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How to Solve 3 Common IT Service Desk Challenges

If you have experience in IT, you know that minor issues and anomalies in IT services and delivery can quickly become a massive bottleneck for technicians and service desk employees. Without the right IT service desk technology, manual processing can bog down your resources and cause unnecessary waits for those needing help.

Long waits for help or increased friction when resolving problems can cause end-user satisfaction to fall as people suffer through long hold queues and waste valuable work hours trying to resolve issues instead of focusing on their own projects.

In this article, we will discuss three challenges faced by the IT service desk and service desk employees, and what you can do to overcome them.

Challenge 1: Reducing Issue Overload

Time is money – that’s especially true when it comes to IT services and the IT service desk. Without processes in place to effectively answer everyday questions or address minor issues, high-volume IT departments can easily spend hours answering phones or requests sent by multichannel support systems. This leaves little time in their workday to address larger issues and act proactively to prevent any protentional problems.

One way to resolve this challenge is to use an IT Service Management (ITSM) platform and create an easy-to-use self-service portal with a robust, searchable knowledge base. An IT self-service portal is a place where users can go first and look up their own answers to try to resolve their issues. If they can’t find what they need within the knowledge base, they can hit a button within the portal and request support online. The best way to do this is to leverage a service catalog so that issues are properly organized and automatically routed to the right place for quick resolution – this automated workflow is another time saver.

If nothing else, you need to make sure your IT self-service portal has a knowledge base with great search capacity and a proper service catalog. If you need inspiration, you can have a look at some stellar portals here.

In addition to self-service, you can use your portal as a place to kick off automated workflows using an integration and automation tool like iPaaS to power dynamic forms that live on your portal. Using these forms you can save your IT service desk time by automating tasks like name changes, password resets, software requests and provisioning.

Supercharging your ITSM can lay a strong foundation for IT service desk success – especially when you’re working with limited resources but an increase in demand. ITSM groups that are able to manage the flow of service requests as effective project managers—and automate away the most time-consuming tasks— are the ones that maximize their resources in the pursuit of servicing end-users with minimal delay or frustration. 

Challenge 2: Reducing Long Resolution Times and Lost Issues

Customers want their issues to be resolved quickly and accurately. But without proper communication tools, IT departments can struggle to meet service-level commitments. In addition, it can be hard for IT leaders to gather data and have visibility around where there can be improvements and efficiency gains. A good way to see if you have an issue here is to track SLAs. You can do this using a technology package within your ITSM that allows you to flag tickets that are approaching deadlines to meet the SLA.

Next, following a formal ITIL framework will help expedite resolution times. Incident and request management ensures that you can keep track of the status, giving clear visibility into timelines and deliverables. Consequently, if any incident or request takes too long to resolve, the incident management solution will alert IT service staff right away.

Challenge 3: Preventing Recurring Issues

Recurring issues are a common problem for IT service desks. These types of issues can take up a significant amount of time for IT staff, delaying progress on other initiatives. In many cases, users report the same kind of incidents – for example, several employees might complain about losing access to the corporate database. If you are using only a basic ticketing system, you might find yourself replying with the same solution over and over again. With a self-service portal and knowledge base, people can search for their issues and find their own solutions without ever needing to submit a support ticket.

In addition, a knowledge base can help IT service staff understand trends and popular topics/issues so they can proactively mitigate any issues that might arise with changes to systems or through the introduction of new software or tech.

To build a proper knowledge base you can follow the principles of Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS®) and resolve issues faster while optimizing IT resources. By promoting self-service as the primary method for customers in need of IT support you can save time and money.

Solving IT Service Desk Challenges with Automation

From onboarding new employees to automating financial aid notifications, the staff at Brigham Young University – Idaho (BYU-Idaho) are finding creative ways to automate and integrate processes outside of IT

“We’re doing a lot (with iPaaS) in HR with onboarding flows, and there are a lot of other groups around campus that want to use the onboarding flows to onboard an employee from the beginning, all the way to getting their equipment sent out and getting them into Active Directory,” Nepal Plummer, Director of Product and Service Management, said. “And we haven’t even opened up the floodgates yet.” 

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is gaining in popularity as more organizations, in all industries, are looking to modernize legacy systems and automate processes to save time and resources while delivering exceptional service. 

More specifically, iPaaS allows for the integration of enterprise data and automation of a variety of tasks throughout an organization. By using iPaaS as the ultimate foundational layer, departments can pull data together from siloed systems (ERP, CRM, SIS, LOB point solutions…) and get a holistic view of the organization; automate time-consuming, manual processes; and securely shore up the growing number of APIs in use throughout an organization.

Because iPaaS is low code/no code, there isn’t a need to go through IT channels to automate different processes throughout the campus, “We can do even more this way, and really maximize the number of customizations that can happen,” Kevin Cook, Application System Engineer, said.

TeamDynamix iPaaS uses drag-and-drop functionality to build out workflows – there’s no coding necessary, but those who do enjoy code can hop in and build with that too. The tool is versatile enough to cater to both programmers and non-programmers alike. 

As a result, the team’s been able to build out some extremely beneficial workflows. 

For instance, counselors wanted a better way to track financial aid awards and notify students. Before iPaaS they were doing a mail merge and sending out award letters to students through Outlook, but there was no way to track those emails.

Karl Karstad, Systems and Relationship Manager, said the financial aid office approached his group and asked if they could create individual tickets for each award letter sent out so counselors can go in and see the content of the award letter and better help students who had questions. 

In addition to the financial aid workflow, BYU-Idaho is working on onboarding and offboarding workflows to help anyone bringing on a new employee, or offboarding a former employee. Automating these two complex processes is especially helpful as departments all over campus regularly hire student employees. 

“In IT, for example, if you’re hiring a student, they are going to need a lot of access to different tools and programs,” Cook said. Using iPaaS they can securely automate the process and grant the access needed while keeping that information protected and secure. And if the student’s permissions change, using the workflow, they can shut off access. During offboarding, the workflow can also remove the student from Microsoft Teams and other programs. 

“Allowing us to simplify the onboarding and offboarding of students, which happens constantly, is huge,” Cook said. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2020 and has been updated with new information.