People Overview Centralized and decentralized help desks. Help desk structure. Outsourcing. Help desk careers. Certification. Information technology career paths. Centralized and Decentralized Help Desks A centralized help desk is a single physical location within an organization that provides support to all users. A decentralized help desk consists of multiple support sites located throughout an organization. Centralized and Decentralized Help Desks Advantages and Disadvantages of Centralized and Decentralized Help Desks Help Desk Structure Pool Dispatch Tiered Specialized Method Pool The pool structure is the simplest help desk structure. In a pool structure, all support staff members support the same technology, serve the same customers, and perform the same jobs. Pool Staff members are required to have knowledge of a broad range of products and services. However, the staff members may not have the in-depth knowledge required to solve more complex problems. Dispatch In a dispatch structure, the first-line personnel act as dispatchers, referring the question to the appropriate group. The primary advantage of a dispatch structure is that there is a very small or no phone queue. Dispatch First-level personnel require very little training. The personnel may, however, not get the opportunity to resolve problems, and will also have little opportunity to learn. Tiered In a tiered structure, the help desk is divided into several groups, commonly referred to as levels. Each level provides a different degree of support. Tiered First-level specialists are the first points of contact with users and usually take ownership of a problem. Ownership refers to taking responsibility for a problem and seeing it through until it is resolved. Tiered Most companies establish a predetermined time period for the first level specialists to resolve an issue. If a problem is not resolved within that time frame, then the call is escalated to the next level. Members of the second-level support team are specialists and they are expected to solve complex problems in their areas of expertise. Tiered Tiered structures produce high customer satisfaction when they work as intended. There is also employee satisfaction as they have the opportunity to learn and develop additional skills, while also getting the satisfaction of solving user problems. Tiered In a tiered structure, the user may wait in a queue, thus resulting in a significantly longer response time. Response time is the amount of time that passes until a call is answered. Time to resolution is the amount of time that passes until a problem is resolved. Specialized Product model: In a product model, the help desk is divided into a number of groups, each responsible for supporting a specific product group. Within each product group, the support staff may also be broken down into levels. Product-based support provides help desk personnel with the opportunity to become experts in a particular area. Specialized Business model: This model represents another way of organizing a help desk into groups based on the business units they support. Dividing the support staff into groups based on business units allows them to gain a better understanding of a user’s needs. One disadvantage of this model is that support staff is exposed to a limited range of technology. Method In a method structure, help desks are organized by the manner in which support is provided. The method structure assigns staff based on specific skills. This structure works best when requests are evenly distributed across several inquiry methods. Outsourcing Outsourcing is the process of using an external company to provide support services for internal employees. It is preferred due to the flexibility offered by contract work. Outsourcing The growth of outsourcing has resulted in an increase in the number and type of jobs available to support specialists. Individuals working on contract sign an agreement to perform a specific job for a certain amount of time. Outsourcing Reasons for outsourcing: Lack of resources. Difference in time zones and language. Core competence. Outsourcing Advantages: Reduced support costs. Access to latest tools and technology. Flexible staff size. Highly qualified support staff. Outsourcing Disadvantages: Lack of familiarity with how the business operates. Lack of control over the quality of technical support and customer service. Outsourcing Technical skills and business skills: Help desk personnel are required to have technical skills to support the technologies used in the business. They are also required to possess communication or interpersonal skills. Help desk personnel are also required to learn about the industry they support. Help Desk Careers Career stages: Accelerated learning - When individuals first join the help desk, they learn at an accelerated pace. Competence – A help desk analyst resolves most of the day- to-day problems, and continues to learn more about technology and the different areas of the business. Re-evaluation - The analyst considers whether the job is still satisfying and whether to pursue another position. Help Desk Careers Position requirements: The types of positions available to individuals beginning careers as help desk analysts are varied. The required skills and abilities also vary from company to company. Certification Certification is the process of measuring and evaluating an individual’s knowledge and skills in a particular area. The two primary types of certification are position certification and product certification. Certification Position certification suggests than an individual has the skills and abilities to perform the duties associated with a specific position. Product certification represents a person’s competencies in a particular product area. Information Technology Career Paths Help desk management - They perform tasks such as monitoring service levels, planning staff schedules, measuring help desk performance and customer satisfaction, and determining the appropriate use of technology. Quality assurance (QA) - The QA department is responsible for ensuring that a company’s technology products are free of errors before they are released and marketed. Information Technology Career Paths Software engineering - This group designs, develops, and revises the software used by the company and/or its external customers. Project management - Projects involving team effort, especially leadership roles is particularly valuable when trying to move into a project management position within an IT organization. Information Technology Career Paths Web production and development - Web developers and designers are responsible for creating, maintaining, and revising a Web site. Information Technology Career Paths A network engineering group is responsible for: Building and maintaining technology. Implementing local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). Ensuring that all aspects of the network function optimally. Information Technology Career Paths A network engineering group is responsible for (continued): Installing and upgrading computers, installing software, backing up data, setting up e-mail accounts, and resetting passwords. Responding to emergencies such as computer viruses or breaches of security. Information Technology Career Paths A database administration group is responsible for: Developing, implementing, updating, testing, and repairing a company’s server database. Maintaining the data stored on the database. Monitoring performance, backing up data, and ensuring the security of the information stored in the database program. Information Technology Career Paths Guidelines for career advancements: Seize opportunities for learning. Obtain a certification. Develop a network of people throughout the company. Summary Help desk locations can be centralized or decentralized. The primary types of help desk structures are pool, dispatch, tiered, specialized, and method. Outsourcing is the process of using an external company to provide support services for internal employees. Summary The three stages of a help desk career are accelerated learning, competence, and re- evaluation. Certification is the process of measuring and evaluating an individual’s knowledge and skills in a particular area.
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