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Help Desk Jargon: The 10 Worst Offenders (ITIL Edition)

06/25/2012 by: The SunView Team

I reserve the right not to call myself a language expert (those reading this blog may disagree). Taking that a step further, when I speak of language, any expertise or lack thereof, is biased to English, specifically that of the American, slightly southern, version. Ultimately though, one does not need years of theoretical study to understand how important language is, and how easily it is morphed and contorted within the unique cultures that develop within the workplace. From Accounting to Human Resources to IT, and then everything in between, nuances within language begin to manifest as jargon.

Jargon is more powerful than we often give it credit. We can use it to talk down to subordinates, or keep a specific dividing line between one group and another. Sometimes, even in more benign instances, jargon just comes from a particular group possessing specific knowledge. Rather than explain things in universal terms, the group simply uses what is common within their circle, often presuming it's obvious or clear to everyone. Most of the time, it's not.

Unfortunately, the Help Desk is, in many cases, the biggest offender of jargon usage. Though not true for all Help or Service desk, it can become pervasive and create a barrier that is hard to break down. To make matters worse, the introduction of best practices like ITIL, can amplify this even further.

The point here isn't that we shouldn't use language that is specific to nature of our work. In fact, within the confines of our teams and our departments, it is a necessity. However, when we take that uniqueness, export it outside of our areas, and it then becomes uncommon, pretentious, or convoluted, there is an issue. We cease to communicate clearly, and alienate entire groups through jargon.

Take a look at our list below. How often do you find people within your organization confused, or at least put off by one, or all, of these terms? Remember, within our own circles, even within the discourse of IT Service Management, there may not be an issue. However, to the accountant or finance employee, these likely don't help provide clarification.

  1. "Service/Help/Support Desk"
  2. Incident/Problem
  3. Availability
  4. Build
  5. Business Continuity
  6. Error/Fault (Bug)
  7. Escalation
  8. User/Customer
  9. Knowledge Base
  10. Workaround

If you tend to find the language of ITIL confusing in and of itself, take a look at our guide with thirty-five ITIL terms defined. It's a great place to start, and works to take a bit of the edge off ITIL jargon.