[unisog] Systems support staff on HelpDesk rotation?

Wilson, Barry wilsonbf at wharton.upenn.edu
Wed Mar 8 20:39:19 GMT 2006

We used to do this for new or junior staff, depending on the time of
year and how many people were needed to staff the Student Help Desk. I
can't speak for how the Help Desk staff felt about it, but it was
universally hated by the staff I sent to work there.

Some of the problems have been mentioned--lost time for the primary job
projects, a general feeling that they were wasting their time. We also
ran into issues with people making fixes or suggestions that were
outside what we'd normally do with students--non-supported software
installs, registry hacks and other changes that weren't a good idea for
a non-technical end user. 

There was also a bigger issue that the types of people skills needed for
a good help desk person aren't what you're looking for when you
interview for a server admin job. Having an IT staff member that doesn't
like dealing with people and is frustrated with being on the help desk
deal with an upset student is a recipe for disaster. I don't have any
good stories to share but I'm pretty sure there were some sub-optimal
interactions ;-)

We moved away from this model a few years ago by getting more full and
part time help desk staff, co-ops (think intern) and student workers.
>From the outside, it appears to work better and the staff I'm not
sending there are happier. 

I do think there is value in having more staff interact with students
and understand their problems and needs. The problem becomes that when
the staff know they're being forced to be there, that it's outside their
primary scope, and doesn't really matter to their long term job
prospects, they end up resenting it and their frustration prevents most
of them from gaining anything.

-----Original Message-----
From: unisog-bounces at lists.sans.org
[mailto:unisog-bounces at lists.sans.org] On Behalf Of Robin Anderson
Sent: Wednesday, March 08, 2006 1:44 PM
To: unisog at lists.sans.org
Subject: [unisog] Systems support staff on HelpDesk rotation?

Our management is considering rotating all technical/systems support
through the HelpDesk on some sort of preset schedule.  The stated goal
to expose the staff to a direct customer service and support
making them more sensitive to the customer's needs and the HelpDesk's
position as intermediary.  Management's premise is that a lot of other
schools do this, and that it will be beneficial to all involved.

A few queries on the subject:

	* Is your site actively doing this? ... considering doing this?
		* What experiences have you had	with it?
		* Are customers happier?
		* Are employees happier? (Management, HelpDesk, techies)
		* Have workflow processes been improved?

	* What reasons are behind the decision (either way)?

Feel free to add other commentary as it occurs to you.  Thanks!

Robin Anderson
SysAdmin, Security Specialist
Office of Information Technology, UMBC
unisog mailing list
unisog at lists.sans.org

More information about the unisog mailing list