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4 Reasons Help Desks Fail

05/29/2014 by: The SunView Team

An IT help desk can play a vital role in aligning processes across support personnel and technology teams to maximize value for the customer - whether that person is internal or external. However, delivering on this end goal is not an easy process and many help desks end up failing as organizations work to fine tune the way support teams handle day-to-day operations.

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There are many reasons why a help desk may fail, but a few noteworthy causes are:

1. Poor ticketing
Many businesses with a homegrown help desk use SharePoint or email systems to handle service requests. While these systems may be able to work at an extremely small scale, they can quickly become disorganized and prone to problems as IT needs change and support requests diversify. Poor ticketing solutions can be extremely problematic in a variety of ways, ranging from support workers trying to wade through diverse tickets to find the most important task, to having some service requests get missed entirely as they slip through the cracks. Inefficient ticketing solutions establish a foundation of operational problems and are a prime reason why help desks end up failing.

2. Limited visibility
A help desk that does not offer effective reporting tools can leave service team managers unable to properly balance staffing requirements to make sure the right number of people are available when needed. This not only leads to staff members potentially becoming burnt out with too much to do or bored with not enough, it can also mean that the help desk is left understaffed during key periods, such as after an application launch.

3. Limited customer engagement
An increasingly tech-savvy workforce is often looking for ways to take ownership of their technologies and engage with work IT teams to find the best option for their needs. This is especially clear in the bring-your-own-device movement, but is also evidenced in the rising popularity of self-service portals. Getting users to understand what the help desk team is there to do, and what requests should be sent elsewhere, is incredibly important because it helps organizations avoid superfluous tickets being sent to the support team. Getting users engaged with support processes can drive an understanding of how the help desk works and improve the customer experience.

4. Failing to solve root problems
A homegrown or extremely simplistic help desk offers organizations little more than a bare bones ticketing and incident management platform. This means that the support team will be spending the vast majority of its time wading through emails, prioritizing service requests and enacting strategies to work around glitches and other basic incidents to minimize user downtime. This results in an environment in which the help desk is never moving forward.

Constantly resolving incidents establishes a framework in which help desk teams are only treating symptoms, not going after the disease. Problem management is needed to overcome this problem, and it is easy for support strategies to fail if such efforts are not made. Instituting project management capabilities through an effective service desk can help support teams identify the root causes of incidents and establish a framework for key problem resolution in a business' technology operations.

Creating value is critical in every facet of IT, including support. Finding ways to generate a return on investment through the help desk may sound like an unconventional strategy, but businesses have long been mired in a cycle of building a homegrown help desk plan, using it until it fails and trying to start over. As technology demands rise, more organizations are starting to benefit from service desk solutions that can scale with business needs and establish a framework for much more consistent, productive IT service management operations.