Help desks came into fashion in the IT industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They soon became accepted as the best way to deal with calls from IT users across the organization, initially related to IT that didn’t work and then to help with requests for services and information. During the same period, technology became essential to every part of the organization and business operations – moving out from finance and statistical support to production, HR, marketing, and even artistic-oriented aspects of business such as design. And let’s not forget how technology also supports the provision of technology.
The IT help desk of today not only supports the IT systems and services needed by corporate lines of business, it uses IT itself, including help desk software, to do so. Any organization that doesn’t provide appropriate supporting software to support their people and processes cannot expect to optimize and to reap appropriate benefits from any part of their organization, including the IT help desk. Help desk software is the bedrock of modern IT support and help desk operations.
So, the answer to the question is “yes,” your organization does need help desk software, but what kind of help desk software is another questions. It’s like saying you want a car but not all cars will be suitable. Instead, an assessment of needs is necessary to understand variables such as the number of passengers, number of miles driven per annum, fuel efficiency requirements, or even ease of parking.
What does an organization need help desk software for? Let’s start with the basics. At a granular level, the IT help desk exists to support the rest of the organization, acting as the initial point of contact for IT issues or requests, delivering solutions wherever possible. And if not possible, routing the issue to those that can, maintaining communication with end users while issues or request are progressed, and monitoring the status and progress of incidents and service requests to ensure that service levels are met. At a higher level, the help desk ensures that corporate IT services work and thus ensures that the business can continue to work.
Perhaps the most simple, yet effective, way to demonstrate the need for appropriate help desk software is to look at what will happen without fit-for-purpose help desk software.
When end user calls or emails are received, the information must be captured, potentially for onward transmission and for trend analysis and improvement if the help desk wants to operate in an optimal manner. Of course, information can be recorded in spreadsheets or in other personal productivity software. The data will all be there, but the potential benefits will not. What purpose-designed help desk software adds to that data is the coordination and inter-relationship of data to deliver information and knowledge to help desk analysts and management, as needed. With the information and extra insight available via fit-for-purpose help desk software, organizations are able to:
But it isn’t just the knowledge created, maintained, and stored through the help desk software that helps an organization. Staff working on a help desk have to use the IT systems they are given – eight hours a day, day in, day out. The quality – and especially the usability – of the software they must use is a major factor in staff performance and job satisfaction. Good, easy to use, appropriate help desk software can therefore increase help desk motivation and efficiency, and reduce help desk staff turnover – a very expensive factor for many organizations with an associated adverse impact on end users.
However, much of the efficiency and customer experience benefits from help desk software comes from workflow and automation. This includes: speeding up help desk processes and solution delivery; reducing repetitive manual tasks and therefore people costs; reducing human errors; allowing service level achievement and operational performance to be tracked and reported on; and reducing process “avoidance,” “wheel reinvention,” and duplication of effort.
And since the help desk is the single point of contact, just about every action and requirement for an organization’s IT service management (ITSM) operation will have to be recorded in, and pass through, the help desk software. Like the help desk itself, that single channel is a critical path toward effectiveness. If it is not in place, easy to use, and relevant, then the overall IT service delivery and support won’t be either.