In these series of articles where cover REAL PROBLEMS in the REAL IT WORLD, I wish to look at the evolution of the Service Desk and the Work Culture that surrounds it.
In an era where keeping a server with its associated services up and running 24/7 is a given, a true perception of IT begins at the Service Desk. Running one requires not only good technical but also people facing skills given the amount of interaction needed with the employees also known as (aka) the end-users to meet their high levels of expectation.
Imagine yourself to be an end-user in a reasonably sized office of a hundred employees and you have a problem that needs to be fixed NOW which is as usual :-) “What are your options?”
1.Would you prefer to Google a solution or refer to your company’s self-service portal?
2.Would you raise a ticket & wait patiently for an IT person to respond or for them to show up?
3.Would you pick up the phone and call the Service Desk? or
4.Would you just walk across the floor or down to the basement where tech support sits?
A recent conversation with a Senior Manager from one of the largest Banks in the world summarized the situations quite well. He said rather vehemently “When my system breaks, I don’t quite understand why I need to make a call that gets routed to the other end of the world, wait in the queue, be asked a bunch of questions ultimately for an IT guy sitting four floors below me to come and fix it?” He continued to say “In banking, the small banks get bought by the big ones and they in turn get bought by the large ones and so forth and we hope our IT services will get better but nothing like it seems to happen.”
It is quite true that life was much easier before your Organization grew and one “Tech Guy” supported circa 80 employees and was accessible via phone, e-mail, IM or by simply walking across the office floor. This approach though user friendly is not scalable. The expectation of having support on demand and being easily accessible cannot be sustained.
Imagine an office where multiple users walk up to tech support, all with urgent technical problems, requests flying in through e-mail, IM and the phone all leading to absolute chaos. Impatient and dissatisfied users complain and now, management wants to know why there are so many problems, what’s taking so long to fix them, how is IT prioritizing their work, demanding justification for their time spent at work and so forth.
This might seem like an extreme example for offices that are always staffed with 50-70 employees to 1 tech support executive but it gets closer to reality as the ratio gets towards 90:1 and thereafter. It also depends on a number of factors such as the stability of the infrastructure and applications, users familiarity with systems, culture of the organization and others.