Insights from Orion Group

Managed IT Help Desk: Right for Your Business Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part series exploring the value (and even necessity) of a professionally managed Help Desk. The author has over 30 years working as an IT leader with some of the best run companies in the world. He has worked both sides of the fence – as a company IT employee and for outsource providers. He’s seen successful engagements and failures. This experience informs this series.

My intent in writing this series of blog articles is to review the value of a professionally managed IT Help Desk for a small business – the role it plays in business success. In this month’s installment, Part 2, I’ll review the ‘ticket’ creation, prioritization, actions, tracking, and escalation process.

Professionally managed help desks use an issue tracking database to collect information on customer requests. This database exists as an application specifically designed to support world class customer response. The best products in this class have a web interface. That interface can allow the customer to not only enter their requests, but also allows the customer to track the process and status of that request. A ‘ticket’ is a recorded entry, made either by the customer or by the call desk technician (in the event of a customer phone call) that logs the customer issue, customer name and location, time and date stamps it, allows for a priority to be set, and is then saved so other relevant individuals can edit and review the record. Each customer issue is assigned unique number by the system. This unique number with accompanying data is called a ‘ticket’.

Sometimes, an issue can be resolved on the first call by the call desk technician. They have expertise to handle most calls. Using remote control tools, they can take remote control of the customer device, review and fix the issue immediately. A ticket is still created as a record of the incident and used for ad hoc analysis and reporting at a later date. Sometimes, however, an issue is best addressed through dispatch.

Once a ticket is created, a field technician is assigned responsibility and that field technician coordinates issue resolution directly with the customer. Some issues are difficult to solve. When this occurs, the initiating technician may require addition help for more senior members of the technical staff. Each step of the process of resolution is recorded as an added record associated with the unique ticket number. This ensures that if questions arise down the line regarding quality and speed of service, managed services can readily create a timeline of events to evaluate the response.

The speed of the response is dependent on the priority level of each ticket. Highest priority requests, like ‘network down’, or ‘significant security breach occurring’, get the highest priority set and warrant immediate dispatch and action. There are usually four priority levels – 1, 2, 3 and operations. Priority 1 warrants the most immediate actions and is often spelled out in the contract between the customer and managed service provider. Priority 2 and 3 warrant reasonable response based on non-critical but important customer requests for service. Operational tickets are used as place holders to ensure basic operational tasks are completed, tasks like patch updates, bandwidth checks and application upgrades.
Managed services organizations, like Orion Group, monitor their ticket tracking system 24 x 7. Even during non-standard business hours, the ticket tracking application can be setup to page any number of on-call technicians if a priority 1 call or ticket is created.

Data collected in a help desk ticket tracking system helps both the customer and the managed services provider. First, recording the customer issue ensures the issue won’t get lost in a pile of other activities. Processes in place to review open tickets each day ensures that the customer issue is fore front in the service providers list of actions. Second, analysis of time it takes to resolve and close a ticket gives the managed services provider feedback on their performance. You can’t improve what you don’t measure! Finally, by tracking issues and looking for patterns, the customer, working with the managed services provider can take steps to eliminate failure points and improve productive uptime.

The difference between a professionally managed help desk and a couple of IT guys working in a back office can be dramatic, especially for customers who need to professionally manage their business. Next month, I’ll dig a little deeper into the value created by creating tickets!

Contact Orion Group today to get the professionally managed help desk you’ll need to make your small business succeed.

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