The Human Face of IT

Last time I talked about the importance of attending to the needs of your users. Let's see how to do it properly.


In Poland, folk wisdom says that "if you have six cooks, then you have no food". For us, this means that if you assign every person in IT to have a direct interaction with your users, you will have little success. Henry Ford got it right with car manufacturing, you can get it right with IT service provision. You need to specialize. Start by creating the first line of support, or the Service Desk. That will provide the necessary focus on end users, but it will also help to free up some time of the remaining part of the IT organization.

The First Line

Assign part of your team to the task of assisting end users. From now on their primary, if not only, responsibility is to make sure the needs of the users are satisfied. They are not there to defend the IT castle against an army of barbarians (pardon the comparison). They are there to open the gates and show the way to the granary. They stand up, and become the IT face to the rest of the company.

Now your first line takes calls from the users and takes care of the ones storming into the IT basement with their urgent matters. Their goal is to find out what is wrong, note it down and put up their best smile, ensuring it is all going to be taken care of.

What to do, what to do?

Your Service Desk Agent (cool name) can attempt one of the the universal IT solutions: restart application, restart PC, check if it is plugged in. That is a begginning of a knowledge base. Your first line people need to apply a lot of other solutions in order to deal with majority of user issues. They will rely on a knowledge base, even if it is initially in their heads or notebooks. Make sure that regardless of its location, it is updated frequently.

If nothing works, the case needs to be assigned to another team in IT. The Service Desk people need to know those teams and their areas of expertise. Make sure they are updated about any organizational or responsibility changes. This will help them reach the right people in a short time.

The Service Desk can be also called Helpdesk, Contact Center, Service Center or other cool names. It is one of the more basic concepts in providing well-strutctured IT services, but it can be surprisingly difficult to implement effectively. Let me know how it worked for you. What difficulties have you encountered?


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