The 3 Essential Rules of Help Desk Support

June 17, 2016

If there’s one thing everyone in IT can agree upon, it’s that change is constant. And it doesn’t matter if you are supporting an organization with one employee or one with thousands, that change has a huge impact on productivity and performance.

In years past, client software was predictable and it was streamlined into how you ran your IT team. Client software:

  • Upgraded at annual or biannual clips.
  • Was generally fully tested and bug-free.
  • Features were only added at upgrade points.
  • Distribution was done through physical media.

Just looking at that list, it seems so simple. Products had to be created and published on diskettes or CDs and shipped to you. There were no opportunities to fix bugs or to experiment with features. It had to be locked down and good-to-go for the life of the product.

If you needed to learn about a product, you had manuals and books. They had the same lifecycle as the software they supported, and everything worked for decades using that model.

But in the era we are in today, this just doesn’t exist anymore. Now we have a situation where:

  • Upgrades can happen at any time.
  • Critical testing is performed, but known bugs exist.
  • New features can be added at any time.
  • Distribution is through app stores or subscription plans.

Applying the same help desk support and administration rules that worked when Windows 3.1 and OS X 10.2 were around aren’t going to work anymore. Instead, the three essential rules for helpdesk support in today’s world are:

1. Anticipate updates, hotfixes, service packs and upgrades

Know that updates can happen at any time. Those updates can fix bugs, address security vulnerabilities or add new features. Be ready for them beforehand by monitoring knowledge bases and release updates as they come out from the varying operating systems.

For those that don’t have any warning, have a process you can put into action for escalating critical updates and fixes.

2. Centralize your support documentation

Put all of your support information in one place, and if there is a physical help desk encounter that identified a new problem or solution, record it for others to take advantage of.

3. Govern the sharing of support information

Slack and other messaging apps make it easy for bad information to spread quickly. Add governance on how information is spread and link back to centralized resources to reduce the spread of false information. Making people accountable for the information they share through messaging and educating them on where they can best look for information can save you support costs down the road.

If you are able to establish these three key components in your support plan, you will be better prepared to help your company and keep your employees productive.

*Image by Death to the Stock Photo

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