determine which core areas of your Help Desk require improvement. We will create and prioritize a list of Help Desk improvement projects. We will then work through the process to implement the most urgent improvement project.
Note: For additional information regarding the following steps, please reference the book Help Desk Management: How to run a computer user support Service Desk effectively
Step 1. Perform a Help Desk maturity assessment.
A maturity assessment sometimes referred to as a gap assessment is a tool used by companies to determine their maturity compared to industry-standards. Performing a maturity assessment will give you a baseline of your Help Desk’s maturity and capabilities. You will better understand your core area strengths and weaknesses compared to industry-standards. The maturity assessment will provide you hard data on what is working and what needs to be improved. Assessment results are also frequently used to justify funding of improvement projects. An assessment with the recommended improvements required from an independent group carries a lot of influence when seeking approval for a project.
For more information related to a Help Desk maturity assessment visit the Build a Help Desk maturity assessment guide.
Step 2. Create a Help Desk improvement project list.
Based on your maturity assessment results, it is time to prioritize the Help Desk’s core areas that need improvement.
- Pick three core areas from a maturity assessment that need improvement and write them down. Examples of core areas are Help Desk reporting, service request management, and knowledge management.
- For each core area, brainstorm what improvement projects would help improve each of the three core areas. These are specific projects to improve a portion of the core area. For example, creating a service catalog might improve the overall service request management core area. The maturity assessment results may provide some suggested projects.
- Write these improvement projects under the appropriate core area. Some projects may apply to multiple core areas such as creating an agent training program.
Step 3. Determine the priority order of the projects.
In this step, our goal is to narrow the improvement project list to the 3 top priority projects.
- Review your list of three core areas and underpinning projects. You may notice a pattern. You may see an improvement project listed under multiple core areas. A project that improves more than one core area is something notable.
- Select the top 3 overall improvement projects you want to implement. These three improvement projects will be the most urgent and will significantly improve the core area.
- Once you have created your list of the three most urgent improvement projects, it is time to make your final selection. Rank the three projects as first, second, and third to implement.
Step 4. Design the process and implementation plan.
Design future state processes to correct the core area weaknesses. The future state is what the service or process will look like once the improvement project is implemented. Ensure you obtain input about the future state design from internal team members, stakeholders, leadership, and customers. You will gain valuable insight into your future state design by obtaining this input. Some managers will hold focus groups to really capture valuable details and create engagement from the stakeholders. Once you know what the future service or process will look like, you next have to determine how you will implement it.
You next need to determine how the future state service or process will go from paper into actual production. This will be your implementation plan. You will need to select the people, funding, and technology required to implement the future state processes. You also will need to create the implementation steps and timeline.
Step 5. Obtain approval to use company resources.
You have defined what you want to improve and how you want to implement it. In this step, you will have to determine if your improvement plan will need to receive approval. If the project requires little or no funding, then this step may be easy. You will be able to implement the improvement project with your internal team resources. If you need additional company funding or assistance from another department, you should seek approval to proceed with the improvement project. The best vehicle to use to argue your case for project approval is a business case. To create a business case for your Help Desk improvement project, you can follow these high-level steps.
- Identify the issue the improvement project is needed to solve. The details of an identified issue should include current performance, ideal performance improvement target based on industry-standard peers, and the benefit to the company if the issue is improved. Document all this information into your business case to tell the reviewer why this project is needed.
- Outline the solution options for the issue – While you have identified the specific improvement project you want to implement to fix the core issue, you have to provide the details you investigated to come to this conclusion.
- Justify why the preferred improvement project is the best option – Once you identify a shortlist of solutions for the issue for the business case approvers, you want to justify why the improvement project you decided on is the best option.
- Describe your implementation strategy – Outlining your implementation strategy is a critical part of the business case. While it does not have to be overly detailed, it should give the approvers a sense of the time and resources needed if approved. The implementation strategy will identify high-level timelines, resources needed, real benefits, and potential risks.
- Cost/Benefit Financial Analysis – A critical section of a business case is financial data. You will want to explain in detail the net benefits of the improvement project and justify the expenditure. This includes identifying tangible and intangible costs and benefits. The financial data should be detailed to satisfy the accounting team.
- Summarize your recommendation – Probably the most important section is the business case is the executive summary section. If the approvers read nothing else, you want them to read the executive summary. This executive summary is placed at the beginning of the business case. This is the one-page summary of the business case to sell your project. Most people write the executive summary last since you take specific information from each of the other sections to create the one-page summary.
Step 6. Secure improvement project resources
Once the project funding is in place, it is time to secure the resources needed. For the internal resources necessary to complete the improvement project, they must be available to meet the project schedule and timeline. You will need hard agreements from the managers of the resources you require. This means identifying and agreeing to the specific dates and number of hours the resource will be committed to the improvement project. Do not forget to identify and understand the availability of the resources. This includes scheduled PTO and commitments to other work or projects. You do not want to start a project and find out during the execution phase that your resource will not be available for a period of time. If your improvement project requires external resources, then you will need to execute contracts for contractors, vendors, hardware, and software.
Step 7. Implement the new service or process.
With your funding and resources procured, you can implement the improvement project. Each of the chapters in the book “Help Desk Management: How to run a computer user support Service Desk effectively” by Wayne Schlicht includes a quick start guide to implement some of the more popular Help Desk improvement projects. Use these guides to create and execute your implementation of the improvement. During the implementation, you must follow any applicable change controls, communication, and approvals as required.
Step 8. Transition the service or process to production operations
Once all of the implementation and validation steps of the Help Desk improvement project have been completed, you are not yet done. You must make sure the project deliverable has been transitioned to production operations. Production operation means a “Business As Usual” (BAU) process. Whoever is going to be using the new service or process must be trained to use the new system. Knowledge articles and frequently asked questions must be documented.
Step 9. Educate the customers about the new process.
What good is a new service or process if it is not used or nobody knows how to use it? Anytime there is a new service or process, there could be a customer impact. If customers need to be aware of the new service or process then they need to be notified with targeted communication. Communication could include advance notices that a change is coming and information on how to use the new service. Information on how to use the new service or process should be provided. The sooner the new service or process is adopted by the end-users, the quicker you can decommission the legacy service or process.
Step 10. Decommission the legacy process.
So, the new service or process is in place and everyone who needs to use it is. You are not done yet. Before the project has been called completed, you must decommission the legacy process including applicable licenses, equipment, software, and contracts. This is an important step. Keeping a legacy system in place will cause process inefficiencies, customer confusion, and wasted resources. There could also be security or regulatory issues as a result of a legacy service or process still active.
Significant improvements can be gained by implementing a Help Desk improvement project. Following the above 10 steps Help Desk improvement plan can help you avoid common pitfalls. Once implemented, your new service or process will contribute to increases in efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.