Your IT help desk is better than you think

End users are giving their IT help desk better grades for efficiency than the IT departments are willing to give themselves, based on a study released by Info-Tech Research Group.

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End users are giving their IT help desk better grades for efficiency than the IT departments are willing to give themselves, based on a study released by Info-Tech Research Group.

Corporate users are giving IT departments an average score of eight out of 10, while IT managers are only giving themselves an average rating of six out of 10, said Noah Bass, research consultant at Info-Tech.

"Consistently, probably 99 out of 100 times, [IT managers] were actually giving themselves a score that was 20% lower than their end users were rating them," said Bass.

The statistics indicate that while IT help desks are generally satisfying end user requirements, the IT departments are acknowledging the need for improvement in various areas.

Some of the aspects that IT departments believe they need to improve upon are those that may not be visible to the end users, such as cost and the ability to provide reporting metrics on performance and efficiency, explained Bass.

Info-Tech surveyed IT managers and IT directors in 150 North American companies to determine the level of help desk maturity IT departments have. The study aims to provide best practices for IT departments on how to optimise and improve efficiency of help desks, said Bass. The survey revealed that despite help desks being a common component of the IT department in most companies, as much as 70% of the organisations are "relatively immature" in their level of help desk efficiency.

"We were surprised to see the percentage (of organisations) that are still relatively immature in terms of what they are doing with their people, their processes and their technology," said Bass.

Info-Tech categorised help desk maturity levels into five stages: chaos, reactive, controlled, proactive and optimised. The first three are the more basic levels and are generally considered less mature, explained Bass.

Although only three percent of the companies surveyed fall under the chaos level of maturity, 42% belong to the reactive level. In the reactive level, help desk staff and tools are identified and some form of process is defined for tracking and escalating incidents, according to the Info-Tech report.

In controlled level, to which 26% of the Info-Tech respondents belong, the processes are clearly defined and tools are introduced for basic self-service and knowledge management, the report indicated.

A more mature help desk, however, would be proactive in terms of not only addressing and escalating issues, but the ability to identify and prevent recurring issues as well as perform extensive reporting to better understand issues and improve service delivery, said Bass. Having software in place that tracks the progress of a particular help desk ticket – ideally something better than Excel – enables help desk to have some form of process in place for resolving issues, Bass said.

An even better approach would be adding tools that enable help desk to quantify and measure its performance, he added.

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