Stop thinking you are better than you are

Much of the talk in the IT services market in recent months has centred on what a vital role IT support has in the success of a business.

IT directors are being urged to re-evaluate the crucial nature of support in helping the business trade quickly, efficiently and effectively, and support managers are told to shout from the roof tops how important they are.

Has anyone stopped long enough to think how ridiculous this objective is? It is not ridiculous in the practical sense, because it is absolutely correct that IT support and its impact – positive or negative -should be disseminated and understood at all levels of the business. The absurdity in this situation is we have the need to talk about it in the first place. Why should we have to justify the importance of IT within a business – shouldn’t it be an implicit equation: broken computer = lost productivity? Or: company with good IT uptime + well thought out technology = an advantage over its competitors?

Clearly, IT has not helped itself in the past by talking in psychobabble geek code, and this has to stop. This however does not explain why support, the function that props up the business, is so ill regarded. Everyone now understands that we need IT, that IT is a great thing, and that we need it to work most of the time because these elements are obvious to anyone who uses a PC.

So if this is the case, why is support still held with disdain by users and business leaders alike? The answer is that too often, they fail to do what they are supposed to do: fix the issue. Recently, research company Forrester carried out a survey of users who were asked to rank the technological tools most essential to their jobs. The helpdesk came dead last, with e-mail, calendar and productivity software all declared to be more important than support. Of course we can all see the irony in that without support, there will be times when these key pieces of technology would simply not work. But we must deduce why users think in this slightly illogical way and the conclusion can only be that the service they receive is not always up to scratch.

The report confirmed that the reason for helpdesk disaffection is not because of impolite staff, or long hold times, it is because often the helpdesk fails to offer a fix. This means that users turn to colleagues, web pages or any other method they can think of to get the faulty item working again. This is very bad news for the helpdesk because it leads to a situation where people simply stop using it. The message here is to keep it simple. Talk to suppliers who spot that you need to concentrate on the basics and take the time to ascertain at what stage of maturity your helpdesk is in before advising you on what to do next. Such a thorough evaluation will go a long way to confirming that said individual or company will offer you genuine advice on how to make improvements in the simplest and most effective manner.

IT support has a major job on its hands convincing the rest of the business that it is a serious and crucial department. IT support is undoubtedly a critical part of the business but the way to convince others is not through shouting loudly at meetings and dangling SLAs under people’s noses. It’s achieved when the majority of calls to the helpdesk result in a first time fix.

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