How to Reorganize the Help Desk: Page 2

Posted September 8, 2006

James Maguire

James Maguire

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Decentralize Resources to Provide more Personalized Support

Although all of a company’s help desks should be managed centrally, it’s still a good idea to provide each division with its own desk. For example, a company that runs both a trading floor and a call center. These two divisions need very different types of help desks.

The resources for a company’s various desks shouldn’t be centralized in any one geographic location. They should be distributed throughout the organization in a manner that allows the greatest personalized support.

It’s not efficient, for example, to centralize resources for software and hardware support. They should be distributed by need. “If you’re going to support a trading floor, I would argue that you keep all those [hardware and software] resources together, including the people who are going to support the hardware,” Gliedman says.

The problem with a centralized depot of support resources is that employees end up working around it. “Remote users, feeling that the centralized support organization is not responsive to their needs, establish their own technical support group,” he notes.

“Winners and Losers”

When you restructure your help desk, you'll inevitably bruise some egos.

“Any time there’s a reorganization, the first thought is, ‘who won and who lost?’” Gliedman says. “Who was a peer who is now working for somebody?”

“Blanket statements and pronouncements do not take the place of personal contact, personal career planning and counseling, and open communications,” he notes. “Remember that a few dissatisfied malcontents can torpedo the best laid plans.”

The toughest part of this “winners and losers” equation is that sometimes a deep reorganization calls for hiring and firing.

Gliedman recalls consulting with a company that was in the middle of a help desk restructuring. The company confided in him: “We’re making these changes, and we’re trying to do this, but the perception of the help desk is really bad. It’s hard to say it, but sometimes you just have to change the people.”

The perception of change is sometimes as important as change itself when it comes to building credibility, he says. “So keeping the same organization in place, but changing the processes or structure underneath it, may not be taken by the end users as an improvement.”

Unfortunately, new staff or a new manager may be required. “Sometimes you have to make those kind of changes, just to set the stage to rebuild credibility.”

Let Users Know the Cost Benefit

Sometimes the need to cut costs forces a company to slash its help desk budget. There may be no choice in the matter.

In this scenario, many employees will now receive lower quality support. It’s best to inform these workers of the underlying financial reason, Gliedman recommends.

Make it clear to them in terms they’ll understand, by saying something like, “We had two choices: we could fire three people, or we could increase the deductible,” he suggests.

He points to an example where a corporation saved $40 million over four years by using a support desk contractor that upped the response time from 4 hours to 48 hours. Because the employees understood the value, they dealt with it, and even set up a depot of back-up PCs to use for short-term emergencies.

Informing the affected workers is better in both the short and long term. “They’ll still grumble, but they’ll understand.”

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