Susan Grajek from Yale is kicking off the morning by presenting the results of a survey of CSG members about the help desk.
The survey results are on the web at:
Topics covered included the breadth of support, relationships with other support groups (both within and outside of central IT), service management, tools and best practices, and metrics. Did not ask about economics or costs of help desk operations.
Who is supported? All support faculty and staff, almost all support grad, undergrad, and postdoc students, far fewer support alumni, visitors, and clinicians. Students make up the preponderance of people supported internally.
Average help desk is open 14 hours/day on weekdays. Four are open 24 hours a day. A third are primarily staffed by students, which make up 64% of the workforce of those help desks. The help desks are open 7 hours/day on average on weekends. Half are closed on weekends. Students make up the entire weekend workforce.
Tools and best practices – All use some sort of ticketing or incident tracking system. Almost all use an automatic call distribution system. Most use some sort of knowledgebase or wiki. Two thirds use some sort of phone tree – seem to go one level deep, clients rebel at two levels deep and more than five choices. People are using data center and monitoring tools.
Almost a third are using remote desktop connections to provide in-depth support. Calls for a deeper knowledge level on the part of technicians answering calls.
Joel asks whether use of remote desktop for support raises security concerns. Greg reports that it does raise concerns, but they use it a lot.
Remedy is the most popular ticketing software.
Breadth of support – asked about 21 topics of support, could choose from 7 levels for each.
Email, network, web browsers, OS, accounts, and security prevention are the most heavily supported areas. High-performance computing, media, and library apps are the least deeply supported areas.
Some schools are providing help desk support for functional areas – the most common being use of course management tools, then financials, HR, and procurement.
Help desks are making handoffs to lots of other groups. Everyone are handing off to information security staff, and almost all to application and web developers and systems staff.
Almost half pass tickets to functional help desks like HR, Procurement, Library, health system, and classroom support.
two thirds provide access to tools for other IT support providers (knowledgebase, ticketing, systems status) and offer direct contact for these folks to back-room technologists.
Service management –
59% have different SLAs for different customer groups.
It’s noted in the back-channel notes that “we are concerned with improving routing of calls to the help desk which cannot be satisfied by front-line support; especially where people are essentially asking for special/new services — and what they really need is some really good consulting.” I think that’s a real issue – right now we tend to lose those requests for help.
Three quarters of schools have not evaluated outsourcing of help desk functions.
Pain points – responses include relationship with the ‘back-end’ of IT, the increasing complexity of support, upgrading tools, and staffing issues.