For many businesses, the IT helpdesk is a relic of the past, sitting alone as a detached afterthought. A reactive facility, the helpdesk implies negative connotations although its function is essential to the running of a business’ IT. However, integrating a helpdesk with an entire IT network infrastructure and automating its functionality can reduce costs and increase shared knowledge. Having been involved with so many Seattle startups, I know is area very well and it’s often neglected.
Unfortunately, helpdesks are often regarded as a fire-fighting tool. More often than not they are bolted-on as a late addition designed to cope with the rising number of user queries. It is rare for an integrated helpdesk solution to be implemented from the outset, so there are tools should be available to assist with integration issues. Helpdesks should not be viewed as a point solution; but rather part of asset and systems management procedures.
Helpdesk service can be improved dramatically by integration with a centralized asset management database. IT helpdesk calls are usually directly related to hardware or software, therefore the knowledge of assets can be leveraged to improve problem resolution. Using a centralized database, helpdesk queries can be matched up directly to assets. Problem users and assets can be identified and the total cost of ownership (TCO) per asset can be calculated. Assets with a high problem incidence rate should be pinpointed and targeted to discover reasons for high TCO.
Asset management and helpdesk integration can enable automation of helpdesks. Day-to-day management tasks and repetitive functions should be automated, turning fire-fighting helpdesks into hands-off self-help solutions to problems. Integrating these processes would make it possible for users’ helpdesk tickets to have contextual keyword filters applied to trigger an automatic response.
For example, if an end-user needed a software application but did not have it installed on their PC, they would make a request to the helpdesk for it to be installed. A contextual keyword filter would automatically identify the request and, using the centralized database, could check the PC’s software inventory, licensing status and configuration. If suitable, an automated helpdesk could trigger the asset management system to automatically distribute the correct executable software package to the PC. The helpdesk staff need not get involved and the process would be instant and one of self-help – saving time and money.
My top three top tips for future helpdesk success are: integrate helpdesk function with asset and systems management tools to identify TCO; turn a helpdesk problem into a self-help solution through automation; stop firefighting and use a structured solution. With thorough back-end integration and given a regular structure to work in, helpdesks can evolve from being a reaction to problems, to an automated central knowledge base to assist with business process intelligence.
If you’re a startup is in the City of Seattle, I highly recommend looking into making sure you helpdesk procedures are in place to help your business really succeed.