Who learns the most in customer training sessions?

Who’s training who?

After the fun and excitement of last week’s three-day HelpDesk and Issue Tracker training course in Las Vegas, it’s time to review the project and begin already to plan for the next. There is always scope to improve in the way the knowledge is delivered, practised and tested. Logistics of accommodation and catering matter too. But all this is well worth the effort, because as well as helping our customers increase the benefits won from owning or renting our technology, we get to understand their environments better, and learn more about the demands of their business processes and priorities. Having key developers present to rub shoulders with customers is also a great benefit for all concerned.

Issue Tracking demands

Delivering the training on HelpDesk and Issue Tracker, and listening to customers talking about how their organization works, underlines something special about good products in this area. I’m referring to how fundamental it is for a help desk installation – or any business issue tracker – to be customizable to reflect and support the way the customer works. This now goes way beyond just being able to rename a few fields in a display and set some parameters in a pre-defined workflow scheme. Today, customers need the flexibility to create complex issue escalation workflows, with both time- and condition-triggered escalations, driven by multiple customizable service level definitions. Interactions and notifications both within the support team and with the supported public must be fully customizable and automated wherever possible.

Help Desk and Issue Tracking – the scope for process innovation

There is also a contrast here with the more robotic, task-oriented nature of the IT Asset Management solution which is often (and should be!) closely linked to the help desk. The flexibility required here is more prosaic – defining inventory scanning intervals, defining black and white software report lists, targetting and scheduling software distributions, etc.

Whereas IT Asset Management provides foundation data and delivers on key operational needs such as software license optimization at minimum cost, Help Desk and Issue Tracking solutions have the potential to enable organizations to innovate in their processes. In a sales situation it is tempting to simply take the customer’s definition of need and deliver the solution, but we are finding increasingly that we can invite potential customers to extend their horizons. What starts as a project within the confines of the IT support team can easily become the cornerstone of improvements in change management, lifecycle management and all the areas generally associated with best practice framworks such as ITIL and ISO19770.