The beginner's guide to IT help desk software
Last updated on: July 06, 2018
The beginner's guide to IT help desk software is a comprehensive, one-stop resource for answers to some of the most common questions related to IT help desks. This IT service management (ITSM) evaluation guide attempts to build a complete understanding of IT help desks and their implementation, best practices, metrics, and other key aspects. It can help IT teams establish, maintain, and optimize a best practice IT help desk. This beginner's guide is divided into 4 chapters and chapter 1 talks about the basics of IT help desk software and their application in different industries.
IT help desks are at the front-end of delivering the variety of IT services provided by the IT department in an organization. It typically serves as the single point of contact (SPOC) for any requirement, issue or assistance that the employees (end users) need in availing technology services. In mature organizations, the IT help desk guarantees timely assistance and prompt resolution of issues by defining and publishing their assured service levels. Delivering such high levels of service and end user experience is critical for any organization to meet their business goals and increase their leverage in the market.
To facilitate the IT help desk goals of the organization, IT teams typically deploy IT help desk software which can help manage the IT ticket lifecycle, automate routine tasks, and optimize their processes and workflows, directly resulting in increased productivity and reduced costs, and yet provide better service levels and customer experience.
Manage the life cycle of any issues or requests for service raised by end users.
Manage the life cycle of a problem or change ticket from its creation to closure.
Allow users to resolve routine problems on their own, reducing the help desk staff's workload.
Manage the quality and timeliness of services provided to end users.
Manage an organization's hardware and software assets.
Some IT help desk ticketing software may also include other modules for project management, contract and purchase management, etc.
Help desks can be classified into different types based on deployment method, size of target audience, and source code availability, as listed below:
Up until the introduction of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 3 in 2007, the two terms—help desk and service desk—were mostly used interchangeably. Since then, this practice has changed within the ITSM industry, but to the average end user the difference still remains blurry. Based on the ITIL v3 description of the two terms, there are a few key differences between help desks and service desks:
|Help desk software||Service desk software|
|Help desks are user-centric||Service desks are business-centric|
|Help desks are point solutions||Service desks are integrated|
|Help desks are reactive in nature||Service desks are more proactive|
|Help desks are for end users||Service desks are for both technicians and end users|
|Help desks are a subset of service desks|
The core function of a help desk is to handle incidents and service requests. Help desks aim to provide a quick fix to any issues users face by handling a request through its life cycle and returning the service to its normal state as soon as possible. So the focus of a help desk is largely limited to end users.
On the other hand, a service desk is more comprehensive in nature. Service desks align with organizations' business goals and manage information delivery by using processes that follow ITIL best practices. In short, service desks are built to focus on best practice processes and business goals.
An IT help desk is a stand-alone solution that performs tasks related to resolving help desk tickets. Help desks most often offer basic incident and problem management capabilities with SLAs and self-service portals.
An IT service desk, however, is a more elaborate system with complete IT management capabilities. Service desks integrate with other IT and non-IT management applications and are therefore capable of providing advanced services like change management, asset management, network monitoring, CMDBs, etc.
An IT help desk is usually engaged in providing support to end users. This firefighting setup of help desks makes them predominantly reactive to the issues that come up in day-to-day IT operations.
An IT service desk is more proactive since it ensures that IT operations are running as expected and will continue to run in the future. Although service desks can be reactive, their major function still remains ensuring that IT services are always up and supporting the business as needed.
An IT help desk is usually used by end users to raise tickets and receive support. Help desks also usually offer services like knowledge bases and self-service portals which are oriented towards end users.
A service desk, however, offers capabilities like change and asset management which are complex, technician-facing services.
A help desk can exist as a stand-alone service that provides support to end users. However, a service desk always incorporates a help desk as a part of its wider capabilities. Service desks offer more complex services in addition to basic incident and problem management, which effectively makes help desks a part, or subset, of service desks.
As a direct consequence of this, many organizations today use a help desk without a service desk, but not the other way around.
Small businesses usually operate with small IT shops and only a handful of technicians. The small staff size makes it a challenge to handle all the incoming requests on time. Carrying out changes or maintaining assets are also difficult to do manually. Therefore, small businesses stand to gain many benefits from implementing IT ticketing system software, such as:
In the healthcare industry, time is critical. A hospital's IT help desk must be able to offer quick service when needed. Hospitals usually use a lot of equipment that is critical to patient's lives. This makes it important for help desks to manage equipment efficiently and without any errors. Therefore, IT service desk tools can help healthcare organizations in the following ways:
IT support professionals are naturally the best fit for IT service desk solutions. In the absence of a solution, IT teams usually work with spreadsheets and email, which is a slow, inefficient, and error-prone approach. Out of the numerous benefits that IT help desk solutions offer IT support teams, a few key benefits are listed below:
Educational institutions usually deploy workstations for teaching staff, administrative staff, and students, making their user base fairly large. In many cases, schools rely on IT for computers, projectors, and software applications. So, to provide reliable IT service to a large user base, educational institutes can use IT help desk software to:
The next chapter will throw light on the benefits of IT help desk software, and their necessity in an organisation. It will also feature a four-step evaluation process to help IT teams identify the best-fit IT help desk software.
An exclusive package of a feature checklist and a request for proposal (RFP) template
Comprehensive list of must-have features that you can use as a benchmark
A guide to a great RFP that helps you get all the information you need about a vendor
ManageEngine's flagship product, ServiceDesk Plus, is an ITIL-ready service desk software used by ITSM professionals worldwide. With industry-certified best practice ITSM functionality, easy-to-use capability, and native mobile apps, ServiceDesk Plus leverages the latest technology to help IT support teams deliver world-class service to end users with reduced costs and complexity. Available in both cloud and on-premises versions, the software is available in three editions, and 29 different languages. Over 100,000 organizations across 185 countries trust ServiceDesk Plus to optimize their IT service desk performance and be future-ready in their IT service management operations. For more information on ServiceDesk Plus, please visit manageengine.com/products/service-desk.