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Can Your IT Help Desk Learn From Its Mistakes?

Can Your IT Help Desk Learn From Its Mistakes?

How solution discovery and rediscovery are both critical components to a successful and efficient IT help desk.

I’m sure you’ve experienced from time to time the need to remember how to do something you haven’t done in a couple weeks or, say, a year ago. Maybe it is remembering how to use a piece of software. Or maybe how to merge two versions of the same document.

Whatever the task may be, our memories fail to retain a complete picture of how to perform tasks that we infrequently perform.

And guess what? The same goes for your IT help desk.

If technicians haven’t worked a problem for a while—be it a week or a few months—they aren’t likely to recall the complete steps to fixing it. That’s why I want to talk about why it’s so important to implement processes outlining solution discovery and rediscovery within your IT support desk. Today, I want to explain the difference between discovery and rediscovery and hopefully convince you that your help desk needs well-defined processes for both. Having a solution-driven help desk is critical to running a successful organization. Your organization needs a help desk where users get quick resolutions to enable them to get their work.

I don’t want to be that broken record, but the key to both solution discovery and rediscovery is in fact, having well-documented processes to deal with technical issues that pop up. Assuming you have a process directing your technical team to resolving issues, your help desk should be well-positioned to resolve user issues quickly and efficiently.

So, what are solution discovery and rediscovery?

Solution Discovery—When your tech team has never experienced an issue before, they will need to investigate it. Understand the root cause of the symptoms you or one of your users is experiencing. You can think of this process as quite similar to getting a doctor’s examination when you are feeling ill. You describe what feeling ill means at this moment—sore throat, runny nose, tiredness—and the doctor looks at possible reasons for those symptoms.

Your IT help desk looks for specific symptoms to narrow down possible reasons for a problem (just like there may be multiple causes of a sore throat, there are also a LOT of reasons for a slow computer). Your IT support technician likely goes through a checklist or battery of questions to evaluate how symptoms relate to root problems. This may require research—discussion with vendors, web searches and forums of other people experiencing similar problems, evaluate documentation of specific software or hardware affected—to ultimately solve the problem.

Similar to your help desk, when a doctor isn’t familiar with your rash or combination of symptoms, he or she investigates medical books and journals to identify a likely cause and figure out a recommended treatment regime or consult with an expert in that particular area of medicine.

When your help desk technician finds the solution, he or she likely documents how they came to the solution, who they talked with (inside or outside of your IT department) and steps on how to fix the issue. All of this should be documented within the ticket, but also documented in a way that in the event the same symptoms came up again for this user or another, your IT support would be able to quickly fix the problem next time.

Solution Rediscovery—Likely, your help desk team has experience working a variety of issues. But the problem is it’s hard to remember how to fix everything. Just as a doctor has notes on your health and what prior treatments and remedies worked in curing you in the past, your help desk should have a well-curated set of documentation to resolve computer issues that may come up again.

Instead of spending a sizable (hours or even days) figuring out how to resolve your issue, they should have a solution within reach. Since the majority of your user issues are not unique or unseen, the majority of your issues should be resolved relatively quickly (usually within the first phone call!), because they already have the information they needed documented. They need to simply search on a few keywords (say computer symptoms) to find the right solution. Here, your IT team is rediscovering how to solve an issue rather than re-inventing the wheel over and over again.

A good help desk uses documentation to their benefit—both in meticulous note-taking (how a previously unseen problem is resolved) and in documenting how often a solution worked in fixing an issue, or even updating steps to resolve an issue if they aren’t crystal clear. When your IT support team updates or provides feedback on specific resolution documentation, they are helping your team use the best and up-to-date documentation to resolve your users’ issues.

My question to you: Does your help desk take a solution-driven approach to solving your users’ issues? Does it quickly rediscover solution paths from meticulous documentation? Or do your help desk technicians keep re-inventing the wheel by discovering the same solution over and over again? If you aren’t sure how your help desk is operating, maybe it’s time to reassess how it is run. Contact Us TODAY for a FREE help desk health assessment today.

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