Your IT support process: how to manage support requests

IT support offices - worker looking at a ascreen with "Help desk" displaying on it

Does your business follow a standard IT support process when it runs into an IT problem? To ensure issues are resolved swiftly and calls to your IT support team reduced, it’s vital you have a good support process in place

It’s when your IT support company or internal support team has to step in that your IT support process comes into its own. It’ll help you identify repeat problems, spot gaps in your support provision, determine which individuals are affected and understand how well you’re working with your support company.

If your IT support process is workable, it’ll encourage you to keep accurate, up-to-date records. It’s easy to slip into panic mode when problems occur – yet stepping through an agreed process will help you focus on root causes and reduce future problems.

Have a named contact to start the process

No matter what size your business is, it’s important someone – usually a named contact – has responsibility for handling IT support requests (larger businesses often have more than one contact, or even a whole department).

Your staff should know who to call or ask for help in the event of a problem. If you run a small company, you can probably have a single person who responds to emails, phone calls and shouts of despair across the office. With more staff you may need a generic email address or online reporting tool to manage requests more formally.

IT support process records

You also need a way to record and track each individual IT support request. Many businesses rely on a simple spreadsheet. While this can be useful, it gets hard to follow if you have lots of requests to track. It also makes it harder to prioritise how problems are fixed.

A good alternative is an IT helpdesk system. This is a software tool which gives you a platform for managing problems.

This kind of system can help you provide IT support efficiently and fairly. You can swiftly identify problems you can solve yourself, then prioritise and pass more complex problems on to your IT support company. Instead of serving the person with the loudest voice, you’ll be able to address problems in order of need.

Depending on the complexity of the software, you might also be able to integrate your IT inventory information so you can check the configuration and software of affected devices at a glance.

Build feedback to the end user into your IT support process too. It’s incredibly frustrating when you’re kept in the dark about when a problem will be fixed, especially if it’s holding up your work.

Many service desk systems let people log in and see the status of their support request instantly. A simpler approach is to send manual emails to keep people informed. Using an automated tool makes it easier to deal with lots of people and requests, but smaller businesses can probably manage with a more informal communication process.

Ask your support company for advice

If your business does rely on an external supplier for IT support, always consult them before implementing a service desk system or new IT support process. It’s important the IT support process you follow in your business feeds smoothly into how they handle support requests.

Some suppliers will have tools you can use – others may prefer you to pass support requests on in a particular format.

Finally, make sure you have a way of tracking how long it takes your support company to respond and solve each problem. This is especially important if you have a service level agreement in place with your IT support company, because you can easily see if they’re meeting its terms.

IT support is a necessary requirement for keeping users productive. Whatever approach you take to keeping IT assets up-to-date and working properly – from in-house IT staff or outsourced service desk, from single tool through to complete systems management – making sure that everyone knows the processes involved is essential. By keeping everything and everyone up-to-date, the whole business benefits.

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