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Establishing a Service Desk. Author unknown. Introduction. The Help Desk of Before – Circa 1994 Reactive response to unplanned situations Tactical fire-fighting IT has little involvement in strategy definition Supported, on average, about 20 applications

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  • The Help Desk of Before – Circa 1994
    • Reactive response to unplanned situations
    • Tactical fire-fighting
    • IT has little involvement in strategy definition
    • Supported, on average, about 20 applications
    • Average call volume of 20-40 calls/day/agent
    • Limited asset management control
    • Limited control of change & configuration management
    • Outside of simple Level 1, Help Desk is a call-routing organization
help desk of before problems with this model
Help Desk of BeforeProblems With This Model
  • Reactive
    • Dependent upon users reporting a problem
  • Quality
    • Inconsistent delivery
  • Key Staff
    • Overly dependent upon key staff
  • Change Management
    • Uncoordinated / unreported changes would take place
  • Analysis
    • Little information was tracked and analyzed to formulate management decisions
fast forward
Fast Forward…
  • Globalization and increased competition
  • Tightened IT budgets
    • Increased scrutiny of expenditures
  • 100-fold increase in the number of applications now supported by the Help Desk
  • 40-70 tickets / day / agent
  • Reduction in the number of “easy” tickets due to the implementation of some automated, self-service tools
carrying this scenario forward
Carrying This Scenario Forward
  • Adapting the 1994 model by simply adding tools and tightening talk times will lead to:
    • An ever increasing spiral of calls with diminishing returns from automation tools
    • Application of “band-aids” such as near and off-shore outsourcing and/or an increase of Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
    • Continuing user dissatisfaction
realization summary
Realization Summary
  • An IT organization must adapt to survive by becoming more customer-focused
  • Service delivery will become increasingly complex
  • Without conscious effort, the number of issues will continue to increase out of control
  • The Help Desk touches the end-user base more often than any other department
  • The Help Desk can serve in front-line issue reduction and cost avoidance

“Progress is not an accident… but a beneficent necessity” – Herbert Spencer

how does one make progress
How Does One Make Progress?
  • End-user perception of the IT department is often based upon experiences with the Help Desk
    • The IT department is reliant upon other business units for its capital to insure that the end-users from those business units receive the best service possible
help desk creation business goals and objectives
Help Desk CreationBusiness Goals and Objectives
  • Business objectives
    • Definition
      • Specific deliverables that a company may need; related to cost, revenue generation, and customer satisfaction
    • These goals are typically set once per year and coincide with the annual corporate budgeting process
    • Should provide guidance towards budget approach and measure call center effectiveness and the organization’s progress against cost control, revenue generation, and customer satisfaction; employee satisfaction is also included as a requirement
    • Business objectives are provided by the corporation or senior management to the support center
help desk creation business goals and objectives9
Help Desk CreationBusiness Goals and Objectives
  • Clearly define goals
    • Well defined, these goals are the gauge that tell you about the performance of your support center
  • Current Assessment
    • Where are you now?
    • Where do you want to be?
    • Identify the gaps
help desk creation business goals and objectives10
Help Desk CreationBusiness Goals and Objectives
  • Identify IT Priorities
      • Service
        • Relating to the quality, quantity, and alignment of support and IT within the business
      • Technology
        • Hardware, software, and infrastructure acquisition upgrade and replacement
      • Project
        • Relating to meeting the needs of another business unit
        • For the support center, project priorities present an opportunity to show how well the support staff understands its customers and the operations of the business
  • Priorities can change frequently in some businesses, as frequently as by quarter to quarter
help desk creation business goals and objectives11
Help Desk CreationBusiness Goals and Objectives
  • Align the support desk with the business
    • By understanding the business, support desk managers can ebb and flow alongside changing business priorities to meet the business’ needs
    • Get input from your customers
      • Fundamentally, customers are the reason support people exist and why businesses exist
  • Budget
    • Identify “budget elements”
      • Support desk staffing
      • Support desk statistics
      • Support desk service level agreements (SLAs)
      • Support desk equipment
        • I.e., cubicles, desk chairs, workstations
      • Support desk location
        • Reliable telecommunications
          • Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) System
          • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System
          • Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) System
        • Availability and skill of the workforce
        • Overall cost of running the operation at the location
          • In an urban setting, there is an increase in available skilled labor and competition for labor, but wages can also be expected to be higher as a result
      • Disaster recovery
      • Travel expenses
  • Budget (cont’d)
    • ROI – “Return on Investment”
      • Upper management uses ROI to assist with determining what projects are worthy of funding with their limited capital
      • “Is there a way that we can invest one dollar that will save us fifteen dollars elsewhere?” (Hint, it could be support!)
      • 3 Influences:
        • Track record of success
        • The business’ need for what you are proposing
          • Learn how to tap into other budgets by working with other departments with common goals; learn what can be capitalized and what cannot
        • Positive feeling that the return on investment is real and of reasonable time for the cost

How to calculate ROI

  • Determine the Average Cost per Technician
  • Determine the Number of Annual Incidents
  • Determine the Average Incident Resolution Time in minutes
  • Determine the Average Cost per Incident
  • Determine your Annual Support Cost
  • Determine Savings
  • Determine New Annual Support Cost

How to calculate ROI (cont’d)

  • Determine the Average Cost per Technician
    • Average Technician Salary x Overhead Percentage = Average Cost per Technician
    • Divide this number by the number of annual working hours (40 hours x 52 weeks per year)
    • Divide the resulting number by 60 minutes to get a dollars per minute count
    • i.e.
      • $45,000 x 20% = $54,000
      • $54,000 / 2,800 hours = $26 per hour
      • $26 per working hour / 60 minutes = $ 0.43 per minute average cost per technician

How to calculate ROI (cont’d)

  • Determine the Number of Annual Incidents
    • Multiply the number of new incidents per day by the number of support days per year
    • i.e.
      • When estimating new incidents per day, consider those received via e-mail, telephone, and in-person
      • 50 new incidents per day x 250 days per year = 12,500 annual incidents

How to calculate ROI (cont’d)

  • Determine the Average Incident Resolution Time in minutes
    • If possible, incorporate escalation percentages for the different support levels
    • May also rely upon data from any support desk tools available
    • i.e.
      • Average incident resolution time = 24 minutes

How to calculate ROI (cont’d)

  • Determine the Average Cost per Incident
    • Multiply the Average Incident Length by the Average Cost per Technician
    • i.e.
      • 24 minutes average incident resolution time x $0.43 minute average cost per technician = $10.17 average cost per incident

How to calculate ROI (cont’d)

  • Determine your Annual Support Cost
    • Multiply the Average Cost per Incident by the Number of Incidents
    • i.e.
      • $10.17 average cost per incident x 12,500 annual incidents = $127,125 annual support cost

How to calculate ROI (cont’d)

  • Determine Savings
    • Goal is to save time on incidents and to reduce incident counts
    • Estimate the number of minutes that will be saved per incident and use that number to come up with a New Average Cost Per Incident
    • (Average Incident Resolution Time – Minutes Saved Per Incident) x (Per Minute Average Cost Per Technician) = New Average Cost Per Incident
    • i.e.
      • (24 minute average incident resolution time – 2 minutes saved) x $0.43 per minute average cost per technician = $9.46 new cost per incident

How to calculate ROI (cont’d)

  • Determine New Annual Support Cost
    • Estimate a percentage decrease in reported incidents
    • New Cost Per Incident x (1 – % decrease in Reported Incidents) x Total Annual Calls = New Annual Support Cost
    • i.e., 10% decrease
      • $9.46 new cost per incident x (1 - .10 decrease) x 12,500 annual incidents = $106,425 new annual support cost
    • Annual savings is determined by subtracting the New Annual Support Cost from the Current Annual Support Cost
      • $127,125 annual support cost = $106,425 new annual support cost = $20,700 annual savings
    • This information can be used towards setting goals or purchasing a new application


  • What will be the support desk’s size?
    • It is always good practice to make sure that your staff is the right size no matter what department you are in; running a cost-effective efficient department goes a long way towards making certain you are respected and seen as a credible and good manager

Staffing (cont’d)

  • Employees
    • Initially calculate:
      • Salaries
      • Benefits
      • Overtime
      • Vacation Time
      • Sick Time
      • Training Time
    • Also Off-Call Time
      • Call Follow-Up Time
      • Data-Entry Time
      • Email / Fax / Walk-Up Request Management Time
      • Project Time
  • Many IT Departments fail to consider the amount of time spent by support desk staff doing other necessary tasks besides answering inbound customer phone calls; this is one of the key reasons why many service desks are understaffed

Staffing (cont’d)

  • Statistics
    • # of Supported End-Users
    • Projected Call Volume
    • Projected Call Delay
    • Cost Per Call
      • Note: There is no standard way to calculate Cost Per Call because the definition of cost varies from one organization to the next
      • Cost Per Call calculations can include the following factors: employee salaries, building facilities / utilities, IT capital equipment costs, etc.

Staffing (cont’d)

  • Service Levels to Provide
    • Must consider business goals of satisfying customers, generating revenue, and managing costs and create a balance that optimizes support center and corporate performance
    • Service level balances customer tolerances for waiting to speak with the “next available agent,” the cost of providing service, and the revenue opportunity cost of customers who abandong their call and never call again
  • What scopes of support will the support center deliver (application support, hardware support, remote support, desk-side support)?
  • What types of management support services will the support center provide (supervisors, trainers, analysts, etc.)?
  • What are the skill requirements for agents and management?
  • What kinds of services will the support center provide (inbound service, outbound service)?
  • What hours of support will be provided (24 x 7, business hours only)?
  • Will this be a standalone support center or part of a network of support centers?
  • What technology is needed to support the services that the support center will provide?

Online Support Desk Calculators

    • Erlang-C Calculator
      • Used to calculate the number of agents required to staff average call volume and average delay time for a given hour
    • Call Center Calculator
      • Used to calculate the number of agents required to staff average call volume and average delay time for an 8-hour day
    • Capacity Calculator
      • Used to calculate the number of agents required on a monthly basis
      • Can be used towards financial forecasting
    • Additional calculators are also available to calculate trunk groups, VOIP bandwidth requirements, etc.

Internal versus Outsourced Support Services

  • Based upon budget, projected call volume, staffing costs, support hour requirements, etc., it may be worthwhile to also consider outsourcing support desk services
    • Outsourcing service providers can offer more cost-effective pricing by having the flexibility to leverage support staff
    • Splitting work with an outsourcer is a great way to balance workload, to benchmark operations, and to provide a level of disaster recovery
    • A good outsourcer will handle call center operations better than most in-house support centers, as running support centers is an outsourcer’s sole focus; they are well-versed in managing cost control, revenue generation, and customer satisfaction
structure processes forums
Structure / Processes / Forums
  • Pick a methodology or framework that recommends best practices, but is also flexible enough to conform to your company’s individual culture
structure processes forums30
Structure / Processes / Forums


  • “Control Objectives for Information and related Technology”
  • COBIT is a framework of best practice approaches for information (IT) management. COBIT provides managers, auditors, and IT users with a set of generally accepted measures, indicators, processes, and best practices to assist them in maximizing the benefits derived through the use of information technology and developing the appropriate IT governance and control in a company
structure processes forums31
Structure / Processes / Forums


  • “Information Technology Infrastructure Library”
  • ITIL is a framework of best practice approaches intended to facilitate the delivery of high quality information technology (IT) services. ITIL outlines an extensive set of management procedures that are intended to support businesses in achieving both quality and value for money in IT operations. These procedures are supplier independent and have been developed to provide guidance across a breadth of IT infrastructure, development, and operations
  • Originated as a collection of books, each covering a specific “practice” within IT management; the Service Management set, consisting of both Service Support and Service Delivery, are the most widely used and published ITIL publications
  • HDI Motown is looking to offer an ITIL Foundations training course for 2007
    • Please provide your name and contact information to any of the local Motown Chapter officers if you are interested in participating
structure processes forums32
Structure / Processes / Forums


  • “IT Service Management Forum”
  • Considered to be the only truly independent and internationally recognized forum for IT Service Management professionals worldwide. A non-profit organization, ITSMF provides an accessible network of industry experts, information sources, and events to enable IT professionals to address IT service management issues and to achieve the delivery of high-quality, consistent IT service internally and externally via best practices
structure processes forums33
Structure / Processes / Forums


  • “Microsoft Operations Framework”
  • MOF provides operational guidance that helps organizations to achieve mission-critical system reliability, availability, supportability, and manageability with Microsoft products and technologies. MOF was created using ITIL as its foundation, building on top of ITIL’s best practice for organizational structure and process ownership, and modeling critical success factors used by partners, customers, and Microsoft’s internal Operations and Technology Group (OTG)
itil service desk
ITIL Service Desk

ITIL, the most quickly growing and widely accepted framework for support services, calls for the creation of a Service Desk to act as a Single Point-of-Contact (SPOC) for end-users and their issues

help desk vs service desk
Help Desk

Fixes results of problems

Reactive; demand-driven

Information dead-end

Limited career path


Passive; awaiting approaches

Technically-oriented staff

Struggling for resources

A “back room” function

Service Desk

Focus is productivity

Fixes the causes of problems at the source

Proactive; strategy-driven

Gathers/disseminates information

Worthwhile career path

Aggressive; markets itself

Customer-service oriented

ROI; justifies resources

Public face of IT / Customer Services

Saves money

Help Desk Vs. Service Desk
how a service desk will save an organization
How a Service Desk Will Save An Organization…
  • Costs due to inefficiency
    • Industry studies have shown that the difference between an effectively run Service Desk and an ineffective one may be as much as $21.00 per call (Gartner)
  • Costs due to lost opportunity
    • Inefficiency in any of these: issue identification, escalation, or end-user communication, can quickly increase lost opportunity costs through mishandling an issue at the first level
  • Costs due to staff turnover
    • HDI studies have shown that the typical Service Desk staff turnover averages over 42% every year (AXIOS). This turnover adds to inefficiency by forcing additional investment in re-training and the loss of knowledge
trouble ticket system
Trouble Ticket System

An incident management tool should:

  • Assign a unique number to each incident
  • Tie-in with a Service Catalog, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and Problem Management
  • Capture necessary information
  • Categorize issues by type and by importance
  • Incorporate escalation
  • Incorporate data reporting

Popular incident tracking systems in use today:

  • HEAT
  • MAGIC (now known as BMC Service Desk Express Suite)
structure processes forums38
Structure / Processes / Forums


  • “Knowledge-Centered Support”
  • KCS is a methodology and a set of practices that focuses on knowledge as a key asset of the customer/technical support organization
  • Its goal is to capture, to structure, and to re-use technical support knowledge
  • May be used to enhance ITIL methodology, as ITIL only introduces concepts of knowledge management (KM), but not a viable strategy to follow
customer service
Customer Service

The support desk serves as both the face of IT, and in some cases, the company itself

  • For the first-time support desk user, it only takes one experience to shape their view of the support desk
  • A negative first experience can affect the support of your support organization!

It is important to remember the basics!

customer service40
Customer Service

The Basics

  • Reliability
    • Providing dependable and accurate service
    • Providing consistently accurate answers and doing what you promise
  • Responsiveness
    • The willingness to respond to customer needs
    • I.e.
      • Answering the phone or responding to electronic requests quickly
      • Being willing to do what it takes to respond effectively to a service request
  • Assurance
    • Providing well-informed, knowledgeable service, performed with competence and confidence
  • Empathy
    • Providing caring and personal service
    • Service providers convey sympathy when they listen for the hidden meaning in what a customer is saying, acknowledging the emotion, and offering caring assistance
  • Tangibles
    • Providing professional looking communication materials, buildings, or service providers
balanced scorecard development
Balanced Scorecard Development
  • The goal of using a balanced scorecard is to forecast future costs, gauge the operational performance and service levels that are based on workload for both internal and external customers, and to transform the strategic planning from a paper-generation exercise into an efficient and cost-effective management tool that is actually used.
  • Metrics should be used to monitor and to improve departmental performance within the context of a flexible, well-defined management system that is aligned with the needs of the corporate environment
balanced scorecard development44
Balanced Scorecard Development

The support center balanced scorecard should consist of four main elements:

  • Customer satisfaction goals
  • Employee satisfaction goals
  • Cost / productivity goals
  • Organizational maturity goals
balanced scorecard development45
Balanced Scorecard Development
  • Customer Satisfaction Goals
    • Usually measured by customer satisfaction surveys
    • Ideally surveys should be administered semi-annually by a vendor to minimize bias and even the suggestion of manipulation
    • Use of transaction or incident surveys to monitor daily support activities
balanced scorecard development46
Balanced Scorecard Development
  • Employee Satisfaction Goals
    • It takes desire and commitment to make a support center an interesting, professional, and rewarding place to work
    • Support professionals expect to be paid a fair market wage and to be treated with respect
    • Provide a chance for advancement, recognition, and training
    • Provide a work environment that is disciplined, organized, and well-managed by mature leaders
    • An organization’s failure to plan for and to deliver these elements of employee satisfaction will not only create mediocrity in their support centers, but they will ultimately fail in their goal to serve their customers and create an environment where high staff attrition is the norm
balanced scorecard development47
Balanced Scorecard Development
  • Cost / Productivity Goals
    • Although support desks do gather many metrics in general, just gathering cost and productivity data does not necessarily provide the cost and productivity information needed; truly valuable data about our support center can become obscured by standard metrics
    • Good questions one should ask to ascertain their costs and productivity:
      • Is our operation cost-effective and customer-centric?
      • Are we spending too little on support infrastructure and too much on labor?
        • If the reverse is true, have the expected returns on investment (ROI) been realized?
      • Has a methodology been developed to measure returns on investment (ROI)?
      • How much would be saved by developing multi-channel contact avenues (i.e., telephone, e-mail, self-service, etc.)?
      • Does the support center closely measure its operational costs by cost per contact channel?
      • On a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis, is the support center meeting its goals?
balanced scorecard development48
Balanced Scorecard Development
  • Organizational Maturity Goals
    • “Assessing organization maturity is a great deal like judging art; you knokw maturity when you see it in an organization.”
    • Financial success does not necessarily equate to maturity
    • By linking financial and operations management of a support center to an integrated balanced scorecard service model, it is possible to identify key performance indicators (KPI) that will allow the support manager to assess current operations, and also past performance and trends
key performance indicators kpis
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • KPIs are metrics used to quantify objectives to reflect strategic performance of an organization; to measure progress towards an organizational goal
  • Frequently KPIs are used to “value” difficult to measure activities such as benefits of leadership development, engagement, service, and satisfaction
key performance indicators kpis50
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Identifying KPIs
    • Have a pre-defined business process
    • Have clear goals defined for the business processes
    • Have a quantitative / qualitative measurement of the results and compare with set goals
    • Investigation of variances and tweaking processes or resources to achieve short-term goals
  • Do communicate with your peers on a routine basis!
    • It is worthwhile to join and to participate within a professional support / service delivery focused organization
    • Use the knowledge of the organization’s community to assist with foreseeing and overcoming industry-related issues


  • Do read professional literature related to technical support and customer service!
  • Do get certified as a support desk manager!
  • Do stay close to your people and thank them often!
  • Do stay close to your boss!
  • Do plan for the future of your help desk!
  • Do practice and upgrade your writing, your presentation, your research, your planning, your project management, and your industry skills!
  • Do remember that everything that you do, and that your support desk does, is about helping and serving your customers!
don t
  • Don’t be afraid of problems!
  • Don’t ignore your metrics program!
  • Don’t ignore your people!
  • Don’t ignore the growing trends in support desk management and the support industry
  • Don’t ignore what your customers think
  • Don’t ingnore cultural diversity in your support desk and among your customers
  • Don’t ignore the lessons of failure
  • Don’t ignore the changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Don’t forget to manage your stress and that of your staff
  • Don’t forget your role as a leader

Build credibility through small successes before tackling big jobs.

DO NOT try to improve everything at once.

thank you
Thank you!!

Open Discussion