Building and Managing an Internal Helpdesk Unit
Building and managing an internal helpdesk unit is not as daunting a task as it sounds. Where there are employees who regularly use computers, software, printers and networks, there is bound to be an IT guy, nearby, on stand by. Software can have glitches, hardware can bite the dust, printers can run out of ink, faxes can jam, computers can "mysteriously" go offline, viruses can gallop into the network, and so on. There are a variety of issues and challenges in every company, and to resolve technical matters, companies utilize an internal helpdesk unit. This article will give you tips on how to build and manage an internal helpdesk unit for a small to medium-sized company.
The actual features you'll need for an internal helpdesk unit depends on the number of employees and size of the company. A small office with 50 or fewer employees may have one person who handles all technical issues from procurement of computers to helping staff with email issues. Larger companies, on the other hand, need a more efficient way to handle requests, including prioritizing and often times automating part of the process. However, it doesn't matter what size your company is, if your helpdesk is built and managed in a way that users can provide quality service, your company will be more efficient.
Determine Your Needs
First, the employees of the helpdesk department should determine the following: 1) what support will be offered, 2) how will service requests be received? and 3) Will the department purchase helpdesk software and host it on the network server, develop a helpdesk page on the company intranet where employees can submit a ticket, or take calls directly by phone?
For starters, you want to develop a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page with the most common issues and easy to read instructions on how to resolve the issue. This will act as an information library for employees, so the more self reliant ones can find and resolve their own issues. The FAQs page should be more than an unorganized random list of questions and answers. A great FAQs page is organized like a book with main and subtopics. The easier you make it for an employee to find their topic, the easier it will for them to resolve it! Gives users a list of the most common helpdesk requests, and a list of resolutions they should try before submitting a ticket.
The Do-it-Yourself Helpdesk
For those issues that can easily be resolved by anyone (cough, cough, with a little guidance) it is a good idea to create a library of "how-to" reports. Such technical information can assist employees with tasks such as installing updates, unjamming a printer, creating new files in email, filtering spam, etc. You can also provide online copies of user manuals for software programs, printers, scanners, Blackberry's etc. You can also create "top 10" lists (i.e. top 10 ways to speed up your computer.) You may also want to offer classes for employees, or offline courses online.
Avoid wasting time on taking calls from employees who want to know the status of their service request, or if the departments received it, by listing information about the helpdesk department on the intranet. Indicate the instructions for submitting a service request, and how long it normally takes the department to respond. Clearly indicate what constitutes a dire emergency and post a contact number for such instances.
Be clear about the proper procedure for contacting the helpdesk. Even though you may ask that employees submit requests through email only, it is still a good idea to list the names of the helpdesk employees, along with their email address and phone number.
Does the helpdesk accept phone calls, or must all requests be submitted by email or the intranet? If calls are handled, who will answer the phone with your are helping an employee? Will you have voicemail?
What are your Limits?
Who will handle issues that can't be resolved? Define your capabilities and know when to find additional help. Have your own support system that you can turn to for assistance.
When an employee has a special request or need, it is common to develop a procedure document. Such requests can include a request for additional or new hardware or software, extended access to a network, or a request from an employee with a desktop computer to borrow a company laptop for working off-site.
It is also a good idea to have an intranet page, or send an email that indicates times the network will be down, updated, or known issues that are currently being worked on. Another idea is to create email reminders, or online schedules for maintenance each employee should perform (i.e. regularly filter or delete email messages to clear up space on computer, install updates, etc.)