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Workshop As everyone working in IT support knows, the job would be so easy if it wasn’t for hardware and software problems getting in the way.

Oh, and of course the users.

Every help desk call has at least one irate and annoying user attached to it. Without users getting on the phone and sending emails complaining about life, the universe and everything, the job of a support desk worker would almost be plain sailing. And of all the problems that have to be dealt with, why do so many of them involve PCs?

The basic structure of the service desk has remained fundamentally the same for very many years. While desktop and laptop related calls account for a considerable proportion of trouble tickets raised, the tools available to service desk staff have not really caught up.

Do you really feel that your service desk is optimised for supporting desktop users? Do you have the tools you need to deliver the service desk quality metrics that are expected of you. The general feeling seems to be no - as these quotes from Reg readers suggest:

“Lack of formalized helpdesk software and trouble tracking: apparently a software package costing several thousand dollars cannot be justified when users can just send me voice mails, emails, sticky notes at my door, stop the first tech they see in the hall, etc.”

and

“Misc software being installed on users PCs/laptops - users ask IT for the software, so the helpdesk install it, without verifying licenses or anything like that. Not a tech problem, but one that can be fixed by good software inventory management.”

Clearly the need for suitable tools to help manage desktops has never been higher, and the advent of VDI is not likely to be the cure-all that some think. Even virtual desktops and their users will require support. The potential benefits of modern support tools, including good trouble ticketing systems with up to date knowledge systems, remote control, inventory management and automatic software distribution should not be underestimated. But are they sufficient in the face of the long list of user demands?

Every support desk operator has their horror stories, the user that floored them with their stupidity. But are all the problems just caused by users or are there some support desks that need genuine help structuring their process and tooling up up their workforce? According to Reg readers it's a bit of both:

“Technical knowledge - Support people not up to job - a lot of fud used”

and

“Supporting an ever changing service catalogue - Services are launched without support documentation being handed over to the support team”

along with

“General user support - not enough IT staff”

One final topic to mention involves the increasing exploitation by some end users of Web ‘Community support’ as their first point of call when they have a problem – for example through the use of internal Wikis. Do you trust the members of your user community to help other users, or is there the potential that they will make things worse? Feedback welcome, of course. ®

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