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Automating Your Help Desk Workflow

Do you know you can open, answer, close and report help desk information without human intervention?

Automation is a powerful feature provided by most enterprise level help desk products; however, most organizations rarely take advantage of these features. Based on a survey conducted by RightStar Systems, only 5% of the help desk managers interviewed were using automation to its fullest capacity. Most use it to some degree while others do not use it at all. Tom Jud, Emerging Growth Manager for BMC Software, has observed "?that the Business Rules Engine provided by the Magic Help Desk product, is the key feature that organizations should leverage to drive support efficiency and cost savings." He explains that the two main reasons for organizations not deploying workflow automation are 1) the perceived level of difficulty in implementing these functions and 2) The lack of workflow planning used in developing the helpdesk program. Once organizations learn the importance of workflow automation and the benefit gained, they embrace the feature and drive added value from their help desk product.

After having conducted over 600 site visits and product demonstrations, I have identified 4-main focus areas where organizations can benefit from deploying workflow automation.

? Enforcing best practices through automation.

Companies looking to provided better and less expensive support services have adopted any number of help desk "best practices" guidelines. Automating workflow to enforce a help desk's best practices deployment can drive even more value and efficiency. By pairing certain best practice areas with automated workflow, a help desk can provide a consistent and predictable level of support.

? Improving incident response time through automation.

Incident response time is how most service support organizations are judged. According to Beverly Wells, Help Desk and Groupwise Manager for CarMax, "Of all the statistics gathered by the CarMax Help Desk, the one area reviewed with the most scrutiny, is how fast we responded to and resolve calls." Workflow automation can drastically improve incident response, problem resolution, and change requests, by incorporating predetermined "if, then" capabilities. For example, if a call for a printer problem is received at the help desk, workflow automation can determine the type of call and direct that call to the right person or provide an automated answer to the requestor. In other words, "if" you receive a request like this, "then" do this specific task.

? Increase Reporting Accuracy

Automating workflow provides the ability to capture accurate help desk statistics by removing the various inconsistencies injected through human error. I know help desk managers that spend hours each month collecting, editing and refining help desk statistical reports. They spend most of there time correcting errors and adjusting the numbers that tell the real story of the help desk. Automating workflow is one primary way to assist help desk managers prepare and create accurate reporting.

? Create Consistency while Reducing Call Volume

Have you ever called a help desk and received two or three different answers for the same problem, or worse, no answer at all? It's frustrating and it reflects poorly on the help desk. Several help desk tools provide the capability to deliver answers on various issues in a consistent automated manner. This provides the requestor with confidence that they received the right answer while taking the guesswork away from the help desk analyst when answering questions. In many cases, the answer can be provided without human intervention. There are various ways of deploying these capabilities; collectively they can provide a tremendous reduction in call volume and a higher degree of customer satisfaction.

Incorporating automation in your help desk workflow provides many benefits. As with any undertaking, it takes forethought and planning, but with the right help desk tool and the desire to provide timely, accurate answers with little or no human intervention, the effort will off-load pressure from the help desk staff and integrate an atmosphere of help desk brilliance.

Dan Wilson currently works for RightStar Systems, a leader in Help Desk Service and Supprot Consulting; including problem, asset, change and desktop management.

Dan has over 15 years of experience in support consulting.

You can reach Dan at dan.wilson@rightstarsystems

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