Help Desk Heroics: How a Single Point of Contact Saves the Day for ITSM

For those outside the know, it's difficult to not see the help desk as just a digital funnel siphoning customer complaints, questions and other sorts of inquiries directly to a service provider's IT team. A single point of contact may seem like a simple tool - and to its credit, a help desk really is - but the simplicity of its form belies its abilities to effectively improve ITSM, particularly change management.

But the fun doesn't stop there, as service desk solutions support IT as a whole and push organizations to make proactive decisions about ITSM.

Here's 3 things to consider if you want your help desk to save your organization's day:

1. Concentrate Lines of Communication

Help desks bridge clients with their service providers - that much we know. Employees working for said service provider can also use help desks, and therein lies one major draw. Not only do help desks act as multifunctional tools for anyone and everyone interacting with the related application, but they channel all necessary information right to the people who enact change.

Think about it: A customer wants to report a bug found in software she recently purchased. If she logs her ticket through a service desk portal, IT will follow through with the request, barring judgment from the change advisory board. Alternatively, she may stumble upon a second point of contact - perhaps an employee email address - and use that instead of the help desk. The chances of her ticket reaching IT has now slimmed, however drastically. Who knows if her perfectly legitimate bug report will find its way to IT?

The presence of a service desk as part of the change management process not only empowers customers, but employees as well. Workers now have a designated flagpole up which to run requests they receive from clients, or ones they concoct themselves. By their nature, service desks act as change request consolidators, ensuring more tickets go through the proper channels.

2. Boost Transparency for Greater IT Allocational Awareness
Branching off the aforementioned scenario, let's look at the same incident from a higher perspective.

If an organization possess a half dozen decentralized points of contact, all leading to different decision-makers with varying degrees of sway over the change management process, it limits how the Power That Be resource ITSM, maybe even the whole IT department. A single point of contact feeding requests through a streamlined system allows for better efficiency tracking, so executives understand where allocation makes a difference and where it doesn't. As IT and DevOps consumes traditional business models, companies will want hard evidence about how their IT is evolving and where a budgetary bump can nurture its growth.

According to Gartner, global IT budgets dropped 3.5 percent between 2014 and 2015 - not a significant decrease, but one that signals how reluctant executives may be to simply throw money at IT to make a problem go away. Help desks aid in demonstrating whether the process works as it was designed to, as well as highlighting structural deficiencies in need of abutment. That way, everyone is on the same page as to where ITSM shines and where it could stand a little polishing.

3. Automate to Make ITSM Smoother

DevOps culture focuses on faster deployment and executing effective configuration changes that benefits users and service providers alike. Automation does much to enhance the swiftness and magnitude of change and release management after CABs approve requests, as well as in other places down the chain.

Service desks pull automation to the beginning of the entire ITSM cycle. Before DevOps and change managers get the opportunity to respond to a request, help desk automation deflects common incidents away with automated responses. The decision to act or pass on a change request is - and perhaps always will be - a manual step, requiring a few of the biggest brains an IT department has under its employ. By default, manually assessing the ramifications of change will also be time-intensive, comparatively so even as IT teams introduce more automation into ITSM. In that respect, reducing the number of tickets CABs or change managers receive trims back time to release and could potentially slim back work-in-progress changes. Again, as IT and DevOps march on into the future, businesses can tailor these automated responses to address concerns of the time, making help desk solutions just as malleable as service providers should be to keep up with their customers.

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