Gift Guide

Running an Effective Help Desk / Edition 2

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The definitive guide to setting up and running a successful Help Desk-now updated and expanded to include the latest Web-based technologies.

This book is for you if you are:
* A business manager charged with researching, planning, and setting up a Help Desk in your organization
* An IT manager who wants to improve the level of technical support and communication within your organization with the latest support technologies
* A Help Desk manager looking for guidance on how to upgrade traditional Help Desk functions with Internet- or intranet-related processes.

The thoroughly revised, updated, and expanded Second Edition of the critically acclaimed, first-ever guide to running an effective Help Desk, this book tells you everything you need to know to plan, budget, staff, implement, track, upgrade, and even outsource your organization's Help Desk. Drawing upon her extensive experience as a leading North American expert on Help Desk planning and management, author Barbara Czegel:
* Guides you step-by-step through every phase of setting up traditional and Web-related Help Desks for the Internet and an intranet
* Provides a wealth of practical advice on all technical, management, and human-factor aspects of running an effective Help Desk
* Supplies ready-to-use templates in both Word and HTML formats for an array of Help Desk projects.

On the companion website you'll find:
* Real-life Web-based Help Desk examples
* All the templates from the book in HTML and Word formats.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This manual...presents information on this topic in a practical and approachable manner." (From Libraries Unlimited, Library and Information Science Annual, 1999)

"...Barbara Czegel has written a book that will hold your hand if you have to set up or manage a helpdesk and aren't perhaps the most technical or even most organised person in the organisation. The focus of this book is not just on the how, but the why. Czegel writes in a straightforward, uncluttered style, with plenty of insights and lots of checklists..." (Local Government Executive, October 2001)

Library Journal
Czegel covers all aspects of help-desk design and implementation: staffing, training, evaluation, problem resolution, tracking, marketing, and outsourcing. She covers traditional help desks with telephones and the new help desk on the Internet. Aimed at business managers and information technology departments supporting commercial products, this book will work for general circulating collections that support businesspeople as well as corporate collections. There is also a close fit between the business help desk and the public library reference desk that is providing service for walk-up patrons, voice and FAX phone access, and information via E-mail and the web; as such, this may be useful for libraries considering expanding reference access.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471248163
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/27/1998
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,329,024
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Czegel is President of SIRIUS3, a consulting company that provides Help Desk training and seminars across Canada. She is also a member of the Help Desk Institute and the Support Services Association.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Getting Focused

Your Objectives

If you think of services as your products, you can think of objectives as your sales quotas or targets. Things will not improve or change on your Help Desk without some kind of momentum, and your objectives define that momentum. If you aren't setting objectives, you aren't improving, changing, measuring yourself. You can't possibly keep up with the business you're supporting.

Objectives must do the following:

Support the business and fulfill the Help Desk mission.

Be clear.

Be measurable.

Be owned.

Objectives must also be attainable. If you are setting objectives that you don't really think you can achieve, you are setting yourself up for failure. It's like agreeing to a project deadline that you know you cannot meet. You won't meet it — at least, you won't meet it with the quality of product that is expected. Management will be disappointed, your project will be a failure, and you will be history, or at least not in line for a promotion. If objectives are to be what you are measured by, then they are worth fighting for.


There should be no ambiguity in your objectives. People should understand what you're trying to achieve. For example, "Bring in training for customers" is not very clear. What training? Which customers? Does training need to be enforced? Alternatively, "arrange for basic Excel training for the forty customers in finance, starting in September. Ensure each person in the department is trained within four months" is clearer. Responsibility is clearer.


Objectives arenot much use if you can't measure whether or not you've attained them. If you don't know how you will measure an objective, don't set it. "Increase first-line resolution rate" is not measurable. Have you succeeded even if you increase it by .04 percent? "Increase first-line resolution rate from 60 percent to 80 percent" is better but not good enough. What is the time frame? Best of all is "Increase first-fine resolution rate from 60 percent to 80 percent in four months (by April of this year)." That objective will be very easy to measure. Consider these examples:

1. "Increase positive response on weekly customer sampling surveys from 30 percent to 50 percent in four months' time." Very easy to measure (as long as you've defined what a positive response is).

2. "Improve team morale." Not measurable. You need to take a baseline measure. Draft up a survey to give your team. Then you have a base from which to measure. "Increase positive monthly survey responses from Help Desk team from 10 percent to 60 percent."

3. "Put marketing plan in place." Not clear — what does "in place" mean? And by when? Better would be "Create a marketing plan by March 5, to start March 10."

4. "Increase self-sufficiency of customers." Not clear. And not at all measurable. Better would be "Reduce number of calls per day from 300 to 200 within four months (by making customers selfsufficient)." Your objective is call reduction. Your plan for doing this includes various initiatives to promote self-sufficiency.


Once you set an objective, make sure someone is working toward achieving it. It is common on a Help Desk for staff to not know what the objectives for their team are. If they don't know they should be working on call reduction, the calls are not going to be reduced; if they don't know about the goal to increase first-line resolution, then the resolution rate will not get better. If the whole team should be working on an objective, let them know.

Measuring Success

Measure performance against objectives. Achieving objectives is a cause for celebration. Missing objectives is an opportunity to learn what could be done differently next time. Objectives will move you ahead. If you have no goals, you don't really know where you're going and you cannot be focused.

A Plan

Getting a plan together to implement your services and objectives, as your mission mandates, may seem an obvious step, but many Help Desks do not have any kind of a plan. And if it's not written down somewhere, it's not a plan. If you don't have a plan, the process of getting from where you are now to where your objectives say you want to be falls into the same category as an act of God.

You do need a plan, whether you're starting a Help Desk or running (and improving) an existing one. Your plan is a map that shows the path for attaining your objectives and providing your services. Your plan will help keep you on track and will help ensure that you meet your objectives in the time you need to. A plan will even help you determine whether your objectives are attainable, so you will want to do some preliminary planning before you set your objectives.

Your plan must take reality into account, and, unfortunately, reality may mean that you have to support an unstable environment while you get things up and running or improve things. Reality is the business screaming, "My PC is broken, fix it" and senior management nagging, "Will you please just stop this fooling around and fix the network? We've got a business to run here!" In this kind of environment, it is easy to get pulled into the whirlpool of endless support — you never have time to improve things, so they keep breaking and people keep calling you. More and more PCs get installed, and the problem is compounded daily.

A plan is more important than ever in this kind of environment. A plan will allow you to make compromises and to show management and customers why they are necessary. A plan will give you ammunition for setting attainable objectives. Perhaps you might have to move a little more slowly with your changes, so you can still maintain the current environment, or perhaps you can arrange for some temporary extra help....

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Table of Contents


Getting Focused.





Problem and Work Management.



Help Desk Tools.

The Internet: Challenge and Opportunity.

Setting Up a Help Desk Internet/Intranet Site.


Measuring Performance.


Cost-Benefit Analysis.



Help Desk Case No.

1: Setup.

Help Desk Case No.

2: Working Well.

Example: A Help Desk Intranet Web Site.

A Further Resource.

References and Further Reading.


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