[unisog] Systems support staff on HelpDesk rotation?

Anne Bennett anne at encs.concordia.ca
Thu Mar 9 19:47:21 GMT 2006

> Our management is considering rotating all technical/systems support staff
> through the HelpDesk on some sort of preset schedule. 


> 	* 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)?

I used to work for a department that tried that - for a few months.
We analysts hated it; for example, I am a Unix sysadmin who uses a
Unix desktop, so it was quite difficult for me to be useful to people
having application difficulties on a PC.  We all of course tried to be
pleasant and helpful to the users, but we didn't feel able to be competent
(nor, frankly, were most of us interested in doing people-contact work).
I don't know if what the customers thought; our department had not until
then had a real help desk.  In the end, the department decided to set
up a service desk, thank goodness.  Unfortunately, they still do their
help desk almost entirely with students.

The department I am working for now takes the service desk seriously:
to serve about 200 profs and 6000 students, they have three full-timers
in addition to the manager, all of whom are terrific.  They also have
a contingent of student employees to do the more routine stuff.  We use
RT for trouble tickets, and anything the Service Desk cannot deal with
(insufficient privilege, too arcane, requires policy decision), they
despatch to the appropriate group of analysts, after gathering information
as needed.  We often do deal directly with users at that point.  But the
Service Desk actually does the lion's share of interacting with users,
and we appreciate them hugely and let them know it.

The profs were apprehensive when this Service Desk was put into place,
as they were used to calling their favourite "pet analyst", but after
a short period of adjustment, I'm told that most of them are very
happy with a "real" Service Desk.

Ms. Anne Bennett, Senior Sysadmin, ENCS, Concordia University, Montreal H3G 1M8
anne at encs.concordia.ca                                    +1 514 848-2424 x2285

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