In any organization, employees encounter problems with their computers, printers, and other machines. These include hardware breakdowns, software problems, computer viruses, printers running out of paper, and more. In medium to large organizations, an IT department will deal with such problems. This article discusses how IT can achieve easy, efficient methodologies for this task.
Help Desk Software
“Help desk” refers to an organization’s system of dealing with service requests and error reports.
In small organizations, IT managers may simply receive phone calls about errors. In larger organizations, where errors are frequent, this becomes inefficient. For maximum efficiency, IT managers need to address problems based on priority, not whenever somebody calls.
Help desk software helps IT manage, sort, and deal with service requests using the most efficient methodology, resulting in lower overhead and higher end user satisfaction.
Internal Help Desk
In some organizations, IT managers will offer support for outside costumers. In others, IT provides support only to employees. Internal help desk serves only the organization itself.
Often, when using internal help desk, employees can submit service requests by logging into help desk software on their computers.
Life-Cycle of a Service Request
When a user needs help, he or she can submit a “service request” to the IT department, requesting assistance. A service request will go through various phases. As an example, we bring a possible life-cycle of a service request. Different cycles are possible, depending on the methodology used.
Phase 1: The user submits a service request. Often, the end user will be able to fill out various fields, such as urgency, category, description, and more.
The user submits a service request. Often, the end user will be able to fill out various fields, such as urgency, category, description, and more.Phase 2:The service request enters the system (often by entering a database in the organization’s network).
The service request enters the system (often by entering a database in the organization’s network).Phase 3:Rules are applied to the service request. Examples of rules:
Rules are applied to the service request. Examples of rules:If the request is from the accounting department, it automatically receives a priority of “low”.
If the request’s category is “hardware”, the due date should be a week from now.
If the priority is “highest”, the system should automatically email the CEO and SMS the IT administrators.
The request is routed to the proper administrator. There are different ways to achieve this. Some help desk software offers rules to determine which administrator should achieve the request. For example, if a service request’s category is “network”, it can be automatically routed to the organization’s network expert. Alternatively, all service requests could be routed to an initial administrator or team. This first-level support can then reroute service requests as necessary.
The proper administrator receives the request. He solves the end user’s problem or provides the support required.
The administrator closes the service request.
Choose a Methodology
Before choosing which help desk software to use, choose a proper methodology. Different help desk applications offer different features. By knowing how you’ll work, you’ll know which software to use. Answering the following questions will help you decide.
Does your help desk offer internal support, costumer support, or both?
If you are only interested in internal help desk, you should use software especially designed for that purpose. Such software will often register users, so that administrators can view their details. It might also install software on end users’ computers, enabling them to easily submit service requests.
Should anyone be able to submit service requests, or only registered users?
By registering users, administrators can view their details.
Will end users submit service requests only from their offices, or also from trips/home/elsewhere?
If end users should be able to submit service requests from anywhere, web-based help desk software is a good idea. Such software often enables end users to log into the system over the internet, using a standard web browser.
If using web based software, do you want a hosted version, or an installed version?
Some web-based applications offer hosted versions. They will provide the server and database. The clients can log in using a browser.
Other organizations will prefer using their own server on their network, and using their own database to keep track of service requests.
When searching for help desk software, check if it offers an installed solution or a hosted solution.
What features do you require?
Help desk software can offer many features. Decide what features you need, and seek software the offers these features. Examples are:
Extensive communication abilities.
An easy way for end users to submit service requests.
The ability to list, sort, and search through submitted service requests.
Various information on each service request, such as due date, priority, location, category, and more.
Reporting capabilities on the state of the help desk.
A knowledgebase of important service requests.
Various rules for automatically establishing a service request’s priority, due date, responsible administrator, and more.
The ability to remote control a user’s computer, so that IT can fix the problem from afar. This option is usually found only in internal help desk.
Integrating Internal Help Desk
Good help desk software should be easy and quick to integrate.
First (if using an in-house solution), the help desk software will be installed on a server in the organization’s network. Some organizations will already be running databases, which the help desk software might connect to. Other organizations might use built-in databases provided by the software.
How to install the software widely varies between products.
Next, IT managers can manually register end users, or end users can register themselves. As a faster alternative, some help desk software connects to the LDAP/Active Directory, retrieves information about the organization’s users, and automatically registers them.
Some help desk software installs software on end users’ computers, which lets the users submit service requests using standard forms. In large organizations, it is unrealistic to expect each employee to install the software. Thus, an automatic deployment tool can be run from the server, which will scan the network and install the end user interface on each computer.
Using Help Desk
End users can now submit service requests. These requests will enter a database, and using their help desk software, IT managers can view them. Managers can now sort through requests, search for particular requests, and solve requests based on their priority, due date, or other parameters. The help desk becomes more efficient.