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Can IT pros save time by simplifying IT support?

Level 9

Every day, help desk pros stay busy by tracking down tickets, organizing them, assigning resources, and updating statuses. Have you ever wondered if being so busy is a good thing? Are you doing the right things at the right time?

Today, the increasing adoption of evolving technologies, such as BYOD and enterprise mobility, and the growing mobile workforce, require help desk pros to be super-productive in delivering IT support anywhere, anytime. To meet today’s rapidly growing end-user needs, help desk pros need to save time by cutting down trivial tasks, such as organizing tickets, and spend more time resolving issues and delivering real value to customers.

A typical IT service request lifecycle looks like this:

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In general, help desk technicians spend more time in the first half of the lifecycle, when they should be focusing more on the latter half, which drives results and delivers value to customers. Here are a few simple tips you can follow to help save time in your daily help desk operations:

  1. Ticket funneling: Create a centralized help desk system that can let your users submit tickets easily via email or online, auto-populate information provided by users to help technicians determine the severity of the issue, and automatically alert users about the nature of the issue and estimated completion time.
  2. Ticket prioritization: Configure your help desk system to automatically categorize tickets based on their criticality, end-user priority, technical expertise, and more. This will help you instantly identify the nature of the issue, understand the business impact, set Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and prioritize tickets that need your time today.
  3. Ticket routing: End-users often blame help desk pros when their issues aren’t quickly resolved. But the fact is, one can’t expect a help desk admin to simultaneously fix a network issue, replace a faulty projector, and help with a password reset. Based on issue type and criticality, you need to assign tickets to technicians who have expertise in handling those specific issues. This can be achieved by setting up automated workflows in your help desk system that can help route trouble tickets and assign them to the right technician at the right time.
  4. Reduce time-to-resolution: Clearly, end-users want their issues resolved as soon as possible. To do this, the IT pro may need to access the end-user’s PC remotely, get more information from users, restart servers, etc. Ideally, your help desk should seamlessly integrate with remote support and communication and troubleshooting tools to help you get all the information you need quickly to resolve issues faster.
  5. Asset mapping: Gathering asset details, licensing information, data about the hardware and software installed on end-user computers, etc. is the most time-consuming task in help desk support. It is much easier to use a help desk system to automatically scan and discover installed IT assets, procure asset details, manage IT inventory, map assets with associated tickets, etc.
  6. Encourage self-service: The most effective way to resolve trivial issues is to help end-users learn how to resolve such things on their own. Minor issues, such as password resets, software updates, etc. can be fixed by end-users if proper guidance is provided. Shape your help desk as a self-service platform where users can find easy-to-fix solutions for common issues and resolve them without submitting help desk tickets.

By following these simple tips, you can save time and deliver more value to your end-users. If you want more information, check out this white paper that reviews major tasks performed by help desk analysts and IT support staff, and discusses how to simplify and automate those tasks.

How have you simplified your IT support tasks?

Share your help desk and remote support best practices so we can all benefit.

20 Comments
MVP
MVP

We have a NOC that is semi integrated into the servicedesk.  Thus there is a loose separation of duties.

They are all pretty good about routing the tickets to the proper group.

The key is to have an educated consumer that can open their own tickets and assign them to the proper group to begin with.

Then the techs get the tickets sooner and it reduces the MTTR and helps everybody.  At that point the helpdesk can deal with the more interactive customers with password resets and the like.

Level 20

You left out all of the Change Control and approvals that adds at least another three steps lololol!

Level 11

Thanks for the tips! Our service desk will appreciate these.

There are several steps that might be considered in the original circle of a Help Desk cycle:

Before Step One might come:

  • User experiences inability to perform a task and becomes unproductive and frustrated--perhaps even emotional.
  • User contacts their supervisor, disrupts their peers, seeking a fix for the problem immediately, rather than opening a ticket with the Help Desk, which might result in 20 minutes or more of being unable to do perform their tasks. 

After somewhere between steps Five and Six must come notification to the user that the issue is resolved.  This can add time if the user's issue involves VoIP or e-mail problems--their primary method of contact may be unavailable, and the resolution process might not have a work around documented for notifying the user in these cases.

Ironically, I've seen outages of WAN or LAN or e-mail or Citrix services affect larger groups of users, and people from Technician level to C-Level may request a notification of the current status or E.T.R. be sent to the affected users--via e-mail.  Uffda!

All good points. Automation is gaining momentum (again). We are replacing our obsolete ticketing system and we are looking to implement some of these tips when we roll it out.

Level 17

We need a NOC that is integrated with the service desk... NOC isn't even 24/7 right now .. smh

Level 17

Our service desk has remote abilities, and and admin account to make adjustments at the desktop level. I like educating users about the workings of their phone, one easy ticket is when they press a DND type button that routes all calls straight to Voice Mail.  I'm all about automating the process so we can all work on more important tasks at hand.

Level 11

Honestly, in the Help Desk workflow, I've seen no greater time saver than a dedicated manager handling ticket routing. While you can automate to your heart's delight, misrouted tickets burn just a crazy amount of time, especially multiple misroutes. So even if you can't afford to have an actual person handling all of the initial routing (understandable), everyone in the workflow should understand that if they receive what they think is a misrouted ticket, that they have a single point of contact to ensure that the next technician it gets to is the right person.

Because it's not just about the mean or the median in the service industry, it's also about making sure that there are no extreme outliers. An average service time that beats metrics for a month will be quickly overshadowed if you have three people escalating complaints because they were given the run-around.

MVP
MVP

akiebach​, agreed.  At least from the IT side, most all of the IT folks "should" be able to create a ticket and assign it to the proper group.

It is the people that believe it is beneath them to do such work that have to call it in that wastes everyones time.

I know quite a few on the business side that are pretty ticket savvy.  They've learned by doing it right it speeds resolution for them and thus have a vested interest.

The others just want to be able to gripe about something to make them feel better and usually have to call it in because it takes too much effort to create a ticket.

Level 11

I disagree that the IT folks being able to do that is a certainty, as that depends a lot on the size and scope of your organization. In a SMB shop with less than a hundred employees? Sure. In a global enterprise with thousands of employees? Perhaps not, unless your queues are configured in an very intuitive way. After all, your *nix or Wintel guy might be able to spot that they have or have been assigned a ticket that is a network issue, not an OS issue, but does that mean it's a firewall issue and needs to go to Security, a routing issue that needs to go to your Cisco guys, a switching issue that needs to first go to your VMWare guys, or ... ? Having one guy to route to or call when anyone working tickets gets one that they think they shouldn't have is invaluable, especially when that person has the managerial authority to say, "no, this is a ______ issue until you prove otherwise, you need to take ownership of it now."

MVP
MVP

note that I included the words "most" and "should".  This is from experience in small to large IT departments (1000+ people). 

Of course it takes some training and the best training tool is to actually have to use it.

Level 11

Fair point, I suppose my thinking was more along the lines of whether it was a reasonable expectation for the organization as a whole or not. I don't think you can really expect enough of the staff (even IT) to be able to do that consistently in a large organization, and as such see the folks that can as more of a productivity bonus, but the process flow as a whole needing to account for more of the rising edge of the competence/institutional knowledge bell curve. I may just be cynical in that regard, though -- I've probably just had to work with (and in) too many helpdesks at this point.

MVP
MVP

If the organization is ITIL or ISO certification based then there should be a reasonable expectation of it as it should be a requirement.

In this day and age in most industries trouble tickets are a common thing.  There should be buy-in and push down from the top to support this.

MVP
MVP

I noticed the lack of change control

MVP
MVP

With better helpdesk applications come the possibilities of automation. I think the first three steps could almost be automated out of the loop. We've had the same sad product for almost 10 years and it's no better today than it was ten years ago so I can only imagine what we could be doing.

Level 14

I'm not sure we will ever replace our old school ticketing system.  High management is resistant to change in this area.

MVP
MVP

All the things you've mentioned, are what we currently do. Our setup is pretty well streamlined and user experience rating is getting higher and higher.

Level 21

While this all sounds simple enough, I can tell you from experience that it isn't.  We just purchased WebHelpDesk and have just started the implementation process to move away from our old ticketing system.  The old system has very inefficient workflows as it has grown organically over time and organic growth is almost always never efficient.  As we implement the new system we are going to abandon all of our old workflows and build new more efficient workflows from the ground up.  Making the system efficient is both art and science.

Level 11

IT help desk technicians face challenges on a daily basis - no doubt about that. But manually managing the entire help desk function does not have to be one of them!

Check out my new post and let me know if you identify with any of these struggles. If that is the case, maybe it's time for a change...

Top 5 Challenges of Manually Managing Your IT Help Desk

Perhaps this explains it well for some folks:

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