Which Is Right for You—Help Desk or Service Desk?

Help Desk and Service Desk are names that are often interchanged in IT. But, have you ever thought, what does Help Desk and Service Desk meanand how do they differ?

Confused ??


In this article, I’ll take you through the different characteristics of Help Desk and Service Desk, and by analyzing the discussed points, you will be able to understand which tool best suits you and your organization.


A helpdesk is useful when a service needs to be provided for customers (mostly IT users and employees, both inside and outside of an organization). This service needs a multi-threaded troubleshooting approach to maximize its benefits.

Helpdesk provides:

Case management - Ensures all tickets are addressed and resolved in a timely manner. Further, this helps prevent tickets from being overlooked by technicians.

Asset management - Keeps asset information up-to-date. In turn, making it easier for technicians to quickly address and complete tickets. Moreover, you gain access to knowledge base articles related to the issue raised.

SLA’s - These are associated with help desk, but are not business oriented. Rather, they are technology focused. For example, SLA’s like - % of space left in the storage.

Service Desk:

Service Desk comes into the picture when technicians or business administrators need service and or coordination in the IT department. Any business that might integrate with IT for their business needs will then likely need Service Desk in place. In a nutshell, service desk is the point of contact for all IT-related requests and is much more complex and integrated than help desk.

Service Desk provides:

Incident management - Helps customers get back on track (in a productive state), as soon as possible. This can be done by passing information, work around for the issue, or by resolving the issue.

Problem management - Helps customers to identify the root cause of a reported issue.

Change management - Helps making orderly changes to IT infrastructure.

Configuration management - Helps to organize the assets change requests in organizations. The service desk also maintains the Configuration Management Database (CMDB), where all configuration data is saved.

Service desk also helps in the design, execution and maintenance of SLA’s (Service Level Agreement) and OLA (Operating Level Agreements).

So, which is best for you?  Take a look below at a few more things to consider when choosing Help Desk or Service Desk:

Help Desk

Service Desk


To provide excellent technical support.

To provide excellent incident management.


To solve problems efficiently and effectively.

Customer to be back up and running to productivity ASAP.


To have a single point of contact for all technical issues.

Have ITIL framework for IT processes.


IT infrastructure changes to happen in an informal process.

IT processes to be formally defined.


Keep track of the IT assets in the network.

Keep track of configuration changes and the relationships among them using CMDB.


Define to customer how you will solve the issue.

Define only SLA and OLA to customers.


Well, I hope this article helped you get a better understanding on which solution is best for you or your organization. Also, please feel free to fill in more interpretations about the differences between Help Desk and Service Desk in the comments below.

  • Since we all moved to hybrid workflows, the difference to me comes down to two things- WHD is not geared for mobile or remote workers unless they have VPN, so we migrated to Service Desk, which has a vastly better UI, and all the notifications we need.  We don't use most of it's features, but it was worth the effort to migrate.  Unfortunately, we found the Asset tools lacking, so we're just using it for Incident management and the knowledgebase.

  • Nice article. It exactly show clear out explanation and the difference between these two desks. But I'm honestly accessing help desk, because I can take care of my customers problems through this way. I don't like any troubles or inconvenient, so based on my necessity. I signed up with the help desk software, Apptivo. It helps to manage each and every customer cases unless problem solved.  

  • In my experience, a good Desk is one that combines both. The help desk description defines good operations of a 1st line team: They answer the calls, raise the tickets, inform the relevant internal resource that there is work to be done, and so on.These guys are key to any organisation which provides a SERVICE to clients (and are too often used as a piñata by management when things don't go as planned).

    The service desk side describes the good management of the Desk. The 2nd & 3rd line guys and those who manage the whole Service Centre for your business. Without good people, who are prepared to help those in the earlier lines develop their skills, it'll all fall apart eventually.

    In my opinion, to have a first class service offering,  you have to have a Desk that combines both aspects you outline.

  • When I interviewed at IBM to work on their QRadar SIEM which is the most complex program/solution you have ever seen in your life.  They asked me, "What do you do when you don't know the answer to something?. I sheepishly said ask "The Google"  they all roared with laughter and hired me on the spot!  :-)  You have to learn to fish for yourself.  But maybe you are right, IBM might not have more than 10 employees left.  We WERE our helpdesk, security team, and fixed our own servers and laptops.
    @cjfranca    :-)!!!!!!!!

  • I think if you to work a company more 10 people, you need service desk