IT Policies

Require help desk analysts to make the most of down time

During this 16-minute podcast, help desk guru Jeff Davis and Bill Detwiler, TechRepublic Head Technology Editor, explore the issue of help desk time management.

Podcast

Should help desk analysts be allowed to do whatever they want when they're not answering and documenting calls? Or should they be asked to perform other duties between calls? Is too much down time a sign the help desk is overstaffed?

There's been some fervent debate and discussion on TechRepublic about this topic. During this 16-minute podcast, originally published in May 2006 as part of our Rootcast series, help desk guru Jeff Davis and I explore the issue of help desk time management. Jeff explains why analysts should do more than just wait for the next call and offers advice IT managers who need to motivate their staff.

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About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

9 comments
helpbob
helpbob

Some technicians are paid more and have too much free time. They would rather play online checkers than go over the Knowledge Base.

Jeff7181
Jeff7181

I work at a help desk, and during downtime we follow up on existing tickets. Check on parts that have been sent out, check up on our vendors to make sure they did what we pay them for. We also write in-house documentation... problem/solution and procedural stuff. Other Help Desk technicians handle parts of user creation/delection from Active Directory.

rperez0528
rperez0528

Yes they should be required to do other things during downtimes, but if they were originally hired as only desk analysts and nothing else then it will be difficult to ask them to do other things without an official policy change to your company's standard operations. The best answer would be to either implement an offical change to company policy or replace the staff and hire with the new company expectation of downtime procedures. Richard (Retail Store Manager)http://www.pcbooboo.com

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Should help desk analysts be allowed to do whatever they want when they?re not answering and documenting calls? Or should they be asked to perform other duties between calls? Is too much down time a sign the help desk is overstaffed? Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=107 What do you think?

cmansf
cmansf

Ultimately it is the responsibility of the team lead/manager to keep their employees motivated. Giving them extra work to fill their "down time" is like a punishment because having time in between calls is one of the ONLY perks of working a help desk position. The smart people who want out will always be motivated enough to expand their knowledge, and those who simply don?t care will chose to use that spare time differently. Bottom line: Stop forcing IT Professionals to do stupid tasks to make a manager feel like he?s doing something. if a manager wants to do something he should get involved with his team and make them feel valued and supported.

Grossoc
Grossoc

Well, as a former help desk analyst I can say that many of my co-workers had no interest in what they were doing and looked at it as just a job. On the other hand, someone (Myself included) would use the down time to go on sites such as Tech Republic and sharpen their skills. Should this be replaced with performing admin tasks? A lot of the time I was asked to run reports on call stats. I didn?t feel that was really utilizing my skills but so be it. I always felt that help desk was the least rewarding position in IT that was never really given credit for anything good but when things go wrong were very quick to be blamed. The Salary is usually low and the hours very bad. I don't know that I'd agree with the replace them with a new staff point of view. I say, give opportunities to those in the department and see who makes to most of it. Then make a decision on who should go and who should stay. The other thing I like to mention is you do see a many firms and companies going to outsourcing their help desks but from my point of view, I find when calling into these centers, I have a better understanding of the problem then the person on the phone.

traley
traley

I am an IT Director and have been in IT for years. I was a Help Desk Manager at one time in my career and I believe Mr Detwiler doesn't have a clue what a good help desk does; no insult sir, but if you did you would have understood your subject better and would have written a better article. A good help desk plays a very large factor in employee satisfaction with their job. An In-House helpdesk proved to be a retention factor in Builders First Source's management staff (I know this first hand). Computers should never be a store manager's job and if you have a good help desk they are invaluable. Our Help Desk Staff was reconized as professionals and my retention there was 95% over 7 years.

Support Slug
Support Slug

If you plan on extending the scope of of an employee's duties, you also need to expand their paycheck. Don't start piling more work on because the tech is skillful enough to clear the queue quickly.

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