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3 Essential Changes You Must Make to Your Service Desk to Support BYOD

By | February 12, 2013 in BYOD

No doubt that BYOD (bring your own device) has changed the way users are working today. However, your service desk was designed in times where most users used a company-owned PC and used it inside the office. If you want to continue to provide the best service to your organization, you need to change your service desk so it will also give support to BYOD users.

I think the best way to find out what you need to change in your service desk is to look at what changed as a result of BYOD.

Let’s take a look. Basically, three factors have changed:

  • The huge variety of devices
  • The location where your users are working and need support
  • Time that your users are working (they no longer only work during regular office hours)

From these factors alone, we immediately discover the main issues that need to be checked in your service desk, i.e. availability of devices, accessibility from outside the organization, and service times.

Allow Access From Outside the Company

To successfully support BYOD users, you need to be available from anywhere in the world—meaning, always available via the Internet. Most service desk/help desk software in our time is web-based so you "just" need to find a way to open it to the Internet. One way is to move your service desk to the Cloud. If your vendor has a version of your current solution on the Cloud, then this should not be a big problem. If you prefer that your service desk will stay on-premise, then you need to find a way to make it use a public IP address. Most probably this should not be a problem with your network guys. However, it's important that you check that the software was designed and tested to work on a public IP without adding security risks.

In theory, there is yet another option: keep your service desk with a private IP and require VPN access in order to access the service desk. But I'm afraid this is not a very good solution as you want your service desk to be available as much as possible. The VPN connection is very complicated and usage of your self-service portal will be reduced if you require VPN for accessing it. Also we know that large amounts of incidents are related to permissions. If you require VPN, users with permission problems will not be able to access your service desk. One of the top incidents you will get from BYOD is: My VPN connection doesn't work.

Self-Service Portal Interface Should Work From Any Device

In the BYOD era your users can use all kinds of devices so it's really hard to make sure your interface works in any device. However all modern devices support HTML 5. So if you make sure your self-service portal is using HTML 5/JavaScript/CSS, it will work on all modern devices. If your self-service portal contains parts that are only available on a PC, such as Flash or ActiveX, then you need to change the self-service portal.

After you make sure your portal works in a standard web environment, you still need to consider if you want the user interface adjusted to the type of device. The best experience will be with a portal web interface that knows to detect your type of device: mobile, tablet, or desktop and adjust the user interface accordingly. See examples below of the SysAid End-User Portal that has different interfaces for desktop and smartphone.

Time Factor

End users are working with their devices during hours that are not the standard working times and probably beyond your support hours. What can you do to support them? Extending the support hours is probably not a good solution as you will need too many resources (IT employees) and no one will approve that budget. I think the solution for this is to add more self-service/automatic processes to your service desk and these processes can work 24/7. You need to make sure your Knowledge Base is comprehensive enough and available to BYOD users. Also you can run some reports and find out what are the most common incidents during non-support hours and then try to find a self-service solution to them. You may find out that many issues are related to passwords (e.g. “my password expired and now I cannot access my email from my mobile device....”). In that case you will find out that you need to add a password reset option in your self-service portal that is available for BYOD users.

In this blog post, I covered the more technical stuff. I will follow up soon with another post to discuss some of the harder questions that arise concerning IT’s role in supporting BYOD users and devices. If you have any questions or comments, please write me below, or even better – contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.

Israel Lifshitz

About Israel Lifshitz

Founder of SysAid, which was created with the singular mission of simplifying the lives of IT and service desk managers all over the world. BYOD believer. Derives pure joy from testing all things mobile! In 2011, founded Nubo Software, a BYOD startup.

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