Today’s “always on, always available” business culture has unintended consequences for your IT team. IT services are expected to be instantly available at all times—and the first line that normally gets hit with complaints and ire is your IT Help Desk. If your goal is continuous IT service delivery, then surely an important area to focus should be your help desk. But what can you do? Are there specific capabilities and functions that are the hallmarks of excellent help desks? And what should you be focused on when it comes to helping your help desk in the quest for “always on, always available” IT services?
As the first line of defense in safeguarding the continuous delivery of IT Services, your help desk should not only help to resolve reported problems, but they should also help you to manage risk to your enterprise and enhance end user productivity.
There are two critical factors in managing risks to your enterprise: resolving the reported problem so users don’t creatively solve the problem themselves, potentially exposing your enterprise to possibly unsafe cloud apps, mobile apps, or other possible security vulnerabilities. No one likes shadow IT, least of all IT.
The second area of risk often gets overlooked though. That’s the risk of not meeting your own service level agreements. There are various ways to set up SLAs—but there are two things any help desk concerned with guaranteeing IT service continuity should focus on:
- Prioritization of Response
Most help desks have no lack of incidents and issues to tackle. However, knowing which ones to tackle first may not be quite so clear. Knowing how to prioritize events and deciding which one to respond to first shouldn’t be left up to individuals—or you will get very inconsistent experiences. This puts your enterprise and your IT staff’s reputation at risk. Rather—prioritization should be tool-based and weighted according to two factors:
- What’s the impact of the reported event to the organization or business as a whole and the individual? Impact to the business can be determined by seeing if the reported incident is impacting overall service delivery across your organization and if that impact is costing you money. Having detailed service delivery models tied to business impact that can be looked at by your help desk is key here.
- Who’s calling? Given equal business impact, then obviously certain people’s problems should get looked at first. That should be determined mainly by job role and function inside a company. Getting the CEO’s help desk ticket resolved before one logged by the marketing manager normally makes sense. Having SLAs tied to important job roles is a good way to start the weighting process.
- Automated Information Gathering
Much of your help desk’s time is spent finding out the critical information they need to resolve an incident. Anything that can be done to speed up the information gathering process is a good goal to pursue. Being able to automatically capture key information about the user, machine, operating system, or applications being used and attaching them to the ticket for the technician can greatly improve resolution times. Additionally, help desks need ways to look at the wider IT environment when logging tickets and capture any relevant data. Is this an isolated incident? Is it related to larger scenarios going on in the IT environment? Being able to automatically capture key information about the users, their systems, and having larger pictures into the entire IT environment are critical for any help desk—but it’s often surprising how the help desk has extremely siloed information that actually makes resolving IT incidents slower.
Enhance User Productivity
Most end-users look for a solution to their problem before contacting the help desk. Providing end-users with information in a searchable knowledge base is particularly helpful when attempting to help your help desk. Additionally, a knowledge base can be used by the help desk itself when attempting to resolve IT incidents. Ideally, your solution should be able to provide knowledge to both your end-users and your help desk.
User self-service is also particular helpful. Creating an IT service catalog where users can request access to common applications without having to fill out a help desk ticket is particularly useful and saves both end-users and your IT staff time. Expanding on user self-service beyond the IT Service Catalog is also wise. Allowing end-users to do such things as reset passwords or manage their corporate identity (within reason) can save your help desk countless hours.
All in all—your help desk is invaluable in your quest to deliver non-stop IT services to your business. Don’t sell them short by not helping them do their jobs better and faster. Achieving agile IT operations is possible—but only by including all parts of your service delivery methodology into your plans. Tackling IT service and support management (ITSSM) along with IT service management (ITSM) means you can help your help desk achieve better service continuity.