The term “service desk” can give rise to a number of conversations, and sometimes arguments. For instance, should you call it a help desk, service desk, or something else? And for companies with relatively small, and probably very busy, IT support teams, the idea of having someone sitting at a desk waiting to answer the phone is a people overhead that they just can’t afford.
But don’t let the “desk” in service desk and help desk put you off formalizing and better enabling your IT support people – whether it’s through the adoption of industry best practice for IT service management (ITSM) or the investment in a fit-for-purpose help desk or ITSM tool. Maybe, just maybe, if this technology category was called “IT support tools” it might instantly seem more relevant to your company’s lean and mean IT support operations.
All companies have some form of IT support but are they performing as well as they could be?
Of course the largest of companies need to have formalized and often highly-populated IT support teams – here there’s so much IT gluing business operations together, that things are bound to occasionally go wrong. So they’ll have a help desk (or service desk), plus other ITSM activities, enabled by fit-for-purpose ITSM technology.
At the other end of the company-size spectrum, IT support staff can’t always be justified. With the very smallest of companies using self-support and peer-support (most likely ably assisted by Google), or specialist third-parties to provide IT support as and when needed.
But what about those companies somewhere in the middle, which are of a size, and IT importance, needing one or more IT support personnel to help keep the IT, and thus the business, operational (and often also to drive it forward with new technology)? These IT support personnel rarely have the time to catch their breath, bouncing from one IT issue to another, and also fitting in non-business-critical IT support tasks as, and when, they can. They work hard, very hard, but could they work “smarter”?
Some might say that overworked IT support personnel in very small IT teams need more technical training, which they then might never have time to undertake. Others might say that they just need more IT support colleagues, which could of course be right, but budgetary restrictions prohibit it.
However, taking a step back out of IT support, what have companies traditionally done to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of staff since the late 1980s? The answer – provided staff with fit-for-purpose technology for both personal productivity enhancement (for instance email, laptops, and then smartphones) and business process enablement.
Stepping back in, IT support personnel in small IT teams might already have great personal productivity technology but what about technology for the enablement of their IT support processes? In fact, how many realize that they might have IT support processes? They just do what they think is best to “get the job done” day after day, week after week.
They will of course have access to some enabling technology – which might be for monitoring, network management, or remote support. They might even use their personal productivity technology – such as email and spreadsheets – to support their processes. They just don’t have access to what most larger IT support teams use – fit-for-purpose help desk or ITSM technology.
If you’re part of a small IT support team, there’s no desk involved, right? In fact, the only time you likely sit down for a prolonged period of time is while eating your lunch. But it’s probably not a lunch hour, as you just don’t have time for such an extravagance.
Have I hit a raw nerve yet? I don’t mean to but really, this is the crux of the matter – the introduction of IT support technology might offer capabilities to improve efficiency and effectiveness but the real win for small IT teams is to create more time to get things done! It’s the classic “doing more with less” (or “delivering more with less”) that has been echoing around ITSM conferences for the last decade.
…And yes, you can read that two ways, both of which are appropriate here.
A fit-for-purpose IT support tool, call it whatever you like, will help small IT support teams to use their limited time better, even optimally. The generic, cross-process capabilities such as knowledge management, workflow, automation, alerts, and even calendaring will help to stop them from “wasting” time on repetitive, often manual activities.
Plus certain tool capabilities will save IT support time directly. For instance, implementing an end-user self-service capability will use knowledge management to support end-user self-help. And self-service automation, such as password reset, will further remove many of the common, yet simple, IT support tasks from the IT team’s daily to-do list. Mobile access to asset, ticket, or knowledge management information also saves time as IT support people dart from end-user issue to end-user issue.
Plus, there are many other benefits that are not so directly related to saving time. Such as using standard, best-practice processes and templates to optimize IT support activities. Or insight into operational performance and service delivery, with reporting used to demonstrate IT support’s worth, to identify improvement opportunities, or even to build a business case for increasing the size of the IT team.
Of course this final section only scratches the surface of how a help desk or ITSM tool can help smaller IT teams, but hopefully the blog has shown that a physical desk definitely isn’t necessary to benefit from them.