IT, and more specifically the Help / Service Desk, has been around for a long time. However, while many still feel as though it is in the stages of infancy, it might more accurately be closer to death (obsolescence in business speak). In fact, a recent article over at the ITSM Portal speaks to this very argument. Essentially, they put forth the thought that that the Help Desk model, existing for several decades now, is obsolete. Even the more modern, remodeled offspring (Service Desk) doesn't escape unscathed, as it's viewed as simply a Help Desk with a fresh coat of paint. When you think about it though, are they wrong?
We've written a number of articles speaking to the often maligned desk of help that many IT departments pour an endless amount of resources into. While everyone seems to be trying to rename it, kill it, or some combination of the two, others believe it shouldn't even exist. In contrast, we like to believe that this is merely the signs of a business resource evolving and maturing into something that will eventually prove to be a more accepted and valued asset within an organization.
Now, while there are surely places where the Help/Service Desk is already a critical ingredient to ensuring productivity and service availability, we know this is less often the scenario. In many instances, the result of years of disjointed attempts at establishing processes has produced an area that hasn't really progressed to meet new demands, but rather just coped with the changes.
Ultimately, coping isn't bad a bad thing. In many ways, the ability to cope, speaks to the tremendous flexibility that IT has when solving problems for the business. Unfortunately, it is more a mechanism for bridging periods of change, and isn't so much the right process for moving forward. Rather the path to success for taking an aging Help Desk and turning it into a valued resource is to understand your customers, embrace regular discourse, and implement smart technology (in a smart way). In more common terms, the help / service desk needs to evolve. Of course, we have our thoughts on how exactly this needs to happen, and we've included what we like to call "The Three Es to Evolving Your Help Desk."
Engage Your Customers - Whether it's a BYOD program, improved acceptance of social media, or simply understanding how your current Help Desk is perceived, you need to engage your customers (users). Keep in mind though, this isn't something that happens in one fell swoop. Regular attention to understand the ever-changing and dynamic needs of your customers is the only way to fight a fate of being pronounced obsolete.
Embrace a Best Practices Approach - We like ITIL, and we talk about it a lot. We could see how it might seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, there are a number of options out there, not to mention many compliance standards that have recommendations and governance over an approach to the Help / Service Desk. Besides even if you choose to follow the recommendations of ITIL , it can be done incrementally. The important thing to remember is that at the core of any improvement is conducting regular research and routinely developing and updating processes.
Evaluate Your Technology - As The ITSM Portal pointed out, the Help Desk has been around since the mainframe. While it's not likely anyone is using the same software or process (pen, paper, and continuous reports) from that period, there are some organizations that are using bloated and outdated options for their ITSM system. The reduction in associated costs, infrastructure requirements, and ITIL alignment has made a modern ITSM solution an attainable goal for an IT organization of any size. A great example is ChangeGear.