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Is your IT help desk helpless?

april 20, 2016

IT shared services and IT help desk in large multi-nationals.

When organizations create IT shared services and IT support help desks, on the surface, they appear cost effective. These support organizations are focused on resolving issues on a transactional basis, which works well for low complexity/repetitive issues. Opening a ticket on an IT help desk because you require a new system account created, or to report a LAN outage would be good ‘transactional’ examples. In my experience, two things are lost when IT teams move to a ‘shared service’ / help desk model (as opposed to being embedded with business units):

  • Skin in the game - When your IT team members are part of your business unit, they are organizationally (and often personally) connected with team members. This inherently drives them to try to achieve a higher level of “solution responsiveness” (as opposed to transactional ticket-based issue resolution);
  • In-depth business and functional knowledge to solve complex/ambiguous problems, and to respond to service requests with comprehensive solution proposals.

Several years ago, I spent 2 years at a large multi-national managing a team of IT experts within a business unit solving their day-to-day IT problems on all their platforms and devices: desktops, mobile devices, LAN availability and network traffic management, VPN connectivity, as well several in-house R&D labs  with private networks  and scientific lab equipment in use. Ironically, this multi-national had a massive worldwide IT support organization, with teams of “Help Desk” staff based in Asia, North America and Europe.

However, the service the teams could provide was so diluted and disconnected from the business unit’s real IT issues (which were complex and often ambiguous), that business unit leaders needed to hire my team to be embedded and co-located within their organization who could truly help users with ambiguous problems.

Users (employees) need to be able to raise a red flag that they are blocked, and tap into a savvy and responsive team that gets them unblocked, without putting the onus on the user to be able to investigate and describe their problem to a help desk employee over a 1-800 number.

Leaders who are counting the cost savings from their  IT help desk and Shared Service models, would do well to ask if their ticket resolution and responsiveness metrics are truly unblocking employees in a timely manner, or if employees have instead avoiding using the help desks at all and instead figured  out alternatives  means  to getting themselves "unblocked".

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