What is Help Desk Software?
This write-up provides an overview of today’s modern help desk software features and requirements. Included below are links to valuable service desk resources and software downloads.
Help desk or service desk software works to automate the service management and support function. Typical support desk purposes include helping users retrieve lost passwords, helping customers troubleshoot product issues, assisting employees with hardware and software technical problems, and more. There are number of service and support solutions available that offer rich and robust functionality for optimizing the help desk management process. Common service desk application features include:
- Incident, problem and request management: This covers one of the main facets of service automation softare — to assist end users and customers in troubleshooting hardware, software, product, and other technical or operational/process related issues (including, of course, lost passwords). Good help desk software will include rich capabilities for service desk staff to troubleshoot, diagnose and solve issues quickly and effectively. More robust software will enable end users to solve issues for themselves, without the help of the support staff (which is a big plus for help desk operations).
- Self-service capabilites via the Web and mobile: More traditional help desk implementations were client/server based and forced the end user or customer to contact the support desk directly for problem solving and general questions. Today’s modern help desk managment solutions are built with accessibility and mobility in mind, taking advantage of more sophisticated and secure web and mobile technologies — a.k.a SaaS, the “cloud”. Hosted service desk packages make it easier for client sites to implement, while rich web-based interfaces and mobile accessibility apps empower help desk staff, users and customers to troubleshoot issues no matter where they are. Self-service capabilities work to reduce help desk stress and dependency, making for a more efficient and proactive support staff. This leads to higher satisfaction levels across the board – staff, users, and customers.
- Service level agreement management: Key to maintaining an effective help desk (as well as client relationship) is understanding the measures, goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs) that govern the process. Service desk software equipped with SLA management capability helps ensure a more effective process and delivery of support servies. Degradation in service delivery can be costly, damaging, and difficult to recover from. When evaluating software, make sure it includes provisions for SLA management.
- Knowledge management: A subset of the incident/problem management, knowledge management capability ensures the support desk is not only provisioned with pre-defined problem/resolution “pairs” (to answer the more basic and predictable questions expediently), but also has the ability to “learn” in a sort of “cognitive” fashion. The “smarter” the help desk software in terms of “self learning”, the more effectively the software can help automate end user and customer problem resolution without the need for service desk staff to intervene. On the flip side, making problem resolution data readily available to the support desk staff ensures the quickest and most effective help desk ticket resolution possible. When evaluating software, rich knowledge managment capabilities – including the ability to define problem resolution sets, rules and knowledge trees – will ensure peak satisfaction and service delivery efficiency.
Other key service desk software features:
- IT asset management
- Change management
- Reporting and analytics
- Customer relationship management
(See below for more)
Modern service automation software supports ITIL standards and is fully web, SaaS, and mobile enabled. Moving into 2013, many organizations have pinpointed the help desk as a key area for improvement and optimization, as many existing service desk deployments are built on older software standards.
For further information on service and help desk management, visit these other valuable resources:
- Wikipedia Help Desk Overview
- HDI’s Service Management Buyer’s Guide
- The Help Desk Coach (Training site)
- Free Software Downloads from Helpdesk.com