Key classes of requirement for a successful IT support and help desk solution
These notes follow some discussions we held during our recent Las Vegas hosted Issue Tracker training sessions about the requirements for the ideal help desk. Three areas had surfaced –
- Reporting – key support metrics such as incident resolution times, analyst performance, SLA conformance, etc. These capabilities were seen as aimed primarily at management oversight of the support function, and not of immediate relevance to the individual support team member.
- The impact that the help desk software has on the motivation of the analysts. It has to be recognized that analysts spend a lot of time working in the help desk software. How can the help desk solution you chose – or are choosing – contribute to creating an environment in which their motivation – and hence performance – can flourish?
- The direct impact that the help desk software has on analyst performance. Issues of ergonomics, speed, functionality to match the demands of the task.
Earlier this week we looked at the second category, at how help desk software can contribute to motivating the IT support team who are required to use it, day in day out.
IT help desk software – its impact on analyst performance
Now let’s continue with looking at the third category, with some key examples of the characteristics and functionality which will directly impact your team’s performance. (I make no claim for Vector being unique in recognizing the importance of these factors, but recommend you look for them in whatever solution you are thinking of implementing.)
- Convenient and fast UI to encourage comprehensive data entry and recording of incident progress.
As an example – look for dynamic, context sensitive control of making fields required or optional; this can eliminate the demands for irrelevant data entry which can occur with fixed forms.
- UI customizable to suit the way the organization works.
Processes, field names, organization structure – all should fit with the environment the analyst is working in.
- Rapid access to knowledge base for similar problems, canned responses and templates for further information requests.
Many incidents coming in to an analyst will be clones of previous incidents with other users. Searching the knowledge base may reveal a well-thought out response and guidance to the user which can be re-used. If further information is needed to help diagnose the incident, a pre-formatted questionnaire can both look very professional and save the analyst time.
- Intelligent handling of issue stalled times so that analysts are not penalized for delays outside their control.
While this is important for analyst performance to be recorded fairly, the clock should also start ticking again automatically on a stalled incident if an email is received concerning that incident!
- Team working facilities.
Only available in higher end help desk solutions, team working can help optimize analyst performance by routing incidents to groups specializing in particular applications – including unique in-house software.
- Online access to configuration information from inside the issue tracking interface.
While it would not be disastrous for an analyst to have to use a separate console or Web session to collect the latest configuration information for the PC he/she is supporting, having the data available within the incident tracking console will encourage its use. Most advanced help desk software solutions can execute SQL queries into an openly accessible asset database such as Vector’s.
- One-click access to remote control session
The argument is the same as for access to configuration data. Ease of use promotes use. Being able to connect to the supported user’s PC with a single click in the incident tracking console may shorten resolution times for many incidents.
I am sure you have catalogued many other elements in pursuit of the ideal help desk software for your team and we would always like to hear from you. Our priorities in development should track your evolving needs as closely as humanly possible. And then some more.