CXO

Keep the bottom line in mind when providing support

It is more important than ever to make sure that the IT department is in line with the core business goals. The help desk can play its part by being smart about triage.

It is more important than ever to make sure that the IT department is in line with the core business goals. The help desk can play its part by being smart about triage.

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In this period of economic crisis, I am sensitive about how support pros will make out. The IT budget in most companies is large enough to stand out on the balance sheet, and it can be tempting to try and whittle that number down, especially when profits are suffering. Sadly, it seems that within most companies, IT support capacity is treated like auto insurance: management pays as little as possible for it and hopes it won't ever have to be used. Executives would rather put money into IT projects that will improve revenue or save money. The question for us then is how do we make sure IT support is relevant?

To ensure that the support team is indispensable, techs need to be mindful of how their work affects their company's bottom line. Any time a computing problem results in a work stoppage, then productivity suffers. But not all problems are created equal. If it's a salesperson experiencing an issue, then the very ability of the company to earn revenue is suffering. By making sure that the most costly problems are solved expediently, the help desk won't be mistaken for a cost center. It is actively protecting revenue and generating value.

Does your triage system take into account the "cost to the business" of each individual issue and then allocate resources accordingly? Some consideration about how your company conducts its core business can shine a light on where the help desk's problem-solving efforts will be the most valuable. If you are providing support that is responsive to the needs of the business, then you are on your way to making sure that your help desk remains a vital asset.

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